First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Op-Ed

I saw a feature on Good Morning America a couple weeks ago about a mom who parents only through praise. She has completely stopped criticizing her children and I thought to myself, "What a wonderful liar."

That's parent blogging/marketing in a nutshell though. It's a horrible place, generally. Everyone is nice to each other all the time. Except when they're not and then usually it's just a big, flabby, ivory tower slap fight.

We often write about our triumphs and when we write about our failures, there's often something missing. We smooth out the pain. You rarely get that bloody fingernails holding on by a claw feeling. We revel in the beauty and wonder of our children. Then we revel in the beauty and the wonder of all the beautiful and wonderful parents out there blogging beautifully and wonderfully about their beautiful and wonderful children. Collegiality and support are great. I will go on record as saying I support being supportive. The all the time part though . . . Sometimes that'll cause a body to miss a thing or two.

There's this very popular parenting website and on one occasion one of these guys wrote a post about how their toddler didn't recognize a person's race and how it was so "beautiful" because their three year old was "colorblind. Colorblind to race." And when I read that I thought, "That is sooo racist. So white, liberal, racist. Jesus CheeRIST that is bad. Haven't they seen Stephen Colbert do his bit on whites using the term colorblind to describe themselves?"

A white person using the term colorblind is a denial of a human's unique beauty, culture, and personal experience. If a white person is referring to themselves as colorblind and it's not because they can't tell the difference between red and green, they're definitely racist. I thought this was a well-established truth.*

So, I commented on the post. I said, "Wow. Your kid sounds really racist."

There was some hullabaloo and how dare you(s) and don't come backs and is nots and so forth. I replied, "Hey. It's no big deal. He's still young. You can help him with that shit. Just, you know, tell him to stop being a racist. Try telling him that he needs to see and appreciate people for who they are."

Hullaballoo and anger and go away and so forth.

The problem with that story is that it never actually happened. They posted that post, but I never said anything at the time. Remember what I said about everyone being nice to each other all the time? It sucks. And I suck for playing along. Who has one and a half thumbs and a long history of mistakes? This guy.

I really did call a blogger's kid racist once but that kid was like five and he said something to his mom to the effect of "I don't like people with brown skin." That shit is racist. I had to say something in that case. The blogger was upset. Lots of people said things in her defense about how it was natural as kids come in contact with new people to on occasion react at first with some negative feelings. Which is true. It's also racist.

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Calling your white self or your white kid colorblind is kind of a passive racism, but it's still racist. See, you've got your passive racism--self aggrandizing white liberals, people who don't speak up when they should (present company included), any time a person is complicit in the crime of institutionalized racism, etc.--and aggressive racism--burning crosses, violence, use of the n-word, for example. Occasionally you get your passive aggressive racism ("That color doesn't work for me but on you it's great") too.

I don't get the big deal white people have with being called out as racist. We react so horribly. And it is a horrible thing to be. But it's not purely a moral issue, which is I think where people get caught up.

You're white. You've never been black. You had white parents. You were raised in a white neighborhood. You can't understand the experience. Especially if you're male. So when you find yourself being racist, instead of saying "Oh my god. Me? No. No no No never! I'm a good white person!" You should maybe try going, "Ok. What did I do there that was racist? Can I fix it? How do I do that?" And then you figure it out and you move on and do better on the next blog post.

I mean no harm. Everyone makes a mistake now and again. I'm sure the above mentioned bloggers walk relatively unracistly through most of their lives. They're talented and generous guys and everyone seems to like them. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

In this country at this time, remaining quiet is not an option. So while I'm sorry to the blogger(s) I'm calling out in this space, I'm even more sorry that I didn't do it sooner.


HM


*If a person of color tells me that they have no problem with the term colorblind being used to describe a given white person's lack of racism, then in that case I am wrong about the term's racist connotations. That's the way that works.

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