Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Internalized Racism and Shenehneh's Ass Crack

I had a couple of incidents lately that had me thinking about how I react to other people's behavior.  Specifically, why I was embarrassed by the lady that walked into a quiet salon talking loudly about waxing ass cracks, or the guy walking down the street with no shirt or pants too low.  The more I thought about it, I realized what I should really be upset about is what made me feel responsible for the behavior of all African-Americans. Ding ding, light bulb moment!  Respectability politics is really internalized racism.
The Akonadi Foundation Poster
 People come in all kinds.  I haven't heard George Clooney or Mike Huckabee admonishing Honey Boo Boo or the Duck Dynasty folks for embarrassing white people. Why do we allow ourselves to become the spokesperson for all people of color to folks to ignorant folks? If someone is willing to base their opinion of an entire group of people on what they see on a TV show or the behavior of one waitress, is it really going to change if I'm hyper vigilant about doing the 'right thing' all the time?  Nope, they'll just say you're different and not like 'those people'. 
We've got that realllll bad!  I get that it's years of being the only one in class, work, social situations that conditions us to think we have to represent an entire group with our behavior.  (Like when your mom tells you don't embarrass your family in public or at a friends house)  That's too much of a burden to bear.  And frankly, counter to our goals of really judging someone by the content of the character instead of their color. 
We've got middle class black people mad at reality shows, the rude fast food worker and how the next person wears their hair instead of their company's hiring practices.  We should be fighting for the right of people to be themselves regardless of their skin color or culture.  There are poor, ratchet, ignorant, stupid, petty, vain people in every group('race'). It's not up to us to fit a certain mold in order to prove we deserve to be treated equally.  We deserve it because we're HUMAN.  You can do everything 'right' and to those people it still won't matter.  So when I catch myself thinking 'Ugh, now why do they have to do that in public'  I'll give myself a little kick till I let go that thinking. 

PS.  10 points if you get the Martin reference in the title.  I know I'm getting old!