Has that title got your attention? Maybe it’s a bit over-the-top? Perhaps the author has finally gone too far?
Maybe not. Maybe it’s time for more articles starting with titles like this, because it seems to be perfectly acceptable for someone to write an article with the roles flipped. In fact that’s what happened earlier this year, when Vice.com published “a few suggestions,” ok, one hundred suggestions, in an article entitled “100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color.”
Right away let’s establish something: The author of “100 Ways White People Can Make Live Less Frustrating for People of Color,” and others like her, do not speak for “people of color.” They speak for the leftist identity politics industry. They claim to represent “people of color,” but they only represent their dwindling, divisive movement. And to the extent they are rebuked here, that rebuke is directed at them, and the racist, separatist, seditious, angry, hyper-sensitive fringe they are a part of, not “people of color” in general.
Such an article invites a response. Ideally, every one of the 100 “suggestions” in this article invite a response, because every one of them oozes great gobs of “people of color” privilege, condescension, arrogance, sanctimony, over-simplification, and, of course, hostility. But in the interests of not boring our readers to death, let’s just review some of the highlights.
The author begins (#1) by telling us that “just because we can’t see racism doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” and to “trust people of color’s assessment of a situation.” First of all, being White doesn’t erase the ability or the right to assess issues of race any more than being a “person of color” might do so. But there’s a bigger problem here.
The problem with #1 is that “racism” of the sort that taints American history has pretty much been eradicated. Sure, there are incidents of racist sentiment here and there, and because we’re a nation where 300 million people walk around with video cameras all the time, we see all of them on the internet. But despite being bombarded with anecdotal evidence of racism, statistically speaking the vast majority of Americans are not racist. And to the extent there is racism, it’s a two-way street. For decades, American laws and institutions have discriminated against White people. And especially in recent years, it’s become fashionable for “people of color” to openly disparage white males – everything about them – their history, their culture, their beliefs. Stop it. It’s hypocritical.
Then there’s “Don’t assume or guess people’s races” (#3). Ok. That’s reasonable. Like most of the more reasonable of the author’s suggestions, what they’re really asking for is common courtesy, which is a request and a value that can be made and embraced without all the obsession with race. But what about “people’s races?” What does that even mean? What about mixed race individuals, or people of indeterminate ethnicities? There is a blithely ignored futility in all of this, because fewer and fewer people are actually “White.”
What is “White,” anyway? And how do “people of color” and, of course, compliant bureaucrats, properly identify the White people that need to be disparaged and discriminated against? Why is it that a “Hispanic,” i.e., someone with a Spanish surname, ends up getting admitted to college or hired for a job to fulfill a racial quota, even if they’ve got blue eyes, blond hair, and skin that would blister in 30 minutes of direct sunlight, yet a person of southern Italian descent, with a complexion that’s darker than many African Americans, is stigmatized for their “white privilege?” How will this end up, as we continue to intermarry, defying both the vanishingly small percentage of actual racists among us, and confusing the enforcers of affirmative action with our ambiguous coloration?
Another suggestion (#13) is to “avoid phrases like ‘but I have a black friend, I can’t be racist!’ You know that’s BS…”
Actually, no, that is not “BS.” To have a friend, a real friend, not some social media connection, but a long-standing close friend who you can call anytime day or night, is to have someone in your life that you truly empathize with. To trivialize the impact of this denies human nature. How can someone who has let a “person of color” into their intimate personal life not grapple more seriously with the moral consequences of having a racist sentiment, much less engage in racist activity? Of course it matters.
No behavior guide for White people would be complete without throwing in a caution regarding “cultural appropriation,” and the author doesn’t disappoint. “Don’t have dreadlocks if you’re not Black” (#82).
Here’s what you can do, “people of color,” if you’re concerned about “cultural appropriation.” You can stop driving cars, using your smart phones, using the internet, or, for that matter, consuming electricity, because all of those innovations are a product of White culture. Were you just talking about fashion, or food? Fine. Then start wearing only the attire, and start eating only the food that came from your own culture. Otherwise, if a White person wants to wear dreadlocks, or hoop earrings, or sell tacos from a truck, that’s their business. Get over it. And yes, we know “get over it” is considered a “microaggression.” Get over it.
The author makes several suggestions admonishing White people to discriminate against themselves. Whether it’s the art gallery (#27), the workplace (#59, #60, #61), or professional associations (#62), or academia (#63, #64), White people are required to include “people of color.” Really? Regardless of merit? Is that what you want? How about we just include the best person for the job?
The author concludes by telling us that “being an ally is a verb, not a noun. You can’t just magically be an ally to people of color because you say you’re one” (#100). How’s this: We will fight for a color-blind society, where, to quote the great Martin Luther King, “people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.” You want to be an “ally” in the fight against racism? Then demand removal of those little boxes, currently required by law on every college or job application, where we have to disclose our race. Let’s start right there.
And can we please dispense with the phrase “person of color?” It is a stupid, awkward, pretentious, contrived, goofy, wordy, embarrassing made-up phrase that makes normal people cringe every time they have to use it. Come up with something shorter and simpler. How about “human.”
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Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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