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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


C****er Barrel petition bungles racial sensitivity

America has a problem with political correctness: idiots mistake legitimate injustice for “race-baiting,” an act that uses racial terminology or verbiage with the goal to incite and subsequently detract from conversations about race.

Two weeks ago there was a petition calling the restaurant Cracker Barrel to change its name to “Caucasian Barrel” because the innocuous home-cooking joint is an affront to rich, white heritage. The petitioner has since noted that it is satire, though it remains a reminder that we are not post-racial and that morons still think that race-baiting is a thing.

Ryan Koch of Des Moines, Iowa, thinks we, as a nation, need to take a chill pill.

“I started this satirical petition in lieu of constant media reports of various groups and organizations constantly wanting to change things throughout the country because they claim they are offended,” he wrote in a press release last week after some confusion about the intent of the petition.

Why are people so offended across the nation? Is it because when their churches are shot up and burned by someone of a different race it is a product of mental illness and not domestic terrorism or a hate crime? Koch embodies privilege by determining who is actually offended and who is “claiming to be offended.”

According to Koch, “the petition was meant to shed light on how ridiculous all of the political correctness currently going on in the country is, and how we should focus on real issues such as crime, unemployment, veteran suicide and corrupt politics rather than cater to everyone who feels they need to be offended.”

His justification is an easy defense of his half-baked petition, in which he refuses to acknowledge that problems such as crime, unemployment and corrupt politics are all deeply linked to constructed racial, social and economic barriers. It is no secret that predominantly conservative, white Americans have long thought that any attempt to address racial disparities is race-baiting.

White Americans have no interest in shaking up the power dynamics that have ruled this nation for centuries, so it’s very easy to say, “Oh just calm down everyone. Can’t you take a joke?” or label someone calling attention to an issue a racist themselves.

“THE TERM POST-RACIAL is almost never used in earnest,” said Ta-Nehisi Coates in a recent post for The Atlantic. “Instead it’s usually employed by talk-show hosts and news anchors looking to measure progress in the Obama era.”

Coates continues, “We should seek not a world where the black race and the white race live in harmony, but a world in which the terms black and white have no real political meaning.”

In the meantime, we need to aggressively dichotomize them instead of focusing on falsely inclusive movements (#AllLivesMatter vs. #BlackLivesMatter.) Being colorblind is detrimental to the cause of mitigating racial disparity because it ignores legitimate differences.

DeRay McKesson, a Twitter activist who closely follows racial injustice nationwide, has become a twitter pariah for having the audacity to call attention to such injustice. Ian Tuttle of the National Review disagrees with McKesson and again points the finger, stigmatizing any dialogue that threatens his whiteness.

“[McKesson] has shown an unsurpassed ability to force every injustice, historical and contemporary, real and perceived, into a single framework: ‘Whiteness’ is wicked, ‘blackness’ is ‘beautiful,’” Tuttle wrote.

Tuttle isn’t the first to do so, either. For a while the hashtag #GoHomeDeRay was trending as people upset about his presence demanded he leave Charleston, S.C., after the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Espiscopal Church.

In the midst of more police violence and increased tweeting, he did not back down or succumb to the demands of Twitter trolls, but instead persevered to shine a light on disparity. Like Tuttle and the people behind #GoHomeDeray, Koch similarly negates active dialogue by disregarding obvious pain.

Koch’s petition is not productive; it is a fearful evasion of truthful dialogue. Satire or not, it is an unnecessary statement that enforces a system of privilege and further confuses. We are not post-racial, and we can’t be if people don’t acknowledge that hurt comes from a place of degradation and not vengeance. 

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