Tell me (if) this is racist for a comedian’s bio. Submitted yesterday:

“[Comedian’s name] doesn’t recognise people of colour as he is colourblind!”

I need to move to NYC.

Any appeal that “I don’t see race or color” is a pathetic attempt to save face for a guilty conscience–empty virtue signaling. White women are more inclined to normalize white supremacy by simply ignoring the dehumanization of people of color, while white men are more inclined to claim that they don’t see race somehow. Their premise is that if they feel they treat others indiscriminately of each other, they’ve ended the problem of race!

“You could be black, white, or purple, I don’t see your color” is an easy way for white people to justify white supremacy and feel like a good person at the same damn time! We do see color. We notice the slightest differences in skin shades and facial features, we’re programmed and socialized to–everyone is. But you, you are the one exception? No. See reasons listed above for your behavior. It really is that predictable and common.

Virtue signaling is the most common and insidious of microaggressions that support and maintain institutionalized systems of oppression that directly disadvantage people of colour, especially the women and LGBT-identified among them, in wildly visible and traumatizing ways. Saying other people do that, but I don’t is basically a lie because it simply can’t be proven true or false anyway.

Virtue signaling, more than anything, is an impulsion that makes the signaler feel like they’re a “good white person,” above reproach for the woes of people of color who suffer at every income level from ostracization, threats and actual abuse in many places white people are made to feel at home. A balm for the ego, quick deflection for the win. Is it painful for white people to wake up to the price of their privilege? I don’t know, but I’ve heard “Hey, you can’t say that!” during a comedy set from 2 white women in a room full of attentive white men. I ended up getting off the stage just because they needed to educate me about race (my jokes were about my Asian students).

For months I wondered what the reason was that the men of all colors in the room were silent and patient as I wound my way through uncomfortable stories about students who refused to bathe or who picked their noses and ate their boogers in class. But after a year and  a half of watching audiences squirm at my mentions of race relations, I now get that men aren’t threatened by my words and have little privilege to lose by agreeing with my worldview or at least letting me express it. It’s white women who interrupt, turn a TED Talk into a Q&A without consent and write checks to silence women of color. Their tantrums are indignant and very, very public. They put on shows throughout the Inner West of Sydney, reminding onlookers of what should be of everyone’s immediate concern.

I virtue signaled, just once. One of my favorite comedians had a joke whose punchline included the prefix “trans” and I asked him not to do it again because he wasn’t trans. Months later, he did it again and the impulse to feel like a “good person”–which I now know originates from an intense guilt mixed with fear of being a “bad person”–was gone. I asked if he’d rewritten the joke and said no, it was unchanged.

I had changed. I’d gone from coward to listener.