I was called a nigger. I was about to cross the road near my home in Digbeth, Birmingham when the white lad yelled the ‘racist term’ and zoomed off in his car. For a few seconds, I did not know what to make of it so I did the peace sign then continued my walk home. I am confused about what to make of it since I do not now in what context he said it. I am definitely not angry.
At the TEDx conference in Warwick last year I was speaking to a Pakistani man who was eating bananas and he said something like “have one, you will/must like it”. I looked at him deciding whether I should accept the offer. I do not know what he saw in my face but he immediately said “I did not mean it like that, I was just asking….I meant…. he started babbling. I smiled and immediately understood where he was coming from. I think it was about the time Prince Charles was called racist for calling his friend Sooty; so he must have been trying to be extra cautious. We went on and discussed it all.
Back to what happened today. Can words alone be racist?
In the intro of this post, I consciously put racist term in quotation marks because I truly believe intentions and actions not words are racist. Rappers use the word nigger all the time in songs and I find it hilarious when I see my white friends miming 50 Cents and mumble anytime the word Nigger comes up. Are they racist?
I could actually consider inaction racist. For example, if the Pakistani man thought it would be better not to offer me a banana because I might take it to mean something else. Therefore he would have made a decision based on my colour.
But then again, it would have been a decision made in good faith.
If a black man yelled nigger at me, would I have even written this blog post? Of course not.
So am I being racist?
Some things are just fucking confusing. I’ll just define racism as an action taken in bad faith based on a persons colour.
PS: Forgive my mumble jumble post. I thought rather than talk to myself, I should just blog about it.