Monday, October 19, 2009

Public Transportation Throwdown Showdown

So, let me give ya'll a little background to what happened before the guy started filming this. The Chinese lady wanted to sit down, but the Black woman had her bag on the other seat and would not move it. When the Chinese lady started getting upset at not being able to sit, asking more forcefully for the Black woman to move her bag (and her fat ass, because all Black woman have fat-asses, apparently) that's when the yelling started, which is about where the video picks-up.

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I found this while browsing through HRO (a blog I follow) and immediately started laughing at this ridiculous situation. If I had been on that bus I would've likely lost my cool and told both those women to shut up. I've been riding Muni a lot since I moved here to San Francisco, and there's always some annoying guy talking too loudly on his cell-phone, or some lil' punks blasting their hyphy music out. (Not everybody likes E40 okay? Turn that shit down, homie.) And there's always the smelly hobo that just has to sit next to you, even when there are a bunch of empty seats nearby. But people who get upset on the bus and start making a scene are some of the worst. I just want to go to school or work, and your tirade is holding up the line. Seriously, what is it about some people that makes them snap over something so small as a bus-seat? I can only wonder what their world is like that they think that is something worth getting into a bunch of foolishness for.

But after thinking about it, there was something else I realized (besides the obviously hilarious) and that was how I've often listened to people talk about racism and prejudice in America. Well, there you go; this is a fine example that isn't white on black/brown/yellow/red like people normally think. (Yes, because racism isn't only white people oppressing everybody. I know, hard to believe right?) The Chinese lady clearly thinks the Black woman was bullying her due to her ethnicity, as she says so in the video. Was she? Is this Black woman a racist? Does she hate Asian peoples? Or is just Chinese? Is the Chinese lady racist to suggest so? Is she in fact the racist one, hating Black people and stereotyping them as bullies?

I'm not sure. I do know that in America racism is a touchy subject, ill-defined, misunderstood, over-played, and yet often ignored. But white racism is constantly talk about/blogged about/written about/argued over/discussed, while the racism that exists among other groups is mostly forgotten in the ensuing argumentative noise. In fact, I venture to guess most people have never considered the racism perpetuated by minorities against one another.

In my time discussing this topic on the internet - via forums and blogs - I've discovered that a remarkable amount of the Black people I encountered (but not the majority!) to be more racist than many of the white, suburban Republicans I grew up with in Orange County. I mean, these are people who treat their Latino maids or gardeners like untrustworthy servants, and yet even they are not as overtly racist as the kind of open animosity I experienced, which included slander, hate-speech, and outright dehumanization. Anti-semitic epithets were common, as well as ageism and misandry.

Maybe it's because I constantly challenged the prevailing opinions in these arenas that not everything is racially motivated? I often raised my suspicions over the definition of certain actions as "racist", and even the definition of racism itself - institutional, cultural, or otherwise. I am a racism-skeptic in post-Obama America. Things have changed and nobody seems to be able to explain, understand or acknowledge that. But whatever... Maybe it's just the internet.

Anyways, this video made me think that while the focus is often on White racism, maybe we should also start looking at how racism is perpetuated among minorities. Maybe we should start considering how Blacks and Asians and Latinos contribute to reinforcing not just their own group's stereotypes, but those of others as well.

This fight is one such example. And I hope here in San Francisco people will realize that when you start judging a person based on misconceptions that you can't backup with personal experience, you are, in fact, committing racism. Yes, even Black people do this. As much as minorities have told me that White people need to accept the fact that there exists a disparity in America where to be White is itself a privilege, so to must other minorities acknowledge - especially Black people, in my limited personal experience - the privileges their skin-color affords, and even more importantly, the racism that exists within their own communities. Because if there's one thing that people seem to ignore is that racism is not just a one-way street. Hate does not flow from those historically advantaged to the historically disadvantaged. It washes back and forth along the color-lines that people have created to divide us from one another. In this ever-changing world the status-quo does not exist like it used to. White, Black, Yellow, Brown, Red... all are equal, if only we can accept that and act like it.

This video needs to be a reminder that to live together we need to understand one another, and to do that, we need to stop living in ignorance; we need to stop perpetuating the cycle of hate by deciding not to let the wrongs done to us shape ourselves until our actions resemble those of the people that hurt us in the first place.

