How do we end racism?
This is an enormous issue facing our world and our daily interactions within it. While racism surely manifests itself in extremely intangible, systemic ways, these systems were established and are maintained by actual people, with attitudes informed by fear and isolation. If we are to end racism, moving away from attitudes which are rooted in creating and maintaining the conditions of fear and isolation will be key. In order to do so, we must recognize the failings of our current approaches to fighting racism.
The prevailing approach to fighting racism is exactly that: a fight. “Let us be hypersensitive to any potentially racist attitudes or actions, and fight them, as well as any people associated with them.” This approach has given us the so-called “Politically Correct” and “Social Justice Warrior” cultures which purport to redress the social inequalities that manifest themselves in that ways we speak or act. We will discuss the origins and effects of these hopefully well-meaning forms of social reform in later posts specifically, but in short, the “P.C.” form of speech control only serves to highlight the past and current racial or ethnic inequalities while (perhaps unwittingly) maintaining the very structures that perpetuate them.
By designating certain words or terms as derogatory or hurtful, we assume the inferiority of the group which that term addresses, and the superiority of the group which is allegedly attempting to safeguard them.
The terms “broad,” “babe,” and “chick” are no more inherently insulting than the terms “dude,” “bro,” or “hunk” – they are merely colloquial forms for referring to individuals of their respective genders (female “woman” and male “man”). It is only through political corrections, whereby the current social order or hierarchy is subliminally acknowledged and enforced, in this case an iron clad patriarchy, that we come to see half of these terms (only those relating to women) as derogatory, in that they are used primarily by the assumed and IRL dominant group, men. This unknowingly recognizes and acquiesces the dominance of men over women. It is this same phenomena (in reverse, so to speak) which removes the possibility for any true insult to derive from any colloquial word used for white males (cracker, honky, whitey, white boy, wood, peckerwood), as they can only be used against those who (formerly exclusively) predominately ruled society, and thus do not carry any psychological weight for their intended targets.
Cultural critic Slavoj Žižek makes this point about the inherently patronizing nature of political correctness eloquently, when relating the feelings of so-called “Native Americans.” Recounting their response, Žižek:
“So what is it then? We are Native, as in nature? What is the opposite of nature, but culture? So you are Cultural Americans and we are Native Americans… Great. No thanks. We prefer Indians, because at least ‘Indian’ stands as a testament to white man’s stupidity! – In that Europeans thought they were discovering India and not the “new world” of the Americas.”
This anecdote expertly highlights the impossible if not incredibly insulting task of attempting to appease a minority group by offering a worthless verbal consolation for the horrible injustices of the past and Present! Instead of an honest dialogue about the issues facing contemporary, individual Indian tribes on reservations across America and Canada, political correctness finds it more appropriate to attempt to appease them with an unintentionally patronizing and implicitly pedantic reclassification, which is possible only in a society where “Native Americans” are subjugated to the role (conceptually and societally) of a victimized, inferior minority.
Instead of referring to a woman or man with black skin as African American, in a well-intentioned yet patronizing expression of my assumption of their identity (that they are American citizens instead of, say, purely British, Jamaican, Kenyan, or Tunisian citizens) and my implicit admittance and acceptance of their victim status (their ancestors removed from Africa by force, enslaved by white landowners), let us instead appreciate them for who they are, based on their character and values as individuals, regardless of their racial or ethnic identity! Their is absolutely Nothing insulting about being or being called black. Any person who alleges so has some issue with racial equality. If the name-change is a deferential bow in apology for slavery in America, I do not think that it comes anywhere close to healing those wounds, in fact, it does quite the opposite, perpetuating the current social hierarchy wherein the white man, as if Adam in the Garden of Eden, can designate the names for all which he rules over. If there are still reparations to be made for slavery, let that discussion take place, instead of offering a consolatory name change!
The feigned deference of political correctness serves only as a band-aid for the true ruptures in our social fabric which keep neighborhoods (and thereby perceptional worlds) primarily divided by race.
In that these are the implicit workings of our dominant ideologies, and depending on where you see yourself on the left-right political spectrum, do not be surprised if this realization seems a bit touchy or difficult to digest (for Leftists) or has a strangely articulate resonance (for Centrists and Conservatives). In either case, do not let your existing political leanings or history of activism constrain your ability to view this theory with an open mind. As Unism sees the modern socio-political spectrum, both left and right wing ideologies fail to embody a truly equal society based on the concepts of total unity and human solidarity.
That is why we need a new, untainted socio-political philosophy, which can take us into a future uninhibited by past and present inequalities and divisions.
That is why we need Unism.
Part Two is found here.