Mere Observations · Race

From a Black Person who is SICK AND TIDE

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Are you a white person and reading this? Hi, I am addressing you and your fellow skinfolk. Stay with me and please, I’m gonna need you to leave your indignation at the door. We need to have a serious talk. There are a few things that seem unique to your race which concern me.

Reducing the cultures of people of colour to mere costumes

Where do I start? Well, how about where we are in the calendar year: November. On the 31st of October, a lot of y’all got out your best and worst Halloween garb and proceeded to social media to share them with those within your virtual circles. Cool, cool. I saw some awesome costumes but – as is the case, time and time again – I saw some awful ones. I don’t give a damn about the quality of one’s cosplay, that’s not what I mean by ‘awful’. It’s the racist Halloween costumes: the sexified (Native) “Indian” costumes, the blackface, the sugar skull make up (when you know nothing of Dià de los Muertos); the wearing of cultures you don’t belong to as costumes thus reducing them to things that have no meaning and can just be interchanged like a flimsy iPhone case.

All that shit is gross and offensive in so many ways that any reasonable person should see that. And YET, your people keep doing it. I’ve just got to the point that part of me actually hates this time of the year because there will be a lot of white people who will remind me and other people of colour what relentless assholes they are. It’s disheartening to be slammed with that reminder almost a hundred times a year (not just at Halloween), then be told by other white people that I am being too sensitive and am contributing to the problem by being offended. “It’s just a joke”, “everybody laughed and thought it was funny”, “I have a black friend and he suggested I should do it, for laughs”.

  1. It’s just a joke?? Then this is just a closed hand greeting your face.
  2. People have given the thumbs up to a lot of brainless, inappropriate things. People can be wrong.
  3. Um, the Uncle Ruckus character on Boondocks is not just a figment of a screenwriter’s imagination, folks. He is the manifestation and depiction of black people who have what we call the ‘house slave mentality’.

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There is literally nothing anybody can say that would justify insulting people of colour under the guise of a ‘joke’. Not even Halloween exempts you. Nothing justifies dressing up as a wounded Trayvon Martin (when black people lose their lives at the hands of trigger happy cops, at an alarming rate). Nothing justifies donning a cheap ass ‘Native’ headdress made of chicken feathers and plastic and wearing a cow skin bikini (when many indigenous women in the US and Canada have gone missing and are maltreated by law enforcement). Nothing justifies dressing up as Osama Bin Laden, the default look of a ‘terrorist’ (when people living in places like Syria are unable to lead normal lives because they’re constantly escaping conflict). Nothing justifies dressing up as a sexy Asian ‘dragon lady’ (when East Asian women have to deal with the yellow fever of white men, which has them fetishized as weak yet freaky in bed).

What else? I can go on. And if you find yourself looking for a reason, then I’m going to judge you to smithereens. And as was the case this year’s Halloween, proudly publishing your ‘antics’ online might end up threatening your livelihood when enough people determine that bigots don’t deserve anybody’s coins and shame you via Yelp/call up your job and get you fired.

Every Halloween, cultural appropriation and just plain assholic costumes that demean or fetishise a race of people are part and parcel of the holiday. From here on, we will never avoid it because to white people who participate in this crap, it’s just a joke. It’s all just make up and clothes they can wash off and take off at the end of the night then the next day, they’re back to being white and having the best of everything. But the ‘jokes’ still remain and make worse the lives of the people they just mocked.

The way these brethren of yours behave on Halloween is the way my 6 year old cousin is when she misbehaves. Every new day, there is something for her to cause trouble doing and every time she gets scolded for it. But it’s like none of the words she’s told by the adults is actually internalised. It just goes in one ear and out the other. She is also quite stubborn and she destroys everything in her path. People well-versed in intersectional feminism and the harmful effects of cultural appropriation in particular can write enough think pieces for ten more millennia but this will keep happening because those white people don’t give a fuck. They must’ve been taught since they were little that they deserved the world and that they should always expect it and never let anyone deny them what they want.

I can draw parallels in characteristics between a child’s tantrum and the ranting of a white person who – after getting called out for being a racist scumbag – thinks that the world is out to get them and “people are too sensitive nowadays sheesh”.

I’m not only going to be talking to you about offensive Halloween costumes here, for that is the mere tip of the iceberg. I want to talk to you about your people’s reluctance/refusal/indifference in doing their part to change the social order. There are white people who see no problem with the way the world is (i.e. a holy hellhole for people of colour to navigate), others who see it and may feel bad but are not prepared to do anything (especially if it means their position in society will be compromised), and the rest who see it all but, like Squidward in his lawnchair, put back on their shades and resume minding their own business. The third group of people irritate me the most. There’s a 90 per cent chance you’re of either one of the three mentioned groups. I’m not gonna bother shaming you, but I do have a lot to say and you better listen, G.

