This past month, there was a spider in my kitchen. I picked up a bag of trash to take it out and a large, black spider ran out from under the bag and across the floor.
I tried to stomp it. Without thinking, without guilt, and without any overt feelings of hostility. I didn't hate the spider, I just didn't want it running in my house.
Then I remembered this picture from Tea Party Jesus:
And I realized something. I'm a total racist when it comes to spiders.
Most people are spider racists. and you can tell because they always say. "I just".
I don't mind spiders outside, I just don't want them in my house.Inherent in these statements, (all of which I've said) is the firm belief that spiders don't have the right to exist in "my space". This is the heart of the Spider Theory.
I'll catch spiders and put them outside if they're sitting still. I just don't like it when they run.
Spiders fascinate me. Unless they're crawling on me and then I just want to squash them.
The Spider Theory
It's okay, even cool, to be a spider, as long as you're not infringing on what I consider to be my private space. If you do that, then I have every right to squash you like the little bug you are.
Replace the word "spider" with the words "person of another race" and you have the essence of racism.
In case you missed that, I'll say it again. The essence of racism is the belief that other people, for whatever reason, do not have the right to exist inside "your space".
It's okay to live in the same town with them, but I'd rather not share a restaurant.
It's okay to share a restaurant, but I don't want them on my street.And the list goes on and on like some demented children's rhyme.
I don't want them in my family
I don't want them in my school
I don't want them in the library
I don't want them on my book covers
Of course, the Spider Theory doesn't just apply to racism. You can put anything in there, other faiths, other cultures, political parties, whatever you say you're not prejudiced against. Because this is where the rubber meets the road. To say that other people don't have the right to exist in your space implies that you are superior, that what you need is more important than what they need.
And that superiority can lead to some very dangerous behavior.
The scary thing about this line of thinking, is that it doesn't have to be personal. When that spider crossed my kitchen floor, I didn't hate it. I wasn't after it personally, or angry at the spider world in general. But I was perfectly willing to kill it to get it out of my space.
And that's when racism gets dangerous. That's when it gets ugly. Because sooner or later, someone you don't want inside your space is going to be there. And how you react to that will determine, once and for all, if you are really racist or not.
Do you live and let live, even if it makes you uncomfortable? Or do you squish?