Two readers wrote this week with what amounts to a similar question -- is it ever okay for white people to blame non-white people for actions that they would blame white people for?
What do you think?
Reader 1 writes,
I read your blog regularly (it is a great help, thank you) and know you must receive a lot of emails from clueless white people but I’m still new and learning so I really haven’t seen much about this and I thought you could help.
Sometimes when I watch a show that originates from a non-white majority group or nation I will occasionally see racist caricatures or at least what looks like one from my white, US-based experience. Today, I saw what appeared to be a Golliwog on Univision. The character Simon from Durarara!! has been making me uncomfortable for a while because of his resemblance to black-face characters.
But is it really my place to feel anything toward these? It is my first inclination to treat it the same as racist material that originates in the US but then I think that I have no right to negotiate the racial politics of a non-white nation when, as a white person, I’m helping to contribute to white supremacy. So I guess I’m just asking: what is the proper way for a white person to react to racism in non-white nations? Thanks.
Reader 2 writes,
I want to preface this by saying a few things: I am white. I am not trying to derail the discussion, to make it all about me, or to make myself look good. I know that merely by writing you I am opening myself up to being corrected, exposed as racist, and eviscerated. I accept this.
I'm a cashier in a mixed neighborhood. When WP are openly racist, I give them my death stare, and say, "If you're going to talk like that, don't come back." Yet, when confronted with a POC telling a racist joke or anecdote (normally about some 3rd race, less frequently about WP, and rarely about BP) I carry on like I was momentarily deaf. I ignore it totally.
So what can/should I do? I'm not going to attempt to educate POC about how they should behave in the world, but I don't tolerate that behavior from WP. Am I fostering a racist atmosphere at work? I keep quiet out of the fear that I'll be seen as one of those WP who knows everything about POC/PC behavior and can't wait to let everyone know how "good" I am, and that in an of itself is racist, arrogant and lame.
Any thoughts, even blistering ones, would be great. Thank you.