I am offended that you are offended: A Lesson Learned From an International Friend

Today in my English course , my eyes got a little wider. For now, I will simply call this friend E.  E is a foreign exchange student from Italy studying here in America for a year.  In our English class, we have been studying the novel Americanah by Chimamanda Agozi Adichie. Americanah explores the experience of an immigrant in America through the eyes of a Nigerian woman by the of name, Ifemilu. One of the many new and odd things about America that Ifemilu discovers is how hard Americans try to seem like they don’t care about things like race, gender, and sexuality, yet how easily they can become offended when someone even brings up the words “black,” “homo”, or “foreign.”  E, while we sat in our group discussion told me this;

“Everyone is so afraid of being offensive, that it becomes offensive.”

Americans are very, very good at avoiding things that seem controversial.  We’ve done it for years.  We say that race is no longer and problem.  We are “color blind” to things like that.  We don’t like it when you use words like black or Hispanic, because as soon as those words roll out of your mouth, all those rich, white “liberal” people realise that their perfect little mixed salad of America, is not perfect at all.  In fact, it’s all rather white-washed There are so many issues of race, gender, and sexuality still alive today in America.  Racism did not end with slavery.  People talk about the 1960’s as if they happened over 100 years ago rather than in the lifetimes of some of our immediate family members. And don’t even try to pretended that we are “color blind” to issues in the LGBTQ+ community.  Race is also a giant part of that.   We still have a long way to go, and one of the first steps is going to be talking about these problems in a way that might be uncomfortable to some and offensive to others; however I strongly believe in pulling no punches when it comes to issues so important as these.  Let’s start being honest with ourselves and the rest of the world and stop  avoiding our problems.

It’s time for America to get it’s shit together


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