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If you've been with me this long, I want to say thank you for reading this series of posts. Racism is a touchy subject and even just reading about it can be difficult. But if we intend to actually end racism, and I hope, like me, you agree we should end it, this is the first baby step. Jona Olsson has given us a road map with her essay Detour-Spotting, with every point a milestone toward the eventual destination of understanding the elements that have helped us avoid the discussion we need to have about race in America.

Today's topic is one of the shortest to analyze.

17) Straightening Up or Boys Will Be Boys

The white heterosexual who says, “we can’t talk about AIDS or homophobia because we’re trying to work in coalition with a Latino group.” White organizations, in which women are unheard, disrespected or prevented from assuming leadership. “We’ll deal with any gender inequities or sexism after we solidify this coalition with the NAACP.”


Reality Check and Consequence

When white people with privilege in some other aspect of their life (gender, sexual orientation, lack of disability, class, etc.) use their focus on racism as an excuse to not challenge and therefore perpetuate other forms of oppression, the consequence is a disingenuous and unsustainable commitment to justice.


Ms. Olsson's point with this element is that we somehow think we can only solve one issue at a time. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia are sometimes interrelated and as such, could be worked through at once. To deny that we can move forward on all of these issues simultaneously suggests a simple-minded or lazy approach at best, or an agenda to hold back on advancing all of these causes, if we want to take a more sinister tack.

Part of the reason "mainstream" America sees gay people, minorities, transgender or even differently abled people as "odd" or "out of place" is simply because they have been pushed out of sight, or worse, ridiculed into remaining on the fringes of our society. That's really how a "mainstream" is formed: by overlooking everything that doesn't fit into how you want the world to be.

When you think about it in those terms, it's blatantly obvious how all of these issues are related: people want to ignore them.

Ignoring someone is not a passive thing. You have to choose to do it. That's why this is especially painful for people in these groups. In at least one way, ignoring can be worse than bullying, simply because you aren't being acknowledged at all. Not to encourage bullying, mind you, but simply to say that human beings are not invisible, no matter how much some people would like them to be.

We have to hark back to that much demeaned phrase: "Political Correctness." Really, it's the people who wish to maintain everything as it is who stand against treating everyone equally and with the same level of respect. Again, when it's put in those terms, being politically correct is just a simple case of being thoughtful and kind to your fellow human beings.

We have to remember, it's the atmosphere that permits people who are "politically incorrect" less criticism for what is a self interested and unkind stance. Why are we fine with accepting insults or an attitude that suggests that some people are not as good as others? It's through enabling that kind of commentary that we allow those thoughts to be acceptable, when they clearly should not be.

Not only can we work on all of these issues at the same time, we need to do that, for the sake of all of our fellow humans.


Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life

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