Why I Don’t Care That You Have to Think Before You Speak 5


tess-cat-blog

 

As I’ve said here,  I’m pro-political correctness, although I don’t much care for that term. I don’t think it’s “political” to treat people with basic kindness: to refer to them by names they don’t find offensive and to not perpetuate harmful and hacky stereotypes. If it wasn’t for what people call “political correctness” we’d still be calling people of color by the n-word and I think we can all agree that the fact the majority of people know this is wrong is a good thing.

So when I hear people deriding “political correctness” I want to say, “Fuck you for demeaning basic human kindness as some sort of “political” mollycoddling.”

But I’ve already said that. (Although it does feel good to say it again.)

But one of the constant “harrumphs” I hear about “political correctness” is this, “Well, now we have to think before we say anything.” I use the word “harrumph” because it sounds blustery and white and old and that’s the majority of the people I hear it from. It should come as no surprise to anyone that it’s mostly straight, white dudes harrumphing over having to think before they say anything – because they’ve never had to before. And the rest of us have to think before we say everything.

I just want to say here that I like straight, white dudes – I’m married to one. But I don’t have a problem with them needing to think before they speak for awhile. Welcome to what the rest of us have been doing for years. When you are part of a minority – a person of color, a woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, or disabled – you don’t have the luxury of just being yourself. You are the test case for everyone else like you. You are representing all of them. You have to prove that you can take it; that you will blend in like a white man and not get “uppity” “bitchy” or “queenie.” Oh, and you have to do your job, not just as good as everyone else, but in a way that you are above reproach. They are already not paying attention to you because you are other. They have already dismissed you as being there as a token, as if they haven’t been the real beneficiaries of an affirmative action that’s lasted for hundreds of years.

Oh People Harrumphing, do you think it will be difficult to do your job with this added burden of having to think first? No kidding. And the rest of us do anyway. We must be awesome.

I’ve worked on a show where white people have referred to black performers as “doing that black thing again.” And no, it wasn’t the Ed Sullivan Show, which might have been forgivable in a historical sense. Conversely, there’s a bias against the performers who don’t fit into the stereotype of what they expect from a black man or woman. People have said they don’t know what to do with them. Many talented and hard working people just keep at it and are themselves and are eventually able to find a success in that. But how many don’t? How many are denied an opportunity because they are “too black” or “not black enough?” How many of the people who do break through would be further along if they could just be themselves without carrying this extra weight of how to be black enough but not too black?

Any of us who are different are going through the same thing. And it’s not just in the workplace. Socially, too, we have to thread needles with our public performances that straight, white men just don’t have to. We are not allowed to conform to their identity: we can’t be brash or aggressive or ambitious. And yet we can’t conform to our own identities either without risk of being labeled as too emotional, too passive, too street, too angry, too effeminate, too butch. How we’re all not in an insane asylum is a mystery to me.

So no, I do not give one whit of a fuck that you have to think before you say something. Enjoy it. You just may learn something. Even if that thing is what it’s like to be the rest of us.

 

 

 

 


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5 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Care That You Have to Think Before You Speak

  • Stephanie Hope Blatsos

    Tess
    I just watched your video on-line regarding the horrible person this stupid country just voted in as the next president.
    This video should go viral and beyond. You are a hero to all thinking women and men. Everything you said was right on point and beautiful. Please keep up the good work. We need more women like you.

  • Michel vilas

    Cudos for your straightforward honesty and calling out the hypocrisy, the attempt at “normalizing” what has happened. Thank you for raising your voice. We all need to..

  • Ken Coulter

    Why is it that something that should be so painfully plain sounds as the deplorables say, “snow flaky”? these days?

    How have we as a society fallen so far that common courtesy is now considered revolutionary?

    Thank you, thank you for this, even though the choir has already heard this sermon. Still, that’s no excuse for remaining silent. These days, every voice counts. Who knows, we may change just one mind.

  • forrestr

    what a joy, found you today. here i am a 70 year old white guy, but and thats a big BUT, as all persons originated in africa i guess i’m as black as everyone else. so forgive me for my faults. first off i hate the use of the term n-word. i hate it I ,HATE IT!!! if you must i prefer the word NIGGER
    .i prefer that because as soon as you say the term the N-WORD everyone knows and here’s the word NIGGER in their mind. and if i here the word HONKEY or CRACKER i know their talking about some stupid white guy. this name thinking has got to stop. not name calling but name thinking. i grew up in detroit , michigan and the first seven years of my life raised by a black woman. she was a great person, she was also hell on wheels. in (high school ) a few years later, our school was mixed ( 50% black / 50 % everyone else.) and my neighborhood was mixed also. black, brown, yellow, white. and we all stood together and protected each other, but we also knew there were places we could not go!!!!! lets not forget the riots of 1967′ it shouldn’t have happened, but it did, two black vets home from viet nam at a party for them for coming home alive. the COPs decided to drop the hammer on them, and that’s what happened… and then all the jobs went away, steel,rubber, glass, fabric and every thing else that went into making a car. hope was lost,
    jobs in the coal mines, in the lumber stands, in oil drilling, in mining for other treasures . hope was lost. !!! and M R. TRUMP promises to bring it all back. that is a pipe dream and it will never come back. and the people should have known that, they should have seen the writing on the wall. this new government (and i use that term very loosly) will only use you and take from you. and in the end your hope will be out of reach, seems i’m running out of space. long ago in a land far away, 1950s and60s it was promised that as machines replaced us , each of us would have a machine that provided us with income. kind of like supermans double. that didn’t happen. the promise was broken. and all of their promises will be broken until you give up an die from trying ….it is their intent to enslave us, black slaves, white slaves, brown slaves, yellow slave, and red slaves. all of us slaves for them and the gold in their pockets.not the FBI, or the CIA, or the SECRET SERVICE, nor the NSA, nor the MILITARY have the balls to stand up to him. but sooner or their will be one that carries that bomb into the oval office. what they should do is put him in a straight jacket, put him on a gurney and haul him off, same for pence then start all over. in the words of edward r murrow “good night and good luck” FER