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amateur profiling

2015/02/28

Me, I’m hella racist. Like HELla racist. I am racist because behaviour is strongly influenced by perspective, which is strongly influenced by upbringing, which is strongly influenced by culture, which has crazy strong ties to geographic regions, which is where people with similar appearances come from. Generally speaking.

And I’m also really, really judgmental. But that doesn’t mean that I think that other people have less value than I do. I assign people upon first impression into boxes because in this day and age, you don’t really have the luxury of the time required to understand everyone who crosses your path.

For example, let’s talk about safety. You are more likely to be caught in a mass shooting on a school campus than you are to be attacked by a wolf near Yellowstone. Unlike with sexual crimes, most victims in a mass shooting aren’t familiar with the perpetrator, so in this case, you can assume that a stranger is more of a threat than someone that you know. There is one. big. fat. catch. It’s hard to know everyone that you will come across in a day when, thanks to technology and transportation, everyone gets shuffled around a lot and the number of individuals who cross your field of vision in a day runs into the thousands range. So almost everyone’s a stranger! What do you do? You’re supposed to watch out for red flags AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Your instincts don’t sit around musing about life stories to explain why somebody seems a little different. Your instincts point at a strange individual and say, “This person. Not safe.”

Not every example is this dramatic but it’s actually something that you should be doing every day automatically. You just shouldn’t be flagging people every day because you shouldn’t be running into suspicious people every day. There are a lot of other examples, though. Your first day of work, how do you establish rapport with a set of coworkers who are as different from each other as they are from you? Meeting new people, you decide if you want to diplomatically but most emphatically not exchange numbers with and not add on Facebook… and you also identify people that you sense common ground with and people who not only can extend your network, but can also introduce you to new connections favorably (you probably don’t want to be remembered by people who’re going to identify you as “some whatever person I met somewhere”).

There’s also just random judgmental-ness. I judge people who carry their coffee cups everywhere. (Caffeine. Is a drug. That you are addicted to. And you’re not even trying to quit because it happens to be a socially acceptable habit.) I judged that one white man who was loudly talking on the phone, “Aw, don’t talk dirty to me,” and looking all smug. (Like dude, you are in a public, family-friendly area where kids skateboard with their friends and dogs and shit, nobody wants to hear about your sex life and that’s just gross).

So when anti-racists and/or anti-sexists use inflammatory words, for people who’re like, “Gasp, that’s reverse racism,” or “Don’t say things that will alienate whites/men because you want them to agree with you, not fight with you,” UM, I’m PRETTY sure that they also don’t want to be lied to, or treated like objects to MANIPULATE into joining a certain side. To form a better society, everyone has to be honest with themselves (being in denial can really mess up communication) and each other. I love patient and good and smart people, but I think better of annoying people who butt heads with me than of people who pretend to agree or use a smiling face to insinuate that everyone who disagrees with them is are wrong.

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