Back at it again with the blogs! I considered leading with “white blogs” but I get the feeling that may come out more racial than intended. I left of yesterday with a pretty strong critique of ethos, pathos, and logos use within the political spectrum. Obviously, it is a really diverse idea, as I argued that Sanders balanced his use of the pillars while Trump relied on the use of pathos to control people. It very easily can be seen from other angle, but I’m going to stick to my guns (ironic, as I am a pacifist) on this one. Today, I would like to discuss political correctness. Not the “Trump” political correctness, but why exactly we have this idea in place of political correctness, and why we are so prone to ignoring that for comedic effect.
One of my favorite jokes of all time is Louis C.K.’s Forklift joke, in which he discusses racism and interpretation of racism. Here’s a link to a video of it I found on YouTube, please watch it for comprehension:
If you don’t have access to the video for whatever reason (why are you reading this at work?), I’ll briefly explain the concept of it—though I highly recommend watching it. Basically, his white friend has a racist family that says “the nigger fell asleep at the forklift,” and Louis presents this racial insensitivity, and then juxtaposes that idea with the black interpretation of the situation—disappointment with their fellow African-American falling asleep on the job, and a Greek friend curious how someone falls asleep at a forklift. Now, I’ve taken on a moderately academic tone to my writing, which perhaps is why you flinched a little when you read the word “nigger.” And that’s good—it means you are racially sensitive in your conscious mind. It probably also means that, at least to some extent, you disagree with Trumps divisive rhetoric, even if you are a Republican.
Unfortunately, a large number of people think that the buck stops here when it comes to racism. They think that being angry with Asian drivers when they make a dangerous move in traffic, or when they crack a joke about a women not being in the kitchen, it is totally harmless. Which it isn’t. Despite the fact that you, more than likely, don’t go out of your way and hurt someone, what these passive acts of violence do is script your responses to specific scenarios. It labels people. It categorizes them. As I’ve said before, categorization is the root of all evil. In terms of prejudice and discrimination, it becomes more blatant because we have been raised in an attempt to dismantle the idea of racial prejudice and be colorblind. The problem with this is that we are also told to embrace and promote individual culture heritages. I’m not saying either of these ideas are wrong, but they are ideas that are in opposition with each other.
This creates a weird gray area that nobody really understands and has shifting boundaries. For example, a lot of African-Americans are still called “Boy” in southern states. If I called someone “Boy” where I live, my white friends would look at me bug-eyed at best, and at worst I would probably be jumped by somebody (you thought of a black person attacking me there, didn’t you?). Yet people LOVE Louis CK’s dark humor. And they don’t hold it against him. Is it because he’s on stage? No, Trump is a testament to that. Is it because he is ironic about it? Possibly but no, because he is legitimately telling a story, the irony isn’t about the racism, but rather about juxtaposition about the internal struggles within racial boundaries. Is it because he has been through some systematic amount of racial injustice that has deeply changed his upbringing? No, he’s white—he’s a member of the group that’s been on top for centuries. I think that it is that, because of our mixed cultural ideas, we have come to accept that some amount of racism as acceptable. If I say that I am not going to name my adopted African-American daughter a typical black name like Maya, Leontyne, or Zora because I like a name better than that and it would be racist to name her one of these names, I have still labeled Maya, Leontyne, and Zora as “black female” names. That’s a racist thing to do—even if it isn’t directly racist. Think about it. You have “white names” and “black names,” and even “Hispanic” or “Asian” names in mind.
Again, that’s ok that it happens in your mind. You aren’t a part of the KKK or a neo-Nazi because you picture someone named “Dequan” as a black man. But if you claim that these labels are acceptable to make, then the racial line has been pushed forward. Think about it like a cat. If he pushes a glass too hard, it will simply knock over and break, and his fun is over. That’s what the extremists do. But if the cat knocks the glass lightly, it doesn’t really do anything—it may just move a couple inches. And that’s cool to him. Because he got a reaction out of it. So he keeps pushing it farther and farther, not so much that it knocks over, but to keep getting a reaction. And all is fun and good, until eventually he knocks the glass off the table, and it goes plunging to the floor and shatters across the room. It didn’t matter that the cat pushed the glass lightly, because he pushed it too many times. Be aware of how often you push the glass of prejudice, and how hard you are knocking it.