Quote of the Day: Going Along to Get Along | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Quote of the Day: Going Along to Get Along

I love this. From Gender 3.0 blogger Cameron Scott:

The office is the cathedral of the middle-class. The less style you have, the better. The goal is not to be so individual that people have to confront the raw fact that you have a background and a personality that you embody even at work. (This is the limit on our tolerance of difference: It's OK to be gay or black, it's just not OK to act gay or black, because that makes mainstream folks realize that they, too, are just a sub-culture.)
It reminds me very much of a post I sent to FidoNet TREK when I was about 12 years old. I was verbally going through the different ethnic and planetary backgrounds of all the Trek characters (in some ways I haven't really changed, have I?), and--being 12--referred to Kirk as a "standard-issue American white guy" or something of that general nature. And someone set me straight: No, Thomas (I always posted as Thomas back then), he's an assimilated Irish-American, he is not a "standard-issue white guy." There is absolutely no such thing as a "standard-issue white guy."

The fact that I still remember reading this, 16 years or so later, is a testament to just how much it blew my mind. And it's absolutely true. Whiteness is an illusion we invented so that the most powerful people in the culture don't have an ethnicity, because ethnicity is a sign of otherness and the powerful people are the ones the others get to have their otherness in relation to. In Japan, the word for white is "nihon-jin"--native-born. To be a foreigner from anywhere on Earth, be it Ethiopia or Liverpool or Dallas, is to be (to put it bluntly) "gai-jin." Our concept of "mainstream" is based on three things: residency, power, and assimilation. That's why the Irish and Italians weren't considered white 100 years ago, why Jews are more or less considered white now, and why blacks and maybe Latinos will be considered whatever it is we call white in 100 years.

It's the way of the world. The way of the oppressive, institutionally racist world.

Previous Comments

ID
109388
Comment

wow, there was internet when you were 12? you must be pretty young Tom! hehe. i just got through the painful experience that is our office Christmas party, so i can relate to this: "the goal is not to be so individual that people have to confront the raw fact that you have a background and a personality that you embody even at work" -- i hate to say it, but i work with some of the lamest people i think i've ever met, but somehow i often feel like the odd man out because I didn't wear a snowman sweater and jingle bell earrings to work today.

Author
andi
Date
2006-12-18T15:09:40-06:00
ID
109389
Comment

Tom, how does the imperialist white supremacist or capitalistic patriarchy fit into this? Would either of this type or others believe you considering 200 years of history and longer? I like your conclusion but how does it square with these concepts?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-18T15:32:12-06:00
ID
109390
Comment

andi, at least you don't have to dress up like an elf! my good friend was subject to this--not at an office party but her dad actually plays santa during the holidays. as her mom was "mrs. claus" they just *had* to have an Elf! I don't think she'll be going to visit them again at Christmastime!!!

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-12-18T15:43:50-06:00
ID
109391
Comment

but I should say that I myself have a pair of holiday angel earrings. and I live out in the country, where I drive by zillions of brilliantly lit houses and I get a big kick out of it.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-12-18T15:45:44-06:00
ID
109392
Comment

I am happy to report that *no one* has worn a Santa sweater or jingle-bell earrings to work at the JFP so far this year. Actually, there is a certain kitsch chic—but the key is knowing that you're being kitsch. Otherwise, it's really ugly. ;-) And little angel earrings are totally cool. That's not what she means, I suspect. (Oh, and I have a watch that plays Jingle Bells or some such. I'll see if I can find it.) The problem is when everyone wears a hokey Santa because everyone else does. I love Christmas lights, too—but not yardfuls of little white ones. We were just in Germantown, Tenn., to visit family, and it was so dull to look at all the lights where the whole idea seems to be to be sophisticated. Ahem. Where's the fun in that? If you're going to *do* Kitschmas, er Chrismas, you need to do Kitschmas—like down near where you live now, Laurel! There's a GREAT retro store in Memphis called Flashback. I shopped there a tad Saturday, and you ought to see all the cool Kitschmas stuff in their front window!

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T15:57:28-06:00
ID
109393
Comment

there is a certain kitsch chic—but the key is knowing that you're being kitsch. Otherwise, it's really ugly. ;-) And little angel earrings are totally cool. That's not what she means, I suspect. Exactly, Donna! I enjoy a good ol' gaudy display of Christmas lights, and i'd really love to have one of those long stocking-caps like the kids wear in A Christmas Story. I'm just talking about people who don't really have a clue about fashion at all, and it doesn't get any better at Christmastime. I'm sure Laurel's angel earrings are cute! I just met her last week and she has taste! :) There is a FABULOUS neighborhood in Memphis you should have gone to. It was a tradition when I lived there to drive by every year. It is right off Quince Ave., if I remember correctly. It's a cul-de-sac, and when you make the turn into it, it's like driving right into the Christmas Vacation movie. So many colorful moving lights, it's almost blinding. And I love Flashbacks!! They have such cute things. I would not want to have to dress up as an Elf, though! That's taking it too far! Back on topic, I never really thought about how many people refer to "white" as if there is no ethnic basis at all, but sometimes I guess I have yearned for a "cool", or more exotic heritage, but I forget that I actually have a heritage myself! Scottish-German is just not as interesting to me as other types of backgrounds, I suppose. :p

Author
andi
Date
2006-12-18T16:12:10-06:00
ID
109394
Comment

Right, Andi. And this "whiteness" issue is important to try to comprehend. It shows how ignorant it is for someone to respond to a plan, say, for an African American museum with "well, they wouldn't want us to have a white museum, would they!?!" Uh, how about a Celtic Fest? Or a German museum? Such an answer shows us exactly *who* does think in terms of "black" and "white," regardless of what they try to tell us about them not being racist. And I think the Scottish-German lineage is pretty damn interesting. I mean, the Dodd pairing (Todd and me, as referred to by some previous employees who liked to screw around when the "Dodd" weren't around; note the "previous") is Scottish-German, and we're not so awful, even if we like people to work when they're supposed to. Maybe that's our German side coming out. ;-) I'm all about celebrating all sorts of cultures—and "whiteness" is not a culture, beyond white supremacy and dominant-"culture" crap. If we all thought *more* in terms of celebrating our various cultures, maybe we could move away from this dominant crap that hurts us all.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T16:35:41-06:00
ID
109395
Comment

Oh, and Andi, there was a neighborhood like that in Denver, of all places. We drove around a lot this weekend in Memphis, and never found the perfect light-drenched 'hood—except for Graceland, of course. Are you from Memphis?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T16:40:17-06:00
ID
109396
Comment

Martin Mull had a show once called "The History of White People in America". I remember parts of it were funny, like when a white kid had to stand up in class and describe his "heritage". I think he said something about being from Indiana and having a lot of bar-b-ques or something. Anyway, if you ever see it, it is worth some laughs.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-18T16:42:26-06:00
ID
109397
Comment

Sounds funny. ;-) It is sad that we white folk tend to be taught that we're white and American, rather than an understanding that we all came here as immigrants, or our people did. Of course, that could explain why our real heritage isn't emphasized to us. It would be so un-American to actually think that God blesses the rest of the world just as much as he does America, huh?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T16:54:09-06:00
ID
109398
Comment

Oh no, I am from Jackson. Well, we moved to Crystal Springs when I was 3 and I basically grew up there, but I spent tons of time in Jackson because my grandmother and other relatives were here. I don't like to claim Crystal Springs, really. I moved to Memphis for a few years to go to grad school and work, but I've been back in Jacktown for 3 years now. I'm sorry you didn't see all the gaudiness you could stand, but Graceland is a good runner-up! I'm glad to know y'all are fellow Scots-Germans. It is interesting, I guess I take it for granted at times and wish for something different. I do celebrate my beer-drinking heritage frequently, though!

Author
andi
Date
2006-12-18T17:01:29-06:00
ID
109399
Comment

I flew into Memphis about 2 week ago, and when I looked out the window I saw something cool. There was a field (probably about 1 acre) and in it was a grid of 100 electric Christmas trees. That is, there were about 100 poles, spaced in a grid, and each of them had green christmas lights draped from the tops of the poles, to make them look like 100 Cristmas trees. Anyway, all the lights on all these trees were controlled by a central computer, so the whole 1 acre field was moving with green electric patterns all the time. I can only assume that whoever put it there did so for the benefit of passengers aboard the planes, because that is the only vantage point from which one can really see what is going on. So, to whoever in Memphis did that, thanks a bunch. It was a neat treat to see that from an airplane.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-18T17:09:58-06:00
ID
109400
Comment

Yeah, Donna, I think the intent were to write off the Native Americans by teaching this, and to ignore or disacknowledge the contributions of slaves and other non-whites. Many whites, to this day, can't handle the fact that they're really just another person with a horrible, although maybe indirect at this stage for many, legacy/history of abusing others to get where they are. Consequently, they go along to get along instead of disavowing that legacy and freeing themselves from all the unnecessary pain and mental anguish that comes along with blindly accepting or acquiescencing to this heritage/history without challenging it veracity or goodness. In order for us to have peace and feel good about ourselves we have to discern what is right and commit to doing it. It's called integrity. Honest and critical thinkers know when you have it, and when you don't.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-18T17:22:57-06:00
ID
109401
Comment

Agreed, Ray. This one I think is a conspiracy—and folks like Lynne Cheney are trying to make sure it continues. They don't teach us our own history so we don't realize that we got where we are (and our resources and leg-up over other people) by colonizing and stealing land that isn't ours. Once we took it all for ourselves, we close the borders and start yelling about the immigrants! I mean, I had to get out of Mississippi to learn my own history, both in the state and nationally. And I'm smart enough to handle it. We all are, but instead they try to brainwash us. The saddest part is to talk to young people today who really have no idea how this country was built—or who was harmed because of our actions. You should have heard me try to explain the effects of colonization, etc., on Africa at the Youth Leadership Jackson diversity training I ran—in order to dispute the extremely ignorant notion (as pushed by the Northside Sun) that African Americans should give thanks for slavery because they are no longer living in the conditions back in Africa, but with no consideration of the *effects* that the plundering of Africa had on that continent. I hate nothing more than people assuming that I, and fellow Mississippians, are stupid. But we have to learn to question, just like everyone else does. And to the people who whine about "African American history" and "black studies"—people wouldn't have to be working so damn hard to reclaim their history and their past if "my" people hadn't stolen that away from them. And when a white person today refuses to understand efforts such as these, you are merely perpetuating what our ancestors started. A good start to solving the problem is doing away with the concept of "whiteness," which is a stand-in, or a politically correct word, today for "white supremacy." (Aside to 'Fish et al, don't misread what I'm saying: This isn't saying that "being white" is a stand-up for dominance; it's saying that the concept of "whiteness" came about as a way to assert dominance. Ray, the Leadership kids had a great deal of fun with an exercise to teach what the dominant culture is, and the advantages offered to the dominant culture. It's really sad this stuff isn't taught in every classroom; these kids can handle the truth. It's the adults who get all bent out of shape and stupid.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T17:37:54-06:00
ID
109402
Comment

I think it is very important to understand history as clearly and accurately as possible. I think it is also important to recognize where and when you are receiving preferential treatment because of your race, sex, height, weight, or whatever other criteria is being used to evaluate you by others in specific situations. It helps us abandon short-sighted judgements of others, and instead helps us learn to find ways of taking away some of the power of arbirtary preferences in our daily lives. However, my honor and integrity are mine to gain or lose, and mine alone. I share neither the pride or the shame of my ancestors, just because they happen to have a similar skin color, or nationality, or genetic history, or whatever. To claim otherwise is to invoke absurdities. One recent study suggested that it is likely that every single person walking the earth today is descended in some way from Muhammed. So do we all share responsibility for his choices?

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-18T20:13:10-06:00
ID
109403
Comment

Got to give GLB some credit here. Raises good points. At what genetic cut off/history period do we divide ourselves? I happen to beleive my ancestors somewhere along the way started in Africa or maybe Iraq. I also believe Christ was a little darker than portrayed by classical Europeon artists. Most generations try to think only how the past is uniquely connected to them without regard for history. "Ours is the only Generation!" I believe in the herd mentality. Powers that be try to seperate us based on whatever can divide us. Easier to pick the prey seperated from the herd than attack the whole. So long as demagogues dominate the media, we'll be seperated for easy pickings.

