No new content this weekend, sorry. That’s because I want to draw some attention to stuff already posted on the blog that I think deserves some more attention and discussion. Comments, mostly, and some posts. Also, this is an Open Thread, say what you want to me! I can take it.
Right now the debate stands thusly:
White people – Affirmative action isn’t necessary.
Me – Yeah, it is.
How exciting! But seriously, join in. I’d love some more discussion on this because I actually haven’t completely made up my mind, but I haven’t seen much compelling argument to tip me toward being against AA.
Oh, and don’t forget the slightly newer discussion on Black Leadership, which I’m very interested in expanding.
I’m loving the links to Our Black History stuff, and I encourage people to keep them coming. I also cannot wait for the first carnival because it will rock.
While I was gone lots of people left LOTS of comments that I have been trying to read and think about. I’m going to pick out just a few to bring up now, and maybe others later. A lot of what people had to say is still very relevant.
First, a comment from jon on my “About” page:
hey ther, firstly i thought id clear this one up, im a white male, im 18 years old. an i found ur blog whilst looking for a word to descrobe people who are scared of black people. i thought your reasoning of ABW was completely relevant and true to modern day life, unfortunatly! However, i was wondering as to whether u think white people being scared of black people is racist, as i find myself being accused of being racist myself when i am genuinely scared of black people due to a few bad experiences with black people, im not saying all black people are the same or are all bad people, as i have friends who are black. however, i do often feel intimidated by black people who i am unfamiliar with!
I bring this up for two reasons. 1 – I have no idea how to answer this one. 2 – in light of what Mr. Bill O’Reilly and Mrs. Glenn Beck had to say on this subject, I’m wondering how many white people out there ARE actually afraid of black folks. And what does this all mean? (Be deep, y’all.)
Another comment on that page from Dreson:
Wow, This website makes me sad
Its not white people you need to be focusing on.
Distribution of single-offender victimizations, based on race of victims, by type of crime and perceived race of offender – Year 2002
Offender victim Estimated number of victimizations (1)
Crimes of violence- (3)
White Black 100 111
Black White 466 205
Black Black 460 388
I don’t even know what to say to this, y’all.
From not_matt in the Things You Need To Understand #4 post:
Perhaps you have answered this already, but I’d like to hear again you opinion of how one can use white privilege to emilinate white privilege. Being queer I do find myself occasionally disadvantaged, but realize that it in no way takes away from the sad fact that I am a white male.
How can I use this power for good? How can I work to support the structuring of other’s privileges, and try to eliminate my own without, undermining what those in the underprivileged groups are trying to do themselves?
If anyone wants to take that one, I encourage it. I think it’s a legit question.
I was reading through the Racism debate comments and found one that I know I read, but I did not absorb. It’s from Claire Light, and I think it deserves a full quote (but it’s long enough to require a jump:
tempest rocks! (for starting this discussion.) let me state right away that i have no answers to the questions, so i’m just gonna make some sentences and let them fall how they may.
what power do you have to oppress others, tempest? well you have the power to bitchslap me all up the avenue. but then i can bitchslap you right back down the ave, so we’re even there.
what makes me uncomfortable about your definition of racism at the top of all this is that *you*, tempest, are one of the smartest, most clear-eyed and concise and sharp-pointed analysts of, well, everything, that i’ve met. you have the power (smarts, education, verbal ability, energy, drive) to smack down 99.999% of our fellow citizens with a few well-chosen sentences. i am not being misty-eyed. this is genuine power. so to say that you yourself are incapable of being racist because you have no institutional power is both disingenuous and self-disempowering. you could wreck almost anyone if you chose to. individual power is … powerful. and it can be destructive. just ask condi.
your current “powerlessness” is chosen. you *decided* not to go the corporate or conformist route. i respect you for that (i did it too), but choosing to step out (or further out than you already are) doesn’t mean that your outiness is oppression.
and i say this realizing that any minute of every day you can step outside your door and get smacked down by even the lowest of the low–for being black. it’s not a simple equation is it?
