Errr, it wasn't actually it was meant in the general case, but that example works really well so thank you.
I could (hypothetically) go up to Obama and spew a host of racial slurs and comments. He would clearly be a target of racism, to me at least.
Okay, but suppose someone who is coloured, though he might not be a member of an ethnicity that has undeniably been the target of steady, deep-set oppression in the country he lives in, he's just coloured, non-white in a western country, such a person is driving a political agenda that might or might not be directly about race - and when his arguments are questioned by a few white fellow writers and perhaps mid-level politicians, he dismisses them by saying (the gist of it) "Ah but I'm not really going to discuss this with you guys!! You're all members of the whitey class, the ruling old boys club, those who have oppressed us for hundreds of years! All dead white men
! You don't get to even be a part of the kind of conversation I'm having with my folks - you're incapable of understanding what we're going through, any one of us and all of us!" - in short, he's pulling the victim card all out on the count of every coloured person who's ever felt oppressed, against "the whites", implying that he and everyone he knows has been a part of that condition, and flaunting it as a pride thing: we're not gonna discuss this with you guys. Wouldn't that be racism?
I know that's contested, because some hold that it can only be racism when the kicks come from "the top", never when it's somebody lower down using a similar strategy. To me it can be racism though, especially if someone who is definitely not powerless or lacking in acclaim is pulling the race victimhood card, stating that there's a pervasive and silent oppression going on, and then dismissing any kind of debate with people he sees as "white scum" just because of their being whites.
I'm sure some of us have seen that kind of discussion. The example I'm thinking of happened just two months ago in my native Sweden, and the lightning-rod article even made it into the NY Times - an edited version here
. It's a potent text about racism, xenophobia and day-to-day oppression, and very skillfully written, but the trouble I and others have with it is, it founds its case only on a sweeping claim that says, essentially: my kind of identity, my race always, always gets oppressed like this, and it's totally not talked about by the others.
Now, the guy is one of the most critically acclaimed young writers in the country, he comes from a rather privileged background, he's spent years studying literature and international economics (without any term fees as such) and had a trainee job at the UN in New York during his studies, plus his mother is as ethnically Swedish and white as IKEA. He's had plays performed at the finest stages of Stockholm and one of his brothers is an actor at the national stage house, something you definitely don't stumble into without training or good reviews. It's not a family background where washing up in a dingy bar into the night, sweating in a factory or selling crack on the street was ever going to be the options of life. I'm not sure he can claim he's just like any impoverished ghetto kid or imply that he climbed out of the gutter under constant potshots from a hating whitey society, but that's effectively what he does to create this picture of a united coloured nation.
And I don't think it works to read it as saying "this is fully what it's like for everybody, well, everybody else
who is coloured or an immigrant from beyond northern Europe or the U.S. in this country - I had a little more luck along the way, but essentially we were all in the same boat". That just doesn't hold water either.'
The article caused a lot of stir, and it was generally heaped with praise from many journalists and commentators. About a week later. the undersecretary of the cabinet department for immigration issues (the man reporting directly to the minister, the operative boss; said department was one of the direct targets of the text of course) replied in a personal article of his own, addressing Khemiri personally, in a manner kinda similar to how K. had addressed the top politicians - some of those turns were edited out of the shortened English version since they were topical to a Swedish context and wouldn't have made sense in the US -, though politely, and saying that conditions for people with an immigrant background here couldn't be painted in such a black-and-white way. Now, that guy is a refugee himself, he arrived in his twenties from the ashes of what had been Yugoslavia. Khemiri derisively excused himself from any debate with him, saying: this guy is one of the power gang and we can have no meaningful convo. He didn't say "you're a house n***a, man" but the word definitely hung in the air. Like, I can pull the victim card and invoke things that happened some other place to anyone who is only vaguely of my kind, my "identity" but I won't take discussing it with anyone who is white or has definite power. To me, that's really a destructive way to handle debate, and ultimately democracy.