Author
Doc Rogers
Date
2006-12-18T22:39:08-06:00
ID
109404
Comment

The problem with GLB's argument, as good as it sounds, is how many people in the dominant culture are benefitting from their ancestors' choices, and refusing to do anything to help even that playing field—or even admit that it needs to be. I think, Doc, we're arguing against division essentially, but that won't do any good if you don't go back and erase, or negate or equalize somehow, the lingering advantages that many of us enjoy because of inequities of the past. You can never divorce the past, nor should you, but you are supporting division if you refuse to see the advantages you enjoy, which amounts to disadvantages for others, due to historical inequities. Ignoring that won't cure division, that is; it will increase it—basically dividing us not along race lines, but into a group that is willing to face history and work to remedy it, and those who aren't. I wouldn't be in the latter group for all the world's money. My personal spiritual beliefs wouldn't allow it. I'd also vote for Christ being a great deal darker than portryed by classical European artists, for what it's worth. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T22:46:11-06:00
ID
109405
Comment

Oh, and I should add, GLB that the honor and integrity you worry about rises and falls in no small part on how you choose to view societal problems and historical inequities. This is no honor in playing the lone gunman disconnected from the past, to put it one way. To claim otherwise is to invoke absurdities. Or, to put it more directly as I'm more likely to do: It is absurd to claim otherwise. (smile)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-18T22:49:17-06:00
ID
109406
Comment

What I have a hard time with is "equalizing" our inequities. Given that I'm from a share croppers family and as far as I undertsand, sharecropping was legalized slavery. Want a story on cotton picking, I'll offer up my grandmother. What does society owe me? But I'll give you this, me and a young black man enter Belk's and ask for service (or any other place), we will be treated different. Ain't quite figured out how you change inate human nature without changing stereotypes first. Doc

Author
Doc Rogers
Date
2006-12-18T23:22:35-06:00
ID
109407
Comment

You know, Ladd, it never even occured to me to just say "it is absurd to claim otherwise". Why do I write this way? Sometimes I don't know myself. I thought I read enough of Richard Feynman to realize that needless obscurity is...needless. But I guess I still need to learn. I want a level playing field too. I want others to have the same opportunities I do. I don't like the idea that I might be handed something just because someone prefers the look of me. If nothing else, it hurts my pride -- why don't you respect me enough to let me EARN what I get? I do not think it is ever acceptable to justify injustice against those who have traditional priviledge in compenstion for past injustices against those who do not. I don't think you are arguing for that, but that argument is sometimes advanced. Remember that many thought the O.J. verdict was just, since it redresed the injustice of Rodney King. But this is not justice -- it is just revenge. I will say, however, that I think the issue is more general than just race, and we should watch for it whenever we can. For example, thin people have preference over fat, attractive people have preference over less attractive people -- even southern people have preference over yankees (or at least down here). This behavior is not only a white behavior -- it is human behavior. All humans are susceptable to it.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T03:31:44-06:00
ID
109408
Comment

I WANTED TO TAKE MY BOYS OUT TO LOOK AT LIGHTS SO WERE R THESE BRILIANT HOUSES

Author
cedric willis i'm free
Date
2006-12-19T03:36:10-06:00
ID
109409
Comment

The O.J. verdict was not just because of the Rodney King beating. It was just because the LAPD had botched their case beyond the point where they could prove murder, and the acquittal showed that it was actually possible to be black and not get screwed over by the criminal justice system. That's why it was thought of as a kind of retribution for the Rodney King incident: Finally, here's the system doing what it's supposed to do. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T06:33:35-06:00
ID
109410
Comment

Love the thread, folks--I'm on my way to bed and can't do replies, but I am so floored by how well this discussion is going. Cedric's girlfriend: I just realized I owe you an email. Mea culpa! It's coming tomorrow. No particular advice on the Christmas lights (ask Brent; it took me 9 years to figure out where my own house is), but I suspect other folks will be chiming in here. Might even be worth a new thread/blog entry, since I suspect we all have Christmas lights stories. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T06:36:55-06:00
ID
109411
Comment

Tom: I don't have a problem with the verdict itself. If the case was tried according to the law, then the verdict is what it is. And I think you are right about that sense of finally not getting screwed over. I do remember people expressing that sentiment. But that is not the sense in which many other people said that OJ was for Rodney King. They meant that it simply evened out the ledger. And that is what I meant by saying it was revenge.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T09:40:30-06:00
ID
109412
Comment

"I don't think it's ever acceptable to justify injustice against those who have traditional privilege in compensation for past injustice against those who do not." That's because you don't really believe in redemption, equity/equality and righting obvious past wrongs. It's likewise likely because you have white supremacist views. I bet you wouldn't feel that way if you had been enslaved for years, and freed with no home, food, or money? I guess it doesn't matter to you how the traditional privileges were established in the first place. Such as how white folks got traditional privileges over the American Indians and Black folks. Not to mention others all over the world. It's funny you mentioned the O.J. verdict. I believe O.J. is guilty too and have always said it. I hope you have taken a similar view the countless times black folks have received unjust and racist verdicts from white folks. But my money is on your going along to get along. In that quote above, aren't you really saying you're firmly entrenched in going along to get along as long as it's white folks doing the evil?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T10:25:11-06:00
ID
109413
Comment

I think the real story Tom is the incompetency of the LA DA's office. How many high profile cases have they botched? Rodney King was screwed up because they tried to charge them with attempted murder when an aggravated assault charge would have nailed those cops. The Menendez trial. OJ. It goes on and on.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-12-19T10:55:29-06:00
ID
109414
Comment

My family sharecropped, too, Doc. I come from poor folks. I also am willing to admit the privilege that has come with my skin color, although it shouldn't have. not think it is ever acceptable to justify injustice against those who have traditional priviledge in compenstion for past injustices against those who do not. Who's calling for "injustice," GLB? If there is anything that doesn't help in this kind of discussion, it's such hyperbole and imprecise language coming from folks who are members of the majority culture. The O.J. verdict? I think that was abhorable. However, I grew to "understand" why some of the people who had been victims of injustice for so long in a racist criminal-justice system might have erupted in joy. I believe they were wrong, however. (Funny how easy it is to "understand" something and believe it's wrong at the same time. Americans should try it more often.) Also, saying that the sense was that it was "revenge" for Rodney King shows that you're a bit out of touch on that one. That sounds a bit to me like a white man's version of a very complex situation. To put it simply, as I understand it, some black people felt that the OJ verdict was payback for decades, if not centuries, of criminal injustice against people of color. It was much bigger than Rodney King, and rather belittles what that case stood for as well. That said, OJ is an example that doesn't really apply to what we're talking about; methinks you're skating a bit on this one looking for something, anything to support your argument. What we're takling about here is economic injustice and a level playing field of opportunity. Mistakes made in the criminal-justice system—whether it's put a white supremacist in charge of investigation of a probably black murderer, or confusing people and pushing their emotional buttons to get a murderer off—are a different, if important, topic. And, no, the issue of race in our country is *not* larger than racial injustice. There are other issues as well, and they can certainly overlap with our huge racial problem—but we won't solve any of them if we just lump them together and dismiss the problems by saying, "All humans are susceptable to it." Yeah, and? That doesn't change the fact, say, that many African Americans in Jackson have never had the same opportunity to accumulate wealth and property in their families, as most white families have, or have had the same educational opportunities. That is, you won't be part of the solution for everyone, of all races, if you ignore the deep racial inequities and just say that, "All humans are susceptable to it." (And if we continue to ignore it, thus keeping our whiteness majority mantle in place, some day white folks are going to have the tables turned on us, or our children will. Just sayin.) You simply cannot argue with a straight face that tackling our racial inequities is somehow "injustice" to members of the majority culture. That is extremely intellectually dishonest and, frankly, downright silly. I challenge you to think deeper than that.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T10:59:06-06:00
ID
109415
Comment

I WANTED TO TAKE MY BOYS OUT TO LOOK AT LIGHTS SO WERE R THESE BRILIANT HOUSES Hi, it was me wiht the comment on brilliant houses. Here's what you do--find the Wal-mart on 49. Do you know how to get there? You can take I-20 to 49 or go the JEfferson street bridge. But, when you see the Wal-mart, turn OFF of 49. If you are heading South on 49 you take a right turn at the light just by the Walmart. I forget the name of the street. Basically you are turning right and going about 1/4 mile (cross RR tracks) then you get to old 49. Turn left on old 49, and immediately IT BEGINS...check out the decked out two-story they have even turned their barn into a manger scene! You go about a mile, then the road ends--turn right onto Cleary Road. Once again you have a ton of houses decorated. Take Cleary Road a mile or two until you come to a 4-way stop sign. If you turn right at the 4-way stop, you will drive another 2-3 miles and end up at I-55 (so you can go home). Or just turn around when you get to the 4-way stop and you can go back and see everything again! Happy holiday enjoyment to you...

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-12-19T11:03:18-06:00
ID
109416
Comment

I'm just waiting to see if we cover new ground on this argument. Haven't seen anything new yet. :D

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-12-19T11:04:56-06:00
ID
109417
Comment

Ironghost, it's the process that matters—it's not about winning a debate. (Me Venus; You Mars.) It's about thinking and discussion issues that have been buried for too long in this state. If your family sat around the dinner table and discussed the privileges of being part of the majority culture, and what they could all do to even the playing field, more power to them. But mine didn't, and I have some making up to do. Feel free to avert your eyes if you know it all already. Put another way, Mississippians have a sh!tload of processing to do. Buckle your seatbelts.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T11:07:48-06:00
ID
109418
Comment

hey Donna, I'm going to disagree with you for once. It appears to me that privledge is about power. And asking folks to "right past injustices" is going to involve the reallocation of some of that power. Take the example of a law firm that needs to diversify and decides to hire through affirmative action a black lawyer. Though the black attorney may be equally qualified, that job is one job that a white man is not going to get. Through the use of redressing balance, a person in privledge has to share their power (or their potential for power). Though I believe in redressing past imbalances, I think it's incorrect to ignore the reality that those in power will have to share that power and they might experience frustration along those lines. It's not always easy to learn to share.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-12-19T11:13:20-06:00
ID
109419
Comment

Wait: I don't see where we're disagreeing, Laurel. Of course it's about sharing power, at least in part. A lot of it is about resources, which of course turn into power. (That's why the majority culture has so much power.) And if you believe as I do, you know that power comes from sharing and compassion, at least of the kind that I'm interested in (as in: power to make a difference, power to earn respect, etc.). I'm not seeing the disagreement unless you're saying that such efforts to address inequities is more "injustice." And if you're saying that, perhaps we need to have a discussion of how we all define "injustice."

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T11:19:22-06:00
ID
109420
Comment

The worse writings I have ever tried to read were those cases written by some old incorrigibly evil and racist judges trying to justify committing genocide against the American Indians then setting up rules, morals, mores, standards, laws - all based in white supremacy to maintain the status quo. People with integrity, guts, real morals, and manhood would never accept such a corrupt system without questions, truth-tellings and measures to right the system so that everyone can gain self esteem, self-sufficiency, assets, redemption and forgiveness. No justice, no peace will be the order of the day, no matter how much racists desire order to protect their undeserved status in life.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T11:20:31-06:00
ID
109421
Comment

I think nepotism has been a huge roadblock in Mississippi to level playing fields. Look at the money-making Mississippi-owned businesses. Construction for example. Who do they hire in management? Son-in-laws, nephews, etc... Or they break down one large company to several small ones with family members in charge. And it will kick us in the ass someday...creating a sense of entitlement to those family members who did not work as hard to get the goods which is a horrible character trait to pass down to generations.

