Don’t Be Part of the Problem: Checking Privilege, Reclaiming Hate Words and Stripper Etiquette

I was cruising Facebook and came across a video of children being asked questions about race. They had a black doll and a white doll on a table. Children of all races responded that the black doll was ugly and mean and the white doll was beautiful and desirable.

It was heartbreaking to watch the most beautiful black children say the black doll was ugly and then when asked which doll looks like them point to it. The white girl says the doll is beautiful because it looks like me, the black girl says the doll is beautiful because it is white.

whiteprivilegeWe all know that both dolls are equally as beautiful, there is no contest or color scale. It is so fucked up that children are not taught the beauty in diversity and to love the skin that they were born in because it is perfect, we are all shades of humanity, all shades of love and possibility.

Our world is white washed and so many people are discriminated against and made to feel less. It is not a privilege to feel lovely in your skin, it’s a right! Children are raised in a shitty racist world where white privilege is real.

Don’t Call Me White is one of my favorite NOFX songs. It’s hard to relate to a race that has done so wrong, but I am who I am. I need to change the stereotype and make sure that it stops with me. You can’t turn back time and undo slavery and oppression, but you can make damn sure it doesn’t happen again and try your hardest to not fall into that category.

I try to be mindful of everything I do, but sometimes things slip through the cracks. I was called out on being racist for dressing like Frida Kahlo. The woman who called me out was right! Mexican face is as disgusting as black face. I did it for tribute out of love, but did not think about the repercussions of a different context. I only wanted to show that I adore Frida’s work and was proud that she shared her struggle with her artistic audience.

I am not a handicapped artist of color, I am white and fully healthy, I have never experienced the kind of pain that she had endured during her tumultuous life. In no way was my intention to offend anyone or demean their experience and I apologize if I did so. I hate to be in that category.

I once wanted to portray that I was Bill Cosby for a performance about consent, all I needed was his sweater to be convincing. You can find ways to be people for art without being an insensitive asshole. Hate and cultural appropriation are not okay.

I have openly judged the Catholic church on stage by wearing a pope hat and simulated sodomizing the altar boy before but would never ever wear a burka on stage. I was offended when I saw a white girl paint her whole body brown for a Josephine Baker burlesque tribute with the bananas and all. White kids wearing Native American headdresses is also blatantly racist yet socially acceptable.

chapelle whiteface
Dave Chapelle in whiteface

I was however not offended when Dave Chappele did white face, because when has that ever happened? He made a statement against the white supremacy of the entertainment industry. It is incredible to me that we are still ruled by rich white men in suits. The lack of black artists being honored in the Oscars is a testament to that. The Academy is white men, of course they relate to movies about themselves and their socioeconomic situation.

Just like everything in life, we need a diverse panel to get a fair representation of humanity. If a black child got to see an actor that looks like them get their due honor and accolades they too will be inspired to rise to such great heights. If the same child only sees white people succeed they will never think that success is a possibility for them.

Artistic expression can bridge the divide if used properly. My friend is an accomplished African dancer and he went to Dublin Ireland to dance with his troupe. There they performed with a traditional Irish dance group. Each group did their traditional culturally specific dances and then taught each other how to do it too. They were all professionally trained in their own style and were forced out of their comfort zone in the name of artistic expression and melting of ideas.

It must have been truly incredible to see girls in full Irish dance gear doing African dance and vice versa African dancers doing Irish dance in their African garb. This beautiful cultural exchange is what we need more of in this world, collaboration built on exploration of differences and love. We need to be authentic, share, celebrate our differences, support each other, and not mock or demean anyone.

My roommate told me about an incident where she works where two gay man were calling each other faggots, they were reported by a straight woman on staff who was offended. These gay men were then accused of being homophobes. Say what?

For me it is a situation where they are reclaiming ownership over the word and using it as a term of endearment. Like how it is acceptable for black rappers to drop the N bomb in a song but absolutely inappropriate for white rappers to do so. When you are oppressed by a word and you take it back and be like “this word doesn’t have power over me anymore” and say it ,that is different from using hateful slang. People need to really look at situations before they cry hate and realize what’s happening.

I just came back from Jacq the Stripper’s Beaver Show in Toronto and she talked about etiquette when at a strip club. It was awesome to hear accounts from a stripper’s perspective. She said that sometimes women were the worst offenders of being assholes to strippers.

Female mysogynists exist! They toned it up a notch just to fit in with the douchebros they were with, showing that in fact they could hang with the boys. Trying to shove a dollar bill in places where dollar bills don’t go, being pushy, no means no, “DON’T BE PART OF THE PROBLEM!” she said.

Damn that resonates. It makes me think back to any time I objectified someone or made them feel uncomfortable due to my disrespectful actions. Nobody is perfect. I am a feminist female and I still sometimes make sexist remarks to the girls and guys I work with. It is all in jest and I consider these humans my friends, but what if I am the problem here? I don’t want to belittle anyone or turn them into a sexual object for my gaze. It is absolutely wrong to make someone feel uncomfortable due to your ignorant words and actions.

Everybody deserves to feel beautiful. Don’t steal from other cultures but rather learn from them. Nobody is immune from being an asshole, you just have to admit when it happens, own it, and insight change in yourself and others. Compassion, sensitivity, tact, and respect must be used in all situations. Never tolerate ignorance! We need to promote positivity and put an end to racism, sexism, homophobia, and hate in all of its ugly shades. It all starts right now with you and me…

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