4 Beloved Things ... That Have Surprisingly Bigoted Problems
For people of color in Western society, issues of race touch just about everything, from technological innovations to Disney movies. Of course, we all know about things like Song of the South, but racism can seep into the most unexpected places, like sand in a poorly secured butt crack.
Tattoos - People With Darker Skin Have To Deal With Shitty Artists
Everyone should have the right to make a terrible and permanent decision when they're newly 18 and deeply immersed in some fringe fandom or just after some really great sex. But for people whose skin tone resides in "can't find foundation at the drugstore" territory, it can be an annoyingly sensible process. If they just barrel into the tattoo shop, musculoskeletal guns blazing, it's entirely possible the artist on duty will explain to them that their options are severely limited, as colors lighter than their skin won't show up. Many refuse to work on them at all, including Ink Master season two winner Steve Tefft, who declared on camera, "I don't want the dark canvases. They take away half your skill set."
It turns out that's just because he's a shitty artist, no matter how many Red Hot Chili Peppers he impresses. It's true that people who have dark skin tend to scar harder, which is why their tattoos might look more muted once they've healed, but ironically, that only happens if the artist gets too rough under the mistaken impression that it's necessary for lighter colors to show up. Many artists believe that dark skin is tougher and thicker, both necessitating a heavy hand and easily withstanding it, but in reality, the opposite is true. That dream sleeve of Looney Tunes characters committing obscene acts is perfectly within reach; it just requires finding the right artist, usually an artist of color.
And depending on where you live, well ... good luck with that.
Legalized Marijuana - Lots Of Green … For White Sellers
Entire articles could be (and have been) written on the intersection of racism and the prohibition of certain drugs, but now that weed is on the fast track to becoming the next booze (i.e., a perfectly legal pastime that just makes people really annoying), the shoe is on the other foot. And that foot is pretty well-heeled.
Law enforcement trends would lead you to believe marijuana use is much more common among Black people (although in reality, people of all races enjoy adult gummy bears at the same rate), fewer than 1% of legal dispensaries are owned by them. Why is that? Do they just really hate filling out forms? Probably, because everyone does, but that's not the only reason. In many states, having a criminal record -- even if it's just for marijuana-related offenses -- actually bars you from working in the legal cannabis industry, which is kind of like banning previous contestants of the Great British Bake-Off from opening bakeries. Why would you not want that experience? It's not like anyone wakes up one day after a lifetime of sobriety and decides to get into the weed business, so it's really a litmus test for evading the authorities, and a certain kind of person is just naturally better equipped to do that.
But let's say you've managed to keep your nose, if not your piss, clean. Then you're likely looking at six figures in fees just for a license to do business, let alone that business. That guy you knew in college who grew in his grandma's basement does not have that lying around, so we've ended up replacing the largely poor and non-white drug trade with an extremely white and non-poor one, even though that guy deserved a Nobel Prize in Botany.
French Kissing - Was Just Regular Kissing Until American Prudes
Okay, so the French aren't exactly the most oppressed people in the West, but they're still the subject of scorn that honestly reflects a lot more on us than them. Take this whole "French kissing" thing. People have been licking each other in the mouth for thousands of years, but when European colonists showed up in North America, they weren't exactly sending their horniest. As a result, by the beginning of the 20th century, kissing with tongue had become so taboo that many people didn't even know it was a thing you could do.
As they figured it out, they had to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, which is why Americans started calling it "French kissing," but there are a few reasons they might have done so. The most popular theory is that American soldiers serving in Europe during World War I observed and possibly participated in the supposedly more passionate kissing favored by French and Italian women, and when they came home, they started asking their wives and girlfriends for some tongue. They apparently responded with a lot of shocked gasps and why-I-nevers, because while the term "French kiss" entered the English language around 1923, the act itself didn't become common until after World War II, when another batch of soldiers apparently started pressing the issue. It turns out that V-Day kiss photo was even more scandalous.
But it's also possible everyone was just making assumptions about the behavior of French women. Americans have long regarded Europe and especially France as devil's playgrounds full of loose women and universal healthcare, so when soldiers came home, reasonably sexually restless, and tried to convince their ladies to get a little dirtier by claiming they'd seen French and/or Italian women slutting up, what reason was there not to believe them? (Some people tried to make "Florentine kiss" happen, but it didn't, well, roll off the tongue.) The phrase itself probably came from soldiers telling each other, "While in France, get the girls to kiss you," which was later shortened to "Get a French kiss." Maybe they just thought French girls were hot. Leave it to the patriarchy to ascribe all manner of sinful behavior to any woman they find attractive.
Of course, kissing with tongues was less taboo in Europe. In fact, the French didn't even have a word for it until 2014 because it was just another way to kiss, much like how we don't have any specific words for shoving your tongue down a person's throat or darting in and out like a confused fish. That year, they adopted "galocher," which is derived from the French word for an ice skate, so they might still not be totally clear on what we're on about.
Cryptocurrency - Another Reason It Sucks
When you picture a Bitcoin enthusiast, you're definitely thinking of a weirdly aggressive white guy, and there's a reason for that beyond their Elon Musk fan Twitters. Cryptocurrency has been dubbed "the currency of the alt-right" for reasons that no one understands but have something to do with it being decoupled from any government, and it's completely changed the economy of white supremacy, which is, ugh, yes, a thing.
Back in the day, if an extremist organization wanted to support its extreming, they typically sold music, played concerts, or hosted events. In other words, they had to be good (or at least try) at something, just like the rest of us. With the rise of the internet, they realized all they had to do was yell racial slurs into YouTube or harass someone off social media and watch the donations and ad revenue poor in.
Everything was coming up racist until PayPal, Google, GoFundMe, and everyone else you need to make money online decided they didn't want to help a bunch of hate criminals, but good, old, terms-of-service-free Bitcoin was there to pick up the slack. The whole idea is that it's beholden to no one, leaving alt-right leaders free to set up their own platforms where they receive donations via cryptocurrency.
Arguably, none of that is Bitcoin's fault, but when people are comfortable enough to hack into a portfolio manager's system to blast racist messages to its customers, you have to wonder if your gloriously decentralized currency was actually a great idea. The exchanges themselves have their own problem: One was so toxic to its Black employees that a good three-quarters of them (that is, 15 out of a 600-employee company) have walked out over the last few years.
Top image: ilovetattoos/Pixabay