Journal Entry: Thu Oct 25, 2012, 11:56 PM
Before anything, I would like to clarify: I'm Scandinavian; born with blue eyes, blond hair and light skin. Not that pretty, but relatively tall, just the type Hitler would have liked. I was raised in a lovely neighbourhood with the unfortunate tag 'ghetto' (no, not 'American ghetto', nor the ghetto type from WWII), where about 40% of the people I met on a daily basis were either from other countries or children of those – mostly from central Europe to the Middle East, but we also have quite many Vietnamese. It has never bothered me; thanks to that place and those people, that exact upbringing by my parents who welcomed any child I brought home into our house, I have never once thought of another person to be less than me based on skin color or nationality. The only ones I truly have problems with are religious and/or political fanatics who shove their beliefs down my throat, or the 'ungrateful type' (more about that later), but in general I respect and accept everyone who respects and accepts me in return. Doesn't matter if you got curly red hair, honey-brown eyes or pitch-black skin; yes, I might have a certain expectation of how you will be, but I don't let that blind me – I'm going to like or dislike you because of who you are and not what you are. Actually, I like being with people from other cultures so much that I waited more than half a year, so I could attend the international class of my current school, rather than the Danish class. Much more fun and benefitting.
So far, do I sound like a racist? No?
And yet I find myself writing a journal questioning exactly that. Allow me to continue:
Racism has been around forever, but was truly strong during the slave period. Once they were freed, it became a highly discussed debate that got into an increasing social issue, to the point where people like MLK had to step up and get killed in order to set an example, so that race equality could become a reality. I shall be careful and say, we have come far since those days. Thank goodness!
But, as race and gender equality increased, and globalization has grown rapidly, a rather unexpected and unfortunate side effect has appeared. And it's something I suffer from; suppression and racism against 'pig-coloured'.
Now, I know a great deal of you will probably disagree – "racism against white people doesn't exist!" "Suffering? Suppression? You know nothing, you ghost girl!" and so on. But aha! You yourselves have just proven my point.
This kind of racism and suppression is neither as clear nor as acknowledged as those of the various 'minorities', oh no, but I have become more aware of it as I have grown up. As those groups have gotten more power and higher status, the previous rulers ('pig-coloured') have lost some of theirs, naturally. And at one point, the balance has shifted.
We have been shamed to watch our mouths, our every step, pressured by centuries of previous cruelty. Justified, you might say. Or, is it really? Is it okay, for example, that the German youth today still have to pay for the misconduct of their grandparents and great-grandparents, getting called 'Nazis'? I'm included in that group, actually, because my grandfather – due some unfortunate circumstances – had to fight for Germany. God knows what misdeeds he did, he refused to tell his family. Should his granddaughter, born years after his death, do I have to bear the burden that was forced upon his shoulders? Am I not allowed to proudly say, 'yes I have German roots'? You might say yes, but actions have shown that the answer is the opposite. Then, what about my Danish roots who helped the Jews escape? Does this make me of good honour? As you can see, it's hard to judge a person based on family and national background. (And just for the record, even though I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, I think he was a decent man, that I would have liked him.)
Moving on: words and terms related to races. This is especially where I have seen a difference over the years. A good example would be the Danish word 'neger', which directly translated means 'nigga'. However! And this is where things go astray; the Danish version of this word does not bear the same cultural meaning as its American counterpart. Frankly, I have always used 'neger' to describe a person with a certain level of dark skin. But unlike 'nigga', it does not associate with negativity, rather the opposite, for me at least. Because, other than dark-skinned people, I also connect it with 'negerkys' ['nigga kiss'], a nickname for 'flødebolle', a form of cream bun we Danes love.
For me, 'neger' is no different in politeness than 'Asian'. Honestly, I prefer calling a dark-skinned 'neger' more than 'African', because it softens it up. And much rather 'neger' than 'black'; I despise the use of colors; 'white', 'black', 'brown', 'yellow'; to describe people, thus the joke 'pig-coloured'. Maybe it's because I occasionally have heard some call others for 'fejlfarvet' ['wrong-coloured']; I mean, how can a colour be wrong?
Actually, if you look in the Danish dictionary, 'neger' is still listed as non-racist, and both earlier generations and mine use it without any shame. However, my sister (who's five years younger than me) gets shocked whenever we use it and leans towards calling us racists, so most recently there must have been a change – my guess will be the spreading of 'nigga' to Europe – that makes the teens today more careful of using it.
Question: why is it that people with light skin are not allowed to say that word, when it's okay for dark-skinned to do so? For me, I see it as nothing else but double-standard and a way to suppress 'pig-coloured' with shaming.
Funny side story, now that we are at it: a word I would never call another person is 'perker' ['Paki'] which probably sounds about as bad here as 'nigga' in America; but a few years ago, there was this incident where some cops were caught on camera, saying that exact word to some citizens. Drama! The court and everything got pulled into it, and in the end, the defending lawyer tried to ease it with this – that the cops had actually said 'perler' ['pearls'], not 'perker', and that the police uses it as slang. That explanation was so hilariously bad that everyone began saying that to each other, 'du er sådan en perle!' ['you are such a pearl!'], no one could take it serious. I don't remember what happened to the cops, probably fired, though I doubt they got jailed, but that's the one time racism turned out fun for everyone, including those targeted by it.
