Another time was when I was in middle school and went to a private school during my Junior High years. That was a bit more dicey. It was at a Free Will Baptist School. Often enough, I remember having to deal with the White teachers (and only the White teachers, who were usually contracted from some of the Southern States) telling the students that we couldn’t speak in our dialect and would almost demean our culture. I still remember Mr Lysaker making fun of our Festivals and the way people danced in them, really because “dancing was basically having sex with your clothes on.”
The third major one was around when the Lord of the Rings was on the big screens. The reason this is important is that I was sitting in a dark movie theatre with my parents watching The Fellowship of the Ring and the White People came out of the fucking woodworks. And I remember sitting there feeling so uncomfortable and scared, and my parents just laughing at me. I still don’t really know why. I wanna say that I felt really uncomfortable for one major reason: on the island that I grew up on, there was a large amount of segregation between People of Colour and WP. It’s really wrapped up in Class stuff, too.
The fourth, and final, arrives with Jordan. I went to a predominantly Black High School, with a large amount of Latinos and Arabs. There was exactly ONE White guy in the four years that I was there. And what’s funny about it is that he was treated as a prized possession/pet. It was okay because he was our White person. He was token.
Then I went to a mostly private, White University.
All of that to say that in my Psyche, in my understanding of the World-as-is, had always been one where Racism worked as a whole construct that affected all, not one that was from WP – PoC. That doesn’t seem clear; to clarify: Where I grew up, Whiteness was the Unknown, the Other that couldn’t be identified, and those who perpetrated Racist acts were the known. But I think that’s also tied up in my being Gay, because I was singled out for that reason, too. And a lot of those kids were equal opportunity haters. They found what they thought were weak links and fixated on that.
Now, in contrast to that, I’ve also seen how Media and Institutions perpetrate racist systems. I know that they exist. But from what I’ve seen it goes back to my idea of the abuse and abused and how we do what we learn. I remember seeing movies that made Black folks look really stupid. And I won’t lie and say that it didn’t shape my attitude towards them, but again it was odd because my brother and sister are outwardly “Black-skinned” and don’t embody what I would call the stereotypical idiocy shown through Media. On the other hand, what’s funny (and part of what I told my roommate) is that for a large part, I thought WP were so fucking stupid.
Not because they were, of course. But because I couldn’t conceptualize how they saw their world; this coming from watching a lot of sitcoms and horror movies. It seemed like everything just fell into their laps in sitcoms. That things always turned out right, even when they did the dumbest shit. In horror movies I always though “those stupid asses, why are they going into that room, that’s just dumb.” You see, I knew that it was fiction. But the fiction that I saw had a different reality than a fiction that would’ve embodied the lives of Queer folk or PoC, the groups that I identify with now, but didn’t identify with then.
Someone came into the store yesterday where I worked, and I ended up speaking to her for about an hour about these things. She really helped solidify my ideas/stance on this matter: Racism is prejudice with Power. The power to enforce, the power to subdue, the power to bind. Back home, where government and jobs are dominated by Black folks, there was Power in their hands to dominate those around them that were different. This is what has made my experience so difficult and hard to parse in relation to the experiences of stateside Racism. However, I can totally see the relationship between the two, now, after solidifying the idea. It’s all about the transference of Power Structures. [I do have to point out, though, that the Institutions in place back home are modeled after a Western, Anglo-Saxon view of the world. So there's that for what it's worth!]
So this idea of Racism as an insidious Power Structure has been blossoming in my mind. Oppositely, here in the States, PoC can be PREJUDICE but NOT racist! because they don’t have the ability to enforce their will on to the people that they are being prejudice towards, and I think that’s the one misconception that a lot of people have when talking about ideas like reverse racism. There is no real or active way to enforce this prejudice by not letting you into a certain school, get a certain job, live in a certain place.
So, yeah. I know I will revisit this eventually, and try to make it sound more cogent.