Rigging the Race


Stop With the Race Orders, Already!

Cut by: Davita Cuttita

There are a few things I really don’t get—no, a few things that really confuse me when having a discussion about racism or slavery with certain White people.

They get nervous. Why?

Typically, that same White person has the argument of “Well, I, personally didn’t do ANYTHING wrong! All those slavery supporters are dead; it has nothing to do with me!”

Yeah, OK. I agree with most of the above statement but then I usually have to point out a few things before we continue with our conversation:

1. I wasn’t talking about you so how did you suddenly become the topic? I was talking about racism and slavery. Unless you are racist or own a slave, I wasn’t talking about you.

2. Why so nervous? If we’re talking about something that happened a long time ago with all those being directly involved with the incident now deceased, and of course you having nothing at all to do with slavery; then why duncha turn that frown upside down, my homie?

3. If we don’t discuss history, aren’t we doomed to repeat it? Not like it hasn’t and doesn’t continue to repeat itself in different ways and in different places everday but I’m trying to be proactive and make an effort here.

Personally, I have absolutely nothing against White people anywhere of any kind on a racial or cultural level. No inner vendettas whatsoever. On an even more personal level; if I did I’d probably be hating on myself since I do have Scottish ancestry.

As far as I’m concerned, cultural differences and ideologies put aside; White people and all other races of people in this world are the same in this way at least: there are some good ones who are friendly, kind, caring and awesome; and then there are some bad ones that are generally assholes I’d love to punch in the throat if given the opportunity.

I have a problem with racists, the post-slavery benefits embedded into society and economics and all forms of injustice, misrepresentation, stereotyping and extortion against humanity. End of story.

I suppose my biggest urk when having a racial discussion with the “nervous Nelly” type of White person or as my Cuban friend has described, the “Newly Enlightened and Educated yet Still Racist” type of White person (the worst kind!) is when these general talks detailing historical events of brutality and pondering any possible or even existing repercussions or White-based benefits stemming from racism or slavery; disintegrate into them telling you what to do to make things better.

And you know what? I’m going to back up for 2 seconds and say that I don’t tolerate this kind of shit from anyone White or not (believe me, I’ve heard it!) but that in my experience, it typically comes from a White person.

Telling a Black person or any other Coloured person how to “solve racism” or make the opposition more accepting of our rights as human beings or “less racist” towards us is like assigning a non-Swimming hydrophobic to coach an Olympic diving team: it’s an insulting, embarassing concept destined for failure.

Don’t tell us what to do.

I don’t tell you how to be White, so don’t tell me how to be Black.

If you have no true experience with racism whether it be systematic, of the overt “GET OUTTA TOWN NIGGER!” variety or the subtle kind of being watched more than all the other customers within a convenience store while shopping, then shuddafukupnsiddown. You’re not helping.

Look at it this way:

You can’t apply to medical school if you only have a degree in painting.

You can’t tell people how to solve their racial problems if you’ve never experienced said problems in the same manner they have just because you have a “good idea”.

That’s not how fixing racism works and it just makes people more irate and less willing to have dialogues with others outside their race. Why, you may ask?

If you still don’t get what I mean, here’s an example. Imagine yourself driving a car on the highway with a passenger next to you. You’ve been driving for years and you’re damned good at it unlike your passenger who has never driven in their entire life. Now imagine that as you’re driving there are the typical idiots scattered throughout the road who do dumb and dangerous shit like swerve in and out of the lanes recklessly, brake unnecessarily, try to change lanes without looking into their mirrors, etc. You’re getting pretty stressed out and all, but your passenger is supportive and allows you to maintain your focus and helps look out for trouble. Your confidence, skills and experience eventually pay off with an accident-free journey to your destination. The trip wasn’t that great but hey; you’re at Denny’s and they did your eggs properly this time.

Now rewind.

Imagine that the entire time you’re driving, trying to steer clear of these assholes in the road and focus; your passenger keeps giving you pointers. YOU. THE FUCKING DRIVER! They just keep pointing useless shit out and nagging. Eventually, they not only stop criticizing the other drivers but give them an excuse for being assholes (“maybe he’s just having a bad day”) and focus on chiding you instead for their mistakes. “Hey,” you say, “I can’t control how other people drive!” but no, your passenger just keeps going and going and going until eventually you snap and just scream “STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO! YOU CAN’T EVEN FUCKING DRIVE!!”