Being intolerable douchebags

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White people all over the world need to get their shit together. Y’all may feel like the whole non-white world is ganging up on you all of a sudden, which might be why some of you have the gall to think you’re oppressed, too. No. This ‘gang-up’ is a result of a new generation of people of colour who refuse to be silent about the web of institutionalised racism has trapped them. It’s not that “people are so offended nowadays”, I can’t believe I or anybody even have to explain that it’s not.

People of your race have gotten away for the most part of recorded human history with being absolute dicks, and now the descendants of the world they colonised and dehumanised are calling it into question and want reparations. Hell, even just an acknowledgement that what was committed was fucked up. Deal with it; it was bound to happen at some point. You can’t tell me you expect seeds of oppression to be continuously sowed, while those on the receiving end do not raise objection to it.

I’ve had white classmates for as long as I’ve been at school, and most of my worst school memories involve them. I remember being ostracised as a seven year old at an international school by two North American girls and not knowing why. I remember the micro-aggressive things that have been said to me by white classmates (i.e. “I prefer it when your hair is long” when I wore box braids at school for the first time). I remember when a white male classmate I was once friendly with found it ‘racist’ that I chose to wear all black clothes to school one day (?????). I remember watching other classmates of colour change their accents to match that of their white friends. I remember a girl I’m ashamed that I ever called a friend spearhead a campaign to basically bully an Indian girl because apparently she smelled and had facial hair (I’m so sorry that I did not stop it, Sanchali). She left the school after just one term.

You could say I just have had bad luck with white people, but how often must that happen in anyone’s life? By the time I was in my second year of university – an institution where I was no longer one of a handful of black people – I asked myself the question: are white people genetically predisposed to being ‘the worst’? Or does every white parent instill in their kids that sense of entitlement that no matter where they go in the world, they think they own everything and act thusly? I guess it makes sense since Europeans were acting like that on first arrival to Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. Why does every generation of white people keep passing on the torch of bigotry, and when the hell is it gonna be dropped and put out?

Being unaware of the fact that even world history was written to benefit you

Not to mention the version of world history being taught to kids in HIGH SCHOOL in western countries! At a British school, I endured a whole term of History learning about the Arab-Israeli conflict where the Arab countries were DEADASS made to look like the villains. And the year before that, when we were studying American history, the civil rights movement was not even a chapter long in the textbook. Ronald Reagan’s disastrous ‘war on drugs’ (which was more like a ‘war on poor, black people’) was mentioned as a mere footnote. It was only recently from following activists on social media that I learned about events from that time that I never knew about. The bombing of a church by the KKK that killed 4 black girls, the operation Cointelpro organised by the FBI to infiltrate and consequently disband the Black Panthers. I would name more but those are the ones which have stuck with me most.

Due to this miseducation, it’s resulted in me encountering young white people online who have unwittingly shot themselves in their collective feet, talking about history incorrectly. One part of history which is always misconstrued mindnumbingly is the taking of Irish slaves in America. I’ve seen too many inane white people say “White people were also slaves!1!1!11! Haven’t you heard of the Irish?!” as a counter argument when the Transatlantic slave trade and its damaging effects on future generations of black people are brought up. It makes me wish Major Kusanagi would creep up on me in thermoptic camouflage and shoot my brains to mush, because:

  1. Are you domkops forgetting that the people who brought the Irish to the USA as slaves were other WHITE people??? Y’all did that!
  2. That time in history was tough and hurtful for actual Irish people, and I don’t think they’d be thrilled to know some Ain’tshitasaurus is using it as a clutch to play the most inappropriate role of devil’s advocate on the Net.
  3. That time in history just proves that white people can also oppress their own.

One silly little girl tried to make a point that people of colour, specifically black people, should be thankful to white people because “we saved you blacks from slavery”.

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Apparently that’s how the American Civil War was taught to her at school. That when the North won, that ended slavery apparently. Slavery did not end, it was just rebranded as segregation. Girl, wherever you are, take this super size L, to go.

Your annoying ‘white guilt’

The way some of you avoid feeling guilty is as if feeling that way would release a neurotoxin that would kill you. Is it poison, this guilt? If you so much as acknowledge that your race has been responsible for 99 per cent of the world’s atrocities since the beginning of time, will you literally die? You get so vexed, near ready to pop a vein when you get called out for doing something racist. It’s almost comical to watch but also kind of scary; when you respond like that, it only tells me that here is a person who is INCAPABLE of accepting responsibility for anything. Getting angry at the idea of being seen as a racist than getting angry at actual racism is a waste of emotion.

