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July 2012

The Biggest Myth About Racial “Tolerance”

A home visitor, friend, neighbor, something-in-law, employee, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, liking a celebrity or even an adopted child of ____ race does NOT mean that a White person is not capable of racist thoughts, tendencies, or actions against ____ race.

If friendship or sex “cured” racism, it would’ve been eradicated with the first sleepover or orgasm, ever. It wasn’t.

Viewing me (as a Black woman) as an adorable fetish sex object and an “extra” challenge to dominate (if you’re a White man) or possibly a good maid-like buddy to emptily listen to your vapid (or even legitimate) problems while my interests and concerns are marginalized or ignored (if you’re a White woman) is what “tolerance” amounts to. That’s not love. That’s not acceptance. That’s not equality. That’s not thinking critically. That’s not feeling deeply.

And, shouldn’t it be about more than “tolerance?” What a low standard. That’s maybe…a step above indifference. I “tolerate” taxes and bad traffic. “Tolerance” isn’t enough. Indifference is dangerous. Hatred is deadly.

The myth and well…LIE, that acceptance of a pre-approved model minority is indicative of acceptance of a whole race (when centuries of evidence prove otherwise) is beyond naive. It’s inhumane. It’s like telling a person to ignore a fact and embrace a lie, all the while happily stomping on their head as they try to think about the validity of the lie. Their humanity is denied.

Racism doesn’t need the word “nigger,” sheets or burning crosses to function. It works well in nice suits with expansive and superfluous diction, with faces exposed and fires contained in expensive fireplaces, not lawns.

It works when people are calmly and peacefully indifferent and just…rather not talk about this.

It most especially works when people use the lazy and logical fallacy-filled reasoning that since they don’t hate LeBron James, people like Trayvon Martin won’t get shot and die. Since they like Beyonce, Cece McDonald won’t spend years in prison for trying to defend herself. Since they like the very wealthy Oprah, Black women will no longer have higher unemployment (and be paid less) than White women and men, and since they voted for President Obama, Black men will no longer face the vile organization and rebirth of Jim Crow that is Prison Industrial Complex. Their daughter married a Black guy. How can they be racist? They went to Africa during their college years. How can they be racist? They “only” date Black women/Black men. How can they be racist?

This last group is so very dangerous. They’ve convinced themselves that a few applauds here, and a few album purchases there make them immune to perpetuating racial hatred and incapable of indifference. Worse, many think friendship or sex (especially sex…ugh) cures them of any racist tendencies and removes White privilege. They mistakenly think “tolerance” and supporting ”exceptional” minorities is enough. Some even think they’re “allies” for anti-racist causes. But they’re quick to want to shape, structure and lead movements against a system that they systematically benefit from. Their “tolerance” and White privilege blinds them to the fact that maybe…just maybe…they should have a seat…a whole stadium of seats…and actually listen for once. Just listen. “Tolerance” covers your ears, eyes and heart. Learning and loving doesn’t start before listening.

I’m expected to “tolerate” injustice, while people just “tolerate” me…and I’m required to do it…politely? How dare I speak out against injustice with a sharp tongue? “Why…that’s more offensive than the injustice itself!”

This is what “tolerance” provides. A bunch of people too afraid to speak out and worse, racist cowards too afraid to change because they refuse to acknowledge that tolerance is not nearly enough.

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