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Aug 22 2013

White Boyz With Problems

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Back in the day, an all-female rap group called Bytches with Problems (BWP) enjoyed their fourteen-and-a-half minutes of fame on the hip hop scene.  The group’s strategically misspelled name was interpreted by some as an ironic nod to the L.A. gangsta rap group NWA as well as a feeble attempt at “reclaiming” a misogynist term that has become synonymous with the demonization of black women.  As America’s premier whipping girl jezebels, “unruly” black women are a national hazard, fetishized as the original source of “the problem” for everything from crime, illegitimacy and moral decay.  Lately, people of color have been subjected to more than their quota of white boyz with problems using their gangsta pulpits to explicitly or implicitly demean and “check” black women.  From Bill O’Reilly’s rants on how welfare-queenology supposedly contributed to Trayvon’s Martin’s death to cracker atheist spokesmen excoriating brainwashed House Negro mammies, their manifest destiny mission is clear—how to save dumb pathological Negroes from themselves before they do irreparable harm to the gift of American exceptionalism?

In the insular white atheist universe, the latest contestant in the white boyz with problems sweepstakes is JT Eberhard—self-appointed defender of civility and besmirched white womanhood.  As has been widely unpacked by Jen McCreight and others, Eberhard took it upon himself to virtually smackdown Michigan atheist activist Bridgett Crutchfield after she criticized a white woman who asked a racist question about “black-on-black” crime during a conference presentation by Black Non-Believers of Atlanta founder Mandisa Thomas.  According to both Mandisa and Bridgett, the white woman pointedly and disrespectfully asked Mandisa “what (is it that) your group might be doing with the black on black crime”? Mandisa’s presentation focused on how the hospitality industry could be used as a model for atheist organizing.  The subject of “black-on-black” crime had no bearing on either the context or content of the talk.  But because Mandisa is African American and all Negroes in the public sphere must at some point in time “account” for the national scourge of black “ghetto” pathology it’s ok for “well-meaning” white folk in lily white settings to go there.  As one of only five black people at the conference, Bridgett’s response to the woman’s well-meaning racism emerged from the frustration and righteous outrage black people have at constantly being constructed as the criminal other.  The tens of millions of dollars incurred by white collar crime in white-dominated corporate America, white street crime, white drug crime (whites, contrary to mainstream propaganda, have the highest rates of crack and powder cocaine use in the U.S.) and white-on-white gun crime is never part of the national narrative about the social impact of crime and who “real” criminals are. White Middle American innocence is constructed through the criminalization of the black ghetto other who—as with the media hype around the recent murder of Australian athlete Christopher Lane by black teens—poses a constant threat to social order, public morality and control.

To divert a discussion about hospitality to “black-on-black” crime exhibits a revealing level of white paternalism and white supremacy in a movement that is deeply defined by both.  In a movement that slobbers on about diversity and inclusiveness yet trots out the same tired themes at conferences, regularly promotes line-ups with little-to-no people of color, marginalizes the scholarship of humanists of color and has virtually no people of color in paid national leadership positions, atheists of color conference presenters are already on the defensive; bracing for some “well meaning” white person to keep it real about how concerned they are about what’s going down in the “ghetto”.

After Bridgett responded to the woman she was confronted by Eberhard on the error of her ways (according to Bridgett this exchange was preceded by him calling her out for her “monologue” on Twitter), taken to task with a 1792 word “Dear John” Facebook un-friending letter then “checked” in the now widely disseminated blog in which she was portrayed as a shrill out of control bitch with problems. During their exchange, Bridgett said, “I challenged JT and asked him if the woman asked him what he was doing for white on white crime? No. What about Zack Kopplin? No.  So why was it apropos for the question to be fielded to Mandisa?” On white patrol evoking white innocence as a cover for his harassment, it was clear that Eberhard felt it was his civic duty to check the savage Negress for her reality show style “outburst” against a naive white woman with harmless intentions.  White female privilege and the role innocent white femininity plays in narratives about the encroaching criminal black other have long been a subtext of the stereotype of the crazy black jezebel.  Eternally blameless, eternally innocent, mainstream white America will never concede power to black critiques of its racist impunity and it is delusional to think that white atheist America is any different.

73 comments

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  1. 1
    R Johnston

    Hear, hear!

  2. 2
    dezn_98

    right the fck on! I have been waiting for you to come out and decimate this racist sht that has been going on as of late!

  3. 3
    The Nerd

    Nailed it!

  4. 4
    embertine

    Exactly! Asking about “black-on-black crime” (ugh, that phrase) would have been enough of a dogwhistle even if the discussion had been about that. The fact that the discussion had absolutely nothing to do with issues of race and crime makes me wonder how anyone, however up their own arse with their white privilege, can defend her comments as anything other than racist.