You make it to your destination anyway without exchanging any other looks or comments but after the seething rage you have for one another dies down, you feel bad for blowing up and your passenger feels like an asshole for not being supportive when you were actively trying to do well. You got to the end but you’re miserable, no longer hungry and contemplating murdering eachother and both feel like shit. Your moods are so sour that neither of you enjoy yourselves or have any refreshments.

The journey was pointless.

It’s a teamwork thing to solve racism. Don’t get me wrong. Active teamwork. There’s no room for people who want to half-ass it or arm-chair directors. Peace and respect  have to be the guiding principles throughout the journey and must reign at the destination. Like pancakes. Pancakes of justice!

So what can we do?

For one, we can allow various ethnic communities to share their experiences and decide what actions are appropriate and necessary according to the standards of their respective cultures and their perceived needs.

Next, we can be supportive.

I have a friend who is a Native of the Cree tribe. We’re pretty much the same age. My friend grew up with her mother until she was about five or six homeless on the streets eating out of the garbage as her mother struggled with severe alcoholism. She was then placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a loving (White) family and her mother is currently getting treatment for her addiction.

During highschool, on a yearly basis she’d get up in front of her peers and talk to them about her experience growing up homeless.

I’m not Native nor have I never been homeless but every time my friend talks to me about how hard it was to go through those living conditions and how terribly alcohol and drug abuse has destroyed many Native families. I pay attention when she talks about the escalating Native suicide and teen pregnancy rates and how unjustly the Canadian government treats Native people; I listen intently and try to place myself in her position. She’s extremely open to people asking questions and I take advantage of that as well but at the same time, I respect her privacy whenever she may ask for it or not wish to discuss something. I respect her for who she is even more.

I also get mad.

I read and do research on the conditions and circumstances she describes.

I then talk to anyone who will listen about it and I never turn her away when she needs to talk to someone about her problems or try to “explain it all away”. Whenever she pursues anything positive I encourage her and whenever negativity is on the rise, I caution her.

In a better world, I’d like to say all of the above are steps one—however many that will solve the problem of racism but in reality, they’re all just step one. They are all reliant upon the other components in order to be an effective, efficient, humane and sincere step towards racial harmony and understanding. It’s a step we can all take and it requires the removal of not only the “invisible knapsack” for Whites but of one’s ignorant high horse as well.

So let’s get to steppin’!


~ by davitacuttita on January 30, 2009.

5 Responses to “Rigging the Race”

  1. your analogies are artful. Thanks for writing so positively and firmly, I always look forward to your posts!

  2. Hi auletrides,

    I’m glad the analogies are getting through, I try to make them well so people can have a deeper understanding. Thanks for reading (and complimenting)!

  3. damn lady. word on the analogy. i so appreciate your honesty & clarity with these entries. i’ve commented here a couple of times before, but seriously, you have a tendency to just lay out exactly what was messing around my mind, but you put it all together in a way that makes sense.

    i had “wow, i’m being racist” moment yesterday. i was helping out a friend, putting up posters for a hip hop concert he’s organizing. so i was riding my bike around, and i stopped at an intersection, and these three younger black girls were sitting waiting for the bus, and they were asking me about the event. they couldn’t go, bc it’s at a bar, but anyway, they were asking if i did hip hop, and i said no. anyway, they were just being friendly & asking questions, and i realized i hadn’t been expecting that. so my racist moment was when i realized that i subconsciously expect black people to dislike me — not personally, but i feel like my presence in and of itself could be an annoyance — why is there a white girl here? i sometimes feel like i have to bring it up, or make a joke about myself, be self-deprecating, so that i can prove i’m not a jerk (which honestly probably makes me look a little bit like a jerk). anyway, this post helped the gears grind one more step to “instead of cracking some joke to prove you’re not a jerk, why don’t you just *not* be a jerk?”

    thank you for writing. it’s pretty awesome.

  4. Hi cate,

    Honesty is what it’s all about ’round here! Glad you enjoyed the post and that it got you to think and second-guess you’re actions a bit; thanks for sharing that story.

    Trust and believe; there is no need to be self-depreciating or otherwise to prove your “non-racistness” or “unharmfulness” to Black people or even other ethnicities. You do you, they’ll do them, and it’s all good; for serious.

    Letting ourselves “all out” and unapologetically sharing who we are with other people while allowing them to do the same and authentically learning, enjoying and accepting the reality of who we were, who we are, what has happened and what can be; is a cornerstone to making inner and global peace a possibility.

  5. nothing constructive to add but I did enjoy it

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