Six Letter Label
There is yet another blog post about Shirley Q. Liquor, I’m Tired of Explaining Why I’m Offended by a Racist Drag Queen. SQL is a comic character, a black woman played by Charles Knipp, who is white. The concept is not pleasing to many people.
There is a sentence in the post which needs to be broken down. “Here’s my question: When people like me say that something is potentially racist, why do we have to defend ourselves to White people who act as the final jurist of the opinion?”
To begin, people very seldom say anything as restrained as potentially racist. The judgment is made with great force and certainty. The accuser appoints herself judge, jury, and hangwoman. There is a rush to be seen denouncing the so called racist, usually at top volume.
Racist is a six letter label, just like the N word. It is a word that gets attention. Racist is casually tossed around, and is filtered out by many people. Maybe, just maybe, there are better ways to deal with situations without using this six letter judgment.
Last summer, PG received a mailer that had some questionable content. It discussed the creation of a city of Brookhaven. The mailer was displayed, and the racially obnoxious aspects of it were discussed. Six letter labels were not used.
On election day, the voters chose to create a new city. PG’s protest did not do any good. Would using a six letter label have made any difference? Probably not. This blog does not have that large of a readership. Also, some people who were troubled by the mailer felt that a new city was the correct thing to do. PG just wanted to let people know he was not pleased.
PG is white, and can only speak for himself. When he hears the word racist, his BS detector kicks into action. These arguments are rather one sided, with white people usually the bad guys. If you want to influence behavior, you might think twice before tossing a six letter label into your speech.
There is a bit of logical fallacy in that sentence. You make a statement, go past considering whether or not it is true, and go directly to asking “why”. That would seem to be the case here. When is a person made to feel that “we have to defend ourselves to White people who act as the final jurist of the opinion?” Do these PWOC (People With Out Color) use a weapon to force this explanation? Why would you have to explain yourself anyway?
It is *racially specific* that she says white people in this sentence. Would it be better if a POC (Person of Color) didn’t automatically believe everything the author says? PG, the PWOC, could also add that he has observed POC, who generally act as the final jurist on racial matters. Maybe it is POC privilege.
When you google the phrase “what is racism?”, you get 156 million results. The definition is changing everyday. Certainly when you discuss so called reverse racism, or anti PWOC nastiness, there are many who say that racism is a society wide privilege for the PWOC, and that POC cannot be racist. Whatever.
The point is, when you hyperdefine a concept like racism, you run the risk of defining racism so narrowly that offensive entertainers do not fit the definition. Shirley Q. Liquor talking about her nineteen babydaddies does not affect the larger issues of white privilege. Or maybe racism is anything that annoys a POC. At some point, the six letter label does not mean very much.
Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.