    That would be like me and, I don’t know, Bria, giving a talk on cupcake decoration and someone interrupting to ask how we, as women, were going to address the issue of unfair custody judgements. I’m sorry, are we here to defend feminism? Uh, no, we’re talking about baking. Piss off. And THEN having a go at us for calling out that utterly inappropriate tokenism.

    GRRAAAAAARRRGGH HULK SMASH RACISM

  5. 5
    seraphymcrash

    Wow! … Just wow…

    JT if you had pulled your head out of your ass, you probably could have avoided what appears to be the most painful internet takedown I have seen yet.

    But you didn’t, and this is the least of what you deserve…

    Maybe this will be the message you need. I hope so, because you’re making it harder for the rest of us.

  6. 6
    Rational Feminist

    Yes, exactly; and more more more of this.

  7. 7
    Kengi

    I certainly hope JT reads this pitch-perfect analysis, but I suspect he’s too comfortably buried, warm and wet, to look outside of his own circle anymore. He has new friends and supporters now who are rushing in to bolster his ego and reinforce his privilege.

    It will take a great deal of personal growth to move him forward, and I’m not sure where the impetus for that growth will now come from. The status quo is even more comfortable now for him.

  8. 8
    Kevin Schelley

    One thing that gets me about this, in JT’s second post he quoted some writings of Dr. Hutchinson in support of his argument, and implied that Mandisa Thomas was on his side in all this, without seeming to ask either one if they agreed with him.

    1. 8.1
      Nothing

      Well, he also quoted Greta and we all know how well THAT went…

  9. 9
    Jackie

    Very well stated.

  10. 10
    justynklynn

    Spot On!!

  11. 11
    resident_alien

    That’s what you get, JT, for ignoring the first rule of holes. Should have gotten some perspective and sincerly apologized in time.
    Why would it be inappropriate for a willfully ignorant bigot to be “abused” (called out for I believe the cool kids call it)for their willful ignorance and bigotry?

  12. 12
    R Johnston

    @8:

    That’s how we know that JT isn’t merely a clueless privileged person but rather a genuine grade-A egotist asshole. He believes, without any evidence at all, that anything he believes is objective truth. If he believes that Dr. Hutchinson and MAndisa Thomas support what he has to say then it’s true and there’s no need to check.

    JT is every bit as religious as your friendly neighborhood fundamentalist. He is steeped in the faith of believing in his own infallibility.

  13. 13
    Phillip A

    I must be missing a lot of context here. Person asks stupid question with racist undertones, Bria gives this person a verbal smackdown (the details of which I don’t know, at least until a video comes out), JT criticizes Bria and says that assuming good faith, as a general principle, is a good idea. Now this author, and to a lesser extent others, seem to think this “assume good faith” argument from JT reduces to “white boy trying to put sassy black Jezebel in her place”. I don’t see it, and no matter how much I remind myself of my privileged status, I cannot make myself see it. And frankly, if I were JT, I would take this very personally.

    I do understand that “assume good faith” may be a bit hypocritical coming from a person like JT, but what if a notorious “nice guy” like, say, Chris Stedman said the same thing? And what if, though responding specifically to Bria, he made clear that it was a good best practice in general, not just confined to issues of race or gender, but also to stupid religious or creationist arguments? Would this deserve the same “white patrol” smackdown?

    1. 13.1
      fredericksparks

      I think you answer your own questions with your first statement. You are missing a lot of context, and that context is a historical and sociopolitical one. The fact that you can even jump from the person asking a stupid question with racist undertones to JT taking it upon himself to remind Bria. as a general or specific principle that assuming good faith is a good idea. Should Trayvon have assumed “good faith” from George Zimmermna. This “assuming good faith” is at the heart of the privilege you are so busy reminding yourself of supposedly

      1. Phillip A

        Should Trayvon have assumed “good faith” from George [Zimmerman].

        Okay. I’ll revise:

        Assuming good faith, in general, is a good idea. However, when someone is pointing a godforsaken gun at you it might not be a good idea.

        Covers the George Zimmerman situation nicely, and still has absolutely no effect on the situation at hand. Don’t be a hack.

        1. fredericksparks

          and dont be dense…again the larger point about assuming good faith in the context of racially tinged questions stands

          1. cityzenjane

            ” no matter how much I remind myself of my privileged status,”

            It may be that simply reminding yourself of this – you would do well to read and listen more. It does seem like you are missing a lot of context by not taking the people breaking this down for you in tiny bits – seriously.
            I think it’s plain as day and I share quite a few privileges…

    2. 13.2
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      The fact that the woman asking the question even thinks in those terms, thinks “black-on-black” is some sort of valid and unique category, thinks it is a good idea to also ask this completely irrelevant question of a speaker just because she is black, is a complete demonstration of bad faith right there. If one were to assume good faith, one would be ignorant, willfully ignorant, a racist, or an idiot.

