I’m not racist: I love white people
In their song “Hahahaha jk,” Das Racist proclaims, “We’re not racist: We love white people!”
[Sorry, I wanted to find a video of a live performance, but YouTube is sometimes inadequate. At least you can listen the song?]
I love Das Racist. They are smart and clever and funny and their lyrics are just plain fantastic. But that one line, it sticks with me. Partially because it’s true, partially because it speaks to racial issues in a very pointed and problematic way.
Imagine if Eminem had a lyric like: I’m not racist, I love black people. How many people would be pissed? (Come on. It’s not like we don’t all know it’s true!) But because Das Racist has at their easy disposal the “race” card, it’s not only funny, it comes to embody a certain degree of truth.
As a woman of color, I can say: I’m not racist, I love white people. No one would call me racist, at least not to my face.
And I mean it. I do love white people. BUT my declaration of love of whiteness isn’t seen as problematic. After all, it’s signifies my “assimilation.” It shows that I embrace the hegemony. Whereas Das Racist actively challenges whiteness and racism through their lyrics—here and otherwise—it goes without saying that such a pointed lyric is in fact racist, even if it serves to undermine racism.
The song goes on to list the items they associate with whiteness:
Ford trucks, apple pies, bald eagles, Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, Pringles, Kraft Singles, Slim Jims, Sierra Mist, Butter crunch cookies, Sour Patch Kids.
Obviously, there is a conflation of whiteness and Americanness, only who would challenge them?
I ask this in all seriousness: could a white person stand up and call them racist without having a bunch of non-white people turning around and calling the white people racist? Once the race card is pulled, it trumps other arguments, no matter how logical they are.
Except I really do love white people. Most of my favorite writers are white. Most of my favorite people are white. Most of my clothes come from the Gap or Banana Republic (do you get any whiter than that?). Growing up, the Asians never accepted me because I had too many white friends. I dressed too white. I liked too many white things. So, I just came to embrace it.
But what’s funny is that academically, people expect me to be an Asian American specialist, whether it’s for a job or for research. At almost every job interview I’ve ever had, I’ve been asked if I can teach an Asian Am lit course. During my Geography PhD, it’s been assumed that I could incorporate Asian Am lit into my research. (Clarification: I have about as much knowledge about Asian Am lit as… um… let’s say… Medieval lit, and yet, by virtue of my positionality, I should be—and am tacitly accepted as—an expert. How fucked up is that? And the same is true for many Asian Am writer-academics I know.)
Or, let’s reverse it for a second. Whereas I specialize in “conceptual” fiction, which—let’s be honest here—is very white, if a white person specialized in Asian Am or African Am fiction, I’d approach them with complete skepticism. I’d probably go so far as to assume they were fetishistic. It’s a problem. It’s my problem. It’s a lot of people’s problem. I’m not a fan of this double standard. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Just some thoughts, you know? What do you think?