The Blurred Lines of Racism

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Although I find it hard to admit, I was alarmed at the extent to which I was able to identify with the Buzzfeed article, “21 Micro-Aggressions You Hear on a Daily Basis.” I do hear a good amount of the situations referred to on a daily basis and the part that alarmed me the most was that sometimes I participate in continuing this trend without even knowing it. I have good friends who have good senses of humor-a Jewish friend with curly hair who will sometimes refer to it as a “Jew-fro,” a friend of African-American descent who will be perfectly content with using the “n-word” to describe me or any other set of his close friends (no matter what his race). The thing that confuses me about these situations is what I would only be able to define as the blurred lines of racism: what is acceptable at what times, and what isn’t acceptable at others? Is there any way to joke around about race without any offense, or will any mention of racism (no matter how seriously it is taken) just perpetuate the problem of racism as a whole?

Because of the confusion and many varieties of personal definitions and seriousness of racism, I believe we unfortunately will not be post racial within the next century or so. Race has always been visibly present, whether we bring it to light or not: universities, workplaces, and communities at large are constantly striving for diversity, but that sometimes highlights the stereotypes that come with racism as well. Any Rutgers student would have to be totally oblivious if they admit they had never heard Busch campus been called Asia, or a joke made about the abundance of foreign students that may study Math or Science on that campus. Personally, I think it’s great and I try to see past race and appreciate others’ cultural background more. Everybody has a different story, and everybody can learn something new by stepping out of their comfort zone and simply exposing themselves to somebody else’s culture and traditions.

Another unfortunate realization I made was that the increasing influence of social media will only perpetuate the issue and confusion we face about racism. “There’s been an exponential increase in both the modes and methods of Blackness, and the ways in which Black people are allowed to legitimately be Black,” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is cited as saying. And he is completely right: society has defined, and continues to redefine, a culture that it has no business in definining or differentiating from any others. Diversity includes other cultures functioning in harmony side-by-side, and emphasizing each background’s strong points. Appreciating diversity should not include generalizing a group of people, or relying on stereotypes.

This video shows the concrete ways in which social media outlets of today are only perpetuating racism. Our initial reaction to this video may be to find it humorous, which is what the creator had intended. He wanted to give us an insight on some of the things he experienced with his mom growing up, and he wanted to bring light to the fact that it could be funny. However, even though he is able to laugh at himself, it doesn’t mean that everyone shares his sense of humor. His video is truly perpetuating stereotypes (such as the high expectations academically and an accent) and further proves that because racism means something different to everyone, it will be an extremely long time before it goes away forever.

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