“Humans are nervous, touchy creatures and can be easily offended. Many are deeply insecure. They become focused and energized by taking offense; it makes them feel meaningful and alive.” ~ Michael Leunig
It’s ironic that, in spite of everything I’ve observed happening in our country during the past year, people are cancelling their Netflix accounts in response to the new show, Dear White People.
I’m sorry, what? Do they really believe this? The absurdity of this statement would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.
Director Justin Simien responded to this via Facebook, saying, “When the first trailer for the film dropped, I’ll admit the deluge of claims that I was a reverse racist and a ‘piece of sh*t monkey who should shut up and go back to Africa’ really hurt…But now, I feel strangely encouraged. To see the sheer threat that people feel over a date announcement video featuring a woman of color (politely) asking not to be mocked makes it so clear why I made this show.”
This reaction by the oh-so-offended sector of our country, tells me exactly why we need this show, Justin. And I’m 100 percent sure this series is going to be hilarious.
Is anyone else as tired of the epidemic of being offended as I am? I’m mostly white and I think white people need to get over themselves. And soon.
We are facing a serious epidemic right now, America. But it’s not what you think: it’s our egotistical ignorance. It seems as though we just wait around to take offense over something. We wait for someone to act in a way that we can make all about ourselves, so we can be offended.
When we choose to be offended, we give someone else our power. We hand it right over to whoever just offended us, and become a victim. Do you want someone having that much power over you? I sure don’t.
Do you know the antidote to being offended? A sense of humor!
If we can all just step up and own our ridiculous behavior, we can laugh at our follies. And this can pave the way and open the door to healing the things that divide us. It’s a bit sad that two of my dear multi-cultural friends once said to me, amidst our discussion of an insensitive and ignorant remark made by a white person we all know, “Yeah, but we don’t even see you as white.” I was pleased because when I examined it, I found that, often times, I cringe when classified as “White Hispanic.”
Maybe I’m part of the problem, maybe I’m part of the solution, I don’t really know.
I do know that racial classifications suck. And I’m tired as hell of hearing the group where I technically “belong” deny the unfair treatment of our minority brothers and sisters. It hurts me that my friends carry the trans-generational wounds of their ancestors who were brought here as slaves. As a woman, I feel the weight of hundreds of years of oppression by the patriarchy, so I can’t imagine what it’s like carrying the weight of being a double minority like my dear friend who is a black woman.
I don’t pretend to know her struggle, but I do try to understand it. We talk about it and before I pass snap judgements or say insensitive things, I put myself in her shoes.
And yes, while the idealist in me says we need to stop generalizing and start looking at each individual for their conduct, the realist in me looks at history and realizes that over and over again, white people have gotten it wrong more times than we’ve gotten it right.
Like the time we (White Europeans) invaded North America and slaughtered the Indigenous Native Americans of this land, or that time we (White Europeans, mostly English) invaded Australia and enslaved, slaughtered and stole the children of the Indigenous Aboriginals of that land. How about the time we (White Europeans) invaded Africa and enslaved the native Indigenous tribes of that land, and lets not forget the Spanish Inquisition which spread its tentacles across the globe and wiped out entire cultures in Central and South America.
And spare me the argument that Africans were selling their own into slavery, because that’s akin to blaming the heroin dealer for our own drug problem.
When I look at history, I honestly have to ask myself, “What have we actually done right?” This is the sad conclusion of observing history without wearing blinders.
It’s time we take responsibility for our own actions. Part of this is to stop denying the actions of our ancestors who we aren’t so proud of. I have ancestors on my paternal grandfather’s side who came to America in the 1600s. They settled in Virginia. I’m not for one second going to try to ignorantly claim that they weren’t slave owners.
I don’t have to like it or be proud of it, but denying it does a disservice to those who suffered. Some of my ancestors fought in Indian Wars in Oklahoma while another married a Choctaw Indian woman in Mississippi. So where does this put me?
My father’s family were off-the-boat Cuban in the 1940s, so technically I’m Hispanic, which these days means nothing because in this country, we simply classify Hispanic as being from a Spanish speaking country of Central or South America or the Caribbean. What it doesn’t specify is whether we are full European Spanish, Euro/Indigenous, Indigenous/African or a mix of all three.
Does your head hurt yet? Good! Because that’s how nonsensical it is to claim racial identity.
Racial identity is just this—an identity. And identity is a tool of the ego, which makes us feel superior and separate from others. When we master the ego, we don’t need to cling to false identity and can connect with everyone instead.
None of the cultural identities I can claim define who I am today. I am defined by my actions and empathy for my brothers and sisters. I am defined by how I conduct myself in the world today. And until every single one of us has researched our ancestral lines and have been DNA tested, we need to stop claiming some false identity because all this does is divide us.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock