Our country runs on Antiblackness so its no surprise that not only does most of white america do antiblack things but black america has been taught not to see it. And therefore they defend the antiblackness perpetuated by white people. Both can happen without either party realizing it. This country since its inception has run off of the capitalization of black abilities. Blackness built it yet we suffer beneath its heavy weight. This type of casual racism, the kind a friend says to you over drinks or the recurring theme of most memes wasn't created by accident. The perpetrators often do not realize what they are doing but the system was set up to get people to maintain it, ignorantly, while also being desensitized to it. Ellen Degeneres isn't INTENTIONALLY trying to be racist by photo shopping a photo of herself on the back of black Olympic runner Usain Bolt. But intention does not nullify a fact. That this country was built and sustains itself on the backs of black people. And the time when white people were actually using black people like mules really wasn't so long ago. Slaves were referred to as Human Beasts Of Burden. And them carrying their white owners around on their backs was common practice. The same way other things from slavery were passed down and changed yet still exist in our generation so does the muling of black strength. Now in modern day times it usually takes a more figurative meaning. It has really become the capitalization of blackness for profit. Yet still the burden is heavy on our backs.
The thing is, regardless of intention we are at a time in history when you should never joke about something that could potentially still hold so much power and deep meaning. But Ellen didn't see that. Why not? Because ALL white people are inherently racist. And now is where most of the white people reading this will stop reading, close their computers, shut their phones off, and shout my name to the heavens. But for those of you who stick around past your own ego and your own need to not feel uncomfortable, bare with me. White people are all inherently racist. Yes I've said it again. That is so because racism is something that has to be unlearned. You spent an entire lifetime learning racism, this is regardless of upbringing, how many black friends you have, if you say nigga or not, if you believe black lives matter, and if you have sex with black people. And you are even inherently racist if you have dedicated much of your life to educating yourself and others about racism. You are never exempt from unlearning. None of those things stop you from internalizing racism. Its everywhere and its insidious. Acknowledging the fact that you all have racist mentalities should not be a scary concept. Its the first step to ending those mentalities. White people are more afraid of being accused of being racist than they are of actually being racist.
Ellen: "I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am." Great, I'm glad you don't want to be racist. But you are, not just for this 'joke' but because all white people are. And because you Mrs. Degeneres think that because you do something and do not have racist intentions behind it that it isn't actually racist. That thinking to me from white america is one of the dangerous parts of any of this. We have white people doing much bigger things than this and still hiding behind 'intention'. We have this casual racism popping up in so many other ways and because of how Black america has been trained, most of us don't realize it is even happening.
Example: when white parents get upset when the housing zones for their schools change. They sit over tea with their friends and complain about it. Saying it could make the children "unsafe". And that un-safety to them comes from more minorities being allowed to attend their child's school. Yet they normally never voice why that feels unsafe. Their intention they claim is for their child's safety. Their actions are racist because minority does not equal unsafe. When questioned about the racial undertones associated with their statement they say "don't be ridiculous, I have a black nanny, I'm not racist. We donated to Africa aids research!" That to is another way that white people mule black people. When we accuse them of racism they hop on our backs and tokenize us as their ticket to prove they are not racist. That they can not possibly be such because they have us. Own our blackness for convenience. Since seeing this meme go around i have read repeatedly in comment sections where black people have defended it because its a 'minor offense'. I've seen them out right say "there is real racism to worry about" as if there is real and not real racism. As if racism doesn't work on level's. And as if racism isn't about thought patterns and our allowance of letting things that seem minor "slide" because there are bigger fish to fry. These things have to be challenged because if we do not challenge smaller forms of racism than we never dissect the root cause of it all. Admitting your racism doesn't mean you are a bad person, it means you have work to do. The same way I can admit my transphobia and my antisemitism after growing up in a black religious household where separatism was encouraged and acceptance of even other oppressed people was not, I have work to do. And no matter how much I think I have learned I am inherently both of those things and I am constantly unlearning. That means that I have to constantly check my own intentions and realize that even when I have the best in mind I can screw up.
This is all bigger than a joke made by a comedian. This is about the mindsets that so many have that they refuse to acknowledge and how those at fault hide behind 'intention'. Defending it, instead of just learning when to learn from a it. This is about how we as black Americans learn to turn away and defend the intentions of white people because we are so used to racism seeming like a thought out plan. And so used to racists being so much worse than casual. However If I unintentionally hit and run over my friends dog with a car will it matter what my intention is while he's bleeding to death? This is about awareness. Becoming aware of how we contribute to the continuation of racism daily. And when that is brought to our attention its about what we do with it. Acknowledgment of our errors. And changing it the next time around. A simple concept really.