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Author Topic:   Are You Racist?
Percy
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Posts: 20334
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.1


(1)
Message 1 of 30 (888716)
09-29-2021 5:40 PM


While dealing with our tennis gear or taking a break my friend and I will talk about this and that, often books or movies we've seen. Today I mentioned White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, giving him the short version and saying it was about racism and contained a lot to think about. He made no comment but started talking about something else.

In a wild and strange coincidence, after about a half hour two black men began hitting on the court next to ours. It was wild and strange because it happened at a time when I was reading the first book on racism I've read since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man back in high school, and because I've played on our town courts for over 30 years and have never seen a black person there. While our kids were in the school system I think there were only three or four black children across all those years. I've never seen a black person in town, not in a store or at a gas station or while voting. New Hampshire is a very white state, 93.1% white and only 1.6% black. And I live in a very white town.

So while we were packing up our tennis gear I commented that my reaction to seeing black men on our tennis court was just the kind of thing that book was talking about. My friend again made no comment but instead started planning when we'll play tomorrow.

Look at the subtitle of the book again: "Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism." Today couldn't have provided a better example.

So are you racist? No? If someone makes a racist comment, maybe after Trump was elected saying, "I'm so glad we no longer have an ape in high heels in the White House," what would you do? Would you remain silent? Would you call it out? If you remain silent doesn't that make you complicit in a system of white privilege that discriminates against blacks and other minorities?

White people used to talk openly about their racism and how blacks were less civilized, less intelligent, more violent, but after the race riots of the 1960's when white people watched overt racism on their television screens as peaceful black people were beaten by police it became bad form to openly display racism. Racists were now seen as bad people, so white people who thought themselves good and not racist like the horrible people on television developed a different way, an indirect way, of talking about race. Schools weren't black but had low test scores. Towns weren't black but weren't safe. A business wasn't black but wasn't clean, and so forth.

I'm only maybe a third of the way into the book, but I think one of the message's will be that most Americans don't think they're racist but are. My wife and I have had several conversations about race over the years, and we've agreed that we're racist in our feelings but not in our behavior. This gave me confusing feelings, but this book is giving me a framework to think about it. I know I'm racist just from growing up and living in white privilege, but isn't knowing that i'm racist half the battle?

But the larger question is whether I'm contributing to America being a racist nation? I'll wait until I finish the book before I try to answer that question.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Tangle, posted 09-29-2021 6:17 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 3 by AZPaul3, posted 09-30-2021 1:21 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 4 by ringo, posted 09-30-2021 12:07 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 9 by Son Goku, posted 10-01-2021 8:01 PM Percy has responded

  
Tangle
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Posts: 8209
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 2 of 30 (888717)
09-29-2021 6:17 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
09-29-2021 5:40 PM


We have to start with admitting we're all racists. It's natural, it's part of our wiring. Civilisation is a process of overcoming our wiring.

A few years ago I did a masters degree in criminology as a hobby. I learned an awful lot of detail and it all fades with time. But I'll remember until I die one of the professors saying totally casually, as a throw away point, that "crime is normal". Meaning that we all commit crime and regularly too. When did you last break the speed limit? As a kid did you nick something from the store? Have you found something and not handed it in to the police? Taken an illegal drug? And that just the nice people.

Racism is normal.

The big question is how do we overcome what is normal?


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Percy, posted 09-29-2021 5:40 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
AZPaul3
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Posts: 6032
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 3 of 30 (888720)
09-30-2021 1:21 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
09-29-2021 5:40 PM


Do She Know?
Yes, yes, I know, everyone likes to hate on the Dallas Cowboys. But I’ve been a vocal fan (singing in the desert, off key) for 5+ decades and this is not going to stop. Back when I had co-workers my seriously defeated, yet always hopeful boys made for frequent conversation. A few of the surprising reactions were down right KKK talking points. How allowing them on teams ruined white-man’s sports. Some of these racists can be really racist about these things.

I'm only maybe a third of the way into the book, but I think one of the message's will be that most Americans don't think they're racist but are.

After all, the NFL is a very black-centric sport owned and operated by a covey of billionaire white boys. How much more racist could you possibly get, right? Ok so the modern black slave in the NFL can pull down some serious $$$, serious fame, perceived social influence, and social power but the relationship is still the same. Give the black boys some bling and they go earn their owners $$$billions. That’s $$$billions in real influence and real political power.

Is this racist? Is this a business taking advantage of a willing resource and a voracious demand? Both? Just a holdover organizational model from the old days?

I, and millions of other fans of football, real football, real American football, the kind of real American football where you actually score points, are in love with this game, its history, personalities, the rivalries. I support the game for the sake of this most wonderful human expression of controlled competition - sport. I don't feel racist or race motivated. I just love watching CeeDee Lamb squeeze the sidelines then do a double toe-tap in the endzone as he snags the ball out of the air. Glorious.

