This has to stop.
On Monday, RuPaul revealed the winner of the second season of his RuPaul’s Drag Race reality TV show, and it turned out to be Tyra Sanchez.
The choice was controversial. A sizable number of viewers were rooting for the quick-witted Pandora Boxx , who had been eliminated earlier in the season, but who won the Miss Congeniality Award in the reunion show ("by a landslide," RuPaul said).
Others thought plucky, amiable Jujubee would have made a better "Next Drag Superstar," or even foul-mouthed, but always flawlessly-executed Raven.
There are plenty of good reasons to second-guess the actual pick, but racism on the part of RuPaul isn’t one of them.
But weirdly, that is precisely what a disturbing number of people are saying, on the Drag Race Facebook page and even here in the comments at AfterElton.com.
What’s the evidence? Despite selecting multi-racial casts this year and last, RuPaul’s eventual winners, Sanchez and last year’s Bebe Zahara Benet, were both black.
Accusing someone of racism is one of the most serious accusations you can make about a person — or so conservatives have been reminding us for the last thirty years.
We are in the era of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin, and now that we have a black president, conservatives seem to have forgotten restraint; high-profile cable and talk radio commenters openly and repeatedly accuse Barack Obama and many blacks of racism and "hatred" against white people, but — Beck’s genuinely paranoid delusions aside — I suspect this has more to do with making a "dog whistle" appeal to a Republican base that still includes many racists, while undercutting and de-legitimizing the whole notion of "racism" in general. Tit for tat and all that.
I’m not sure what motivates the ridiculous charge against RuPaul, except to say I think the accusation itself is a form of racism and, intended or not, it makes a mockery of the whole concept of racism.
To my 2010 mind, prejudice, whether it’s against blacks or gays, boils down to this: two different sets of rules, one for the majority, one for the minority: when straight couples walk down the street holding hands, they’re just sweetly in love, but when gay couples do it, they’re "flaunting their sexuality" and being "provocative."
Or when rich, white Americans are required to buy health insurance, it’s a full-fledged, Tea Party-crazed Constitutional crisis, but when police are allowed by the Arizona government to demand "papers" from virtually all hispanic people, well, you gotta break a few Constitutional eggs to make an omelet, right?
In other words, rather than a presumption of innocence, there’s a presumption of guilt. And if you think that’s a small difference, you know nothing about the history of human beings.
Because RuPaul picked two African Americans in a row as winners of his reality show, an accusation is being made about his motives that would never be made about a white host of a reality show who picked two white winners in a row. Indeed, how many white reality shows have done exactly that?
Presumption of innocence for the white person, presumption of guilt for the black one. This is literally what racism is, despite attempts by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck to muddy the term all up.
I could quote passages from RuPaul’s latest book, Workin’ It! RuPaul’s
Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style, that indicate very
clearly where his heart is on the issue of racism and even
white-inclusiveness. But you know what? That would imply he somehow needs
defending, even against baseless, scurrilous charges such as these.
Let it go. Disagree with RuPaul all you want — just don’t resort to vile racial doublespeak to do it.