Saturday, March 8, 2008

Racism 101

I am c/ping my exchange with one tombrazelton of livejournal who has not yet done his racism homework, unpacked his privilege and a whole host of other things.

I am c/ping it because the movie being discussed got me angry enough that I did a little Racism 101. I HATE DOING RACISM 101. It is not my life's dream to open up whitey's eyes, one by one, to his own idiocy, hubris and stunted philosophical and ethical growth.

So here is our exchange where it might serve as Seeking Avalon's monument to Racism 101. Anytime someone says something stupid to me on this blog, I'll only have to link back here.

I think it might make things a bit easier.

ALSO: Lurker asked how come he's a dense white boy and he can get it. I hereby PUBLICALLY explain to LURKERWITHOUT that if you get it, YOU ARE NOT a dense white boy. But I make no claims I might not call you slow at some later date.


Tom Brazelton: In the movie, Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black play spoiled actors making a Vietnam war film. Downey Jr. plays a method actor so serious about his craft, he surgically alters himself to look African American when he finds out the role he was originally hired to portray was written with a black actor in mind. Stiller and Downey Jr. aren't making fun of African Americans. They ARE making fun of ridiculous actors. Personally, I think it sounds hilarious, especially if Downey Jr. plays it completely straight.

Of course, there are going to be some people out there who will reduce this down to it's bare element - a white man in black makeup - and be offended. These people are looking for something to offend them. If you can't see the potential for satire in this, you don't see very many movies....

Lurker: You know when white boys from the midwest start telling people what they should and SHOULD NOT find racially offensive, it never ends well. Just saying...

Tom Brazelton: I'm not sure I understand what you mean. In what way was I dictating what anyone should and shouldn't find offensive?

I'm splitting the difference between people who can appreciate a joke within context and people whose knee-jerk reaction is to be offended.

Willow: Your ass. You are showing it.

Here and there and probably all over the comments to this post.

Tom Brazelton: Okay, so you're saying I'm spouting off about racism without any knowledge or experience to back it up. "My ass is showing." I get it. You could have come right out and said it. You wouldn't have hurt my feelings.

But I appreciate your condescension.

I guess I'm still not seeing the point of contention here. The commentary I'm making is thus:

1. Robert Downey Jr. is an actor, portraying an actor who is making himself look black for a role in a movie.

2. Some people will find this controversial because they will only see a white man in makeup, think "blackface" and everything negative that implies.

3. These people are wrong because the point of it all is to make fun of narcissistic actors, not to make fun of black people or steal opportunities from black actors.

4. There is no controversy.

In the comic, Tom's makes light of the entire "controversy" by comparing White Chicks to minstrel shows. Obviously that is not a fair comparison. It is an exaggeration made for comedic purposes.

Is there anything we're overlooking here?

Willow: Once again, yet another white person believes that racist actions are all about intent.

Once again another white person says if someone steps on your foot, the fact that they may not have meant to step on it, should mean that your foot. DOES. NOT. HURT. And saying OW is WRONG.

Once again another white person decides that black people have no valid point of view. They are people who are WRONG because HE doesn't see what could be painful or insulting about something. Therefore it can't be painful or insulting.

Listen if the jism you and this movie's actors and producers are spitting out with your privileged cocks are MEANT to be hitting the faces of 'narcissistic actors' IS ALSO hitting the faces of people of colour passersby then it DOESN'T MEAN SHIT WHAT THE ORIGINAL INTENTION WAS.



This is a racist movie. Your commentary is racist commentary.

Racism is NOT just about Jim Crow laws and the Klan. It's about the very blindness and hubris that has you deciding that anyone who criticizes and calls attention to the obvious and blatant skanky race issues involved in this production are WRONG because the MOVIE IS ONLY INTENTIONALLY MAKING FUN OF ACTORS, ANY POC WHO FEEL INVOLVED ARE JUST OVER SENSITIVE & WRONG. I AM WHITEY. MY WORD IS LAW/GOD.

Do note the part where I don't call you Massa.

Maybe some day you will unpack your privilege and get a clue in which case you might want to click the latter link. I'm told it's easier to swallow what a racist ass you're being when told by a white person.

Meanwhile I'll just add you to the list.


Willow: *telepathically contacts the hive mind of the FoCing Cabal*


ETA: Latest Comment

Tom Brazelton: I guess all I can say is that I'm sorry. But it appears either I'm damned if I do or damned if I don't.

If I express an opinion about it at all, "my ass is showing." If I state a lack of understanding and try to draw you out in a conversation where you can help me understand, I get firebomed.

So it's not really about having an open dialogue. It's about 400 years of oppression, your anger and me getting the hell out of your way.

Sans obscenity, your explanation of the situation made more sense than what you originally posted - and that's all I really needed.