On the other side of the spectrum, there have been white people who secrete too much white guilt. If I had a rand for every time I saw some white person comment under a person of colour’s Instagram post about bigotry, along the lines of “I apologise on behalf of all white people everywhere”…. Worse, “I’m so ashamed to be white”.

What is your shame gonna do for the rest of us? That’s lip service and we know how useless lip service is. I get nothing, gain nothing from a white person telling me they’re sorry for the way white people have ruined the world. Because that person may think that by drenching me in their apologies, they have paid penance and are now absolved of whatever responsibility they thought they were saddled with. It doesn’t work like that.

Do you know what helps? Not letting your guilt take over like a tapeworm. Accept that the world has come to this point, and realise that as a white person, you have more institutional power than 20 people of colour combined and you should use that. And you should want a better world than the one we’re living in, regardless of how lush your life is right now. For all people of colour’s efforts in trying to change the system by becoming a part of it or working against it, not much worthy progress has been made because the people with the influence and power to push it along are too concerned that their feelings are being hurt (which they think racism is against them).

A white person getting caught up in their guilt helps the same way a Sim acting how they do when their house is on fire (panicking and screaming, all the while standing still) helps to extinguish the fire.

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Perhaps it’s white guilt that’s got white people (especially Afrikaners) in South Africa acting maal. Their avoidance of feeling guilty has got them blocked up with vitriol that they can’t help but unleash it on an unsuspecting black person in public spaces.

No, who am I kidding? It’s clear-cut delusion. That delusion which drove them to create their own town (named Orania) where no people of colour are allowed to live. IN A COUNTRY, IN AFRICA. AFRICA, the place where black people live! I mean, they could just move back to the Netherlands (Afrikaners are descendants of Dutch settlers), but I doubt Netherlands would even want them. The Dutch don’t even acknowledge that farce of a language of theirs.

Non-American white people’s erroneous belief that racism is only an American thing

There was a time when Grammy award-winning (even BET award-winning) singer Sam Smith tweeted his horror at witnessing someone yell racial slurs at a black friend of his on the Tube. He sounded traumatised, perhaps even more than the person at whom the slurs were directed. In those few tweets, he lost respect of some black fans. How? He wasn’t the one who was targeted but he found a way to make it about himself. People were tweeting him like “dude, your music has Negro spirituals in the background, how could you be so oblivious about racism?”.

That alone brings up a tendency of white music artists (see: Justin Timberlake, Eminem) who like to ‘borrow’ elements of music created by black people and endearing themselves to black music lovers, all the while being so out of touch with the social issues of these fans. Worse, they may act so problematically racist it’s incredible that any self-respecting black person would still support them (see: Iggy Azalea, Justin Bieber).

Sam Smith is not the only person to voice their surprise at finding out racism lives in the UK, which is ridiculous. Britain is as racially progressive as its BFF, the United States, which is ‘not at all’. That’s like walking into a barn barefoot and being genuinely surprised that you stepped in a pile of horse shit. Most of the racism in Britain, from what I’ve heard, is directed towards South Asians and black people, and there is also xenophobia against people from other European countries. Shit like that is why UKIP (the Trump of British political parties) exists, and why ‘Brexit’ happened.

Another country of people that has its own issues with racism is Australia. Strangely, some Australians will swear that they don’t have a racism problem. Tell that to the Aboriginal people who are treated by the Australian government the same way that Native Americans are treated by the US government. Or worse. These white Australian racism-deniers perplex me, because they’ll even boast their pride of being Australian under the same breath. As if they don’t how their ancestors even came to be down there in the first place. The British Empire needed a place to invade next so they put their convicts to good use. “Be a good sport and go down to that savage land and create us a colony”.

And despite Australia being the home of natural NOPES – with most of the land experiencing temperatures from hell, and animals that either want to kill you or just seriously maim you – THEY STAYED. But there were people already living there, though… “Oh no worry, old fruit! We’ll just follow the footsteps of ol’ Columbus and kill off most of them then capture the rest as slaves!” Apparently Australian nature was also quite breathtaking and beautiful, I guess that was enough for them to risk life in such a place. What I will never understand is what part of being down there produced that strange-as-hell accent.