Am I a racist? Yes. As Tangle said, we all are all the time in our primitive us/them mind. It’s what you actively do in situations that raises the social questions. Since I don’t live in such an atmosphere I can have no conception of what constitutes the finer more hidden forms of racism that I could never see. So, like a good little scientist, I have to ask those subject to it what they consider it to be.

To my heart’s joy in my reading of black culture I find very little truck for any tirades against the racism of the NFL. There are too many working to change that and they feel they are making (some, small) progress. Sport is changing our society (Thank you Mike Wilbon). Big league football (remember, real football, not that fakey "don't score" kind) is apparently racist-litePM in this society in contrast to The Washington Redskins scenario.

My point is, if we want to know what racism is and what to do when we encounter it, all we need do is shut up and listen to what the victims say happens to them. Ask ‘em. Let them write the books.

Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of this book, is a white girl. Yes, well steeped in the academic side of the race debate, but, regardless of her studies I find it hard to imagine she has any feel for what black/white racism subtly occurs in this society having never been subject to it. And in her heart, she could never feel it.

I haven’t done any deep dive on the good doctor or her theories so I have no issues with her attempting to give a white treatment to the issue of race discussions. But, as you slog through her work, if a major point is not “racism can only be defined by its victims” then drop that burning cinder of ignorance.

I know I'm racist just from growing up and living in white privilege, but isn't knowing that i'm racist half the battle?

But the larger question is whether I'm contributing to America being a racist nation?

The answer to both questions is yes. It’s good to be aware. Now, as for specifics on the ground of what to do/don’t do, maybe your book will help. But, then again, the perspective will not be from actual experience nor the wrenching emotions that go with it.

What I hear you saying, however, is good. Talking is good. What do you think would be the reaction of your friend if you pressed him (gently)?

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


Eschew obfuscation. Habituate elucidation.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Percy, posted 09-29-2021 5:40 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 19260
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 4.4


(1)
Message 4 of 30 (888721)
09-30-2021 12:07 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
09-29-2021 5:40 PM


Percy writes:

... isn't knowing that i'm racist half the battle?


Maybe less than half. It's showing up on the battlefield.

I'm wearing an orange shirt today. It's Orange Shirt Day in Canada, a day to promote awareness of racism against indigenous people. So I'm on the battlefield, in uniform - but not strictly doing anything.


"I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!"
-- Lucky Ned Pepper

This message is a reply to:
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dwise1
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Posts: 4715
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.0


Message 5 of 30 (888723)
09-30-2021 6:09 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by ringo
09-30-2021 12:07 PM


Orange shirts? Anti-Irish. Gotcha!

I talked with a Canadian friend a few decades ago. I had heard of the Fenian Invasions against Canada, basically the Irish immigrants recruited by either side for the US Cival War who then turned their attention against their mutual enemy, John Bull (English Britain), by attacking Canada. USA students never ever hear of that, but Canadian students are well-versed in it. Funny how different countries teach history differently, isn't it?

 
That same friend told me that on St. Patrick's Day where "everybody" wears Green in sympathy with the Irish, Canadians make a point of wearing orange in opposition to the Irish.

So being nearly half-Irish (other half completely Scottish), could you possibly pick a different color?


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Percy
Member
Posts: 20334
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 6 of 30 (888724)
09-30-2021 7:27 PM


More on Racism
Sort of replying to everyone...

I think the book is defining racist in a particular way, that a racist is someone who participates in and benefits from systemic discrimination against other races. Just by living in a racist society one is racist.

By this definition practically every white person in the country, even those who have a deeply emotional love of blacks, is racist. If a mixed race couple traveled to rural Idaho on vacation, the white spouse will benefit from being in an all white environment while the black spouse will suffer from having to interact with white people who may never even have met a black person, not to mention that because Aryan Nation has a significant presence there the possibility that they could be amongst the people met must be considered.

Then there's just the way we talk. It is common for a white friend to be called "my friend," but a black friend "my black friend." There's products we buy, like band-aids that match the skin tone of whites. There's the incredibly oblivious response of "all lives matter" to Black Lives Matter.

Then there are the benefits of value of being white. It's as if white people go through life having money stuffed in their pockets. They go to better schools so they can get better jobs, and they get more money for the same job. They live in better neighborhoods, and those neighborhoods get more police protection against crime.

There are benefits with roots in history. Most of the attendees of the University of Virginia are not black, but the older buildings of the main campus were built by slave labor.

There has not yet been any mention of higher black arrest and homicide rates at the hands of police.

Under this definition of racist, is it possible for a white person in America to not be racist? I think so, but one would have to live some kind of weird hermit-like existence.

