Earlier this week, NPR ran a story about the phrase “That’s racist!” I had no idea it was a catchphrase, meme, or whatever the correct term is. After hearing the story, I realized that I do hear the phrase more often these day, though I don’t think I’ve ever used it personally. The story opened up an interesting issue, but I felt the piece fell short of really addressing the issue. I’d love to hear a more in-depth analysis of what I felt was the real story behind the phrase: a younger generation feels that they are, for lack of a better word, “post-racial.” They can joke about a statement without really doing anything to change racial attitudes.
I’d written a long-winded yet thoughtful reaction to the piece, but I cut it. Racism is a thorny topic, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to address it properly in a public (albeit obscure) space. Plus, when I mentioned specific media personalities, I realized they might have Google alerts on their name. I’d hate for my four readers to watch me be eviscerated online by an insecure director or actor who responds to every negative online comment. (One person, with whom I have issues regarding his use of ethnicity in his work, is apparently known for getting into online arguments over stuff like that.)
So until I become brave enough to post my opinions on serious topics, I’ll stick to talking about dogs and food and my job hunt. But I do invite you to listen to the piece and think about ways we address race in our daily lives. It’s not enough to simply point out racist, homophobic, or discriminatory language. Unless we do something about it, unless we take action to change attitudes, we’re no better than the people making racist comments. We’re just pacifying ourselves by pointing at others’ bad behavior and congratulating ourselves for not being the ones who did it.
Perhaps I should look into doing something myself. Do you volunteer for a cause that helps stop discrimination or racism? What are some ways we can take action? A Google search gave me Facebook pages (liking a page doesn’t seem like it would really do anything) and web site selling ‘end racism’ and ‘celebrate diversity’ t-shirts and totes.