Three steps towards ending black-white racism


Feeling like I had been picking on religion a bit too much, I decided to re-post a series of notes I wrote during Black History Month in February, 2010. This is the 6th and final installment of that series. Next week I will go back to frothing at the mouth about how stupid everyone who disagrees with my outlook on religion is.

This post originally appeared on Facebook on Friday, February 19th, 2010.

Racism is still alive and well, as I established in previous posts. We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to discussions about race and the role that it plays in our society. However, I think we’ve been going about it the wrong way. As I said earlier, it used to be child’s play to identify the racists in our society. They were burning crosses (and apparently still are in Nova Scotia), they were using racist language, they were actively discriminating against black people. Those days are, thankfully, over. Aside from a few incidents that bubble up from time to time, black people don’t face the kinds of brutal treatment they did just decades ago.

But racism’s not done. Like a herpes infection, just because it’s been fought down to sub-symptomatic levels doesn’t mean it can’t come back with a vengeance. As I outlined previously, we can still see some residual effects of racism apparent in the makeup of our economic and political leaders, job discrimination – both as unregulated restrictions by individual employers and in the form of well-intentioned, necessary, but ultimately fundamentally racist programs like Affirmative Action – and our portrayal in popular media. Behaving as though racism is no longer a problem only allows the infection to persist and become more deeply entrenched.

In order to completely eradicate racism, important steps need to be taken. In my mind, these steps fall into three main categories. The first is that black people need to move into prominent positions of power and authority. The second is that we take some ownership of our society, including the negative parts, and realize that racism is everyone’s problem, not just white people’s. Finally, white people need to start talking about race, racism, and their own fears and concerns without fear of reprisal. I will elaborate on each of these in order.

First, I think it’s of primary importance that black people be highly visible in positive, influential places. Stereotypes about what “blackness” is stem not only from old-time racism, but from the perpetuation of those same roles in popular media. BET and other music stations are prime culprits, FOX News is about as guilty as an organization can get before donning a white hood, but we’re doing it to ourselves too. The next step, I believe, is to change the connotative understanding of what it is to be “black”. It’s hard to say “black people are lazy criminals” when you work next to, or for, an intelligent black person. It’s even harder when most of the black people you know are strong and successful in your own field. I’ve tried my best, and continue to try, to enact this in my own field where there aren’t very many black people (although, hilariously, my manager and one of the senior scientists on the 9-person team here are also black).

Part of this movement has to be being competent and intelligent, definitely, but a similarly important component is that we have to be visible. Not just present in photographs, or around at meetings, but we have to wear our blackness on our sleeves, forcing those around us to confront the cognitive dissonance that, ultimately, destroys stereotypes. Barack Obama, Neil Degrasse-Tyson, and Will Smith are three examples that readily come to mind of people who don’t hide their race and are anti-stereotypical and prominent in their respective fields. This step will have the unintended benefit of providing positive role modeling to black kids who otherwise wouldn’t have examples to look to in their own communities.

Second, I think it’s time to drop the adversarial “us versus them” mindset. A lot of things are legitimately the fault of racism, or oppression by a majority group. The more we circle the wagons and cry “racism wolf” every time there’s an issue, we dilute real complaints. It’s similar to comparisons to Nazi-ism. There are real honest-to-spaghetti-monster Nazis out there in the world. Every time we draw a Hitler mustache on a picture of Bush, or give a police officer who tells you to pour out your beer the Fascist salute, we move a serious problem further away from the shock and outrage it deserves, and indirectly make serious threats seem less scary.

More important than that, however, is that we need to start recognizing that we are part of the system just as much as any white person is. We perpetuate our own stereotypes by conforming to racial roles, we ostracize those who behave like an outsider. Instead, we need to embrace the idea that our distinctiveness is part of the larger culture. This goes hand-in-hand with the first point – it’s harder to hate someone who is an active part of your own in-group. I am not, by any means, saying that we stop being different, but instead that we put the difference in context of those things we have in common with other groups of people.

Finally, and this is the only one that I haven’t heard other people say a thousand times before me, we need to let white people come to the table. White people are, understandably, scared and unsure about how to approach the topic of racism. For generations, white people ran this country. Gradually, however, more and more non-white faces began popping up in the landscape. While some reacted with open hostility, the rest were left with the uneasy feeling of watching as their power and influence slowly melted away. For an illustration of this, cruise the Craigslist “Rants and Raves” section for Vancouver. There are some REALLY angry white people on that forum, and the majority of them are saying the same thing: “this is our turf, stop taking away our power.” Of course they’re factually incorrect about whose land this is and who built this country, but the fact remains that being white doesn’t carry as much currency as it used to. Couple that with accusations of racism, bigotry and malicious ignorance every time you make any statement about race, and you are suddenly made to feel guilty and responsible for the existence of a system that you were born into without any idea of how to make it better.

