I’m not going to go too long on this, partially because I’m not sure it’s entirely my place as a white dude, and partially because the longer it goes the less likely I am to be coherent on the topic.
Over the last year there’s been a huge resurgence in the populace’s discussion on race, bolstered in no small part by the recent election. This isn’t going to be about Trump vs Hillary, this is going to be about the acceptance of a man who ran on a platform of division and fear and won the presidency of the United States by scooping up what many are calling the white working class vote.
If this is an accurate account of how he won then it must mean that a large swath of white voters either were not offended by his bigoted and misogynistic behavior, or they in fact believe he’s right in those views. Those views, by the way, are well documented and not up for debate. He’s equivocated and had his spokespeople spin for him, but there can be no excusing the remarks as “just things you say on the campaign trail” or “locker room talk.” Pussygate got Billy Bush fired. It seemed to have had no ill effect on Mr. Trump.
So, Trump displays deplorable behavior. A fair number of places call him out on it, and then you get the tried and true name calling defense.
Don’t call me a bigot. Don’t call me a racist. You’re so mean. Stop being nasty to me. Don’t call me a misogynist. No one respects women more than I do.
As a white guy I can almost empathize. There’s a lot going on these days and people are touchy as always. Rightfully so. It’s very easy for a white person to open their mouth without thinking and say something offensive, even if that wasn’t necessarily their intention.
Pay attention here, this next bit is important. If you offended somebody and it wasn’t your intention to do so, you fucked up. Not them. It’s not someone else’s fault if you offend them. Communication is a transfer of ideas. If your intent is lost or misconstrued it is your fault for not being clear enough, or for having a bad idea. Mostly the latter.
Which gets to the heart of my point. I’ve seen a lot of white people get righteously indignant lately at the idea that they might have exhibited intolerant behavior.
“I’m not a racist,” they say. “I have black friends!”
“I’m not a misogynist, I have a mom and a daughter and a sister!”
It’s a kneejerk reaction to a perceived insult. Fellow whiteys, listen the fuck up. Most of you probably aren’t racist. That does not mean that you’ve never acted or thought like one. I know I have. Get over the idea that being called a racist or a bigot is an insult to the core of your pure white being and do a little introspection. Actively try to see things from another person’s point of view for once and then try to be better.
Goddamnit, TRY TO BE BETTER.
I’ll end with this. A lot of us white folk are “not racist.” We go about our lives, thinking we’re being fair to everyone, trying to keep an even keel. It’s not enough. You’re doing it wrong.
Be actively against bigotry and racism and misogyny. Call it out when you see it. Don’t let it slide. If you don’t call this shit out and absolutely RAIL against it then you are complicit in its acceptance. Don’t allow for it. There’s no excuse for treating another human as if they’re somehow less than. Show no quarter to those who exhibit bigoted behavior, especially elected officials. Their job is to represent us and they are not owed our respect. The respect part comes when due representation is achieved.
Resist and denounce shitty behavior. Upset your keel once in a while.