The latest episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” featured a girls’ vacation in Palm Springs.
Riveting television. The trash-talking housewives were drinking by the pool when Joyce Giraud said she wasn’t getting in the water because, “I can’t swim. I kid you not. I can’t swim.”
Brandi Glanville responded by saying, “You’re a black person.”
Cue the predictable outrage. The comments are obviously stupid and immediately she was labeled as a racist. The Huffington Post headline read, “Brandi Glanville gets drunk and racist.” Perez Hilton’s headline was similar: “Brandi Granville is a racist?! Spews hate at co-star.”
These “reality shows” were created for this purpose, to highlight conflict and gain attention. This is why they cast people like Glanville (whose claim to fame is modeling and being the ex-wife of actor Eddie Cibrian). She will say anything, no matter how offensive it may be, because there is a camera to film it.
Here, Granville responded to Giraud with an often-repeated stereotype. On the show, Granville tried to justify her comment by saying, “It was a joke, and my black friends would have laughed crazy because they don’t go in the pool because they will get their weaves (messed) up.”
Of course, that only inflamed the situation.
Here’s the reality: These comments alone don’t make her racist. A racist is defined as someone who believes their race is superior to another. Granville’s comments were insensitive and, as my co-host Karie Dozer said, “racially ignorant.” But there’s nothing in her drunken remarks indicating her belief that whites are superior to blacks.
I don’t consider Wesley Snipes to be a racist because he said, “White men can’t jump” in a movie 20 years ago. No one thought that. Though, when you really think about it, that stereotype is similar to the one Granville uttered on her reality show.
I never thought Martin Lawrence was racist either when he made jokes in his white man voice. I laughed along even though he, too, was perpetuating stereotypes.
I’m not writing this to defend Granville and her reckless comments. I’d never make comments like that nor condone them. I’m writing this in hopes of elevating the debate about racism.
Racism occurs all over America. It’s not exclusive to whites or blacks or men or women. There is a common theme and that theme of racism should get back to the definition of the actual word: A belief that one race is superior to another.
Granville’s comments, Snipes’ movie roll and Lawrence’s comedy don’t convey that. They are all based on the same things: racial stereotypes. Interesting how they are treated differently. I wonder why.
The other reason I’m writing this is as a protest against the over-labeling society America has become. We love labels and, because of that, they have all become overused.
You’re a racist.
Or a liberal.
Or a Christian.
Or a Libertarian.
It seems everyone has to be a “something.” I get it. Labels make things easier to understand or easier to explain. However, they can also reinforce those same stereotypes we’re trying to fight against.