Someone needs to start speaking up on behalf of white people. They are victims of the same system, regardless of the fact that it was largely the responsibility of their ancestors. So what? They hurt too. They are made to feel as though they have sinned, but are given few, if any, workable options of how to ameliorate the situation. I’d imagine that most white people hate racism just as much as black people do, even though they are rarely the victims. Not only that, but white people have legitimate beefs and concerns of their own related to race. Let’s remember that even MLK always made a point of acknowledging the role that white brothers and sisters played in the civil rights movement. Conversely, white people have no MLK or Malcolm or Jesse Jackson. Right now the only people speaking on behalf of white people’s issues are demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and far-right militant movements like the KKK and other White Power groups, which puts even legitimate criticism of the treatment of whites in the same category as white supremacy (not only that, but if they’re the only ones speaking for me, then I’m perhaps inclined to agree with them on a few other things). This is not to say that the races are “equal” in political standing, economic influence, or even how we think of them colloquially. However, if we are going to move forward together it’s important that we all have a voice in the progress.

So, like Al Gore at the end of An Inconvenient Truth I’m trying to lay out a concrete map of how to take ourselves back from the brink of crisis and move into a better, brighter future for all people. First, we need to redefine “black” – pushing it out, in a positive way, into the limelight by having prominent and well-placed black people talk about race. Second, we need to take an active part in the society at large, taking ownership of our important role in shaping the culture. Third, white people need to start talking about race, and non-white people need to start listening and discussing. Done properly, these steps will ensure that we can actually have a “post-racial” world, rather than just sticking our heads in the sand and pretending.

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Comments

  1. says

    I appreciate your analysis and comments, but believe you are missing the mark on a few others. Your comment about Fox News works against much of your thesis as well. To label a conservative leaning news channel racist works against everything you are trying to do with this post.

    “First, I think it’s of primary importance that black people be highly visible in positive, influential places.” I agree with you in regards to the more positive influences those who need influencing have the better, but something is inherently wrong if you need to identify with race so strongly that until you see it in certain positions, only then would you believe that maybe things aren’t as unfair as they are told. I think you’re looking to influence people in a noble way, but the cultural attitudes that say Asian Americans have is better than trying to go from the opposite side. I don’t believe that NEEDING to identify with race will do more harm than good.

    Second – I totally agree with you. We need to stop trivializing real racism and all work together on this.

    Finally – I agree but believe this will NEVER happen. It needs to or like you said, it will only create more extremist views if the real discussion cannot be had. But when we have 3 generations of emotional, white guilt laden liberals dominating the debate with no end in sight, sadly this will never happen. The systemic views of those who believe we live in a hugely unjust world will not allow it.

  2. says

    Thanks for your comment, MacGregor.

    I don’t think that Fox News is racist because it’s conservative. I’d like to hope those two things are mutually exclusive. Fox News is racist because it’s racist – no other reason. It may not be convenient to my thesis to call it what it is, but the facts are the facts.

    It will require more than simply wishing to change the cultural outlook that black people in North America have. There are major historical differences between Asian Americans (by which I assume you mean people from East Asia as opposed to South Asia) and African Americans, both in how they arrived here, and how they were treated by European Americans subsequent to their arrival. You’re not the first person to say that we need to do away with racial identities – I think that’s both impractical and ill-advised. There’s a wealth of useful knowledge and experience that one can gain from ethnic and cultural identification; the problem comes in when you consider your group as being opposed to or versus another.

    There’s a line between simple white guilt and the recognition of real, actual privilege. I am sure you didn’t mean to say that conservatives are the ones who are on the forefront of moving the racial dialogue along; it sounds like you meant to say that, but I must be misinterpreting you. I’m also sure you didn’t mean to imply that there are no race-based disparities endemic within the sociopolitical system; again, it sounds like that’s what you’re saying, but that can’t be right.

  3. says

    I really need to read what i type before i submit it. =) But anywho..

    “Fox News is racist because it’s racist – no other reason. . . but the facts are the facts.”
    Who on the channel is racist and how did you come to this conclusion?

    “There are major historical differences between Asian Americans. . . both in how they arrived here, and how they were treated by European Americans subsequent to their arrival.”
    True, BUT most blacks in North America are NOT ancestors of slaves. And Asian Americans also faced many hardships, not exactly comparable, but justifying race-based disparities and attitudes to prior atrocities can only work for so long.
    Racial identities are not as important as ethnic ones. Of course those important parts of who we are and where we came from will never die, but please realize there are those who needed a black man to win the presidency to realize they had the same rights as i did. Many younger blacks who have lived the same life as I have simply view the world through a racially biased and unjust prism.

    Once you realize that most Conservatives couldnt give a damn about what race you are, and dont see things through the blinders of race/gender/class, the sooner you’ll realize that we could be closer to a society with completely marginalized racism. “actual privilege” can be extended to mean just about anything, most use it as a crux or excuse instead of realizing that life isn’t fair and we all have struggles, just some more than others. The only privilege i had was a two parent household filled with a lot of love. But to most liberal folks the notion of promoting such an idea is hateful and bigoted.

    Endemic race-based disparities? I would only call them endemic to the extent that liberal policy has created detrimental and culturally ingrained mindsets that exacerbate those disparities. Why most liberals do not understand that inputs highly affect outputs, even on an unfair playing field is beyond me. There are disparities amongst racial lines of course. But i’m sure we disagree on the root cause and the best way to work towards ending them.