Author
emilyb
Date
2006-12-19T11:24:20-06:00
ID
109422
Comment

It's not that I have the answers, it's just I'm waiting on the sidelines for a new part of the discussion. I'm also leery of being tagged "racist" yet again in life for things I never participated in, didn't benefit from, and couldn't have changed anyway.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-12-19T11:25:01-06:00
ID
109423
Comment

Here's the problem with that comment, Ironghost: Who in hell has tagged you "racist"? Why is it that everytime we try to have this kind of discussion in mixed company, at least one white guy (often more) jumps up and start yelling about why he's being called "racist"—when he is not. Or, "why do I have to keep apologizing"—when he never has. Or, "I didn't do all that stuff"—when nobody said he did. The point here is how we can join together to make our entire society stronger. It's the burden of "whiteness" that causes such defensive responses. If you and others can shed this idea that this discussion must inevitably be about *you*—why? because you're "white"?—perhaps we can get somewhere. You guys are the ones blocking it from moving forward with your defensiveness and egocentrism. I don't think of myself as part of the "white" race; I think of myself as part of the human race. Thus, I believe it is my responsibility, my spiritual calling, to do my part to help the human race—not the white race or the black race or any other society-created race. In part, that means righting historical wrongs so that every human has a shot at the same dream. It's the very idea that somehow doing that is committing an "injustice" toward "white" people that is at the very heart of this discussion. That's the myth we need to bust. Thanks, though, for proving beyond a reasonable doubt, Ironghost, why we must have this conversation over and over again.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T11:32:56-06:00
ID
109424
Comment

And Em, that sense of entitlement is already there, unfortunately. It's up to the rest of us to ensure that it doesn't continue keeping certain people at a disadvantage. This is a fight for us all—and that "for" has two meanings.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T11:34:22-06:00
ID
109425
Comment

What is injustice? Is it always a personal definition? The few times white folks are passed over for a black person to gain an advantage can't even register on the scales compared to the times black folks have been passed over in favor of whites on the basis of race alone. This said I'm all for America reflecting its many hues in every place of existence with equal treatment to all. But I will never be for ignoring the past. I don't know how the future can be as bright as it should be without efforts to right past wrongs. White folks better pray there isn't any "this life" or "after life" justice because most could never handle justice at any level or at any place. I applaud the many good white folks who aren't afraid to look for and see the truth. And I love those who are willing to help make the world what it should and ought to be. I'm out.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T11:35:41-06:00
ID
109426
Comment

Ray: You said this... "What is injustice? Is it always a personal definition? The few times white folks are passed over for a black person to gain an advantage can't even register on the scales compared to the times black folks have been passed over in favor of whites on the basis of race alone. " Injustice is not righted by making sure it is equally applied. It is righted by ceasing to be unjust. Ladd: Who is asking for injustice, you ask? Read Ray's comments -- unless I am misunderstanding him, he is asking for "injustice", as a means of establishing "equity/equality"? Also, Ladd, you said this... "Also, saying that the sense was that it was "revenge" for Rodney King shows that you're a bit out of touch on that one. That sounds a bit to me like a white man's version of a very complex situation. To put it simply, as I understand it, some black people felt that the OJ verdict was payback for decades, if not centuries, of criminal injustice against people of color. It was much bigger than Rodney King, and rather belittles what that case stood for as well." How is "revenge" different from "payback"? However, all that being said, I didn't mean to derail this into a discussion of the OJ verdict. I was just using it as an example, but if it is distracting from the conversation I'm happy to drop it. Finally, I believe in making changes at an individual level because that is where real change always takes place. We both want to move past racial injusticve, Ladd. My generalization of it as one example of human injustice does not diminish it -- rather, it demystifies it. Racism is not a unique affliction of the white majority -- it is a special case of the prejudices that all humans establish, unless they consciously choose not to. Look around your world -- prejudice is as ubiquitous as differences in skin, dialect, religion, caste, you name it. To believe otherwise is, I think, to believe an incomplete truth. And this serves to just prolong our inability to deal with the issue.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T15:06:37-06:00
ID
109427
Comment

GLB, I'm not asking for injustice. Donna knows that. I believe you know that too. Didn't you bring up the word. But I happen to know that your view of justice/injustice and mines might/likely differ. After all, I imagine we have different goals. You want the status quo maintained regardless of how acquired, and I don't because the status quo wasn't earned, nor is it justified. Beyond this, I suspect we agree on some things. I would ask also what is integrity, really, beyond personal views? I'm onward to lighter subjects like Christmas decorations and Little Johnny letter to Santa.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T15:25:25-06:00
ID
109428
Comment

Injustice is not righted by making sure it is equally applied. It is righted by ceasing to be unjust. No, but that's a start. If we simply declare a moratorium on, um, injustice (wish we could, huh?), then the playing field is still unlevel, and many of us have advantages that we would not have without centuries of injustice and unfair advantage. That's the inherent problem. You can't just "stop" injustice and say, "now, everything's fair," when it's not. That's why wanting racism to end is not enough. What must be done is to face how it actually continues through folks in the majority culture who refuse to face its ravages, or do the rather simple things they could do, if they would, to change that. That's why I don't think your view, however good it sounds on the surface and well-meaning it probably is, is much better than what we've had in the past. It's too naive and self-focused on the viewpoint of a privileged white man. With due respect. How is "revenge" different from "payback"? You're not reading what I said closely. I'm saying the reaction was not revenge for Rodney King; if anything, it was an emotional response to sudden revenge for many, many years of racial injustice. I also said that is not a good thing, but that I can understand where it came from. And I haven't called for revenge, nor have others who want inequities evened out—you're the one who wrongly injecting the over-simplification of what we want as some sort of "revenge." And it's fine with me to drop that topic because it adds nothing to this conversation as presented. Of course you have to make change at the individual level, as well as at the macro and collective level. The irony, of course, is that the greatest resistance comes from individuals who are so afraid of being "blamed" for something they didn't do that they get bent out of shape over being asked to simply be a compassionate and proactive member of the human race—and it takes a whole lot of individuals working together (with honesty) to tackle the systemic problems. ook around your world -- prejudice is as ubiquitous as differences in skin, dialect, religion, caste, you name it. To believe otherwise is, I think, to believe an incomplete truth. Doh. Who has argued "otherwise"? Look out for low-hanging straw man!?! Duck!!! GLB, prejudice isn't the same thing as "racism." Neither is bigotry. You and others really should stop trying to negate what those words really mean. Such obtuseness on something so vital to the American experiment is a huge part of the problem. Put it this way: White Americans have not been victims of racism. As the majority culture, we cannot be (but could be should a new majority culture emerge). Yes, individuals may suffer from bigotry against them, or hate from individuals, but racism is a far different animal that cannot be cured only by individuals. It, by definition, is a societal or a collective problem.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T15:32:42-06:00
ID
109429
Comment

Also, GLB, you're definitely not following Ray's comments if you think he is asking for "injustice." I do suggest that, at least for a few minutes, that you try to view this discussion through something other than a typical defensive white man's lens. Wishing to right a past wrong, or wanting others to understand the systemic racism that takes a village to cure, is not calling for "injustice." You really can't just rewrite the language to serve a mission of self-focus. Actually, "white" folks have done that for a long time, and look where that's gotten us. We can do better, folks. And the first step is to put aside misplaced defensiveness and understand that our ancestors passed us a tough nut to crack, but that it's immensely crackable.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T15:35:31-06:00
ID
109430
Comment

Donna, you're a genius. I don't know why a town, city or something isn't named after you. I hope I can grow up and become as smart as you are. Is your smarts all genetic or do you have to read and work at being that critical of a reader, thinker and doer. This is why I love you so.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T15:52:58-06:00
ID
109431
Comment

Oh, Ray, stop. No, don't. Seriously, that is very meaningful coming from you. To try to answer your question seriously with some degree of modesty intact, I will say this. My mama was a *very* compassionate woman. She had no education, but a gaping hole in her heart that bled rivers for others, and I thank the good Lord every day that I inherited that ailment from her. I believe to the inside of my bones that had my mama had the opportunity to have any education whatsoever that she would have used it to try to make the world a better place—education from a base of compassion rather than greed, you could say. I am trying to be a daughter my mama would have been proud of—by pursuing and using my brain to, quite simply, try to make my postage stamp a bit more of a loving and compassionate (not to mention questioning) place. Now that I'm sounding immodest at best, allow me to add that anyone can make the same choices should they care to. In America, which I love-oh-love for this reason as well as others, each of us can *choose* to learn and think in order to do good for many, or we can use our education to feed our own greed. I learned from my illiterate mama, who died after years of depression over what she never got a chance to learn (she was poor, but grieved for knowledge and love, not riches), that education is precious because of the power it gives us to do good things. It's up to us to choose how we use it. Now, my friend, I have an editor's note to finish. Peace.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T16:09:55-06:00
ID
109432
Comment

Ladd and Ray: If Ray asked to "right a past wrong" then I'm with him. I don't call that asking for injustice. However, what am I to make of this? "The few times white folks are passed over for a black person to gain an advantage can't even register on the scales compared to the times black folks have been passed over in favor of whites on the basis of race alone" What are these "scales"? Is he saying that I shouldn't complain if a white person is treated unjustly because of his race, for the sole reason that more black people have historically been treated unjustly because of their race? Does that not mean that the scales here, are scales of INjustice? I would argue that it is right to defend justice for white people, and right to defend it for black people, and wrong -- ALWAYS wrong -- to do otherwise. How is that naive? I do not negate racism by defining it as a special case of prejudice. That is what it is. It springs from the same set of feelings and fears that spawn all prejudices. We categorize people and things into safe/useful/desireable and unsafe/useless/undesireable, and then gravitate to the one and shun the other. We associate these categories with characeteristics such as race, sex, dress, appearance, ect. We use these categories to sort those we encounter, so we don't have to learn about each individual before deciding what to do with them. It is part of our nature. And if we don't actively choose to mitigate this, we lazily slide into this pattern. I guess I don't understand how you are defining racsim. You seem to be defining it as a device which the majority culture uses to supress minority cultures. Is that true? In that case, what you are talking about is certainly not racism. After all, the majority and minority cultures need not even be of different races. The best term I can come up with is "cultural repression". And yes, it is certainly a problem here. And it is also a problem everywhere else in the world. Again this does not diminish it -- it just shows how central the problem is to being human. And I think it has its roots in the same process by which we build prejudices. And so that's why I focus right there -- to work to tear it out by the roots.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T16:21:00-06:00
ID
109433
Comment

Ray: I'm sorry I referred to you in the second person above. I had addressed my post to both you and Ladd. I shouldn't have said "Is he saying", I should have said "Are you saying". Again, sorry about that.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T16:26:04-06:00
ID
109434
Comment

Is he saying that I shouldn't complain if a white person is treated unjustly because of his race, for the sole reason that more black people have historically been treated unjustly because of their race? Does that not mean that the scales here, are scales of INjustice? GLB, why don't you *ask* him what he is saying, rather than taking the rather more privileged approach of *telling* him? It's clear from your response that you are hearing what you want to hear—a black man saying that he wants revenge and an inequality of "injustice" in order to pay back the white man for all those years of ugliness. That's. Not. What. He's. Saying. Your prism is skewed, GLB. There's good reason for that because what you're saying is what the dominant culture has hammered into our little white heads since we were babies. As for the definition of "racism"—can you see the "ism" part in that? Do you understand what that means? The word is not interchangeable with "bigotry" or "prejudice," for God's sake, even if that makes it convenient for your argument. I know this may come as a shocker, but convenience and comfort for white people is not my top priority—a better society that is trying to rid itself of its very systemic racISM is the goal. And, frankly, it's a selfish one for me as well. My life will be better without my having living under the non-thinking defensiveness that still tries to excuse, and thus not do enough to reverse, the legacy of white supremacy. If you don't believe in racISM, then you have to do everything you can to change the society. By frackin' definition. Come on. Think harder here. Easy excuses are easy excuses even when shrouded in pretentious language. Again this does not diminish it -- it just shows how central the problem is to being human. Thank the Goddess that more people do not hanker to your defeatist attitude. We wouldn't have had the Civil Rights Movement, for instance, if more people had just believed that racISM is just another annoying universal human habit. Sigh.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T16:30:04-06:00
ID
109435
Comment

And I think it has its roots in the same process by which we build prejudices. And so that's why I focus right there -- to work to tear it out by the roots. This one I applaud you for. The problem is that while you advocate that piece of a larger puzzle, you criticize those trying to tackle the other pieces. And there is the very real question of whether your individual work can do any good without being directed toward the larger problem i.e. recognizing the systemic basis of racISM. And can you tear it out by the roots if you don't understand what racISM really means? That's not to negate your efforts; just to challenge you to understand the full landscape that you're dealing with here. Another question I will pose for thought: One person clearly can be bigoted against another, or "prejudiced" in some way, regardless outside influence or support—but can one person commit "racISM" against another?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T16:36:44-06:00
ID
109436
Comment

OK, here's an example of what I mean—how someone can tackle bigotry at the roots, while missing the point of racISM in a larger context: Determined to tear out "racism" at its roots, a parent tells their children never to call a person of color by names, to be polite, to be respectful in their presence, to even make friends with people of other races. We are all the same; he's just as smart as you are; we don't believe in "prejudice." However, the parent also teaches, many black people just want the government to take care of them. And don't forget that affirmative action is an injustice against white people because it's just reverse racism against white people. We are all equal now, all that other stuff is in the past, and he has to work just as hard as we do to get a job or into college. It's black people's responsibility to start taking care of their children and stop wanting something for nothing.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T16:43:42-06:00
ID
109437
Comment

I'm alright. GLB, you didn't offend me in any way.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T16:55:03-06:00
ID
109438
Comment

