In the early 90's there were many debates about whether or not a Black person could be a racist. This was always a ridiculous question. Of course we can be racist. Anyone can be. We can discriminate. We can prejudge. And, despite popular opinion, we can even oppress. We cannot oppress on the massive scale and with the overreaching impact that White America has oppressed us. That is currently not possible and hardly anything we should aspire to. But if you've been the only White kid in an all-Black school or in an all-Black neighborhood or job, you know a little bit about what it feels like to be oppressed. There can often be no one more cruel than an oppressed minority who suddenly finds the roles reversed even on such a small scale as a school playground.
This attitude that minorities are somehow above being called racists and that we don't need to show the same racial sensitivity we demand is self-destructive and will backfire. Minorities are every bit as capable of causing major emotional damage by prejudging people based solely on their color as we are of being the victims of such discrimination. We have become blind to what equality truly means. It does not mean equality for Black people but for all people, black, white, brown, yellow, red, male, female, gay, or straight. If you allow for any group of people to be discriminated against then you open the door for discrimination against any and all people.
Hearing Black Americans rail against interracial marriage, Mexican immigration, same-sex marriage, seeing them attack other minorities and even White people, it seems to me that we are stabbing our own cause right in the back. Isn't the point, ultimately, to get rid of the entire concept of race? I know that sounds naively optimistic. I was just recently in a conversation on a messageboard about this exact same subject and I pointed out that it will be difficult to get rid of the concept of race until we get rid of racism. That may seem backwards but as long as racism exists than there will be the need for racial groups to band together to oppose it. If we abandon the concept of race while we are still being victimized because of our race we will only divide ourselves and make ourselves more easily victimized. Still, the goal should be to one day get rid of the concept of race entirely and view each other as we truly are, one human race. Notice that I did not say anything about getting rid of culture. Cultural differences will always exist and they should be celebrated for the diversity they bring to the human family and not used as a means of division. At the very least, there should be some unity among the oppressed.
Mexicans are no better off in this country than African Americans are so why the hell wouldn't we stand with them to make this a better country for all Americans? Why the hell do so many of Black Americans side against them? Asians have enjoyed great success in this country recently but it wasn't always that easy for them. Many Chinese Americans came to this country as virtual slaves brought here to work on the railroads for pennies a week. And Japanese Americans were not exactly met with open arms after WWII. many of them were forced onto concentration camps. We should be happy that they have overcome so much and look to them as a model to follow towards our own success in this country. I know that there is racism directed at us by many of these group and perhaps our racism is just a reaction to theirs. But where does it stop? What does it matter who started it? What is this, a fucking schoolyard? How do we look calling a Korean or a Mexican racist while referring to them as Chinks and Spics? We look like hypocrites. The same is true of Whites.
We have suffered much at the hands of White America but there can be little doubt that things are getting better. Times are changing. Holding onto the past will only ensure that we never move past it. We need to forgive and move forward towards a better tomorrow for all of us. We have to move together as a country. If anything has been made clear by Barrack Obama's candidacy it is that racial divides have to end. If Black Americans hold onto our own prejudices, how can we expect White Americans to let go of theirs? Can we say that we would never date a White person, or hire or vote for one and then get pissed off when a White person says they would never date, or hire, or vote for a Black person? Can we make broad sweeping generalizations about White people and then get angry when they do the same in return?
Look, I am not the most racially sensitive guy in the world. I have laughed about racial jokes directed at every single race, most of all, my own. I think there is value in acknowledging and making light of our differences. It is often a good springboard to substantive conversations about race because, as has often been observed, a joke is a great icebreaker. It gets people to loosen up and not take themselves so seriously. I don't think there is value in ridiculing and attacking people because of these differences, however. I don't think that there is anything to be gained from perpetuating negative stereotypes and I think it would be self-destructive to base any major decisions on these stereotypes. Definitely not political or relationship decisions. In other words, don't vote or not vote for Obama because he's Black. Vote for him because you think he's the best man for the job or don't vote for him if you really and truly believe that he would make a worse president than McCain. And if you think McCain is really the better man for the job than vote for him. Don't avoid friendships or romantic relationships with people because of their race. Don't base your employment decisions on race. If all Black people decided to only work for companies that were predominantly Black what do you think that would do to our job opportunities? Yet, surprisingly, I know people who think this way. It is pure idiocy and self-destructive racism.
There are real and definite cultural differences between people of various nationalities but color does not always equate with culture. Black people from North Carolina, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia and New York, all look exactly the same but culturally there are great differences. In fact, I would bet that if you were to look at the cultural differences between a Black person and a white person who were raised in the same neighborhood in Philadelphia versus the cultural differences between two Black people, one who was raised in Los Angeles or North Carolina and the other who was raised in New York or Philadelphia, you would find an equal number of differences between the two Black people raised in different neighborhoods as the Black and the White person raised in the same neighborhood. The influence of church in the South is much larger than in the North. The diet is different. The emphasis on education is different. The speech patterns are different. The style of dress is different. The way we look at race is different. Sure, you can argue that the differences between the Black people would not be as significant but I would say that even that would be debatable. In Philly, I never think about what color shirt I wear in what neighborhood, where such a mistake might get you killed in certain parts of LA. I'd say that was a significant difference. And if you were to look at the differences between Black people in Great Britain, France, Africa, the Carri bean, versus American Blacks, the differences would increase exponentially. Do you really think that a Black person from Detroit has more in common with someone from Zimbabwe than a White person from his own neighborhood? I think not. Race is not so big a deal as we make it out to be.
