Downplaying the Race Card

33 thoughts on “Downplaying the Race Card”

  1. Yeah agreed, this is a cool post. I like to read your perspective on this. But I suppose I don’t totally agree on the Obama issue? Wait, wait, hear me out. Obviously, some superconservative ignorant people must have been all ‘HE’S BLACK AND HE’S THE PRESIDENT DOES THIS MEAN WE’RE GOING TO SEE OUR COUNTRY CHANGE INTO AN AFRICAN SAVANNAH’. But the mention of his skin color doesn’t have to be racist? Am I wrong there?
    Let me explain my own background. My aunt is Gabonese, and I’ve been around African immigrants my whole life. Not descendants from slaves, just immigrants, maybe that changes a lot of things. The animosity of the past in Europe just isn’t there, there was never a woman on the bus who would be pushed to the back. People from war countries decided to move to Europe, to be safe, and they’ve blended in slowly but surely. But honestly, as much as their color doesn’t interest me particularly when it comes to their personalities, I do see the difference. When I’m in the sun and my aunt is sitting there, I’m definitely curious as to how her skin changes, or how she does her hair. Because it IS different, there’s no point in pretending it’s not. Sometimes, as a European white person, I’m maybe a little weirded out by how touchy the subject of skin color is in America. To me, it makes no difference, it’s always been around me and I wonder about a naturally blonde’s white lashes just like I wonder about an African’s frizzy hair. Oh this post is getting so long, I’m sorry. This is turning into a conversation! 🙂 Is it really racist to mention someone’s skin color in a conversation about them? If I told a girlfriend about someone who’s always wearing expensive brands of clothing, I’d mention that, just to give her a general idea of the kind of person it is. I would also tell a friend if someone I told her about was black, because it also says something significant. Just like we talked about the other day; some stereotypes are upheld by the people it applies to, it’s just a way of conveying a general “idea” of a person. Is that bad? Lol. People refer to me as “the thin ass European”, I don’t take that the wrong way. It’s just the American way of saying “she doesn’t shave her arm pits, doesn’t believe in God and smokes”. Not necessarily all spot-on, but definitely a way to say with very few words that I’m not conservative… Which is true.

    1. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t saying that the mention of Mr. Obama’s skin color was racist. Just an indication that race still matters in the country of my birth. I loved to read your background and perspective from somewhere other than here, though, Clem. I noticed that as well when I traveled abroad. It must seem so crazy to you the way Americans deem the race card so worthy of analysis and criticism. But prejudice exists everywhere. It isn’t just racial everywhere.

      1. Yeah exactly! My fiancé is from the south, so he’s actually really touchy too because it’s been such a bad issue for so long, and really fairly recently. I’m still trying to figure out how that all works, I can’t imagine being born in a community that used to be enslaved, like wtf man. Or even growing up where the idea of human beings being ‘owned’ is just a few decades old. Mind boggling! But very interesting. I often just follow his lead during conversations about these topics, because I would inadvertently say the wrong thing lol. That movie The Help (and many others before that) kind of explains what it must’ve been like, but it’s still very alien. I would readily talk ridiculous sarcastic “gangsta talk” to an African American, because it’s funny to me and I fucking love it (I’ve seen every single stand-up by Eddie Murphy or Eddie Griffin, cracks me the fuck up), but that would be taken soooo wrong!! I know never to do that, but it kinda makes me sad I guess, that I would be judged for genuinely being interested in someone’s cultural background. My natural, normal and completely justified prejudice would be taken as an insult, whereas the very fact that I wouldn’t think about it twice, should mean I’m absolutely candid. 😦

      2. We take everything these days as being wrongly motivated. Like white guys singing songs traditional to black people, Negro spirituals and rhythm and blues. I believe we lose so much in the translations though, when other people try to take something not native to them and make it theirs. But something is also gained in the process. Something new is created, and that is just as valuable. It shows that we can appreciate and interact with others who come from different backgrounds than we do. I am liking this conversation. Lol.

