I dedicate this one to my friend from Birmingham. You crossed my mind when I was writing and thought I add a 3rd entry to this piece. Maybe this will make you smile with this one. 🙂
The complaint I’ve heard from primarily White people and amazingly a few conservative Blacks has been that everything isn’t racial is a fair complaint, but not exactly true.
Some things said are not meant to be racial, but have serious racial implications that the person speaking may not understand due to their lack of socialization or cultural awareness. Some people are hyper-sensitive and are unwilling to take the time to understand the context or even explain to the person why what they have said or written is offensive.
Let’s not immediately blame the person for their ignorance if they do not have a history of it. Someone such as Rush Limbaugh has a history of saying some obviously racist statements, although his apologist tries to deflect the conversation each time he does. You may say something that someone finds racially or culturally insensitive, but does that mean you’re a racist? It depends on context, intentions and history.
I always have someone who may misunderstand something I’ve or someone Black has said and ask me as politely has they can to explain or translate the meaning. As if I’m the authority of what Black people mean. I have family members I don’t even understand. Seriously, I get what is being asked and try to translate it in a way they may understand.
What we have to remember is just because someone is of the same race as another doesn’t mean they are the same. I have family members I don’t understand and friends of other races who we don’t have to complete the sentence and we understand each other. But this happens with time. Taking the time to consider another persons perspective without bias. You begin to learn what they mean and recognize your similarities.
We have programmed ourselves to initially mistrust and categorize one another. So when you interact with someone who may be different than you in some way, race to ideology, you are more aware and more cautious and often more subjective to what they have to say.
So your local Black person can speak about the racism found in the Republican Tea Party folks and conservatives rush to say, “Why do Blacks always blame everything on race?” or “Stop playing the blame game.” or my favorite “They’re always complaining.” These sort of thoughtless phrases are used to comfort the person using them in believing their perceptions are the only that matters and all others are wrong.
Everything isn’t about race, but so many things are. Even when it’s subliminal or systemic that it isn’t apparent.
The manner in which you construct your words or sentence, the sound or voice inflections used in delivery, use of grammar or all of them, is partly conscious because the speaker knows it arouses his/her audiences.
If you do not know how something would be interpreted, just ask. Ask someone who you know has some cultural sensibilities to them and will be honest with you. Listen to them and learn from them. When I’m asked a sincere question concerning race I try to give a very fair answer. I have been offended on occasions, but I let it pass until it becomes a pattern.
That’s my best and honest advice to you. If you’re unsure just call, text or email 1-800-Ask A Brother. I’ll do what I can to help.