Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Stupidity is Color Blind

Let me just say up front that I am half Hispanic (Colombian) and half white mutt (Irish, Scottish, Belgian, German, etc.). I've never fit into any one racial/ethnic group. I was never white enough, I was never Hispanic enough, and I was definitely not Asian, Native American, or African American/black (whatever the politically correct term is these days).

I never knew where to sit in the lunch room at school. See, the friends I made in my various classes were like my own United Nations, but when they went to lunch, they all self-segregated into their various racial/ethnic groups. This always amazed me. Being of mixed ethnicity, I just didn't get it. (This was back in the 80s, so maybe things are different now that more people are multi-ethnic.)

Sometimes, I'd sit with my black friends and some of their black friends would look at me like I had three heads. I knew they were thinking, "What the heck is this white chick doing here?" And this was repeated with my Hispanic friends, my white friends, etc.

Eventually, in high school, I joined the band, so I fit in with that motley crew, and then I joined the math geeks. Once I went to college, I thought all this racial nonsense wouldn't be such a problem. Surely people of higher learning wouldn't generalize based on race, creed, or color. Oh how wrong I was.

The university I attended, along with regular dorms, had "specialty" houses. One house was geared towards Native Americans, another towards African Americans, and so on. I lived in just a general coed dorm, but a few of my friends (which again were a patchwork of nationalities and colors) lived in the African-American house.

One day, I was visiting a few of my friends in the African-American house when they were having a house meeting. My friends invited me to sit in, not realizing all hell was going to break loose. See, the university was considering a new policy to integrate all the houses and many of the residents of the African-American house were not happy about it. And that's putting a polite spin on it.

I remember one young lady saying something like, "I have to deal with them all day; I don't want to have to come home and deal with them at night!" Now, if it had been a white person saying something like that, they'd have been labeled a racist. But because the comment came from a black person or a person of color, it was acceptable.

The meeting turned into a massive bitch session about how awful "white people" were and I just sat there wanting the floor to swallow me up. I was the only white face there, so it wasn't like I wasn't noticed. My friends felt horrible and later apologized for bringing me. Of course, I told them it was okay and not to worry.

It's true, "white people" have done a lot of horrible things and I'm not going into a list of atrocities. But so have many others of various colors and nationalities. To make generalities about any group based on the actions of some is wrong.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that, yesterday, Twitter was buzzing because a white female writer (I'm not naming names or going into details) wrote something insensitive, and perhaps even ignorant, that offended many people. I am by no means condoning what this writer wrote, but I felt that some of the backlash that followed was just as bad as the comment that set the whole thing off.

Several "women of color" tweeted comments saying negative things about "white female writers." Being half white myself, this offends me greatly—to be labeled negatively simply based on my color. That's racism too folks.

It is a simple fact that stupidity comes is all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities, religions, etc.—it's color blind. So, the next time someone says or does something stupid, how about we call them on it and address the action, not the person's color, or nationality, or religion, or sexual orientation, or anything else that insults a group of people who have done nothing wrong?

Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

All the best,

Ria Restrepo
@RiaRestrepo on Twitter

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