I don’t think this word means what you think it means

You know about my serious addiction to American Judge shows, right? I recently discovered, on a Snow Day, that it is possible to watch *only* judge shows for FOUR HOURS AT A TIME during weekdays. FOUR. HOURS. This gives me a fairly good grip on the pulse of America. I know how Americans operate because I watch judge shows. And The Simpsons. It’s all good. Sometimes, I hear things that make me think entire phrases without any hard consonants in them. Then I forget about those things until something else brings them up again.

Such as someone saying the same stupid thing another time.

I’m certainly not saying that everyone on judge shows is a dummy, and I’m not saying that everyone in the US says stupid things. But those of you who do say stupid things sure do say a lot of them. And don’t get me wrong, we say an awful lot of stupid things in Canada, too. But we don’t have judge shows to do it, so most Canadians don’t get to hear the stupid things we say in our own country. In fact, we have legislation here that at least 82% of all the stupid things we say in our country must be said on CPAC or else they are considered not to have been said out loud.

Unfortunately, a lot of the people who don’t know about this law end up getting quoted in newspapers and such. Considering the punishment for breaking the only-say-stupid-things-on-CPAC’ law is to have to watch only CPAC for the entire term of your sentence, nobody really enforces the law because that’s considered cruel and unusual punishment (seriously guys, would it kill you to have some history and/or cultural programming on there once in a while? I’m not talking about ‘Canada Beats Off: the next big drumming sensation’, but maybe NFB programs or some Hinterland Who’s Who or even the bloody Red Green show would be good *once in a while*).

Here’s the latest stupid thing I’ve heard about seventeen gajillion times in the last day. (Actually, it’s only about three times in the last two months, but I’m prone to hyperbole. And dry skin.) I think I’ve even ranted about this before on the bournal somewhere…it sounds like something I would do. But here it is: Reverse Racism or Reverse Discrimination.

Only idiots believe there is such thing as “Reverse” Racism/Discrimination.

Id. Ee. Yots.

Racism is racism.

I try not to form opinions about you based on your skin colour, where in the big, wide world your ancestors came from, your accent (again, with the exception of the Welsh), your religion, your headgear, your traditional dances and music, etc., etc., etc.. And I kind of expect the same thing in return. I kind of expect that you’re not going to make fun of me or discriminate against me because some of my ancestors were forced to leave their language, their culture, and their traditional homeland and they ended up dealing with substance abuse issues stemming from poverty, uncertainty, and lack of opportunity.

I mean, if you want to discriminate against me, do it because I’m loud and goofy and don’t take things seriously enough and I’m opinionated and don’t tend to accept criticism well and like to always be right and argue a lot. But not because of things I have no control over (nor would I wish to change them if I could).

There are people against ‘affirmative action’, as they call it Stateside, where employers have hiring quotas for minorities. I mean, okay, there are people against bathing, too, so I guess you can call up any ‘special interest’ group and take examples of weird behaviour there. Not that bathing is or ought to be a special interest group…

Traditionally, minorities (whether that is ‘minority’ based on race, or gender, or physical ability, or sexual orientation, or religion, or whatever) have fewer opportunities for education and employment, not because of their status as ‘minorities’ (which is a word I don’t like, by the way) but because of the economic situation in which their families originated. People who can’t afford to eat often don’t do well in school, and therefore often don’t complete school, which limits the opportunities presented them for employment and improving social well-being. Not because of their cultural or genetic heritage, but because of economic heritage.

I’m kind of going off the rails here. Let me be more concrete. When a person of colour says “you don’t trust me because you’re white”, that’s racism. When a person says “you’re not as capable of doing this job because you’re Christian”, that’s …well, that’s an ‘ism’, although I don’t think technically it can be lumped in with ‘racism’, can it? When someone says “there is no way you can possibly understand because you’re not Chinese”, that’s racism. I mean, the *truth* of that last statement is that you can *never* understand someone completely, but it has nothing to do with their genetic makeup or cultural background.

I also think we’re overly sensitive to all the ‘ism’s, and people are afraid to say anything about anyone for fear of being labelled some kind of ‘ist’. I’m fairly comfortable and confident that my own beliefs are well-rounded and open-minded, so I don’t really worry about it. That’s probably very short-sighted of me.

There are a few things that bother me in general:

  1. Assuming that I don’t know what you’re talking about if you’re talking about a culture from which I have not (to your knowledge) been born from. I worked with someone who figured there’s no way I could possibly know about apartheid because I’d never been to South Africa. Very true. I have not ever been to South Africa. But I have studied apartheid. I’ve never lived through it and the fallout from it, and I never want to have to. I will never understand what it is like to be a black person living in Johannesburg, and I will never understand what it is like to be a white person living in Johannesburg unless I move there for a while. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know about it. It doesn’t mean I can’t empathise. It doesn’t mean I can’t get pissed off that Apartheid is wrong. I’m also pretty good at asking around for more information and I’m quite good at doing research.
  2. Telling me I cannot possibly understand the plight of the yellow/black/red/beige/brown man because I have never lived as a minority. First, I’m a woman. Technically, that classifies me as a minority. Second, look for similarities instead of differences. Many of these plights have been experienced before and will be so again because we’re all pretty much asshats to one another all the time.
  3. This one happens a lot around here, and that’s assuming that I do not grok what colonialism can do to a people. This one really gets me because a) that’s part of my family’s heritage, actually; b) I’ve grown up with colonialism and have seen what it’s done to people.

I have had the privilege on several occasions to sit and talk with Native Elders. One of the most recent times, an Elder was talking about some treaty negotiations that were happening, and she was talking about these negotiations in terms of some kids who had chosen to live off-reserve just before the negotiations began, and now they were having difficulty moving home. It was all very political and, not to put too fine a point on it, nitpicky. She sighed and said, “how many people living in Canada are affected by the treaties?”

Because I’m a moron, I said, “I dunno, all of us?”

And she smiled and said, “Yes. We are all treaty people.” And I know it’s been said several times before and several times since, but that was the first time it really struck home. She went on to talk about how dismayed she was that there was always so much blame being tossed around during treaty talks.

Where did this all come from?

Some guy on television who was talking about having experienced “reverse racism” when he was accosted by a gang. I threw my hands in the air and shouted (I often shout at my television) that that was just plain racism, and why not call a thing a thing if that is the thing that it is? I don’t even remember if it was someone of a ‘visible minority’ who’d been targeted by others of his cultural heritage, or if he was someone from a ‘privileged heritage’ who was targeted by others of a *different* cultural heritage. It was just *stupid*.

I mean, if you really think about it, “Reverse Racism” would be acceptance.

In which case, I’m totally in support of Reverse Racism. Particularly if “Reverse” is a verb and not an adjective.



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5 responses to “I don’t think this word means what you think it means”

  1. mrgod2u Avatar

    I only discriminate against the assholes, of which racists are but a small subset. No race, creed, colour, gender, or orientation has the market cornered on assholes.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      I do not discriminate against assholes. I do my best to accept them for what they are and move on. I do tend to inform them of the type of asshole they are, but I consider that to be a kind of educational duty of mine.

      1. Jim_P Avatar

        I think that this goes beyond empathy. It’s really about mutual respect.

        For example, I can empathise with a cause like PETA. They try to do good work protecting all Earth’s animals. However, they will never earn my respect as long as they throw paint on fur, try to set up human milk dairies, and tell me that ‘meat is murder.’

        1. cenobyte Avatar

          Quite so!
          It’s really tough to empathise with someone who is claiming to be discriminated against when they’re doing the same thing to you!

        2. cenobyte Avatar

          Oh wait. What’s wrong with human milk banks?

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