Friday, December 2, 2011

No matter how it's packaged, hate is still hate

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I've been called a lot of things by a lot of people in my lifetime, but this past week marks the first time I've ever been called 'racist'. I've had a particular fellow call me racist over a hundred times, actually. Sure, I've had some not so nice words hurled at me in passing, but being called racist for agreeing with someone on the issues that many black people have to still deal with in this day and age? Well, it was mind blowing.

I'm not even sure how I got sucked into the conversation. The only thing that I can think is the particular person who spent more than his allotted 140 characters on Twitter doing so engages in this behavior for the sake of publicity. I would imagine he mines Twitter for hashtages, like #tcot (a conservative tag) for people to debate. I use the term loosely because a debate implies reciprocity and arguing facts, neither is something this tweeter believes in. For the sake of simplicity and as not to satisfy his craving for attention, I will refer to him as Mr. C.  

I've always been of the mindset that unless you talk about these icky, tough subjects, people will continue to face discrimination. The Tea Party has made speaking negatively about race in code socially acceptable. We've gone from an open dialogue to no dialogue at all simply because we have a black president. The key to undermining non-whites it to not talk about the problems and injustices they face. Therefore, I'm always willing to discuss the topic.

Truth be told, I was very happy to join in what I thought would be stimulating conversation. I was looking forward to learning new points of view, mental enrichment and the chance to talk about something that matters (besides my kid and husband). Others in the conversation seemed to be really ganging up on Mr. C, which I felt bad for. I did not let them influence my opinion of him.

Mr. C happens to have a blog and a Ustream broadcast, which I happily perused. I found him an articulate, compelling writer. He makes a lot of very valid and important points about racism. His appeared to have good insight into the problems his culture is facing internally and externally. I was jazzed to get to pick his brain, listen to his thoughts and share mine with him.

I was warned by one in the conversation, a conservative, that Mr. C would do nothing but attack me. I laughed that off. Surely a man like Mr. C is compelled to have intelligent conversations. Surely his arguments and points stood on their own merits. A person like him doesn't need to stoop to insults in order to prove his point.

The others in the conversation that agreed with the conservative of the group, I thought, may be ultra conservatives as well. I think I stated something along the lines that I was a big girl and would form my own opinions; I don't feel I need to be liked by someone to agree with them.

Now, I'm not sure whether to show you how the conversation transpired or describe the craziness to you. All I know is that I have never in all my years encountered anything like it and I spent years being the only white person in the room.

Maybe I'll do both. I'm renaming the those in the conversation and putting my thoughts in italics. Here goes:

Mr. B: just wait until Mr. C goes off on him then redguy may change his tune!

Me: BTW, I'm a girl (cause we all know Pooping Red Guy is my blog and also an action figure).

Mr. C: Pooping Red "GUY" is a girl? How damn DUMB is that? (not a very grown up way to start a conversation with someone you've talked to, but I let it ride. I thought perhaps it was humor at my absurd screen name.)

(Now I'm not really good at looking back at old tweets, so I can't pull up the entire conversation. Somehow we stumbled onto racial division. I'm all for maintaining cultural identity, but I also am for diversity. I know the two can be achieved simultaneously. That's a good thing, too, because we can share our cultures with others so that we learn from one another. Also, we can enjoy what those cultures have to offer. It's a win-win.)

One thing that irritates me to no end (and I've heard over and over again from many black people) is when a white person says "I'm not a racists because I have some black friends". It's not a statement that screams "not racist". You are immediately identifying your black friends as black, and not just as your friends. I don't say "I'm not a homopbobe because I have some gay friends" and a man can't say "I'm not a misogynist because I have some women friends". By making those sort of statements you pigeon holing your friends by race, gender and sexual preference with is very much the founding idea in any sort of bigotry. I really wish white people would stop saying they can't be racists because they have black friends. I have actually known racist people who have black friends... the argument holds no water.

Me:  By saying "my kid has a black friend" you are immediately dividing people by race.

Mr. B:  race was divided in the country when the white man stole country from the native Americans! (this is a good point, but just because something was or is doesn't mean it should be or is okay)

Me: it's fine to keep it divided?

