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Everyone's a little bit racist.  But some are more so than others.

Everyone’s a little bit racist. But some are more so than others.

A few years ago I went to see “Avenue Q” on Broadway, mostly because I’d heard its funniest song used in a World of Warcraft machinima vid and thought any play that makes a song out of internet porn was a must-see.

(…Yes, I’m a geek. If you didn’t know, now you know.)

There was another song in the play, called “Everyone’s a little bit racist”. This one wasn’t funny — not to me, anyway, though lots of people in the audience laughed. A sample of the lyrics:

Everyone’s a little bit racist
It’s true.
But everyone is just about
As racist as you!
If we all could just admit
That we are racist a little bit,
And everyone stopped being
So PC
Maybe we could live in -
Harmony!


The core flaw of the song lies in its unquestioned flattening of the power structure of racism. It equates racist jokes with acts of historical discrimination; the attitudes of an oppressed group with the attitudes of its oppressors; and doesn’t address the continuing systemic aspects of racism at all. Racism, this song suggests, is just about people’s ordinary dislike for others who are different from them, and if we’d all just relax and let it all hang out, we’d get over it.

So yeah. ‘Bout as funny as a fart in a crowded room, or so it seemed to me. Needless to say, I was silent and uncomfortable during that song, while the theater full of white people laughed around me and had a grand old time.

I cite this admittedly old incident because I keep seeing the chorus of that song in the apparently-spontaneous mass-spewage of racist stupidity across multiple media formats that’s taken place over the past few months, and the debates that have resulted therefrom.

It’s probably not a new iteration; it’s probably just that I’m only now noticing this particular response pattern. But you can see several examples of it in this, one of the later conversations in the “RaceFail 2009″ debate that occurred on science fiction author John Scalzi’s blog. This particular convo was hosted by our very own ABW in her Srius Authar guise, with some peanut-gallery chiming in by Yours Truly in her Srius Authar guise. It was all terribly serious. Now, you should really take this conversation in context, if you can, though RaceFail was massive; here’s yet another summary and two preceding conversations that may help you understand what was going on. My own interpretation: for the previous two months, the speculative fictional blogosphere had been afire with conversations about race which incorporated some healthy helpings of racist behavior by noted authors, editors, and so on. An ongoing complaint in this debate had been that if it was only nicer, politer, less angry, then maybe some real conversation could take place. …Yeah. I know. So, the Scalzi conversations were an effort to generate this nice polite discussion. You’ll notice that in all three examples, the PoC in the conversation gradually just stopped talking.

Anyway, the thing that I kept seeing in these discussions was a refusal on the part of some white-identified folks to accept the “authority” that people of color have in discussions of racism. (Using scare quotes because I’m not sure authority is the right word. The earned wisdom of experience. Moral superiority, maybe. Agency? I dunno. I’ll go with authority for now.) PoC aren’t always right about what is racist, goes the refrain; sometimes they’re too angry to be reasonable, or too emotional to see the big picture, or too personally-involved to have the necessary detachment when they’re evaluating a situation. (Not like those always-rational white folks.) Some of them have hidden agendas which require them to make a racist mountain out of an innocuous molehill because their finances or their egos or whatever depend on holding a position of moral superiority. Or sometimes the problem is White Guilt, which leads white people to anxiously accept everything a brown person says as truth. We should all just talk as equals, these authority-resisters insist, rather than having PoC lecture whites about right and wrong in the case of race. Because after all, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist ™.

There’s some truth in this. (No, really.) We’ve all seen the Al Sharptons of the world profit from others’ misfortune, and we’ve all seen white people who go overboard, seeking expiation of their sins rather than dialogue. The problem with this denial of PoC authority in matters of racism, however, is that like the Avenue Q song, it flattens the power structure of racism, again suggesting that everyone’s experiences are equal and therefore we all have important things to bring to the conversation.

