So many white folks are shocked! SHOCKED I tell you! They are patently surprised that white people still make racist comments in 2013.
Social media response has been "fierce, nasty and unusually racist," according to USA Today.Meanwhile, back in my world, the word American is synonymous with white when it comes to the media. To me this response is not unusual at all. In my world, the majority of white people are just as racist as they ever have been. Many make an attempt to hide it, but most don't.
When I hear terms like, "Americans think, Americans feel, Americans love, Americans don't like..."it always gives me pause because whatever they're talking about doesn't usually jibe with my experience at all. Even the most liberal of publications do this and they rarely realize it. I am definitely an American. I'm not white I am black. But I am definitely an American. Just not the kind of American the media is referring to. Or politicians. Or most people when they use the word "American".
It's only when I translate "American" to "white American" that whatever they're talking about actually makes sense. Try this exercise sometime.
Regardless, whatever you're watching or reading, you have to remember that white is the default audience. Most white folks have grudgingly accepted that black people will be in a commercial or two. Tide and Applebees come to mind as two commercials that blew my mind with multiculturalism.
Take these headlines on the subject of the Cheerios commercial.
Mixed-race Cheerios ad causes controversy
(uh, no, it really didn't)
Why Is This Cheerios Cereal Ad So Controversial?
(really, they have to ask?
Hate talk won't derail mixed-race Cheerios ad
(well I would hope not)
Cheerios Won't Give In to Bigotry
(did anyone think they would actually take the commercial off the air? was this ever a possibility?)
Interracial Cheerios Commercial Generates Debate
(amongs whom? again what is there to debate?!)
The Uproar Over the Biracial Cheerios Ad Is Actually Progress
(that it brought the issue out into the open, yes. but this guy seems to think it was all a "publicity" stunt)
Consumers love the interracial Cheerios commercial that YouTube trolls hated
(well that's a relief)
Turns Out Americans Love ‘Controversial’ Cheerios Ad
(Kumbayah! All "Americans" are back on track now")
So, just like the my Part One of my Cheerios two part series, the media defines the issue. But they define it as a controversy. Then they go on to say that this commercial has sparked "debate." Needless to say, I have a big problem with this.
Controversy: Disagreement, typically when prolonged, public, and heated.
Seriously. These people are not having any type of disagreement. They're just being outright unreasonable bigots. There is no "other side" to this so-called disagreement. Black people aren't up at arms about the commercial or say, merely committing the crime of existing, let alone loving who they choose to love. But these white people surely are. Many of them are, quite literally, making the argument for slavery.
This may be a controversial stance but it's not a controversy. The racists are just flat out wrong. Instead of making this an argument with two sides, the media could just say flat out: Bigots Are Wrong About the Cheerios Commercial, instead of making it seem as if they may have a valid point to "debate" about.
When I hear white people express their surprise that "Americans" still feel this way, even in the advanced modern age of 2013, it does not reassure me. It makes me feel horrible. It hurts me every bit as much as the outright racists.
Because my question becomes, HOW could they be so blind?
Blind beyond all moral consciousness. Blind beyond any and all reality. Blind to their complicity and worst of all, blind to their own prejudice and lack of caring.
To not know that this type of racism not only still exists but is still the reason that black people are hideously oppressed in this country is a willful blindness. It's not the "Accidental Racist" in the imagination of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J. It's not the work of mere "trolls" on You Tube.
It is the whole-hearted sanction of racism to be "color blind".
You can go to just about any video on YouTube featuring black people and find racial slurs. ANY VIDEO. The comments will not be flagged, disabled or moderated. YouTube, and by default Google, is too large for such a thing. I suppose they feel it's a free speech thing to allow people of color to be insulted on a daily basis. Much like banks and bankers that are to big to fail or jail, Google is too big to care about the mere feelings of black people.
And now that I give it some thought, there is no day in my life that I go online and don't encounter racism of some sort. It's actually worse now that when the Internet first became widespread in the 1990's. Back Then people were just amazed at actually being online. Now that people have got the hang of it, they have brought their ideologies along with them and racism is as prevalent as ever.
It's my theory that the Internet is actually entrenching racist attitudes more firmly in those who refuse to give up racist thought and practice.
People go to the internet to find like minded people. And when they do find people who think like this they also think, "Well, it must be true. Someone else said it. Someone else posted it. Black people must be inferior to white people. Black people deserve my hatred."
Seems a bit much? Seems a bit too harsh? If you're white, probably but I don't know why. I have never entered in a discussion online where people did not defend racist attitudes. Eventually I give up but I always close with this line:
"Arguing on the Internet is like being in the Special Olympics. You may win but you're still retarded."
Of course the outrage I get about comment is legendary. How dare you say such a thing. How could I possibly be so politically incorrect as to use the word "retarded".
It never fails that I get these responses especially after an argument on why racials slurs, particularly the "n-word", is perfectly acceptable for use by white people. Black people are just being too sensitive.
The irony is always lost.
So excuse me if I find white folk's "shock" just a tad hypocritical. I know what white people say and think when they think no one is looking. Being a light skinned black woman with straight hair made white people just a bit too comfortable around me. It's one reason, among many, that I started wearing an afro. They don't make that mistake anymore.
This article does a good job of dismantling the "I'm so shocked" syndrome. The article is so very good I can only take the mildest of disagreements with the conclusion:
... stop giving these trolls the attention they crave.I must politely beg to differ. The reason these people make comments like this is because they think they are doing so anonymously. The realize that there are no repercussions.
But if nothing else this mild media push has put the on notice: You can be seen. You are not invisible. Considering what has been done under cover of secrecy in this country, I think that's a message we can't broadcast enough.
Two other articles that I really thought did a good job on this topic:
READY: Cheerios from a confessed closet bigot
Cheerios ad gets to heart of problem
You can read Part One here.