Good posts. I'm no authority on racism, but it seems to me that the problem we face in the world is not so much the racism white people talk about, but rather the racism white people don't talk about. It's all well and good to teach your kids the abstract belief that whites and blacks are fundamentally equal, that you shouldn't behave in an overtly racist way, and so forth. But it's not enough to teach kids good and bad behavior, because the media will more than make up for that. What does it mean, little white child, to say that blacks aren't violent when the media reports on the black male perpetrator of the day, and you're taught to fear black males? What does it mean to say that blacks are as intelligent as white when the graduation and standardized test rates are lower, and you're taught to believe that blacks are not your intellectual equals? What does it mean to say that a black person can do anything a white person can do when the media sends the message--completely and demonstrably false, by the way--that most blacks receive government assistance, and most people who receive government assistance are black? And then there's the media portrayals--any white kid whose idea of blackness is based on Flavor of Love and gangsta rap and pro sports is going to learn some undesirable messages from all that. And then there's our own behavior. How can any white parents have the audacity to teach their kids to honor Dr. King, then go to a series of Christmas parties where the only black folks there are the ones serving drinks and hors d'ouvres? How can any white parents have the audacity to talk about how we're all created equal in the image of God, then take their kids to an all-white church? How can any white parents praise the end of school segregation, then take their kids to white private schools? So the antiracist lessons we teach our kids very quickly become Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus phenomena. We say one thing and reality tells them another, and they start suspecting in the backs of their minds, in a way they'd never verbalize, that the ideas behind racism are the awful truth that nobody wants to confront because it's impolite or unpleasant. What they don't realize is that the evidence supporting racism is made up of lies, elaborations, half-truths, disproportionate media emphasis--and they'll never realize it unless people tell them, and they probably won't learn that in school, and they certainly won't learn that by watching television. So it's not enough to say "don't say n___r." White parents who are serious about not raising racist kids really have a very, very tough job to do. We have to be philosophers. We have to confront the unspoken lies of our culture. We have to say that everything they know is wrong, and we have to demonstrate why. It is an uphill struggle. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but step one will be socialization--put my kids around real living, breathing black peers and black role models instead of media concoctions. That's how my mother gave me a leg up on institutional racism, and the first thing I will want to do if and when I have kids of my own is carry on that tradition. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T17:29:16-06:00
ID
109439
Comment

(Of course this is assuming that the kids I have are white, and that's a mighty big assumption. Obviously if the woman I end up settling down with is black herself, raising antiracist kids gets a whole lot easier--not necessarily easy, because white kids aren't the only ones who get clobbered with all these images of what black folks are supposed to be, but certainly easi-er. And of course there's the possibility that I could settle down with a white woman and we could still adopt black kids, which would present an entirely different set of socialization-related challenges. Nothing is written in stone.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T17:38:47-06:00
ID
109440
Comment

Excellent commentary, Tom. Harold Kruse in the Crisis of the Negro Intellectual told some black nationalists one time in response to their question about whether they could bring about a revolution in America; "yes, it is possible if you can figure out how to neutralize CBS, NBC and ABC." And this was before FOXX, CNN, the internet, et al. These misguided fellows never even considered the power of the mass media.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T17:43:22-06:00
ID
109441
Comment

AMEN, Ray. And thanks. I believe the biggest proponents of institutional racism today are organizations that would never describe themselves as racist, that never use racial epithets, that often have nondiscrimination policies and strong black representation on their boards and committees. Some are even predominantly black organizations. Racism didn't go away; it just went mainstream, and just as punk rock and hip-hop changed into more accessible, listener-friendly forms when they went mainstream, racism did, too. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T17:50:14-06:00
ID
109442
Comment

Thanks, Ray. Ladd, I'll work backwards from your example Determined to tear out "racism" at its roots, a parent tells their children that it is not o.k. to judge people by their appearances. That it is not o.k. to look down on people who struggle with things they don't struggle with, because they may have different circumstances to deal with. That it is not o.k. to pick on the kid everyone else is picking on, just to fit in. Then, as they get older, the parent challenges their kid to think about the social issues. Why are so many black people poor? Why are so many of the rich people white? Are they inherently given to these extremes, or maybe is something else happening in their lives and circumstances? You encourage your kid to be as honest as possible, and to give voice to any opinion they have, even if they think it is inappropriate or insensitive. You don't teach them mantras -- you encourage them to think through their questions. Then the parent encourages the kid to talk to kids of other races and cultures, or to talk to friends of the parents who are of different cultures, to see if they can learn how they are different and why. Ultimately, you hope the kid learns not to pre-judge, to value diferences without denying their existence, and to desire to associate and communicate with people who are different. And if you are a black parent, you do the same things You wil probably say I am being naive here, that this is not what happens. And you are right. in that regard -- what hapens is often closer to what you described. But what you don't seem to understand is that the approach I described may not happen often, but it is what I am advocating. It all stems from addressing personal prejudice -- it all starts from there, and ultimately it all ends there. You say I am not seeing the larger picture. I do see it. But I see that the solution still resides at the roots. I know that I would likely be much more racially prejudiced than I am if it were not for the influence of my older brother. He was not an idealogue, or really even particularly a good example in other ways (drank like a fish, got into fights, ect). But, for whatever reason, he had almost no inclination toward racism. All his friends were black, filipino, chinese, what have you. To me, they were just cool, because they were my brother's friends, and he was cool. That was seed material for me to see people of different races as individuals, and not categories. That early worship of my brother's friends helped fend off some of the innate tendences to look down on people of other races. I am much less naturally noble than my brother in this regard, so I still retain some of those prejudices. But I am further down the road because of that influence.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T18:01:49-06:00
ID
109443
Comment

Ladd: Maybe I am dense, but I still don't see what you are driving at by capitalizing ISM in racism. Can one person commit racism against another? Well, a person can't commit prejudice against another either, but they can BE prejudiced against another, just as they can they can BE racist against another. What is the difference between racist and racism? A racist is one who embraces racism, just as a communist is one who embraces communism, a captalist is one who embraces capitalism, ect.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T18:09:30-06:00
ID
109444
Comment

Great, GLB. I'll admit I might have slightly misinterpreted or perhaps overreacted to that sentence of yours that I quoted. I didn't mean to suggest that I support real or obvious injustices of any sort on anyone. There may be some disagreement as to what an injustice really is which is the reason we have to have honest discussions to work through unclear areas. I'll even admit that I probably wasn't as clear as I should have been in my commentaries. Cheers, as told would say.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-19T18:12:28-06:00
ID
109445
Comment

GLB, the point is that there is a difference between racism and bigotry (or prejudice, which is even more general). Racism is a system of discrimination by the powerful against the powerless. An act of bigotry is not by definition "racISM," or systemic. You have to have the power to hurt another race (not individual) in order to be "racist." That doesn't mean that bigotry isn't bad; but it does mean that "racism" is a bigger nut to crack. And if you insist on mixing up bigotry and racISM, and then saying that it one can cure racISM with individual actions at home and without dealing with past inequity, you're playing semantics, but then you leave this huge systemic problem out there unfixed. That, by the way, we've been doing for years. Also, on this defintion thing, it's not like I'm making this up. Much has been written by folks much smarter than I on this vexing problem of majority cultures trying to claim "reverse racism" by pretending to be equal victims—oh-so-maligned by any effort to reverse past problems. That's B.S., and it's time for more white folks to (a) understand this and (b) call it for what it is. (B.S.) As I said, we're all hurt more if we don't think deeper; the blind defensiveness is at the root of so many of our current societal problems, including crime epidemics. There's some roots for you to pull on. Back to square one: Your accusation of desires for reverse "injustice" are way, way off base. Also, I admire your ability to see the whole picture. I once thought more like you do now, and then under more examination (and cross-examination from some smart folk of various races), figured out that I hadn't even scratched the surface. So I put aside my arrogance over wanting to be right and went back to the drawing board. That's when I discovered, and began to comprehend, the riddles and traps of the beliefs of the majority culture and our desires to believe that everyone thinks like we do. This lesson was very freeing. I recommend it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T18:25:25-06:00
ID
109446
Comment

And, Ladd, I am repeating what Ray says and explaining what I get from it. I am hoping that, if I am wrong, he will correct my sense of it. I'm not telling him what he is saying, I'm telling him what I hear. That is communication. One more thing to note. You accuse me of telling Ray what he IS saying, and you say that it is a privileged approach. But then you turn around and you tell me what he isn't ISN'T saying. What's the difference?

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T18:25:43-06:00
ID
109447
Comment

Oh, and GLB, you are at least halfway there already. Your comments so far are encouraging, if discouraging in spots when you fall back on the sacred principles of defensiveness they try to instill in us. Keep on keepin' on.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T18:26:49-06:00
ID
109448
Comment

Actually, earlier you were telling him what he said, but you've backed off. That's cool. You're right; that is communication. What's the difference? Well, it seems apparent, being that he said I know what he is saying. And I also know him well, and know that he will tan my hide if I get it wrong. There was also a certain privileged offensiveness in your treatment of him, but we won't hold that against you. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T18:29:20-06:00
ID
109449
Comment

Thanks Ray. Ladd, your definition of racism only involves race if the repressed culture is of a different race than the dominant culture. So racism becomes a special case of systematic cultural repression, where the cultures divide along racial lines. In any case, I believe this "systemic" problem is best remedied locally -- that is, individually. I don't meant to say that we should ignore history, or even that we shouldn't seek to amend false history -- of course we should. But I think that is still not the fundamental issue that needs to be resolved.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T18:38:18-06:00
ID
109450
Comment

Ladd, not to be picky, but Ray staring off by saying I have white supremacist views. This is not true, but it didn't bother me so I let it pass. But I hardly think I was being MORE offensive than him.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T18:43:27-06:00
ID
109451
Comment

GLB, could you quote that back to me; it's not that I don't believe you, just no time to look for it to see exactly what he wrote. Interesting that you feel so qualified to pick THE "fundamental" issue, GLB. Don't hate me if I don't take your word as the authority on this based on your posts so far. Also, it's not *my* definition of racISM. Racism *is* about systemic discrimination based on bigotry enacted by those who have the power to create an "-ism." And you're right: You have to be a member of a majority culture in order to do that—otherwise, you don't have the power to turn your bigotry into an "-ism." It's curious to me why this rather precise definition would bug you so much. Is it because it's important to you to have the excuse of "reverse racism" to fall back on? Or to have a way to justify NOT trying to turn back historic injustices to level the playing field? Otherwise, it doesn't make any sense. We are perfectly capable, as members of the majority culture, of pointing out and fighting bigotry against us because we're white (or southern, or women, or young, or whatever). I do that all the time—but it doesn't mean I can just make up that I'm a victim of "racism" because someone is bigoted toward me because I'm white. They are just not the same thing. I never said that "individual" efforts aren't necessary. Of course, they are—but they must be with an eye toward righting the "big picture" as you call it, or we will see exactly what has happened over the last 40 years—marginal progress and even turnbacks as conservatives try to close the public schools and racism causes re-segregation. And denial of what racism *is* and a substitution of something that makes it look like white folks are just as badly victimized by an epidemic of multi-layered discrimination supported by the dominant culture, with horrible, lasting effects, just will not help us solve the problem. Instead of puffing out your chest against a definition of racism that doesn't offer you an extra layer of comfort, why not put aside the belief that you already know all the answers and just ponder it a bit? That's probably all Ray and I can ask for in such a discussion. In so doing, you might just reach the same conclusion that I did—that white people are hurting themselves by not understanding the systemic aspects of racism and how they/we contribute to it without even understanding that we do. THEN, we can start to crack that nut. First, we have the shatter the defensiveness and excuses, though.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T19:29:19-06:00
ID
109452
Comment

Whoa, nice 4:20 p.m. post, Tom. This stuff is amazing: And then there's our own behavior. How can any white parents have the audacity to teach their kids to honor Dr. King, then go to a series of Christmas parties where the only black folks there are the ones serving drinks and hors d'ouvres? How can any white parents have the audacity to talk about how we're all created equal in the image of God, then take their kids to an all-white church? How can any white parents praise the end of school segregation, then take their kids to white private schools? [...] So it's not enough to say "don't say n___r." White parents who are serious about not raising racist kids really have a very, very tough job to do. We have to be philosophers. We have to confront the unspoken lies of our culture. We have to say that everything they know is wrong, and we have to demonstrate why. It is an uphill struggle. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but step one will be socialization--put my kids around real living, breathing black peers and black role models instead of media concoctions. That's how my mother gave me a leg up on institutional racism, and the first thing I will want to do if and when I have kids of my own is carry on that tradition. The thought that an American kid could get a "good" education at a school that is overwhelmingly their own race (not to mention class) is mind-boggling to me. I could go no greater than "decent," and I don't care what school that is. I've thanked the good Lord many times that my parents could not afford to send me to private school (although I doubt it ever crossed their minds). That, of course, doesn't mean that private-school kids are hopeless—down, y'all—it just means that they have more real-life catching up to do before they're truly "educated." Some do that in spades and more; others never even try. Of course, the same thing can happen in public schools, especially those predominately one thing or another. I'm not arguing that public schools are panaceas—but neither are uppity private schools where kids are shielded from the knowledge and understanding they need to be good citizens. As for church, a primary reason I don't attend some of the churches here that share so many of my views is that they are not diverse enough. I simply do not want to fertilize my personal spirituality in a roomful of white people (and I need music that doesn't put me to sleep).

