On August 9, 2014, Mike Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was shot by a local police officer for allegedly grabbing reaching for Officer Darren Wilson’s gun. While this is not the main point of this article, this is an important moment in history to remember. Since the shooting of Mike Brown, there has been an unrest among society and it’s line between civilians and officers and people of all races have been put in a racial divide. While what I experience falls short of a serious matter, it is something that has become a bit of a nuisance when it is brought into picture.
This is to the girl in my journalism period, and to all those who undermine what people in trivial facts.
Before it is assumed, although I do not think I need to defend myself, this is not just because of “white people” jokes. I make them myself, and I do think that some lines can be crossed when the matter of race is brought into picture- those lines being discussed after a short story time. So without further ado, let us begin.
Every so often I find myself sitting in my journalism class by a friend whom I had only gotten acquainted with properly this year. She is a very sweet, very funny, gorgeous, and immensely talented girl just a grade below me and I love seeing her in class. We get along well, seeing as the two of us- and a couple others- are secluded in the back of the class as editors are every year.
Behind us sit two boys, both younger than the two of us although I am not sure what grade they are in exactly. One is black, and the other is white, (to avoid confusion, we will call the white boy Joey and the black boy Andrew) and they are both always fooling around on odd quizzes and bantering like a married couple, so myself and my friend (we can call her Tiana for the remainder of this story) always end up amused.
It is not strange to hear the two boys bantering about something petty, and the two are obviously saying it all in good fun. There was a time, recently, where Andrew had said that Joey’s hair had looked a certain way, although I can not recall the term he used but it was negative, I assure you. Of course, no offense is taken because it is a friendly joke. Because of this, Joey returns the favor and says “well look at yours!” to which my dearest friend makes a remark about that being racist.
Now, let it be known that I can tell a joke from serious offense, and she was joking- or at least that is how it seemed, so that is how I recall it. Of course, this gas lights the conversation about what is and isn’t racist. Joey states clearly, with a laugh to his voice, that he did not mean it because of his race but because he had said it first. To this, Tiana states that he can not say what is and is not racist, simply because he is white. This was phase one.
Moments later, the two boys are bantering again- they sound like a married couple, believe it or not- about which shoe is “gayer”- flip flops or Heeleys. It is important, for this story, to note that I am the only person who was paying attention that was part of the LGBTQ community, and I had been participating in it. The term isn’t offensive to me, although I could see where it would be offensive to someone… I suppose.
Either way, the conversation goes on and I chime in every so often, and eventually Tiana does as well. Let me reiterate- I am the only person who was paying attention that was part of the LGBTQ community.
Tiana answers the banter with “that’s really offensive.” which stops the conversation, but not in the way she had intended. So I look to her, and I tilt my head, I say to her “you can’t say whats offensive to gay people, you’re straight.” in the same way she had said before about race. She answers with “it’s offensive.”
My question is, why is the rule of “whoever is the minority decides what is offensive” limited to race?
There is another part to this story as well, and this is the part of the story that truly ignited the idea for the article I write today.
Every so often Tiana will turn to me and ask me if I know a certain name, and the moment someone tries to chime in- although, rest assured I know the answer- she tells them to be quiet as if it is a test. The name she had asked about was that of Trayvon Martin. This is not only limited to those of names, but shows in which a remark will be made about how one could not possibly know this show because it is a “black show”.
These are all petty examples, as I don’t experience true racial inequality against either of our groups- black or white- but it has become a nuisance to me in class to feel belittled because I am white, and therefor my knowledge of current events is questioned, or I can not pick what is and isn’t racist.
While I am not posing any serious claims of bullying, it seems to become more and more apparent within pop culture and social media. Take YouTubers like Kat Blaque, who, in her video “ F*** You Pay Me ” tells an anonymous message sender that she should not have to explain her cause, and often belittles white people, as seen in her videos (which are usually titled something similar to White Needs to Educate, if that is any indicator of the content she provides)
Know that I am not talking about jokes, as jokes are often funny because they stem from truth. What I am speaking about is the blatant disrespect of people who claim to want respect back. Generally, it should not have to center around race, however because of the circumstances, race happens to play a part heavily in these scenarios and today's conversations.
If we, as a civilization, are hoping to move forward with what is to be perceived as racist, whether I agree with what is being labeled as racist these days or not, we have to move forward as a civilization that does not belittle each other at all. Hate does not end hate, but breeds it; people do not want to be kind to hypocritical people.