  4. says

    I like this post a lot. In particular I agree with what you said about white folks who hate racism but don’t even know how to talk about it for fear of unintentionally promoting racism or appearing racist. I’m white and I feel that way for sure. I experience this as a sort of self- and society-imposed intellectual censorship that feels wrong, but also, if I am honest, comforting: if I never say anything about race, I can’t be accused of racism. Of course this undermines any potential for progress that could come from my personal involvement in race issues (unless avoiding while working to act in an egalitarian manner personally count). It’s much easier to just go mum than to actually talk about and work on racism – especially when the risk exists of appearing racist merely for discussing the issue!

    I suspect I’m rambling now but my point is, it would be great to hear more from you about this divisive issue (and it is divisive – this uneasy hesitance around discussing race is all too easy to blame on the victims, never mind we do it to protect our own images and not because of external pressure).

  5. says

    Sorry, I would have responded to your comment earlier, but I had to wait for my eyes to stop rolling.

    Here’s some documentation of race baiting and racially biased coverage by Fox News. Instead of responding with the tired ad hominem “but media matters is LIBERAL”, please illustrate where their facts are in error.

    As of 2000, 93% of the black population in the United States was descended from American ancestry, meaning slave ancestry. Those who identified as Afro-Caribbean or simply African made up the remaining 7%. Unless there was some major influx of black immigrants after slavery (there wasn’t), or since 2000 (also no), or if there’s a shit-ton of Aborigines in this continent (nope), then your comment about their origin is simply false. The number of black people in Canada and Mexico is not sufficient to move that number below 50%.

    You call them ‘prior’ atrocities. I call them ‘continuing’ atrocities. I am not saying that the treatment of black people has not changed since slavery, or that it is impossible for a black person to work their way through the system – my own father is an example, but even he will tell you that it is far more difficult for a black person (or any non-white person) to move up the socioeconomic ladder than it is for a white person. There have been studies conducted that show that in housing, employment, access to health and other social services, racial minorities face greater barriers to access. It’s not something that used to happen, nor is it simply a matter of viewing the world through some kind of prism.

    And you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t bother responding to the idea that conservatives are somehow magically free of their loooooong history of racist ideology, or that somehow it is all the fault of those gosh-darned liberals for holding back progress. Nobody thinks that denial of the existence of privilege is hateful or bigoted, it’s just ignorant. Implying that somehow the ‘inputs’ of racial minorities are the best explanation for their ‘outputs’, however… THAT can be construed as bigoted. Instead of jumping to the arch-liberal conclusion that you’re an evil person for expressing an unschooled and un-nuanced opinion, I’m going to just assume that you’re a product of the same racist system we all grew up in (myself included).

    I hope you keep reading and commenting, even though I haven’t been particularly nice to you.

  6. says

    Ian, you mentioned Catholicism here. It would seem that you are accusing the members of the Vatican of being Religious.

    Who in the Vatican is religious and how did you come to this conclusion?

  7. says

    It’s been my impression in my discussions with my white friends that people want to talk about these issues but are afraid to be slammed as bigoted or evil simply because they don’t say things in the ‘proper’ way. I’ll admit it’s difficult for me to hear ignorant statements from time to time, but no more than with creationists or anti-vaccine people. The trick is to recognize when people are making an earnest attempt, and give them the benefit of the doubt if they say something impolitic.

    Of course you know I love talking about this stuff, and I’m hoping to push other people to have a bit more confidence and bring these issues up. Don’t worry – I have no intention of dropping this issue; it’s one of the primary reasons I started this blog.

  8. says

    Cromm,
    You present valiant questions with noble intentions and then spout off typical liberal horseshit.
    FoxNews – I hate being an FNC apologist, but give me a break. Because Dean and Salon’s editor deems something racist, DOESN’T MAKE IT SO. That’s what folks like you do not understand. When you see things through the goggles of irrational victimhood and institutional racism/sexism/etc, you will pull race out in nearly every subject. A racial disparity doesn’t necessarily scream white privilege or racial bias. If the ends of anything aren’t perfectly in line with your egalitarian hopings of results, it doens’t make it racist.

    Let me try and clarify or articulate my point using the link you provided –
    For instance when O’Reilly made comments on the Sherrod video saying its unacceptable and should resign, the White House had already contacted her to resign, not to mention O’Reilly apologized the next night saying his initial comments were inappropriate.

    Next, the article also calls the Black Panther scandal phony and hyped. Yes it was blown out of proportion, but considering their leader said they orchestrated it and there was plenty of bipartisan legitimate concern about the Justice Department dropping the case after winning the injunction, id say FNC’s questions that still go unanswered are just and not simply race baiting. http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052970203550604574361071968458430.html

    Next, Dick Morris saying that “a racist is somebody who is winning an argument with a liberal,” is somehow another one of their proofs that FNC is inherently racist. What kind of backwards logic is that? They (journalists) mention as a tactic to just call their opposition racist, Morris brings this up, and yet he’s the race baiter?
    The entire thing is full of these moronic examples, but again, I’ll just assume you see them all as racist because that’s what liberals do. And that’s why we wont ever have the “real” discussion that you want.

    “he will tell you that it is far more difficult for a black person (or any non-white person) to move up the socioeconomic ladder than it is for a white person. There have been studies conducted that show that in housing, employment, access to health and other social services, racial minorities face greater barriers to access.”
    Again, because equality of results doesn’t reign supreme like in Canada or France, that doesn’t mean the system is inherently racist.