      Let me invent a benefit of the doubt hypothetical: The questioner just came off a tour of various youth groups in her state. Many are outright religious or have some religious affiliation. Some of the youth group organizations serving populations of youth who are predominantly black had some sort of anti-crime educational component which she experienced, and discussions may have even included explicit mentions of the phrase “black-on-black crime”.

      So she goes to this atheist thing and sees this exotic creature</extreme, mocking sarcasm>, the Black Atheist Woman, and thinks that this is her once in a lifetime chance to ask a black non-religious person what black non-religious groups (as opposed to the predominant climate of religiously affiliated orgs) might be doing to address this weirdly categorized subset of crime. (Oh, and let’s even assume she had never heard or thought of black-on-black crime before her tour, but this is something new to her. But see how easily and uncritically she then accepted this racist and stupid meme into her mind?)

      Even if she is polite and well-meaning, and even a little dim, asking this question is still, a priori, in bad faith. She might not have known her faith is bad, but someone helpfully explained this to her and was also a bit upset about it (and very reasonably so) and conveyed this emotion as well (which really, is inextricably part and parcel here, reason and emotion operating together perfectly as one, how could it possibly be otherwise? Fucking fairness, how does it work?) If she is at all receptive, she will have learned something positive here, and understand what is wrong with thinking that way. Maybe a little embarrassed, but this is as nothing compared to being on the receiving end of a lifetime of racism. Maybe she’s even intelligent enough to be grateful for it. If she’s not receptive at all, even given time to recover from any potential negative reactionary attitude from possibly being positively mortified by the experience, then one can then also conclude, from another angle, that the question was in bad faith.

      For JT to police this situation, to call for anything from, or suggest anything to Bridgett Crutchfield in the way of style of discourse; never mind going to the extents to which he did, is the height of privilege and ignorance on several axes, race and gender being the two most nose-bitingly obvious. And maybe he’s some other things as well, which is how it seems given his hole-digging (The Core: A Reboot starring JT Eberhard) in response to being called on his bullshit.

      Apologists for JT are declaring themselves to have similar problems to those JT has along these lines. Maybe they can realize and correct them as JT has failed to do so far. Everyone learns differently, and it isn’t a race, but neither is it a lazy stroll if you are going to bother to voice opinions on the matter. But if said apologists and people who don’t “get it ” make no effort to understand what the opposition is to JT’s behaviors, then they too are acting in bad faith, at minimum.

      So I’ll assume, for your specific question, that you could be asking in good faith. So: What Frederick Sparks said. The context you are missing is not the context of this specific incident, but the general context of the world we are living in.

      We tend to miss whacking great chunks of context which lie outside our cultural and privilege zones. But we can learn to see these things and act accordingly, which is the good news. The sad news is that there are vocal sectors which are happily resistant learning any such thing.

    3. 13.3
      Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

      “Good faith” apparently behaves like electric currency: it only flows in one direction.
      Now, the “black on black crime” bullshit is so well known that I’m familiar with it and I live on a different continent and have never been to the USA at all.
      Not to make the slightest effort to answer your question yourself is rude.
      To assume that other people are there to cater for your whims is arrogant and entitled.
      To frankly ignore the actual topic somebody has spoken on in order to make that person answer a question based on their race is racist.
      Actually, at this point “good faith” becomes so indistiguishable from “malice” that it’s not worth bothering.

  14. 14
    yazikus

    Thank you for this! I was especially bothered by the “well meaning” bit. I asked over at JT’s, even with the most generous interpretation, what on earth about that question was “well meaning”? No one seemed to have an answer and JT certainly did not chip in.

  15. 15
    xyz

    White female privilege and the role innocent white femininity plays in narratives about the encroaching criminal black other have long been a subtext of the stereotype of the crazy black jezebel.

    YES, thank you!!! JT Eberhard needs to seriously ask himself why he was willing to stand up for someone who asked such an obviously loaded, inappropriate question.

  16. 16
    keane

    Wow. Well done.

  17. 17
    maudell

    Ah, the old ‘a black person agrees with me, therefore it’s not racism’ argument. (with little regard as to whether the said person actually agrees)

  18. 18
    Onamission5

    @#8 Kevin Schelley &# 12 R Johnston:

    I’m still trying to figure out how JT thinks the article of Dr. Hutchinson’s that he unironically quoted supports his point rather than supporting everyone who’s made the effort to correct him. Maybe he intended that quote to act as cover for his “I totes understand black feminist issues” stance but from where I’m sitting it looks more like “I am completely blinkered to how my current actions and attitudes toward black women mirror those described in this article.” Does anyone else see what I see there?

