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Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People

Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People

I’m posting this here on ABW even though the conversation originated on Tumblr and most of the context is there because I think some might find it illuminating. I often come across white people who are convinced they are not racist and warriors for social justice but, by their actions and words, reveal themselves to be… not that.

This type of person can usually be found railing against angry blogs like mine and the one under discussion below because in said blogs we say bad things about white people. And it’s just not fair, you know? Not right. Not all white people are racists, and I’m a racist for even suggesting such a thing!

You know the type.

Thing is, people like are using the tools of racism and oppression (sometimes without knowing it) to bolster their claims of being against racism and oppression. All white totally assured, in their own minds, of being the true good person in the scenario.

One such person goes by ReasonableBro on Tumblr. He first came to my attention because someone reblogged this post from the Tumblr Dumb Things White People Say. The original post discusses harassment the blogger’s mother (who is of black Caribbean descent) has had to deal with for two years. ReasonableBro responded by saying that racism was not a factor and also DTWPS is a terrible, racist blog.

I sent him a message filled with my usual snark, and at the end of a long, nonsensical chain of craziness, he asked me to explain exactly why people keep calling him a racist. I decided to oblige and this is the result.

ETA: After my response to him went live on Tumblr Mr. Reasonable went back and deleted all of the posts in relation to my conversation with him and his original reply to DTWPS. I don’t know if maybe he doesn’t understand how Tumblr works, but his deleting his posts does not delete the reblogs of his posts, which quote him. At any rate, I have updated this post to point to said reblogs but not one word of his posts have been changed, just so you know.


It’s taken me a few days to get to this because of work. But your repeated reblogging in my direction has not allowed me to forget that I promised you answer to the question of why I and others have called you a racist. The answer is long. If you choose not to read it all the way through I can’t force you. But I suggest that you do.

To begin, I’m quoting you from here.

That isn’t a racism thing, it’s a sexism thing.

Most of the beginning of your rant is a further expanding on this thesis, but I don’t need to quote any more of it in order to say: you’re wrong.

The first assumption you made is that the post in question was attempting to say that the kind of harassment the OP’s mom faced was due only to race. The OP did not say that. The OP did say “This is the upper level workforce for black women” but just because she said Black doesn’t mean that it somehow erases Women.

Yes, sexism is definitely at play here. Your assertion that race has nothing to do with it because this kind of thing happens to women of all races betrays your ignorance. You can’t erase the fact that this happened to a black woman. And you can’t erase that the motivators for the harasser acting the way he did are likely rooted in race.

If you understood any kind of sociology about how black women are seen by white men due to both historical bullshit baggage carried in multiple cultures and present societal climates then you would know that part of the reason this harasser thought he could lay claim to the OP’s mom is that he didn’t see her as a full person, and that’s more than likely to do with a combination of her race and gender, not just one or the other.

It doesn’t matter that this kind of thing happens to white women as well. That still does not erase race from this equation. It does not even mean that if we were to somehow “solve” sexism that same woman would not have that same problem with that same man.

Beyond all that, by attempting to dismiss the OP’s lived experience, not to mention the lived experience of her mother and millions of other women of color by claiming that race really has no role in this particular issue you’re being ignorant and an asshole. You, a white man, do not get to decide for women or people of color where sexism and racism happen or where they happen together. Not your experience and not your call.

I have feels for your mum, you on the other hand are a cunt.

Earlier in your screed you called America the most sexist country and seemed to feel that sexism is wrong. So what’s up with throwing this gendered insult around? It’s just another way I can tell you’re not as enlightened as you pretend. If you’re really interested in promoting harmony and not prejudice you wouldn’t go calling someone a cunt.

Stop spreading hate and furthering racial isolationism with your shitty blog.

The irony is that people like you make people like the OP want to isolate themselves from white people because this is the level of discourse that comes from a person supposedly committed to racial harmony. Friends like you we don’t need.

