We live in a racist society; racism is learned. Everyone is exposed to it, either directly or indirectly. No one is born racist. Hopefully you had parents who raised you to be tolerant of anyone different from you, but maybe you didn’t. Even if you did you probably picked stuff up from other kids (or adults) who didn’t *hate* but they’d say racist things because they didn’t *know* any better. Because they heard it at home, from the neighbours, on television. It creeps in, it’s unavoidable, but then we grow up and the more we learn about other races, the more exposure we have, the more we *think* about the issues, the more we can resist bigotry.
Defensiveness comes in when there’s a refusal to accept that we might have more to learn. We don’t like the “tone” of a post because we think the OP is talking about us. We’re white but dammit, we’re not racist! Tone your damn anger down, woman, or I won’t listen to you. I won’t learn. I won’t think. I won’t admit to myself that maybe, just maybe, I’m not beyond reproach.
It’s okay to keep learning. It’s okay to not know everything. It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to keep listening to people whose opinions differ from yours. It’s okay to realise that some of your attitudes need readjusting, and then to go on and readjust those attitudes.
It’s more than okay. It’s essential.
I’ve followed a lot of the discussions about race in fandom pretty closely and I’ve caught myself feeling defensive a couple of times (actually with me, it wasn’t defensiveness so much as thinking people needed to calm down. Then I saw this incredibly brave and honest comment by bethbethbeth and the truth of it hit me hard) and each of those times I discovered that I had more to learn. Someone more knowledgeable than me showed me the error in my thinking, so I admitted to myself that I needed to change my thinking.
And then I did.
I am on a journey and I will be till my dying day.
Tangentially, I would like to point out that it’s not inherently wrong or necessarily racist to have a kink/fetish for interracial porn, and I find it a strangely naïve accusation, given that what people are turned on by is extremely personal, often inexplicable, and never a matter of choice (although keeping a lid on it in certain forums is probably wise). To demand that people not be sexually aroused by something because you personally don’t think it should be sexually arousing is a stupendous waste of time. Moreover, shaming people for what is almost certainly an unconscious proclivity (and a fairly widespread one at that) is both unhelpful and (unwittingly) cruel.
I am well aware that having a kink for interracial erotica may have its roots in racism, but it all depends on perspective: the white person who wants a savage black man to screw a privileged white girl because they believe “all black men are savage” is a racist, but is that the same as the white person who wants the identical fantasy played out in their porn, but who understands that it is a fantasy and has nothing to do with reality?
I’m calling for an open discussion on this topic. Where do we draw the line? When is a fantasy “not okay”? When does a person need to start examining their own attitudes and ways of thinking because of the things they find erotic? And how are they expected to deal with the fact that kinks, once set, are very difficult/impossible to change?