I am not thrilled with how the problem of racism is framed in many Facebook discussions. I understand why it is so, and I am a little angry about it. Cheesy slogans get clicks a lot faster than deep, honest analysis. It’s about money and vanity, and ironically, we no longer need an evil hand to orchestrate it, people do it all on their own. Because, internet. Because, stupid.
But I saw this interview yesterday. It was an old interview, maybe from the 70s. A high-up Pepsi official (media-trained, I am sure) was talking about how happy he was to spread the joy of his wonderful, starry-eyed product, to people in third world countries. What he said was so blatantly subversive, and racist on the level that goes deeper than skin.
According to his carefully constructed speech, people in third world countries barely have any reasons for joy, aside from an occasional sip of pepsi godliness. And so for that moment of drinking a pepsi, a child in Colombia, a young wife, would interrupt their gloomy existence–taking place in a place that is not our America–and have a sip of that same drink that American presidents drink. Um, um, assumptions much?
And that’s the origin of racism: That people who are not us, are inferior. A different look helps to differentiate “us” from “them” but that’s Phase Two of stupid. Phase One is in the perceived inferiority of “uncivilized”, and in the world we live in, that’s been the real problem. Without addressing Phase One, Phase Two will never be cured. We can apply band-aids and apply band-aids, and chant slogans, and it’s important, too, but…
But what’s “civilized”? Unless you are calling the shots (while believing that we live in a man-made world), “civilized” stands for: “It is SO rude of you to object to being eaten. Be a good sport now, and smile.” It is an ultimate exercise in sick cultural and economic sadomasochism.
If you, on the other hand, are the one calling the shots (while believing that we live in a man-made world), then “civilized” stands for a particular kind of mental disease. They are my brothers, too, but not for a long time. Racism is a part of their disease. Racism is a subtype of contempt. It is not going to be cured with slogans. We need love.