Restructure turns an eye to “What PoC Do: Restrain Ourselves“:
The people who say these things appear to think that racism occurs rarely, and that when a non-white person complains about allegedly “trivial” instances of racism, it means that she is like a young child who hasn’t yet learned that not everyone in the world is obligated to be nice to her. In reality, however, I have experienced racial microaggressions since childhood, and I am well aware that the world is not a safe space for people of colour with respect to race. I point out racism not because I’m noticing it for the first time, but because I want to bring it to the attention of others who have grown up shielded from the daily realities that people of colour have to endure. I point out racism because I want to point out injustice, not because I am some selfish oversensitive child who wants the world to revolve around me and my feelings.
Instead of “I’m offended!”, I tend to say, “That’s racist!” However, this method has its own problems, because although you are not calling someone a racist, the accused perceives it that way, that you are personally attacking their character. Calling someone racist, they argue, is an ad hominem and therefore not a valid argument. They say that you are characterizing them as a bad person so that anything they say is characterized as illegitimate. They make it all about them instead of about the action being criticized. They claim that they are being silenced if I use the word “racist”, so that I even considered using the terms “racialist” or “racial discrimination” instead to make the criticism more acceptable. Sometimes I did this, until I realized that even if you use a less offensive word, they still became defensive because they could not accept the idea that racism isn’t over, or that they could be racist (adjective, which is a different concept than being a racist, noun). I also realized that I was bending over backwards as to not hurt their feelings, instead of the other way around, the latter being the illusion that they maintain through repetition.
Lisa Zhu attended an open casting call for Avatar:
[C]asting director Deedee Rickets advised prospective extras in Friday’s Daily Pennsylvanian article “to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire. … If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.” Unlike the original series, which features almost exclusively Asian cultural influences, Shyamalan’s version will depict the four worlds as “ethnically and culturally” different, according to Rickets.
Alas, my Korean ancestors failed to leave me any kimonos – or saris for that matter – and my authentic Belgian lederhosen happened to be in the wash at the time. So, clad only in a mundane sweatshirt and pair of jeans, I looked around the room. There were about 50 to 60 people in this particular group (more aspiring actors were waiting in line outside), and they were all listening intently to Rickets.
“We’re trying to create these four different nations so we’re looking for different skin tones, and features, and bone structures,” she said. As she spoke, I counted about a dozen small children – as well as two grown men – who were wearing karate outfits. Another handful of prospective extras wore traditional Nigerian outfits (most at this particular casting call were African American), but the vast majority thankfully had on boring, contemporary Western clothing.
One middle-aged black woman, clad in a denim jacket and black slacks, raised her hand. “Are you at a disadvantage if you didn’t wear a costume?” she asked, evidently concerned about her “non-ethnic” outfit.
“Absolutely not!” Rickets reassured her. “It doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage if you didn’t come in a big African thing. But guys, even if you came with a scarf today, put it over your head so you’ll look like a Ukrainian villager or whatever.”