    Let me tell you a very quick story. Coming out of college i landed a job along side a friend of mine who is black. We found out we were born on the same day, same year. Got our undergrad degree at the same university. He was raised in a mostly black suburb of Detroit, i was raised in a poor family in a rural area in northern Michigan. We both worked hard, took out a lot of loans, and ended up at the same company doing the same job. BUT to this day he believes he had it so much harder than me, and that the whole system is unjust and racist, even though he admits to having more programs catered to minorities at his disposal during college. See he, like you, view things this way, until we can push back against this tainted view of victimhood and realize yes we still have issues to work through and try and fix (while realizing we have come light-years and are more free than most in this world), we will never be able to have this discussion effectively.
    Yes I will keep visiting thanks!

  9. says

    MacGregor: if you find yourself attacking the psychology of the person you are arguing with, it usually indicates that you don’t have an argument of your own. Calling things “liberal horseshit” is a pretty common fallacy (known as Prejudicial Language) typically used in lieu of an actual argument, as a rhetorical tool to assert their own (unarticulated) position.

    I can’t speak for Ian, but I’ve read Salon once or twice, and it’s mostly crap. Fox news, conversely, is also mostly crap. In countries with real political systems, someone isn’t merely a ‘liberal’ nor a ‘conservative’, and one doesn’t get to dismiss the other position by naming it liberal or conservative. The naming is, itself, vacuous.

    Beck, O’Reilly and the rest have a history of racism, of mocking people who aren’t of european descent, of being anti-arab and anti-persian. If you’re unaware of this trend, then it would appear that you don’t actually watch the show.

    To combat your clear ignorance, I took the trouble of typing “Fox news racism” into youtube, and got just under 4000 hits. Here is the list for you (to save all that hard typing): http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fox+news+racism&aq=f

    Here’s a video that’s a synopsis of racist comments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=277gQDcBtMY

    You can, of course, claim that this montage misrepresents the picture, but I refer you (again) to the 3900 hits for the search that I directed you to. Any claim in the face of all that that Fox News isn’t racist requires significant explanation of these excerpts. Claims of cherry-picking will not be entertained: of *course* they’re cherry-picked, FNC isn’t all-racist, all the time, and no-one is making that claim. But they have a pattern of racist behaviour which is listed here.

    Generally, you seem to be screaming against claims that haven’t been made here:

    A racial disparity doesnt necessarily scream white privilege or racial bias

    Who said it did?

    If the ends of anything arent perfectly in line with your egalitarian hopings of results, it doenst make it racist.

    Who said it did?

    Let me try and clarify or articulate my point using the link you provided –
    For instance when Orielly made comments on the Sherrod video saying its unacceptable and should resign, the whitehouse had already contacted her to resign, not to mention Oreilly apologized the next night saying his initial comments were inappropriate.

    Can you explain how this warrants your point? Even better: can you explain what your point *is*, exactly?

    The problem here is that FNC had the *full* version of her speech, and aired the editted version *and* called for her to resign: they engineered the whole situation. *That’s* what warrants the charge of racism (and being scumbags).

    Next, Dick Morris saying that “a racist is somebody who is winning an argument with a liberal,” is somehow another one of their proofs that FNC is inherently racist. What kind of backwards logic is that? They(journolist) mention as a tactic to just call their opposition racist, Morris brings this up, and yet he’s the race baiter?

    Dick Morris’s quote, in essence, denies racism. He is implicitly denying the legitimacy of the label by claiming that ‘it’s just what liberals label anyone who is beating them’. The denial of the existence of racism is one of the tools of racism. “I’m not racist, you’re just too black to understand”-type stuff.

    The entire thing is full of these moronic examples, but again, ill just assume you see them all as racist becuz thats what liberals do.

    I have no idea what ‘liberals’ do. I know that thinking, rational people have meaningful and well thought out points, rather than simply engaging in constant smears. Would you like to offer some meaningful and well thought out points, or would you rather continue in engaging in constant smears?

    “he will tell you that it is far more difficult for a black person … racial minorities face greater barriers to access.”
    Again, becuz equality of results doesnt reign supreme like in Canada or France, that doenst mean the system is inherently racist.

    So… I guess this needs explaining for the hard-of-thinking in the audience.

    Humans all have the same biology, within certain ranges. The demograph for intelligence (to the best of our ability to understand these things) is roughly the same for all ethnic groups. Blacks are as smart as people of european descent, who are as smart as east asians, who are as smart as west asians, and so on.

    Ditto for personality, or for any other psychological test you want to run: biologically, humans are humans regardless of the superficial skin/bone structure difference.

    So for there to be a disparity of, say, black families only having 10c to a white family’s $1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_in_the_United_States#Wealth_Inequality_and_Race), an answer must be sought.

    You’re right when you say that this, all by itself, doesn’t mean that the system is racist, but given the biological equality, it raises a flag. Given that biology is out of the picture, one has to look to the social causes for this (obscenely large) disparity.