  19. 19
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    One thing that gets me about this, in JT’s second post he quoted some writings of Dr. Hutchinson in support of his argument, and implied that Mandisa Thomas was on his side in all this, without seeming to ask either one if they agreed with him.

    Yeah, that reeks of White Man’s Privilege to me.

    Thanks for a fantastic take down!

  20. 20
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    There’s no mystery as to why Eberhard stood up for the wrong person – all he really wants is to talk about himself. And, if he can somehow work in how “toxic” everyone else is and how he’s totally never wrong because he’s so “nice”, even better. How better to do that, and get a lot of white people to defend you, than to stick up for someone who knew she was doing something wrong before she did it “I know I shouldn’t be asking this but”.

  21. 21
    R Johnston

    @15:

    Belief absent thought characterizes the entirety of JT’s responses to Bria Crutchfield. There’s no point in trying to figure out his reasoning because there wasn’t any. He believed Bria did something wrong and he believed it was his job to put her in her place. He believed Dr. Hutchinson’s words offered him support. Those were his gut feelings, not the conclusions of any sort of rational discourse on his part.

    As to why his gut feelings are what they are and why they displace reason in his belief system, I’d guess that his privilege combined with a toxic lack of introspection let him believe things merely because he wants to and he wants to believe things that make him feel superior to other people and that place him in a position of benevolent authority over other people. When his benevolent superiority is not accepted by others, he gets cranky. That’s, as far as I can tell, the common thread is his approaches to religion, sexism, and racism.

  22. 22
    R Johnston

    That should be Onamission5 @16 in my previous post. Ooops.

    1. 22.1
      Onamission5

      I don’t know what happened, maybe some comments let out of moderation in the interim, but it’s #18 now. You were #16 for me just a moment ago. :)

      I’m boggled that JT didn’t draw any parallels between the patterns described in the article he quoted and what he’s doing right now. No possibility that his own internalized racism had any effect on his framing of Bria as aggressive or overreacting or his urge to tone police her, because he understands that jumping on negative assumptions is something that other white people do to black female students at school but it can’t possibly be what is happening in his own brain and what he is doing with his own actions right this very minute.

      Just no connection between “white people do X even when they don’t think they are because internalized racism” and “I am doing X right now even if I don’t think I am because internalized racism.”

  23. 23
    Kevin Schelley

    Philip A. @ 13

    It wasn’t a question with racist undertones, it was a racist dogwhistle question. Notice that JT doesn’t give the benefit of the doubt to Bria, but instead the person who asked the racist question. Also, since he was just a speaker or panelist at the conference, and just an audience member for those specific panels,why did he take it upon himself to admonish Bria for her tone? Isn’t that something that he should have taken to the conference organizers if he had a complaint?

  24. 24
    Phillip A

    Kevin @ 23:

    why did he take it upon himself to admonish Bria for her tone? Isn’t that something that he should have taken to the conference organizers if he had a complaint?

    If he had done that, I think it would have been more objectionable. Demanding some sort of Official Action™ against Bria would most definitely qualify as an attempt to silence her.

    1. 24.1
      Kevin Schelley

      JT had no authority to pull anyone aside and berate them in that situation. He was reacting with his own emotions to how Bria came off. If anything he was showing massive arrogance in thinking that his feelings must be shared by everyone who was in attendance. It would have been better to approach the conference staff and let them judge whether they thought his complaints had merit.

  25. 25
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    One of the big issues for me is that even in Eberhard’s most-favorable-for-himself tale of the incident, he comes off as an enormously condescending, paternalistic ass. And that’s just taking his word for it that it happened exactly like he described it. The language he uses paints the situation as something between a schoolteacher scolding an unruly child, and an employer disciplining an especially insubordinate employee. He pulled Crutchfield aside, berated her, and demanded explanations. Her unwillingness to immediately and completely capitulate to his “superior” position is clearly as much of his issue as anything she said to the racist person in the audience.

  26. 26
    double-m

    White female privilege and the role innocent white femininity plays in narratives about the encroaching criminal black other have long been a subtext of the stereotype of the crazy black jezebel.

    And a pretext and a cynically elegant ideological justification for violence against minorities. Unlike innocent white women, minority people aren’t living, breathing, sentient, vulnerable human beings with hopes that can be disappointed and feelings that can be violated. What defines them is that they’re part of a mass of “crazy bitches” and “criminals”. Makes it very easy to harm them. You can simply think of your actions as “eradicating a plague”, instead of as destroying the lives, hopes and dreams of human beings.

    Thank you for your post, it’s brilliant as always.

    Kevin Schelley @23, Phillip A @13

    It wasn’t a question at all, it was a bigoted assertion with a decorative question mark at the end.

