I will start of by saying that yes, I am an white, anglo-saxon Christian woman, and thus not a minority in my community. The only time I “-isms” I might have affect me are sexism and ageism, neither of which has been that large of a factor in my life. You know the joke “Why can’t Helen Keller drive? Because she’s a woman.” – I laugh at stuff like that. That doesn’t mean that when my friends say stupid shit I don’t call them out on it.
However, there are a lot of people in this world who are looking for something to take offense to. I’ve been reading a number of larger blogs lately and I see a constant need to cry victim. My personal favourite thus far has been someone complaining about a comment at the New York Pride parade. The writer talks about some other things, but what I zoned in on was that she identifies herself as being a queer woman of colour. At the parade and upon seeing some women of colour in burlesque costumes, a white man behind her commented to his partner, also a white man, “Wow. It’s just like national geographic.” Her response was to get so upset she left the parade.
Now – she does make some good points about corporations paying lip service to different minority groups but still being assholes over all. I’m with her on that one. At the same time though – if you are going to take that much offense to an off-handed comment in a conversation you are not a part of? Back up a second, take some deep breaths and think about it. I realize that she probably does get a lot of negative comments given she does fall into two minority groups and thus has probably had some awful experiences. I get that – I do. At the same time though if you are going around expecting people to say bad things it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone has different levels of comfort with certain things – myself I’m pretty good at being one of the guys and some of my buddies do make what could be considered sexist comments and jokes. Thing is they know if they’re making me uncomfortable I’ll say something and I also know they’re not actually sexist dicks. Besides I’ll yell at them that they throw like a girl and other things of that nature.
I think a lot of the time – in modern society – there are still some genuine bigoted jerks out there. However, I think it’s even worse to take offense to every little comment, especially if it’s not directed at you. You’ll drive yourself crazy and be miserable if all you see is the negative. The big thing is know when to pick your battles and recognize that overall, most people don’t mean to be jerks, things just pop out of their mouth. And yes sometimes it’s truly awful what people can say without thinking/knowing the true context behind what they’re saying, but at the same time I believe most people are good people. You need to look at the world with a sense of humour and recognize that it is a good place to be.
In any event, I’m always reminded of this lovely song from Avenue Q when I think of the political correctness in the world today. It’s “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and it’s a riot.