Based on something you said in one of your other responses to me I am coming to understand that you have some kind of specific beef with this blog and get mad when people come out and defend it. So I’m going to explain to you where I’m coming from on this issue.

I don’t follow dumbthingswhitepplsay but I see a lot of the posts because several of my friends do. I don’t think that I know the person who runs it. In general, I find myself in agreement with the posts I see. I have no vested interest in the blog itself except that it’s always good to have more voices of color in the conversation.

So, having said all that, here’s what I think of your opinion of this blog: you’re butthurt because it doesn’t cater to your delicate fee fees. You think that because you are no fan of racism that you can’t fall prey to racist thinking, unconscious or otherwise. You want cookies for not liking racism and this blog doesn’t give them. This blog doesn’t reward you in any for being what you consider a good person and that pisses you off so much that you engage in hate speech in order to rail against this blog’s supposed prejudice and hate.

Do you see where you went wrong in there?

Whenever I see white people getting angry about the tone of a POC’s blog or stance on the issue of race, especially when that white person is supposedly an ally, it’s a huge clue that said white person is not actually an ally. I believe that you’re against racism on some level, but you’re not willing to take yourself out of the center of your feelings about it. Your fight against racism is all about you and how it makes you feel, it’s not about the people who actually experience racism.

Your anger at this blog stems from the fact that it explicitly takes you our of the center and says that it actively does not need you. Why do you need to be needed by this blog or by any anti-racist entity or person? Why must you be the center?

And how do I know you think of yourself as the center? Because you keep talking about you you you.

It’s very existence offends me, not as a white person but as a human being in support of multiculturalism and racial assimilation. I actually haven’t been as disgusted at self-righteousness since one of my dumbass facebook friends said “Victoria is becoming one of the shittiest places in the world to live” because “whites are becoming a minority”.

…Your idea of engaging in “nice dialogue with every white person who does something even mildly racist” has not made me appreciate what you do here. Australia [where I live] is arguably the most racist country in the western world, I have to argue with racist white idiots once a week at the very least. I am one of only people I know in my generation who will defend the native aboriginal populace in an argument.

It goes on. And while it’s a positive that you recognize the issues faced by people of color in your country, what’s not positive is how you seem to feel that your struggle on their behalf is just as harmful and emotionally draining as actually being one of those people. You are also desperate to receive props for it. You may not think you think this way, but that is how it comes off.

Especially when you get into “racism against whites” because, yeah: no. If you understood racism at all other than in a surface way that’s centered on you, then you would understand that prejudice against white people for being white is just prejudice. Race-based, yes, but not racism. Because racism requires a structure of societal power to back it.

Race-based prejudice isn’t good, but it’s still not racism. Any white person claiming that others are being racist toward them is trying to center the dialogue on themselves.

It’s not about you, son. It’s never about you.

Your citing of Will Shetterly1 also marks you as being a clueless douchecanoe, because he is the King of the Clueless Douchecanoes.

My dream is to live in a world where total multiculturalism is so abundant that no country has any racial majority.

Of course you do, because you’re white.

You’re hoping for a world where the differences between peoples will be erased and we’ll all just be a cultreless, raceless blob of sameness. Making everyone the same does not equate to racial harmony.

Not least because you cannot make everyone the same. It will never work out. And even when people are the “same” in terms of the created construct of “race”, folks will still find ways to separate out others for bullshit reasons.

I hope for a world where people recognize and celebrate differences instead of being afraid or wary of them.

Living in a country where one “race” is in the majority and another in the minority isn’t the basic problem, the basic problem arises when either of those groups shapes culture in order to further the myth that the group is superior in some way. That can happen even if the jerk race in question is in the minority. See South Africa and Apartheid for more information.