    1. 26.1
      Kevin Schelley

      Yes, I have to agree with you.

    2. 26.2
      blackskeptics

      “Unlike innocent white women, minority people aren’t living, breathing, sentient, vulnerable human beings with hopes that can be disappointed and feelings that can be violated. What defines them is that they’re part of a mass of “crazy bitches” and “criminals”. Makes it very easy to harm them. You can simply think of your actions as “eradicating a plague”, instead of as destroying the lives, hopes and dreams of human beings.” Abso-fucking-lutely — powerfully stated!

  27. 27
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Righteous as FUCK, Sikivu.

  28. 28
    llewelly

    yazikus:
    “Thank you for this! I was especially bothered by the “well meaning” bit. I asked over at JT’s, even with the most generous interpretation, what on earth about that question was “well meaning”? ”

    The question itself is not well meaning. But it was designed to be propagated by people who are consciously convinced they are well meaning, but have many embedded racist assumptions, and much racist ignorance.

    If we assume the person who asked the question was ignorant of reliable sources of information about black on black crime (a racist ignorance), and we assume they relied on sources that propagated racist propaganda (a racist preference), and if we assume the questioner takes it for granted that their off-topic question is more important than the topic of the talk (a racist privilege), I don’t think it’s difficult to arrive at a plausible explanation for how a white person could be well-intentioned, but nonetheless asking a racist question. (*)

    That is actually a very common state amongst white people. I’ve been there myself. I don’t know that it qualifies as “generous”, to assume someone is both so unselfaware, and so confused by racist ignorance and racist propaganda, but I think it’s plausible.

    But there’s no shortage of deliberate racism, and the deliberately racist are far more likely to speak up, and they often disguise themselves as being racist-due-to-ignorance, and seek to wring every possible advantage from being judged according to their portrayed “good intentions” . So it is often a lot safer to assume ill intentions.

    But set that aside, and suppose the questioner really did have good intentions.

    If that is the case, it is necessary to convince them that their well-intentioned actions are causing a great deal of pain.

    Who is more likely to be believed, the person who says, in calm, perfectly even tones, “Please stop. That hurts.”? Or the person who cries out in anger: “You fucking jerk, you’re fucking hurting me!”

    It’s often the latter. And when you’re the one in pain, it’s very, very difficult, sometimes impossible to do the first rather than the second.

    It’s important to remember that the question itself is designed to ride around on the assumption that it is a “polite question”, that it deserves to be taken seriously, and treated with civility.

    Now, could the well-intentioned but racist white person be hurt by the response? Probably. But what is that brief hurt to the lifetime of suffering caused by the racist propaganda? What is that to allowing the racist propaganda to continue to spread?

    Furthermore, it’s not respectful to the questioner, to assume they are such a delicate flower they can’t face the grief and anger caused by their racism.

    And finally, if they’re really well intentioned, won’t they consider the suffering of others?

    (*) (I will grant I ignored the fact that almost any conceivable human behavior can be explained by the right combination of confusion, ignorance and good intentions. That is the most serious problem with judging people by their intentions. But it’s been covered here before.)

  29. 29
    yazikus

    llewelly,
    Thank you for the thoughtful response. I guess I can see now why people kept defaulting back to the ‘well meaning’ narrative.

    And finally, if they’re really well intentioned, won’t they consider the suffering of others?

    Indeed, I should think that they would.

  30. 30
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    Indeed, if Ms. Crutchfield had been all polite and civil, she would likely either have been shouted down or told that it obviously didn’t matter that much to her, if she wasn’t even angry about it. There’s a real no-win mentality about this.

    Superb takedown, ma’am.

    1. 30.1
      blackskeptics

      Thanks CaitieCat, I appreciate the feedback

  31. 31
    Ben Crouch

    Hmmm… I can’t agree with this post. I think it’s missing the point of what his argument was and attributing motives to him that aren’t necessarily his end goals. I just don’t see it. Your condemnation of Rusty was spot on, but I think this is reaching.

    1. 31.1
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      The point of his argument recklessly disregards where is argument is pointed.

      It’s a crap argument even in the most benign circumstances anyway, but it is nothing compared to where and how and against whom it was employed.

  32. 32
    Rob

    Sikivu, reading this I’m thinking I don’t visit here nearly enough. Great analysis and passionate to boot. I hope JT is rocked back on his heels and is forced to think again. Instead, I suspect he’ll be aggrieved and defensive.

    1. 32.1
      blackskeptics

      Thanks much and I hope you continue reading!

  33. 33
    jenBPhillips

    My jaw dropped a little when I saw how extensively JT had quoted you in his rebuttal to Jen (especially after having quoted Greta–and being smacked down hard for it–in his first post on the topic). His arrogance is shocking, indeed.

