What Level is Racism At? Follow the Fratboys

Originally Published on Medium - August 16, 2018

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Let me start by saying that there are many, many problems in fratboy culture. Women are not treated well in particular, there are still problems with gender roles, and many other things. But for the fratboy culture I have experienced, it absolutely nails one thing: race.

Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by fratboy. Actual fraternities are not big in Canada, but the culture of the young adult male who parties, fights with his friends, and does stupid stuff is pretty standard still. I personally was exposed to it throughout university, and continue to have many of my millennial male friends who live within that culture and mindset.

And let me tell you, we absolutely nail the race thing.

I was at a party recently, and my group of friends consisted of 5 white guys, a Spanish guy, a Persian guy and a Sikh guy. Yeah, we know there are differences between us, but we don’t care. And the WAY we don’t care is truly the piece worth talking about. Because we are fratboys first and foremost, so we make fun of each other. We make fun of how hairy the Persian guy is, a stereotype. I can say that the Spanish guy finding and becoming more religious plays into his stereotype. We can laugh about how the Sikh guy is obviously chasing after the one brown girl at the party.

These things are all true, these things are all based on race, and these things do not matter to any of us at all. Because the fact is, we don’t care about race. We never have. There is this fundamental problem on the left wing now where they think any “insensitive” mention of something race related is racism. That to comment on something is to hate it, but that is not the case. What fratboys, and standup comedians, have realized is that to get to a point of true acceptance, you have to be able to make fun of something. My one black friend and I have to be able to joke about the fact that he is my one black friend. It doesn’t mean I don’t like black people, it means that I just didn’t get along well with the 2nd black kid at my high school. My high school wasn’t racist either, its just how it was.

I grew up in an elementary school where we had Diwali concerts instead of Christmas concerts, and no one particularly cared one way or the other, it was just kind of nice to support my friends who wanted to have their celebration. But I could also then say how one of their outfits looked bad, not because it was cultural, just because it looked bad.

It continued into high school, where a lot of my female friends were white, but my male friends were mostly Asian. Korea and Vietnam were the most represented, but China and others too. And they would insult each other about race, as stupid boys do, and I was allowed to too, even though I was white. My comments were not malicious because of my skin color, I was just one of the guys, ripping on and with everyone else.

University is where the fratboy culture really took hold. Don’t get me wrong, there are other problems, and I was very involved in discussions around the inclusivity problem of that culture. Perhaps other cultures are less comfortable with the way we acted, and thus were less likely to get involved in the groups. That is a very important conversation to have; what is the balance between keeping one culture and opening it up to others. But the one problem we didn’t ever have; non-white people who liked what we were doing and got to take part in every aspect of it. EVERY aspect. They came, they partied, they drank, and they got made fun of. When you are truly good friends, and you know you are with someone unconditionally, you don’t have to hold back.

That is fundamentally the problem with the political correctness movement. That any comment about race or religion or otherwise is an abomination and clear indication of actual racism. The problem with conflating the two is that it makes it much harder to know who the actual racists are.

I am not a racist. I could not care less about the country of origin, or the skin color, of anyone I interact with. I care if they are a good person, fun to be with, and easy to be around. Part of my personality, and many of my friends, is we crack jokes. We crack jokes about anything and everything, because true comedy lives at the edge of what is acceptable and what is not. Sometimes the line is crossed by accident, and sometimes jokes are just completely unfunny, but then we can have that discussion, or not, and just move on.

And I largely feel like that is where Canadian society is, and honestly to a large part American society too. We know there are still problems with racism and racists. We know that there are still some people who have issues, but the average person does not particularly care about race. Race is just one factor of a person I interact with, one which matters very little. The same way I don’t particularly care about age or home province, I just don’t care about race. Maybe that is my privilege, but I think it is one that only spreads by acting with it in mind.

The bottom line is that when I hang out with my fratboy friends, race only matters if it would make for a good punchline. There is something so refreshing about that.