August 2, 2011
If you think racism is dead, take a look at the Web.I’m not talking about white supremacist websites or terrorist networks, those are far too obvious and detached from mainstream America. The racism dragging down the discourse of intelligent people lives quite happily under our very noses.Recently, hundreds fell in love with the website WhiteWhine.com. The premise is like a drug to me: Find instances of privileged Americans complaining about problems most of us would love to have, then post those complaints to an online forum.Examples:“I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that I’m gonna be in Europe during shark week, or the fact that my DVR won’t be able to record any of it. Not cool.”“omfg not another country that needs our aid. south sudan harden up and merge back with normal sudan?!”“I was in a brilliant mood today, but due to circumstances out of my control (terrible maid who didn’t fold my clothes) I am now in a terrible rancid mood.”When I started thinking about today’s column, I meant to praise WhiteWhine for giving us a laugh at First World problems. I just wish the website would have taken that name instead: FirstWorldProblems.com.Because when we call it WhiteWhine, we imply privilege and petty complaints are the exclusive realm and birthright of Caucasians. Living in places like Lima, Ottawa, Wapakoneta, Van Wert, we all know being white doesn’t mean being rich or spoiled. White also can be the skin color of deep work ethic, humility and strength. I think the Allen Economic Development Group had a jingle to that effect.If the racism in WhiteWhine.com isn’t clear, try turning the tables. What if the website were BlackBitchin.com and all the posts were people complaining about being underprivileged and on welfare? I would be disgusted by that insult to an entire race of Americans. Wouldn’t you?Maybe you wouldn’t. After all, you’re a reader of The Lima News, and one look at the comments after many of our online articles shows a degree of prejudice much of America would like to believe was long extinct.After a story about a man stabbing his brother Sunday on South Union Street in Lima, a reader posted the comment, “Were the brothers or brothaaaaas.”And when police officers entered the home of a fallen soldier’s mother to check on her welfare against her will, this comment was posted: “Lady sorry for your loss of a man training on the way to serve his country.. you know one of the few that has amounted to anything and has not reduced himself to living his life by the gun ,,,like so many others out there,,,,,,,,,,,,,but you realy need not whine about the events that happened getoverit.”“One of the few who has amounted to anything?” I guess U.S. president, secretary of state and Nobel laureate don’t count.Of course, you may not often hear such racist talk on the street, at the grocery store or in church. It waits for us on the Internet, where men and women can hide behind their computers, free from social stigma or public shaming.And really, we’re no better than the things we do under the cover of anonymity.