The latest chapter in the sordid saga of walking trainwreck Romeo Rose, aka Sleepless in Austin, is that he has been fired from his day job owing to his newfound notoriety as a towering heap of bigotry. I have screencapped his Facebook announcement from Jezebel:
I take this as confirmation that Sleepless in Austin is not a hoax. This guy really is who he says he is, and he really thinks that way.
This follows Radar Online’s revelations of his sexts to a New Jersey woman who tried to take up his challenge to find him a mate. (Teal Deer version: he spends way more time thinking about black dick than he has any right to. He has zero interest in a woman’s boundaries, but that hardly comes as a surprise.)
He has reacted very defensively to widespread observations that he is a racist person, and I want to talk about that today. Not that I expect him to read my blog and learn anything from it—this guy is a 4-dimensional Gordian knot of intersecting bigotries, privilege-denying entitlement and sundry fuckery—but we can use him as an example. We can make a teachable moment of Romeo Rose insisting that he is not racist, even as he continues to vomit blatantly racist shit from his gaping piehole.
In short, Romeo Rose is a prime example of the dangers of allowing racism (and any other bigotry) to be defined by intent rather than effect.
In the interests of full documentation, I have screencapped Romeo’s sharing his view of the world (and he does muse, at length) and how this shapes his expectations of a romantic partner. Screencaps will be linked at the bottom so that we can look at the evidence without giving his site any more traffic, but I do not recommend following the links unless you a) have a high privilege profile and therefore are not the target of his bigotries, or b) have a high tolerance for oppressive nonsense.
Between his About Me page and his personal What is Racism? page (…yeah), we find that Romeo carries the following ideas, which he insists are Not Racist, No Not At All:
- He gets along better with black guys than with white guys, BUT he doesn’t like black people unless they emulate whites in every possible way.
- He believes that whites and blacks should not have kids together. Whites and Hispanics, fine, but whites and blacks, no. (Note: this is not just about him. Romeo Rose doesn’t want to be a father at all—THANK GOODNESS—but this is the belief he applies to people in general.)
- He would never, ever date a woman who’s had sex with a black man.
- Calling people n*gg*r isn’t racism unless you do it ALL THE TIME, to EVERYONE IN THAT RACE, or unless you feel superior or have hatred “in your heart” for ALL PEOPLE IN THAT RACE. (I swear I’m not making this up.)
- Blah blah, something something about gorillas.
- Axl Rose using the N-word in a song is not racist because he’s talking about thieves and he needs a really hateful word.
- Thinking everyone in “the black race” is “visually unattractive” is not racist.
- Oh, and one more thing: displaying the Confederate Flag is NOT about supporting slavery, it’s about celebrating Southern heritage.
He would have us believe that all these ideas are not examples of racism because they’re just his “personal taste” and “opinions” and because he doesn’t INTEND to use racial slurs, and so on.
This is where the road of “but I didn’t INTEND to be racist” leads. This is what happens when we view racism as a matter of individuals having bad attitudes, rather than a system of oppression that depends on many people buying into harmful ideas. Romeo Rose did not develop his “opinions” in isolation, and his views are not without consequences. Yet he thinks he can define racism down to something that almost doesn’t exist because he doesn’t want his words and actions to be viewed that way. WELL, NO SHIT. Nobody crafts their worldview with the “intention” of being counted among the pointy-hood-wearers and cross-burners. EVERYONE has a vested interest in thinking their views are perfectly fair and reasonable.
This is why defining racism cannot be the domain of McWhitersons who begin statements with “I’m not racist, but…” That way lies madness, as put on long-winded display by Romeo Rose. The definition of racism comes from the many people who identify certain actions and policies as making them feel unsafe, unwelcome, limited and dehumanized based on their racial affiliations—and this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is an argument against relying on the dictionary to tell us what is or isn’t racist.
If it’s painful to be called a bigot, then just think of how much it hurts to be compared to a gorilla.
And now, for the documentation:
Romeo’s definition of racism, full text. (TW for lots of bullshit.)
Romeo’s About Me, part 1. (TW for misogyny, homophobia and other awfulness.)
Romeo’s About Me, part 2. (TW for tons of racism and more misogyny.)
Romeo’s Definition of Racism, part 1. (TW for ALL THE RACISM.)
Romeo’s Definition of Racism, part 2. (TW for MORE RACISM and misogyny.)