Tag Archives: racism

Spreading the Holiday Racism…Courtesy of Right Wing Conservatives

‘Tis the season to be jolly…or as right wing conservatives would have it: ’tis the season to be racist and to spread hatred.  Humanevents.com, a website which deems itself as the “headquarters of the conservative underground” is promoting the right wing’s newest shot at sick, racist humor, a holiday song parody titled “Illegals in my Yard”, which is set to the tune of “Feliz Navidad”.  The song is rampant with Latino stereotypes as drunken freeloaders who escaped from border patrol and are out to spread disease and to take down Lou Dobbs (you can view the lyrics here, but please keep a brown bag nearby, as you may just hurl).

“Feliz Navidad” was originally written and composed by Jose Feliciano who intentionally used both English and Spanish for his holiday song, as a way to “create a bridge between two wonderful cultures during the time of year in which we hope for goodwill toward all.”  Leave it to the right wing to take this well-intentioned Christmas song and turn it into a way to spread their hateful, racist agenda. 

Earlier in the year, the Republican National Committee released a “humorous” parody of “Puff the Magic Dragon”, and called it “Barack the Magic Negro”.  Though there was considerable backlash from those who saw past the “oh it’s just fun and games” excuse, the RNC refused to apologize.  Why apologize?  It’s just the right wing conservatives’ miserably failed attempt at “humor”.  There is unlikely any feelings of shame or remorse coming from the right wing for creating and circulating such parodies of popular songs.  According to right wing conservatives, racist “humor” is apparently alright, so long as it is “humor” aimed towards Latino Americans and African Americans.  And, if you cannot laugh at it and brush it off as good fun and humor, you must not be able to take a joke, right?  You must not be funny, and you must not have a sense of humor, right?

How do we address this type of “humor”, especially when it is created and perpetuated by those men who are racially, economically and authoritatively in posititions of power?  If they refuse to recognize and confront their own racism due to an enormous sense of hubris and denial, how do we respond?  Though the answers to these questions are difficult, they are important for us to discuss.  So I open this up to you: how do we deal with this particular type of racism?

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Sarah Palin’s Got a Fear of Asians

Former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has a fear of Asians and Asian Americans.  In an article reported on the Huffington Post:

Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, gave a different account to Conroy and Walshe. According to him, the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable: “They were a minority type thing and it wasn’t glamorous, so she came home.”

Palin, who attended four different universities and colleges to complete her Bachelor’s, felt uncomfortable in Hawaii, whose population primarily consists of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.  She felt out of place in a state where white was not the majority.  In recalling her undergraduate experiences, Palin claimed to have most preferred her last school of attendance, the University of Idaho, which she considered “much like Alaska yet still ‘Outside.’ ”  In other words, Palin feels most comfortable at a place populated by a majority of white people — people she deemed to be just like her.

All this is coming from a former governor of Alaska, a former vice presidential candidate of the Republican party.  Palin, who embodies the socially conservative views, ideas and beliefs of the Republican party, appeals to those who also identify as Republican.  It’s only evidence to believe that the Republican party as a whole is falling further and further away from what the founding fathers had envisioned the party to be — a political party who in its earliest years had leaders who believed in and fought for civil rights — into a party of moral decline and social regression; a party whose values and actions are slowly becoming synonymous with white nationalism.

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Thanksgiving: A Celebration of White Supremacy and Mass Genocide

Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated by a fairly large number of Americans.  It’s usually marked by an oven-roasted turkey, golden corn, a hot apple pie and warm family gatherings.  We’ve all heard the myth of why we celebrate Thanksgiving; the Pilgrims settled in New England, and after a long, unusually harsh winter, celebrated with the Native Americans by sharing with each other fresh crops and warming hearts with honest thanks.  Thanksgiving has become a day where we recall this myth as we sit around our dining room tables with our families, reminding each other to ‘be thankful’ for what we can call our own.  Then we over-indulge our gluttonous desires with comfort foods and feel the effects of tryptophan take over our bodies…

In recent years, I’ve began to wonder: is Thanksgiving really celebrating the coming-together of Pilgrims and Native Americans in a fun, heartwarming feast of thanks and wonder?  Given the bloody, genocidal past of United States’ history, I became skeptical and decided to investigate.

Many Americans (particularly those white Americans in power…those who rewrite American history and create capitalist Hallmark holidays) believe in the myth of Thanksgiving and give it no second thought as they generously help themselves to Betty Crocker mashed potatoes.  They probably prefer to keep it that way, as is seen generation after generation of school children who come home from school with their paper turkeys, eager to tell their parents about how wonderful the Pilgrims were for inviting the Indians to join them in a feast of thanks giving.  What’s the harm in ruining this tradition of false teachings and beliefs?

The truth of the matter is: the first Thanksgivings were celebrations of victory by the white man who mercilessly slaughtered nations of Native Americans in their conquest of what is now the United States.  In their mission to fulfill Manifest Destiny, the white man wiped out thousands and thousands of Native peoples, audaciously celebrating each bloody scalping, murder, and rape by having feasts on their newly stolen land, over the dead bodies of their victims.  The truth of the matter is: following the mass genocide of Native Americans solely at the hands of the white man on a rampage to spread white supremacy, the white man (as capitalist history writers) needed a way to make what they have done appear not so bad.  They needed something to cover up their massacres and make them the heroes in the end.  Thus came the invention of Thanksgiving as we know it today: a Hallmark holiday and family tradition in which the kid-friendly version of Thanksgiving’s origin thrives and fools Americans into blindly celebrating mass genocide.

