In a new video segment, the New York Times surveys its overly sensitive readers as to why they can’t talk about an issue that could desperately use some discussion.
Do you feel uncomfortable? Apprehensive? “You know, offend anyone.” Well, that’s pretty weird, since these are all people who don’t see themselves as “racist,” and yet can’t bring themselves to discuss an issue of significance because it make them feel awkward. But then, that’s the point. These nice, sensitive white folks are deeply concerned about their feelings.
First, let’s make something clear. No matter how wonderful you think you are when it comes to race, you’re racist. So am I. That’s because us white people live white lives, and it beats the hell out of living black lives. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for it. Black guys want to be able to go into a store without the house dick watching their every move too. They may be black, but they’re not stupid.
Second, the reason you’re so uncomfortable about it has nothing to do with blacks, or Hispanics, but with you. This is all about you, and your feelings, and your incipient guilt and desire to feel better about yourself. You’re not doing squat to help anyone else by being squeamish.
I am a white guy. White, white, white. And I am more than happy to talk about race. And gender. And sexual preference. And pretty much any subject under the sun. Does that make me racist and insensitive? You bet. Not that I’m any more racist than any other average white guy, but having spent a career with blacks, Hispanics, men, women, spouses, parents, children, talking, eating, hanging with them as if they’re real people, you come to grips with certain things.
For one thing, they’re real people. They can be smart or stupid. They can be good guys or assholes. They are happy or sad, interesting or boring. You know, just like anyone else.
For another thing, your peculiar sensitivity about language is your problem, not theirs. No, you cannot go around using the “n-word,” but they know it exists even if you pretend it doesn’t. And while you’re busy getting headaches over micro-aggressions, they’re getting shot and beaten, treated like pariahs and criminals. In the scheme of bad stuff happening, calling America the Land of Opportunity doesn’t register when the alternative is being lynched. See how that works?
We need to talk about this stuff, but like big boys and girls. What’s preventing this from happening? Why, you are, my fellow palefaces. It’s your feelings of discomfort. It’s your imposition of your rules about what concepts are available for discussion, what words are permissible for use, what your perception of their reality is.
Even this is all about you. That you wrap your self-righteousness up in social justice warrior armor doesn’t change reality. Race may be a social construct to you, but it’s awfully damn real to blacks and Hispanics. And to the cop who decides to toss them against a wall for walking down a public street when he needs to make his numbers.
So yes, we need to talk about this. And about gender, and sexual preference, and even fat people. But unless we’re going to talk about it honestly and openly, it’s just a waste of time, mental masturbation as I like to call it, where we engage in polite, meaningless conversation. We pick our words off an approved list of those vetted by the privileged few who have parsed them to be absolutely certain no one can ever be offended.
In a real discussion, there will be offense. Offense will be given. Offense will be taken. That’s how real discussion happens. And if that can’t happen, then there can be no real discussion of racism. Or any other “ism.”
And dear fellow whities, whether of the social justice variety or not, blacks and Hispanics aren’t just the perps in our business, but our fellow lawyers, the judges, and legislators who pass good laws and really frigging awful laws. Some of them are making a lot more money than you. Some wield a lot of power. And some are a whole lot smarter than you are. And some aren’t. You know, just like real people.
Stop the whining, the crying, the self-serving sensitivity and the narcissistic presumptiveness that you are entitled to decide the rules of life for others because they’re too feeble and delicate to speak for themselves. Show them the courtesy of being real people by treating them like real people.
We need to talk. If you can’t handle it, then move aside and let the grown-ups do it. And stay out of the way.