Saturday, 27 August 2011

Someone's oversensitive, but not minorities

From what I can tell, Campbell Live did some kind of piece last night on golliwogs, everyone's favourite racist child's toy, and immediately white people came out in force to protest whatever accusations were made. Black people are oversensitive. Golliwogs aren't racist. We need to move on. I don't overreact to Irish jokes. etc, etc, etc. You know the drill - white people are far more qualified to decide what's racist than any of the people who actually have to suffer the consequences.

The thing that really baffles me is that golliwogs aren't even an item of particular importance. What impact would it actually have on someone's life to not actively encourage the enjoyment of them? Unless you happen to make a living off them, I can't imagine it would be something most people even think about very often until someone dares to point out how offensive they are. But when they do, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd demanded the destruction of an item of truly epic cultural importance, something central to the lives and ideals of millions of people.

What I want to know is, even if defensive white people are able to view the situation completely rationally and there's nothing wrong with golliwogs whatsoever, why is the idea of compromise so terrible? Doesn't the fact that a lot of people think there's something wrong outweigh "rationality"? What do we gain from the utter lack of respect for an entire group of people's feelings, and how is that lack of respect going to lead to a more equal society? Surely racism comes about when we do not respect the values and feelings of other ethnic groups, rather than when we work to shout them down and dismiss their concerns, declaring them unimportant and silly and oversensitive.

Honestly, when I see someone so committed to ignoring other people's boundaries, it makes me wonder which of mine they'd consider unimportant as well. And that's not a nice thought.

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