or let me put it this way: i’m asian, but neither little, nor a goodie goodie. east asians are famous for being afraid of black people, but i steel myself when i see a black man headed my way because that purposeful walk means only one thing: he’s gonna get up into my shit for being asian. 99% of the time, i’m right, too. not all, not most, not even that many black men. just the ones who actually walk towards me that way.
do you know how long it’s been since i’ve taken shit from anyone but a black man for being asian? and yet, every single one of those black men who give me shit are wearing the aura of homelessness or some similar economic desperation on them, and they give me shit while i’m on my way to my fancy nonprofit, bleeding-heart job, or on my way to my mfa creative writing class, stinking of perfumed soap.
i’m aware of my race all day long, and it’s not usually wealthy whites who make me aware of it, who make me cringe. it’s people who make me cringe for myself, then make me cringe for them. whoever it was above who said that blacks can only be racist to asians is just. not. seeing. the mutuality. it’s not a simple equation, is it?
the top-ranking neighborhoods in the country for income are … asian. also, the bottom-ranking neighbhorhoods in the country for income are … asian. wrap your head around that. or around this: the percentage of asians with MDs far outstrips the overall percentage of asians in the population, and yet asian-specific diseases and health issues get short shrift, even compared to african american-specific diseases and health issues. asian american suicide, breast cancer, and obesity rates have either reached par, or outstripped everyone else’s.
asians have entrée, limited, of course, into whiteness, while blacks don’t. and yet asians are routinely derided in mainstream media in a manner that african americans haven’t been for nearly half a century. we have no naacp-equivalent organization, no effective asian political caucus. african americans have real, if limited, *institutional* power. asian americans don’t. yet no one even needs to ask which is higher in the racial hierarchy, which less limited in terms of how each individual in the group is welcomed into opportunity. it’s complicated, isn’t it?
if whites set the terms and forms of racism against asians, and yet it’s blacks who most often operate it, is it still racism? if an asian operates white racism against blacks at the behest of whites who make it a condition of acceptance, of economic opportunity, is *that* the racism you define as backed by institutional power? if my life is oppressed every day by the harrassment of people poorer and less privileged than i, but who exist together as a group while i am alone as an individual representative of *my* group, who is oppressed?
okay, how about this one: i know two white men who grew up in communities of color. one is from a working class family and grew up in a primarily latino school district. he was beaten up every day for two years by his latino classmates. sure, he got to go home and watch tv shows that were all white and listen to white voices on the radio. probably most of his teachers were white, too. but what about him being bullied every day in school? for being white? where does that fit in?
the other was middle class and was bused into a predominantly black school district. again, beaten up every day for years for being white. how do you measure how this man feels about race, about his own race and identity? if a kid is a minority in his school and mistreated by the majority every day for significant portions of his life, how much exactly does it matter that he graduates from daily prejudice into majority status? (should we ask israel?)
and all this is *completely* aside from latinos, indians, and arabs.
(like i said, i gots no answers.)
This comment is making me think for several reasons. Firstly, everything Claire writes makes me think. She’s a sharp woman, and you should read her blog as I do. Second, because her assertion that individual power IS powerful rings very true to me. One of the reasons I do my best to own my angry blackness is because I am trying to exert power over my personal sphere of influence.
The third reason this is making me think hard is because of some reactions to my Why Young Muslim Men Are Angry post, wherein I was accused of evoking Asian stereotypes. I’m not just connecting the two because Claire happens to be Asian, but because both her comment and the comments on that post made me realize that I have been operating under a weird kind of naiveté regarding Race. As in, because I am black and identify as black and generally perceived as black, I really have very little clue how Racism, Race, Prejudice, and other such issues affect other races. What I generally do is assume that it all operates the way I see them operate for black folks with a few exceptions. But that is, of course, straight ig’nant!
This is all to say that I’m glad I have readers and friends from several backgrounds. Not only are they awesome people, but they expose me to viewpoints I don’t normally have access to. I’m grateful for that. And I’ll do my best not to act like some crazy white person and say I completely understand where you’re coming from. Because… I don’t.
Okay, that’s all. As I said, Open Thread. Talk amongst yourselves.