Call me crazy, but I think what Jay Smooth is saying here is very true:

For those who don't want to watch, he basically says that calling somebody a racist lets them off easy because it's easier for them to poke holes in your argument that they're a racist than it is for them to poke holes in your argument that they said/did something racist.

Those who know me (even just in the blogosphere) know I'm not a big fan of labeling people as racist or sexist. I've often said that this is because you can't know what they're actually like unless you really know them and the history of things they have said or done to indicate that they are racist/sexist.

(Yes, people say/do racist and sexist things without actually being racist or sexist. Don't believe me? Read this for a start.)

Getting that out of the way, I want to say that what Jay Smooth points out in this video is just another layer of what I've been trying to say. We have to find a way of holding people accountable for the actual things they say and do. Sometimes it's easier for us to label them as a racist or sexist. BUT not only is it easier for them to brush off your criticism, it also takes away most chance of them actually changing!

My guy once said something to the effect of "You're basically discounting the people who need to learn why the things they're saying and doing are wrong. These people could be your best allies b/c they are progressive, open-minded, have a voice, etc. They're otherwise intelligent people who want to help you, but don't realize how they're hurting you." I'm not saying we need to sit around and teach people about our oppression or anything like that. I'm merely saying that if we really want things to change, we need to take a look at how we're helping or hurting. Are we keeping that change from happening? Are we getting in our own way??

So, let's give this a try. Let's start holding these people accountable in a new way. We can try, can't we? Do you think it's worth it?


At Tue Jul 22, 08:34:00 AM Habladora said...

My guy had to tell me to stop saying "we're all racists," explaining that, while I meant that we all have some racist assumptions that could stand to be reconsidered, people heard 'we're all bad people.' So, yes - having a conversation about how to talk about race is important... especially if you want to be heard.

Oh, and I updated my post to lead people to your great commentary here, btw!

At Tue Jul 22, 12:12:00 PM frau sally benz said...

Thanks Habladora!

I must agree with your guy about the "we're all racists." It's just a reminder that the words we use are important.


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