Mr. C: And yes Racists should be "divided" from the Blacks that they seek to destroy. (taking this at face value, it seems like a reasonable, understandable sentiment. personally, I'd be happy if we could take racists out of the equation because they are so hateful and hurtful. I'm not sure it's the answer to ending racism, though, nor is it logistically possible.)

Now the conversation goes on in a dizzying kind pace and since Mr. C goes over his 140 character allotment, there's a lot of new windows opening up. In any care, Mr. R (another participant), asks me an interesting question. 

Mr. R: You eat yet? You seem dumber today. Is poop a racist?

I can't find my response, but I said something to effect that I can't judge that since racism is more about the perception of the person's ideas and actions. I've never been called racist, but that if I was than it could be the case. If so, I'd have to re-evaluate my actions. The point was missed as Mr. C interpreted this differently than it was meant.

Mr C: Come on Racist NUT Mr. R. Did you really think this Racist Poop was sincere about not being a Racist and not realizing you were? "My[Racist] kid has a Black friend..." do you know how fucking DUMB that is?

The funny part part is that a) I never said I was racists and b) I hadn't heard enough from any of these folks to determine any overt racism. It should be noted that I really don't understand what Mr. C is trying to convey here. I also find it sad that he's now implied a small child is racist. The kid can't be more than 4 or 5 years old...

I ignored the comment. I became quite clear that my hopes of intelligent, thought provoking, enriching conversation with Mr. C were woefully dashed. I found the others were much better conversationalists and my only chance for any meaningful banter on the topic. There are two people I haven't mentioned yet, but were also late comers in thread: Mr. A, a college student, and Mr. G, an artist, father, philosopher. Some others were in and out of the thread, but not nearly as memorable as Mr. B, Mr. R, Mr. A, and Mr. G (in order of appearance).

Unfortunately, Mr. C spent the remainder of the conversation calling the white speakers racist and the black speakers sell outs. Mind you, this conversation started November 27th and is still going on (it's December 2nd). The real substance of the discussion has come from unexpected sources, for which I am grateful to have made new friends that I can disagree with and then joke around with, while also learning something.

I admit to teasing and egging Mr. C on. It's frankly an exercise in human behavior to see how he reacts to a variety of statements. I imagine that's what the others do, too. It's like watching a train crash over and over again. I do find it sad that this poor man has so much hatred spewing out of him. No one should have to carry that burden. I imagine he's had some pretty whacked up experiences  to have become the man he is today.

I also suspect he has some sort of personality disorder. When I unfollowed him because I was tired of hate speech flooding my Twitter time line, he initiated conversation with me (saying he won an argument we weren't having) and then followed me. That typically doesn't happen when someone doesn't like you and thinks you are racist. It's simply not normal behavior.

For instance, take this tweet I made this morning:

Anger is painful and shortens your life. No one deserves to live with such a rage inside of them &limits them from connecting w/ fellow man

Then he replies to it to say:

Racist insults about Black "anger" make you feel better but it doesn't make an argument. Suggesting that I'm "angry" that you're a Racist won't help you win the argument. Remember your happiness is based on your "winning" so why not get on the right side of the issue and STOP BEING RACIST so you can win? I'm not "angry" because your DUMB White Racist ass can't argue your way out of a paper bag, I'm disappointed that you aren't more of a foe.

Words can't express how sad his response is... for one, he apparently never read anything I've written in the days long conversation (I said I'd rather be happy than win), secondly, when I've agreed with him, he argued with me and called me names and thirdly if I'm such an evil racist and his foe, why on earth is bothering with me? I could say the sky is blue and that would make me racist for not seeing a green sky that is blue. It's just silly.

I made this for Mr. C & sent it to him. Maybe he can sleep better now?

I'm adding the sidebar that I won't be surprised if Mr. C goes ballistic because I didn't use his name in this post. I also predict he'll read it and call bring out the racist nut bit, perhaps even using retaliatory measures. If any of this comes to fruition, I will add it here. I've got my popcorn...   do you?

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