Racism makes me angry.
Whoa there, Rusty! Don’t go way out on a limb and say something so controversial.
Okay, I admit saying that racism makes me angry is hardly the most earth-shattering news ever, especially coming from someone who doesn’t have to deal with the DIRECT impact of racism… sexism… homophobia… etc. Basically I pretty much embody the white, middle-class, middle-aged oppressor who is seen as the fault of pretty much everything. (Well, maybe if I had more money I would be PERFECT…)
I am NOT complaining about that. Anybody who complains that they are too ‘privileged’ is really missing the mark. “Cry me a river, white boy” would be an acceptable response to that.
But, no, racism makes me angry.
HAVING SAID THAT, I am reminded this week that OVERT racism leads me to a different emotion than anger.
It confuses me.
I mean, I am aware that there are racist people all among us (and I don’t mean the level of racism that we all have, I mean the REAL racist bastards), but I am still surprised when I encounter it.
Because society doesn’t accept it and people KNOW that society doesn’t accept it, so when you make an ignorant racist comment, you KNOW that people will judge you negatively for it. So I figure that people know better than to…
…but I guess that misses an important point. Racists ARE ignorant and stupid. Why would I expect rational behaviour out of them?
Years ago, I worked in a record store in Calgary. We had a new hire who was there when one of my other co-workers put on a new album… it MIGHT have been Ice-T, but I’m not sure. The new guy said, “I don’t like rap. It is just a bunch of n*****s who can’t sing.”
My reaction was to look at him incredulously. I honestly couldn’t believe he had just said that.
Then he said it again.
(I am happy to say that I pretty much got him fired after that… but to be fair, it was pretty easy since he was also a pretty terrible employee)
So why am I talking about this now?
Earlier in the week, I saw that messed up Psychology Today article that ‘explained why’ black women were not as attractive as white women were. It was a disgusting mess of barely concealed racism behind junk science trying to pass itself off as fact.
Then I heard about Carlos Santana speaking out against the new immigration laws in Georgia. I looked into it and saw that Georgia was adopting similarly racist immigration laws that had already been adopted in Arizona… and Utah, which I also hadn’t heard about.
Obviously, I have a problem with this. I have already spoken about it. One of the things (beyond the law itself) that drive me crazy is that people couch the debates around the law as dealing with immigration. That is bull. You can argue back and forth all you want about immigration and the laws that should or should not be in place. I am not a big fan of arbitrary borders, but I accept that not everyone has my views and some think that you need to protect your citizens from people coming in to try and… I don’t know… get a job or something.
But that is NOT the point.
My hatred towards these laws is not about immigration. It is about racism.
These laws give the police the right to question someone if they have any reason to suspect that they might not have legal immigration status. Therefore, everyone will be required to carry ‘their papers’ in order to prove they are legal… oh wait, not EVERYONE. Just people who may have something about them that could give the police ‘reason to suspect’ them.
In other words, there are now laws in place in three states that requires people to carry papers and submit to police questioning if their skin happens to be brown or they have the wrong accent.
Sorry if Godwin’s Law says that you can stop listening to me now, but a law of this nature makes me immediately think of another place, another time, with another sort of regime.
This disgusts me.
I think I am going to go back to performing Moving to Arizona. Do I actually think me reading a poem about something so awful is going to actually change things?
No, but I am not a voter in Arizona, Utah or Georgia, and I am not a subscriber to Psychology Today, so I can only do… well, what I can do.