The term "white fragility" from the title refers to white defensiveness when challenged about their racism. The claims go on for miles (this is verbatim from the book):


  • I know people of color.
  • I marched in the sixties.
  • I already know all this.
  • You are judging me.
  • You don't know me.
  • You are generalizing.
  • This is just your opinion.
  • I disagree.
  • The real oppression is class
    [or gender, or anything other
    than race].
  • You are elitist.
  • I just said one little innocent thing.
  • Some people find offense
    where there is none.

It's informative to allow the racists a word. These are from the comments section at Amazon for the book The Myth of White Fragility: A Field Guide to Identifying and Overcoming the Race Grifters by Jim Hanson, a rebuttal to White Fragility:

quote:
What I care about is the great hardships being placed on American Whites now...
...
I care about the incredible evil of affirmative action on which critical race theory grew...
...
Yes, it gave me the ammunition to go forth in the world and protect myself from the village idiots out there who think I am a racist....because I know who the real racist are.
...
This book rightly condemns the current race industry as a total fraud.
...
...all Whites are racist [is] a totally racist statement...
...
This was a nice little explanation of how ridiculous and illogical "White Fragility" and other forms of wokeness really are.
...
Amazing eye opener into the savage lies to split the races in the United States. It makes people, who are god fearing and loving their neighbors ashamed that radical leftists spreads so much hate to destroy our way of life.

The main objection to White Fragility seems to be that white people are not by default racists. I didn't see White Fragility's main argument addressed, that we are a racist society and thereby racist by benefiting from it. Do those who don't accept its arguments believe America is not a racist society? Or is it just that they don't believe benefiting from living in a racist society doesn't make one racist?

Since black people also live in our racist society, are they, too, by default racist? The author hasn't addressed this yet, and she may not. My own answer is that blacks are racist, too, but in the sense of black resentment at what has been and is still being done to them.

--Percy


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 4715
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.0


Message 7 of 30 (888726)
09-30-2021 11:43 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Percy
09-30-2021 7:27 PM


Re: More on Racism
Also sort of replying to everyone ...

Bart Simpson and Milhouse watching a vintage century-old Itchy-and-Scratchy cartoon ... "Look out! It's an Irishman!"

Yes, I'm white, but I'm also almost pure Celtic (minus 1/16 German) and hence also traditionally racially discriminated against (I also used to be Mexican by marriage (until they kicked me out via the divorce) ). Definitely not WASP (we Scots always keep a wary eye on Saxons (AKA "English" -- Scotland's favorite team in the Soccer World Championship is always "ABE", "Anybody But England") ). Since I have never made any of the white supremacist meetings (the names on all their emails look much too sketchy so I select them as Spam), I have no idea what they think of us Irish.

Xenophobia, fear of the others, is normal and baked very solidly into our DNA. Feeling uneasy among others who are a bit too different is normal.

In a diversified culture, feeling a bit uncomfortable stepping into a different culture is to be expected. But it shouldn't be a barrier.

Racism isn't just mere xenophobia, but rather using normal xenophobia against others. Especially when making laws.

Not being racist (aware of our inherent differences) is not just as per a "Points to Ponder" in one of the Readers' Digest next to my father's toilet (circa VietNam War): US Army Sgt: "I don't see white nor black nor brown nor yellow. All I see is green! MOVE OUT!" Rather, not being racist is a matter of treating every individual the same as everybody else.

Everybody is racist in that we all naturally react xenophobically to others.

Racism is allowing that natural reaction to affect how we treat others. Even to the point of enacting laws and practices based on that reaction.


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ringo
Member
Posts: 19260
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 8 of 30 (888727)
10-01-2021 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by dwise1
09-30-2021 6:09 PM


dwise1 writes:

... could you possibly pick a different color?


I don't know why they picked orange. It's pretty distinctive, I guess.

We also have a political party, the New Democratic Party (which is self-proclaimed socialist) whose official colour is orange. (The liberals are red and the Conservatives are blue.)

As for green, our local pro football team's colours are green and white and they do a lot of merchandising - so anytime you go outside you're bound to see a sea of green.


"I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!"
-- Lucky Ned Pepper

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Son Goku
Member
Posts: 1181
From: Ireland
Joined: 07-16-2005


Message 9 of 30 (888730)
10-01-2021 8:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
09-29-2021 5:40 PM


There's prejudices here certainly but race wouldn't really be a significant one. The child of African immigrants for example would face much less discrimination than certain inner city Dubliners or travellers. The "group norm" would be more associated with our accent, so again a second generation immigrant is seen to be more Irish/normal than an Irish American.