  2. Man, this is awesome. Thank you for being openminded too, I really appreciate learning about the American unwritten rules. Any subculture, gender, religion, ethnicity, language, anything that creates a bond between people interests me. Interactions between groups are fascinating aren’t they! I do agree that we live in very intolerant and edgy times, everyone is on their toes (except me, woops). Maybe we’re just under too much stress. Working in a fast food chain gets pretty appealing when you think about it. That’s a really nice way of looking at it, an exchange brings forth something new and different, and the original doesn’t cease to exist so what’s really the problem, right? Copying, exchanging, using seems like a first step towards true mingling and eventually complete equality.

    1. It all comes down to how we relate to each other, though, right? I mean, if we have some common ground it is easier to relate to someone on other levels and about other things too. The problem is that as human beings it is hard for us to get past surface sometimes, and prejudice tends to run deep. I agree that we should all strive for equality but of ideas and sharing, to create a larger culture of appreciation instead of mere tolerance.

      1. Ahh I see what you’re saying. Yeah you’re right. Curiosity is often met with distrust, and since you said that I’m going to make a point to focus on my own attitude towards others. I could easily see myself being not-so-friendly sometimes, when really I shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people’s motives. Just in general. Thanks! This was a wonderful exchange, hah!

      2. Oh I’m absolutely friendly, but I can be a total cold bitch with an unexpected stranger, or someone who invades my personal space, in reference to your other post.

      3. Heh, I’m learning to be more “gentile”, which is apparently a Southern term for very complying, polite and deeply christian women. The emancipated European woman doesn’t take enough shit to blend in, the sharp edges need to be filed off… Lol!! PREJUDICE.

      4. Nah, I dig the occasional burger too much. Europe is pretty diverse though, much like the states. Italy and Sweden are two different worlds. The first is all about talking, gesturing wildly and communicating constantly around good food and good wine, where the latter is typically very low key, solitary and introverted. Belgium is………. Lol. What is Belgium even. SMALL!! In everything. Modesty, discretion and keeping it simple are key. Needless to say, I explode over here, generally.

      5. Also, as much as I agree 100%, the denial of the differences gets on my nerves sometimes. My partner even says “I never mention someone’s color because it doesn’t matter to me”, but by purposefully omitting it, I feel like it does matter, you know? There are differences, there just are. For there to be appreciation, there also has to be acknowledgement of the things that aren’t the same, ’cause you can’t appreciate what you can’t see.

      6. Wait, I phrased that like you’re denying the differences. I didn’t mean it like that. I meant the politically correct white people who condescendingly try to “help out” the African Americans by saying they’re exactly like us and they can be just as white as us. Assimilation is definitely not okay either.

      7. No worries, Clem. I knew what you meant the first time. Appreciate the difference, but appreciate the similarities as well. For example, I love being black but I also love learning about other peoples backgrounds. And I love writing but I like to talk with people who don’t write too. It’s all about being well-rounded, and enjoying life and others.

      8. Why am I even using the term African American? I find that term SO offensive, but I’ve been forced to use it because apparently even ‘black’ sounds racist in the USA if you don’t watch out. I always use the term black, even with my aunt. It’s so much more honest, and it doesn’t separate anyone from anything. A citizen’s a citizen, his great-great-great-grand father shouldn’t be a part of his denomination. That’s like saying I’m a colonial white. No thanks.

      9. Heh, true. I just want to eradicate every possible hurtful conviction I could have. I’m sure I do, and I’m sure I’m not aware, because it’s just inevitable. But black people have the same attitudes towards me as a “pinkie”, and I just wish there was room for that conversation with everyone. Every person has different sensitivities, and if there could just be open and friendly debate about it, I could find out with every new black person I meet how to talk to them. If I met an alcoholic, I’d have a million questions and I’d appreciate their openness. But I guess the black community has been so bullied, so put down, that they understandably developed an ‘us-against-them’ attitude and it’s hard to get past it as a white person.

      10. That’s why I always advocate to get to know people as individuals. One on one basis. Find out everything about that individual. Learn how she is, what makes her tick, what makes her unique. Appreciate her. And do that with everyone. And it can start with the two of us. We are very openminded, and we strive for frank, honest discussion. In short, we rule. Now let’s get everyone else there, pinkie. 😉

  3. (And by equality I don’t even mean that there wouldn’t be equality politically, I mean equality in the sense that there wouldn’t be any more segregation. From either side.)

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