Am I A Racist?

I’ve been pondering this question a bit lately. First I/this blog got called such in the comments on Time‘s rather prominent The China Blog.

Then, lately I’ve had a bit of a dimwit spamming my comments with this drivel.

I got three separate notifications of his comments being posted. Each notification gave the text of the comment, but not that of the original post. As the comment started with the (all too common) “When you hate chinese so much why do you even stay in china …it is a place of savages in your opinion right…..” I began to wonder if perhaps I had said something that deserved his rage.

It was first left (and deleted by the commenter) on this post, which criticizes my inability to eat fish. Then it was left on a post explaining how I was moving from Blogger to WordPress and finally it landed on my post about buying an eBike. All posts that clearly illustrate how much I hate China and why I feel “it is a place of savages.”

He then went on to ShopGirl’s blog (where I specialize in getting bad press) and posted:

“i have seen humannaught’s blog…i think he is a racist…..any day your blog is millions of times superior to him…you only use your’s to express yourself and he uses his to degrade others….” (Cheers to Wo Ai Zhong Guo and his excellent sleuthing skills, as I think the comment has been deleted).

Obviously the guy is quite convinced I’m a racist. And as I’ve been a bit busy and distracted lately, I began to wonder if he might be right. Have I become a racist? Was I always a racist? What the hell is a racist?

rac·ism /ˈreɪsɪzəm/ [rey-siz-uhm]
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
[Origin: 1865–70; < F racisme.]

Hmmm… I certainly don’t think my race is superior to any other. In fact, I don’t really see race as a deciding factor in anything other than stupid misguided nationalism.

Now religion, history and culture … there are some good terms to get hot and bothered about. These play a huge role in how we think about ourselves, others and the world at large. But race? Bah, determining anything by race is quite similar to using the mentality that red cars go faster than white ones.

Where I think Mr. Deepak gets confused, and perhaps a lot of us do, is that just noticing someone’s race is not enough to deem someone a racist.

Growing up in the multicultural segregation that is Canada, I was taught never to use the “n” word, don’t call “them” Pakis (well before I even knew where Pakistan was, and certainly before I had ever met anyone from there), make sure you look both ways before you tell a racist joke… etc.

What I’ve come to realize is that despite there being lots of horrible inequality in the world, largely based on race, there’s a big difference between calling the Irish a bunch of drunks and thinking blacks are inferior to you.

I’m not quite certain why, but for some reason much of the world seems oblivious to the fact that this is actually a massive grey area and not the monochrome issue they’d like it to be.

Oh sure, you could say that “An American, A French man, and a Chinaman” jokes are the gateway drug of the racism world… but fuck. Lighten up. Telling a joke that involves a stupid Pollock means about as much as telling a joke about a dumb blonde. It doesn’t mean you feel you are better than people with blonde hair, or whom come from Poland, and it doesn’t mean you feel any ill will towards them… it’s just a joke.

But we’ve lost that perspective. In our haste to sanitize the globe and make it safe for all, we suffered two terrible tragedies – lawn darts and the ability to not take ourselves so damn seriously.

China has taught me a lot about racism. The first being that racism thrives in this country completely oblivious to the overly-sensitive, and completely superficial, niceties that the West has wrapped themselves in. Here not a day goes by that I’m not told that [insert nationality here] people are [insert stereotype here].

The other thing that living in China has taught me is that these gross generalizations come out of stupidity.

Wait, did I just call a bunch of Chinese people stupid? You’re damn right I did. Wow… that was a rather racist thing to say. Or so the Hari’s of the world would have you think. But it’s not racist, because the people I’m speaking about are ignorant to a level by which you can safely call them stupid and not be exaggerating, and it has nothing to do with race.

Sure, I could use “under educated”, “disadvantaged”, “having survived repressive regime after repressive regime” – but I’d be doing my point a disservice by using euphemisms to make the Sensitive Sally’s out there feel better about themselves and their self-righteousness.

Are all Chinese people stupid? No. Of course not. Are the Chinese people that are stupid, stupid because they are Chinese? Again, no. Of course not.

The truth is that I could pick apart any nationality and come up with enough ignorant idiots to keep me smacking my forehead for a very long time. But I don’t live in those countries, I don’t deal with the crap in those countries night and day.

So, if I say a Chinese person did this, or acted like this… understand that it’s because I live in China. If and when I start saying they did that, or acted like that because they’re Chinese… then call me a racist.

Which I guess comes to the answer I was looking for … I’m not a racist. I may be an asshole, but I am an equal opportunity asshole.

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