"Can't Help It, I'm White"...a Guest Post
One of my coworkers pissed me off today by saying Koreans and Japanese were more racist than Americans. This despite the fact that she admits her father is racist and she believes in all kind of racist stereotypes. I call her on her white supremacy apologist comments and she says "can't help it, I'm white". And of course her sister is secretly dating a black guy but afraid to tell their parents.
Basically I told her, foreigners may get treated like foreigners in Asia, but in America this is my freaking country and I still get treated like a foreigner yet been here 400 years!
This is a case of the pot calling the kettle tangerine!
Her opinions on Alex Wong who appeared on "So You Think You Can Dance" (TV show) are another blatant example of her racism. We were discussing the hip hop routine Alex preformed on the show. The judges and many viewers were pleasantly surprised by how well Alex danced hip hop because he is a ballet dancer. I pointed out to her that no other ballet dancer on the show has done well with hip hop and that he must have had some previous experience doing hip hop dancing to dance the routine so well. She said this was not possible, as Alex Wong doesn't seem like he is "from the street". I gave her a WTF look and asked what that meant. I brought up "America's Best Dance Crew" (TV show) and how many of the hip hop and breaking dancers on that show are of Asian descent as an example that Asian Americans can know how to hip hop dance without hanging out in some back alley. I pointed out that dancers with no hip hop background on SYTYCD look like cheerleaders when they do hip hop routines (very stiff precise movements) but Alex didn't dance like a cheerleader therefore he must have had prior experience. She agreed with my dance like a cheerleader comment but refused to believe that someone Asian could have prior exposure to hip hop dancing.
I know you are wondering why I bother to speak to her at all. I am living/working in a town that is 95% white and 2 hours from the nearest city/airport. To say that I am socially isolated is an understatement.
So what does it mean when someone excuses their racism with "can't help it, I'm white"? That being white means they don't have to show empathy. That being white means they can choose to be ignorant about other cultures. That being white means they do not have to learn and grow as a human being.
Why would anyone want to own that statement?