Clicked on this just to see if you were going to be pissed and angry or cheer me on because of my massive enlightenment didn’t ya?
Well, I know no matter what I say either one of those results will occur from someone. I mean, you think everything someone says is supposed to agree with everyone else? Are you stupid? You’ve read my stuff before right? You know I piss off everyone at some point.
Anyway, I guess since you are here, I might as well share my opinion since I suckered you into clicking on this.
Racism against black people does affect me as a white person. Seriously, it does. It doesn’t in the same way it would if I was black. Duh. Still, it plays a role in the society I live in.
You see, black Americans share something that I, a white American do. It’s that word, American. This is the country I live in, the society I interact with, the identity I am part of. We share a part of a Venn Diagram that actually matters. There are white people in Europe that probably have more in common with me personally that many black Americans do, but what does that actually matter? They live on a different continent, different country, and probably speak a different language. If someone was shitty to them, it probably doesn’t change my life all that much if at all. There are black people in Africa that have shit happen to them that doesn’t matter to me, but there are black people in America that have shit happen to them that does.
America is the place where I buy my groceries from. I park my car here. I work here. Europeans, Africans, East or South Asians don’t. I have a vested interest in how the people who live in the same country as me are treated because it affects the life I live. Does that sound selfish and a touch solipsistic? You bet your ass it does, but it’s also socio-cultural anthropology 101 type stuff. You see, I have a better chance of living a happy, productive, safe, and stable life if the people around me do.
I’m framing all of this through this particular prism, because there is absolutely no sane argument against it. It doesn’t get into never ending arguments about privilege or appropriation. There is no reliance on historical framework, what someone said or did somewhere else, debatable academic viewpoints on social or racial dynamics. No arguments based on a half remembered college class or blogger buzzwords. There is no discussion of positions of power or arguing from personal experience and bias. When you bring those things into it, those abstracts and constructs, someone is going to get pissed off. Even if you share the same goals and desire for the end result, someone is going to get pissy. Don’t believe me? Check out the internal workings of any social movement, be it feminism, racial civil rights, LGBT-rights, and you’ll see people who all want the same goal, equality, tearing each others throats out for not following the same school of thought. Third Wave vs. Second Wave, Sex Positive vs….Prudes(? Seriously, what do you call them?), Assimilationist vs. Segregationist. Hell, Protestants and Catholics have hated each other so much they fought the most destructive war in Europe’s history till World War I happened (The Thirty Years War), and they believe in the same freaking God!
So no, no endless arguments about emotional abstracts, which kind of are impossible to win (because even if we end up agreeing about X, we might end up killing each other about Y). Let’s keep this simple and disgustingly and dehumanizingly pragmatic. If black people in America get treated shitty because of racism, it comes back around to me because I’m an American too.
If a black person isn’t given an opportunity to go to college because of their race, and they would become a brilliant doctor, better than the white one who will do my heart surgery, then I suffer from not having the best possible surgeon, just as an example.
If a black person isn’t hired because they are black and they are more qualified, then the employer we share suffers from under performance, or the goods and services I purchase are of lower quality.
When a black person is treated shitty by a cop because of his race, and because of that, he doesn’t become a cop, even though he is a moral and just man who loves a law abiding society, I stand a better chance of ending up with a an asshole cop. This asshole cop then is shitty to more black people who turn entire communities of minorities into ones that are fearful, loathing, and distrustful of the police, which means they aren’t likely to cooperate with them to remove criminals from our society.
When black people are disproportionately punished by the legal system, it builds a criminal culture and loathing of the justice system. It shatters families and ruins lives when the same offense by a white person is punished with probation. Now a good person who made a mistake is in jail and I might end up with an asshole who thinks he’s above the law making me miserable. Seriously people, it’s incredibly fucked up that a black guy will go to jail for years just for having a joint in their car, but some white kid who kills someone while driving drunk gets to go to rehab. It’s a gross miscarriage of justice.
When whole communities of black people are poor and forced into a cyclical system that perpetuates it, it creates a community that is hopeless, distrustful, and resentful of the society it is part of. Those people then leave their communities and come around mine and in their desperation commit crimes against me. And no, this really has nothing to do with race, it has to do with poverty, as poverty fuels crime, not race. It’s just that a disproportionate amount of black people are poor because of racism, this means that the racist stereotype of all black people are criminals gets to endure.
Because that stereotype endures, I now have to deal with paranoid people who think they need a gun everywhere they go. I get cops who think every brown person is a thug ready to fight it out, so they go straight to their guns.
When these minorities that I’m not a member of endure bigotry and hatred on a scale I can’t comprehend, it hurts me when I simply come from a place of ignorance and say or do something that can be taken poorly. It’s then tossed into the racist or bigoted category when it was simply a miscommunication or ignorance. Yes, this has happened to me. It’s happened to everyone who has encountered a person who has put up with enough mean shit because of their race, gender, ability, sexuality, or whatever that they see others not like them as adversaries by default. When you try to help, it can end up being seen as patronizing or appropriating; now you’re a scumbag, when all you wanted to do was help. Now that you’re seen as a scumbag, you’re angry at them for treating you shitty, so now you don’t want to help them, meaning now you don’t want to have anything to do with them. This creates a cycle of anger and apathy that keeps feeding on itself.
All of this and more creates an “Us vs Them” mentality and hurts the people I have to live and work with. It drags my society down. It makes my country a poorer, more dangerous, divided, and unhappier place to be. I have a vested interest in seeing people of all types treated the same, not just because of moral reasons (which easily change from person to person and society to society), but for grossly pragmatic reasons of self interest.
We can now commence with the abstract debates about how this makes you feel and how we should implement a resolution to this, that inevitably leave someone with a variable level of butthurt.
See why no one likes pragmatism? No matter what, you’re gonna sound like an asshole.