This just isn’t true. Everyone’s experience of racism is not equal. And too often white people bring defensiveness, fetishization, exotification, implicit associations, and their own hidden agendas to the conversation, which just fraks things up on both sides. To be fair, some PoC bring these things to the table too; unfortunately we’ve all been hit with the racism stick. But one of the commonalities of the PoC experience in colonized/white-dominant countries is that eventually, most of us look around and notice the system, because its negative effects become impossible to deny. And in noticing the system, we do assume some moral authority. The system discourages acknowledgment, after all. It works best if it remains semi-visible, “silent but deadly”; even to notice it is a challenging act. The white experience has the opposite commonality — denial of the system’s existence, and of its beneficial effect on their lives. So even when whites begin to acknowledge the system, the habit of denial is hard to break. Denial of PoC authority is just another manifestation of it.

So the next time you encounter someone who cites the Avenue Q chorus in a discussion of racism, I suggest the following refrain:

Everyone’s a little bit racist
It’s true
But some are still more so than others
Like you!*

(Yeah, OK, I’m not a musician, shuddup.)

42 comments to Everyone’s a little bit racist. But some are more so than others.

  • When I went to see Avenue Q with my fiancé and a bunch of friends last year, my fiancé and I sat there open-mouthed in horror while everyone else, including a mixed-race member of the group laughed hysterically.

    I don’t understand why people think it’s a winning argument in a discussion. Just because EVERYBODY does something, doesn’t mean it’s right or shouldn’t be criticised.

    Full disclosure: I am white and pretty middle-class.

  • Sparky

    Everyone’s a little bit racist. I agree – we all have imbued societal prejudice

    And since when is that OK? Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t make it right

    It means we all have soemthing to FIX not that we’re all supposed to just accept it. It means the problem is HUGE not that it’s ignorable!

    Only someone with an utter unassailable privilege (and who is never the victim of prejudice) can say something so asinine. It’s such a pathetic, lazy cop put – hey, we’re racist, society’s racist, everyone’s racist so rather than realise that that means EVERYONE is doing a HELLOFALOT to make POC’s lifes far more difficult and unpleasant than they need be they’re turning it into a message of – what – suck up and deal?

    Bah, it’s an excuse and a pathetic attempt to absolve people of the effort of trying to be decent. Because that is such a damn hard thing to ask of people

    Frankly, POC remain the only real experts when it comes to racism – because if you can ignore a prejudice, not be affected by a prejudice and not have your life shaped by a prejudice then you CANNOT know the scope and power of that prejudice, the impact of it – or even recognise it when it exists. Without that experience we will always be blind to at least some of it and not realise the impact of others

  • i think its good to be aware of racism. i think it is something that [almost] everyone learns whether theyre aware of it or not. i wouldnt call it good fodder for a musical. unless the musical is SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER…. but i think being aware of it & having open dialog about it could educate & heal people who are open to growing.

  • Ugh. My partner took me to see Avenue Q for my birthday last year, and I was way more than underwhelmed by that song. I can’t remember if I left the show feeling that it was bad or good, but I do remember leaving feeling like that song was idiotic.

    With a title like: “everybody’s a little bit racist” it seemed like a decent idea. Because it’s so hard to convince lots of people that they might be… but those examples weren’t an “everybody” situation at all. They were all jokes that I don’t think I’ve ever found funny (as a kid, or an adult), and yet, as a white person, I NEED to never let myself forget about my white privilege, and the fact that I truly am “a little bit racist”. That song, made me angry because at the end of it, I would have been able to pat myself on the back and be all “clearly I’m NOT racist, since I obviously don’t find that shit funny” when I know it simply isn’t true.

    Bah. Apparently I’m a crankycrankypants.

  • Babs

    I always saw Avenue Q is a surprisingly intelligent, but a bit low brow satire, and their songs reflected that. Kind of like the way I view South Park… my friend said the other day that you know it’s bad when South Park is the most intelligent thing on television, and I think I agree with her. :-X

    Point being: I always saw that song as a satire, the whole point and the whole “happy go lucky” chorus being a subtle satire making fun of the people who do think that way… rather than honestly touting the benefits of being colourblind.

