March 12, 2015

Racism and Sexism: I'm Going There

Racism and sexism are touchy subjects that I usually avoid touching.

It's not that I avoid topics that might fire people up; I don't have a problem scattering vaccination, suicide, and domestic violence among my otherwise irrelevant ramblings here. No, I usually don't like talking about racism and sexism because I don't know racism and sexism.

I mean, everyone with cable television has seen the -ism's. And sure, I've experienced them firsthand, from the protesters outside my office to Facebook friends using Hermione Granger's favorite hashtag, #HeforShe.

But I don't know sexism and I don't know racism because it's a way of thinking that my brain just doesn't understand. I can't get my mind to classify all black people or all Islamic people or all gay people or all Hispanic people or all males a certain way because I've known black, Islamic, gay, Hispanic, and male people who are not only undeniably unique, but also extremely similar to the white, female me.

Basically, I don't and will never know racism because I know too many individuals.

I don't understand this way of thinking so I usually don't talk about it. But when the topic is everywhere I turn, as a blogger, I'm programmed to say something.

And what I want to say is this: from what I can see, the problem seems to come down to pronouns.

To me, racism and sexism are the result of people thinking in terms of "they" instead of "he," "them" instead of "her," "this country" instead of "Parker Rice."

Now, I'm not going to say that there aren't racists and sexists in this country (even though I don't know any personally). And I'm not saying this isn't a problem that should be confronted.

But although there are Parker Rices who live here, I don't think anyone can say "our country" is a racist one. Because classifying a whole community, the community of the United States (or even the community of Oklahoma University, for that matter), based on the Parker Rices among us is the same flawed way of thinking that's at the root of racism.

What I'm saying is that if we're going to beat the moronism, we have to focus on the individual. I don't think the answer is to rebut the person saying "women shouldn't be in politics" with a "women are competent" argument. Unless you're talking about chromosomes, I think we shouldn't be arguing about "women" at all. Instead, we should start thinking and speaking in terms of "she" instead of "they," the individual woman instead of her gender as a whole.

Basically, I think the root of racism, feminism, and bigotry is more or less the pronouns. Because in reality, all women shouldn't be in politics because, well, Kim Kardashian.

But just because Kim's okay with publicly balancing things on her naked butt doesn't mean Condoleezza Rice didn't belong in office.