Movies, Pop Culture

Hey Clint Eastwood, your racism is making us sick

Stop saying we don't need political correctness, k?

Newsflash: Clint Eastwood is the most recent but unsurprising addition to the anti-political correctness club.

He recently praised Donald Trump for his blunt, unapologetic commentary; which is not really a surprise from a guy who is famous for romanticizing toxic American masculinity and gun culture. He basically expressed nostalgia for the good ol’ days, when someone could be openly prejudiced without social repercussions. Again, not astonishing for a man who uses POC (people of color) as timid, stereotypical props in his movies and has a noticeable white savior complex- Gran Torino anyone?

Although Eastwood is the newest viral voice on the matter, the political correctness discussion is nothing new in this election.  Trump’s stance on anti-political correctness has even garnered him a reputation as the anti-establishment candidate, much to his benefit.

In reality, however, the anti-political correctness movement is a silencing tactic and could even be considered a public health issue. A post on the American Psychological Association (APA) website shows us that that daily racial and sexist microaggressions impact our overall health: a member of a minority or target group…who experiences a great amount of microaggressions may also experience a number of issues, including psychological distress, low self-esteem and physical health problems.

Which begs the question: why are we discouraged from talking about racism and sexism when these are valid concerns that impact our well-being as people of color?

The current political rhetoric is not just microaggressive, but full of blatant and overt racism. Proponents of Trump refuse to disavow his comments; they disdain political correctness because they see it as an infringement on their freedom of speech. However, the first amendment has its limits, for example, one can not yell fire in a crowded theater, because it threatens the safety of the public. So why can Trump talk about shooting Muslims with pig’s blood bullets, does that not threaten our sense of security? With the increased amount of hate crimes towards immigrants, POC and Muslims, we do not have the luxury of being ‘apolitical’ or of ignoring what Trump says.

[bctt tweet=”In reality, we are the ones who are being gaslighted or tone-policed for our lives.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Trump supporters also disregard the fact that Freedom of expression is not an even playing field. Due to overarching power structures, the way free speech functions in America is not equitable. Those who have more influence tend to have more liberties on what they can say or do. The ‘anti-political correctness’ stance is used to minimize voices of dissent, such as that of women of color, who are seen as innately more irrational in our system compared to their white male counterparts. Consequently, those who reject political correctness are not heroes or champions for freedom of speech, but are instead contributing to a higher public threshold of tolerating violence from our leaders, which is terrifying thought.

Courtesy Direct Autonomous Media Josie Valadez Fraire, 22, center, is arrested for disobeying a lawful order during a protest of Donald Trump in downtown Denver on Friday. Fraire said she was handcuffed for carrying a bundle of smoking sage.

Admittedly, for us women of color, it can be difficult to remain emotionally distant from topics such as racism and sexism due to our proximity to the subjects. We are shamed for our very natural responses of anger to the oppression we face.  One would think our lived experiences would make our input more valuable in discourse, but that isn’t the case.  Instead, we are accused of subduing the difference of opinions. In reality, we are the ones who are being gaslighted or tone-policed for candidly sharing the realities of our lives.

[bctt tweet=”We must protect and listen to one another.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Men like Clint Eastwood need to stop pretending racism doesn’t exist, simply because they live in soft, cushy whiteness, that shields them from fearing the police, the state or presidential candidates. Their denial of racism in these instances is disguised as a difference of political opinion; this is abusive for women of color. We do not see the preservation of our livelihoods as politics. In fact, we’re not the ones who politicized our health, human rights, and safety, to begin with, people like Trump did that.  

Therefore, validation of people of color and their experiences is imperative to social justice, it is on each of us to stop the normalization of state violence against people of color. We must make a conscious effort to not derail conversations regarding racism, ableism, classism, and hetero-cissexism.

[bctt tweet=”In fact, we’re not the ones who politicized our health, human rights, and safety.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Additionally, allies must take an active role to learn on their own as well as center marginalized voices in activism.  I no longer want to do the emotional labor of educating others on why my life matters.  It is not my responsibility to prove my humanity to anyone because this takes a toll on my mental health. Sharing and distributing the emotional and physical labor of advocacy is an important way allies can support people of color during this disturbing and draining time in our history.

Most importantly, we can not let the Donald Trumps or Clint Eastwoods of the world hijack basic human decency and replace it with a culture of apathy and toxic masculinity, which maintains the status quo that benefits only men like them. We must protect and listen to one another.  In other words, we need a more ‘politically correct and emotionally sensitive’ world.

In fact, we deserve it.

  • Laila Alawa

    Laila is The Tempest’s founder and CEO. Laila has given a TED Talk, appeared on BBC World News and NPR, and contributes on women’s issues and entrepreneurship to Forbes and The Guardian. She was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media and’s inaugural The Cafe 100, and recognized by the White House. Before founding The Tempest, Laila worked at the White House and Congress, and was previously at Princeton University.

  • Imaan is a public health policy geek and is currently applying to graduate schools in the field. She loves to learn and read about the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and health. She just completed an internship with the White House. She currently is in post­undergrad limbo, which includes a lot of Nutella, tacos from her favorite food truck and cuddle rejections from her bratty pomeranian, Poe. Her one constant in life is her love for Tom Hanks and Beyonce and maybe also her family (maybe).