    That said, it seems like 90% of people misunderstand, and use it as a way to excuse their racist behavior (Ie. “if it’s a song on broadway, it’s cool to be racist!”)

    • The Angry Black Woman

      there are times, when I have listened to the song over and over and over that I start to think maybe this is what’s going on. But it’s so subtle that I’m not sure most people will get it.

  • Chuck B.

    Babs, then you should listen to the Fresh Air interview of the creators, because that assinine racist position was their intent.

    Wow, ABW, thank you for that well written position. I dealt with the exact same issue in a 98% white UU church I used to belong to in Harrisburg, Pa. Got to the point I just “stopped going”.

    What’s funny is when those whites who refuse to get it finally succeed and we finally stop talking to them because life is too short. Then they get all upset when they turn to us and say “You’re my black friend” and we say: “No I’m not, you don’t know me”.

    Great Post.

  • I get the impression people pull this out when they want to say, “Hey, I already admitted that everybody’s racist! So stop trying to call me out on my shit!” It’s as if we think it’s supposed to get out of having to do any self-examination of exactly how we’re contributing to the problem.

  • I would say that there are two things that bother me the most about everyone being “a little bit racist.” First, I think that it actually denies that there is a structure of racism at all. I think it goes beyond oversimplifying the issue of racism and into a straight up denial of its existence– because everyone is a little bit racist, we all cancel one another out, so everyone is fine (insert frustrated growling here). Like your post said, it does not take into account the structure of racism, and how institutionalized it really is. It takes more than everyone getting along, I think; in addition to getting along we (white people like me!) have to be constantly aware that the invisibility of white privilege is out there, and that it informs what we (white people like me!) do in ways that we don’t always see. It is a constant effort, and quite frankly a tough sell to a lot of white people who feel it is enough to just vote for a Black president and say they are not racist– or perhaps that they are just a little bit racist, like everyone– and are thus absolved of their complicity in the legacy and perpetuation of racism that is articulated in much more backhanded ways nowadays. Which, of course, is kinda screwed.

    Second, the idea of white people not accepting the “authority” of PoC was interesting to me. I agree with what you are saying, but at the same time I wonder if any one Person of Color can stand in and speak for all PoC as to what is and is not racist. Maybe not, I guess, but they still have more authority than I do, since even though I can read about racism, or even see it in person sometimes, I can never experience it…which, umm, was the point you were making, wasn’t it? Crap.

    And what is up with my voice? Do I really write like that? Sorry– great post!

  • The Angry Black Woman

    I have a dirty secret — I listen tot hat song all the time and know all the words. Every time I listen to it I have the same thought process. The song acts as if societal/cultural racism is on par with minorities wanting to have schools of their own, etc. ugh.

    What most annoys me about the song is that it is fucking catchy and I resent it for being catchy.

  • One of the many reasons I don’t bother with such productions.

    But as it seemed to me from the gitgo, the Scalzi thing was sit down shut up and when it’s time to talk we white guys will tell you and tell you how and what to talk. And it happened. Except suddenly he got religion and got a grrl to tell him about it all.

    That was my take from the gitgo and for ever and ever, world without end, not amen.

    That’s the way it goes yoohoo, yoohoo, wahwahwah.

    The discussion was shut down.

    Now the principal antags are running about the blogs showing how good they are and still never once admitting how offensive they were and stupid and ugly and just plain wrong — not to mention unprofessional.

    No truth and reconciliation in racefail09, anymore than with Torture USA 2001-2009.

    • Sam

      One of the many reasons I don’t bother with such productions.

      You don’t bother with musical comedies because of the chance that one of the songs may implicitly condone racist power structures?

  • A.

