Wednesday, March 11, 2015

This SAE thing . . . I can't even

I'm sure all of you, rock-dwellers aside, have heard about the SAE racism scandal at the University of Oklahoma.  The school seems to be taking things seriously, expelling both the fraternity and some of the ringleaders.  Now one of the kids' parents have issued a statement which reads like one part apology, one part denial, and forty-six parts white privilege.

Now, I can kind of understand where these parents are coming from.  They don't want everyone to think their kid is a monster. They probably think they didn't raise their kid to be racist.  White people seem to think that unless you're a card carrying Klan member, you can't be a racist.  We think that if we don't consciously think or say, "I think white people are better than everyone else, and I hate Black people super much," then we're not racist.  We don't acknowledge that racism is instead a system of oppression that affects all of us.

I don't think this young man's parents sat him down when he was a kid and said, "Son, I want you to hate Black people."  That isn't how you wind up with kids who would sing that song, not most of the time.  Hey, maybe they never even used the n-word at the dinner table.  But there are plenty of ways white parents pass down racism to their kids without even noticing.  I'm going to focus on anti-Black racism for the moment, since that is the case with the SAE issue.

A (very) partial list of ways you can teach your kids to think of Black people as "less than"

1) When an unarmed Black kid gets shot by the cops, calling him a "thug" who had it coming instead of acknowledging that Black kids are more likely than white kids to get shot for the same behavior.
2) When an unarmed Black kid gets shot by the cops, posting "police lives matter" memes, as if cop killers routinely walk free in our country and we really need to be reminded that their lives matter.
3) Bringing up "Black-on-Black crime" every time someone tries to talk about police brutality, as if the one cancels out the other, or as it Black people don't care about that, too.
4) Using the terms "race baiter" or "playing the race card" when a person of color tries to talk about their lived experience.
5) Laughing at cartoons of the President picking cotton and eating watermelon.

"But Anne Margaret," you say, "I would never say any or do any of those things!  Surely my child cannot grow up to think singing a song about lynching is funny."  Well, buckle in for some "racism lite."

Some more ways you can leave your kids racially ignorant in ways that will eventually cause them to hurt other people

1) Refusing to talk about race with your kids because you think that somehow this will cause your kids to grow up to be "colorblind" or simply because you don't ever think about it much, because, hey, you don't have to think about race.  After all, you're white.  Newsflash: we all see color, assuming our eyes work correctly.
2) Not acknowledging that racism still exists and discussing it with your kids (in age appropriate fashion) when examples arise.
3) Whispering about race like it's dirty: "You, know, Kenny, in accounting . . . [whispers] he's Black."
4) Refusing to talk about the ugly parts of American History that have shaped our country into what it is today. (I'm looking at you, Oklahoma.)
5) Pretending we live in a "post-racial America" when our culture sends constant messages that white is better.
6) Not ever interacting with people who are different from you.

I  know it is hard to talk about racism.  Do you think I enjoy explaining to my Black child that people who looked like me used to own people who looked like him and do horrible things to them?  Do you think I like teaching my kid to never wear his hood up and to always keep his hands where the police can see them?  Do you think I like talking about Black people being denied the right to vote?  Do you think I want to talk to him about what to do when someone does or says something racist to him?  I do it because I have to in order to try to keep him safe, mostly from white people whose parents couldn't be bothered to teach them properly.

Black people have to do this shit with their kids every day since forever.  It's time for white people to step up with theirs. Read a damn book, broaden your horizons, face reality, and talk to your kids on a regular basis about these things. 

Those SAE parents wanted to tell everyone that in spite of his mistakes, their son has a good heart.  You know who else always says that?  The mothers of those unarmed Black boys shot dead in the street by the police.  Then tons of people make fun of them for being "ghetto" and call their dead babies "thugs." 

And that is how you get college kids who think singing a song about murdering a Black man to prevent him from joining a club is funny.

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