The ‘Is it cos I’m black’ line by Ali G was funny at the time, but I didn’t understand. I didn’t get that it was paving/strengthening the way for all issues of racial discrimination to be dismissed as the ‘race card’.
Now it has become a commonly accepted comment and conclusion to any situation. Even if the facts are blindly obvious that it is not the case at all.
The article about hair
I was reading this article about how a woman was told that unless she takes out her braids, the company would not be able to offer her the job. Now this is to me clearly discrimination. Because:
- The action of the employer would affect disproportionally one race (how many people other than black women actually wear braids?
- Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people.
But despite me thinking this, it is not what made me sit back and think wow. No, the honour of that reaction was at the lady who left the first comment under the article.
“She obviously doesn’t/want the job all that much, otherwise she would have removed the braids to satisfy the employer. But instead she chooses to moan about it on FB and play the race card. Zzzzzz”
And she was not alone. When I first checked it was just three comments, two rebutting what she had said. On looking again, I see that others have come online and in some way or another agreed with her comment.
I can understand that she may not have had any encounters with people of other races so her ignorance is a product of circumstances. But then I would hope that she would have qualified her comment with a: ‘I don’t know much about braids but…’.
In any case it was the way she causally says she must be playing the race card which irritated me. And maybe I’m reading into it too much, but by following it with a ‘Zzzzzz’ she seems to be saying: ‘she is just trying to make out the employers are racist, like they all do’. It’s insulting.
Is it because I am black?
Sometimes, yes, it is because said person is black. I know it is hard to believe but in the 21 century you would be surprised to find out that racism and casual racism have not been eradicated.
And wait for it, this may come as an even greater surprise, but about eighty percent of the time, the person doesn’t say anything. They put up with it. Let it go. Sometimes even laugh it off.
And how about this for weird, effort is put in to make sure that the person who made the comment doesn’t feel uncomfortable. It’s almost like not screaming if someone whips you because you don’t want them to feel bad about the pain they’re causing.
I’m not saying this applies to everyone. Sometimes it is not a question of race. And yes there are those that hide behind it to explain their personal failures. But though I have not done a survey, I feel pretty sure that this does not apply to the majority of people.
To my knowledge no other protected category is put under ridicule or dismissed when they point out discrimination. But by having it made a public joke. And by it becoming acceptable for people to down grade any complaint about race to someone playing the card, it is hard for people who experience this discrimination to come forward when they have every right to do so. And that’s sad.