Flossing and the Dental Hygiene Paradigm of Race Discourse
[Quoting Jay Smooth:] “We don’t assume, I’m a clean person therefore I do not need to clean my teeth. Being a clean person is something you maintain and work on every day […] And when someone suggests to us that we’ve got something stuck in our teeth, we don’t say, ‘I have something stuck in my teeth?! But I’m a clean person!’”
Undoing racism and other forms of injustice is a practice we must do every day, like brushing our teeth, according to Jay Smooth. We must look in the mirror constantly. And like brushing, on some days, we’re better at it than on others. On occasion, we don’t spend enough time, and we still have bits of gross stuff stuck in our chompers even though we feel minty fresh. Sometimes we’re lazy and just gargle with some bourbon and call it a night.
With all the injustice out there that we are trying to fight, let’s give each other some grace. Let’s admit we don’t know everything and we can’t be perfect. Let’s all lower our defenses and see each other as imperfect human beings trying hard to do some good in a complex world. And when someone says, “Hey, you got a little bit of racism (or sexism, or ableism, or ageism, etc.) stuck in your teeth,” we thank them, do some looking in the mirror to remove it, and continue forward to make our world better.