game over yeah pt. II: game overer
v productive day
- found my wallet that i lost yesterday
- unlocked new yung lean album
- blocked a radfem transphobe on the facebook
- internet articlez
- cooked at my work desk
Every (Social) Issue Is a Race Issue.
I’m sure that in 2014 (and every year before and after it), those of us who care deeply about systemic inequality will hear the phrase “why do you have to make this a race issue?” People will sprint into ongoing discussions like possessed janitors, eager to sweep those terrifying race cards away into a tidy canister where they can’t hurt the brains of anyone committed to bento box methods of thinking about the human experience. We wouldn’t want to contaminate their thought experiments about minimum wage laws or perceptions of criminals with our all-corrupting, touchy-feely black vs. white stuff, would we? Talking about racism always brings more heat than light, never mind the fact that heat generates light and scientific metaphors for social phenomena are beyond useless. Sure, many of us live in a country fundamentally shaped by racism that is part of a world fundamentally shaped by racism, but the social issue cartographers don’t want to hear any of it. To them, we’re schizophrenics. We see prejudice and perceive microaggression where there likely is none.
Perception. There’s no way that the perception of the race behind one’s name affects job outcomes or the support vital to reach those outcomes. Perception of race had no impact on home ownership, either back then or now. Even if it did, people of color can always just rent! Perception of race doesn’t affect black women’s health; in fact, the origins of women’s health in America were completely race-neutral. Naturally, this logic only dictates that health and locale are completely separate items and that neither has to do with race. Perception of race doesn’t influence police behavior, or their post-hoc attempts to overcompensate for that behavior. That’s just all in the heads of black and brown people. The slurs. The dehumanization. The cottage industry built on entire corpses when mere backs weren’t enough. But surely, race only becomes a factor when we’re talking about Big Things. We are reasonable people, and reasonable people must realize that racism is a big deal in very, very limited circumstances. They just think that we think that it’s a bigger deal than it truly is. Their perception matters more than our perception for the same reason that it’s easier to explain drowning when your head isn’t the one being held underwater.
But maybe it’s not drowning at all. Maybe it’s more of case of having plenty of time to go around looking around for examples of racism where they may not exist. This is how discussions of race in dating trends become defensive screeds for aesthetics and personal preference, because we all know that those have nothing to do with race. It’s how discussions of athleticism that play on racial tropes become the right wing’s idea of frank and honest discussion, because we all know that any dialogue on racism that doesn’t degrade to denigrating black people is clearly a PC claptrap. It’s how instances of racist police brutality become volley of character trials on dead black kids, because we all know that’s wholly consistent with the very same keyboard judges insisting on waiting until “all the facts are in” about the killers of those kids. Maybe if we didn’t spend oh so much time looking for examples of racism in everyday life, the hundreds of webpages devoted to tearing down black people would magically go away. If Aladdin can put that off, so can America. The only thing we need to do prevent our self-presentation from being deemed verboten is to stop analyzing every facet of that very presentation - from economics to aesthetics - through the lens of race!
I reject that approach and all of the patent delusion it embodies. Race and racism are always a component of social issues and as such, I will always point them out in discussions about social issues. It doesn’t surprise me that people who can navigate every day without being forced, by design of this Earth, to think about race and racism conflate “injecting” race with pointing out something that has been and will always be there. Far easier to see those “I Am Mike Brown” shirts as histrionic whining rather than the grim acknowledgment that for so many of us, our birth as a black people is intractably intertwined our deaths - be they literal at the hands of police or metaphorical at the hands of a society taught to both hate us and encourage us to hate ourselves. To be black in America to learn how to grow gills on the spot, swim upstream, and sing loudly of the tide to those who are least deserving of your wisdom. Fuck drowning in their ignorance.