Jun 13 2020

The Masquerade

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 17:55

I am using Twitter to keep in contact with my developer friends, mentors and to keep up to date with Java, Spring, IntelliJ IDEA and other technologies I like and use on a daily basis. When the USA BLM riots started, I said to myself “Hm, finally, maybe US will manage finally to fix their racism problem”. But I never expected every fucker in this world to try to jump in the BLM bandwagon and to show support in the most ridiculous ways that do not make a difference. People I thought were “la crème de la crème” in the IT environment started babbling about how using the terms master/slave in tech is bad and somehow promotes slavery and racism and going out of their way to stop using the “master” branch in Git.

I thought they were only a few and their useless ways of showing they despise slavery and racism would be laughed at and people would forget about it.

But it didn’t. And it scares me.  And it sickens me. Don’t stop reading, let me tell you why.

The “master” word has more meanings than a slave master. Master is used to call people that have a mastery in a skill. Master is a synonym for boss, chief or somebody who has control of something. You can be master of your herd of sheep.  You are master of your house, right? You are a master in some skill, right?

And “slave” means a person a person who is excessively dependent upon or controlled by something or someone. Most people are dependent of their jobs, they have no savings and and thus are slaves to their jobs. Most stay at home moms are fully dependent of thier husbands, they might not like to acknowledge it, but they are some kind of slaves as well. We migrated this word to the tech inductry to show full dependency of a component on another.

Words have more than one meaning. We cannot stop using words and hope this will end racism and make current generations of black people feel better. You know what would make them feel better? Educational, health and financial support.

Will you stop using those words help with that? If not, fuck you. You feel guilty because you are part of a country that has progressed using slavery and you somehow somehow feel bad, but you, yourself never had any slaves. But, do you know what you had? You probably had access to education and health services.  Again, not your fault. You did not choose to be born white. Most black people did not have what you had. It was not their choice to be born black and in your racist country.  But that was not really because they were black, but because they were poor. And they were poor, because a racist system kept them that way. It’s a neverending loop. Not using certain words will not help end racism. Not using certain words will not help them financially and will not give them better access to education and health services. And definitely won’t stop them being killed by the police.

But, do you know what will actually do? It will erase history.  And those that do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Those words need to be used, and people need to be educated about their origin and meaning. People should not be allowed to forget that their ancestors were brutes that enslaved other people once. Because if they forget their ancestors were brutes, they are doomed to forget what a brute is and some generation in the future will become one of brutes yet again.

So, stop! Please stop trying to show how you are not racist in such childish and useless ways. Plus, nobody accused you of racism. These silly ways of yours remind me of a child with a dirty t-shirt that just put on a sweater, so his mom won’t see it.  Just accept that your t-shit is dirty (regardless of how it happened) and go wash it up.

You want to stop racism? Refuse the advantages you have because of the color of your skin. But you cannot and you will not. Racism cannot be killed in a day, or a month, or a year. But you can educate your kids better, you can tell them about those brute ancestors that enslaved other humans and that we took a commitment never to do that ever again. And maybe, just maybe future generations will not be racist. You can also donate a part of your salary to foundations providing any kind of support for black people.

Also, a black American friend of mine recently told me the problem with black people is not that they are black, is that they are poor.  It makes sense that most black population is poor. Their ancestors were slaves that were freed without any compensation for their work and their pain. So … maybe you should try helping with that.

And now, a few clarifications.

I was born in Romania. I am white. Romania has gypsies. Their ancestors are people brought over from India as slaves, so their skin is darker. Romania treated them exactly how USA threated their black population, or maybe worse and currently they are the pariah of this country. They are not that many though, and most of them “operate” outside the country, now that communism no longer keeps them locked in.

I do not consider myself a racist. But it would be easy for somebody to consider me as such. Let me tell you why.

