Monday 5 August 2019

I'm a racist

BIPOC people tell me I’m racist. Many white people have distanced themselves from me lately, unfriended me, blocked me because they say I’m racist. 

And I have come to realise it is true. Not just me but all white people are racist. Period. Just like the lack of melanin in our skin we are genetically coded for it. White and racist are indivisible, no matter how much white people are in denial, no matter how many other white people they label as racist and try to distance themselves from (thinking such action will define them as “not racist”) if you are white then you are racist. No action, no education, nothing will ever make a white person not a racist.

That said! - hesitate a bit before unfriending, unfollowing and blocking me, while I explain the subtlety of this statement.  

As Lionel Shriver observes in her Spectator article “Can you prove you’re not a racist?”

Hey, we’re all racists, to a greater or lesser degree. That is, we’ve all developed preconceptions about one another. We vary in our success in resisting stereotypes from person to person, and from day to day. This is not only a problem for white people.

Shriver goes on to point out that the more you protest the label the more lame you look:

For you cannot prove a negative. Try this exercise: prove you’re not a racist. Interestingly, the more you go on about your laudable colour-blindness, the dodgier you’ll sound. Thus, forcing people to repudiate this epithet is inviting them to hang themselves.

At a micro level your identity as a racist doesn’t matter. Doing and saying overtly racist things means BIPOC people will stay away from you for their safety and peace of mind. If you are a white person with an open mind to the concept of shared humanity you will have BIPOC friends, partners and work colleagues. So there is a kind of spectrum ranging from less to more racist, but there are no white people who aren’t on the continuum somewhere.

What does matter about racism is when white people at the high end of the spectrum band together to create dominant political and legal systems that protect and promote their interests. Racism is an organised and oppressive system that gives unequal access to people in society based on constructed beliefs about some racial characteristics being inferior or superior.

The outrage I expressed in my “something for the crooks” blog was perceived by some to be racist.  That seems very simplistic thinking to me. Consider this – I made fun of Chinese names and accents and imagined a piece of absurdist dialogue. Apparently that can be defined by some as racist. In my defence I will say this. I’m not even sure of the legal names of the companies based in China that are faking and selling my art, much less the name of any individual person working in those businesses. So my childish parody wasn’t mimicking anybody personally. I don’t know their names and are fairly sure they neither know or care what mine is. If there was an offence of “racism” it is absolutely miniscule compared to the disrespect and outright contempt of what they doing to me.

As for “slitty” eyes, well I get them looking at a computer screen all day too. Asian people do have much smaller upper lids than western people and slanted eyes. Errm…so what? Apparently some people found that offensive, but it must be subjective as I don’t think its an any worse word than I’d apply to anybody of any nationality that robbed me, such as they looked shifty, devious, sly or nasty.

China is not a country any more friendly to the west than Russia. However I cannot be a racist if I say anything insulting about a Russian person because they are supposedly white people. (anyone know if that applies to Mongolians too? Aren’t they Russians?) 

China does not respect the international rule of law. If exactly the same copyright infringement was done to me by a company or person in Europe or America I would instantly be protected. I would have clear legal rights and power to stop it.

I do understand this peculiar subtlety about copyright and the fashion industry - as in, if these people were copying my art and clothing but selling it based on a photograph of their own faked version – I couldn’t stop that. However their fraud goes to the extent of appropriating my own photographs and creating social media promotions showing those pictures. Those pictures don’t represent the reality of what the buyers are going to receive. They will get a garment that has a photographic reproduction of the surface. In my real version of the garment there will be patchworking, appliques, stencilling, multiple layers of embellishment and embroidery and hand stitching built up on the surface. That is the lavish, rich detail of the garment that prospective customers are seeing and what they believe they are buying.

That is the nasty, greedy, opportunistic fraud that is making me very angry.

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