02 July 2015

Racism without Racists, in the Rear View

Hello Again Readers,

Recently I was hired on to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, a community resource center for survivors of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and even General Crime Victimization.  One of the many awesome things about my job is that I get to read books aimed at increasing my own cultural awareness and sensitivity.

One of those books was Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's brilliant monograph Racism without Racists.  Reading the book opened my eyes to many of the truths about my own life that are, admittedly, uncomfortable (e.g. the whiteness of my own social sphere).  Silva's arguments are made very even-handedly, however, and I didn't walk away feeling attacked or berated, only with the knowledge that I can and should do better at desegregating my life.

Above all Racism without Racists points to a persistent myth about language and racism: that as long as we don't talk about race, then we're not racist.  The truth is we've created new social signifiers that allow us to disguise our same racist ideology with more socially appropriate terms.  And this brings me to the point I really wanted to address, Political Correctness and the "PC Police."  We've all heard that some things aren't "PC" to say anymore, if you haven't then Google "Fox News" and listen for fifteen minutes.  Done?  Good!

So here's the thing, all the folks who complain the loudest about being PC are... wait for it... white males!  Whoa.  Shocking, right?  Probably not for super observant readers like yourselves.  This argument about being PC is an argument about being able to keep our language the same and not be held accountable for the damaging beliefs lurking underneath.  People are getting wiser to the window dressings for racist and bigoted ideology.  If you start a sentence with "My best friend is Black" people know that you're probably pretty racist (Thanks, Paula Deen!).  The truth is the world isn't catering to some segment that wants people to be more "Politically Correct," because this isn't (just) a political matter, it's a human matter.  White racial progressives and minorities and the disenfranchised don't want us to speak in a different way, but to think and to believe in a different ways, in more compassionate ways, in better ways.

And really, shouldn't we want that from ourselves already?

Thanks for reading.

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