I recently discovered this great post about how we’ll never be in colorblind society. And I loved it because it connected to my own feelings of frustration and disbelief when people try to promote a “melting pot” of sorts for the American future. This idea that we’ll be beyond race because no one will be identified with one. This doesn’t exactly resonate with me, because your ethnicity is vital to your history, your people. Having multiple or single ethnicities routinely creates a distinct identity crisis as people struggle to figure out where they belong. Personally, I am always curious about where people come from, and learning about their experiences as people of color.
So naturally, this article provided a nice segment into how I felt about Thor: an overwhelmingly white movie and the subsequent dialogue that it sparked on my Facebook page. I complained about the lack of ethnic characters, although Thor, thus white and blond haired, and my friend questioned whether or not the film was loyal to the comic. To her, it seemed important that the film follow the plot outlined in the original comic. I told her that it doesn’t matter, because Hollywood is rarely loyal to ethnic story lines (remember the fiasco with The Last Airbender?) so why should Hollywood remain loyal to an all white ensemble? I told her that there’s no reason to create an all white movie, simply because the original cast is all white.
Then my friend says that she doesn’t notice race in movies or in real life. I’ve heard this before, from whites and non-whites and for a long time it used to piss me the fuck off because your race represents where you’re coming from, your culture, your history. To say that you don’t see race, is like saying you don’t see any of the oppression that comes with it. But I know people say it because they don’t want to be perceived as racist. Somehow “racist” has come to be associated with “observing” versus systemically oppressing and discriminating against a select group of individuals based on their skin color.
Racism has nothing to do with noticing the color of someone’s skin and everything to do with punishing that person because of the color of their skin. Racism is when you’re treated poorly at a restaurant because the servers think black patrons are the worst. Racism is blaming a person’s behavior on their skin color; “well, obviously he’s going to steal, he’s black.” Racism is looking at someone and thinking they’re less than because their skin color is not white. And racist white people are their most obvious when they try to deny the plight of black people (or any POC) as over exaggerating, whining or straight-up imagined.
Racism is not looking at the color of someone’s skin. It has everything to do with appreciating and acknowledging where people come from. If I ask you what race a person is, it’s probably more ignorant to say, “I don’t notice race, I’m not racist.”
Don’t turn a blind eye to race because it’ll will never stop being important. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.