In that world, the white systematic oppression machine you supremacists describe will no longer exist, and the power to promote prejudices will be ranked for individuals, not entire races.

ahahahahaaaaaaaa no. Any decent understanding of history would tell you that this just wouldn’t happen. At least, not simply because no particular “race” would be in the majority. It doesn’t always take a majority of people in order to create a supremacy, just enough power.

That you don’t get this is so very white of you. You have no idea of the real roots of racism, supremacy, prejudice, and culture. In fact, you don’t have to. You don’t deeply examine these issues because you don’t have to. You know how I know? Because of the fantasy story you just spun out right there. Clear indicator.

You have a problem with the way the american mainstream media portrays black people, take it up with Rupert Murdoch, not his entire race.

As to why DTWPS or any other anti-racist blog or person doesn’t just focus on specific media moguls or other individuals instead of just focusing on the “race” of white people, my guess would be because Rupert Murdoch isn’t the only problem.

The reason one talks about “white people” is because white people (as a group) are a problem. Unless you, as a white person, are actively fighting against racism not only by yelling at your friends for saying stupid things but by also examining your own self for the cobwebs of ingrained prejudice and stereotypical or wrong thinking, then you’re contributing to the problem. Hell yeah the media is part of it, but so are consumers of media who don’t even spend 5 minutes in a day thinking about the messages being fed to them.

When you, as a white person, begin to actually analyze the externals AND the internals and start to get it, you will cease to be offended by blogs that are like “Ahhhh white people omg!” because 1) you’ll also be saying AHHH WHITE PEOPLE and 2) you’ll know you’re not the white people in question.

You seem to be under the impression that the poster behind DTWPS and I want you to hate your whiteness and piss on your ancestors2 and have white guilt. This is a vastly ignorant understanding of what’s going on here. Let me explain what I do want.

I want you and other white people to understand what racism really is, how it really harms, and how it is actually active in our world, in our culture, and in our lives. I want white people to be angry that it happens, ashamed that such a thing could happen and that they could be unconsciously part of perpetuating it, then turn that feeling into positive action. There’s no purpose for me or any other person for y’all to sit around feeling guilty and beating yourselves about the head over it. Acknowledge it, understand it, then do something about it. That’s what I want.

Part of understanding racism is to know that, as a white person, your knowledge does not trump my experience. Part of being an anti-racist ally is to know when to let voices of color speak first and loudest and when it’s appropriate for your voice to lead. It’s about understanding how to fight against racism without centering the conversation around yourself. It’s about knowing that it isn’t about you, no matter how many feelings you have on the subject.

You mentioned something about “colored superiors” here too. That made me laugh. The way in which I am superior to you based solely on my color is that I have a superior understanding of what it means to be the target of racism. That’s not a superiority anyone would voluntarily seek.

And finally, you asked:

I’m just curious as to why everyone who disagrees with dumbthingswhitepeoplesay are racist. This is never really explained. We have all been saying basically the same thing, which is that the blog does nothing but make PoC angry at white people for no reason, rather than actually fighting racism by targeting actual racists.

For No Reason. Really? There’s no reason for people of color to be angry at white people? When we have you, who is supposedly fighting racism by telling people of color how they’re allowed to express their anger and lived experiences, by dictating to us how we’re allowed to relate to white people such as yourself, by claiming that racism doesn’t affect a situation that you yourself have never been in? I think that’s plenty of reason to be angry at white people, if we are angry.

Your feelings are hurt by her blog? Got three words for that: BOO FUCKING HOO. A blog that spells out actual things going down in the world that hurt people of color both physically and emotionally and YOUR feelings are hurt? GOSH.

My feelings are hurt on a daily basis by racism, usually by people who don’t even think they’re being racist. And on a rare day when I’m not being hurt by racism I get to contend with sexism, or maybe some homophobia for extra fun. That is the reality of many people’s lives, not just mine. So don’t fucking talk to me about feelings, son.

