A Racist or A Phobic?
“My journey has taken me past constructions of race, past constructions of mixed race, and into an understanding of human difference that does not include race as a meaningful category.” (Spencer in Penn, 2002, p.10)
My latest post is written slightly regarding identifying myself as raceless as well as providing a brief description of what raceless is. The second part is going marginally into the depth of individuals, primarily my voice, who are raceless and dealing with a world that can appear entirely absolute. Currently, our political climate has been beset with the overuse, at times inadequately applied, with the term racist and racism. My deepest fear is that overuse of such words will desensitize many individuals; including the very persons it clearly identifies with. I, for one, have become immune to many vulgarities. They no longer bother me. One: I know who I am. Two: It has become such a buzzword that it causes me nothing but annoyance. Seriously, can an individual come up with something extraordinary? I’m bored by it.
This brings me back to fear. Fear. Are all accused as racist actually racist? The definition of a racist is a person with a prejudiced belief that one’s race is superior to others. Fear is the absence of one’s superiority. It’s the unpleasant emotions that someone or something will cause pain, a threat, a danger to their entire being. Fear does cause one’s emotions to erupt in erratic ways, one being anger. Anger doesn’t consistently equate to feelings of superiority.
I’ve notice those who are branded with such title, racist, don’t feel they are superior at all. Some have no issues with a race, simply the stereotypical culture that a race, based on their culture-society, is identified. Some are not articulate in expression; in turn, they do speak blindly ignorantly. Some have no issues with other races (or ethnicities), just one particular race (or ethnicity). This is where the “I’m not racist; I have a (fill in race or ethnicity, etc.), who are (fill in the race or ethnicity). These individuals laugh for they know the word and the definition doesn’t fit them. A prime example is Lou Dobbs, who I’ve often heard being called a racist. Is he really? He is married to a Mexican-American woman. I may not know too much about his wife. I can only imagine those who are first generation American, or immigrants who came to America as children, or generational children/adults who identify with two different nationalities blended into two different cultures. For a Xenophobe, they’re not as intimidating and easily understood. No, I don’t believe Lou Dobb is a racist. I do believe he may be Xenophobic; one with an intense or irrational dislike for people from other countries or people they do not know. The key word is irrational. Somehow, he has disassociated his wife from Mexicans; either because she is a legal immigrant, she was born in the United States, her culture is a blend of American, or what have you. He reminds me of a date I had with a man who rambled off his disdain for Haitians. I sat there, very still, fuming in rage and, at the same time, desiring to laugh right in his face. Especially when he stated, “I can see a Haitian a mile away. They have this distinct nose and smell to them.” Okay, that is when I began laughing. I signaled the waiter for the check and told him that our date is at an end. When he inquired why, for he was totally shocked, I replied, “You couldn’t see me a mile away and your nose apparently isn’t working. I’m Haitian.” I purposely omitted the “American” for I didn’t desire him to justify his ignorance by using my “Americanism.” The man isn’t racist (he is Caucasian) but Xenophobic, particularly of Haitians, Cubans, and other islanders. I’m sure, due to his location, residing in southern Florida where there is a high population of Caribbean immigrants. I understood the selection of his phobia, due to his location, but will NEVER excuse it. I also understood that saying this to a black person isn’t the first, for I’ve met Xenophobic black individuals as well. Impromptu example is that I’ve been asked what my ethnicity is: “You have that exotic look to you. You can’t be African-American. Are you from Somali?” Although Somali is a country in Africa, for many individuals, they are not considered Africans. Similar to how some people exempt those from Turkey or Armenians as being non- Europeans. On the other hand, pending on how the individuals construct inquires or make a statement, I wouldn’t cast them off as xenophobic. The latter example (you can’t be African-American) is blurred with innocent ignorance and a high level of being aware (most of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is from African people off the West coast countries. Somalia being of the East makes sense. Nonetheless, African-Americans don’t necessarily mean you’re generational black who has ancestors since the beginning of the slave trade on United States land, and among other factors that I will not go into depth here, now).
On top of Xenophobia, I realize individuals within our society, not to say our society is unique, have the following (not limiting to the following, as well);
Negrophobia: fear or contempt of black people and their culture.
Blancophobia: (at times, referred to as Albophobia), fear or contempt of white people and their culture.
Colorphobia: a fear or contempt of people of a particular skin color.
Individuals may not have issues with black or white people, only issues, fear or contempt, with the stereotype of a culture (particularly, music genres that create a subculture). My earlier post used the two examples of African-American country singer, Darius Rackur, and Caucasian-American rapper, Eminem. Those who adore Darius Rackur and bastardized Eminem with racially charged words (acting white, acting black) are exhibiting Negrophobia, contempt of what they view black culture is; and Blancophobia, contempt of what they view what white culture is. Another paradigm and definition of Negrophobia and Blancophobia is absolute disdain for skin color, the obvious, specifically. I will refer this as hard negrophobic and blancophobic. Individuals who are hard Negrophobic and Blancophobic don’t care to know ones nationality-ethnicity, culture-subculture, or see too many skin variations. They simply classify, within their mind, people as black and white (think of the historic one drop rule and the terms applied of mix race individuals as “passing” of either white or black). Another prime example is American-Indian (from India) Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, may not cause fear or contempt in an individual as her American-Indian Republican comrade Bobby Jindal. Both Jindal and Haley Anglicized their birth name to sound more American, English. They both came from a familial religious background that isn’t Christian. They both speak openly about being immigrants from India. The only difference between them, besides gender, is skin hue variations. Individuals who are Negrophobia may classify Bobby Jindal as black and see him as a threat. In contrast, Blancophobic individuals may view Nikki as white and may see her as a threat. Despite both of them being an American, Indian-Americans, and may share same values and cultural heritage. This can be very confusing to individuals who prescribe race as nationality, culture, religion, language, and tribal identification.
