Just got to say, as a woman and a POC (whose name, incidentally, is also Portia), I didn’t find the latest episode of Supernatural particularly offensive. It was kind of silly, and yes, insensitive in some ways but I know racism and sorry, but it just didn’t feel that way to me, though I’m not dismissing the feelings of those who did feel upset. It rang some alarm bells, but I never felt like it was particularly racist. This isn’t particularly about the episode - there are people who write great analyses of episodes and I just don’t think I’m good enough to match up to that. All the discussion of this episode has just raised some feelings I need to get off my chest.
Slight rant ahead.
Now, I’m not great at getting my thoughts across well on subjects like this because I have a lot of conflicting feelings but I’m just sick of everything being viewed solely from the context of race. I’d love it if there was as little controversy about this as if it had been a white woman in that collar but I know that it’s impossible with the western world’s history concerning slavery/racism. I’m happy that people care about such issues, because it’s still very much a problem in the media, but I hate being told (and it’s usually by white people) how offended I should feel about everything. It’s like the context, the general feeling of the episode and everything else has been stripped away and all that anyone can think about is IT’S A BLACK WOMAN. That just doesn’t feel like equality to me.
I think it was Morgan Freeman who said, when asked about what we should be doing about racism, to “Stop talking about it.” And while I don’t exactly agree with this and believe healthy discussion is vital to improving things, I can understand this frustration all too well. I’m just fed up of being viewed from the perspective of my race. Sick of being told by white people how very different my life is from theirs because I’m a POC. Yes, of course it’s different, just as my life is different from someone who’s really short or who has blue eyes. Yes, that’s an over-simplification of a really complex, multi-layered subject, but the point is that every human experience is different and it doesn’t all come down to race.
A lot of posts on the problematic nature of “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” have been well-balanced and argued and I appreciate that, but others have been so skewed, only really focusing on Portia’s race and all that nasty historical stuff that they completely forget to consider her personality and all her human qualities. In short, it’s like she’s just been reduced to some blank, soulless tool to further people’s arguments about race and society. This annoys me far more than anything in the episode did and in some cases just stinks of a “white saviour” complex. I’m sorry, but some things do just sound worse when argued from a position of privilege.
Of course, this isn’t just about Supernatural, but something I’ve noticed a lot recently. I think it’s good that people are talking about these things, whatever their background or ethnicity but sometimes people get so caught up in their social crusade, with a Dean Winchester-like hero complex to save all us poor little POCs that they lose sight of the individual, human aspect of each case. Some people like to make presumptions about all the suffering and prejudice I must experience as a minority. It’s like they’re determined to focus on the huge difference between our lives because of the colour of my skin when at the end of the day, none of us can know what it’s really like in the skin of another. I’d just like people to remember that our differences are nothing when compared to what we share. We are all individual members of the human race. And context is important.
Disclaimer: I really do love how much people seem to care and think all the meta that’s cropped up about this has been really interesting, but this is just something that has been bothering me a bit in general (not just concerning SPN) and writing it down has helped me figure out why. Thanks to everyone for making me think :)