I don’t know who first said “racism is as American as apple pie” but I’m sure they didn’t mean it’s unique to America. They probably meant “racism is the framework of this sham of a country”. Let’s not forget where bigotry was first mass-produced: in Europe. Throwing bananas out onto the field in the direction of a black footballer, during a match? In the words of Lana Kane from Archer, “What is this? Spain?” Yes, yes it was. And also Italy. Probably also Portugal.

But definitely France, let’s not forget France. There, la liberté, l’égalité et la fraternité seems to only apply if you’re white. Remember when the offices of that secular magazine Charlie Hebdo got shot up by some extremists who apparently had ties with ISIS and 9 people were killed? I was saddened that people lost their lives, but I had no sympathy towards the publication as a whole, due to its uncouth, unfiltered racism which it showed by way of publishing offensive political cartoons. Depicting a black female French minister as a monkey. Portraying Barack and Michelle Obama through racist stereotypes. Antisemitic illustrations.

I wanted to show you some examples of the cartoons the publication has published but I am writing this from a public computer and when I went looking on Google Images, it wouldn’t even show the results. Not safe for work. Not safe for public.

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For that reason, I refused to use the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag and was more at ease when people stopped using it too. But those annoying French filters never went away for months.

You’re probably looking at me with squinted eyes now. Knowing how selectively sympathetic the media and individuals are to tragic world events, based on where in the world they happen, I didn’t fall over myself to put a French tricolor filter on my profile picture, because seriously why must I? Since bandwagon mentality dictates the lives of people, a lot of people probably put that filter on without knowing why others were. Also, Facebook specially created that filter to show solidarity with the residents of Paris, but when similar types of events happened in other countries in Asia, Africa or the Middle East (which had higher death tolls), Facebook did not make filters for those countries.

Hmm.

Conclusion

If you’ve gotten to this point without wanting to write me a long and angry comment which I’ll probably never read, then you can see that white people have a lot to answer for. And I don’t think I’ve even covered EVERYTHING. If I had to list it all, you would be reading this for two days. This is not to make you feel bad – but I mentioned this, suppress your inclination to ‘feel bad’ – this is a wake-up call. Our world is in a sorry state because Europeans have a centuries-strong, insatiable, unchecked greed. This need to just dominate and control everything. Colonialism may be behind us but PoC countries are still being controlled like marionettes, unable to let go for fear of collapsing completely. That’s where your people have left our countries; plundered, exhausted, weary and dependant on yours.

We may no longer be using terms like ‘first world’ or ‘third world’ since the Cold War is supposed to be over, but western countries always come first: you get the best of everything. The corporations your people have created ensure that you’re given the crème de la crème. You are so incredibly spoiled you don’t know it. Tonnes of food is wasted right under your nose, fresh produce actually thrown away by supermarkets just because it ‘doesn’t look attractive’. What bullshit. In the USA, some local governments leave towns with predominantly ‘minority’ populations to suffer with toxic water (see: Flint, Michigan), while towns next to them that just happen to have more white residents never have to worry about that.

Not to mention, y’all’s countries teamed up to fuck up Haiti. Looking right at you especially, France!

You may or may not be aware of protests happening at a place called Standing Rock because no media outlet is talking about it, like the little bitches they are. There are plans to construct a pipeline that will slice right through indigenous land and deprive those living there of water which they obviously need to survive. Do you know that this Dakota Access Pipeline was re-routed through Standing Rock so as to not hinder on the needs of residents in a nearby town? Do you know that the protestors against the construction of this pipeline have been met with such brute force; some have had attack dogs sicced on them, others have been shot at, injured and some killed, with actual bullets, just for demanding that their right to clean water (A HUMAN RIGHT) not be taken away from them?

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Meanwhile, a bunch of white wannabe-cowboys with guns went to occupy land in Oregon that didn’t belong to them (in true Columbus fashion) and what did law enforcement do? I can tell you what they didn’t do. They did not shoot at these guys, they did not unleash attack dogs on them. These ‘protestors’ (more like invaders) were treated with respect by the police. They even shared small talk as if they were all friends. They probably were all friends. Observe these glaring double standards and tell me that there is not a problem with the state of the world. Or even just the United States alone.

So I want to know from you, are you satisfied with how things are? Can you say with a straight face that I’m just complaining? Even tell me that I’m racist by ‘attacking’ your whole race? If so, then you are part of the problem and that’s all that needs to be said. You can live with your pitiful ass.

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But if you think things needs to change, then more of y’all need to be proactive in doing your part to dismantling the systems of oppression. Do not ask me what you should do, that is for you to figure out. People of colour been teaching you folks for too long. Meet us the whole way. We are sick and tired of enduring this nonsense, year in, year out.

Like Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie says, ‘Do Better’.

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