I always thought that in most cases,I could easily spot racism. I knew it had insidous forms, but I thought I usually caught it in myself. I firmly believe that everyone has some deep-seated prejudice against any group he or she is not in (as well as prejudices in favor of groups they belong to), and I've always been immediately suspicious of people who say, "I'm not racist." Immediately upon hearing that, I'd think, "Oh, but you are. What you just told me is you're not dealing with it." I think we never totally overcome our prejudices, but we have to work on being open to finding them and eradicating them over our entire lifetimes.
That said, I myself have fallen prey to placing more importance on being 'funny' than being 'human.' I have come to realize that if I make a joke that I wouldn't share with all my friends of any color, then I shouldn't make it. If I wince, knowing it's wrong, then why would I write it? I feel that this also applies to profanity, etc.
I think that exposure to crappy radio shows that have white men doing fake black voices (or straight people doing fake gay characters) is what made me recognize my mistake. I don't even want to name the shows, because they don't deserve popularity. Humor is dangerous. If you don't have the guts to make statements in your own skin--to at least claim your own identity--then maybe you shouldn't be making them at all, even if everyone understands it as a joke. People often use humor to cloak hatred and fear, because if someone calls them on their prejudice, they can back away and say, "It was just a joke. You don't understand." This is what those radio shows do. I don't want to even remotely be like this.
I am sorry to anyone who read anything I wrote as another character that played up stereotypes. I can't take back the words, but I won't use them again.
Kingsley Amis on Tony Benn
4 weeks ago