Sat. Jul 20th, 2019

The Caucacity: Rebel Wilson, the erasure of Black voices, and being colourblind

We can’t really handle talking about racism, can we?

The post The Caucacity: Rebel Wilson, the erasure of Black voices, and being colourblind appeared first on The South African.

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Long story short: Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson said in an interview that she’ll be the first plus-size woman in a lead role in a romantic comedy. This isn’t true, as both Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique have very successful careers portraying plus-sized characters looking for love.

When it was pointed out to Wilson that she is not the first, the actress went on a blocking spree because apparently, it’s easier for white people to block dissenting views than to admit when we are wrong. Wilson also only responded to white critics who were pretty much saying the exact same thing Black women were saying.

While it may not have been her intention, it really did come across as though only white voices were important to Wilson and worthy to be acknowledged, and only a white actress in such a role deserved the credit. She effectively erased Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique’s contributions to the industry.

When Mo’Nique very politely pointed this out, Wilson, high on ignorance and privilege, dismissed Mo’Nique’s statement by questioning whether Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique were “technically plus-sized” in the first place. That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? Anyway, I digress.

While this incident didn’t happen on South African ground, you can easily swap Wilson out for any random white South African who says something unfounded on Facebook. The reactions and outcomes are usually always the same.

People will respond with facts, statistics and whatnot to prove the thing-that-was-said isn’t actually true, and then inevitable blocking follows, or comments along the line of “I’m not listening to this anymore, you clearly need to go back to school/get your facts straight/stop being racists, etc.”

One of the reasons for this as that we really can’t handle talking about racism. It’s a sensitive matter that we don’t understand, even though we pretend to, and it makes us uncomfortable. This is also why words like “caucacity” and “whiteness” are a thorn in the side of so many white people. We’ll focus on the most arbitrary words, as long as it means we don’t have to actually admit that racism is a thing we’re still guilty of.

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Image Credit: ©StockProject1/Deviantart

Read more: The Caucasity: Is Pick ‘n Pay race row mugs ado about nothing?

To get around this, we refuse to listen to any other views, even if it means we are erasing the harshness of discrimination and the effects of racism. In South Africa, this is also referred to as being “colourblind.” We are quick to yell from the rooftops that we don’t see colour. We reject words that we feel are too direct, that might reveal complicity on our part.

The same people claiming to be colourblind will be the first to complain about how they can’t find work because they are white. Funny how it’s only white people claiming not to see colour, no one else can avoid it because society forces it back on them through prejudice and oppression. Only white people have the luxury of “choosing” to be colourblind.

Being colourblind means we don’t have to do anything to fix this situation we got everyone in. One day when racism truly doesn’t exist anymore, that day it would okay to be colourblind. But today? Today it still denigrates the struggle which Black people have been through. Today we are still erasing the lived experience and oppression that millions of people had to endure.

We are quick to say we are “African,” “we all are mixed race,” and we “don’t see colour.” But we’ll only say that when it suits us. When it’s beneficial to us and when we don’t have to live through what Black people had (and still has) to live through. Rebecca Carroll explains it succinctly:

“But white people were not openly volunteering how mixed we all are when that meant being hunted down and killed by the KKK. White people were not boasting of African heritage when that meant being lynched. And white people were certainly not claiming colourblindness when they bought and sold the folks who picked their cotton and built their industries. To imply that, after 400 years of black people being lynched, shot, maimed, dehumanised, raped, incarcerated, underpaid and disempowered, it turns out that race isn’t all that important in progress towards racial equality or harmony.”

Read more: The Caucacity: How a racist rant got #SouthParkSusan fired [watch]

The post The Caucacity: Rebel Wilson, the erasure of Black voices, and being colourblind appeared first on The South African.

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