[NOTE] This is a rebuttal to a piece, titled “The Good, Racist People”, which was posted to the NY Times website, one month ago.
Please read it here, first, to be fair.
Now, after you read my work, feel free to contact me, so as to break my logic, as I love a good debate.
However, do keep in mind that this work has ostracized me. A handful of my friends told me it was a wonderfully written piece that would never see the light of day, only because a white male is using racially charged language (a handful of others didn’t even reply to my request for philosophical help).
Turns out that, not only would it not be used (*and soon-to-be-read-of homeless woman stays hungry), I was told to never contact many of the publishers again.
Keep in mind, I hold no fear. I know I speak with a forked tongue.
Though I’d rather have you debate me, turn your back if you must, but do read on:
“We had the best organization the black man’s ever had. Niggers ruined it.”
- Malcolm X (to Alex Haley)
A friend posted an article, by senior editor of The Atlantic, and NY Times blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates, titled “The Good, Racist People”, where the writer pointed out that racism is in us all, no matter how much you think you are not racist.
It ended with him realizing that the offenders in the incident he wrote of were all decent people, though I only saw them as apologetic. “Good” he labeled them, but he also ended the piece with the words, “…I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take.”
With this article, my friend posted the statement, “In a racist society, everyone is a racist. If you claim not to be, you’re lying to yourself.”
It turns out I had so many problems with the piece (and my friend’s statement), I lashed out, and began a Facebook flame war between he and I, and all his other friends.
Commenting on my friend’s post, I used the defense, “I’m not racist because I do not do racist things, “and then immediately used my racism to point out what I claimed not to do; such as hang out with people who thought themselves to be racist, all the while assuring them they are not, because they simply dislike the negative behaviors of individual members of a defined neighborhood, religion, or culture.
My argument became invalid, though I thought I was doing more good than harm.
I then realized I was not angry at the statement, but the defeatist attitude of both my friend, and a writer who wrote an article with no solution, which he was probably paid up to $200 for.
By the way, if I get paid for this piece, * I’ll donate every penny to a black homeless woman on the corner of the area of Bed -Stuy that this white boy currently resides in.
Anyway, since 2000, I was an advocate of postmodern philosophy. I believed in Michel Foucaults’ theories of micropolitics, and the process of true inspection on every level of being. My biggest problem is that if we are going to lift logs, and cry about all the tiny stuff that is under every log, we need to come up with a proper eradication process as well. If I inspect under rocks, without proper pest control, and the bugs get out, and all over my clothes, who is to blame, but me?
Later in life, Foucault came to understand that we need to step back to see the forest from the trees, introducing theories of macropolitics. In other words, we need to be level headed.
By the writer, and my friend, exposing an ugly truth, they, in turn, show me in an ugly light, no matter my good. That’s not fairly, or, at least, positively clearing the field.
What if I did stop letting “racists” into my life? Who would be there to enlighten them?
By casting me as racist, too, I am now equally the enemy, no matter the level of consortion with all your other enemies (be they religion, class, gender, criminality, ad nauseum).
Using this point of view: we all jay walk, therefore we are all law breakers; we all like youthfulness, therefore we are all pedophiles.
There is no problem with pointing out the ills of society, and there are problems that need to be fixed. I’d like those problems pointed out, and pointed out well. We need to fix those issues!
The problem with the “everyone’s guilty” logic is that it cheapens the real issue of racism. If we’re all guilty, all we do is spend time pointing fingers. This is what Jean Baudrillard critiqued most of capitalist society, as subjects become most dominated by their own fetishes and alienated object creations.
Later, Jean-François Lyotard showed that if we keep up old set paradigms in language games, such as “universal truths”, we retard the collection of knowledge, and stagnate, often oppressing other minority discourses. If we’re all guilty, there is no one who has the right to say anything, and he who does, speaks without relevance.
Critical social theorists, such as Theodor Adorno, have been pulled into postmodernist schools of thought, as they also used macro- and micro-views to define and illustrate crucial societal issues and conflicts, to develop solutions, while complainers, on the other hand, just whine.
So, here, I’m going to try to show why this viewpoint is a poor one, and, sadly, I’ll be using some harsh words, so get over that now.
If we live by the mindset “we’re all racist” there is nothing positive behind that, and I have to lower myself to say, “Yes, I am a racist.”
Okay, I’ll lower myself to that standard, so I’m going to start by being okay with my racism, in the way that I don’t hate blacks, I hate “niggers”.
Fans of Chris Rock (or the US version of The Office) know exactly what I mean. Those types that ruin their community, steal from loved ones, and are just poor examples of humanity, but just happen to be black.
Via the logic of micropolitics, I now have to see that I didn’t dislike individuals for their negative traits, but partially had a problem with their race all along. I’m coming down with you here, so I have to then ask:
Can I openly call those people “nigger”?
I don’t mean I’ll shout it from the rooftops, or even pepper it into conversation, but truly believe it, in my head and heart, when I say it.
What I currently do, is accept their fault, send them some love, and move on with the rest of my life.
Yes, if I deeply inspect everyone, I will find horrible things, and wind up living a really horrible life.
Negativity breeds negativity, and, if that’s what you want, the world will play that game with you, but when it does, there is no complaining the world is shit. You made it that way.
From here on out, I’m going to raise myself back up, be the normally positive person I am, and, while I realize that there is racism everywhere, I won’t keep pointing out that we’re all guilty.
I’m sorry Ta-Nehisi, if that is your real name, that your girlfriend was called a “nigger” at nine years old, and never got over it. When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Parker, a black woman, psychologically tortured me, and, once, even threw a stapler at me in the middle of class. I learned to forgive, but not forget, and if I happen to see her someday, I’ll let her know how she hurt me, without using hurtful words.
To heel, so, finally, we may learn, I’m through here with the word “nigger” (to some “spic”, and others “cracker”, etcetera). I’m going back to using the word that describes truly ugly individuals for who they are: “asshole”.
Because I love you, my nigga.