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T20:20:25-06:00
ID
109453
Comment

I shouldn't have brought up the thing about what Ray said. It is irrelevant, and he already said he would have revised the phrasing. Sorry about that, Ray. Ladd, If you could only hear how many times and in how many ways you make assumptions about my motives! I leave them all unaddressed simply because it would bog down the discussion, but in the last post alone you made at least 4 unfounded assumptions about me and my motives (granted, 2 were in the form of questions, but they implied that I must have one or both of these motives because no other motives make any sense to you). I am interested in this definiton of racism precisely because it points out that it is really a subset of cultural repression, which has its roots in individual, and then corporate, prejudice. I think this is important, because I think the institutuional problems are not the foundation, they are the edifice. Individual prejduces are the foundation. (In case I sound like a know-it-all, I wish it to be knwon that what follows is my OPINION) Although the Civil Rights movement, integration, and other gains have been good and needed changes to our culture, they have falied in one sense. That is, the very imposition of some of these changes has resulted in backlash, that stems not so much from the changes themselves as from a resentment about the imposition of them. As a result, although white society often says all the right things publically, a shadow culture of nepotism and favoritism has developed that seeks to perpetuate the old system. This is not only a result of these particular changes. Any infringement on the status quo imposed by the goverment will result in similar resentment and similar backlash. The problem is that these changes can ONLY take root if the individuals in the culture CHOOSE to embrace them. And this comes about by individuals examining their own prejudices, and deciding that they'd rather get to know people than to pigeonhole them. If they make this choice, then they will begin to embrace reform on their own. If they don't make this choice, they wil resist and fight back, no matter what the government does. And the choice to overcome prejudice is a choice that every person, whether empowered or not, must make in their lives. Because at some point, and in some situation, they will likely be empowered. And then what they do with that power will follow directly from this choice. THAT"S why I prefer to focus on the individual aspect of all of this.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-19T20:39:58-06:00
ID
109454
Comment

Donna writes: The thought that an American kid could get a "good" education at a school that is overwhelmingly their own race (not to mention class) is mind-boggling to me. I could go no greater than "decent," and I don't care what school that is. Well, I was homeschooled in an all-white family, but Mom had the foresight to make my main social outlet the State Street YWCA, which was probably the most well-integrated venue in town. I think, relevant to this, that if kids *do* go to an all-white private school, it shouldn't be the center of their social life. But I know the way schools go, they inevitably are the center of kids' social lives--the sheer number of hours spent there guarantees it. As for church, a primary reason I don't attend some of the churches here that share so many of my views is that they are not diverse enough. I simply do not want to fertilize my personal spirituality in a roomful of white people (and I need music that doesn't put me to sleep). Want to know a secret, Donna? I'm coming to the same conclusion. I went to a party Friday night and it suddenly hit me like a lightning bolt: I'm sitting on the sofa, and nobody within 15 feet is white or over 35. And the part that almost made me cry was that I realized I hadn't even noticed that--it felt natural. I had finally, God, finally reached the point in my life where I wasn't sitting in rooms full of middle-aged white people, week in, week out, and it felt so much like home. Because I wasn't raised to go to an upper-class white church--so I never felt comfortable in the sort of environments where people of color don't feel comfortable. My best experience at St. Andrew's was the Spanish Mass, which was obviously overwhelmingly Latino. I couldn't even speak the language, but there was something about it that just felt more fun, more like home, and I think it's the fact that it wasn't the older, wealthy, stiff-upper-lip white culture that had dominated every other area of my life at that particular point. I mean, I never had to wonder why black folks didn't just show up at white churches and integrate them by just being there. I could feel it. Some environments are tangibly white; they just don't feel like integrated venues. And some of this is deliberate, when it comes to churches--even liberal churches. James R. Adams is president of the Center for Progressive Christianity. He says in his book So You Think You're Not Religious?, p. 190: Because religion is both a personal and a tribal affair, people find as a rule that worship is most satisfactory when they are worshiping with people much like themselves ... Churches with a racial or cultural mix exist, but by examining them closely the visitor will likely find them to be congregations in transition from one kind of people to another. Most skeptics would be better off in a more stable community with a clear sense of its own identity. This view is pretty much monolithic in the white liberal religious community. I asked a high-ranking national church person if he had any suggestions on how we might better integrate our little church in this 73% black city. He said that making our congregations more ethnically diverse has never worked in the past, and he believes that should not be a priority. So your decision is probably a wise one. I mean, I'm sure we both remember well the panel/screening a year ago on church segregation. I'm getting very tired of showing up in white groups and trying to integrate them. One of my rules of 2007 is that I'm going to give that up. If a group is tangibly not diverse and not open to becoming more diverse, then the thing to do is smile and nod and walk away. People aren't stupid. Everybody who really wants to integrate can figure out how. It isn't rocket science. So why waste time pushing a rope? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T21:45:58-06:00
ID
109455
Comment

By the way, the attitude Adams expresses is not limited to white segregation. I phoned him once (before I noticed that paragraph) offering to help with his organization's web site, which was in pretty sad shape at the time. He not only blew me off, but he blew me off with contempt. It was only after I got off the phone that I realized my Southern accent probably played a role in that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T21:59:04-06:00
ID
109456
Comment

I shouldn't have brought up the thing about what Ray said. It is irrelevant, and he already said he would have revised the phrasing. Sorry about that, Ray. Not so fast, GLB. You used this thing Ray supposedly say about you being a white supremacist to scold me as well for what I said on his behalf. Please quote it back to me as I can't find what you're talking back.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T22:00:37-06:00
ID
109457
Comment

Ladd, If you could only hear how many times and in how many ways you make assumptions about my motives! GLB, I am responding to what you are saying. Please feel free to quote back these "assumptions" so I can tell you what you said that influence what others think about you. This could be a teachable moment for both you and me. Just trying to negate what I'm saying by proclaiming that I am making assumptions about you without saying what they are is rather cheap, and isn't lending credibility to your argument. So don't accuse and run. Trot it out there. Until you play fair on that front, I'll try to refrain from challenging your points much more as it's clear what the outcome will be—"cut and run" you could call it. ;-) Besides, simply put, what's wrong with the rest of your last post is that you are assuming that people will make the choice to end their own prejudice without the opportunity to know that it's actually there—because without the benefit of trying to incorrect (and at least air out thoroughly) past injustices by the majority culture, their privileged point of view is telling them they are doing nothing wrong because they don't support, say, lynching, or separate lunch counters. This is the point where you have ignored much of what I have said so far about racISM and how it's perpetuated (usually through ignorance, not direct awareness). Again, I'm not arguing against these noble individual efforts you speak of—it's just that with your attitude stated well above (I "assume" you meant what you typed), those efforts are only going to be so effective. In fact, your most recent post sounds a little bit like you're only willing to preach to an almost-willing choir. Because, rejecting prejudice (or the racISM they know little about) is their "choice," after all. I know what you mean, Tom: I have hard time enjoying those kinds of parties, even if everybody (or especially if) everyone in the room thinks a lot like me. They're too much of a reminder for me of how far we have to go in a city like Jackson, which is so diverse, if progressive folks only flock together with people of their own race. Fortunately, I socialize with a lot of people who are deliberate about their outreach across racial boundaries. And if churches mean that Godly thing they preach, they should do everything in their power to reach out to people of all races and backgrounds. Nothing less will do. Heed the warning signs, peeps.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T22:14:42-06:00
ID
109458
Comment

Oh, and screw Adams.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-19T22:15:35-06:00
ID
109459
Comment

The trouble with Adams is that he isn't alone; near as I can tell, he is representing the predominant attitude the white Religious Left has towards race. The bit in The Most Segregated Hour about the segregated white and non-white discussion groups? The UUA mandates that in its national antiracism curriculum. You either attend People of Color meetings or White Allies meetings. And as a result, this denomination, with a black president and a larger antiracism focus in its budget than any other in the country I've seen, is still 97% white. Not that I'm singling out UUism; that's true of every single liberal denomination in the country, with exactly zero exceptions as far as I can tell. It's one of the reasons why I've pretty much given up on organized religion. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T22:24:15-06:00
ID
109460
Comment

But yeah, agreed re: the parties, too. The Friday party was delightfully well-integrated. But I went to one very liberal party a year or two ago--I won't say the context--and despite the high (>100) attendance in this 73% black city, there were literally no black folks in the room except for the cook and the guy who was serving the wine. What's the point of even being liberals if our parties look like that in a 73% black city? That's why one of my new year's resolutions for 2007 is to avoid those kinds of groups. I backed out of one nonprofit recently after one meeting because I showed up and it was tangibly a "white" meeting. I don't have time for that. Even if I didn't care about integration, I just don't enjoy those kinds of events. They're way too stiff. The food is too rich. Everybody laughs funny. It just feels awkward. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T22:42:49-06:00
ID
109461
Comment

Ahhh, Tom brought up an awesome point and it has continued in this thread Segregation in church. I'll state this up front, I attend one of those mega Baptist churches. Make your own assumptions. I'm like Charlie Reese, I'll let you know precisley where I'm at. I'd like to think we welcome everyone and go to great pains to open the doors to anyone who would attend. And, to some degree, we've achieved some racial integration in the church . My point, when we can integrate the churches, the gates of hell have no chance. And if I may be so bold, I love visiting other churches and have always wanted to experience an inner city small Baptist church where when I walked in, they wouldn't stare at me Any ideas?

Author
Doc Rogers
Date
2006-12-19T22:44:26-06:00
ID
109462
Comment

Doc, I admire your honesty on this. Racial integration is one area where there seems to be no difference whatsoever between white liberal and white conservative churches. Both suck at it. :o) And most black churches are very theologically conservative--one of the reasons why I've never really attended one. I mean, show me a black church where gay folks can get their unions celebrated and I'm there. That's the catch-22 for white liberals who want to go to church: I can either betray my values on issues like feminism and anti-heterosexism, or I can betray my values on racial integration. Because your theology is (presumably) more conservative than mine, that's a problem you don't have--you could walk into the door of almost any Missionary Baptist church in Jackson next Sunday and theologically, you'd probably fit in just fine. I envy you! Other folks will have suggestions. I'll make the obvious ones, which are Christ the King Catholic (Lynch) and St. Mark's Episcopal (W Capitol), but obviously, neither are Baptist. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T23:18:16-06:00
ID
109463
Comment

I love honesty in a conversation! Ladd will probably kill this thread for all the back slapping. Yes, I expect most inner city baptist churches to be theologically conservative. Imagine what they gotta confront when a white guy comes to pray. Because I beleive were all equal in Gods eye. With regards to the "white liberal hetrosexism" issue, good luck. You're correct, my theology lies to what's considered to the right. But I don't care, I'm trying to reach everybody. Alternative points of view are always welcome!

