This week, the Internet has been ablaze with countless articles about Beyoncé and her half time performance at the Super Bowl. Seriously, it’s all I’ve seen lately. From critics raving that she “slayed” and calling us to bow down to Queen Bey to outraged masses who are calling her out on a racist performance, it seems that everybody wants to talk about why this performance was important in one way or another.
As for me, I didn’t really care at first. I didn’t watch the halftime show when it aired. I don’t like Beyoncé (sorry, everybody else in my generation… I don’t think she’s that talented). I eventually watched her performance, came upon the opinion that it was an absurdly hypocritical and obviously racially driven act, and moved on. Sure, I get concerned when the cry of racism is brought into the mix, but I’ve seen such injustices that I generally stay out of these debates.
That is, until I saw the result of our racist society in the life of a child.
Monday, the day after the Super Bowl, I had an appointment with my doctor. I waddled my 34 weeks pregnant self into the crowded waiting room and sat down two chairs away from a mother and a little boy. He looked about three or four years old and, with childlike curiosity, stared intently at me as soon as I took my seat. I smiled at him and he kept on staring. After a minute or so of this on and off staring contest, I gave him a little wave, which he reciprocated.
“Hi!” I finally said. “What’s your name?”
He told me and asked for mine. We were quiet for a second.
“I like your hair,” he said.
“Thanks! I like your hat.”
His face lit up and he adjusted his beanie proudly. “Yeah, it’s a Panthers hat! But they didn’t win. And I didn’t see all of the Super Bowl because I fell asleep. But now I’m awake and drinking my juice.” He showed me his sippy cup for good measure.
I nodded. “I fell asleep too. But a good cup of tea woke me right up this morning.”
“One time, I had tea at my grandma’s house! It was my favourite!”
The mother had been silent, ignoring our little conversation for a while. But at this point, she grabbed her son’s arm, stood up, and marched him over to the other side of the waiting room, saying, “You don’t talk to no white women. Never. You understand?” She spent the rest of our shared waiting time turning her son’s face away whenever he looked in my direction and batting his hand down when he tried to wave goodbye to me as my name was called.
Look, I’ve known plenty of parents who are uncomfortable with their children talking to strangers, even if they’re around to protect them. But that’s not what this was. This was a black women telling her black son not to trust white people. Not “don’t talk to strangers,” but “don’t talk to white people.”
“But white people have done so many bad things!” bemoan social justice warriors. “Remember slavery? Remember how we kicked the Native Americans out of their own land? White people cant be trusted!”
I’m not saying that my ancestors didn’t do some shameful things. They did and there’s no point to rewriting history to somehow claim that horrifying things didn’t happen. But, to loosely quote something I heard Ben Shapiro say in his Mizzou speech, we can’t hold the past to today’s morals. Standards change, hopefully for the better. And I’m pleased to announce that slavery is illegal in this county, that men and women of all races and colour have the right to vote, and that colour segregation actually only happens if we let it.
As this mother did, for example, by keeping her son far away from a woman of different colour.
There is no systematic racism in the United States of America as our government has implemented specific laws to protect people from racism and hate crimes. But racism in general is alive and well. The very definition of the word, however, has been skewed by our society. Somehow we have muddied the term to mean “anything that offends a person of colour.” Racism actually can be defined as, “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Also, prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
So basically racism can be explained as a mother teaching her bright and eager son not to trust a member of another race. See where I’m going?
“But reverse racism doesn’t exist!”
You’re right. Reverse racism doesn’t exist. Only racism. And that can mean that black people are racist towards white people. Fun story, I used to be a little racist. I used to (half jokingly) say that I would never ever date an Italian man for some ridiculous reason. I would also never date anyone of German decent because of the Nazis. How absurd and ridiculous is that? Extremely ridiculous. But that’s racism. (And incidentally, I married somebody of German and Italian decent. It’s what we call ironic.) How foolish would it be, if I pulled my child away from an innocent conversation that I was supervising, telling her, “Ne parle jamais avec les Italiens! Jamais!” Just because we’re French and they’re not?
Let me be clear, I am NOT saying that there are no racist white people. I have seen my share of white Americans refuse to go to certain areas of their neighbourhoods because it’s too “ghetto,” by which they mean populated by people who are not white. I’ve heard them use the N word and make horrifying assumptions about others based on their race. It’s heinous and shameful. But so is a customer coming into the store I used to work in and telling me that she doesn’t want to do business with a white (insert c word here). It doesn’t matter your skin colour: you can be racist and teach your children to be racist.
I could go on about the double standard that is prevalent in today’s America, but there are plenty of other excellent articles and videos (particularly this one by Johnathan Gentry, which I highly recommend) going around about that. My concern lies in the fact that racism is being actively taught to our young children, producing an entitled society full of hatred.
There’s a little boy out there who’s having racism shoved down his throat by his family and the media. His wide eyed innocence will tarnish as he sees white people as the enemy, as he decides that he doesn’t have to listen to that teacher because she’s white, that he doesn’t have to respect this cop because he’s white and clearly out to get him, that he is above the melanin-deprived in society.
Man, I hope he fell asleep before Beyoncé’s ridiculous halftime performance…