You want to know why you’re labeled a racist? For me, it’s not even because you disagreed with DTWPS, it’s because of the way you disagreed, the words you used in disagreement, and the attitude you’ve displayed throughout the entire arm of the interaction I’ve seen. It’s not about that blog or my need to defend it — I don’t have one — it’s about your stupid ass somehow thinking that you’re really against racism when all you are is against that which makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t care what makes those affected by racism uncomfortable at all.

And that’s the last thing I have to say to you ever.

Footnotes

  1. Do Not Engage! ::throws salt and sage at her digital borders to ward him off:: []
  2. I had to change this link to point to my Tumblr blog because this is one of the posts Mr. Reasonable deleted. []

20 comments to Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People

  • diana

    You have more patience than I do; most of the subtext revealed by these oh-so-confident-that-they-are-experts-with-angelic-intentions-and-poc-are-just-clueless white dudes eventually reads, the more they expose their thinking patterns by not shutting up, as straight-up white supremacy. Not just ignorance, imo. Nothing you say to these folks is ever considered as a possible truth. Because you’re not white.

    Allies like that, we don’t need. And won’t be converting anytime soon.

  • Anon

    Full disclosure: I am a white male; nearly all of my friends are white; from thinking about my own racial attitudes, I know I’m probably part of the problem.

    That said–I take issue with your definition of racism. Notably, “Race-based prejudice isn’t good, but it’s still not racism. Any white person claiming that others are being racist toward them is trying to center the dialogue on themselves.” I expect you’ll agree that when you said “any”, you didn’t really mean “any”–there are always a few exceptions, and I defy you to tell me that no white person has ever been the target of racist attitudes or beliefs.

    What I think you meant was that you consider the word “racism” to have strong connotations that transcend mere prejudice. That’s perfectly valid, but race-based prejudice is pretty much the exact dictionary definition of racism. So I ask myself, what makes you say that race-based prejudice is not racism? The answer I get is that your definition seems to be at least partially experiential. That is, you cannot know what racism is unless you have experienced it, and you cannot have experienced it if you are white.

    Ask yourself, please, if both of those statements accurately represent your position. If they don’t, well, that’s what I got from your post. But if that is what you think–that definition of racism will not allow a constructive dialogue on the subject. Any time you come across a white person who wants to argue with you, you can dismiss their opinions by saying they don’t understand racism, so they’re not qualified to comment.

    I recognize that you were responding to a particular person who was particularly ignorant of his own racism. So maybe what I’m saying is irrelevant, and you’re aware of all this. Maybe I’m making the same mistake he did in assuming that your attitudes about white people and racism in general are similar to what you’ve expressed toward this one person. But what I felt from reading this post was that you felt I, and everyone else like me, was not qualified to discuss racism, having never experienced its effects.

  • Maggie

    Thanks, so very much, for the patience and clarity of this response. As a white person who has been perfectly capable of not-seeing the racism because I didn’t want it to be true that it was there … I am really appreciating the education. And recognizing the generosity of spirit with which you have provided it.

    Hoping to someday become a useful ally instead of a clueless wp.

  • The big baby deleted his posts. Yay, Google Cache!

    • Casey

      It’s great that this douche deleted his posts, I just wish Gin-and-Whiskey over on the cross-post from Alas! A Blog would delete theirs as well. FUCK, I just want to slap them through the computer screen. Talk about a terminal case of oblivious privileged whiteness/refusing to get it.

  • Digital Coyote

    I’m sure stuff like this (http://reasonablebro.tumblr.com/post/11690055018/so-much-bogan-in-one-picture-what-is-this) helps classify him as a racist as well. What a nasty piece of work.

  • Lori S.

    “It doesn’t always take a majority of people in order to create a supremacy, just enough power.”

    Underlined and bolded!

  • Farah

    Good letter. I will point people to it. Impressed he thinks it needs a blog to make Black people angry with White. I’d have thought every day life was enough to do that.

