Monday, December 12, 2011

Racism: Still Alive and Healthy

Today I passed along a picture on Facebook I received depicting starving children reaching out their hands on one side with a contrasting picture of women busily stuffing as many toys under arms and into their carriages as they can, with a caption the reads: "Define Necessity".

Apparently my spouse's friend Danielle Cole finds this picture offensive because she's black. To her, white men like myself don't see the plight of these children as disturbing as she does because we don't share the same skin color. Here is what was said to one another:

Danielle Cole · Friends with Raymond Grinnell

People need to stop making these things. Mostly, they don't care about those poor African children. SOME people in America spend way to much and it's a problem (largely middle and upper class people) however, using some sad picture of starving kids who we help to keep starving by how we benefit from their resources in America isn't going to change that. It's a rude way to make a point, by using African children to make you feel guilty while not really doing anything for either super consumerism or for those children. Just saying, they make me cringe and it's kinda offensive.

John Hosty-Grinnell 
Art doesn't always portray beauty, it's supposed to make you cringe. Clearly it got you to think about what it wanted, so the effect intended was created, making this art. Your opinions about why people make "these things" I find interesting. Do you know more about the artist than I? Because what I see is someone who cared enough to remind us all that we could spend a little less on ourselves and a little more on those in need. I shared it hoping to encourage others to give a little more this year, and to remind myself to do the same.

Danielle Cole · Friends with Raymond Grinnell
I see what's called poverty porn using the images of black Africans that next to nobody does anything to care about. The use of these people to make others feel bad does work but it still doesn't create social change and still ignores the ties between what they are showing is a problem and how that problem directly causes this type of experience for people around the globe. But it doesn't say that. It just says a simple message while using that image. I really think racially this is a fucked up thing to do and I can bet money the artist was white and not thinking about what images like these mean to actual Africans. This is not art. This is something to make one group of people feel better about their consumption habits and another to feel guilty, without examining how the U.S. and many of its residents benefit directly from the starvation of these children. I just find it disgusting.

John Hosty-Grinnell You seem to see color in both the children and the image of the artist your mind has brewed up. I see children in need, and it inspires me to help.

Danielle Cole · Friends with Raymond Grinnell
LOL. Well if you're self proclaimed "colorblind" and telling a black woman not to see "color" then we have nothing to discuss because you just won't get it. It's funny how that works but not surprising and this is exactly why I don't like these photos. Cause you "can't" see the color of these children and that completely obscures reality. Plain and simple. Furthermore, you won't be doing anything for those children. Most charities don't do anything to create sustainable economies for their home countries and take large chunks of money donated. This image doesn't inspire change, action or anything. It makes people pat themselves on the back and call it "art" which it really isn't. It's called photoshop which anyone can do, slap two pictures together and paste some words on top of it. But alas...

At this point I've had my fill and the gloves are off:

John Hosty-Grinnell OK, I think you've hit your bitchy quota for the evening, so run along with that racism bullshit and try selling it to someone else.

Danielle Cole · Friends with Raymond Grinnell
Ok. Thanks. White man telling me to run along with that racist bullshit. If you want to cling to your white privilege by patting yourself on the back thinking you've done something nice by posting this shitty, offensive picture, it's cool. But just know who it offends and who doesn't think it's cute. But you won't. You will stick with your Cape Cod circle of other white men doing the same thing and ignoring the reality of millions because it doesn't affect you. I wasn't being bitchy I was simply telling you why this IS OFFENSIVE. You are too good to learn or understand perspectives other than your own I guess.

Just before blocking me as a Facebook friend she had these final words she didn't post publicly:

Danielle ColeHonestly. FUCK YOU for saying I can't see past race because I'm black. You do see the irony in that right? Of course I can't. My whole life I've been reminded of that very fact. That I'm black. Even if I wanted to forget, white people like yourself have never allowed me to forget. Nor will my job prospects, the police, when I go to get an apartment or house or want a job loan. That's not cynical. It's called fucking reality. I see Raymond's brilliance has not rubbed off on you. Quite frankly, as someone who is also queer and understands a lot about that struggle, I find it quite disheartening when gay white men can't see my plight. But you wouldn't because the world sucks your cock for being white. And again, that's not cynical, it's the truth. Live in a bubble in your cape cod comfort for as long as you want but I am no longer associating with you.
Danielle, I feel bad for you. I feel bad for anyone who has poisoned themselves with their own hate to the point where strangers fit into stereotypes and are no longer individuals. Isn't that how racism starts? We predispose ourselves to the idea that we know what to expect from someone based on some immutable trait, like their skin color? Shame on you. Shame because someone who has lived with the stigma of being different like yourself should know you have no right to judge others in a way you do not appreciate. You are a hypocrite, and unfortunately there are all too many people like you who go spouting racist garbage and are left unchallenged. Until you know me better you have no understanding of my motivations, and all the cynical speculations you've thrown about show your character, not mine.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Tell Me, Christian, That You Hear This Boy

From John Shore at
Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians — by which I mean, specifically, Christians who believe that being gay is a moral abomination, an appalling affront to God — talk to me, please, about this kid.
Tell me that your belief system didn’t help but the hot tears on this kid’s cheeks. Tell me that the bullies who torment this kid aren’t in any way encouraged or empowered by your tacit approval of their actions. Tell me that the shame this kid feels about himself has nothing to do with the shame that you believe all gay people should feel for themselves.
Tell me that you can’t comprehend the connection between your conviction that God finds homosexuals repulsive, and the fact that this kid finds himself so repulsive that he habitually cuts his own flesh.
Tell me, please, how you love this kid. Tell me how you understand his pain. Tell me how when he cries, you cry.
Tell me how you want to do everything in your power to make sure that no one, ever again, feels free to in any way victimize a young gay person.
A Christian myself, I am pleading with you to be honest with me about this.
Tell me, please, how none of this kid’s anguish has anything to do with you.
I’m listening. I really am.
We all are.

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