So, again, all I can really say is that I'm sorry. I tried to make a joke and it backfired. If that's not good enough for you, we can both be on each other's lists.

_________ ***_________

My interpretation of said above comment: Damn it! You're being intelligent, black woman. But at least I can point out that you won't lead me by the hand to the waters of racist absolution and pour it over my head while whispering the secret of never being confronted ever again into my ear. So I'll point out your TONE! And I'll make googly, sorry, pathetic eyes so as to let people know, I tried, but the angry black woman wouldn't kiss my cock.
_________ ***_________

Ladies and gentlefellows, this is why I don't do RACISM 101. It'd land my ass in jail for stabbing.


  1. how is white chicks different from tropic thunder?

    and shouldn't we wait till we actually see the movie to judge it's level of offensiveness?

  2. Stephen:

    Until the sun comes up it is still my birthday, so you're going to get the benefit of my being nice.

    Black people dressing up as white people does not have the same historical association( read: pain, oppression, mockery, propoganda of the black individual as sub-human) as white people dressing up as black people.

    Secondly, when a movie is offensive to me by it's very concept, no I don't have to watch it to judge if it's going to proceed to offend me EVEN MORE.

    Now that I've said all that calmly and sweetly and lady-like...




    -No Love, Willow
    (Who is not your magical, explaining the basics to you, negro and has no time for people who won't do their own damn race homework.)

  3. Hey Willow,
    It's like a friend of mine says, Fishnet don't see water,
    Men don't see patriarchy
    White people don't see racism.
    And the white Vixen is fundamentally disturbing.

  4. zomg! and i just happened to come across this after reading some of an interview w/ james cone in which he said:

    Because oppressors are the persons who devise the language tools for communication, their canons of logic do not include a form of the oppressed. “meaningful discourse” is always language which does not threaten the powers that be.

  5. Y'know I know this is an old post, but honestly. I don't really see what is there to get up in arms about with this movie.

    First of all you're making it sound like Robert Downey Jr. has burnt cork spralled out all over his face and sporting a top hat and tails, and is ready to start tap dancing at a moment's notice. That is clearly not the case.

    Hell, I'll admit i had my reservations, and thought the premise would probably cause more problems than necessary. When I saw the picture and the trailer, though I have to admit it's not a bad makeup job at all. and as a black male I have to say that I didn't find it offensive one bit.

    Eddie Murphy even dressed up as a white guy for an SNL skit. and those who knew old-school Eddie knew that this skit would be filled with racial commentary. Movies like Watermelon Man, True Identity, and Soul Man featured people of one race appearing to be that of another race for whatever scenario given, and usually the end result was an eye opening experience about the world around them. Even movies like White man's burden had a similar premise but just with having the races shift in social status.

    Perhaps I'm just the only black person out there that doesn't cry "Racist" to every little thing out there. Maybe I've just experienced enough racism to know what it really is when i see it.

  6. !Racy:

    Y'know, I have no idea why I'm supposed to care that you didn't find it offensive AND that you have 'cred' because you're a black male who's experienced enough 'real' racism to say this. What do you think your phrasing means to me?

    I see something racist in it. I think society is not at a place where people who don't think about the history and baggage that comes with certain actions should have anything to do with said actions and expressions. And obviously I've experienced 'real racism' as in knowing it when I see it and experienced in ways different from you.

    Part of that may be because you're male and people may be more upfront in their fear of and hating on the black male. Part of it may be where you're from, where you've gone and how you've got on. Or part of it may just be life.

    If you're going to comment in my journal, tell me how you think a thing is respectful or well thought out. Don't bring me bullshit about how shit should get a pass cause you black and you proud and you think it's a'ight. Do I know you? Does your opinion mean an asswipe of anything to me?


    All I see someone else telling me to 'just chill out'. That they (you) will TELL me when something is racist and I should be affronted, offended and angry. If it's not watermelons and pickaninnies being gobbled by crocodiles and minstrel shows and jezebels, I should just be grateful.

    I'm not.

  7. (Sidebar graphic link has an extra "%20", so it's not currently directing to this page.)

  8. ETA:

    Updated for URL to a list of Racism 101 links.

  9. I know this is late... but don't worry, I was another black person who was really really uncomfortable about the idea of an actor being blacked up, even if it was to prove some sort of point (so no, I haven't seen the movie for the same reason, and the critical viewers I know who did see it have since told me that what point the film was trying to make, it just didn't make it hard enough to make up for the skazzy race issues. Well, not make up, per se, but tip the scale like, a nanometre up in balance).

    I mean, why not choose a black actor to play a white actor who decides to black up? That would pack more of a punch than choosing RDJ... *shrugs* privilege knows no reason, I guess.