  • “Part of understanding racism is to know that, as a white person, your knowledge does not trump my experience. Part of being an anti-racist ally is to know when to let voices of color speak first and loudest and when it’s appropriate for your voice to lead. It’s about understanding how to fight against racism without centering the conversation around yourself. It’s about knowing that it isn’t about you, no matter how many feelings you have on the subject.”

    I just wanted to see it again. This is the most valuable thing I have learned from the internet, largely thanks to you.

  • Mashiara

    *STANDING OVATION* thank you, thank you! Now is there a way to post this as a sticky on the WWW.

  • AgapeReuben

    Amen! Amen! “Acknowledge it, understand it, then do something about it. That’s what I want.” And is that “do something” the 01OCT09 “Dos & Don’ts”? But I’m guessing Reasonable thinks he’s already doing “something.” Is there maybe another “Do” list?

  • ZelKwin

    Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this situation. I usually don’t comment for fear of being “that guy” like reasonablebro. I was like that until the combination a recent women’s studies class (it was on intersectionality)and the crazy racists that came out of the woodwork during Obama’s term illustrated a small window of how racist this country still is.
    I hope it gets though to him.

  • I thought this was brilliant and shared a link on Facebook. Just wanted to let you know.

  • Robin

    “My dream is to live in a world where total multiculturalism is so abundant that no country has any racial majority.
    Of course you do, because you’re white.
    You’re hoping for a world where the differences between peoples will be erased and we’ll all just be a cultreless, raceless blob of sameness. Making everyone the same does not equate to racial harmony.”

    Why does multiculturalism mean culturelessness and sameness to you? Wouldn’t that be monoculturalism? I thought the whole idea of multiculturalism is that many different cultures exist together while retaining their respective unique qualities, with equal status granted to each–community, not conformity.

  • phntsticpeg

    Always the best way to shut someone up is to break their weak argument down to nothing. Thank you. I usually just foward a link to Tim Wise videos to explain the utter lack of sensitivity to the situation. Seems some folks digest the info better when it comes from someone who looks/speaks like them.

    I had a female friend who was white and it was she who gave this kind of stupidity a term “Well Meaning White People a.k.a WMWP”. She use to check people on the time on their nonsense and it made me so happy that it was she, and not I, doing the body check.

    I gets tired of being the international educator and representative of american blackdom…it’s a long and shitty title.

  • tinfoil hattie

    Excellent post.

    In my opinion, you could change “some” to “most” in your title. Or just leave the qualifiers out altogether.

    Not that entitled white people deserve the time and energy you expended on you explanation.

    Yes, I am an entitled white person.

  • raggit

    Hi there, I’ve always (not always) believed that racism stems from the values that one learns at home. I am mixed raced (indigenous/Indian/Chinese) and i was never raised to not judge a person on his or her skin tone but on their character. I am also not American so i can’t really give a 100% accurate idea on how the US really is but let me give my 2 cents at least from the rest of us.

    I don’t blame African Americans for their distrust of white people, due to the years of oppression among other things but at least, there are some sort of improvement in the US over the racism issue (if brought up that is). In Asia, there is a lot of racism that goes without justice as well, Asians against Asians if not towards the non-Asians.

    btw, i am from Malaysia(google it, after all, we make your shoes)

    I have encountered people who question my culture in the most racist way, like “wow, your people like that right?”
    or “hey, you’re Indian so do you…?” but i always try to decern the people i become friends with, some questions like the examples i give are of an innocent nature and while it may sound racist, it doesn’t necessarily is but then you get those asswipes that are asking this question in that tone of voice that portrays a very shallow idea of people.

    When i was in California, some dude thought all of us Malaysians were Muslims and doesn’t seem to know that Indians are Asians too and not middle-easterners BUT i don’t blame him on his ignorance because he wasn’t all “red-necky” like some people are.

    In Malaysia, the racial turmoil can get out of hand, somewhat like the LA riots, ours would be on the 13th of May(check it out), Indians, Malays and Chinese were rioting on the streets, a lot of death.

