I wrote this on twitter a few days ago and I spent the following 48 hours arguing with black people, mostly African people about it.
Black people can be racist.
Some black people are profoundly racists.
Some black people have no love for others.
Some black people aren’t better than the white supremacists or Neo-Nazis you see out there.
Just thought I would share that.”
Well, I admit it now that I read it again. The Neo-Nazis part was a tad much. Yet, I shall leave it as it is because I strongly believe it. Who would I be if I hid from what I believe? It made CERTAIN people, and by CERTAIN people I mean CERTAIN black people, immensely uncomfortable and I knew it would. I wrote something I believed in and I knew it would start a debate of sorts, but one never gets to see all the angles of a given fallout. Some consequences you never see coming.
By the way, one thing I want to point out that CERTAIN people missed: watch how I use the words “some” and not “all”. I used “can be” and “are” one time, preceded by “some”. I never wrote “All black people are racists”. I could never put all black people in the same box, as if they were a monolith. Plus, I clearly wrote “CAN BE”, not “ARE”. The former describes an ability which one might or might not have. The latter is descriptive, it describes a state of being! People, including myself, cannot see past the words that trigger them! What a shame that is!
No one likes to talk about race, and especially not white people. They know whatever they will say could very well be misinterpreted or misconstrued or used against them. My half white side can see that coming a mile away! Yet, I want to talk to people, I want to see what they think, how they think and why they think that way. The idea is to try and impart knowledge, not stay in my corner and call people names like a 13-year old. That is unfair to 13-year olds of 2019, who appear to be more mature than certain adults I know! Living together is a full time exercise. We must talk to each other, to understand others better and build bridges. That is the eternally optimistic Freeman talking.
My tweet showed me how CERTAIN black people are uncomfortable when they are being called racists! As I was arguing with people using 140 characters, which is a nightmare, I discovered something that made me smile and made me slightly sad simultaneously. They were adamant black people CANNOT BE RACIST. I must point out the people saying that live in the US and Canada, which is crucial and most of them are under 30, which is also relevant, to a degree. Youth brings a certain fiery passion that closes the eardrums at times. They kept using variants of a sentence I heard in the movie called “Dear White People”, that deals with racism at a prestigious predominantly white college in the US.
There is a scene in the movie where the black Dean of the university is arguing with a young activist who is black. Well, in truth, she is mixed but she hides her white heritage and the fact that she is going out with a white guy. She probably thought having her DNA being half white hurts her legitimacy to fight for black people. Anyway, she says to the dean and I quote: ” Black people can’t be racist. Prejudice, yes, but not racist. Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race. Black people can’t be racist since we don’t stand to benefit from such a system.”
What a great line! That is an amazing line. As a writer, I wish I was that gifted so I could write something so funny, witty, catchy and somewhat true. I saw the line in the trailer, and I watched the movie as soon as it came out on Netflix. Good movie overall.
Now, “Black people can’t be racist. Prejudice, yes, but not racist”. How clever is that! It sounds to me like a pass on the racism card. Black people cannot be racist, but prejudice is ok. To clear things up, prejudice is defined as “preconceived judgment or opinion” and also as “an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics”. Hostility still sounds better than racism. Well, the word racist, holds the same destructive power as nitroglycerin. You label or call someone racist; they are done. It doesn’t matter if they are, just throw the word out there, and they are done. It is an easy way to discard someone.
In this case and given the special circumstances of the US, racism is described as a SYSTEM, not as much as a behaviour. Apparently, black people can only be prejudiced, not racists! Now, the black American experience is unique because it encompasses slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, murders, rapes, lynching and establishing a political, economical, social, educational system from which blacks were excluded. THAT IS A SYSTEM! White people built a system that effectively excluded black people after using them for 400 years as free labor and cattle. A system did that! So that line is right when talking about systems. But what about racism as a behaviour?
I ask you: when a black person hates an entire group of people based on the colour of their skin, what should we call that? I’ll tell you: RACISM. You can bring all the technicalities on earth, you can twist the language, use euphemisms but when you hate an entire “race” or group of people, you are racist! You don’t need to implement a system of oppression or be prejudiced or whatever the hell you want to call it! Fuck that! You are racist.
Let me guess: it is uncomfortable, isn’t it? It makes your skin crawl, I know. Moreover, I know why. It is simply because racism when you are black, it is associated with PEOPLE BEING RACIST TO YOU…It is never about A BLACK PERSON BEING RACIST TO OTHERS. That is where the discomfort comes from and people prefer using other words, diluted words that sound less offensive and more acceptable. They use words like prejudice, xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination, intolerance, biased. Suddenly, with those words, it doesn’t feel so bad, does it? That is how people hide behind words and alternative meanings so they can feel better about themselves.
Racism doesn’t necessarily mean you want to kill people, just so we are clear. Perhaps it means you dislike people, you won’t sit next to them, you won’t talk to them, you won’t date them or marry them, or perhaps you just hate them. Either way, when you put it on a whole race or ethnic group of people, then you are being racist, plainly and simply.
Now, perhaps you are asking yourselves how I know that black people CAN BE racist…Well, the answer is that CERTAIN BLACK PEOPLE HAVE BEEN RACIST TO ME. I have seen and heard black people being racist to my white mother because she is white, not because she insulted them or bothered them. Who knows why they were being racist to her? She got her own taste of racism and hate. She doesn’t care nor does she act as a victim, may the Gods bless her. She still knows how to stand up for herself. My mom is a gangsta!
I, on the other hand, look beige so people have a hard time understanding what I am, because, it matters to certain people. They will treat you according to what you look like, what you have, whom you represent, not WHO you are. I have been mistaken for a dude that is Middle eastern, North African (Arab), Latino, Indian at times, and some were racist to me knowing I am half white. I never knew half my DNA could trigger people! Those instances never got violent and it only hurts the first 5 seconds. At the sixth second, you are reminded of people’s stupidity, bigotry, ignorance, and plain meanness and you move on. It is on them. They are the racists; I am just chilling!
We all have a hard time looking into the mirror when we are at fault. Our shortcomings, especially, when they are blatant, hurt us so much that we prefer to look the other way. Sometimes, we feel all high and mighty and we criticize others to avoid looking at our flaws. It is human nature. Yet, if we keep acting as if black people cannot be racist because they have been victims of racism for centuries, then that is how we could very well let this small virus called racism, fester and develop into something deadly. Let’s not even talk about how black people kill each other because they are from different ethnic groups. It is still going. Race has been limited to the skin tone for some reason.
I cringe and hate every time I hear a Tutsi hating on the Hutus and vice versa! What is ethnic hate? Isn’t that a form of racism? In my opinion, it is. Go tell the person whose families got massacred and decimated in South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, that their killers were “prejudiced, not racist” against them. Get the fuck out of here!
Some people don’t want use the word racist because of its loaded history. I will agree it is used freely today by any pseudo-intellectual who has an agenda. When you hate a whole group because of their race (whether it is skin tone, sometimes culture and/or ethnic group), you are racist. It is ok. At least we know you are. Now, maybe with some education and open-mindedness, we might cure that virus ailing your soul.
Your black skin tone doesn’t stop you from being racist. Stop feeling superior and claim only others can be racist because they created a system that, bla bla bla bla…. Hate of a group is the worst thing you can have roaming in your heart and mind. Do not hate groups of people based on things they were born with! Hate something people do, not who they are! Hating people for something they have no control over, that is the epitome of unfairness and stupidity! And if someone from a certain race hurts you, don’t put it on the whole group! Even family members are different, so imagine a whole race!
Everyone is capable of racism, including black people.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now, smile, please don’t be racist, and go on with your day.