    Since social causes are necessarily under the control (and I use the word in a very broad sense), this means that the disparity is caused by the ruling power(s) of the society of the USA. This is the basic seed of the argument that the USA is a state that is, itself, racist. (I’m not implying that other countries are more or less racist than the USA, but I’m just using the USA as an example here)

    If you want to argue that this accusation of racism is unfounded, then the onus is on you to explain the wealth disparity given the biological equality. Any appeal to inherent traits (“Black people are more lazy than whites”, “whites are smarter than blacks”) have already been dealt with, as you would be making a biological claim in that case (and such an appeal is already ruled out).

    Let me tell you a very quick story. [blah blah blah] even though he admits to having more programs catered to minorities at his disposal during college.

    Congratulations on reducing the life story of your friend into an anecdote about how he is blind to the system that favours him over you. I’m sure that he’s very happy to have such an understanding friend, who is ready to deny that the world is racist anytime he might bring it up.

    Remind me: how many black congressmen are there? How many black senators? How many black mayors? How many black millionares?

    What is the cause of this disparity, if the system is not racist?

  10. says

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that by “folks like you”, you’re referring to liberals as opposed to black people.

    Brian has written a book chapter, it seems, refuting most of your statements, so I won’t bother, except to ask you this question. If there is a systematic disparity between white people and blacks, and we know that it isn’t due to biology, where, in your opinion, does it come from? You fervently deny that there is inherent racism in the system, or at least that it plays a meaningful role – so why are there such differences?

    To pre-empt what I’m assuming will be a tirade about “liberal hand-holding policies and white guilt” being the reason for the problems, I’ll remind you that a) the disparities existed long before liberal policies were in effect (those policies actually came in as a reaction to extant problems), and that b) black people in “liberal” areas of your country and mine do far better, on average, than those in “conservative” areas.

  11. says

    Of course, you assume I’m saying you people as in black people. Again if you look for race in something, you’ll find it eventually. I’m no more racist than anyone is, but like normal when dealing with those from a leftist bent, I’m questioned and accused of bigotry and bias. Please see point 3 from your original post.

    To answer your questions:
    “where, in your opinion, does it come from?”…”why are there such differences?”
    Of course things in America didnt start on a level playing field, so the catch up will take longer, that’s obviously one reason. American’s history of racism is long and deep and it will take a long time to completely root out. But we’ve made strides, and nowadays whites are actually discriminated against in some arenas… College entrance for example. Jim Webb discusses this issue here.

    The other reason for disparity is cultural; broken down family structures, entitlement mindsets, antipathy to education, blind allegiance to the American Democratic policies which create inherently ungrateful, self-centered, spoiled and lazy individuals… OF ANY RACE. Throwing money at the problem, creating more social programs, or engaging in racial bias going the other way won’t work at the root of the issue. There are reasons why DPS fights to keep charter schools out of Detroit. Their are reasons why the Calif Teachers Union is boycotting the LA TImes for printing test scores.

    To answer a) – Civil rights legislation was passed less than 50 years ago. Yes there are still die-hard racists of every color, but most of it is gone, and with SOME help, some luck, hard work and responsible decisions made by those minorities, the so-called “achievement gap” wont be far behind. But trying to mandate equality of results instead of pushing for tempered liberty will bring us more volunteered segregation like that in Europe. Theres a reason Americans value liberty above equality: we, at least us on the right in this country fight for equality of opportunity as opposed to the French themed equality of result.

    To answer b) – This point is not true. Most blacks are in urban areas which are liberal to the bone, and stricken with absurdly high poverty and welfare rates. But this issue is more complicated than political party affiliation, yes there are many liberal urban areas not as downtrodden as Harlem/ Brooklynn/ Camden/ Philly/ Cleveland/ Dayton/ Cincinatti/ Detroit/ Pittsburgh/ New Orleans/ etc. but that doesnt advance your point. The deep rural south is poor regardless of colour. Clearly more factors than political values determine an areas economic status. How about this: did you know that for decades, those with American or Conservative Values are happier than their counterparts? And no, liberals actually make more money, statistics show.

  12. says

    Well of course the FIRST thing I said was that I was going to assume you DIDN’T mean black people… and I was trying to make a joke.

    There’s a difference between allowing other people into the conversation and turning a blind eye to fallacious and bigoted statements, accepting them as true no matter how bereft of merit they are. Saying “I’m not racist” doesn’t cut any cheese with me, I’m afraid. Almost without exception, everyone I’ve ever heard that statement from has just said, or is about to say, something racist.

    It’s funny, Mel predicted exactly where your argument would go. And pulling up a oft-debunked opinion article written by Jim Webb isn’t the same as providing evidence.

    Of course we’re into the blaming of the individuals. I like how you were very careful to say “OF ANY RACE”, hoping that I’ll somehow miss the connection – black people are poor, poor people are lazy, therefore…

    I fail to recognize the right wing’s claim to be fighting for equality of opportunity. Very little of what I’ve seen from the social right has anything to do with equality, rather seeming to prefer preservation of the status quo. I also don’t recognize your equivocation of American values with Conservative values. They are NOT the same thing. You should also be looking at the ability of members of visible minority groups to move out of poverty, and the economic disparities between the richest and the poorest. You’ll find, as i said, that liberal areas, by providing more social services, allows people to move more easily out of poverty than conservative areas, in which the poor are kept poor.

