The Quit Frontin' Rules

So what is the final word on racism at this symbolic end of the first decade of the 21st century? I mean, we’re all post-racial now, right? We elected that Kenyan fellow to be president so everything’s all right now; at least in terms of silly old race concerns we used to have back in the long-expired days of slavery and stuff. Right? Racism is cured like polio and the AIDS. So now we can move on to more important news like the 12-0 New Orleans Saints, or Tiger Woods or something. Isn't there a war or something?

But unfortunately, we still have racism. Always have – always will. Even looking into the distant future it’s still a topic of hip-hop music concern. Look to the year 3030 via the black time travel machine:
Deltron 3030, Madness

Why should I hate you we ain't that different
We may act different in some ways
But we still grouped together like a fuckin’ survey

A lot of white boys like the style and copy
Dig in something deeper and you'll peep that were not free
It's not about the separation it's about the population

See? Racism is still going to be a concern in the year three thousand and thirty!

It is not going away. How many times can I type that phrase? We’re all racist. Period. Post-racism is something between an overly intellectualized construct and flat-out myth. We’re all human and most of us are just simply normal and susceptible to human behaviors. Sorry to be the dude to speak the tr00f because I know it sometimes stings.

Tops on the normal human behaviors rundown is our predisposition for preferences. We all have preferences, individually and collectively. Some people prefer donuts to bagels, Blackberry to iPhone, and Taylor Swift to Kanye West. Preference is a key human feature. It doesn’t make anyone any better or worse, just…different. It's how natural selection works.

Preferences are learned and acquired through experience and exposure. And preference happens to highly correlate with fear and the perception of what is personally and socially “acceptable.” That is, some of our preferences are based on what we hear—as children, say—in our homes and communities, and some preferences are based on real or perceived fears. It all mixes to a dull beige goo.

Although we “ain’t that different” we’re basically all the same.

Being "not a racist" is simply never going to be a viable goal or aspiration in life as preferences will override. That’s why Political Correctness is so annoying and insincere. But being aware that we are racist is totally progressive. Or to restate, “preference awareness” is a significant individual characteristic to possess and exercise. When in a situation, analyze that situation, come to terms with that situation, and move on. It doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk, but thoughtfulness is a good thing. Yes, we may very well discover that we possess racist attitudes during our analysis, but we may also note that our subsequent behaviors were not based on racism because we were mindful of ourselves. I know I possess racist attitudes. So what? But I'm not gonna harsh anyone because of it. I'm in control like Janet Jackson. Dad Rule #1: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

It is true that race does stand out as our most salient human feature, historically. The color of skin still trumps most other characteristics including sex, orientation, and socioeconomic status. Unless one is wearing a clean room “bunny suit” or a KKK robe, the color of our skin is preference sort number one; our first-pass filter. Only after the color of skin is processed can we then move on to the other filters. Only obvious physical disability (and sometimes Asiatic eye shape and sometimes sex) can even compete with skin color as first-pass filter. Why aren’t we more honest about that with each other and to ourselves?

So where does this leave us in 2010? Where are we, evolutionarily? Sure, attitudes and laws—at least in the United States—are quite different than, say, a century or even a half-century ago. Hell, I couldn’t fully envision a First Black President just five years ago. So we have realized some advances along race terms.

And while our so-called “racial advances” are neato and all, I predict that as we continue to advance along some equality dimensions, we will not necessarily tamp our overall disposition for preferences.

In twenty years, we will happily and legally marry our same sex lovers. We will giddily smoke our store-purchased marijuana in the safety and comfort of our homes without fear and paranoia of arrest. We will laugh at how naïve we were to have made such a big deal over the election of now former President Obama because of his skin color. What were we thinking in the twenty-aughts?

But we are human and we will have preferences. And we're also hardwired for complete harmony either. We may conquer some of the issues related to race, sex preference, and gender, but we will always find something else to beef over. Weight? Region? Educational attainment? Religion (forever)? National origin? In the short term I believe class nuances will be the new frontier for preference squabbles. As more women and blacks, in particular, attain greater and more equal roles in business and government, class will become the new black. The poor will have greater difficulty advocating for needs and desires. I’m just saying.

The term "post-racial" is meaningless drivel. Sure, we are beige-ing down our color differences. But still—as Sammy Sosa and Michael Jackson would attest—preferences are subtle and nuanced and are moderated by a huge variety of other preference factors. Besides, even as we beige-down our color spectrum, this development will only create entrenched and highly defensive positions on the old bell curve extremes. The Purity Anchors will still vehemently argue that racial purity holds some sort of significance (from their camps up in the hills). Preference, my friend, will survive as a lasting human trait.

When I suggest you quit frontin’, what I'm saying is that we all need to pause on occasion and check ourselves. Sometimes we need to stop leaving our systems on autopilot and actually consider the context of situations. We need to not only challenge others, but we need to challenge ourselves. When was the last time any of us got into the beginning of a situation and pondered, what does skin color really have to do with anything moving forward in humankind? When was the last time we actually took our own advice?

Quit frontin’ means we need to get over ourselves and our ignorant notions from days well past. We need to learn ourselves some new things. You don’t have to necessarily go and immerse yourself in uncomfortable or dangerous situations in order to gain knowledge. Don't go out and hug a crack dealer. But maybe we can sometimes also consider the histories, struggles, perspectives, and shortcomings of others (why a kid is dealing crack). Not everyone has everything so figured-out like us.
Some Simple Rules to Quit Frontin' State:

1. Quit Frontin’.

2. Seriously, quit it because you are totally frontin’. Everybody knows it too.

3. If someone tells you to quit frontin’, then you’re frontin’, so quit frontin’ and don't be all pissy about it.

4. Everyone is a racist, don’t lie to yourself. You are entitled to have preferences. Just be aware of yourself as a human.

5. “The only way to stop being a racist is to die. Die before you die. That goes for everybody. Until then, just keep that shit in check as best you can. Try not to hurt anybody. Don’t freak out.” A direct interwebs quotation I read last week.

6. Situations can be more powerful than your individual attitudes or behaviors.

7. Don’t wreck yourself, check yourself.

8. Just quit frontin’!

Thanks. Happy new year. 2010's gonna be real good. Quit frontin'!

The End - Ty Hardaway dot com
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