Blackface in 20-fucking-13?

First, the backstory. A leatherbar in Portland had the completely fucking ridiculous idea that it was okay to book a ‘comedian’ (read, asshole) who performs in blackface. I learned about this from Mollena, whose first post about it is here. She also has a follow up here.

For fuck’s sake people. It’s 2013! How can you not know blackface is not okay? Have you been living under a rock for the past 50 years? Even worse, how can a fucking leather bar think it’s okay to book a racist act? I can’t imagine they’d book an act where a straight comedian impersonates and viciously mocks gay men.

Even worse than just booking the act in the first place is the way they reacted when people said that shit is not cool. Defending a blatantly racist act as “comedy” adds insult to injury. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes me angrier than telling me what I’m allowed to be angry about. Telling people to lighten up, to stop being so sensitive after you’ve wounded them is kicking them when they’re down. Grownups admit it when they fuck up. Insecure children blame the people they hurt for getting hurt.

Words do hurt. You can whine and cry about freedom of speech all you like, but freedom of speech was only meant to protect people from being imprisoned for criticizing their governments. It was not meant to shield dickbags from any and all natural consequences of their dickbaggery. I firmly believe that people should not face legal consequences for saying disgusting, hateful things as long as they stay firmly on the correct side of the line between harmless douchebaggery and harassment or threats, but they should absolutely be told that their behavior is not okay. They should absolutely be told they are not welcome to spread their hate, they should absolutely be shunned until they learn to act like decent human beings.

Part of acting like a decent human being is speaking up when you see something terribly wrong. People of colour have already said this is not okay, but it’s extremely important that white people speak up too. While I don’t have a picture up on my blog, considering the dismal percentage of people of colour in the scene you can safely assume that when I say I’m so pale the other nerds make fun of me, I am telling the truth. When only people of colour complain about something, it’s easier for racist asshats to dismiss them as oversensitive, or looking for something to be offended about. It’s harder to ignore it when white people speak up. Because I’m white, I have the very great privilege of being able to not take this shit personally. The only reason for me to complain about this is because I believe it’s unjust, and that standing idly by while people do horrible things is just as bad as doing them myself.

We of all people know what it’s like to be looked down on, to be treated as less than just for being who we are. We have to be better than this.

3 thoughts on “Blackface in 20-fucking-13?

  1. What the fuck? This is the second time in as many days that I’ve heard of people who should know better doing something astonishingly racist. How the hell can people be that thick-headed?

    I’m a young, straight, middle-class, white man, so I’ve scarcely ever had to deal with prejudice against me. And I grew up in about as strictly white of a small town as there can be, so I didn’t have to confront issues of race growing up. But even I take one look at this situation and am astonished at how racist and insensitive some people can be. Forgetting the “comedian” because some people are just hopeless — exhibit A: Fred Phelps at Westboro Baptist Church — how could a group like that see this as anything but insultingly racist? How many reasonable people didn’t speak up about being uncomfortable with something like this going on?

    I don’t have a whole lot of faith in humanity, but stuff like this makes me wonder if I still give too much benefit of the doubt.

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