    I still have a lot to learn about being an effective ally, but I do know when to shut up and listen. As such, I rarely comment, but I read here a lot, and I am grateful to you and your co-bloggers for the important material routinely find here.

  34. 34
    beelzebubba

    I’m trying to be very very careful about what I say next.
    JT is wrong. He condescendingly dismissed Bridgett Crutchfield’s perfectly valid anger without even hearing everything she had to say. He then insulted her on his blog while defending a racist troll. He also lied about the context of the audience member’s question in order to make it seem more reasonable and less trollish than it actually was. And this is all coming from a man who has built his reputation on “fighting religion tooth and claw” with plenty of righteous anger. During this whole episode JT has been a patronizing clueless asshat.

    But
    It’s one thing to say that JT probably has some unconscious bias as a result of white privilege. It’s another to say
    “On white patrol evoking white innocence as a cover for his harassment, it was clear that Eberhard felt it was his civic duty to check the savage Negress for her reality show style “outburst” against a naive white woman with harmless intentions.” or that to imply that JT thinks “minority people aren’t living, breathing, sentient, vulnerable human beings with hopes that can be disappointed and feelings that can be violated”
    This implies conscious deliberate hatred of people of color. And unless I’m missing some massive amount of information about JT(and if I am I’d really like to know) this is not accurate. It’s the same straw JT that showed up in Greta Christina’s post.

    There’s enough to be angry at JT over and enough to criticize him about without resorting to inaccurate personal attacks

    1. 34.1
      Phillip A

      This, this, a thousand times this. My previous post should not be construed as support for everything JT did. Specifically, I think we could have gone without his self-congratulatory account of his interaction with Bria. But he’s no racist. Caute.

      1. cityzenjane

        Nice people’s actions can be racist… JTs arrogance in this matter belies a very shallow understanding of his position which belies a lack of interest or concern for people of color. All racism is not riding a horse wearing a hood. Most racism is quite intimate present and done by mostly nice people.

      2. Alethea Kuiper-Belt

        Oh sure, he’s no racist. Because it’s so *TERRIBLE* to accuse someone of racism. But asserting the authority to pull aside and chastise a fellow-conference goer for loudly objecting to Faux-News standard racism, sure, that’s something non-racists do all the time.

        (Can anyone help me get my eyes back front? I think I rolled them so hard they got dislocated.)

      3. ischemgeek

        I disagree: Everyone who lives in a racist society is racist to some degree. Ergo, JT is almost certainly racist, simply due to being immersed in the racism of North American society.

        Yes, I include myself in that.

        What matters isn’t so much whether you’ve been infected by cultural racist memes. What matters is whether or not you recognize the power dynamics at play, whether or not you acknowledge that the racism in our society is in fact racist, and whether or not you try to fight racist tendencies in yourself. I am nowhere near as good at any of those as I’d like to be. JT shows no sign of the first, only superficial signs of the second, and since I’m not in his head, I can’t testify to the third.

    2. 34.2
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      It implies no such thing. JT’s casual and unexamined racist behavior and thinking was quite effective at being racist without any active intent. This isn’t a magic excuse, BTW. Racism is racism, whether it is unconsciously implanted by culture and rarely expresses itself or the proud hatred and othering of some grand imperial douchebag white wizard.

      That JT is resistant to examining his privilege and understanding the explanations given as to why such behavior is racist, though, is only going further downhill, down the hole he is digging.

      Also, i notice you did not complain that her reality show style “outburst” against a naive white woman with harmless intentions. was an unfair characterization and personal attack. But plus one technical point for not deploying the popularly misused ad hominem, with or without its ridiculous groupie attack, in your display of umbrage-taking.

      1. beelzebubba

        “Also, i notice you did not complain that her reality show style “outburst” against a naive white woman with harmless intentions. was an unfair characterization and personal attack”

        That was an oversight on my part, thanks for pointing it out. I didn’t realize that Siviku was quoting JT with “outburst.” In that case then yes JT is making an unfair personal attack against Crutchfield. His entire blog post was essentially an unfair personal attack. I also agree that racism is racism regardless of whether its conscious or not. His actions were racist, whether he intended them to be or not. But saying that was motivated by contempt for women of color is inaccurate. We don’t know his state of mind. Intention’s not magic and it doesn’t excuse his actions. But assuming his motives were malicious isn’t accurate and it allows JT to ignore the criticism and play the victim

      2. believerskeptic

        Exactly. As is often said, “intentions are not magic.”

