I just finished reading some of the posts about racism. As I have a lot to say about it, I figured it better to make my own post than try to comment to all of the posts I had something to say about.
Before going into my rant, let me give you some insight on where I'm coming from. I'm a 25yr old, married, white, bisexual female. I was born and raised in a small town in Northeastern Oregon. I've lived in Portland for 7 years now. I have had a very diverse friend-base my entire life. My best friend since I was 2 is part Klamath. I've lived with four gay men in three different apartments. My parents divorced when I was 21. My dad married a Canadian when I was 22. My mom lives on her own in Oregon City. I have two cats.
Now, first off, none, all or some of what I just told you about my life may pertain to what I'm about to say. I would ask that NO ONE assume anything about me or what I mean. Before accusing me, ask for clarification. It's only polite. Oh, and I'm not going to be very politically correct.
Admittedly, Oregon is predominatly white. It was settled by European settlers who brought very few, if any, "slaves". Also, due to our positioning, we don't get many immigrants from Mexico. We do have them, just not many. However, just because it's mostly "white" doesn't automatically make it "racist". Yes, there is racisim here; it's everywhere. But, there's also flat out prejudice. That's what I mostly saw in those posts and their comments. By simply stating "Portland is racist", you're making a HUGE generalization. It's not JUST about wording. It's about the intent behind the statement. Just like if someone refers to an African-American as a "nigger". Nigger is just a word! What hurts is the implication behind it. By stating that all of Portland is racist is being prejudice against those in Portland that AREN'T racist. Also, by stating that, if someone is white, they have "white privilage" is a generalization. Just because someone is white doesn't mean they're automatically immune to prejudice. Racism, yes, probably. But, racisim is just a branch of prejudice.
Now, I'm not going to sight specific comments. Nor am I going to point fingers. That would be rude and too time consuming. What I am going to do, however, is sight my opinion in all of this. Hell, I've already mostly done that with the previous paragraph.
I personally believe that part of Oregon's racism problem stems from the fact that we are predominatly white. "Minorities" MAY feel uncomfortable coming here because of that. I don't know; I'm not them. But, I do know that a lot of people make comments out of pure ignorance. They've never been properly educated. A lot of people that I've met, as well as myself, are more than willing to learn about other cultures and lifestyles. So, instead of getting pissed at people for making silly slips (obviously not talking about people that do it with intent of harm), educate them. Bring them up to speed. Because, honestly, if all you do is get pissed, you're no better than them.
Now, as for words and political correctness, I think it's all just a bunch of bull. Words are words; they CAN'T hurt you. Only the intent behind them can harm you. Even then, only as much as you let it. I used to make a big deal about words. I would take offense to words such as nigger & cunt. Then, a friend of mine enlightened me on the fact that they are mearly words. Yes, they can be used as insults. I have called many a person cunt. I would never call someone a nigger; I'm not that mean. But when I can't even do something like talk about a pair of boots I used to have, that were replica German Comabat boots that I lovingly referred to as my "Nazi Boots", because a Jewish friend takes offense to the word Nazi, I get annoyed. Yes, I know what they did to the Jews, but they did the same to homo's. Why haven't I had any of my gay friend's take offense to my referring to them that way? Is it because they don't know that's where the purple triangle originated? Possibly. Is it because they're not as sensitive to it because we were never taught about them in school? Possibly. It is because they've moved on? Possibly.
I'm not saying people should just ignore words. What I am saying is that people need to pay more attention to the intent behind the words. If there's no ill intent, don't take offense! Before anyone says, "but, you're white! you wouldn't understand", I want to say BULLSHIT! This goes back to prejudice, not racism. Being that I am open about my sexuality, I have been given LOTS of flack for that, both rudely and not so rude. I have a friend that calls me a lesbo & rug muncher everytime he talks to me; I call him a faggot. Another friend of mine, who's Wiccan & a Mexican is a my Magical Mexican. In fact, SHE'S the one that started making cracks about having our own personal Mexican to clean our house, as she would frequently help clean up or cook meals to thank us for helping her out. I was VERY uncomfortable with the jokes at first. Then, I lightened up. I feel people DO need to get a "thicker skin" per say. People who make prejudice comments as a form of attack usually do it to get a reaction. If you stop reacting (or, better yet, react positively!), they'll bother you less! How novel!
I know that not everyone can handle prejudice comments as a joke. That's why it's important to make it VERY clear to people what you find offensive. There is NO deffinitive definition of what is or isn't prejudice or offensive. So, don't ASSUME people know what bothers you. Tell them, politely, and don't pull the "if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you" crap.
There, I think I'm done. Let the abuse begin!