Another thing that gets looked down upon, but I feel no shame of having done: portraying other cultures – Native Americans, Indians, you name it. I'm sorry, but why? Why is it wrong to portray those? Yes, they are stereotypes, but here at least, we have always done it as a tribute to that specific culture. Playing cowboys and Indians, that was honestly funnier and taught me more than playing robbers and cops. I love wearing Japanese clothes, is that wrong? To like another part of the world, to be so fascinated by a culture to the point where I copy and carry out my own version of it. Is that racist? Here and there, I have read how people are 'disgusted' by this. Even if it's they themselves who as kids dressed up for carnivals. Sorry, but I don't get this. So am I a racist, because even today the thought of acting as cultural stereotypes doesn't bother me at all?
When you travel to foreign countries that differ much from yours, there will be a certain level of culture shock, but as a visitor you will in most cases be welcomed. But once people settle down in another country than the one they are born in, this is typically when cultural differences can turn into a problem. I told you above, I'm from a neighbourhood with quite a variety of nationalities, so I have experienced this myself from early age. I'm trying hard not to point fingers and generalize people, but that would probably be hard in this case: the immigrants who cause most trouble are the Muslims. At least here in Denmark, there's a constant battle for balance between the Danes and immigrants – most clearly the recent gang wars between Muslims and Danish rockers, something previously unheard of. I'm not sure why exactly it is the Muslims; and actually, it's the children born here that are troublesome, rather than their parents. It's as if they are failing more than other immigrants to combine Danish culture with their parents', the results can be horrifying – drunk young men who think women are lower beings and that democracy is shit, the Sharia law should rule! In reality, they are terribly spoilt; they have no idea what kind of reality their parents fled from, yet they loudly announce that DK is shit and that they will 'be moving back home'. For my sake, they can go ahead, just don't except the gate to be wide open for them if they try to return… Does this opinion make me racist?
I agree that we should help victims of war and so on, but DK is a small country, there's only that much we can do, (in my opinion, I think we are already too involved some places), and if there are people selfish enough to spit on the safety we have worked hard on creating, if they are not satisfied and want to get rid off the Danish culture, then I shall gladly drive them to the nearest border or airport and see them off. Harsh maybe. And for being so nationalistic, it's not hard to believe that Danes get called racist, is it? Especially by children of immigrants. But people have to understand, Denmark is Denmark, it's the oldest still-existing kingdom in the world, we are among the top of the list over peaceful countries; you don't think we would want to change and lose that, do you?
That turned into quite a long rant with no clear point, so let me do a different approach. I'm against that the Danish government has to pay for a mosque to be built. No, it's not because I'm against Islam. It's because I believe in the separation of religion and the state. Yes, I'm part of the Christian church, but that's more due to habit and convenient (example, having a secured spot at cemeteries) than due to desire. Yet, the Muslims are quick to curse at us and call us unwilling racists. If you have earned the money and building rights for a mosque, then go ahead – and I hate to say it, DK is still a Christian country, that's why the government (and thereby all of us) still pays the church. Tough luck.
Another point: last week, there has been talk about adding 'wallah' and 'habibi' to the Danish dictionary. I'm against this, not because it's Arabic(?), but because about 90% of the Danish citizens – especially the older generations – don't use it nor have any idea what it means. It's fine if kids in the bigger cities or ghettos use it as a slang, but with that many who doesn't acknowledge it as part of Danish culture, I'm afraid the time for those terms to be added officially is not yet here.
Again, we have been quick to be called racists, despite the fact that several Danish dialect words are not written in there. The only real reason why all this gets debated this much lately, as I see it, is less about the fact that the Danish government wants to expand the culture and more because they are afraid. Afraid, pressured, getting suppressed by one word: racist. They are terrified, as people of a 'pig-coloured' country, of being called out as narrow-minded racists. Don't believe me? You don't have to, as no one has said it like this, but 'minorities' have greater power over democratic governments than any wants to admit. Of course, absolutely, minorities have to be listened to, but the government shouldn't shiver in fear of them and completely forget what the majority is for. Racist thought? No, it's more an expression of worry.
Wherever I go, whatever I say, I have to watch what I say and do. Obviously, we all have to be aware of each other, respect and accept, try to understand. But it has gotten to the point, where I – a white person (GASP! Racist!) – have to hold back more than others. By the smallest slipup, I'm immediately branded as a racist. I'm getting suppressed, my right for free speech is suffering. Why? Because of the simple reason, my skin colour is lighter than others. That it's widely believed, though maybe not recognized, that light skin equals lower morals when it comes to talks about races. Calling someone with light skin for racist because of the skin colour alone, is that not racism? Go ahead, look it up.
So, tell me, am I racist? Because of my skin colour? My nationality? Because of my family background? My childhood? Because of terms with other meanings than you are used to? Because I love my country as it is? Because I don't want to be walked all over, because I voice up about what I believe is an issue?
If you said yes to any of these, then go ahead – call me a white racist bastard. But you know what? Does that make you any better?
And with that, I shall end this journal. I hope I gave you something to consider. Maybe reconsider?
At the very least, hopefully you will spare all this a thought.