Sunday, August 14, 2011

Well, you see folks..

White privilege is purposefully ignored in my dialog, not because of its non-existence, but because of its being a given. I understand this, and reflect on it quite often. I am reminded of it every night I spend at N. Highschool working with H.S. dropouts (various reasons, but a lot of the dropouts have informed me that they dropped out because no one cared about them in their schools. I'm not going to parse out why minorities are concentrated in the city, hopefully you all understand this.) and immigrants from very terrifying places. I was reminded of something like it (maybe more of a American-privilege) by one of the Somali women who I've shared some very exciting moments of realization with. One day about a month ago she asked me "When did YOU learn to type", well of course I learned to type when I was very young. I've been a computer geek my whole life. She responded "Well when I was [very young] I was running from men with machine guns". It is because of the reality of "white privilege" that I devote a few hours a week to help make someone else's life better.

What's missing here is that the original G+ ginger post was meant to provoke the exact response that it finally did. I have largely avoided racial discussion in any public forum, despite my deep interest in it. A deeper understanding of social psychology and its impact on the world in which we lives fascinates me. I feel like I've entered some kind of bizarre parallel to a conspiracy theory: If I say I am not offended by a comment (I'll use the ginger comment for example) I am either secretly deeply offended, or I proclaim to not be offended as a way to "show that I am above it" (or somehow belittle the impact on people who are in a minority group through an arrogant display of "I am better than you"). If I were to be offended, I would also be belittling the effect of racial comments/attitudes/etc directed minorities. I did not realize that this dilemma would arise before I started this experiment (This is a byproduct of my approach I believe). I find this interesting and telling.

The original post was meant to be as vague as possible (check it again; it really is pretty vague), and allow for people to insert their own biases, but I didn't quite think it would end up being as much about me as it was. And no, I don't think I am in any way unbiased or better/worse than anyone involved. Just curious. "Curiosity killed the cat" you say? Good thing I am not a cat. (Thanks House.)

To respond to someone who's opinion I value greatly:
'The worst interpretation is that those were some ungrateful negroes, how dare they do something like that with you being all nice and all not oppressing them anymore. Indeed, in this post, you appear to be playing on that as well, that you are taking the high road and allowing these slurs without reacting, because “turnabout is fair play”'.

The post was meant to start a discussion on "reverse racism". Nothing more, and absolutely nothing less, and it appears that it was highly successful at doing so; so successful in fact that I am finding myself psychoanalyzed (which is intriguing in itself) by 5 individuals. The first responses to the initial post infuriated me, they were mostly pats on the back in the form of "Don't worry about it; it's ok". I wasn't looking for that. There are only a few things in this world that are capable of making me feel bad, and I assure you if someone had found one, no one would know about it -- least of all the person saying/doing it. These are cards I hold very close, for obvious reasons. "Turnabout is fair play" is an acknowledgement of typical human reaction; not a justification for anything, or a realization that allows me to assign myself a 'cookie' (or expect anyone else to). Is it not fair to expect that if you beat the hell out of someone, that this particular person wouldn't return the favor? Some will, and some won't. Some of those who don't will declare the moral high ground. Others (myself included) will let it quietly pass, not because I am trying to "be the better person", but simply because I have serious problems with violence.

My neighbor across the street, who recently moved away, was severely racist. He was unaware of this really, and I tried my hardest to help him understand the situations properly: "Yes, A., it is partially because they're Black that they're on welfare, but only because of a white supremacist atmosphere that has consistently applied downward pressure on the financial, mental and educational well-being of Black people." To which he would respond "Yup, cuz they're black." Very frustrating.

What was pointed out to me was something that I shamefully had overlooked: my response to the neighbor incident was a result in search of a problem. I am a little more self aware from what was a drunken response to my online musings. But nonetheless, it is true that racism exists and comes from both the majority and the minority. Does it demean the sufferings of minorities by the white supremacist majority to point out cases of racism against it? I don't think so inherently, like I have previously said; it's the USE of this recognition of "reverse discrimination" that will be the weapon. It is wholly intellectually dishonest to ignore the patterns of racism directed by anyone at anyone. I've kept this discussion to a small group of people intentionally to not give more anti-minority propaganda to conservatives who would surely abuse any findings. It is because of the possibility for acknowledgments to be used wrongly (aka, diminish the reality of majority to minority racism) that I have perused this with caution.

My "concern trolling" is perhaps that, but I don't take anything as given. My list of three reasons why "racism is bad" is part of an ongoing internal desire to dismiss, out of hand, that anything is considered inherently bad. This is not so that I can be excused for doing something wrong, it's purely a selfish personal search for some kind of objectivity in morality, whether possible or not. I do not believe in any kind of god, supernatural power, or anything of the sort. Morality needs to be derived from something, and the best ideas I have found so far has been Sam Harris' discussion of morality based on well being. It is full of holes, but it's the best I've found after looking for a very long time, and maybe I like it because it reaffirms something I've always intuited.

I think I would be more of a concern troll if I said what I am thinking right now: "I could get in trouble with the wrong people if I keep externalizing my exploration of race relations".

One can argue both sides of psychological evolution. I agree that it is hard to disprove most of it (the key to something being scientific is the ability to for an idea to be falsified), but not impossible to test in theory. I've read both sides on the issue of the alleged progression of rape in natural selection. I think that both sides are lacking in the area of free inquiry. I can see how both sides have co-opted an interesting fact-finding discussion for their own ends. I, personally, am on the fence. Dawkins and Sagan's arguments are very strong, and neither had no visible motive for having them, simply vigorous debate of important questions. It is important to know that I am not on the fence about things I see as morally right or wrong, only on the fence about why. And should I find that a moral position is wrong through vigorous internal and/or external debate, I am not afraid to flip flop.

The self-declared purpose of my life is to learn everything there is to know. This is an impossible goal, but the journey is full of exciting twists and turns, good and bad self realizations, course corrections, deep personal insight, and every once in a while, life-changing realizations. I take into consideration all criticism.

So, after all this nonsense, I'd like to explore "reverse racism". Clearly it exists. Clearly it's bad. Clearly it's nowhere near as socially negative as "forward racism" (I am going to grant this, although this deserves discussion all by itself). HOWEVER: Why does it exist? What are it's ends? Is it an in-kind response to received racism. Is it intended to be used as a dehumanizing weapon in the same way it's used by a majority? Is it something else? Is it built-in? (I have a strong belief that it is, and this is somewhat backed up with scientific inquiry, although there are some variables that are difficult to remove). These are important questions, because without answers to these questions, I think, we will not overcome racism in all its forms. In another post, eventually, I will continue the exploration that I started in my previous post.


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