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Racism and Gasoline

September 19, 2009

We watch House on DVD. My favorite character was Kutner. Great character, great actor, REALLY not happy with his exit from the show. Naturally, I checked the web this morning to see what that was all about. The actor, Kal Penn, was offered a job in the White House and had to be written out of the show. This post isn’t about that.

Reading about Kalpen Mobi on Wikipedia, I learned he changed his name to Kal Penn as a lark because friends said he’d get more callbacks if he Anglicized his name. Sure enough, they went up 50%. He apparently had a role as a terrorist in 24 he almost didn’t accept because of the evil of racial stereotyping… but he got blow things up and hold a family hostage and who can pass up that? Then a big deal was made out of Harold and Kumar as the first non-white/non-black led movie in history.

While I knew the Kutner character was Indian, it was purely on a characteristic basis, like Taub has a big nose, or 13 has weird-but-cool eyes. I liked who he was. He seemed like a person it would be cool to be friends with.

And that’s all race should be. A characteristic. Okay, if 99% of terrorist are Middle Eastern, “characteristic” profiling makes sense. It’s not racism unless you assume all ME’s are terrorist.

Today, most of what is considered racism, isn’t. It’s behaviorism and culturalism and mostly because we’re uncomfortable with what people DO not what the ARE. I’m not going to hire someone who slouches, grumps, speaks poorly, and looks angry. That’s true of white, black, brown, whatever.

Bill Cosby said racism won’t be over until we stop talking about it. I believe racism is fomented in part because people trying to “stop” racism. I believe it’s one of the few society ills that can die a slow, quiet death. Stop pouring gas on the flames.

And I guess Taub is now my favorite character.

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