Naive, I know, but this is a hope of mine, and I while I do not think it shall ever come true, still I cling to it, because I am not a victim, but a survivor. I am a survivor who never gives up. I am a person who never changes for others, but grows only for himself. That is my way, and may it live on in the world when I am gone...

Strange to think a silly video should inspire like that, but so it goes.

5 footnotes:

Anonymous said...

you might this is a radical train of thought but racism IS only a white vs. every other race (in my school of thought..haha)

while minority against minority= prejudice
because ultimately they really don't gain/have any advantage among each other....

(i know racism & prejudice are often interchanged but i'd like to state there is a difference)

yeah so they don't like each other...because of ridiculous stereotypes and what not. But ultimately neither are in a situation of advantage (of power)

racism is about Power... allocation of power/resources based on race. So in other words just by being born a white man (even if you don't consider yourself racist or act in such a manner) you have an advantage over an individual who is black male/female..whatever

do I make sense??

even though there are exception to the rules...
aka obama, oprah...and who ever else people want to throw in there -it still does not change the fact that forbes 500 companies are run mostly by white men... the richest people in america (in the world) ARE white!

that the worst schools, lowest-paying jobs, the most dangerous neighborhoods are populated by (poor) minorities (other races)

(yes there is white folks that are poor, yes there are better off minority folks... but we are talking about overall population/numbers)

and sadly minorities have turned against each other and between each other (withing own race) because
a) they are angry/fraustrated with their shitty situation... and take it out on the closest victims (sadly other minorities/each other)
b) they've been taught to believe that positions/resources are limited...and each other are the competition (so rather than minorities supporting/helping each other they turn and put each other down)

which i think is worst- but its not racism because its "hate/dislike" based on jealousy...etc.

im not denying there is progress...i am hopeful but when we say that something doesn't exist is irrelevant- we leave no room for more progress!

(i could blab about it for days..but i already feel kind of embarrassed for writing you a book...)

FunkyStarkitty50 said...

I agree with several of your points and I, as a Black woman, can vouch for how there is division within the Black community based on skin color, hair texture, socio-economic background, etc. There have been racial tensions between Asians and Black people for years. Black people that I know from that area have told me that there is a resentment with some in the community about how Asians have started businesses in BCs, done well making money off of them, but treat them poorly by looking down on them. I've never had bad experiences with Asians-- well,I basically get along with everyone, but I guess it boils down to whether you feel threatened by someone or not. In some cases, if you go looking for trouble, you usually find it. I can't automatically assume that if I go into an all- White environment, that I'm going to be discriminated against. There are White people who do notlike Blacks and make no secret about it, but there are Black people who dislike and mistrust anyone who is White or anything other than Black and that is just as bad. There are always going to be one group that thinks they are better than another based on insecurity. It's a vicious cycle that has to end somewhere.

Emma said...

Take this as an unintelligent and un-PC view on this whole thing, and I'm not condemning the whole racism thing, obviously. But that video was one of, if not the best thing, I have ever seen.

Zek J Evets said...

@anon: i disagree. actually, i think to make the argument that racism is ONLY white on everybody else is in of itself... racism.

to say that black vs brown or yellow vs red yields no loss or gain is morally repugnant. ANY racism is detrimental to humanity. what does a brown man gain by oppressing a black man? he gains the same thing a white man gains by oppressing a yellow man: power. more than just power, but a cult of power, a system of using constructed identity to leverage one group's desires against the needs of another group, and usually at the latter group's detriment.

your argument makes sense if i were to assume your premise was correct, but i don't. i think you are looking at race from the perspective that minorities wield no power, and yet they do. evidence of this can be seen in our black president, black history month, caesar chavez day, multi-lingual election ballots, affirmative action, and other such examples.

but when historically oppressed skin-colors turn on each other, this shows me that racism exists not because of those in power to be used against those who are not, but rather that racism is a disease created to destroy our humanity.

anyways, feel free to write a book about it! just don't expect me to read the whole thing... haha.

@funky: exactly. and it's this "vicious cycle" that i want to end. it seems there is progress being made, slowly. however, i feel progress won't be maintained unless we examine the myriad causes of racism - not just those we feel comfortable talking about.

@emma: haha, don't worry - i'm the least PC person imaginable.

that video IS pretty frickin awesome, isn't it? the response by that one guy was also hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe people on that bus let it escalate to that point.

And when the young women tried to break it up the guy filming just sat there while she got hit.

I dunno. That bothered me.