Does the Race Card Have a Marginal Utility?

Ape, bushman, camel jockey, charlie, chinaman, chink, coolie, coon, cracker, dago, dutchman, frog, golliwogg, gook, greaseball, gringo, guido, honky, hymie, jap, kaffir, limey, mick, muzzie, nigger, paki, pickaninny, raghead, redneck, russki, tar baby, wetback etc.

All of these words were all perfectly innocent until they were turned into derogatory terms used everyday to offend a person or people of another race, religion or ethnicity. Every single race, religion, ethnicity etc. has at least one derogatory term, but none more than the black race. History and current times show that even within multi-racial nations, the most discriminated hue tends to be the darkest one.

And so it is not uncommon to find that the largest criers of racism are from the ones with largest amount of melanin. What is surprising is that I am finding resistance to such cries from friends of a lighter complexion. I feel absolute animosity exuding from their comments when I mention an offense towards a certain term or action. I’ve been accused of racism, of being intolerant and not being understanding. But what about how I feel? Is the fact that there have been too many years of black protest that our marginal utility has been diminished? Can black people no longer be offended?

The first soccer world cup to be held on the African continent is currently underway in South Africa, my home country (via Uganda) but as I am based in South Korea, and was unable to return home for the games, I made a huge effort to watch as many games from the Asian peninsula that is my current abode.

As part of their world cup campaign, a series of advertisements were made depicting how the fans shouting from Korea would aide their team to defeat their opponents. This all seemed innocent enough until they produced the ad for their game against Nigeria, one of the African nations to qualify.

Two adverts were produced, one more offensive than the other. The most offensive one, depicted the Nigerian soccer team as Masai-attired, knob-kerrie wielding, naïve players on the field being “schooled” literally on how to play soccer. This spurned me to no longer support the South Korean soccer team’s efforts. I never once tried to convince others to support me in my efforts to protest their ads, but the resistance that I received for my choice to stand up for what I believe in, was quite intriguing.

I was told that the ad was not out of racism but ignorance; I was told that it was ‘un-cool’ for me to not support my current host nation; I was accused of hating all South Koreans. I found that I needed to break down my reason for finding offense and had to state that the fact that I found the advert offensive did not imply that I hated all Koreans (as that would make me guilty of what I was aggrieved by and essentially a hypocrite).

The term racism implies that one race feels that they are superior to another race based on a prejudice. The term prejudice infers that one has adverse preconceived ideas about someone or something. And ignorance implies that one does not have knowledge about something.

So I considered the idea of the producers of the adverts to be ignorant and not racist or prejudiced, however I do not see the reason for insisting on dressing Koreans as Masai and not in soccer gear (as they did for their other opponents) and having them paint their bodies black; unless it was at the every least prejudiced.

So again, I ask, why was there such hostility posed against my views of offense? Another friend was quick to point out a comment that I made in jest as being racist. I mentioned that the Japanese team were praying to Buddha during their penalty shoot-out; and was immediately branded as racist and informed that the majority of Japanese are in fact Shinto and not Buddhist. My comment was not made out of prejudice but rather ignorance and ironically, according to the World Fact book, 83.9% of Japanese are Shinto and 71.4% are Buddhist, as many people belong to both Shinto and Buddhist faith. So as ignorant as my comment was, it was not too far off from the truth. It was also neither made in a malicious nor a derogatory manner. So why was he so quick to brandish me as a racist?

I wonder if I was of another race, would he have been so quick to judge me. I have a sinking feeling that he may have been more tolerant. So, perhaps our marginal utility as a race has been diminished and we are no longer tolerated when we find comments offensive. Perhaps it’s because we have been discriminated against the most for so long, that we are expected to have built an internal immune system to it, in a form of “Social Darwinism”. Or perhaps, I am just another overly sensitive Negro who finds offense in every little thing…

Feint & Margin

Feint & Margin is a weekly, online, Pan-African publication featuring writings and thoughts from Ordinary Africans who have Extraordinary minds. We represent the True Voice of the African Citizen.

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