    Incidentally, the reasons liberals make more money on average is because they/we are better educated on average.

    My problem with your argument is that it attempts, again and again, to solve the race problem by denying its existence. That’s not a solution, it’s an attempt to duck out of solving the problem. You’re towing the conservative line, which shouldn’t surprise me based on your linked blog, so you’ll have to forgive me if I seem to lump your arguments in with all conservatives. While your philosophical position is nothing I haven’t heard before, I’d be more interested to hear your personal experience of anti-white racism, and how you’ve dealt with it.

  13. says

    Not a fan of the commenting system here…

    MacGregor:

    To answer your questions:
    “where, in your opinion, does it come from?”…”why are there such differences?”
    Of course things in America didnt start on a level playing field, so the catch up will take longer, thats obviously one reason. American’s history of racism is long and deep and it will take a long time to completely root out. But we’ve made strides, and nowadays whites are actually discriminated against in some arenas.. College entrance for example.

    You understand that the wealth disparity is getting worse, right?

    You understand that no-one here is asking you do you *agree* with the statistics, at this point we’re checking for basic comprehension?

    The other reason for disparity is cultural; broken down family structures, entitlement mindsets, antipathy to education, blind allegiance to the American Democratic policies which create inherently ungrateful, self-centered, spoiled and lazy individuals….OF ANY RACE.

    That’s an interesting assertion.

    Can you provide a study that supports this claim with evidence? Preferably not from the Journal That Just Makes Shit Up, please.

    Throwing money at the problem, creating more social programs, or engaging in racial bias going the other way wont work at the root of the issue.

    What is the root of the issue, and do you have evidence to support your claim?

    There are reasons why DPS fights to keep charter schools out of Detroit. Their are reasons why the Calif Teachers Union is boycotting the LA TImes for printing test scores.

    These are standard rhetorical tools used to implicate a point without backing it up.

    You have implicitly claimed that the DPS are the bad guys, and that the Calif Teachers Union are also bad guys: please make your point explicit, and (again) provide data to back it up.

    To answer a) – Civil rights legislation was passed less than 50 years ago. Yes there are still die hard racists of every color, but most of it is gone, and with SOME help, some luck, hard work and responsible decisions made by those minorities, the so-called “achievement gap” wont be far behind.

    You understand that the achievement gap has gotten worse over the last 50 years, nevermind the last decade?

    Do you have *any* data that supports your point of view?

    But trying to mandate equality of results instead of pushing for tempered liberty will bring us more volunteered segregation like that in Europe.

    Um… What?

    I’m from Europe: what the hell are you talking about?

    Theres a reason Americans value Liberty above Equality, we, at least us on the right in this country fight for equality of opportunity as opposed to the French themed equality of result

    This is meaningless nationalistic jingoism. Please make a point, if you have one. This seems to be pretty standard (irrational) “America is better than France! Yeah!” bullshit.

    To answer b) – This point is not true. Most blacks are in urban areas which are liberal to the bone, and stricken with absurdly high poverty and welfare rates.

    Do you understand that you have missed the point?

    Ian was making a comparison between Black Family A (Democratic constituency) vs Black Family B (Republican constituency), and indicating that Black Family A has better prospects for advancement.

    The point was not that Black Family A is materially better off than Black Family B, but that they have more opportunities to get themselves out of the holes they have been put in by society.

    Do you comprehend now?

    But this issue is more complicated than political party affiliation

    I would hope so, you’re the only one talking about political party affiliation.

    The deep rural south is poor regardless of color.

    Missing the oft-explained point, again.

    Clearly more factors than political values determine an areas economic status.

    Missung the oft-explained point, again.

    How bout this, did you know that for decades, those with American or Conservative Values are happier than their counterparts?

    Huh. Ignorance really is bliss. Who’d have thunk?

    I have no idea if you’re a racist. But you’re definitely ignorant of the concept of ‘data’ and ‘evidence’. Once you back up your nonsense with some data, I’ll take a look at further comments, but I don’t think you have the tools to do so (or you would have already).

  14. says

    It’s gonna take a while to rebut all of your insults and attacks, but I’ll start from the beginning and finish it off tomorrow. A little more tact and you might garner more credibility with those who have differing opinions than yours btw. [editors note: correct spelling and the use of apostrophes goes a long way too]

    “Calling things “liberal horseshit” is a pretty common fallacy (known as Prejudicial Language) typically used in lieu of an actual argument, as a rhetorical tool to assert their own (unarticulated) position”
    The liberal horseshit is a term I typically do not use, but was referring to his link from media matters and the normal clap of assuming leans of bigotry and that the system is inherently so racist because the results dont fit entirely with the demographic makeup. Oh as well as believing they own the racial discussion, and can define what’s racially biased or outright racist.

    “Beck, O’Reilly and the rest have a history of racism”
    My point exactly: those of a non-conservative bent or those who dont hold American values seem to find racism SO rampant and so readily-available, usually when hearing painful truths or inconvenient facts. I’ve listened to, watched and read O’Reilly a lot over the years and can tell you he is no racist. Remember this post was originally around the insightful point Ian made that “whites” need to be able to speak freely without being accused of bias and racism. Apparently you don’t agree.

