Thursday, October 06, 2005

Racism as Class Warfare

Over at Pandagon, Amanda's riffing on Kathleen Parker's lame column about how it's silly for folk to take offense at a white guy using the n-word in his cartoon, because it was a joke, you know, and black folk use that word when they're joking, and it's the same thing, in't it?

Anyway, down in the comments, Left Wing Fox, who doesn't seem to have his own blog, or I'd link to it, gives the clearest explanation of just why this is wrong that I have ever read: so I'm reproducing it in full here:

Somewhat related story; Several years back, on a bus in Vancouver, a chinese lady and a white lady got into an argument. I really don't know what started it, but the white lady was very appologetic, and the chinese lady simply got angrier and angrier. Eventually, the chinese lady shouted out "Dumb Honky!" and stormed off the bus.

Everyone on the bus thought it was hilarious.

Honky and nigger might be equal in meaning, but there's no way they're equal in weight. These words are a form of class warfare, meant to remind others exactly where they stand in relation to you. For white men to use racist slang(and for that matter, sexist or homophobic), it throws the history of slavery, segregation, classism and oppression against the target. It says "You are my inferior".

When African Americans call each other nigger, it's closer to an expression of equality; Don't get a swelled head, you're still one of us.

White people simply do not have that history of opression and horror against them. "Honky" may be racist, but it isn't oppressive: white people simply haven't been the widescale victims of institutionalized racism. Even "Cracker" is intended more to guilt by association than oppress.
Even if the words are coming out of Condi's face on paper, it's still Andy Marlette trying to put a black man in his place for making a comment about a white man.

1 comment:

zelda1 said...

I so agree with the Left Wing Fox guy. I even take offense when someone like Cosby uses the N word, or as my ever so clever hip hop friend says, "the N Bomb." White people can not joke about minorities, never, it is racists or even if they are not racists, which I doubt or they would find another topic, but if they are telling a joke and are totally not racists, it sure makes them sound like a pig. So, I'm thinking no skinny people to tell fat jokes, no whites telling minority jokes, and so on. It's just not right. Yesterday, my friend's seven-year-old daughter spent some time with me and she said that she started reading a book that had a racists joke in it so she didn't read it any longer. I said that's a good thing and she said my mom told me what was bad about it, and I said that was so good that her mom told her and explained it all to her. Then she said yes, I don't want to tell bad jokes about people or read them either. Then she said her best friend was brownish. If everyone taught their children about racism the way this little girl's mom does and include the jokes and all of that and why they are racists, perhaps in the future the world will be mended in that area. Do ya think?