Your Racist Friend – They Might Be Giants

“This is where the party ends, I can’t stand here listening to you and your racist friend”

The gateway arty college rock band of all gateway art college rock bands. They may take the obvious stance on this their most famous issues based song, but it appears time has swollen the potency of this track from TMBG’s third album, 1990’s Flood. These days these guys are either the sit com theme tune band or they’re the ones who aren’t BareNakedLadies to almost all who didn’t find that Birdhouse In Your Soul led them to Primus, Ween, Pavement, R.E.M and The B-52’s. 31 years ago calling out a racist for being a racist was a safe bet. You’d go to an event, be introduced to someone you didn’t know by someone you did and as conversation flowed they’d drop in something that rang a distant alarm bell claxon. I don’t know why I’m talking in this strange comparative syntax. I mean I’d, not you’d.

“I know politics bore you, but I feel like a hypocrite talking to you and your racist friend”

It happened a lot when I was in Essex. Talking to a work colleague or a mates mate in a bar and a piece of slang or a bonehead opinion of ‘Wot I fink’ would surface. It might just be a funny story about running late for work or an anecdote about a visit to the Drs office. But if the ethnicity of someone in the story is too prominent or clumsily handled. If a stray ‘Paki’ or ‘Darkie’ is thrown in I often concluded it was no accident. I’m being tested. Am I Geezer e’nuff to let it go? To roll over and complicit in my silence agree with Gary or Wayne that this was OK. Or will I up the ante? Follow it with my own “I know mate, ‘appened to be at the Chinky when blah blah blah”. It’s all signalling. Are we alright? Are we all white?

“It was the loveliest party that I’ve ever attended, if anything was broken I’m sure it could be mended, my head can’t tolerate this bobbing and pretending, listen to some bullet-head and the madness that he’s saying”

Well, I had a simple philosophy then. It remains a credo now. Fuck that. Silence is compliance. If I hear a signal of ‘are you with us or them?’ the only correct course of action is pull it out and call it what is is. Dissect it in front of everyone. It’s derailed the odd night out. It’s even had me leave a wedding reception and on one occasion a job. But I sleep like a baby at night (I mean soundly, I don’t soil myself). To quote B.Dolan

“I’m on the side of solidarity where it is in short supply

This was the lesson the majority of my generation had subconsciously learned from things like yesterdays Madness post. Nothing pisses me off like the assumption ‘because I look like you, I would agree with you’ or just to keep the peace, I’d play nice. I’m of the opinion that is not a peace worth keeping. We got that from RAR too. It felt like we endeavored to pick it up where ever it’s been dropped down not to show off. Not trying to score points, I personally don’t have a hero complex. It’s simple mathematics. I hate hearing it. It’s bullying and it make me queasy. So if I take issue out loud whenever I hear it. Out! Loud! I’ll hear it less and less.

Now, I’m not so naive as to think if I don’t hear it then it’s not happening. I do however subscribe to the idea that making it shameful to be openly prejudiced is a good start. Frank Turner had the right idea on his Be More Kind album. Make them afraid again.

The bullshit we’ve seen the last five or six years has pulled the progression of society back decades. It undid a lot of good. Because the bigoted morons felt empowered. Sure, I get it. The educate, elevate, evolve idea. Noble. But I’m just one person. Aren’t we all? So in this situation. Fuck you and your racist friend. May the shame you might feel by a presumed white ally to white prejudice calling you out as ignorant be part of my contribution. You feel bad, because you’re not good. Think on that.

If you read this and think ‘Oh my, Steve’s just another SJW going off on one, imagining issues where there aren’t really issues’… Unfollow. This has all gone on too long, hurt too many people I care about and it is holding us all back.

19 thoughts on “Your Racist Friend – They Might Be Giants

  1. WELL SAID. Do you mind if I re-blog this? I’m sending a copy of this to my younger son also as TMBG has been one of his favorite — if not most favorite — group for a long time. Question: do you call it out when they are sexist and making misogynistic comments also? Just curious. I know you’ve called out a few of the musical artists I’ve posted on, and am guessing you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “am I geezer enough to let it go?” this is the existential question we have all had to and still have to answer at some point. It’s a harder question than we think as acceptance is so important fro human beings.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I completely admire your balls for taking a stand. When I first came to the UK, I would often be approached by British racists because in the minds of many Brits I’m afraid to say, “All white Americans are racist.” Many were taken aback when they learned I wasn’t. One such person tried to explain how South Africa’s apartheid regime and the American South were both justified in their treatment of black people because black people rely on welfare. Fortunately, these idiots aren’t in the majority.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know we don’t need to get into the depths of it here, but I still don’t understand why people are so obsessed, and then afraid, of other cultures or people that don’t look (or act, etc) like them, and by this I mean white people (it seems to mainly be). I definitely don’t remember anyone ever caring through school and beyond, but I guess it must be taught through families and then shared in hatred? It’s so weird, it helps no-one and it progresses nothing. Like that ‘reasoning’ you explain there, what the what?!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I always think of Henry ROLLINS on this subject, when he said (I paraphrase) that these issues are a curb about 2″ high. If you trip on it, I can’t help you. Right on.

    My KMA Brother James loves TMBG. He’ll be happy you posted this track!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t think we made as much progress as we thought we did. It just looked like it. The vale came off for many white folks over the past year. Or, at least it did for me. I remember watching The Wire a dozen years ago thinking, “Geez, it is really bad for black people in that part of Baltimore.” The reality is, it is bad for them everywhere. We don’t condone burn crosses on lawns or wear white hoods anymore, but we somehow tolerate an entire “news” channel that dedicates all of its primetime hours to propaganda for white supremacists.

    But, there is money to be made when you keep people invested and angry.

    Liked by 2 people

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