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Posted on Wednesday 12 June 2013 at 8:54 pm

Identity Politics and Praising vs. Insulting


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Aaaaaand I still haven't replied to comments. *sigh* I spent part of last night and most of today in bed with a migraine, made worse by the fact that there is a nuclear power plant near me that had its monthly loud-and-piercing warning siren test for several minutes today and there were large trucks and loud equipment doing some kind of maintenance in the street in front of my house for several hours. Oh well. I'm tired but mostly better now. I just want to rant about something for a bit.

I lived in San Antonio, Texas for six years and while there became a fan of San Antonio's professional basketball team, the Spurs. The Spurs are in the finals this year, currently up 2-1 in a best of 7 series for the national championship. Yay Spurs! San Antonio is a city with a large Hispanic population and at the game last night one of her native sons, an eleven-year-old, sang the national anthem. Sebastion de la Cruz was born in San Antonio and is Mexican American. From the moment he appeared last night there was racist vitriol thrown at him on the internet saying he was an illegal, a Mexican with no right to sing the American national anthem, etc. I didn't know only citizens of a particular nation were allowed to sing that nation's anthem, but hey, even if that's true, HE IS AN AMERICAN! The assumption that just because he is of Hispanic heritage with a browner skin tone, he is somehow less of an American than someone with a lighter skin tone, that he has no right to be in the land of his birth, obviously seriously pisses me off. That could have gone without saying and I wouldn't have made this post about that because, well, racist assholes will be racist assholes so why bother?

The real purpose of this post is the reaction I've seen from several places including many of my San Antonio friends on Facebook, many of them self identified Mexican Americans, Hispanics, Latinos/Latinas, or similar overlapping though not always identical ethnic and national groups. This image is a good encapsulation of the type of reaction I mean. In case the link doesn't work, it is just a picture of the young man with the text "Gets hated on for being Mexican. Can still sing the anthem better than Americans." My problems with this are two-fold. First, it does exactly what it is reacting against. By saying he can "sing the anthem better than Americans," it is saying that he is not an American. This image that is supposedly in his defense is still denying him his right to his nationality. He doesn't sing better than an American he sings as an American.

My second issue with it is something that I think is a bigger problem which is it can't just praise him, it has to insult someone else. It can't say that he sang the national anthem wonderfully, it has to be he did it better than all white Americans could have done it (at least, I think the white is what is being implied in the current context). Why does praising group A so often have to involve insulting group B? It is like those body image positive campaigns that say things like "Real women have curves." I totally get that our society has become obsessed with weight and, in particular, the ideal that all women should be unhealthily skinny and I think a push back against that is fantastic, but why can't we do that without saying that women who are healthy but thin and flat chested so not really any "curves" to speak of are somehow not real women? This kind of thing drives me absolutely crazy!

Comments:

aoife
failte_aoife at 2:00 pm on 13 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
*sighs* I don't think I can add anything to that except 'Yes and amen' especially to the 'insulting others' part. (I have read so many comments about non-white/non-male comedians of the type 'X is the only female/whatever comedian I like, all others are shit' but they still make me rage)
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 10:59 pm on 22 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
It really drives me crazy that we seem to have a social / cultural problem with accepting different opinions on anything. People just aren't capable of saying "I like music X and don't really care for music Y." It has to be "Music Y is so stupid and I don't understand how anyone could ever like it. Music X is clearly so much better." We do it on everything, even the stupidest and most minor stuff that can't possible impact anyone else's life.

I have read so many comments about non-white/non-male comedians of the type 'X is the only female/whatever comedian I like, all others are shit' but they still make me rage

Yeah. I'm trying to get better about lowering the settings on my rage filter and going with the "sexist/racist/etc. assholes will be sexist/racist/etc. assholes so what can you do?" mentality a bit more, but I just can't do it. It makes me so infuriated that we are still dealing with these kinds of attitudes. I know my getting outraged doesn't really help and isn't good for my own mental and physical health, but I just can't turn it off every time something new pops up.


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