Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning Soapbox: Watch What You Want, Expect What You Watch

Hunger Games Tweets is a tumblr highlighting negative fan reaction to the character of Rue from the Hunger Games books being cast (correctly) as a black girl.
Just a taste, really.

It highlights the insidiousness of racism and just how easy it is to stumble into. Granted, not all of these people are racist; some of them are privileged white people. They don't hate black people: they don't expect black people exist.

For them, non-white people are a curiosity that pops up artificially and raises a flag. They see non-whites as an oddity, identified primarily by what makes them "weird," with their following characteristics identified in relation to that (hence the backhanded compliment of being "well spoken."), like a thousand pound elephant in the room that must be remarked upon because they feel on some level that it doesn't belong.

But of course, non-whites do belong. They aren't unusual or weird. Skin color is just another variation on a theme, like hair color or height. What is different is the social context: if people who aren't white are never encountered in society or portrayed in the media as people first and their race second (or lower. If at all.), then whites will only ever see them as that color. They will never see peers as peers. They will never see people that they could love and be happy with as people they could love and be happy with. They will not even see innocent children as innocent children, marking them as guilty since birth just because of their color.

Despite bitching about folks playing blue cups with the Kony 2012 a few weeks back, I don't have anything more to add, like a point or advice. I mean, I've done/said some things that people could legitimately call racism. I've got some prejudice. I can't stand on a soapbox and tell people how to make other people more conscious and less prejudiced. I can say that racism is bad, black people exist, and whites-only fictional universes should always be viewed with a healthy amount of skepticism heaps of incredulity.

Wait. That last one.

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