The workings of social prejudice

Facebook post

Let me tell all these people you are a bad person. That will make me a hero.

Recently on FaceBook I post a quip to a thread talking about how if someone posts “All men are trash” they may have their post removed and asked “Does the same apply if you state “all women are trash?” “.  To this, I replied “ALL Humans are trash” Almost immediately the user Sean O’Nym posted a reply saying “Obligatory reminder that Jay Hova is a blackface-wearing jackass.”

Background

This comment by Sean was in reference to a photo I posted on Facebook a number of years ago. The photo was of myself on a certain Halloween in the early 2000s. Prior to this particular Halloween, I had talked to my friend Buddha. Buddha is a large black man who used to run a coffee shop named Cafe Avinio. Buddha shared my perverse sense of humor. We agreed to each go as a person of the other’s ethnicity. This meant, of course, that I would go as a black man and he as a white man. The day came and I had spent a good while preparing. As it happened Buddha had tried to bleach his mustache and failed so he gave up on the idea and simply dressed in khakis, a Polo, and topsiders. The ironic thing is this “preppy” outfit was in fact pretty normal for him. In any case, I had purchased a set of clothes that would be atypical for a person of my ethnicity including plum colored Levis. I was already completely made-up and dressed when I found out Buddha would not be participating.

How this came about

It was a number of years later that I stumbled across a webcam photo of myself when I got home. After I posted the photo the metaphorical shit hit the fan. It’s important to understand the why of the situation. Others have described my actions as deliberately transgressive. Of course, this is true. However, my main goal was to provoke a response to demonstrate how our social order operates. There is a set of white people that seem to internalize guilt about social bigotry to the point that they feel they must act on this guilt to correct the wrongness of the world. In order to deal with these feelings, they compensate by correcting the behavior of their own perceived race over whom they feel they have jurisdiction. I have very often seen this happen. The problem with this is that the people doing it are fueled by emotional fervor. They do not act in a thoughtful way. Because of this, they will assume guilt and shame accordingly. The irony of this is that these same people will shame others for shaming.

I think you might have stepped in something

Years ago, my actions would have been called a practical joke; making a point or teaching a lesson. I will call it simply a prank. I created a situation and others reacted to it. To me, the funny part was how all of the people who reacted as though I was doing something wrong were universally white folks. White people are very uptight. In large part, I was demonstrating that these people, passing judgment, would all, without exception, do so never questioning if they might not have all the facts. In the case of the Facebook photo, each would look at the photo, assume they understood all they needed to in order to make a judgment and then proceed to shame me for my wrongdoing.

Before you shame someone else for being wrong, maybe you should not just assume you are right.

This demonstrates a fundamental principle of human behavior; when you know you are right, you never question if you might be wrong.

 

Leave a Reply