I have to weigh in on last week’s goal by Joel Ward in Stanley Cup Playoff overtime, and the racism on Twitter that ensued.
What I want to talk about was the last line of an article I read in the Metro News – a quote by one of the individuals who tweeted racist comments: “I’m not a racist. Just the heat of the moment.”
What does that mean? And what does it say to us about the nature of racism in our society?
Does this really hold up as an argument in this person’s defense?
It’s telling that the person seems to think it does.
Here is some food for thought:
1. As a facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion, I understand that racism (and other “isms”) are often unconscious. We absorb negative messages through various media (and education, and people, etc.) and we feed it back without interrogating ourselves. (Remember the “chink in the armour” comment in the NBA a few months back?)
2. I think many people think of racism (and other “isms”) as overt and violent, and forget about (or don’t recognize) the subtle ways that we can perpetuate these ideas and beliefs.
3. There is being racist (think Archie Bunker from All in the Family) and then there is racist behaviour (see above). Either way we have a problem (and the Human Rights Commission looks at impact, not intent) but maybe the roots don’t go as deep in the latter, and maybe in that case by raising awareness we can create change since maybe it’s not embedded in a person’s beliefs.
The biggest issue for me in all of this, however, is not even so much that these racist Tweets occurred (since, as I mentioned, I’m not surprised by this, sadly) but that someone can use “the heat of the moment” as an excuse for racism. It speaks volumes of how deeply racism (and other “isms”) are embedded into the fabric of our society.
There is much work left to do…
copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.