    I generally am not a huge fan of Avenue Q. I see it as one of those broadway productions where hipsters go and try to congratulate themselves for being able to see satire, when you know, they don’t, and then make the same huge fuck-ups that they like to berate Mommy, Daddy and their grandparents for doing.

  • Yeah, that song always rubbed me the wrong way – it encapsulates the all-too-prevalent belief that racism is only a feature of isolated personal interactions, and greater social/historical/cultural forces have nothing to do with it. Institutional what-now?

    …Just read through the thread at John Scalzi’s and, my, it is full of fail. And defensiveness. But it was a very substitute-teacher-y situation to begin with.

    Possibly even worse are the places that have simply not acknowledged RaceFail at all (though their denizens talk about it elsewhere); I can’t stand going back to those.

    Going to squeeze the cats now, this is bad for my blood pressure.

  • I’ve always had a problem with that song. I’m a white person who tried to be aware of my privelage and I come from a working class area of England where overt racism is common (we have a high rate of people voting for the BNP, a racist political party, and I remember there being riots against asian people in a neighbouring town in my youth). Anyway, one of the reasons I instantly hated that song was I’ve heard that argument again and again, from so many people from strangers on the internet to my own father. To me, “everyone’s a little racist” is an excuse people who don’t want to think use to justify their own racism. “Oh, well, asian people are racist against us so we’re allowed to be racist against them”. “Oh, they think we’re not worth talking to so it’s ok for me to use racist language”. Never ok. Even if they were being horribly predjudice towards you that doesn’t justify your unchecked privelage towards them. “Everyone’s racist” is just the cry of the white person who doesn’t want to have to spend time consciously evaluating the fact that they’re racist and then having to consciously check their actions and thoughts and stop doing and saying things that are racists. It’s the same as saying “But I don’t WANT to stop opressing you!”.

    The favourite way of expressing “everyone’s racist” in the area where I lived in the wake of all of this terrorism and islam stuff is someone saying, whenever you point out that something they’ve said is racist, “But if a (race group of choice) said that, you wouldn’t stop them!”. Like somehow having their entire community come under suspicion and having a country already hostile to them become more so is somehow an advantage to them.

    It kind of makes me sick. Yes, we probably are all racist, some more then others, realising that means you should do your best to think about and correct your predjudice, not run down the street celebrating it.

  • Zahra

    nojojo–

    Thank you for this post. A friend actually sang this song at me once when I was grappling with the very, very painful implications of my own white power & privilege & that of my family vis-a-via that of my black partner. Your post articulates better than I could why it was such a slap in the face. It’s that leveling aspect–the attempt to asset that all sides are equal here when the very problem is the inequity of power.

    A class I once took included a definition of racism as prejudice + institutional power. PoC, in that formulation, could be prejudiced, but not racist, because the force of institutional power wasn’t behind their individual beliefs. It struck me as a valuable tool, although I’m not sure how useful it would be in conversations between communities of color. But this song is a good reminder of the need to make those distinctions…

    And Jeff, I really like your point that when you say “everybody” is something, we all cancel one another out. Exactly! It’s a complete restoration of the status quo, icky power structures intact. I often find myself having to explain why saying “everyone is bisexual” is equivalent to saying “no one is bisexual” (and why I, as a bisexual woman, am insulted by it, beyond the obvious point that it’s not true). It has that same effect of erasing the authority of the people who experience the prejudice first-hand, and dodging the obvious-but-oh-so-difficult point that we’re not all the same–our experiences of the world differ–and the point is to deal with that in an equitable way, not deny it.

    I’ve never made that connection myself, but now I’m thinking of how I can apply an argument I know well in one arena of my life to talking about racism, where I’m one of the privileged ones. This is useful stuff. Thanks.

  • Zoe

    Word. To all of this. That song is just…ugh. I kind of cannot believe that people actually wrote those lyrics and thought they were okay.