    “To combat your clear ignorance, I took the trouble of typing “Fox news racism” into youtube, and got just under 4000 hits.”
    I can type just about any Conservative Columnist, talk show host etc. with racist after their name and thousands of hits come up. This only proves my point, just like the media matters link did and reinforces Ian’s 3rd point. It’s based on assumptions made by those who view the world through a blind prism of race. For example, those that accept that Brietbart’s video of Sherrod he posted was based soley on race for his hatred of blacks in general, they are making assumptions they can’t support, and actually dont jive with his ORIGINAL statements he posted. You just assume everything is done with racial malice when most things aren’t, and most don’t care about race. Or the Americans who believe opposition to President Obama’s policies are based soley, or mostly on racial antipathy. That assumptions permeates much of the main stream media and nearly all dominant liberal outlets in general. The truth is, again, that racism is still around, on both sides by all races, but if Nancy Pelosi was President ruling in the same manner with the same policies, opposition would be just as strong.

    “Can you explain how this warrants your point? Even better: can you explain what your point *is*, exactly?”
    Ian posted the link to media matters that supposedly proved raicsm from Fox News, and O’Reillys quote was part of the support. I was simply saying that he made a comment on it the first night, then apologized the next night, and that his comments were after she had already been fired. That whole article is filled with examples like that, where they believe those at FNC had racist intentions which can only be ascertained if they view all of them as already inherently racist.

    “Dick Morris’s quote, in essence, denies racism.”
    Yeah if you believe that “conservatives” or those on FNC are irrational morons who live in a Republican bubble in Manhattan somehow. Anyone with half a brain knows to deny racism is absurd. To assume Morris believes there IS NO RACISM is to renders your argument the same. Like I said, if you’re always looking for race, you’ll find a way to see it.

  15. says

    Yeah, sadly there isn’t much I can do about the commenting system. It’s built into WordPress. It’s definitely not designed for back-and-forth dialogue.

  16. says

    HAHA man how typical you are. I dont need “studies” or “evidence” to prove my point, common sense typically does that. It’s clear that you lack the most basic understanding of the gap between the two sides in America, as well as the basic principles that this country were founded on, as well as the differences between them and those espoused in other countries.

    I will tackle each of your points tomorrow.

  17. says

    So…

    In response to “look, here’s a bunch of racist stuff that’s said on Fox News”, your response is “that isn’t racist. You just perceive racism all the time, even though it’s not really there” ?

    Those clips show Fox News guys talking about Genetic Purity (I’m not inferring! They use the phrase “genetic purity”, referring to the Swedes as the “most pure”), and your response is “oh, that’s not racist”.

    And we’re done. You’re a freaking moron, and I’m not wasting my time anymore. This isn’t an insult: this is a descriptive fact.

  18. says

    This is the 2nd time you’ve tried to equate conservative values with American values. They really aren’t the same thing. Really.

    I also notice that you reject the definition of racism. That’s a neat trick. I guess if I define it as fluffy bunnies and sunshine, O’Reilly is not at all racist.

    By the way, we in the rest of the world find your media to be incredibly conservatively biased. The idea of the “liberal media” is something of a joke to those of us on the outside looking in. So is “fair and balanced”, incidentally. You are correct to point out that racism exists on both sides of the political aisle, though. That’s a subject I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog, and one which many people of colour and anti-racist groups are struggling to deal with.

    I’m curious what mechanism you propose to determine actual racism from the racism that only we can see because of our “prism”. It seems to me that if it is perceived, whether it is intentional or not it is still racism. If I call someone a midget or an Eskimo, I may not know that those are offensive terms, but it doesn’t mean that people have no license to take offence. If I do it repeatedly, it is a fair accusation to call me ignorant, and not a major leap to suspect that I may have some kind of systemic bias against whatever group I repeatedly offend.

  19. says

    It’s clear that you lack the most basic understanding of the gap between the two sides in America

    You mean the side that thinks, and the other side of morons who think ‘common sense’ is all they need?

    No, I understand that gap just fine.

  20. says

    I should make something else clear here: it doesn’t matter what colour you are – if your arguments are without merit, or if you say something bigoted or stupid, you are going to get called out. Nobody gets special status in the conversation for being one ethnicity or another.

  21. Ashlie says

    THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!!

    As a white person in society, I’ll be the 1st to say our ancestors FKD UP ROYALY!!! And if anything our race should be ashamed of our skin color, for simply that reason.

    I’ve never been a person to see the world through “color” vision, my world has always been grey.

    And I honestly think if more white people steped up and said, HEY, WE SCREWED UP, or just admit that, that way of thinking was absurd, race relations would improve signifigantly.

    But on the other hand, I think that in this generation (pre-Obama, lol), racism, gives the young black community an excuse not to pursue a life worth livng, hence continuing the “hood” cycle. “Ain’t no white man gonna hire me”… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that while living in the projects. And sometimes I feel like they would rather sit on the corner all day than even ATTEMPT to get the “white man” to hire them.

    I love everyone, black, white, purple, blue…

    All I’m saying is, until someone owns up to the past, we cannot move to the future.

