The Difference Between Politically Correct and Respect

I am contemplating my internalized racist self right now. You see, I feel shame for I did not know that Juneteenth was anything at all. Not only is this a holiday that should be NATIONAL, HUGE, and marked with celebration…. but yesterday there was whitewashing. I choose this term deliberately. In the fight between the racists and the victims of the racism I noted the same erasures and when an apology was made I was left to think… what is it that is different about being PC and actually respecting people and why is the latter so hard to find?

People make fun of being politically correct all the time. I have been called a member of the PC police because I will not let people discriminate against me. When I think of people being politically correct the image in my mind is of a white guy being snide about someone’s otherness. Other being of course not white or male. Usually he is complaining that he is not allowed to be racist, ableist, etc. Then he complains further that the target of his isms doesn’t have a sense of humor for being hurt, offended, or angry.

Politically correct is another way of saying that you are too good to respect humans. It makes it acceptable again for you to be racist if you say you are just not into being politically correct. It means you can make it about the other thems, whichever political party you do not agree with. Politically Correct means absolutely nothing in this world because if you are treating people like they are people out of not wanting to stick your foot in your mouth you are an Ist.

Yes, people who aim to actually respect the human beings around them still screw up from time to time. Some more than others. I am hardly free of that feeling like I swallowed a basket of live snakes, that moment when I know I screwed up and didn’t just step on someone’s toes but took part in Isms. I sometimes panic, sometimes I apologize, and sometimes I say nothing because I am afraid of the reply. The latter is something I try to extinguish but it is there. The urge to make it all better ignores the rights, feelings, and perceptions of people that your (or my) privilege victimises.

Sorry also doesn’t cut the pain down, it may prevent you from doing this again but in reality I have had many people who “don’t subscribe to the PC thing” or only are being nice because they fear concequences do more harm with an apology. Apologizing can even be used as a way to make it okay for you to do the same old behaviors over and over again.

So, are you Politically Correct?

For more information on Juneteenth please visit Womanist Musings at this link here.

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10 Comments

  1. While I agree that relocating the HK blog event to a week before her birthday for no real reason didn’t make much sense, the fact that those involved didn’t know about Juneteenth has nothing to do with ignorance (in the pejorative sense) or racism; it has a lot to do with the fact that they were in many other countries where most people have never heard of it because of their history. I first heard of it in 2004, I think (from a blog run by a white Muslim woman) – not, for example, when studying Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird in college.

    Renee went round accusing everyone of racism and leaving foully-worded comments, getting more and more angry as they didn’t quickly respond when they were in different time zones to herself. Whether this has to do with a flare-up in her illness or just to do with her undisguised antagonism to “white feminists” (and not all those at FWD/Forward are white, anyway) I can’t say. If she wanted to draw attention to Juneteenth, she could have just put up a post about it, or left messages around to draw attention to it. She could even have blogged about it last year, or the year before, but she didn’t, so it begs the question as to why it matters to her so much now.

    I can’t say I agree with FWD/Forward on everything and I’ve had strong disagreements with them before, but they’re definitely not racists and would never brook anything that resembled racism. It is Renee who is out of line and won’t admit it, not them.

  2. I’m interested to know that there is such thing as Juneteenth, and that it is even celebrated here and there outside the US. [I’m Canadian, so have a better excuse than you for not knowing about it 😉 ] So thank you for mentioning it.

    Part of me is curious and respectful of the day, but part of me is totally miffed that I am yet once again expected to know about a USian holiday. Legal slavery ended at different times in different places, though of course trafficking lives on.

    At any rate, I left a polite comment at Womanist Musings but left my grumpiness for here, since I wanted to share it somewhere. I hope you don’t mind.

  3. Anemone,

    Canada had an important part to play in the U.S. struggle with slavery — the area around Amherstberg/Windsor was a key destination on the antebellum Underground Railroad.

    I’m not sure that you’re “expected to know” about Juneteenth, but it is (or should be) a pretty damn big deal down here.

  4. I did not read every comment Renee made, but please, any comments about someone not related to this blog need to be either directed to them or not made at all. I am not taking sides but I do think that ignorance of this date is astounding. Upon my realization that I had over looked something this massive for years I felt guilt.

    A lack of knowledge does not excuse actions that hurt others. Legally, ignorance of a law does not prevent you from jail time or jail would be empty. In the same vein, I have noticed that Privilege claims ignorance in many situations to get away with an Ism or an Ist situation. The huge claim that is made constantly that everyone is ignorant about disability issues for example, does not excuse the ableism.

    That said, there were a lot of posts that I have found about Juneteenth, and that is a part of why I mentioned it here. I want people to seek out the information that is there, I was still learning and reading (and always am really) but I felt that acknowledging that I acted with ignorance is important.

    As far as FWD goes, I am not always in agreement with their handling of even disability issues, but I try to remember they are people and everyone has their moments of internalised crap, and not everyone is as willing to make the changes in their behaviors and the world because it takes energy, because they may not care as much as someone else, etc. No one is specifically thought of with those words, just humanity itself.

  5. I didn’t read this as grumpy, and I admit some of my feelings were similar. I was fascinated with how widely spread this holiday has become. I also find it a bit odd because Texas isn’t the end of the United States of America. There were slaves held with semi legality in New Mexico, right where I live. They had to find out after the day in Texas, parts of Texas would still be finding out at a later date. Yet, despite the factual confusion, I am joyful that there was an end to slavery in my country.

    I didn’t personally expect anyone outside of the USA to know of this holiday, and I am sorry that was implied by my not thinking past my own borders. I am hoping to have enough time this week to look up the whens and wheres legal slavery has been stopped, I want to find a timeline. I don’t think the US was the last place to end it but I could very well be wrong.

    A part of what you are saying I think is yes we need to celebrate the end of legal slavery, we need to work on the illegal slavery more, and perhaps there should be an international holiday where this information is brought up annually instead of a day where people are less likely to be aware of it and that in parts of the country that it originates in it is unheard of?

  6. The Womanist Musings Blog Owner Renee is in Canada and brought up that fact, unless that is melt off from another post that I had read. I suspect that the concentration of people who fought actively to escape and succeeded (note: I am certain more people fought than succeeded hence the phrasing) plays a part in why Juneteenth is celebrated in Canada more vociferously than the USA.

  7. Andy would it be alright if I emailed you about something wholly unrelated to this conversation?

  8. I don’t think the US was the last place to end it but I could very well be wrong.

    No, you’re not. Brazil didn’t end it until 13th May, 1888, the last country in the western hempisphere to do so.

  9. @ Kateryna:

    Yes, go ahead.

  10. I really doubt that Juneteenth is celebrated more in Canada than the US. I think the vast majority of Canadians have no clue that the celebration even exists, and the one I saw listed on the Juneteenth website was a private gathering in one city.

    And I was under the impression that, even though Ontario ended slavery even before the northern US states (something I didn’t know, plus I didn’t realize how late northern US slavery persisted), most blacks going north were stopped at the border for the usual obvious racist reasons, and had to settle in the northern US instead. So I stopped feeling any pride for Cdn involvement in the railroad a long time ago.

    I didn’t realize that Renee is in Canada.

    I was surprised at how guilty you sounded, Kateryna. I guess this is something that matters a lot to you for you to care so much.

    Anyways, thanks for the signal boost. Now that’s one more thing that matters to people that I know about.


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