End the Frame-war on Racism


If you ask most white people to define racism they’ll say it is racially based prejudice.

If you ask most people of color to define racism they would tell you that racism is hegemonic systemic white supremacy based on a formula of prejudice+ power.

So who’s right?

Drum-roll please….I’m about to give a brilliant definitive answer…

Both! Neither! It doesn’t matter!

Wait…where are you going? Stick around and let me explain.

First of all, English is a flexible language, and if enough people use a certain word in a certain way–that becomes a legitimate usage of the word!

For example: If enough people use the word literally to mean figuratively–boom! it literally means figuratively–and not in a figurative way.

I would argue that despite either conscious definition, most people use racism fairly fluidly between both definitions, with people “getting” which meaning is implied through context clues. There’s an excellent episode of Blackish (Season 1 Episode 10) that illustrates this nicely. (If you haven’t watched Blackish I highly recommend it!)

But regardless…or irregardless…my point is, that now that we know that both usages of the word are, we can stop frame battling over them, move past the argument of whether or not “black people can be racist.”

Since there is no Black Hegemonic Systematic Oppression, the important conversation is not whether the word racism includes white systemic hegemonic oppression, but what are we–all of us–going to do to make this world a fairer, freer egalitarian society with equality, liberty and justice for all?

What are we going to do to stop cops from killing unarmed kids? Or at least prosecute and jail them if they do? What are we doing to make our schoolrooms and our board rooms representational of the beautiful diversity of this country? What are we doing to acknowledge or privileges and challenge our prejudices?

White people: when you hear a POC say “Black people can’t be racist” just…let it slide. Even if you prefer the first definition–now you know the second one–replace racist with white supremacist in your head and see if you still want to argue  the point. I know, I know, I grind my teeth every time my 12 year old daughter says she “literally died” but you know what, it’s not a battle I can win, or that’s even worth fighting.

If you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, you will accept this second understanding of the word racism, and move on to more constructive conversation.

POC: if you really want to argue with a WP who has just described being beaten up every day at their minority-majority school while being called whitey, latte and snow-bunny that that wasn’t racism–I mean, be my guest–but dismissing peoples lived experiences as just being mean or just prejudice is unlikely to win them over to your side or do much besides give you a headache or a smug feeling of being right.

Post Script: I explained all this to my Girlfriend: Her reaction: “But the first definition is right! It’s in the dictionary!”




It Get’s Better–Unless You’re Bi

There’s a lot of Bi Phobia in the Gay Community. It’s easier to tell most straight people you’re a Lesbian then to tell some Lesbians that you are Bi.

When I rode on the Bi Float at Pride people did cheer, just not as loud as for the floats ahead and behind us. People also heckled us…

“You’re half way there” One man called out

A drag queen with a microphone lectured the crowd about how everyone should “give us a hand” because “being Bi isn’t easy.” I guess it’s true that even if they get shit from the rest of society, drag queens get a lot more acceptance from their own community, but it was painful to hear it spelled out so clearly

My best friend refuses to date a bisexual because she says they “don’t know if they’re coming or going.”

I get it–I do. Women don’t want to think about their girlfriend leaving them-or cheating on them with-a man.

I get that. But think about it–if I leave you for someone else, won’t it hurt whoever I am leaving you for?

A person can’t help who they are attracted to. They can control how they act on those attractions, but why should I have to cram my relationships into your box?

I had myself convinced for years that although I had this powerful attraction for women, I was fine with just appreciating them, but not actually acting on those feelings. I was convinced that on a day-to-day basis I would be happier with a man.

And then she kissed me.

And introduced me to Dyke Nights.

And I felt that there was no going back to men.

But then I met him.

Dammit still Bi!

And I feel like I can’t tell my lesbian friends about him.

A Trip to the Doctor

So I finally went and met my Doctor: a petite woman who looks like she couldn’t gain weight if she tried. I tried to talk to her about the pain in my neck that upsets my sleep and makes me wake up with both arms asleap, but there was only one thing that she wanted to talk about: my weight.

Doctor: “How long have you struggled with your weight?”

Me: “Well, I used to be 140 lb, but I gained a lot of weight when I got pregnant, and I’ve been plus sized ever since. I actually lost 30 lb on my second pregnancy, only to gain it back post partum. All of the women in my family are skinny until they have children, then they have simillar builds to mine.”

Doctor: “But how long have you been struggling with your weight?”

Me: “Um…since never. I’m ok with my body.”

Doctor, sputtering: “but…but…but”