    “So, everyone’s a little bit racist
    Okay!”
    Yeah, maybe it’s okay if you’re white and privileged and NOT A VICTIM OF RACISM. (Except of course it’s NOT okay, although obviously not nearly as bad as it is for the victims.)

    “Ethnic jokes might be uncouth,
    But you laugh because
    They’re based on truth.
    Don’t take them as
    Personal attacks.
    Everyone enjoys them -
    So relax!”
    There is just so much wrong with this. Like, I am pretty damn sure that no, NOT everyone enjoys racist jokes.

  • yeah, catchy and funny. where is the mourning, the grief, the shame, the devastation?

  • Larry

    I loved the show and really like the song (although I like “When you love someone, you really want to kill them” more). I am happy to say I haven’t met anyone who has used everyone is a little racist as an excuse, but if I do the views expressed concerning the song will make me question their statement.

  • See, I don’t think that song has accuracy value or relevance, really.

    Not everyone is “a little bit racist”. Some people are “really a lot racist”, and just airbrushing that to “everyone’s a bit racist” kind of… leaves an out, I guess, for people who are a lot racist.

    And by “people who are a lot racist” I don’t mean the Klan stereotypes. I mean people like… well, if you want some rage, go here and scroll down for comments by “drumbeat”. (Yes, really.) That, to me, is a lot racist, not a little. (I was going to quote, rather than just linking, but right at this second I’m getting errors trying to load the page.) If you say “everyone is a little bit racist”, “drumbeat” has an easy out for screwing up in ways that arguably seem relatively well-intentioned, which is undeserved.

    It also slides right over the ramifications of prejudice that I’ve been noticing in the way discussion of this has played out. PoC commenting on this are snarky, and express disapproval and aggravation, but do so in a calm, collected way that’s admirable, except for the part where I know full well that if they didn’t, their views would be readily dismissed as hysteria. (Which is a lot racist, not a little, too.)

    Whereas I, being white, get to flip my shit and not worry that I’ve tossed all possible credibility aside. (My privilege here also stems from something that isn’t usually known or relevant about me – despite my whiteness, I have a legitimate claim on being African by birth and ancestry, which means I can argue about Africa without being dismissed as someone who “just can’t know” anything about Africa without having been there.) How is that even vaguely fair to anyone?

    It’s good to recognise that racism is endemic, but saying we should admit it and move on is wrong. Racism is still something to be attacked, root and branch, because that shit is like kudzu with the pernicious and the growth if you don’t cut it the hell down everywhere you see it.

  • Just black

    Not everyone is RACIST. Everyone may stereotype with respect to what we know(both positive or negative) but only certain people hold onto stereotypes notwithstanding every evidence to the contrary and actively make active choices that may be detrimental towards someone of another race.

    Further, cultures either foster or discourage active racism and/or discrimination and/or stereotyping. White culture generally fosters it (actively or by not engaging it, which means lack of awareness is passed down from generation to the next) and black culture generally does not (there is a internalized distrust of white folks but that is not completely unexpected given the racial history. There are also certain conflicts with other minorities but this takes place almost exclusively in low income areas among groups that have absolutely no knowledge of each other).

  • Hi,

    I was really interested to read this. There are definitely things about that song that make me uncomfortable, but I also read it somewhat differently than you did. Basically, I did not take the lyrics at face value – I always heard it as pretty much exactly parallel to “My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada” – i.e. dramatic irony. The voices delivering it are fooling themselves – it’s complete bullshit, as evidenced by how ugly it gets when everyone starts yelling out their favorite offensive stereotypes. All the characters, throughout the show, are given to fooling themselves and looking for easy outs.

    However, there are other places in the song, like the “everyone stop being so PC/… live in harmony” ending that you cite, that sound like it’s not ironic, like that is supposed to be the takeaway. There’s another aspect of the show that brings home the discomfort, namely the role of the Asian woman character, whose name I forget. The caricature is supposed to be so over the top as to be satire, but it’s just offensive (and her role in the “Racist” song makes it doubly uncomfortable). And then there’s Gary Coleman.

