Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Elegy for the shattered ones

I'd like to take a moment today to talk about the most oppressed, the most persecuted minority group in our great society: Porcelain Americans. What's a Porcelain American, you ask? Well chances are, you know several. 
Like that guy at your gym who keeps getting passed over for promotions just because he's a white male. Porcelain American. The type of person who cracks under the unbearable weight of being called out for making casually racist statements. The kind of person who shatters whenever the hero of a movie is black and the villain white. The kind of person who falls to the floor in a million tiny pieces when a person of color speaks to them with anything other than complete and humble deference. These are Porcelain Americans.
Not all white people are Porcelain Americans, and not all Porcelain Americans are white. But it is true that for Porcelain Americans, the pendulum on racism has clearly swung too far - it was all fine and good when Black people were demanding the right to vote, but the fact that Black people now demand justice for small Black children being shot by cops? Clearly demanding that individual cops be held accountable is an attack on all cops everywhere, blue porcelain shattered all over the floor. 
For Porcelain Americans, the agony suffered over a footballer of color who won't stand for the national anthem is exponentially greater than the suffering of the starving people of Somalia for whom that same footballer has helped raise millions. Hungry people are a fact of life, but when you start cracking the porcelain bust of Uncle Sam - well that's a travesty that Porcelain Americans should never be forced to witness.
It's easy to ignore the suffering of Porcelain Americans. Yes, on paper - and by almost every metric you can measure, the average Porcelain American enjoys privileges that Americans of the non-porcelain variety doesn't. But put yourself in Porcelain Americans' shoes. What good is all that privilege if you can't use it to tell racist jokes without someone getting offended? What good is anything in a country where it's no longer okay to openly discriminate against the undesirable?
And imagine... just imagine for a moment the terror of knowing that any minute, some movie that you are in no way required to watch could retroactively shatter your entire childhood? 
Who even knew that was possible? And how can we say we're fighting rape culture if every day in America thousands of Porcelain Americans' childhoods are being raped... somehow. 
 Look at what the world has done to our precious Porcelain Americans and tell me that their lives aren't literally worse than all the Black kids in Flint with lead poisoning. Look at all the horrors under which Porcelain Americans are cracking and straining and tell me it isn't literally worse than piffling concerns like "systemic racism" and "rape culture." Porcelain Americans are shattering all around us. And we're just turning a blind eye.

Okay, I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm totally a Porcelain American. When I saw that  there was a movie called Dear White People, damned if the first thought to cross my mind wasn't "DOUBLE STANDARD!" But then I remembered the whole idea of false equivalence, and I watched the movie, and it was good, and I learned stuff. Not a chip or a scratch. My inner Porcelain American's always gonna take offense at being accused of having privilege, or having someone call me out for a micro-aggression I didn't even mean to make. That initial moment of taking offense may not be voluntary, but shattering over every slight and offense and every hint of unfairness or double-standards or disrespect - that's totally optional.