When I was 5 or 6 year old, I was coming back from church with my mother. I had some coins in my pocket that I was supposed to give to the altar boy gathering the money in church. But, he did not come my way, so I was left with the small treasure. On the way home I passed a small, thin, dirty gypsy boy begging for change. My mom told me not to give him the money, because he is a gypsy and gypsies steal anyway. But me, innocent child as I was, I did not see a gypsy. All I only saw a child who had less than I had and wanted to help. I strayed a little from my mother and went to him and gave him the money. Out of nowhere about six other children have appeared, most of them bigger than me. They have surrounded me and started pulling at my skirt and shirt asking me to give them money too. I was scared and crying and trying to get thier hands off me for what is seemed like forever. My mother managed to spread them and get me out of the circle they formed around me. That was my first trauma caused by gypsies.

During my upbringing, some others have added up. Being kicked and beaten sometimes for my pocket money around the neighborhood, being almost raped twice and all the violent interactions I had with gypsies when volunteering for an animal protection non-profit organization fundamented my reluctance when interacting with people with skin that is slightly darker than mine.  I know it is not their fault and that thier behavior is a consequence of being poor and uneducated. They are just trying to survive, the only way they know how and the only way it is accessible to them. But I am trying to survive too, and I cannot feel guilty for what I feel based on my past experiences. I can only feel guilty for my actions.

Now that I live in a more interracial country, my reluctance when first interacting with darker skinned people applies also to black people, Indians, Arabs, etc. It takes a while for me to get comfortable with darker skinned people, and I prefer to keep a certain degree of personal distance until I am confident that they are ok. But I would never intentionally hurt another person regardless of their color. And I will help and defend anybody in distress, if necessary. And I will contradict and try to explain to obviously racists people why they are wrong in being racists. I would never vote a racist politician, not knowingly anyway (because these bastards do tend to lie a lot).

Since I moved to the UK, I’ve only made three good friends here. One of them is Argentinian, one of them is a South African man and one of them is my Chinese piano teacher.  My South African friend is extravert and loud and his deodorant of choice is so spicy that makes me want to meet him at the pool most times. But he is also smart, kind and supportive and non-judgmental. And he is not reluctant to talk about slavery, apartheid and the dictatorship in the country he left behind. And in these days of turmoil and I feel very protective of him.

Black people never asked for words to be prohibited. They did not ask for history to be erased. They just ask for the same opportunities and rights as everybody else.

What step have you taken today to help with that? What do you do daily to help with that?

I must confess I do not feel like I’m doing much. I hope this entry is a start towards educating people. If I have the ocasion to do more, I will do more.

Until then, do not forget your history! Read books about slavery, read books by black authors and visit museums. Almost any civilized society has grown because of slavery. We need to acknwoledge that and show our gratitude by treating the slaves descendands better. Also, we need to keep ourselves in check and not provide politicians with the  excuse to abuse censorship.

My list of books every person should read:

If you read all these, you might have an idea what was wrong with our society in the past and you will be terrified to recognize some of those things still exist in our society. And then, maybe you will be brave enough to do something about it.

Because refusing to use words is not brave. It’s just a cheap masquerade. It’s just you trying to win internet bonus points.

And I would like to end this post by one of my Bruce Lee quotes:

You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing eveything with logic. If words control you, that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.

Stay safe, stay smart, stay happy!

P.S.: Please feel free to share this article. Let’s try to enlighten people and stop the masquerade.

Later edit: It’s official. We are really close to idiocracy, because stupidity has infiltrated the upper level of some big companies. Gihub will change the name of the “master” branch.  Meanwhile, black developers are speaking thier mind about it.

Black software engineer here. I think this is nonsense. I thoroughly dislike how much energy and attention this one specific issue is getting and wish it were invested in something that would actually improve the workplace for minorities. I realise that this isn’t zero-sum, but it all just feels like a massive distraction.

Click that link and read more about what black people think about this.

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One Response to “The Masquerade”

  1. Peter M says:

    Great post!

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