    I do think the show has some really great songs, but then I’m white and it’s easier to turn away, so I appreciated hearing about your experience and how I had underestimated the offensiveness of this song.

    Rat

  • I remember a student of mine once cited that exact Avenue Q song, during a conversation about race and, I think, Zizek of all people. And my response was almost exactly yours – that the song’s refrain that “everybody’s a little racist” betrayed the actual power relations that are created and sustained by the history and presence of racism in this country. I never did think that the song was being ironic about its own refrain, but that’s definitely a possibility. And a hilarious possibility, too. Still, it doesn’t seem like that’s why the crowd you were with was laughing.

  • Didnt see the play but I head the song on a preview. I though it was funny. The clip was on NY1 I believe. Social contructs implant certain prejudice firmware into our brains. If you listen to your own self speak about cultures youd realize there is some “racism” in there somewhere. If we realize that we are in a war, you wont give a hoot if someone is a racist or whether your excluded from the white power structure. We(im BLACK) are excluded because this is not a game, were not friends, they have killed every living race on the planet at least once in some masse scale(millions). In order to secure thier own survival. WE(Black people) and other indigenous people would like to love everybody, but thats what got us to where we are, namely victims. Who gives a hoot if somebodys racist. That show is funny, shows thier true nature. A bird in the proverbial hand………… Spoken Word Open Mic May 8 2009. * Queens NY * Showent.com * Google SHOWENT. God Bless you all with wisdom and overstanding. -Stokelife

  • There are some good White people. Most people are good i suppose. IGNORANCE is the devil that devides us. This is more complicated than could fit in 200 Gigs of ASCII text. One thing I know is Racism pays. It sells papers, It motivates, It gets results, It gets votes, divide and conquer always works. Chapelle show would have not been sucessful without it. The only thing that might get more attention than racism is sex. So I suppose I should thank racism for all its done for me. :) Stay Blessed. Come out to the poetry event. All races welcome. P.S. Im not a racist, White poeple have been stayed house on at least 5 occasions, and they were not police. lol :0

  • nojojojo

    Stoke,

    I’m not really sure what you’re saying here; you seem to be contradicting yourself a bit. Also, could you not use your comments to advertise? The spamcatcher is pretty robust for this site, and if you go into the spambin we might never notice your comment.

  • E

    My thoughts are mixed. I looked up the lyrics, and read through them again. And they are still mixed. So let me toss this out there: when people are defensive, they aren’t listening. And, when most people are called “racist”, whether what they did was intended to be racist or not, they are so intent on defending their position, they aren’t willing to recognize the validity of feelings of the person who felt targeted by the racism. It’s often “No, I’m not! I have black friends…” rather than “I’m listening”. I kinda feel like the song is a reminder that little (and big) comments we make are sometimes racist. Even if we are intending it. And, instead of being defensive (“No, I’m not!”), it would be better to listen, apologize, and try to be more careful in the future. I feel like a lot of Political Correctness means that people feel so terrible about being called racist that they spend too much energy trying to prove they are not, when an “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize, I will be more careful in the future…” might work a lot better. Get over being called racist, and listen to what the other person has to say….

  • hottentot venus

    Greetings & salutations:

    saw the link from BAR site and am absolutely glad I visited! Excellent commentary, and very useful in my daily dealings w/ ignorance… again, thank you and I’ll be sure to bookmark this blog and visit as often as I can!

