Howdy friends. For those of you outside of the USA, Today is a holiday that honors civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
As a fat, white, middle class man in suburban Massachusetts, I rarely see malicious racism outside of a few friends who will call each other the N word in jest, and have some not very nice feelings about the poor and welfare which I don’t agree with.
Race Relations. How they doing where you at? What do you think would make them better? What’s preventing folks from truly coming together and such.
I have some thoughts on this, and I guess they’re sort of radical and a little off-base, but I had a professor of Black World Studies to back me, so I guess I’m not nuts.
Namely I blame the uncanny valley, which is a term popularized by James Cameron to describe how the closer digital creations of humans gets to approximating humans, the more likely you are to notice the differences and be put off.
I relate this to inter-culture and inter-race relations because there are SO many things that overlap now, that there’s this very tricky tight-rope of what’s acceptable and what’s not, and it creates a stymieing affect, where any kind of serious and informed discussion involves avoiding so many landmines that it’s impossible to be totally honest, especially in a political or policy context.
It’s nearly impossible to discuss cultural differences WITHOUT being thought of as some sort of racist, or being labeled one, despite questions of culture and socioeconomic-related things.
From stupid things like names typically associated with African Americans like say..Darell (Dah-rell) or Shastidy (Shasta-dy) to things like cadence and communication (African American Vernacular English), it seems the only times we ACTIVELY discuss the differences between cultures is when someone does something stupid like diagnose a woman with ‘Ghetto Booty’ – and even then that culture discussion always swings toward ‘You have no idea, don’t try to have an idea about it, so shut up, Whitey’.
It’s far easier to call someone a racist than it is to defend someone who is thought to be one, to understand that while there IS a lot of racism in our world, a lot of the problems are likely one of ignorance on the part of white folks, or stereotypes perpetuated by media, books, and so on.
I watched a documentary a few months ago, and in it they talked about this Baseball manager who said something to the affect of ‘Black people aren’t smart enough to manage a baseball team’. Horrible.
However the response of the owner was instead to hire a psychologist and get to the bottom of why this person thought that, instead of publicly shaming him (which he was anyway) and reacting with vitriol and malice. I wonder if perhaps that should be the legacy of Martin Luthur King Jr. this idea that we *are* all brothers and sisters and we are all part of the HUMAN race, and that with a little compassion and empathy, we can figure out what ails us all.
Anyway, on this Martin Luther King day, I’m personally…confused, about where our interpersonal relations stand on a cultural / racial level. We seem very eager to shout from the roof tops at anyone who may think or say the wrong thing, and I wonder if perhaps coming down from those roof tops is the better idea.
What say you, Blog Otters?