By Will Malkus
Let’s talk racism.
Let’s start with some honesty. Racism is prevalent as hell. Seriously, it’s everywhere. I could start this off by making the obvious claim that our fine educational institution is a perfect illustration of that, but that would be petty and inflammatory and unhelpful, right?
So, can we all agree on a working definition of racism? My guess is probably not. I’m just going to go ahead and see what I can come up with. Okay, racism occurs anytime a person is treated differently based on their ethnicity. Now, wipe the foam off your mouths and sit back down, with your “but that makes scholarships based on race racist, too” bullshit. It’s different, and saying otherwise is just willful ignorance.
Now here’s the twist: I’m not actually here to talk about racism. I’m here to talk about a website. It is, however, a website that addresses the issue of racism, so bear with me. I’m speaking, of course, about yoisthisracist.com, a tumblr where Andrew Ti (a man whose only claim of qualification to speak on the issue of racism is that he is not white) answers submitted questions regarding whether something, usually a conversation or a behavior, is racist or not.
The website has seen a lot of activity since it started up in November of 2011, and this brave man still keeps replying, despite the fact that it seems like the majority of the questions accuse him of reverse racism or are blatantly trolling.
See, Ti seems to have a very simple philosophy when it comes to racism: if it seems racist, it’s probably racist. Speaking as a white male, I was wholeheartedly shocked while reading through the archives at the sheer number of people making claims like “if we had White Entertainment Television, they would call it racist,” or “why aren’t we allowed to have White History Month?”
At first, admittedly, these seem like perfectly logical points to make, until Ti makes the entirely sound point that every other month is White History Month, and every other channel is the White Entertainment Channel.
I’m sure a fair number of you are disagreeing right about now, and generally, you’re right. The days are on their way out the door when all television programs were conceived of or paid for by rich white men. That’s not to say that those said rich white men aren’t still in the majority, but there is some definite rearrangement going on in this department. Still, the television industry is very white-dominant, and history is still mostly taught from the white perspective. It’s unfair, and I guess maybe it comes more from a desire to not be the bad guys as opposed to any actual racist convictions, but that just seems incredibly misguided and stupid.
I’ve never considered myself racist, and in a lot of ways I think our society (white society, if I had to hazard a guess) has decriminalized a lot of racism in the last twelve years. For example; it seems like a lot of people feel they can justify it as humor, and expect no one to be hurt by it. However, the fact is that after going through this website, reading all the archives, and seeing Ti’s rallying points, I know I’ve been racist. Granted, I didn’t lynch anyone, or call them a racial slur, but just because you didn’t set the biggest house on the street on fire, it doesn’t mean you didn’t commit arson, you know?
What Ti’s trying to say (and I’m not qualified to paraphrase this man’s thoughts, so take this with a grain of salt) is that you can’t laugh it off and move on. It’s hurtful, and I say that if we have to sacrifice a brand of humor and a handful of words so that we can move beyond these flawed stereotypes and perceptions, then that shouldn’t even be a decision.