Author
Doc Rogers
Date
2006-12-19T23:42:09-06:00
ID
109464
Comment

Actually, the funny thing is that in my experience--and I'm speaking secondhand when it comes to the specific issue of churches--white folks tend to feel much more welcomed in black venues than black folks do in white venues. The aforementioned parents of my best friend growing up were interracial--black man, white woman--and they said the only church in town that they both felt comfortable at was Christ the King. For my part, I have been the only white guy in the room many times, and it has never bothered me. I have never--never--been made to feel unwelcome in a predominantly black venue. I have a theory about this. White venues tend to represent high levels of socioeconomic mobility, so in order to keep folks out, they kind of subtly--almost unconsciously--developed stiff, unwelcoming, cold, dressy, cocktail-music, fragile-dishes, rich-food sensibilities that are definitely an acquired taste, even for whites if they weren't raised in the upper caste. Since black venues have also historically been low-income venues, they never had to develop exclusionary characteristics--you don't hear very much about white folks "passing for black" because it would never occur to most white folks to try. Why would they? In material terms, they don't get much out of the deal; whites already get the first fruits of every tree, from the biggest grocery stores to the highest levels of state university budget distribution, and it has only gotten incrementally better since the 60s. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T23:53:20-06:00
ID
109465
Comment

Doc, you are hitting on a pretty important point about religion and segregation and how divided the races continue to be on Sunday morning. This happens all over the country. Megachurchs are doing their part to try to break down this barrier, but its hard to break old habits. Personally, while I really enjoy watching Billy and Franklin Graham on TV, and I've watched white church services on Sunday when I wasn't feeling well enough to go to church, I much prefer seeing a black face in the pulpit when I actually enter a sanctuary. Not that anyone was ugly or nasty towards me when I've visited a few of the local white churches (in fact at the white church I was invited to attend in Flowood, the people were nothing but nice and polite to me), but I've never felt entirely comfortable in them either. By the same token, its always a little odd to me when white people occasionally visit my church; I wonder whether they happened to enter the church by mistake, saw all of the black people sitting around them and were just too self-conscious to leave.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-12-19T23:54:15-06:00
ID
109466
Comment

Ladd: Don't have time to type much now. Sorry. But I really don't want to note all the times I think you've made assumptions, because it will derail the thread. But I am sorry for bringing it up without being willing to back it up. My only defense is, again, an unwillingness to derail things. Two quick notes: You said this: "In fact, your most recent post sounds a little bit like you're only willing to preach to an almost-willing choir. Because, rejecting prejudice (or the racISM they know little about) is their "choice," after all." Yes, it is their choice, whether they are in the choir or not. The truth is, choosing prejudice has lots of benefits in this world. It keeps you feeling safer, it can help you get ahead in many circles, it can help you feel superior. To deny these advantages is just to perpetuate a type of dishonesty. Most often, I choose to reject prejudice. But sometimes I don't. I hope to get more consistent with it as my life goes on, and to grow. But it is a choice I make because that is part of who I want to be. And you, and Tom, and Ray, and Doc, and everyone else, can make whichever choice about this you want to. One more thing. Since you wanted to know where Ray said what he said about me. Here it is. This was posted by Ray on 19 Dec at 9:25 am (he starts by quiting one of my posts)... "I don't think it's ever acceptable to justify injustice against those who have traditional privilege in compensation for past injustice against those who do not." That's because you don't really believe in redemption, equity/equality and righting obvious past wrongs. It's likewise likely because you have white supremacist views. I bet you wouldn't feel that way if you had been enslaved for years, and freed with no home, food, or money?" I'l try to address some of your other points later, Ladd, if I'm still awake.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-20T00:30:14-06:00
ID
109467
Comment

Oh my God! You guys are really something...having another real (and necessary) dialogue about an issue that for too long has been the 'elephant in the room'! Donna and JFP, you totally R.O.C.K. As usual, Tom and Ray, you are as brilliant as ever...insightful, provacative and passionate. How I wish all Mississippians could join in to share, learn, give, receive and understand. And GLB, I admire--and respect--your willingness to state and advance your opinion. This is awesome. Keep it going!

Author
Kacy
Date
2006-12-20T00:57:40-06:00
ID
109468
Comment

Ladd: You said this: "Besides, simply put, what's wrong with the rest of your last post is that you are assuming that people will make the choice to end their own prejudice without the opportunity to know that it's actually there—because without the benefit of trying to incorrect (and at least air out thoroughly) past injustices by the majority culture, their privileged point of view is telling them they are doing nothing wrong because they don't support, say, lynching, or separate lunch counters. This is the point where you have ignored much of what I have said so far about racISM and how it's perpetuated (usually through ignorance, not direct awareness). Again, I'm not arguing against these noble individual efforts you speak of—it's just that with your attitude stated well above (I "assume" you meant what you typed), those efforts are only going to be so effective. In fact, your most recent post sounds a little bit like you're only willing to preach to an almost-willing choir. Because, rejecting prejudice (or the racISM they know little about) is their "choice," after all. " I do support airing these issues and discussing them. But I think the only people who will listen are those with some desire to change. So, in that sense, your emphasis on education will only be so effective. And, inthe same sense, you could be said to be preching to the choir. So what are we to do? I think both are necessary, but I think where you and I differ is that I tend to focus principally on the role of individual choice. Again, I think that chocies about prejudice are the foundational issue -- everything else follows. I don't mean to sound like I am negating or belittling your effort or the efforts of others. I'm very sorry if this discussion gave that impression. I just feel strongly that I have put my finger on something of fundamental impotance to this issue, so I talk about it. I wrote a column about this a year an a half ago, because I believed then that what I was saying needed to be said. I still think that's true. Prejudice is human. Each of us can choose not to submit to it, but we must want to make that choice. And me must fight to overcome it within ourselves. Once we make that choice, we should make efforts to correct injustices as we learn about them, and try not to participate in them. (To be honest, I really think we must pray more than fight, but I don't want to divert things too much.) Anyway, peace everyone. Good night.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-20T01:09:12-06:00
ID
109469
Comment

Thank you Kacy. We are blessed in this community that Donna supports and contributes to this forum, and that people like Tom and Ray ... and the rest (Here on Gilligan's Isle!) are here to talk about all this stuff. Hugs all around. Once again, exit..stage left even.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-20T01:12:35-06:00
ID
109470
Comment

GLB, although I admitted I wasn't totally clear in my initial interpretations, I haven't backed up any. I know what I'm talking about. So do Donna and Tom. They're doing an excellent job of setting forth the common arguments and positions of many common white folks, and many so-called social scientists, critics and scholars. Ironghost said he's waiting on something new. Try this Iron. After black folks were freed, not only were we penniless, homeless and unwanted; we didn't receive any psychological treatment from all the trauma we endured during slavery of 200 years, 100 years of Jim Crowism, and uncounted years of James Crowism, Jr. After slavery, we had no black doctors or other mental experts to help fix us. We just did the best we could in the face of extreme hatred and violence. Jews, Japaneses, and many others got therapy and treatment for some of their mistreatment and situations. Some even got reparations. White racists could never show the humanity to even admit we have suffered a real injury, not to mention granting real or adequate therapy or recompense. A shooting at Pearl High School garners more sympathy from most whites than slavery ever will. And I know exactly why this is the case. Sure a few black folks have overcome all these odds and done well. Most have not, and shouldn't be expected to. Do all white people overcome their mere lots in life, that in not encumbered by abject racism. If not, why are black folks required or expected to overcome almost 400 years of abuse just to please some of y'all, maybe most of y'all? The truth is that the vestiges and residue of slavery and Jim Crowisn aren't over. You can't cure a problem by mostly overlooking it and patching a little bit at a time. However, I implore us to save ourselves, fully realizing that most of you don't care, and won't ever care what happen to us. All trauma have a psychological impact. Y'all know this. Some of the problems of the black community began when we started trying to emulate the white family - partiarchy dominance. Before then we had strong women providing love and nurture. The white man suggested that matriarchs were destroying the self-esteem of black men as if the true destroyer of that wasn't the white man himself. Before long white women started telling the truth about the white man and how he had abused them too. They told of physical abuse, mental abuse, incest, addictions and son on. The white women had to free themselves too from the crazy white man who thought he was king of the world.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-20T10:34:20-06:00
ID
109471
Comment

GLB, I think you shot one of your own toes off when you wrote this: That is, the very imposition of some of these changes has resulted in backlash, that stems not so much from the changes themselves as from a resentment about the imposition of them. Now that is naive, and it approaches the sort of silly arguments we hear about the Civil War all the time, i.e. that it wasn't really "about" slavery. I hope you don't really believe that the backlash was generated by the way segregation and the like were attacked. The backlash was generated by those changes themselves. Speaking of "resentment about the imposition" makes it sound like you're a person who takes "states' rights" as a legitimate theoretical question rather than as a fig leaf for resisting the Voting Rights Act, etc. Lest I be accused of making assumptions about your views, could you explain? More generally, your intensely microsocial view, i.e. that the individual is the only thing that really matters, obscures as much as it illuminates, in my view. We are not monads who choose whether or not to be racist. We are social creatures who absorb our views from other people, which leads us in a hop, skip and a jump to the conclusion that institutions are enormously important in shaping individual attitudes. I suspect you have no quarrel with that view. I guess the question comes down to whether you are setting forth a moral imperative or attempting to describe social reality. If you merely want to argue that we have to tackle our own racism--or prejudice, if you insist ... I remain mystified why it matters that there are other forms of prejudice in other cultures, because we are, after all, talking about our own, where race is paramount--that seems benign, if trivial. I still think that the best way to attack racism is through institutional changes rather than asking people to search their hearts. It wasn't individual conscience that destroyed the Jim Crow system, not that I discount how conscience moved activists to resist, etc. Institutions like black churches did much in that fight, and ultimately federal institutions like the courts were key in battering away at the legal bulwarks of segregation. Backlash or no backlash, institutions can impose changes that bring about positive change. If, on the other hand, you are trying to describe racism in general, a focus on individuals is largely fruitless, I believe. Racism descends from now defunct institutions--namely the white southern churches, land owners, artists, businesses and governments that held white supremacy as their highest ideal. Do you disagree? You almost remind me of an existentialist like Simone de Beuvoir with the way you're writing. Why is it so vital to you that the individual reign supreme?

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-12-20T11:14:49-06:00
ID
109472
Comment

Also consider what some people say about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome: "Acute and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome occurs after severe physical and/or emotional trauma such as what our ancestors experienced during slavery... We experience delayed onset manifested by our feelings of inadequacy, intense fear, self-hatred, feelings of helplessness, lost of control, and perceived threats of annihilation. Post-traumatic Strees Syndrome can be experienced by one individual after a traumatic event, or by large groups of people who shared trauma by way of inheritability. This conclusion is based on more detailed study into the psychodynamics of postraumatic stress which include self-defeating behavior, guilt, depression, loss of personal relationships, no sense of personal identity, and disassociaion and depersonalization. Significantly, the trauma of white supremacist assault on black folks began in slavery yet it has been the extent to which the assault continues in various forms that has made full collective psychological recovery difficult, particularly in the area of self esteem. Racism and the fear of racist assault leads many black people to live in a state of chronic anxiety and dread. Whether they are responding to an actual state of siege or not, the feelings are real." Yes, I can hear some of you saying, "y'all (meaning black folks) just don't want to take responsibility for your failures and situations. If we didn't and hadn't taken responsibility for problems others sent and continues to send our way, we wouldn't be here. We would be on the reservations too or dead.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-20T12:02:01-06:00
ID
109473
Comment

Ray, you're claiming all black people suffer from some inherited version of PTSD? "My Great-Great-Great-Grandparents were slaves and now I'm suffering?" That one will take a bit more explaining.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-12-20T13:10:12-06:00
ID
109474
Comment

Wow, what an explosion in my absence. Not much blogging time today, but a couple comments: Great comments, Doc. Per this: And if I may be so bold, I love visiting other churches and have always wanted to experience an inner city small Baptist church where when I walked in, they wouldn't stare at me Any ideas? One thought is to let people stare at you at first, and then warm up to you. I'd bet you'd find a lot of appreciation that you're there. One thing we white folks have to get over is the fear of discomfort at being the only white person, and one of them. I used to feel that way, not out of prejudice, but simply because I stood out. Practice made me get over that now. Now, I'm more likely to notice if I'm in an all-white room (in a 73 percent black city!) than if I'm the only white person. And consider that people of color have this experience all the time, and it probably causes them discomfort, too. Certainly, if your heart is in the right place—and yours surely seems to be—power through the discomfort. I mean, isn't *everything* really worth doing uncomfortable the first time or two. Think about it. ;-) GLB, I'm getting bored fast with your hit-and-run strategy. When backed in a corner in an argument, you accuse, then don't back it up. Thus, the accusations are meaningless—especially considering I'm made no assumptions about you, only about your comments. I actually assume, if anything, that you don't mean for your comments to come across as they do, because they don't in a certain crowd. And I mean that as a compliment of sorts. Beyond that, no assumptions, just responses to what you write from this end, friend. Otherwise, I think you're trying to lead me in a circle just to ... I don't know ... make us both dizzy. At the very heart of my argument is "individual choice"—it's the choices that we make that are issue here. That seems to be the place where we vary. This feels a little like you're trying to trot out a 1950s-era anti-"collective"-type argument on me that doesn't work. You won't find anyone more focused on the power of "individual choices" than I am—and a large part of those choices are to help widen the prism that we exist and make choices in. If that sounds paradoxical, chalk it up to all those Buddhist texts I've been reading of late. (Except that it's not.) Ha. As for Ray's comment, I see your point about it and see why you were offended. However, I can also see what he was trying to tell you: That people talking like you were way up top (you adjusted quite a bit over the thread, and that's great) often turn out to be white supremacists. The problem, which we've tried to address here, is that those folks have often fooled themselves into thinking that they're not—oh, because they have a "friend" who is black, or hire black folks, or some such. That's why the emphasis on the what racISM is is so important—so that people cannot take easy ways out by pretending that their role in the majority culture (which means that if you are against white supremacy that you have a responsibility to help reverse it; if you don't, you support it by default) is cool and groovy because they don't go on night rides. This is more complicated than that, and if we want to change things, we must first *acknowledge* that fact. Of course, if we've never even known to consider it, how can we acknowledge it? I'm known many people who did not understand how they were supporting the majority culture's supremacy until they were exposed to conversations like this. They didn't know that had any need to change or adjust. Then they thought about these ideas, and decided to change and play a more active role in really alleviating racISM. That's so wonderful to watch. Or to be. Kacy, thanks for the kind words. We do what we can. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-20T13:26:12-06:00
ID
109475
Comment

