“I have nothing against Black people. My coworker is Black and he speaks and dresses very well. He acts White. It’s the ones that walk around with their boxers out that I don’t like.”
We’ve all heard someone say something like this at some point. One of my best friend’s Dad used to make comments like this all the time, and while it always made me somewhat uncomfortable, I never understood the extent of just how horrible that was. The article we read this week by Sue (2010) mentions this in the section about the false image of America as a melting pot. Our country tries to paint itself as this all-inclusive place where all different cultures can come together and be valued and celebrated. However, the reality is that White Euro-Americans are only okay with people of different cultures and backgrounds coming here if they assimilate, and even then they are not totally welcome, they are tolerated. Those who are not White are constantly reminded of how inferior they are, that they are viewed by Whites as a form of subhuman. It may not be as explicit now as it was 30 or 40 years ago, but we can still find hints of these societal convictions in statements such as the one above.
The melting pot is a myth. We do not celebrate everyone’s race and culture here, the goal is actually to subdue those with racial differences, to “white-wash” them. This is incredibly problematic because White Euro-Americans are trying to diminish other cultures, and essentially erase them. Is there a way to show people how insidious and harmful these comments are? And if they respond by saying that you’re being too sensitive or overreacting, how do you refute that? What I’ve come to find in interactions like these, when I try to politely bring something up most of the responses I get are “I don’t want to hear it,” or “People are becoming too PC these days.” How do you respond to a comment like that?