I am often asked by Black women how I can be married to a White woman, if the differences bother me; "Don't you want someone who can relate to you?" The assumption being that a Black woman can relate better. Here's the funny thing. I have found just the opposite to be true in practice. There is no race of women that find me easy to relate to with any regularity. I have not found Black women to have any easier time relating to me than White, Latino, or Asian women and often less. I am a rather unique individual and I don't fit very easily into groups. Try to stick me in any group and I stick out regardless of race. I am an odd duck.
I am an atheist which automatically makes 94% of Black women unable to relate to me. According to the Barna Research group: Blacks (52%) are the ethnic group most likely to have attended a religious service in the past week, followed by whites (49%), Hispanics (41%), and Asians (29%). By those stats, I'd find it much easier to find an Asian woman who can relate to my atheism than a Black or a White woman. In fact, my first wife was half Asian. Women, by an almost 10% margin tend to be more faithful, attend, church more often, pray more frequently, and interpret the bible more literally than men so, if I was looking for a mate based solely on how well they could relate to me, it might be better for me to be gay. At least I'd have a spotter when I go heavy on the bench press and perhaps a sparring partner in the gym.
I am extremely open-minded and liberal whereas Black Christians tend to be very conservative about most issues. I am not homophobic. I am Pro-Choice. I write horror. Have you been to a Horror convention lately? Not a lot of Black folks there. I workout every day. Have you been to a martial arts gym lately? Not a lot of Black women there. Not a lot of women of any race. The differences go on and on. If I had limited my search for a wife only to Black women who can relate me then I'd be one lonely man. We could certainly relate in terms of issues of racial prejudice but that is such a minuscule part of my life. I have met few women of any race who fit all of these categories. If I find woman who can relate to me philosophically, politically, artistically, and emotionally, then I am dating her and that woman has just as much chance of being Black, White, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, etc. The assumption that only Black people can relate to Black people is flawed and yes, racist. Those women that look at me wrong and whisper under their breath when they see me with a White woman and bi-racial kids are racists. The brothers that make comments like "You fuck a White girl but you don't marry them." They are racist too. Anyone who thinks that interracial relationships are wrong is a racist regardless of their color, what generation they were born in, or what area of the country they live in.
Now, if I haven't pissed off everyone already here's something that will probably do it. After the, yes, racist verdict in the Rodney King police brutality trial there was a huge riot in which Blacks and Latinos burned, looted, and beat, just about any non-Black or non-Latino business or person they could find. Most of this violence was directed at Korean store owners and any White person who happened to wonder by. The result was that they destroyed much of their own damned neighborhood. I get the anger and I get the reaction. It is no different than getting so mad that you punch a hole in the door in your own home, knowing that you are going to have to now pay to replace it. You aren't thinking. You are just trying to let the anger out and whatever is nearest to you is probably going to pay. This is an emotional reaction akin to temporary insanity. The choice to target certain racial groups however, was racist. If they had gone after the police I would have perhaps understood a little better, but the choice to go after anyone who happened to be the same color as the police officers was racist, pure and simple. I understand the rage and frustration. Hell, I understand the rage and frustration when a White kid gets his ass-kicked by a bunch of Black kids and develops ill feelings towards Blacks. But if that White kid decided to retaliate against all Blacks, if his Friends and neighbors rounded up a posse and started beating the hell out of every Black person they saw then they would be indicted for hate crimes as they undoubtedly should be. If that White kid went the rest of his life never trusting another Black person because of that ass-kicking, we would not hesitate to call him a racist. If the Rodney King riots had happened in the reverse and it had been White people targeting Blacks because a White man got beaten half to death by a gang of Black cops there would be no question. True, as I have often pointed out, the history of racial discrimination in America has created a deep well of rage and frustration that few besides us could ever relate to. I understand the hate that hate made. This is one cultural difference that we as Black Americans all share. It is real and undeniable. No White person could feel what we felt while watching those cops beat Rodney King or, more recently, watching as those cops in Philadelphia beat and kicked Thomas Jones. It brings up every racist or discriminatory remark ever made to you, every racist act ever perpetrated against you, your parents, and even your grandparents. Still, adding our own hate won't help. Discriminating against those who have discriminated against us won't help. Only when all racial discrimination ends can our own freedom be ensured. We have to stop acting as if we get some sort of special exemption from racism.
"Reverse racism" has become a new catch phrase. It has become a rallying cry for straight White men who feel that they have been demonized by minorities. It is often just a sickening self-pitying way for racists to justify their own racism by saying "See! See! They're doing it too!" The power-structure in America makes it impossible for minorities to discriminate against Whites with anything near the impact of institutionalized racism. So, many minorities dismiss these claims without a moment's thought, even the ones that happen to be legitimate. Just because institutionalized racism against White people in America does not exist does not mean that racism against White people does not exist. When someone gets pissed off because there's a Black Entertainment Television and not a White Entertainment Television or a Black History Month and not a White History month then I think they are whiny idiots who need to take a real hard look at the world and ask themselves seriously if they think that White Entertainment Television or White History Year doesn't exist. When someone complains that the Black kids in their school beat them up everyday just because they are the only White kids there or that they want to sing soul music or rap but can't get a record deal because they are White or that they can't get elected to public office in their predominantly Black district, even though they are the more qualified candidate with the better platform just because they are White, then I listen because that is real racism and it is wrong.
There is no such thing as "reverse racism". Racism is racism and anyone can do it and anyone can be hurt by it and it all needs to stop. I have two beautiful bi-racial daughters and I no more want them to grow up in a world where Black people discriminate against White people than one where White people discriminate against Black people. I want a world free of all racial prejudice and discrimination. They deserve to live in a world that is better than the one I inherited. All of our children do.