Yes, I'm claiming we blacks suffered/suffer some of this. Inherited in the sense that our parents and grandparents suffered gravely from this, and we either suffered it too as a result of personal experiences, or saw what debilitating effects it had on our love ones. Personally, I read constantly about it because I want to understand and feel the nature of the suffering that took place. Somebody has to tell the truth about it, and keep telling it, so that the mass media, teachers, racists and others intent on maintaining white supremacy, even through distortions, can't get way with lying about us and our situations. We are subjected daily to misrepresentations and purposeful propoganda by the white supremacist part of the mass media. White people act shocked upon learning some black folks fear them as if we have no idea of their history or ours. However, due mostly to media construction and concoction, many white people act as though all black folks present a fear or danger to their safety although very fear have ever been harmed by a black person. We are far more a victims of crime than we are perpertrator whether believed or not. We suffer form the inability to shape how we see ourselves and how others see us. This is a major blow to the collective self-esteem of black folks. Compare that to the situations of white folks throughout the world, especially this country. White supremacists have maintained fairly good self-esteem despite their horrible and incomprehensible record of evil and inhumanity. However, no one can fool themselves forever and without consequences to their self psyche and well being. The Great Almighty is often the equalizer, but not everybody dessires to wait that long.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-20T13:45:27-06:00
ID
109476
Comment

I meant "few" have been harmed...

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-20T14:06:02-06:00
ID
109477
Comment

Ray, it's hard for me to believe that anyone would find this idea remarkable. That seems to indicate a lack of understanding of how devastating this problem was for our society. It's even harder to understand how *Mississippians* wouldn't understand it—being that we suffer from our state's inferiority complex in one way or another, and get all wigged out and stupid over a slight from Charlie Rangel, a black man, for goodness sake. And it's not like white Mississipians hail from a history of being enslaved—although I would argue that being the slaveholders and the nightriders has cast its own psychological curse that will take decades, at least, to iron out of our systems. Thanks, Ray, for posting this. This is the kindn of white folks don't hear too often, and we need to. Reality can hurt and rankle, but that doesn't make it not reality. (Double negative on purpose there. )

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-20T14:08:35-06:00
ID
109478
Comment

The Great Almighty is often the equalizer, but not everybody dessires to wait that long. And no one should have to wait that long. It's our responsibility to together live up to the goals of this nation. And that takes a whole lot of determined individual choices and effort.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-20T14:09:52-06:00
ID
109479
Comment

I remember Martin Buber once writing something to the effect that we should all live as if we were atheists, as if the moral weight of the world were on our shoulders and our shoulders alone. As far as cultural PTSD goes: I think that's inevitable, yeah. Not genetic PTSD or any Jungian concept of an inherited collective unconscious, certainly, but cultural PTSD? Sure. I mean, that explains the data. And that's what it really boils down to--that's what antiracism needs to mean, if it means anything: Not leaving the data unexplained, with the implicit message that "blacks are just like that." If the Ethiopian empire developed gunpowder a few centuries early, it'd be whites living in poverty in the equivalent to west Jackson and blacks hoisting the equivalent to the Confederate flag from the state capitol. The current privileged position whites enjoy is due to the accidents of history, and only to the accidents of history. If we don't fully recognize that--if we don't let it sink in to the bone--then we whites are doomed, on some level, to repeat the racist lies of our ancestors. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-20T15:20:37-06:00
ID
109480
Comment

I should add for completeness and clarity that fathers are needed to raise the children. But the father needs to be loving, caring, nurturing, and not abusive or dysfunctional - alcoholic, drug addict, open and notorius womanizer, violent, immoral or amoral. The father has to know that his manhood or masculinity isn't based on how good he is in bed alone or how many women he has on the side or how many children he can or has produced. it has to be bases on loving, respecting, protecting and caring for the family. The black man has had a significant problem along this line as the white supremacist system wouldn't allow him to be a good financially sound supporter of his family. So too often, he tried to prove his manwood through how many women he could lay or pretend to lay. This problem for us isn't as big as it used to be. The consideration of this immediately made me consider the point of many non-traditional parents. If they can love, nurture, protect and provide a good family for a child then why not?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-20T16:15:28-06:00
ID
109481
Comment

Ray: I'm sorry if I misunderstood you. If I understand you correctly now, you are saying that you are standing by your initial comments. Sorry if I said otherwise in my comments to Ladd. Brian: I believe there is backlash that results both from that which is imposed, and from the imposition itself. I guess no one would object if the government imposed something that everyone wanted anyway, but in that case it would hardly be an imposition. I think this is human nature. I see it in the lives of people around me every day. I want to be clear. When I say something is human nature, I don't mean that it is o.k., or that it is inevitable. I mean that it is part of the raw set of emotions and intuitions that all of his carry with us, and we must choose what to do with those emotions and responses. So in this since, sexual desire is human nature, but that does not mean that sex is either o.k. or inevitable in every possible context. I don't think the individual is the only thing that matters. I think the individual is the foundation, and things such as cultural repression are the edifice. So I address individual prejudice, because I believe it is the starting point for real change. After all, what is this whole thread about? Is not every argument given in this thread contingent on the premise that prejudice is bad? And yet how do we know that everyone reading this accepts that premise? Or if they do, how do we know they think it is something important enough to do something about? Then again, now that I read your argument, Brian, I am not sure your argument IS contingent on the premise that prejudice is bad. I'm not saying you think that prejudice is good, I'm saying that maybe you think it is essentially irrelevant. You seem to argue that if the institutions are abolished, the racism itself will be abolished. Is this true? Do you define racism narrowly as the sum total of those now defunct institutions (and their societal residue)? If so, I find that argument tautological. But if you define racism more broadly as any societal repression of one race representing the repressed culture by another representing the dominant culture, do you believe the problem will vanish along with the edifice? And, if so, in what time frame? If I remember my history correctly, Hellenization was certainly an example of imposed change. But how long did it take, and at what price? To be continued...

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T00:26:45-06:00
ID
109482
Comment

I would argue that institutions CAN impose changes that bring about positive change, but it is much better of that change arises from within. And I think that is more likely by focusing on the individual. I note the generality of cultural repression, and of prejudice in general, to say that it is something worthwhile for everyone to work on. There are other prejudices than those that lead to racism, and none are good in my estimation. If someone tried to abolish the one without looking at the other, I think they are likely to fail. This is because they are not recognizing that the central thing that is bad about it is not that they are prejudiced against a particular race, but that they re prejudiced at all. So, for example, I learn that racism is bad, so I try not to be racist. But I continue to pigeonhole gays, women, whoever. What have I learned? I have only acquired the appearance of change – the seed of my prejudice has not been addressed. Ladd: I'm not sure I understand where I was backed into a corner, and what that has to do with my comments about your assumptions about me. But, in any case, I have already apologized for making those comments, because I shouldn't have brought it up if I wasnn't willing to list examples and discuss them. But I really don't want to do that because, like I said before, I consider it a needless distraction. So, other than apologizing, I'm not sure what else I can say on the subject. Please feel free to delete my initial comment to you about it if it bothers you that the comments reside on this thread without any follow up discussion. Other than that, I do again apologize if I sounded like I was diminishing your efforts. I didn't mean to do that – I just meant to assert my belief that the solutions are best tackled at the individual level. You can call it a tactical disagreement if you like. I don't think that's entirely true – I think you and I may have some more fundamental disagreements – but I am not sure I'm capable of even articulating what those might be. At least not tonight (getting late, and I've been typing now for 45 minutes). Finally, Tom said this… “And that's what it really boils down to--that's what antiracism needs to mean, if it means anything: Not leaving the data unexplained, with the implicit message that "blacks are just like that."” I agree with this statement. I believe looking at the data honestly and thoroughly is the best way to get there, because in so doing, if you really follow it through, the truth will out.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T00:27:08-06:00
ID
109483
Comment

GLB, You should not equivocate between "that which is imposed" and the imposition itself, as if they are on the same order. In other words, people might tend to resist imposition in general, but there wouldn't be a backlash if it was really about institutions imposing change. The backlash draws its energy from "that which is imposed," namely progressive racial, gender and economic policies, which are opposed by groups that have historically benefitted from racist social institutions, mostly white men. Your rush to universalize everything, to draw "human" lessons, strips the discussion of all specifics, so it almost doesn't matter that we are supposedly discussing racism. For you, it's just a general discourse on human social function. There is a certain scam involved in that shift, in my humble opinion. Having said that, I will play the game. I think the individual is the foundation, and things such as cultural repression are the edifice. Have you been reading Ayn Rand? It seems like a strange way to talk about humans as social creatures to me. So if you have someone who learns racism at his daddy's knee, who learns it even as he learns to speak, that's still something essentially extraneous to him? I'm not questioning the idea that individuals have choice, but even their choices are limited by social constraints, which is why social movements are essential to individual liberation. When I speak of institutions, I am not necessarily referring to government bodies, but also broad social compacts. For instance, the "institution" of marriage. These institutions shape our very identity, and we push back against them and shape them in turn. It is a dynamic process. By contrast, you seem to think people have this hard kernel of deep identity, (from birth even?), and racism is just a veneer added on top at the last minute. We have very different views of human social nature. Your dogged pursuit of "prejudice in general" gets us nowhere because it is too nebulous. If there is some drive to be prejudiced in us, I don't think gazing at it will actually help us address racism or other social conflicts. It's simply too vague, if it exists at all. And I think Donna is right (if I may paraphrase) that talking about racism this way seems to be a way of not talking about racism.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-12-21T11:00:51-06:00
ID
109484
Comment

I'm going to leave this one alone, but I have to tell Brian that if GLB can't get it after reading Brian's pinpointed and precise comments then he/she (not sure which) has been shot in more than the foot. But you're still my friend GLB. I enjoy your presence and commentary.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-21T11:57:54-06:00
ID
109485
Comment

Nicely put, Brian. And your last sentence there summarized about everything I've said so far in few words. ;-) One other thing on the "imposition"—the very fact that you use this word for efforts to reverse institutional racism, and erase or minimize the effects of "imposed" racism over the years is very telling. Can you not see how hard it is for you to make a convincing argument perched firmly on the mantle of the majority white perspective. Your argument is swathed in concern about what is going to make the oppressors (or, if you will, "imposers" the most comfortable). I reject your paradigm as should anyone interested in real systemic change. Also, it's educational to realize that, regardless of the language you bury it in, in you are putting up the same opposition that "moderates" did during the Civil Rights Movement. We cannot "impose" change; we should work on the individual and wait for it to come. That thinking, too, was obsessed with not offending white guys too much. I know this may be tough to hear, but offending white guys can't be our top concern. Too much is at stake after centuries of "imposition" flowing one direction. Of course there will be some sort of "backlash"—one could also call it whining—but so what? There was a backlash in the CRM as well. There is always a backlash to progressive reform, and that fact cannot get in the way of making our society better, and fairer, for all of our citizens. The truth is, if you're ahead because of the impositions of the past, you might have to give up a little of that advantage. It's worth it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-21T12:56:44-06:00
ID
109486
Comment

Or, put another way. It's the old "is it more important whether he's racist in his heart or in his actions"? You seem to think the only way to cure racISM is about changing someone's heart. That's all well and good—but the CRM forced the government to "impose" systemic change that gave many people freedom, whether or not everyone's heart had changed. Hopefully, the hearts will catch up, and we should all do everything we can on that front. But only trying to convince grandpa to change his mind about black people is not going to cure our system racISM and resulting inequities. That will only come from societal and governmental efforts to level the playing field. With any luck, hearts will change as a result. In fact, evidence is all around us that many hearts in Mississippi changed because many racIST practices were outlawed, and institutions were forced to integrate. Making those systemic things happens, in itself, creates a better climate for different people to get to know each other—and that is what will change hearts. Or, put still another way: Hate me in your heart, but don't keep me from feeding my family (or having the same shot at accumulating property and wealth).

