WIB has hit yet another milestone. This is my 300th blog. Woo hoo! Thanks to everyone for checking in from time to time and a big thanks to those who visit on a regular basis. A co-worker of mine checked out the blog for the first time the other day and asked if I wrote any opinion pieces, which (a) suprised me because that's what I've based the blog upon and (b) made me realize I've been slacking in that department. So, it's time to get back to basics, starting with this 300th blog post.
Last week I had several people ask me if I would blog about the Michael Richards (Kramer) incident. For those of you out of the loop on this story, read about it here, or just know that he made some offensive, racial remarks to an African-American heckler at a comedy club.
Here's my deal: I don't think that America is as racist a country as people make it out to be. Should we condemn public figures, or anyone for that matter, who make harmful racial comments? Absolutely. Should we sound the alarms everytime someone does make a racial comment? No.
Actual racism would be if Michael Richards consistently and intentionally used racial slurs. Actual racism is actively attacking people because of their race.
People slip. They don't say nice things. They'll draw from an arsenal of derogatory language for impact if they feel threatened, but this doesn't necessarily reflect upon their actual viewpoints. If I were to call someone a "bitch," it's not because I don't like women, it's because I don't like the person I'm attacking and I'm using the word "bitch" for impact. Derogatory words certainly have their ugly origins, which is why we condemn them, but I don't think the casual usage of those words correlates to their origins in most cases.
Because of the stigma of racism in America, dropping a racial slur takes impact to another level, which is really too bad because we've let sexist remarks slide, so that "bitch" or "whore" is less offensive than "nigger" or "wetback" -- when they should be equally offensive and equally condemned. Somehow, we elevated racism above all other forms of discrimination, to a fault.
I think if we look at other parts of the world, from third-world countries to industrialized countries, you'd comparatively see that we live in an advanced society where race plays less and less of a role. We definitely have our trouble spots (Read: The Deep South), but we're not nearly as bad as other parts of the world. We act like we invented racism. We think we're the #1 most racist country when we're really like #167.
The America we read about in our history books is not the America of today and we should credit previous generations for breaking racial divides and credit ourselves for continuing this progression. We can do this by disapproving intentional racial acts without crucifying ourselves over unintentional, isolated events.