So no I don't think I'm racist, but more because the prejudices I grew up around didn't take that form.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Percy, posted 09-29-2021 5:40 PM Percy has responded

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Percy
Member
Posts: 20334
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 10 of 30 (888734)
10-02-2021 11:33 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Son Goku
10-01-2021 8:01 PM


So race-based discrimination isn't a significant issue in Ireland? There's no significant black/white divide? I've been wondering if the black/white divide in America is inherent simply because of color, because if it is then it will never go away.

There's even intra-race racism here in America where the blackest blacks are discriminated against by lighter blacks and so on up the totem pole toward whiteness. Reading about this a bit, it seems that intra-race black prejudice is driven by white prejudice because blacks know that the blacker you are the more discrimination you'll experience, sort of analogous to not wanting to be associated with someone with bad luck.

--Percy


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 Message 11 by nwr, posted 10-02-2021 11:45 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5810
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 5.0


(2)
Message 11 of 30 (888735)
10-02-2021 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Percy
10-02-2021 11:33 AM


There's no significant black/white divide? I've been wondering if the black/white divide in America is inherent simply because of color, because if it is then it will never go away.

The racial situation in America is very much a residue of slavery. And that past slavery has left a deep cultural impact.

Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

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Son Goku
Member
Posts: 1181
From: Ireland
Joined: 07-16-2005


(1)
Message 12 of 30 (888736)
10-02-2021 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Percy
10-02-2021 11:33 AM


There are of course people who'd be prejudiced against and insulting to Africans, but they'd generally have equal dislike of any large immigrant group such as Poles or Lithuanians. Also "Black" immigrants here are Africans of distinct backgrounds, often speaking completely different languages from opposite ends of Africa so they don't form a clear ethnic group.

So no it's not a significant divide, certainly an order of magnitude less than traveller discrimination.

The racial issue in America is very particular to its history of slavery and what followed as nwr said.


This message is a reply to:
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 Message 13 by Percy, posted 10-02-2021 2:33 PM Son Goku has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20334
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 13 of 30 (888738)
10-02-2021 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Son Goku
10-02-2021 12:35 PM


Replying to both you and nwr...

Yes, racism in America traces back to slavery, but slavery ended 150 years ago. What perpetuates racism? Nwr mentioned a cultural impact. Have the values and attitudes inculcated during slavery actually survived into today, one generation passing them on to the next? Does it just goes on and on all by itself needing no replenishment from outside sources?

Or perhaps by cultural impact nwr meant how whites react to black culture, which would be a replenishment or reinforcement of racism when whites experience black culture as scary or intimidating?

A common white American attitude toward blacks is that slavery ended a long time ago, whites are no longer racist, and whites are not responsible for blacks' lesser income, wealth, education, housing, health care, etc. If blacks want a better life then they should work for it, just like whites do. Blacks keep asking for handouts from government to make up for some imagined racism and discrimination that no longer exists. In fact, with the advent of affirmative action it is whites that have become the oppressed class as less qualified blacks are handed jobs and university slots they do not deserve.

Because of the prevalence of this attitude I can't see how racism can ever end here.

--Percy


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 Message 14 by Son Goku, posted 10-02-2021 3:00 PM Percy has responded
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Son Goku
Member
Posts: 1181
From: Ireland
Joined: 07-16-2005


Message 14 of 30 (888739)
10-02-2021 3:00 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Percy
10-02-2021 2:33 PM


Well I would say that one shouldn't be surprised that events 150 years ago have ongoing effects. The famine happened that period of time ago and still has strong sociological effects, the Flight of the Earls was over 400 years ago and similarly shapes the country. The particular social dynamics differ in each case, but to me it's obvious that such a significant social structure would shape people's attitudes for centuries.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by Percy, posted 10-02-2021 2:33 PM Percy has responded

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nwr
Member
Posts: 5810
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 5.0


Message 15 of 30 (888740)
10-02-2021 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Percy
10-02-2021 2:33 PM


Have the values and attitudes inculcated during slavery actually survived into today, one generation passing them on to the next?

It seems to.

Or perhaps by cultural impact nwr meant how whites react to black culture, which would be a replenishment or reinforcement of racism when whites experience black culture as scary or intimidating?

No, that's not it. The reaction to black culture should not be that different from the reaction to other cultures. But American racism is different from that.

I grew up in Australia, and came to US as a grad student. And I found the racism quite shocking. I suppose I should have expected it, having watched American movies, some of which romanticized the era of slavery. But it was still shocking.

A common white American attitude toward blacks is that slavery ended a long time ago, whites are no longer racist, and whites are not responsible for blacks' lesser income, wealth, education, housing, health care, etc. If blacks want a better life then they should work for it, just like whites do.

I agree with that principle. But if fails to recognize all of the aspects of culture that make it difficult for blacks to get a good education and a good job.

I think part of the problem is that conservatives like to reminisce about "the good old days". And that means the days of slavery.


Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

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