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“Wow, you speak such good English!”

I work in retail.  This means that I am constantly interacting with a large variety of people and making small talk with people who hold a wide range of beliefs, views and opinions.  Though most of these chats are superficial and consist of little more than simple careless exchanges of “how are you?” “good, how are you?” “good!” … “have a good day” “thanks, you too!”, I sometimes have more in-depth conversations — though often superficial conversations — with customers who typically have no where to go.  I can’t complain too much because I must admit, I enjoy these short conversations with strangers who sometimes make me giggle, sometimes make me happy, sometimes make me think, or even rarely make me angry.  My favorite is when these “stranger conversations” make me think.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a person say to me, “Wow, you speak such good English!”  I always cringe a little as a small piece of me dies inside when I hear this, but I am not at all surprised.  It’s the curse of being an Asian American (or a Latino/a American) — that is, the curse of being seen by the general majority (read: White Americans) as the Perpetual Foreigner.  Because I look “different”, I am automatically deemed as an alien, or as a foreigner, in the eyes of those who look like the idea of the White American.  I am seen as someone who must have immigrated or relocated to the United States from some sort of second class society or third world country in search of a better life.  I am seen as someone who must be fluent in my “native language” and who is struggling to quickly learn English for easier assimilation into American society.  This Perpetual Foreigner view instills into the minds of White Americans that I, along with all other brown skinned Americans, must be from somewhere outside of the United States, and thus, must speak English with some sort of accent.  This is why it surprises White people that I “speak English so well!”.

The United States is a country built on immigrants.  Its citizens are a blend of people of a myriad of differing ethnicities who have ancestry tracing back to a vast number of nationalities.  Unfortunately, very early on in the process of settling and establishing the United States, the concept of race was invented by those who deemed themselves “Whites” (and therefore better than those who were deemed “Non-Whites”), thus beginning the institution of systemic racism.  This invention proved to be extremely beneficial to “Whites” — they were able to control and hold power over every aspect of the development of the United States at the expense of those “Non-Whites”, or “Others”.  This invention grew as the institution of it forcefully expanded, creating what we know today as the United States of America.

What does all this have to do with me being seen as the Perpetual Foreigner?  What does it have to do with White people proclaiming to me “Wow, you speak such good English!”?  The fact is, within this framework, when a White American looks at a person of color and immediately thinks to him or herself, that person must be an immigrant or i wonder where that person is from, this White American is subconsciously thinking American is White.  Within this frame of thought, there is no room for people of color in the United States, and there is absolutely no room for racism to die.

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On the claim “Racism will go away if we stop talking about it”

As a woman of color who is passionate about racism studies and teaching anti-racism, I cannot recall how many times I have heard people say, “Racism will go away if we stop talking about it.”  Though this claim is nothing new to me, it never ceases to leave me almost dumbfounded at how someone could possibly believe in it.  It’s like saying, if we all pretend we’re rich, and stop talking about being poor…that one day, we will all be rich!  Or, if we stop talking about the economic depression, the Swine Flu, AIDS, and homosexuality…it will all magically go away!  If things were that simple, and if erasing racism were that simple, wouldn’t you think we’d already be living in the ideal world? 

I recently had a conversation with a woman I work with.  We chatted about various intelligent things, such as sexism in the retail industry, and things were going quite smoothly.  That is, until this woman (who we shall call Jan), brought up the fact that she is sick and tired of “President Obama and the lefties playing the race card”.  Intrigued by this statement of hers, I asked Jan to be more specific, and to elaborate on what she meant.  She went on and on about her sheer disgust at “the liberal agenda” and the “accusations of all whites as racists”.  She concluded her rant with the classic line, “Racism will go away if we just stop talking about it!” 

Racism is already like the big ol’ pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.  It’s a touchy subject that often can end up causing accusations, offenses, and the like.  So how are we supposed to address the issue?  By not talking about it, we are all guilty of passively perpetuating it and of giving a free pass to those who spew racism, or who benefit from institutions built on racism.  But by talking about it, we are making ourselves vulnerable to being blamed for somehow actively perpetuating racism, or even worse, being labelled as trouble makers or racists ourselves.  Seems like a catch 22 either way.

Discussing racism and racist remarks, attitudes and beliefs is not about creating a dichotomy of racist/non-racist.  It’s not about placing blame or pointing fingers, but more about taking the opportunity to learn and educate.  Racism is a huge, complex problem because it matters.  It affects all the social institutions around us.  It affects the quality of life we can expect. Racism matters, and no one should be able to say “Oh, it will just go away if we stop talking about it”.  So what if it makes a few people uncomfortable?  We need to address racism when we see it and do it in an effective, educational way.  That is the only way to really help racism on its way out for good.

The bottom line is, racism was created by humans.  It was and is being perpetuated by humans every day, everywhere.  If racism was created by humans and continues to thrive because of humans, we as humans are responsible for progressively talking about it, just as we are able to erase it.

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