I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a White American Male. I’m racist and sexist because of how I was born and how I was raised. I wasn’t raised to be particularly intolerant or that certain people were lesser than me, but lots of echoes of America’s Sordid Past were ever-present to shape my morality.
I was born into a culture that constantly and simultaneously taught me that women and people of color were to defer to me and if they didn’t I was allowed to get angry about it and the consequences they would face for their tresspasses would be greater than mine.
Racism and Sexism to people of color and women are systems, written into the constitution, educated into society, paid through economy, to give privilege and legal power and representation and ownership to White Men First. Steps have been taken to grant equal access to Women and People of Color and each step was met with a backlash to stymie the progress with insidious new rules and tactics.
The most insidious rule, and the fulcrum of one of my greatest and most painful paradigm shifts, was this notion that Racism and Sexism Are Attitudes Not Systems. To wit, Racism to Fragile White People (the ones that snap when you point out something they did was kinda racist) and Sexism to Fragile Men (the ones that snap when you point out something they did was kinda sexist) is when “Someone’s Who Is Not The Same Race Or Gender Made You Feel Bad”. Thus, a person of color calling me racist is “The Real Racist”. The Woman calling me Sexist is “The Real Sexist”. Anyone inferring that I might not be morally squeaky clean despite having never called anyone a horrible name (unless of course I was really angry, because then it’s okay, America said-so) is The True Bigot.
Which brings me around to my original point. I’m a bigot. I am damned intolerant to several opinions. Several of those that certain groups of people are lesser-than or need to be behind me in line. But I also have lots of deep-seated racist and sexist and homophobic and ageist and lord-knows-what-else biases that are taking time to realize and root out.
I mean, I WAS SO MAD at this woman of color in front of me in a Mercedes in a fast-food drive thru asking for a manager about $0.20 on a receipt. And OOOH, THE AMOUNT OF RACIST SEXIST VITRIOL that welled out of me like hot magma while I seethed, uncomfortable and hungry: “Why does she care?”, “She’s in a Mercedes, why is she being So Cheap?”, “Why can’t she go inside, why do I have to be be punished?” “OH HOLY SHIT SWEET JESUS IT’S TWENTY CENTS JUST MOVE. I AM GOING TO INVOKE CHRIST WHO I DON’T REALLY BELEIVE IN JUST BECAUSE IT MIGHT WRAP THIS UP SOONER!!” I had to calm myself down with stories about “Maybe she saw the cashier keyed something in wrong and she just wanted them to know?” “Maybe she just needed to double check a coupon?”
In reality, it shouldn’t have mattered. But I had a shoulder-devil going “If you honk and scream you might be able to get your food faster and you won’t get in trouble” and my shoulder-angel had to WRASSLE that sumbitch and pull some DIRTY MOVES. And don’t get me started on the fights I have with myself when I walk Cairo by certain houses in my neighborhood.
So call me a bigot. Call me racist. Call me sexist. Chances are if I am engaging you on some bigotry topic on social media I already know I am one but I’m trying to be less of one and want you to join me on that journey, and if you snap at me I’ll just know I planned my strike correctly.