Non-Racist Or Anti-Racist
There is a tasteful bit of white guilt porn on the innertubes. The video is from the Guardian, a British enterprise. Are you racist? ‘No’ isn’t a good enough answer. The transcript has 365 words, one for each day of the year. The word for today is and. The most recent tally shows 4,714,039 views on facebook, which does not pay royalties.
The talk is an exercise in semantics. Either you are non-racist, or anti-racist. The possibilities that you are a known-racist is not considered, as is the concept that attitudes about race are nobody else’s business. The speaker, Marlon James, instructs the listener that you MUST be anti-racist. Nothing else will do. This means that you must take some type of action against racism. What exactly you are supposed to do is not specified, but you need to do something.
Mr. James lists five points that the mythical non-racist uses to justify their non-ness. “I’m not a bigot. I don’t sing that ’n’ word when my favorite rap jam comes on. I didn’t vote for that guy. I’m not burning any crosses. I’m not a skinhead.” From these five nots, a certain lifestyle emerges. “What you end up with is an entire moral stance, an entire code for living your life and dealing with all the injustice in the world by not doing a damn thing. That’s the great thing about “non-”: you can put it off by simply rolling over in your bed and going to sleep. So why are you sitting at home and watching things unfold on TV instead of doing something about it? Because you’re a non-racist, not an anti-racist.” Or maybe you are an uncle-racist, and auntie-racist won’t let you do anything.
At no point is a course of anti-racist action suggested. Should you go block traffic on the interstate? Should you vilify a member of your community who expresses incorrect opinions on facebook? Should you go to the state capitol, and talk to your representative about laws you are not familiar with? Exactly what are you supposed to do? Will this action do more harm than good? Is this action any of your business? Do you know what you are talking about? Maybe the effect of your action is not important, as long as you are doing something.
The monolog takes a strange turn now. “Now, do this for me: take the “c” out of racist and replace it with a “p”. “I’m not a rapist. I’m not friends with any rapist. I didn’t buy that rapist’s last album.” All these things that you’re not doing. Meanwhile, people are still getting raped, and black boys are being killed. It’s not enough that you don’t do these things.”
Ok, so now we need to take meaningless action against rape, and black boy murder. Again, what are you supposed to do? There is also the matter of privilege. Is it really the white person’s business that black boys are shooting other black boys? And what are we supposed to do about this? Maybe you can say rude things about police. Whatever you do, say #blacklivesmatter instead of #alllivesmatter.
The video comes to a merciful end with the words “We need to stop being “non-” and start being “anti-”. Or take action against glamorous issues that have no effect on most people, but make you feel good to talk about. The Academy Award nominations have been announced, and not enough POC have been nominated. We can take action on twitter, as this tweet illustrates. #oscarssowhite that pointed hoods will be included in the swag bags this year.
The pictures today are from The Library of Congress. These details are from picture #06666, documenting “First Internation[al] Pageant of Pulchritude & Seventh Annual Bathing Girl Review at Galveston, Texas.” It was taken in 1926.