    3. 34.3
      Onamission5

      Racism doesn’t have to be intentional to do damage. An over privileged person can mean as well as can be and still engage in racist behavior because that is what privilege does, it gives the privileged person cover for their internalized racist attitudes and behavior and imparts to them an assumed all-purpose authority that isn’t there. Privilege is JT assuming that he knew best how that exchange should have been handled because he’s a white dude and they have all the answers to everything, privilege is JT assuming that his perspective should take precedence and that the preferential treatment of his own gender and race does not influence his attitudes or behavior. It does. It is always a factor. JT forgot that fact because it didn’t suit him to remember, he has the choice to forget about his privilege precisely because he has that privilege. Marginalized folks don’t get to forget that they are marginalized.

      Dr. Hutchinson isn’t assigning conscious motives to JT’s actions, at least that is not how I read it at all. She is explaining how his behavior reads from the perspective of a person who encounters these exact patterns of behavior and attitudes like his on the regular, she’s explaining the unconscious bias at work and the effect it has on PoC, spelling it out in plain language so it will fucking maybe sink in for once. White feminists and activists of every persuasion leaping to the defense of other white activists at the expense of PoC: it’s a problem. White folks have been told that it is a problem for ages. It is high time we stopped with the “but, but” and started listening. Dr. Hutchinson is confronting the reflex of white folks to assume the best intentions on the part of each other while assuming the worst on the part of PoC. I read her statement as a deliberate clue-by-four, “When you do this, this is the effect it has.” Sometimes when people are obtuse, it takes a harsh statement to shock us out of our complacency. JT’s intent doesn’t matter here. It’s the effect his behavior has that matters.

  35. 35
    cityzenjane

    Break. It. Down.

    (Thank you Sikivu)

  36. 36
    cityzenjane

    JT – I want you to not surround yourself with people giving you high fives for the next week. Because there is part of me that knows you know…how much you fucked up here.

    1. 36.1
      believerskeptic

      Certainly evidenced by his refusal to observe the First Rule of Holes.

  37. 37
    cityzenjane

    There is NOTHING naive or innocent about inserting a commentary straight outta Bill O’Reilly’s racist backside in an unrelated talk presented by a Black woman at a secular conference….

    The only person who should have encountered any kind of “talking to” was the person who did that…

    1. 37.1
      beelzebubba

      This. If JT was so concerned about educating the person who asked that question he should have taken HER aside and done it himself

      1. ronjaaddams-moring

        Thirded. There is so much self-unawareness of the blatant hypocrisy and arrogance in JT’s both blog posts, and such total vacuum of even 101-level understanding of racism in his comments on the posts and on Facebook that it makes me feel dizzy.

        I wish I had taken a look at the original Twitter exchanges earlier than yesterday. I would maybe have understood to crash my expectations down into the basement directly, seeing as JT as a white dude had so incredibly weak a clue that he commented on Bria – one of the mere handful of black people at a predominantly white conference – with “Well, there goes the good vibe this conference had going.”

        Now I’m hauling my jaw up from the basement, instead.

        1. WMDKitty -- Survivor

          Fourthed.

  38. 38
    piegasm

    I totally need to visit here more often! Here’s hoping JT reads this and actually engages with it.

    1. 38.1
      Naima

      The woman asked the question that is on the minds of many if not most white people. When whites commit horrific crimes none of them feels as though they are tainted, debased, or responsible for the acts of the criminal. White supremacy holds every person of color both individually and collectively, historically and contemporaneously, responsible for everything that all other people of color do–or fail to do. When we change the power dynamics , when we create a true democracy, we will change the reality of what it is like to live in the USA. Until then, the struggle continues.

      1. Marcus Ranum

        When whites commit horrific crimes none of them feels as though they are tainted, debased, or responsible for the acts of the criminal.

        Thank you. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of reading something that makes you go “uh… privilege check: FAILED” but your comment did that to me. I won’t forget it.

      2. jenBPhillips

        For what it’s worth, I feel pretty darn tainted and debased* by the actions of white people past and present. I’ve been committed to the continuous education of my own (white, privileged) kids about the shameful actions of our forbearers and current ‘brethren’ against people of color in hopes that their generation will be a better one. Still doesn’t feel like enough sometimes.

        *I realize that they key difference between my experience and what you were comparing it to is that my guilt is entirely self imposed. There is no cultural insinuation for me to assume responsibility for any of it.
        Shutting up and listening, again.

        1. believerskeptic

          For what it’s worth, I feel pretty darn tainted and debased* by the actions of white people past and present. I’ve been committed to the continuous education of my own (white, privileged) kids about the shameful actions of our forbearers and current ‘brethren’ against people of color in hopes that their generation will be a better one. Still doesn’t feel like enough sometimes.

