So a small twitter flare-up today bothered me a lot, because it was indicative of something that’s been on my mind.
Bastion of twitter, Kelly Oxford, tweeted today, “Rihanna’s not a slut; she’s from Barbados.” To me, there’s not much that’s notable about this tweet from any other tweet, except the proper use of a semicolon. However, two people in particular found this tweet “racist” and “bigoted.” I can assume they mean it’s racist to assume all women from Barbados are sluts. I will agree that this generalization itself is not positive towards Barbados. But what hasn’t been taken into account is the context. This is a tweet, which is a stupid medium in the first place, on a twitter account that is humorous. This isn’t someone you met in the course of your life saying, in earnest, “Man, all women in Barbados are sluts,” in complete earnest.
What makes me angry is that there ARE those people. There are people who truly make gross generalizations of cultures, and have genuinely racist and sexist opinions and behavior. These people are abhorrent and should be reprimanded. But when you’re on such a hair-trigger reflex for any comment with a grain of racism in it, and reply by calling these COMEDIANS bigots and racist, what you’re doing is clouding the field, making it harder to identify the people who truly are bigoted.
You’re wasting the power of the word, watering it down with these sorts of accusations. There are people who would refuse to hire a black man. There are people who would brutally assault a homosexual purely for their orientation. There are men who believe deep down that women are less of a human being than they are. These people are bigots. Let’s not have them share an identifier with a comedian on Twitter who made a joke that implied that women in Barbados are slutty. (an argument could be made that even her use of the word “slut” is satirical here.)
Lastly, something that truly bothers me is people getting angry on behalf of someone else. It’s a favorite of upper-middle class white people, to prove that they’re not unaware of the troubles of the world. There are people in Barbados. They have access to the internet. They can defend themselves, and fight their own fight. Don’t patronize them to show your followers that even though you’re a white person with a comfortable life, you’re still a freedom fighter! It almost makes you seem desperate to prove you’re not racist.
So, as they say in Barbados, “chill the fuck out.”