Michelle Lapidos, the white woman who strapped a
large black poodle
costume afro wig to her head in order to help end racism via her alter-ego, a blonde lady wearing a halloween wig, is feeling pretty attacked, you guys. She's just a nice white woman who wants people to understand what it's like to be black, okay? So why can't you racists who don't get it just leave her alone?
Oh man, where to even begin. While not even close to exactly the same, this reminds me of when Tyra put on the fat suit to
convince everyone that she was skinny
teach her audience about the plight of Fat America. Finally, a thin person with the compassion to understand what it's like to be fat — or at least what it's like to look like a Hefty bag filled with pudding cups. So brave.
To her credit, Lapidos didn't take down her "Before and Afro" website the minute controversy struck, but instead chose to use it as a platform to disseminate her misguided opinions about race. It is filled with so much white privilege denying, it's almost like Mitt Romney pulled her from his binder and started dictating the text.
Here are some choice bits from her ignorant and irrational defense:
Racism not welcomed here. Just because a person points out differences between their race and another race does NOT indicate that person feels superior. Let's be constructive, open and honest with each other. It's 2012. Fried chicken is an American food. It's a Korean food. I think it's one of the most delicious foods on earth.
OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING!? Where did this fried chicken reference even come from!? You guys, fried chicken is just like chicken soup, only with an enormously ugly history of racial stereotyping thrown in for extra flavor, NBD.
I know there is more to the story because of black history and the discrimination that is tied to all of it, but Jews have been through their fair share, and it's time to live in the now.
You're right, lady, it's time to live in the now, fuck history — what can we learn from that boring bullshit anyway? Yawn!
So let's throw it out there on the table. I open up the conversation for ALL races to share their frustrations. Are you discriminated against in the workplace? Is there a certain stereotype that haunts you? What would you like people to know about your culture and upbringing that can help us better understand you? What is ultra sensitive to you – and why?
Yes, let's open the floor to all. Disenfranchised white bros, you go first, that's what you're used to anyway. Please tell us how about the last time you were systematically discriminated against. Take your time, we'll wait, we're so used to it! After that, let's get some white ladies to talk about the one time they swear their Korean nail artist was talking shit about them. RACISM!
Listen Lapidos, I get it, it's a natural reaction to get defensive when people call you out on your bullshit — most folks don't like to think of themselves as bigoted or racist. Hell, even most racists just think they're right. But just because you voted for Obama and would never say the n-word doesn't absolve you from all racism forever. What we have here is someone who is so steeped in her white privilege that she doesn't even realize that her norm isn't the norm. It's this institutional bias that's pervasive and trickier to explain to those who don't understand, because it can be really hard to put yourself in another person's shoes.
However, it's our responsibility as white people to become aware of the experiences of people of color, and that's a lot more difficult than putting on a wig. It requires listening to people who aren't white, questioning our own experiences, and opening our minds to the possibility that, unlike we're told from day one, ours is not the only voice that matters.
Lapidos, you're not purposefully hateful, you just need someone to talk some sense into you, so if you're out there and can hear me through your new giant blonde afro, I really want you to understand this. Even if the use of the afro — a symbol of African-American identity — is meant in a non-malicious way, it's on par with those idiots in feathered headdresses or that burlesque dancer who dressed up in traditional Indian wear for her wedding. It's not yours, you don't get to say whether or not it's appropriate, and when the entire internet is telling you you're foolish, well then, make like an adult and apologize. There's no need for you to make this stand on your imaginary soapbox, so please please please knock it off.