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-21T13:02:24-06:00
ID
109487
Comment

Brian: I am too dumb to figure out how to get the italics to work, so you'll just have to pay attention when I am quoting you. Sorry about that. “You should not equivocate between "that which is imposed" and the imposition itself, as if they are on the same order. In other words, people might tend to resist imposition in general, but there wouldn't be a backlash if it was really about institutions imposing change.” Good point, but I'm not sure it's entirely valid. After all, some people may want change, but they want to do it their way. Still, I didn't mean to equivocate, I just meant that both factors contribute to the problem – the proportions are problem specific. “Your rush to universalize everything, to draw "human" lessons, strips the discussion of all specifics, so it almost doesn't matter that we are supposedly discussing racism. For you, it's just a general discourse on human social function. There is a certain scam involved in that shift, in my humble opinion.” It's not a scam – it is quite deliberate. I generalize it because racism is a specific manifestation of a general problem. In other words, I generalize because I am interested in the root cause. But it is not just a “general discourse” – I think that demystifying the issue by looking at what is really going on inside us is a means of helping to address it. “I'm not questioning the idea that individuals have choice, but even their choices are limited by social constraints, which is why social movements are essential to individual liberation.” I would say their choices are often heavily influenced by social constraints, but I would not they are limited by them. Similarly, I would say that individual choices are hevlily influenceed by, but not limited by, our instincts. I think social movements are very helpful for individual liberation, but not essential to individual liberation – after all, do not most social movements begin with someone's individual liberation ( I speak here of liberation of thought, not a physical liberation)? “These institutions shape our very identity, and we push back against them and shape them in turn. It is a dynamic process. By contrast, you seem to think people have this hard kernel of deep identity, (from birth even?), and racism is just a veneer added on top at the last minute. We have very different views of human social nature.” I agree with you that individual identity and the nature of social institutions interact dynamically. Racism is not a veneer – it is what happens when we uncritically submit to our instinct for prejudice. Prejudice is informed by out environment, to determine what we should be prejudiced against. Since, in our society, those instincts are often informed by racism, the racism is what is adopted. So, in that sense, racism is a very, very deep part of us. And that's part of what we need to recognize. Continued...

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T14:59:29-06:00
ID
109488
Comment

“Your dogged pursuit of "prejudice in general" gets us nowhere because it is too nebulous. If there is some drive to be prejudiced in us, I don't think gazing at it will actually help us address racism or other social conflicts. It's simply too vague, if it exists at all. And I think Donna is right (if I may paraphrase) that talking about racism this way seems to be a way of not talking about racism.” I don't mean to gaze at it just to say “isn't that interesting”. I mean it as a means of addressing the issue. If I was a wife beater, would you just tell me to stop beating my wife? If I was an alcoholic, would you just tell me to just stop drinking? If I was a pedophile, would you just tell me to stop having sex with kids? Granted, in each of these cases, you can and should enact laws for the protection of women, children, ect. But what if you had a whole society of such people -- then what do you do? Laws can be circumvented. Is it not also in our interest to try to help these people solve their problem (or at least those who want to)? And does that not require an understanding of WHY they are doing what they are doing? Or rather, why WE are doing what we are doing. Because we are all prejudiced, to some degree. Also, I would not confuse general with nebulous. Nebulous is without form – general is just something that is very, very common. I am saying prejudice is general.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T14:59:58-06:00
ID
109489
Comment

Ladd: “Your argument is swathed in concern about what is going to make the oppressors (or, if you will, "imposers" the most comfortable). I reject your paradigm as should anyone interested in real systemic change.” My argument is concerned with everyone looking within themselves and deciding whether or not they want their prejudices to govern their lives. I think this process is the best way to pave as smooth and direct a path as possible towards a just society for all of us, and that includes the white people. I think that is a better process for everyone concerned. “Also, it's educational to realize that, regardless of the language you bury it in, in you are putting up the same opposition that "moderates" did during the Civil Rights Movement. We cannot "impose" change; we should work on the individual and wait for it to come. That thinking, too, was obsessed with not offending white guys too much.” I did not say we cannot impose change. I said it is better if the imposition is rendered as unnecessary as possible.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T15:15:35-06:00
ID
109490
Comment

Ray: You're still my friend too. And I'm a guy, for what it is worth.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T15:17:20-06:00
ID
109491
Comment

GLB, I respect what you're saying, but I don't see what possible relevance it has to fighting institutional racism. We are not talking about personal prejudice. I do not care about personal prejudice. There are people I otherwise like, with whom I have nothing but a positive history, who look down or me or ignore my existence altogether because of my lifestyle, or my looks, or my outspokenness. That pisses me off, sure, but I don't want to discuss it in this thread because it is not an institutional problem. I want to talk instead about RACISM, which is both more general (because it's an institutional, not personal, problem) and more specific (because it's not just a general, ambiguous, euphemistic discussion of prejudice). If there is one thing that honest conservatives don't get, it's the fact that racism is not just a subset of personal prejudice. If it were, we would not be seeing the racial disparities that we do in America today. By talking about the also more general but also more specific issue of individual prejudice, you are in effect working to change the subject. I don't think you realize this, and I don't think you have an agenda in that direction. But I do think that we whites are conditioned to find this subject uncomfortable because of our history on it in this state. Why, I remember one progressive discussion group on the blues that happened nine years ago, where the only black person in the room was the speaker. He cranked up the blues music to calm everybody down--and they all knew him pretty well, so it wasn't the fact that he was there, but their lips pursed and they started tapping their feet very nervously and awkwardly, like they had some kind of sciatic nerve disorder, because they weren't sure whether they were supposed to be happy about John Lee Hooker's predicament or curse the evil world that put him in it and they didn't want to be seen doing the wrong thing. But more whites need to be seen doing the wrong thing. We need to take off our clothes--metaphorically speaking--even if we're not proud of our imperfect bodies. We need to let down our guard. I have no idea how the stuff I post here, or say elsewhere, sounds out of context. I'm sure I've lost potential friends of all races because of it. But you know what? I've made some pretty good friends of all races because of it too, and I'm not a very good liar, and doggonit, it feels GOOD to be myself, to be honest. So let's talk about RACISM. I know that's no fun in Mississippi--lord, how quickly the air is sucked out of a white room when that subject comes up--but it's healing, and it's the only way we'll ever beat this devil segregation. Trust me on this. And yes, on racism, we should impose change. This was the big debate over the Civil Rights Act of '64: Goldwater argued (I think sincerely, and not as an exercise in the Southern Strategy) that he wanted to see change come from within. He did not want to see it imposed because he was concerned, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg later said with respect to Roe v. Wade, that "doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped may prove unstable." But doctrinal limbs that aren't shaped swiftly enough will be lopped off before they ever have a chance to grow. America has had 397 years to make the imposition of change "unnecessary." It has not actualized that option, and it is well past time to impose change. We've done it in civil rights law; now we need to do it on a person to person basis, in the culture. And the first step is to talk about institutional racism--SPECIFICALLY. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-21T15:56:16-06:00
ID
109492
Comment

My argument is concerned with everyone looking within themselves and deciding whether or not they want their prejudices to govern their lives. I think this process is the best way to pave as smooth and direct a path as possible towards a just society for all of us, and that includes the white people. I think that is a better process for everyone concerned. We don't have to pick just one option fortunately, and if simply decide to focus on getting everyone to look within themselves, this thing's going to take forever to fix. I note that you ignored that part of my response to you. You are a cherrypicker! And, by definition, refusing to get our society to work on systemic problems, while only focusing on "looking within themselves" is a way to delay real change. It sounds great on the surface, but it is glaring that many people simply will not embrace that change until the society changes around them in systemic ways. We know that. We're Mississippians, for God's sake. I'm just glad you weren't in a position to spread such a view back in the 1960s. It's utopian at best. I said it is better if the imposition is rendered as unnecessary as possible. And that may well be the case some day after our society has deliberately stamped out the systemic vestiges of white supremacy. Until then, white folks—the culture that has done the imposing and set up this horrendous situation—have no standing to start whining about "imposition." And that's a really silly word to use, and as I said is very telling. At this point, I'm repeating myself ad nauseum, as are you, while neither of us is saying anything new. I do thank you for helping illuminate how immense this problem and just why we have to deliberately tackle systemic problems—because there are still too many people like you who are openly obsessed with the imposition of white folks. You can have that, but it sure won't stop this train from moving forward. This train has to move, and it will. We will continue to push hard for systemic change—not to "impose"; this is such a privileged-sounding term that I shudder every time I read it—and that in itself will be what renders those efforts less needed someday. The answer to the riddle is really quite simple. Happy holidays. I'm out on this one.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-21T16:23:49-06:00
ID
109493
Comment

GLB, I respect what you're saying, but I don't see what possible relevance it has to fighting institutional racism. It doesn't, Tom. And I think that his point—if I'm deciphering his haughty prose correctly—is that we shouldn't fight institutional racism. We should just focus on changing people's hearts and then the race problems will all work out some day. Very 1960s white Mississippi newspaper editor. They were wrong, of course. But more whites need to be seen doing the wrong thing. Nice one. Screw white discomfort. It's holding this state back. So let's talk about RACISM. I know that's no fun in Mississippi--lord, how quickly the air is sucked out of a white room when that subject comes up--but it's healing, and it's the only way we'll ever beat this devil segregation. Trust me on this. I sure do. You're right. I rather enjoy that part when the air is sucked out. Why? Because it usually comes right before a really good and important conversation. Just breathe through the discomfort folks. Kind of like at the dentist. The great news is how many white people will *bring up* racism when they know you want to talk about it. I can't tell you how many people—of all political persuasions and ages—bring this topic up me all over town, often haltingly. Many will tell me it's the first time they've ever talked about stuff like this. People who went to white academies are usually the most interesting, and often the most heartfelt on the topic. Often, people only need permission. And we've had so many people tell us white folks our entire lives that it's not OK to talk about this stuff that people just lock this stuff up inside—and that's really unhealthy. And yes, on racism, we should impose change Of course, we should. Our government imposed racism for many, many years. We have to impose the undoing of it. That's the part that GLB isn't getting—and why it's important to understand the difference between racISM and individual bigotry. The "changing the hearts" meme is a dangerous one that has been pushed for racist America since legislation ended law-enforced segregation. It's tricky, and it pulls in people like GLB who I presume has good motives in pushing this idea (I can't know for sure, but I will presume innocence). In fact, it's a vital part of the southern strategy to convince people that they do not have the power (or the right) to change to change institutional/systemic racism, but just to focus on liking people of other races better. That is the most favored way to today to avoid talking about actual racISM and ending it. THAT is what I've been trying to say all along. I urge everyone to really ponder this one. It's bit of a mind-teaser until you wrap your head around it. The first vital step is to understand that bigotry does not equal racISM. RacISM is bigger than not liking black people; it is about actively pushing, or refusing to try to change, systemic ways that white people maintain power over other races. That is, you can be an active "racIST" or a racIST by default if you don't want to change racist systems. That's a tough pill to swallow, but hey, going to dentist ain't easy, either.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-21T16:41:04-06:00
ID
109494
Comment

MORE It's also the reason that anyone trying to argue that they are not "racIST" because they have black friends or employees, or do nice things for black people, sounds a bit like an ignorant fool. You know, like Barbour's excuses after the recent CofCC controversy or his racist dis of Headstart families (it was racIST, by the way, because it was a comment made to justify why he doesn't support funding of a program that is helping equalize education for all races). I don't give a damn what's in Barbour's "heart," or who's on his staff, when he pushes ideas that hurt an entire race like that. That, my friends, is a textbook example of racISM. And Barbour's willingness to regularly play Mississippians as racists for political gain is the primary reason that I do not respect a bone in that lobbyist's body.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-12-21T16:41:24-06:00
ID
109495
Comment

I'm out too. I hope I got some of what I meant to say across, but I think I have ultimately failed. I don't intend that has a backhanded compliment to all of you. I really think I somehow have falied to communicate what I am wanting to get across, despite all my blather. Every time my message is repeated back to me by any of you, it is never what I was trying to say. If just one of you did that, I'd think it might be your inabilty (or unwillingness) to get what I'm saying. But if all of you do that, it must be something in the way I am saying it. Anyway, thanks for the conversation. I am paying attention to what all of you are saying, and I am thankful that you are all Missippians. I think you are good for this State.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-12-21T22:54:30-06:00
ID
109496
Comment

GLB, I mean what I said in the previous post in the other thread about the language of white privilege--and I hope you do give it some thought (one thing that works for me: speak from your personal experience and talk about real life, avoid abstractions)--but the truth of the matter is that very few whites are going to say "Hey, let's talk about racism because that's a really safe topic, and I never come out of it feeling like I've said the wrong thing." Don't worry about any of us holding a grudge against you or anything like that; I appreciate the fact that you're taking the risk of participating. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-21T23:08:42-06:00

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