          I’m astounded at how resistant people are to simply saying, or even feeling, sorry. When I see black people in every day life, being white, I often think, “I’m so sorry for the crap you must have endured in your life.” I too am trying to teach my son about “the shameful actions of our forbearers and current ‘bretheren’.” As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s one reason I won’t let my brother near my son anymore. My brother just constantly spouts vile, racist crap and I drew a line. Plus, I don’t want to be around it myself either. It’s like having a real-life Archie Bunker in my life, which I don’t want. /datedculturalreference

  39. 39
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    The White Supremacy in this movement is stifling and seemingly incorrigible. I’m glad those who have the courage to deal with it effectively are able to do so in the manner that’s being attempted, sometimes successfully.

    It’s like fighting a ten foot thick and thirty foot wide wall of Molasses a thousand feet up a hill at 70 degree angle or something, in the hot sun, with the backs against a long sheet of metal or something. It’s maddening to deal with this. The White Supremacy in this movement is like the Blob set free at the Boston Molasses incident in the early 20th century.

  40. 40
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    It’s the “good faith” “simply ignorant” “well meaning” “compassion” parts of the brave White Knights that really betrays them and makes me want to bite into the plate of my table.
    1.) How do they know?
    Can they read the woman’s mind? Are they their most intimate BFF (in that case: why didn’t they stop their BFF from such a racist asshole move?)
    No, it’s neither. But she’s a nice white lady and she asked a polite question so she can at worst have been misguided. Pfff, I live in a country ruled by a “nice white lady”. They can be just as malicious as the next person.

    2.) What does it matter?
    The pain is inflicted the hurt is caused and no matter what your intentions you cannot undo it. You can only try to apologize and behave better the next time. The most painful things people ever said to me were actually not uttered by foaming extremists. They were uttered by oh so well-meaning people who were equally shocked and oh so hurt by my lack of appreciation as JT is.

  41. 41
    ischemgeek

    Please forgive any incoherence as I’m running on about 3hrs of sleep here.

    I’ve been bugged hugely ever since JT’s post came out by two assertions of his: Firstly, that the woman in question was “well-meaning”, and secondly, that the woman was “polite.”

    I don’t think she was well meaning, because to be frank, as a white person in North America, I hear a lot of conversation in white-only company from those who think I share their beliefs. I’ve learned first-hand what the dogwhistles are. People don’t parrot Fox News that uncritically in my region of the continent unless they’ve got some sort of racist axe to grind. I’m not convinced the woman in question was as well meaning as JT and company claim.

    Secondly, even if she was as well-meaning as they claim, I think it’s extremely fucked up that implying a person’s entire race is a bunch of violent thugs who don’t care about the law through dog-whistle racism is “polite” so long as no curse words are said, but defending oneself against such slander is a rude outburst.

    To me, its a fuck of a lot less polite to attack someone’s humanity than it is to defend your humanity, no matter what the language used.

    Which is, I think, my major issue with the Civility Warriors. In their bizarro-world sense of “fairness” and “compassion,” it’s A-okay to imply someone is sub-human, but using curse words? Never! For shame!

    I can’t accept those definitions of fairness or compassion, that say that the woman in question was being polite, and that Crutchfield was being uncivil, uncompassionate, rude, and unfair to her. I can’t.

    1. 41.1
      beelzebubba

      Don’t forget that she brought that dog whistle from completely out of nowhere too. Mandisa Thomas’s talk wasn’t about crime at all. The women just felt entitled to bring the “black-on-black crime” talking point in because Thomas is black.

  42. 42
    Jeremiah

    I think that the basic issue here is that everyone learns history through the white perspective, the atrocities committed against people of all races are downplayed along with the flaws of our own white American “heroes”. The way history books are written slavery doesn’t sound all that bad and teachers are afraid of telling students the history that they undoubtedly learned in college because they don’t want white kid’s parents coming in and asking why they told their kid that white people have the capacity to be awful too. The crime problem in the US isn’t a black problem or a white problem, it’s a poverty problem. I’m white and live in a primarily white area right now and their is a huge meth problem in the area but all anyone ever wants to talk about is what they are going to do about the black crime in the city I live near. Of which there is maybe one to four murders per year, but they fail to talk about the break ins, fires, and explosions that occur out here. Do I think that lady had ill intentions with her question, no. Was it racist, a little bit. Did it deserve pointing out? Absolutely.

  1. 43
    Intersectional Collisions: Benevolent Sexism, Race, and JT Eberhard | The Feminist Hivemind

    […] you know anything about the JT Whitesplains Anti-Racism to Bria Crutchfield trainwreck or not, go read this post by Sikivu Hutchinson writing at Black Skeptics first. And if you only have time/energy to read one […]

  2. 44
    I Wrote This While Pissed (Part 3 of 3) | sanromero

    […] A special shout out to Sikivu Hutchinson, post here:  , for her excellent analysis on why JT’s actions are racist http://freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/2013/08/22/white-boyz-with-problems/ […]

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