My assessment is that during the historic racial classification in United States, prior to the one drop rule, colorphobia began, the fear of a particular skin color, especially when ethnic groups began to intermarry, inter-reproduce and their offspring easily assimilating into society. Oftentimes, in high political positions. Individuals who are colorphobic may not fear black skin, like my complexion, or white skin. It’s the “unknown” skin color; the browns, reds (stereotypically, derogatory, referred to Native Americans), yellow skin. Historically, inside the United States a hierarchal ladder was given to separate the slave based on privilege. African ethnic group were separated (brown paper bag) and those who were lighter were given a false sense of privilege; including those who were classified as indentured servants who were most often Caucasians from various nationalities that isn’t English (Ireland, Scotland). I’ve come across many individuals cling on to the fact indentured servants were indentured for several years; many were indentured for life for the most minor infractions. Many of them receive the same punishment for the infractions as the black counterpart (whipping, branding, etc., including the raping of the women). The privilege was false for they were slave with a fancy term. A term to disassociate from the obvious mistreatment (indentured servants is to slave as enhance interrogation is to torture when it comes to water boarding). It’s similar to individuals who are verbally abuse would proclaim, “Well, at least my abuser doesn’t hit me.”
Colorphobia, again my assessment, is still prevalent in our society when Native Americans have the highest teen drug rate, sexual violence against women rate, dropout rate, and lack of resources. Native Americans contain to no media reporting. It’s not what is mostly talked about or represented in the media or what is rarely talked about or represented in the media. It’s what isn’t reported in the media period that frightens me. For it builds the, ‘At least I’m…” when individuals outside of the black and white are being just as abused, if not worse…even neglected. This can bring about a form of contempt of being not even represented at all.
Within the African-American community, colorphobia isn’t the same as being racist. I’ve encountered many individuals who identify as black, proud to be black, and appear to have blancophobia. Nonetheless, they may display disdain for, shall I say, a darker shade of black. In contrast, individuals who are black, proud to be black, may have blancophobia but do have colorphobia against a lighter shade of black. Are they racist? Considering the fact they take no issues with being black or individuals who are clearly white; solely issues with lighter shade of black. They acknowledge the light shade skin is black but have contempt of. Within the African-American community one may refer to this as “self-hating.” Honestly, I’m placed off with the term for the individual may exhibit a profound love of themselves and others except for certain skin pigmentation. This is not only unique to African-Americans only. I’ve met Caucasians who holds similar colorphobia of anything too pale or anything too dark (the Italian derogatory slur Guinea comes to mind, towards dark-skin Italians). As I’m typing this, this brings me back to a bumper sticker my father has found it so offensive but hysterical. It stated, “My guy is blacker than your guy. Who’s the racist now?” This is in reference to the Obama vs. Cain debate where the climax of throwing ‘racist’ around is redundant. Before anyone starts deterring off topic and decides to send me a comment regarding Cain and Obama, my father is a Republican and I am a registered Democrat since the time of voting. However, I’ve become very politically independent as of late. Voting based on issues and policies vs. political party. Yes, I’ve voted Republican as my father has voted Democrat. We’re the moderates-Independents, the swing voters that party rhetoric doesn’t appeal to us. Akin to how we get to know individuals vs. going about group labels.
Now, that’s out of the way. The bumper sticker brought me back to racism. The bumper sticker slogan brought my attention to colorphobia, taking issues with a particular skin color even though the individual within the skin color belong to the United States classification of race (of course it’s a tongue in cheek slogan making a mockery of the word racism being thrown so “liberally” as of late, in my father’s eyes). Both Cain and Obama are self-identified as black men (Yes, Obama is mix race. Yet, he has identified as an African-American, black American in his last census). The issue isn’t really about black but the particular shade of black for some individuals. For some, Cain skin color isn’t a threat or to be feared of. Obama’s is, and in reverse with Cain’s skin color is seen as threat but Obama’s is. American-Black Muslims may not be seen as a threat but Muslim with brown skin is (or an Arab). It’s colorism not racism that really needs to be discussed to really achieve human equality for all. Simply calling an individual a racist without specific is a non-defeating. For we’re not addressing the individual issue, along with societal. At times, the word “racist” is being thrown at individuals who simply have a logical reason to dislike or not agree with an individual.
Parallel to how a non-believer speaks about the “crazy Christians” to a Christian who believes in evolution, is pro-choice, and believes prayers should be left out of school. It’s the non-spoken understanding that the non-believer is not speaking about that type of Christians. I’ve received the same comments as a Pagan. Individuals bashing Pagans freely around me for I’m not perceived as that type of pagan (i.e.; wearing black, bunch of jewelry’s, etc. As a follower of ATR, I don’t wear all white or have my hair wrapped up and in braids). So, it is with simply calling an individual and/or institution who may exhibit Negrophobia-Blancophobia (especially when it comes to perceive stereotype of culture, fashion, and slang that derives from the music subculture), Colorphobics, and Xenophobic (who may have issues with a specific nationality; the individual may have no issues with brown skin Honduran, just brown skin Mexicans) a racist. We must be more specific when we speak, in order to heal and grow. We must understand the individual through their experiences and not our own. Through their minds’ eyes vs. our own mind’s eye. To move more and more forward, we must move to be more and more articulately specific.
“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.” -Gore Vidal