NFL football player Riley Cooper gets on caught on camera at a country music concert, a place by and large devoid of black people yelling “I’ll fight any nigger in here”. He later apologises for his actions taking “full responsibility” punctuated with a statement to remind us that it’s not the person he is or the person he was raised to be.
Alexander Poulides throws a banana at a Black professional baseball player during the end of a MLB game and states that he did not mean to insult the player, Adam Jones. He further stated that the incident wasn’t racially motivated and that it was unfortunate but he had “bigger things to worry about”. Assuring us that racism isn’t on the top of that list.
A white sales clerk in Switzerland refuses to show a handbag priced at $35,000 to Oprah Winfrey, later apologising for her racism with a company representative stating that it wasn’t due to racism but a language barrier.
Really? Yet she understood what the word “no” meant right? In a high end store where you are paid by commission wouldn’t you first know basic English and secondly learn how to say yes before the word no?
Throughout all these incidents there is a consistent theme of “post acts of racism apologies” that I am tired of.
White people, please know that actually DOING something to deal with your implicit or overt racism after committing an act of racism would mean much more than a “apology”, especially when these “post act of racism apologies” are marked by a political correctness that really has nothing to do with any self realisation of racism and everything to do with damage control and checking boxes.
Let’s be honest, it’s bad business to be a racist these days, at least openly and overtly anyway. White people are well aware of this fact thus the last thing white people want to be identified as is racist and those that do are an extreme minority.
However, not wanting to be identified as racist and actually identifying with your racism are two different propositions altogether.
These apologies then, are supposed to suffice for what would be described as “racism by accident”, an unseen speed bump that tears up the chassis when one is not paying attention to their speed.
“It’s not because I was driving fast, it’s because I wasn’t paying attention” is the excuse. It’s an excuse that says what was done isn’t part of who they are or what they did but rather a moment of stupidity which is the same as saying, I did something racist but I’m not racist as all- but isn’t it logical that racist people do racist things? That said, racism is hardly logical is it?
Ironically, this excuse only holds weight when it comes to racism, which really signifies just how seriously white society takes the issue of racism.
Apparently we are led to believe that racist aren’t who they are, it’s just what they do, or practice from time to time in spurts of Freudian slips. “I didn’t mean to say nigger, throw the banana, or deny sale to the extremely rich and famous black woman who I didn’t recognise”. My bad.
All of this sits at the heart of the reason why we’re still dealing with these incidents in 2013. White Denial.
The truth is that in this post-racial age of paradox where a black man sits on the throne as this epoch’s Caesar and as a symbol of “racial progress”, white society believes in the same “post-racial society” it believed in, in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.
“What are negroes complaining about? There’s no race problem. There’s nothing wrong with negroes down here. They’re happy”.
Except Black people aren’t happy as evidence as by our opinions.
I’m not happy. I’m not happy with how white society responds to these behaviours and I’m not happy with the options we have available to us to respond to people who are in denial and lack accountability. I’m not happy with apologies rooted in denial, a lack of genuine accountability and insight.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I want to believe these people when they apologise. I want them to not so much be held accountable by others more so than hold that accountability to themselves and not excuse it away as some minor infraction because the alternative in the form of a culture of public outing and shaming, offers nothing more than sowing bitter seeds of discontent that with white denials keep us mired in the muck of racism and conversations rooted in the superficial that don’t even begin to truly scratch the surface of the real problems.
Our public shaming reflects our system of justice. It’s punitive and retributive. It aligns itself with the same oppressive forces that progressives, anti-race activists or feminists alike claim to stand against but invoke whenever their beliefs are challenged. It mimics the continuation of cycles of oppression in the world today. We can just look at our “justice” system today, it’s not working. It doesn’t work.
As soon as someone commits a public infraction, whether that be of a sexist or racist nature we take to social media and attack them, calling them out: we ask for Riley Cooper’s release, Alexander Poulides to be banned from all MLB venues forever and for the woman in the store in Switzerland to be fired but what other alternatives are there when we live in a culture that allows these acts to take place without any accountability?
How can we hold people accountable who are neither bound by legalism or some form of moral law to honestly dissect what has been done and deal with it in a way that helps them become more .. human?
Is possible to have processes that are more reconciliatory when the offenders see nothing to be reconciled or downplay their actions into something other than what sits at the root of their behaviour?
White people have to ask themselves, does this current response in the form of apologetic denial rhetoric, allow white people to deal with the real issue- their racism?
These are questions that black people have wrestled with and still wrestle with. These are questions that white society has yet to confront due to its continued denial of racism with these “apologies” being the latest example of said denial.
How can we move forward in an environment such as this because I don’t believe we can.
The only thing I know for sure is, white people, stop with these faux apologies.