Today I am tired. Not like not-enough-sleep tired. Like tired of the world tired. Exhausted from the world. I’m tired of the world being full of stupid assholes who refuse to get it. I’m tired. And I’m angry. And I’m tired of being told that I’m too angry. And I’m angry because I’m tired and I’m angry that I can’t be anything but angry.
Yesterday, Brad Paisley came out with a song about how hard it is to be a white guy in the south where you just can’t help but be the proud embodiment of oppression without every black guy oppressing YOU with the label “racist”. It’s hard, he explains, to show the love of your band without wearing a t-shirt commemorating that time in history when your people stole other people from their homes, shipped them across the sea and bought and sold them and abused them for decades. It’s so fucking hard. Why can’t anyone understand how hard it is not to wear that shirt when you really love that band? It’s the same way people don’t understand that we wear white cloaks and hoods because it’s fashion and we like the camaraderie when out with similarly dressed people… who also like burning things. It’s a white thing. You wouldn’t get it. But it’s not like I’m RACIST. And it’s not fair that you call me that. And it oppresses ME, you know, when you wear a do-rag and a gold chain. So maybe you should think about that, black people. Checkmate. Now, let’s be friends. And LL Cool J thought that was reasonable and bought him a beer at the end of the song.
The song would be fucking laughable if it wasn’t the kind of shit that happens all the time. Every day. And people besides LL Cool J think this message is reasonable. And not just stupid assholes like Brad Paisley. Other stupid assholes, too.
Like this video that Rebecca posted this morning on FB and Twitter:
See? They don’t THINK they’re being racist. They just are. They don’t feel racist. But they are. It’s right there. It’s the same when we talk about sexism and other oppressions.
And what happens when we call it out? We’re told it’s a misunderstanding. We don’t understand. It is explained back to us. When we call it out again, we’re told we’re overreacting. When we call it out again, we’re causing trouble. When we call it out again, we’re really fucking annoying. When we call it out again, we’re asked what we’re trying to accomplish. When we call it out again, we’re pointed to all the times it HASN’T happened. When we call it out again, we’re told to be quiet already. And when we finally get angry, we’re told that we’re not going to get anywhere with THAT attitude, and if we want to calm down, maybe someone will be able to take us seriously. And when we call it out again, we’re accused of just seeing systemic oppression everywhere and maybe it’s time to take a break. And if we call it out again, we’re militant. And if we call it out again, we’re told that no one is going to be bullied into giving us the respect and equal treatment we deserve.
It’s a convenient cycle of dismissiveness. Ignore until you make them angry. Tell them not to be so angry. Demand they show you some respect and that you will not listen until they talk calmly. Dismiss again when calm. Do nothing. No one has to do any work to change anything, and everything stays the same.
I don’t know why today I’m more irritated than usual. It’s not even my period. And I tend to believe that if it’s not my period, then maybe I’m actually legitimately angry. I’m tired of being told that I shouldn’t be angry as if anger is an irrational emotion. I’m tired of being shown examples of all the times oppression isn’t happening. Yeah, big fucking deal. Look at me, not being raped right now. I should probably stop being all like “rape is a thing that needs addressing.” I’m happy you’re not being turned down for jobs based on your physical appearance. I’m glad you’ve specifically never committed an act of violence targeting a minority. I’m really proud of you that you don’t actually go out of your way to be a huge asshole. But maybe those things alone are not evidence that there isn’t a problem. Maybe there actually is a problem. Maybe even if you don’t want to be, you’re a part of it. Maybe you should consider that. Maybe you should do something. Or maybe you’re right, and I should just try to be less angry and emotional about living in a world where, even where I’m hugely privileged, I’m still not given the respect of a full human being. I’m still less than my husband and my dad and even my son. I should probably be more okay with that.
What are you angry about? Are you angry at all? Is anger bad? Should we all become LL Cool J’s and find common ground, like agreeing that gold chains are as offensive as slavery? Should we keep asking nicely for respect? Should we just move along and accept the system? Is there a quiet way to fix it? Am I being too emotional?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.