  22. says

    Ashlie, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but you’re definitely not the first to say that white people fucked up royally :P “White people feeling guilty” isn’t one of the three steps – I’d be willing to stipulate that most white people our age know that their/our ancestors did horrible things. I don’t know that black people are just sitting around and waiting for white people to apologize, or that a formal apology on behalf of all white people will do anything to improve race relations.

    I’m not exactly wild about the victim-blaming in your second paragraph there either – I can’t speak to your experience of people saying they’d rather sit around than try to get hired by “the white man”. My experience has been that of watching black entrepreneurs who lack the knowledge of how to take advantage of the resources at their disposal. The other thing to look at is why they don’t feel they could get hired by “the white man”. Maybe attributing that attitude to laziness is part of the reason we’re still facing problems. Also, love the use of broken English for black kids in the projects (incidentally, I cleaned up your spelling and grammar for you).

    Anyway, thanks for your comment, and I hope you keep reading.

  23. says

    The concept of ‘white person’ tends to encapsulate *way* more people than those actually involved in slavery (or anything else people want to lay at the feet of ‘white people’).

    I’m Irish. I do not self-identify as a ‘white person’. When people talk about ‘white people’ they are usually talking about ‘American people’ or ‘British people’ (in terms of what was done by ‘white people’), neither of whom I self-identify with.

    Russians also fall under that discriptor, as do the Polish, Italians, etc, etc, etc. The four colour system (white, black, brown and yellow) really fails to accurately capture *anything* in terms of culture, history, ethnicity, etc.

    That’s not to say that I’m saying that individuals can’t use it in a modern sense (in terms of a modern movement, or a contemporary identity comprised of contemporaneous peers), but using it in a historic sense and pointing at other ‘white people’ to indicate that they (whom you only know by the colour of their skin) is a bit on the dangerous side: you have no guarantee of being correct.

    Furthermore: I am not responsible for the sins of my parents. I am, of course, responsible for any benefit I may derive (as an autonomous adult) from any system instituted by my parents/ancestors, but in that case I should feel guilt for *my* actions, not *theirs*.

    Which is different from governments. Government is one of those weird objects of identity that transcends the existence of any one of it’s constituent parts. An example in my case: I do not hold any particular British citizen responsible for the atrocities of the past actions of the UK in Ireland (including the members of the Government), but I *do* think that the government (as represented by it’s members) owes Ireland an apology (at the least, but I’d be ok if that’s all their was). This may seem weird, but identity is a weird thing.

    I would argue the same regarding ‘someone owning up the past': take the Canadian apology for the ‘head tax’ on Chinese immigrants in the last century. They apologised, they offered reparations to the living people harmed, and they built a monument as a representation of that apology. But no Canadian (unless directly involved, and it being in recent memory complicates things vis a vis voting) is responsible for that.

    It’s all pretty complex, I think.

  24. NoAssume says

    Right now the only people speaking on behalf of white people’s issues are demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and far-right militant movements like the KKK and other White Power groups, which puts even legitimate criticism of the treatment of whites in the same category as white supremacy (not only that, but if they’re the only ones speaking for me, then I’m perhaps inclined to agree with them on a few other things).

    Sooooooo glad that finally somebody is saying this. I am really, really glad.

    -Incidentally,I would add that some common forms of activism tend to target both zero-sum social power (‘power’) and non-zero-sum social power (‘armor’) which is really not so nice, esp. as it does not help the less visible but (in the specific case of white-black racism) possibly more important structural power.

    I am not really sure what I actually want to do. Due to the increasing uncomfortable feeling that I crush everything, I sometimes wonder if withdrawal would help. I would settle for being able to take a break from slaying my heroes.

  25. NoAssume says

    “In particular I agree with what you said about white folks who hate racism but don’t even know how to talk about it for fear of unintentionally promoting racism or appearing racist. I’m white and I feel that way for sure. I experience this as a sort of self- and society-imposed intellectual censorship that feels wrong, but also, if I am honest, comforting: if I never say anything about race, I can’t be accused of racism. ”

    Agree here. Also, I’ve noticed that my incredibly anxiety about seeming racist has caused me to avoid black people in real life, which is the WORST ATTEMPT AT ANTI-RACISM EVER.

    I’d settle for feeling like I can have a conversation about white identity with mostly other white people, without that kind of discussion attracting racists and without that conversation needing to be for the purpose of antiracism.

  26. says

    There is a value to having discussions of white identity around folks of colour – it can often be difficult to see the strands of the spider web when you’re caught in it. Sometimes having an outsider’s perspective is valuable. But I can definitely understand how tough it is to be a majority member in a minority space – like a goddamn elephant in a china shop.

    Part of it is to recognize that, since you’re guaranteed to make a mistake, getting anxious about trying to be perfect is a waste of perfectly good anxiety. The task is to do as well as you can, and get good at apologizing and learning from your mistakes.

  27. NoAssume says

    I actually started to write a poem a while ago about how I feel like my ability to contribute in a multiracial society is limited (assuming I want to avoid hurting people) because I crush everything.

    – I’m not talking only about minority spaces. (Also, where I live, there are few majority spaces w/r/t race, although the people I know don’t really seem to suffer much race trouble.)

    I’m glad that you are aware of this problem and care and stuff. I’ve gotten more and more worried about things.

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