Friday, July 24, 2009

Discussions on Race

I curse the day I chose to do my topic on race. If there is anything that Americans refuse to be honest about, it is this one thing. For some reason, we live in an age where it is unpopular to believe that racism exists. We supposedly live in a "colorblind" society. BULLSHIT.

I posed a question: Growing up, did you ever feel pressured to act “white” (or “black” or “Hispanic” etc…)? This question is deemed problematic... but not because of the white part or the Hispanic part. Only the acting black component is called into question.

I feel attacked.

Was it wrong to ask? Are people really just themselves? Or do we, as someone said to me, choose to participate in stereotyping ourselves. Let me ask you this... could Lil' Wayne get very far acting, looking, and speaking the way he does if his chosen profession was Investment Banker. No. He would not. Does saying so make me a fucking racist? Let's get real, people. Black people (Asian people, Hispanic people, Arabic people, etc...), to be successful... have to act white... and in particular, talk white. For some reason, in this society, acting white means acting like a middle class (or upper middle class) white person. Is it racist to believe that one can "act" white? The terms Oreo and Twinkie and whatnot suggest that it is a real social phenomenon... I'm not making this shit up.

The fact that I know this happens makes me want to ask about. It enrages me that I have to try to be politically correct all the fucking time. You can't hit at truth if you're scared to ask questions.

This would never even have come into question if I was black. There are things I'm not supposed to be allowed to ask. Why these rules if race isn't pertinent? Why all these rules if race doesn't matter and we are free to be ourselves?

Can we have a frank dialogue on race outside of our own races? I can't even get straight answers from Koreans because I'm only half. People will only discuss race within their own. How can we ever go forward until we can talk about this TOGETHER? Quit being fucking pussies.

People are so close-minded.

Yes, my questions are uncomfortable, but only because they are direct. Give me your gut reaction to the question. If it's anger, put it on the page. But don't ignore me or say I'm being politically incorrect. Because I'm not trying to be political. I'm trying to get answers. If you don't want your voice to be heard, just don't answer.

3 comments:

  1. Hey, this is rediscover_me from Twitter commenting.

    I still stand by thinking it's all about participating in stereotypes vs. acting like a specific race or not. Not all black people act, look, sound, etc. like Lil' Wayne. A certain group of them? Yes. Just like there is a certain group of Hispanics, Caucasians, Asians, etcetera that portray similarities to him. To me, his persona has nothing to do with his race, but with the stereotype that he is going for. If we were going to use him as an example, it would be easier to say that he is acting 'black' because it's the skin color that most people see in pop culture who act like that. They don't all act like that though, and I think that is where you were getting negativity from. Generalizing that someone has to act a specific race or not can be very offensive. It's basically coming across as saying that 'white' people are higher on the totem pole than anyone else and therefore people have to somehow surpass their skin color or culture just to meet at that level with them.

    I was born in Puerto Rico, and learned both Spanish and English since I began speaking. I don't have any sort of accent in either language when I speak, and that isn't because I was trying to act Hispanic, or Caucasian. It's just how it came out. It bothers me that I've had people tell me in the past that I was acting 'white' in a connotation that makes me feel like I'm prissy over something that I really had no control over. These are the reasons why I don't like stereotyping. It happens, and I agree with you on the fact that it's an issue that people like to pretend isn't there. It just upsets me because in my opinion it has nothing to do with race, but more with stereotypes and how we see them out in society.

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  2. I'm not saying that I agree with white people being higher on the totem pole. All I'm saying is that most people who are in power are white and you have to play the game according to their rules. There are certain pockets of industry where you don't (such as the entertainment industry, which is why Lil' Wayne can be successful while still maintaining his persona, which would not be acceptable in other work climates). There is a way to act white, whether it is conscious or not. I know that I, personally, have had to "act white" in order to pass so I could have access to certain societal benefits... Thus, the whole idea of white priviledge. If you can pass, you can share in it. Have you ever been to a black church? African American people act totally different there than they would if they were in a church that was majority white. Many black people have to suppress themselves when they are in the view of white people. Thus, they are trying to adapt to the audience that is around them... therefore, they are acting white. White kids that come from majority black neighborhoods, many of them talk and act in a way that isn't consistent with how most white people do. Is this their genuine self? Is it just a by-product of culture? Whatever it is, it is a way of behaving... and any behavior is a choice. It's a learned choice, but still, I bet, to some extent, that white boys from the hood can drop their macho acts to conform to their employers expectations.

    And clearly, you've gotten flack in the past for being "whitewashed" or whatever. And you say you can't help it, that it is just you. Well, that is awesome that you feel that you can be your genuine self all the time. But maybe that is a biproduct of you acting/speaking on the more majority side of the spectrum. Perhaps if you were like the people who accuse you of acting/speaking white, you could identify more with what I'm saying.

    I'm not trying to be offensive. I'm just trying to speak the truth on a real societal phenomenon. Race, as I always say, isn't real. We are all genetically similar. There is no biological basis for race. Race is just similarities in features. But CULTURE is real. And cultural divisions are real. Unfortunately, in America, race and culture are linked in the common imagination. The powers that be have designated that, to succeed you must be part of this culture by behaving as we do. If your behaviors manifest in ways to align you with cultures outside of ours, that is a choice that will have negative consequences. However, if we don't know your alliances because you can navigate your way along the border of our cultures, then you're all good. That is reality. You can deny it all you want. It doesn't make it less real.

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  3. I'm not trying to deny it or say that you're wrong. I agree with a lot of what you're saying and it would be silly of me to say that it doesn't exist because what you're saying is very apparent in society.

    I think all in all, I just view it different than you do. I view the 'acting white' or 'acting black' or 'acting whatever' thing to be more of a stereotype issue than a race issue, in my opinion.

    When I commented to you, I wasn't doing it in a nasty or negative way because again, I can see a lot of what you're saying. I guess at this point, we might just be debating semantics. :)

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