    HV

  • Thanks for the advice. Racism sells newspapers, i think its second to sex in advertising. Thats my unscientific opinion. Therefore I took the opportunity to selfishly promote my interests. I apologize IF this blog was intended to help anyone out of the ……i ow even know what ta say…..you know what i mean….system and my advertising detracted from said goal. I suspected this was an opportunity to make a general rant. If my two posts seen contradictory its because that is me. On one hand my two uncles were murdered by Black persons and then again white people been/still are murdering us. Then again a Black brother stole my bike, but then again a white man found my wallet and hunt me down to return it with the money in it. True story. I love all people but, i have reason to hate people also. Sounds like contradiction to you? Blah blah blah I really have nothing to say……thanks for reading my ranting…hope you enjoyed this short autobiography. Google ShowEnt

  • Chris Diaz

    That is a total BS notion. I don’t know who made up the song but white people saying that to people of color is like a person cutting funding for narcolepsy research and then telling upset narcoleptics, “We all get a little bit sleep sometimes”. It’s like the repugnant people who try to act like racism is ancient history and we should all be colorblind. Take a look at contemporary academic literature in sociology, economics, antrhopology, psychology, etc… Probably the most ridiculous and offensive ploy used nowadays is the gaul of many whites to dismissively label people of color as the actual racists when they express their grievances. To any white women reading this, consider how you would feel if some white, conservative male executive , born into a wealthy family, talked to you with a dismissive “get over it” attitude by telling you, “we are all a little bit sexist”.

  • Opici Kostra

    I just don´t get it. I always thought the song is about ADMITING “Everyone’s a little bit racist”, which is quite true. At least thats what i´m thinking while reading this blog, which is by itself “a little bit racist”. I´m also quite sure that there´s part in this song about how its BAD (not good) that we all have our small prejudices, with the whole point being “let´s stop for a while and think about it, try to sort it out”. Its not encouraging racism or inactivity, its not saying to let the topic slip, its encouraging discussion, reasoning and facing issues we all have but are ashamed of. Becouse people are so fucking scared to admit they´re not 100% politicly correct, that they label RACISM over anything, creating gap between races, between people, in the process. I think this whole post is a bit over the top.

    • Chris Diaz

      Opici Kostra,

      You hit the nail on the head when describing you’re understanding of racism when you said “I just don´t get it”.

      By trying to make us sound “all the same” regarding racism it suggests we 1) are all equally culpable, 2) it impacts us all the same, and 3) we should be “colorblind” and just not think about the past.

      I’m guessing you are of European descent (so called “white”). I don’t know if you are American, but let me let you in on something. The reason white people, as a group, have such tremendous advantages in wealth, property, authority, and representation is because of genocide, theft, lying, cheating, corruption, and a general attitude that being immoral, cruel, and unfair is a-okay.

      Everything listed above is still happening in America, minus the genocide.

      So, yeah, it is quite possible the writer of this song had good intentions. So what? Intentions are not enough. Drunk drivers don’t INTEND to kill anybody when they get behind the wheel.

  • Chriz Diaz
    My sentiments exactly. When the beast shoot an unarmed civillian Gulliani use to bring up thier rap sheet. Even if it was unrelated and they were 13 years old. The rap sheet de los gentes blancos is strewn with the same things I and Chris Diaz said.

  • Opici Kostra

    I listened to this song once again, and i have to say i failed to find anything regarding points 1-3. It doesnt say that all people are racist in the same way, or to the same degree, neither does it say all people suffer from racism to the same point. I dont think its meaning is we´re all equal in this regard, or that the “guilt” is all the same, which would indeed be ridiculous. What i do see behind this song is a simple message: we all have our prejudices, regarding the race of others. Not to the same point, but everyone does. And that sucks. The truth i see behind this song: we all JUDGE first, build OPINION second, and try to understand just sometimes. Is that offensive? Maybe i got the song wrong, but the meaning you all claim to be there, i understand it (to the best ability of a so called “white” person like me :), but for me, its not to be found in this song.

