I learned a new word this week: colorism. It came up because I was lauding an interview with Hilary Swank on Charlie Rose (PBS) regarding the film Freedom Writers. When I explained the backdrop of the story and some of the conflict between the students in the class, a friend mentioned that this was colorism: discrimination based on skin tone. This is a step away from racism, which is somewhat linked, depending on the person, but colorism is equally able to happen within groups of the same race.
While I am glad to expand my vocabulary, I am really frustrated with –ism words. Firstly, I think of them as terms use to encapsulate some kind of philosophy, and I suppose the decision to discriminate against some kind of people is a philosophy. I find the choice of terms very frustrating because the terms seem so indiscriminate: why is it sexism instead of genderism? Why on earth do we use the term homophobic instead of an –ism word? In that sense, shouldn’t we be using the term gynophobic? Most racism is actually some form of xenophobia, but we don’t seem to use that much either. Of course, this suggests chromophobia to replace colorism, but I doubt that is going to happen either.
Now, maybe it’s just me, but this terminology kills me, because it’s so easy to confuse the logic behind a word like racism with a word like taoism. A racist and a taoist are very different things, and it’s not like it is fair to say “a racist is one who believes in race,” nor is it appropriate to say “a taoist is one who discriminates according to tao.” As someone who has taught language to people who don’t speak English, this kind of issue drives me up a wall. Never mind that, just as someone who loves words and etymology, and some semblance of logic, this kind of thing drives me insane.
Meanwhile, to add to the silliness of all of this, I suggest a new word: stupidism. One day I will probably be ridiculed and even jailed for stupidism, because I fairly evenly discriminate against the stupid. We’re not talking about accidents here, everyone makes mistakes. We’re talking about pure stupidity, the doing of things that will knowingly hurt yourself and others with no remorse and nothing more than bewilderment in the aftermath. I have seen blatant examples of stupidity in making extremely disparaging comments on people with blond hair (is that blondism?) to a blond person’s face. That is a prime example of what I dislike, making me a stupidist. This word should not come to symbolize disliking errors such as getting on the bus in the wrong direction, or handing a cashier the wrong bill, no, it symbolizes distaste for the level of stupidity that involves a lot of what I see on reality tv and news interest stories.
Over the last several months I have had my moments of running off to the bathroom to attempt to put my head through the wall because of various acts of stupidity. I generally avoid entertainment news in order to reduce the amount of head trauma I cause myself. This spurred a general increase in cynicism in my outlook on life, which has brought me a little closer to entertainment news in an effort to laugh at the demise of the human condition. At least entertainment news is funny.
Similar examples of stupidity I come across come from folks working in the school system. They send me right back to head trauma because while I can permit some stupidity from the young ones there learning how not to be stupid, most of the stupidity I hear about is from administrative and teaching practices. How on earth are children supposed to not be stupid when their teachers don’t take education seriously, and don’t push students to achieve? The next time I hear a teacher say “These children just can’t learn this material,” I am going to go ballistic because the head trauma is not making any of this easier to accept.
The last piece of the puzzle that makes me really support stupidism is that I have no remorse for my hate of stupidity. I know my mother once told me that I shouldn’t “hate” anything because it’s a bad thing to feel, and breeds too much anger. Once upon a time I thought I should be nice to people and felt like I had to get along with the whole world. That feeling has passed, and is not subsumed by some sense of superiority (woo, alliteration!), because I am humbled by the smart fun and creative people I know. I’m certainly not the smartest one in the bunch, but I do have peers that I can share with, learning from them and sharing what I know.
I don’t hate stupid people, I don’t hate anyone, but I hate the comments, thought patterns and actions. As a stupidist, the difference is that now I can walk away from someone or some situation that is a waste of my time. Yes, at times I try to see what is going on with stupidity, and it makes me frustrated and angry, but I can take it as a sort of anthropological task rather than feel like it is my duty to approve and be non-judgmental.