I'd like to preface this by saying that I don't know anything about SGA or its fandom. And that this is therefore not really about the recent wank concerning racism in AUs. If you want to read about that, many of the posts have been collected in metafandom
's most recent post
. That series of posts, however, started to make me think about how we view race and racism, of how we think about what we say, how we contextualize our relationships with other people
What I'd like to address is not so much the issue of racism in fandom. Or anywhere, for that matter. I won't deny that it exists. In fact, I would argue that in many ways, it has become more subversive and more damaging as the institutions supporting it have been forced underground.
I won't deny that minorities in the United States have to deal, frankly, with a lot of shit. I know the statistics about high school drop-out rates and poverty rates and immigration. Minorities have trouble in this country.
Just putting that out there, because what I have to say has simultaneously nothing and everything to do with the color of my skin.
In a reply to a deleted post
, which was in turn part of a discussion of the SGA fic that inspired this race discussion, scarletts_awry
quoted the original poster (OP) as having said, "Well, I can't really comment on the racial aspect -- I'm a white girl, so I've never had to deal with that societal flaw."
Which is absolutely the crux of the race problem from several angles. First of all, the original poster felt that she could not comment on racism because of her own race
. Secondly, the OP seemed to think that being white created a buffer
between her and the world in which people are racist. Third, this comment implied that white people are somehow impervious to racism
, and are never on the receiving end of racist comments or actions.
Each of these three points is one I've encountered over and over, and each one makes me wonder, every time, why racism is considered so separately from any other form of discrimination. I'd like to take the time to come up with an organized, elegant essay on the subject, but I'm tired. So, point-by-point rebuttal:
1. Racism is discrimination. And everyone knows what discrimination feels like. You have been ignored in a classroom because the teacher likes the kid in the back more; you have been passed over for a promotion because your boss doesn't like you; you've tried to sit with a certain group of people at lunch only to be summarily shunned as they return to their self-referential conversation, ignoring you. These are smaller instances of discrimination, to be sure, nothing like the deep and often subconscious discrimination of racism, but they provide at least some common ground, somewhere we can all meet and say Yeah, I know what you mean.
White people are therefore no less able or qualified to comment on racism than anyone else.
2. White people have to deal with racism. All the time. I have to deal with it on a daily basis here in Wisconsin, an intensely white state; I had to deal with it on a daily basis when I lived in Washington DC, which was majority black. These two opposite experiences gave me some interesting contrasts to work with
3. It is entirely possible for someone to be racist against a white person. I'm sure it doesn't happen as often as it happens to minorities, and I know I've had very specific experiences that don't represent those of most Americans. But believe me, I'm speaking from experience in saying that it is very possible
to be discriminated against as a white woman. Racism is not a one-way thing. It's a web. It's a white person discriminating against a Hispanic person discriminating against a black person discriminating against an Asian person discriminating against a white person.
As a sort of addendum to that: "white" is a race.
The United States does not consist of "white" and "race."
I suppose my real point, which could probably be substituted for everything else I've said here, is stop telling me that I feel guilty about racism and start understanding that I sympathize.