    I’ve debated with an African American about the racism and he was proclaiming his race is the only one that ever really felt oppressed. I said what about the Jews and also pointed out the many other parts of the world full of racists assholes and he was so adamant that only black people go through this hellish shit of a topic that i gave up talking.

    Sometimes the race card is overplayed and sometimes it’s necessary. Racism in Asia is funny somewhat, we have brown and yellow Nazis. I know, strange. Some people love the Nazis for hating the Jews (some also for hating the blacks) and it is surreal because i have told some of them that hey, if a white supremacist see you, he’ll hunt for your head too and yet they act like it doesn’t matter.

    I have seen black people in Malaysia get mistreated but not only them, all of the other minorities get treated badly while the majority(the Malays) get special rights.

    Did you know that Mainland chinese in general don’t like Chinese from outside their country? well hell yes, makes no sense right? racism never does, all it does is shows the race’s insecurities.

    People who are racists are stupid, we all are not innocent of racist thinking or remarks, some of us still accept people for who they are.

    I think racism is coming back up again, in Russia the neo-nazis are growing in number and the network is growing too spreading around the world including the US.

    If there is anyone i respect more in the US for standing up for people’s rights it would be
    - Abraham lincoln
    - Martin Luther King Jr.

    I love Martin Luther King Jr’s stand, he won a war without violence, without rioting on the streets, instead he sang songs with his group without shedding any blood. Sadly he was killed off, i feel that he would have been the first black president if that event never happened.

    So i just wanted to say that racism in America can only continue if you fight fire with fire. Sometimes, you got to fight smart rather than with your fist. Anyway, wars always start from a war of words.

    But i know that this comment won’t change your mind, half way writing this i figured it was a waste of time writing my 2 cents down especially since it is clustered with half-points here and there but perhaps you can take a bit of that and change your mind. salute!

  • Defender

    Is it any wonder some people accuse?

    I am not saying your points are wrong, but its the follow up comments, on alot of these “Anti-racist” blogs seem to have comments that indicate white people are some kind of auto-racists, with lesser morals and lacking a soul and blanket judgements are made.

    So then you’re judging me and I Cant defend or disagree with you or you otrasize me as some kind of “Bigot”, but ive never judged someone based on race, yet I am still the “enemy”, because I am white.

    So basically I can try to treat all people with love and forgivness, like Jesus instructed, yet I am still the “racist”

    Yet the people against racism are then saying “white people do this, white people do that, white people are ignorant.”

    On one “Anti-racist” blog, one anti-racist champion basically said white people are pea-brained and destructive.

    Also theres this witch hunt of a “White person is racist, the only way for a white person to not be racist is to admit white people are racist”

    Also not everyone bases their who life on race, the girl I love is black, but I relate to her, because we both grew up poor, struggling for everything.

    Now theres something, “Class priviledge”, sure most are rich and white, but then again ive met plenty of rich black people who are just the same.

    So if I am to supposed stand against “White priviledge”, are you going to stand against rich people and class priviledge, against white and non-white rich people on my behalf? or are you going to ignore it, because it doesnt suit your world view?

    But then you expect me to go out on a limb and speak out for your “cause” and If I dont, I am “part of the problem”

  • heitang

    I don’t really buy it… he was angry, but still right on most things. That “Dumb Stuff White People Say” blog was racist (now defunct), its owner runs a series of similarly bigoted blogs. The notion that when a minority hates it’s only “prejudice” and not racism is simply unfounded, based only on arbitrary definitions that racism -must- be institutional to be racism (says who?). I’m a minority, and I’ve had other minorities call me racist just because they disagreed with my opinions. If the social justice community really cared for equality, it would admit and combat racism in all its forms, not continue down this path of labeling all whites racist by virtue of being white and all minorities non-racist by virtue of being minorities. True justice applies to all, regardless of past events or current imbalances.