  • Opici Kostra

    Just a one more concerning the line “But everyone is just about as racist as you!”. Untill just yesterday, I really thought about its meaning being “everyone makes judgements, but so do you”. For some reason, it never occured to me that it would imply level/degree of ones racism, and i still dont think thats the case. People who laugh and listen to this song… in my opinion, they just understand it in the same way that I do, and even though you´ll propably say i´m idiot, cause IT is clearly there, its meaning is a very different statement in my eyes :)

  • This play isnt Birth of A Nation. Its not that serious. I had fun on this arnt though. Make sure to google Showent. Bless

  • *Rant. Thats what I meant to say

  • Chris Diaz

    Opici Kostra,

    I can see why you feel how you feel, almost all white folks, even with the best inentions, see things like this the same way.

    Let me try again. I don’t mean to be nasty here, but its what came to mind. Imagine, if you will, that there is a teenage girl that argues with her father alot. She sometimes says rude things to him; he sometimes says rude things to her.

    Now, imagine one evening he’s drinking his beer and they start arguing again. Now, imagine he completely snaps and beats her up (sorry, I know it’s graphic). She runs to her room in tears and bruised.

    Now, how do you think she would feel if, the next day, he goes into her room with a guitar and starts playing and singing, “Hey, we can all be a little rude sometimes….if we could both admit we can be a little rude…maybe we could live in harmony.”

    Factually, they both can be a little rude. Would you suggest then, she should not be pissed off by that?

    That is why I REALLY don’t like that song. It’s adding insult to injury, a giant slap in the face.

    P.S. I am not suggesting the artist does not have good intentions, that I do not know.

    • Opici Kostra

      I cant really embrace your point of view, since from where i stand, everything looks so much different. Taking every ethinc/religion/culture issues, their history to consideration in the advance, to keep them in mind, there wouldnt really be all that many things left to be called funny/enjoyable anymore, and it doesnt even take something that radical to offend quite a number of reasonable people (very much like this song). All i want to be understood by this is: when i heard this song, i didnt though about black/white issues (and to you, that too may be offensive, please bear with me), but thats not becouse i take it so lightly. I just thought about all prejudice in general (and i mean that). So please, just dont think that everyone who likes this song, has to be an ignorant, idiot, racist or a half-wit.

  • Opici Kostra

    Chris Diaz
    Thank you for making me understand better, even though it may be just for a little bit.

  • Chris Diaz

    Opici Kostra,

    If someone is white and they like this song, they are one of two things:

    1) Ignorant (meaning unaware), or
    2) Not empathetic (meaning they are aware and don’t care)

    Now, on the plus side, this is a song that alot of well-intentioned people might like. After all, it does speak of unity as well. A straight-up racists probably wouldn’t care for it at all.

    If, from my previous two explanations, you still don’t get it, well, I don’t know what to say. I understand why you didn’t get why it might bother a person of color to begin with, as that’s not your point of view and, in fact, does seem like a well-intentioned pice of music.

    And, if someone has pretty racists tendencies, it can be a very positive influence. It’s the people that espouse egalitarian values for which this song is bad.

    It suggest that if we just “act swell” everything’s cool. Never mind the HUGE disparities that exists everyday. Never mind the tragic historical theft and other crimes that led to the disparity. Never mind the routine privilege of whites to move through society relatively successfully and with, relatively, little impedence.

    I guess I can’t break it down any more than that. I do think well of you. Anybody that’s white who is trying to understand these thing is, in my mind, trying to make a better society for all of us.

  • jonquil

    I like your edit. And yesyesyes this: “The core flaw of the song lies in its unquestioned flattening of the power structure of racism. It equates racist jokes with acts of historical discrimination; the attitudes of an oppressed group with the attitudes of its oppressors; and doesn’t address the continuing systemic aspects of racism at all”

    I love many of the songs in Avenue Q, but that song AND THE WHOLE FRICKING CHARACTER of Christmas Eve make me cringe. What *were* they thinking? Why is this okay? They commented once that they got hate stares on the bus when they were working out Christmas Eve’s song — why was this not a clue???

    “What most annoys me about the song is that it is fucking catchy and I resent it for being catchy.”

    Yes, and now I am earwormed. (sticks fingers in ears and starts humming “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.)