-isms and -ists

This should be fun for you. I’m about to tackle a topic which, frankly, is better left alone. Racism, with a dash of sexism too. Couple it with the fact that I’m a middle class, fat, white guy, and really I have no place uttering either word. But I’ve been thinking about them, and I am emboldened by the knowledge that no one will ever read this, so permit me to engage in complex tap dance around the issues in the attempt to remain morally neutral. Wish me luck.

We’ll start by saying that gross generalities are, in general, gross. Tell me I suck and I’m liable to agree. Tell me Americans suck and you’re in for a dirty look. (It would probably stop at that, though, because I can’t really mount much of a defense there either, but screw you for saying it.) Only stupid ignorant people speak in absolutes. That said, racial slurs are powerful. They take centuries of bad feeling and bad images and focus them into a few syllables. In essence, it is targeted profanity. Hatred in shorthand form. There are situations where something like that is highly useful. Let me paint you a picture. You are driving along at the customary 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Behind you is a person unsatisfied with the customary 10, so he tries to pass. The road narrows, and Speedzy McDrivefast nearly gets smashed into the back your car. Much beeping, bleeping, and off-flipping results. When he finally passes, you see that he is… of a particular race. Now, many feel that uttering a slur at this point is racist. I think that there is evidence to the contrary. This is not a general statement about a group of people. This is an insult, based on solid and recent evidence, directed at an individual. There is nothing prejudiced about it, because judgment came after wrong doing but before the discovery of race or creed. Now certainly if you were to continue your rant with indications that all of the other members of that race behave that way, or that such behavior is a result of membership in such a race, then welcome to racism-ville. But otherwise it is simply properly arming yourself against the present foe. If you are a supervillian fighting someone random, you use a laser. If you find yourself against Superman, bring out the Kryptonite. You aren’t being racist against Kryptonians, you are just a jerk using proper strategy.

Obviously this is just an opinion, and one that doesn’t carry very much weight what with me being a white guy, as previously stated. For some reason white doesn’t count as a race. Male isn’t a gender either. This explains why you never hear news stories about people being racist or sexist to a white guy. It is just as well, though, because no one has come up with a really good racial slur against us. White people, I mean. Men have some really good specific insults and derogatory names, but white people, not so much. All of the ones I’ve heard are kind of kooky and fun, like cracker and honkey. Come on, now. If I had a pet parrot and a pet goose, they’d be named cracker and honkey. A while back there was a big bruhaha about a game called ghetto-opoly. It was a flavor of monopoly with a ghetto theme, and the mascot was a gangsta caricature. Is this racist? Oh, absolutely it is. But think for a moment about regular monopoly. The monopoly man is at least as much of a caricature of a white guy. I mean, he is COMPLETELY WHITE, and the game is about greed, corruption, and realty manipulation. They may as well have called the monopoly guy ?The Man.? Meanwhile, think about this for a moment. There was a time, and for some it has not passed, when ?black? was a racially tense term for the race. Meanwhile, white is just as poor a representation of our actual skin color and we don’t mind. I guess because we chose it for ourselves. And as for the sexism point, here’s this old chestnut for example. A movie about a 35 year old man trying to seduce a 14 year old girl? Suspense thriller. A movie about a 35 year old woman trying to seduce a 14 year old boy? Coming of age comedy. Sort of funny, I’d say. I personally don’t care, but it is something to keep in mind.

The fun thing about that last point is that while it doesn’t particularly illustrate sexism well, trying to detract it without being sexist it is very difficult. What are you going to say? “Well, obviously that is because the popular view is that men all want sex all the time, so the woman is just giving him what he wants.” Oh, I see, so all it does is support a well known gender stereotype? Yes, I clearly see how that isn’t sexist at all. In fact trying to take a stand against sexism, or any other ism for that matter, is a remarkably effective way to reveal how much of the associated -ist you really are. For example, in a conversation a friend of mine said, “Boy, you ever notice how bad cab drivers smell most of the time?” A champion of social justice said, “That’s racist, and you should know better, Veejay is right here.” Now, I’d like to point out that you can’t be racist against cabbies, because ‘cab driver’ isn’t a race, it is an occupation. And Veejay isn’t a cabbie, he’s a network tech. Claiming that bad mouthing a cabbie is racist means that you assume all cabbies to be of a certain race, and you know what that makes you? Exactly.

We will end this exercise with a little test. Why write pointless musings on the Internet if you can’t use them to help people, that’s what I say. So let’s learn something about you that you might not have known. Think back to when you were reading that scintillating anecdote about the driver. You’ll note I did not mention which race he was. Did you picture a specific one? If you did, guess what? You’re racist too! Selecting a specific race to cast in your mental role of bad driver, for shame. I guess you are just as bad as the rest of us.

Well, that’s it for that. Let me just conclude with a request. Anyone out there who has heard of, or thought of, a really good slur against white people, let’s hear it! I’d love to learn that something creative and scathing has finally been developed.

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About Decoychunk

Editor, Writer, and general Knower-Of-Words, if there is text to be read on BrainLazy, Joseph Lallo probably has his fingerprints on it. As the final third of the ownership and foundation of BrainLazy, Joseph “Jo” Lallo made a name for himself when he lost the “e” from his nickname in an arm wrestling match with a witch doctor. Residing in the arid lowlands of the American Southwest, Joseph Lallo is a small, herbivorous, rabbit-like creature with the horns of an antelope. He sleeps belly up, and his milk can be used for medicinal purposes. Joseph Lallo is also author of several books, including The Book of Deacon Series, book 1 of which is available for free here.