It's about what you did, not what you are

Jul 25 2009 Published by under General Politics, Racist Idiots

Sounds about right...

via YFS, via 49 percent

31 responses so far

  • Gingerale says:

    This is on target. Many thanks.

  • Catharine says:

    Smart. Very smart.

  • jc says:

    YUP YUP YUP. Derailing 101.

  • furriner says:

    I just ignore the comments. After living with a roommate who said hurtful things about my background (that he didn't think were so bad), I learned to joke about it or ignore it after a few arguments about "what he said". It's not worth it to have an argument in some cases. You have to see your roommate everyday and they might be your friend. It's sad that he should have known better. Still, it wasn't as bad as what I would get in a lot of other countries. One thing I've learned is that Americans are unhealthily obsessed with the entire race issue. To the extreme.

  • Gingerale says:

    Re: comment #4 (Furriner),
    I appreciate the chance to read your post. I think the speaker's recommendation could also apply to situations in which a third party is targeted.
    Here's an example pertaining to ageism rather than racism -- I could be a young person interacting with another young person who makes fun of old people. If I let it go, my silence offers tacit acceptance. That's a problem for me, so I need skills for talking with the other young person constructively.
    I believe the video's tips could be helpful in such situations. What do you think?

  • Nattering Nabob of Negativism says:

    I quit 46 seconds in and gave up. If somebody wants me to listen, they do not run a drum machine to make me strain to catch syllables that coincide with drumbeats. Drumming is just plain rude.

  • Art says:

    This is an important distinction. Know it. Use it. Live it.

  • Samia says:

    Glad this one is getting some airtime. Jay is badass.

  • Aurora says:

    Fantastic. Useful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stephanie Z says:

    I love this and stole it a few days ago myself. However, the utterly compulsive nature of snark will not let me rest until I note that I laughed very hard at the categories on this post. 🙂

  • furriner says:

    "I believe the video's tips could be helpful in such situations. What do you think?"
    Yeah, that video will help you I guess. But it's comparing apples and oranges. Almost everyone has old parents/grandparents and knows older people who are very effective at their jobs. The Simpsons makes fun of old people in every episode; you'd have to take care of them first.

  • Isabel says:

    "Still, it wasn't as bad as what I would get in a lot of other countries. One thing I've learned is that Americans are unhealthily obsessed with the entire race issue. To the extreme."
    Furriner, THANK YOU.
    Also, your roommate may have meant his remarks affectionately, and expected you to do the same back. Believe it or not, this form of teasing is a form of bonding to many. Some people even do it to dissolve some of the tension created by the ultra-PC situation you describe above. Some people think it's a sign that you are accepted. Obviously I don't know what he said, my interpretation could be way off. And he was obviously insensitive to your reactions when he tried to get you to lighten up. When you "joked about it" do you mean in a self-deprecating way, or did you tease him back about his background?

  • Samia says:

    I'm a little surprised at the direction these comments have taken. To me, Jay appeared to be speaking common sense-- don't assume the worst about people who make harmful statements, but do hold them accountable for what is said. I'm alarmed at how quickly people have made the jump to "ultra-PC situations." If someone makes a racist comment, why should the burden automatically be on me to understand the "joke" or attempt at "bonding (for that matter, how would this even work?)?" When IS it permissible for me to point out that certain language is not acceptable to me-- that I find it personally offensive and not conducive to a civil discussion or friendship? If I exercise this right once in a while, need this preclude my ability to pick my battles?
    Perhaps one of the reasons that USians seem obsessed with race is because this young nation was founded on slavery and genocide, and a lot of the "jokes" that people throw around ignore some of the remaining (and active) skewed power dynamics in this country.
    I see a difference between noticing something exists and wallowing in it, and I think the two are being conflated here. In fact, I think it's this phenomenon that stops us from getting anywhere in discussions about race. People get shut down for "obsessing" or being "hypersensitive" before things even get started-- which speaks to Jay's point about keeping OFF the subject of character/intent and sticking to what is actually said.
    I say this on my blog a lot, but I think it's true-- identifying a problem is the first step to solving it. Accepting that there is a lot of deep-seated racism here in the U.S. is not the same as victimizing myself or demonizing anyone else, it's not a statement of resignation, and frankly I don't see why we need to qualify the statement with sentiments of "it's worse in other places." I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that there's work to be done, and I think what Jay did here is offer some advice on how to go about that respectfully.
    I would like to add that racist remarks comprise a lot more than comments from roommates and that it might not be beneficial or accurate to superimpose our own experiences atop others'. Everyone deals with rude jokes in different ways, but we all have a right to boundaries.
    Jay did two really great videos on the Asher Roth-Rutgers incident as well as an interview with Dan Charnas that I really enjoyed. They're more focused on white people operating in hiphop culture, but it's def applicable to this discussion, I think.

  • Isabel says:

    frankly I don't see why we need to qualify the statement with sentiments of "it's worse in other places."
    Well, it's nice to keep some perspective, rather than acting like it's something that happens in the US and South Africa and only is done by white people.*
    Perhaps it would be helpful and more positive if you could give us some examples of countries that are not racist. Where everyone is sensitive and gets along with all ethnic groups and there is no prejudice.
    I wasn't defending furriner's roommate. But I know my elderly Italian landlord has his friends over for barbecues and they are from different parts of Italy and Europe and insult each other based on their regions of origin quite cheerfully and hilariously after a few drinks. We also engage in some of this teasing in my lab (extremely diverse racially and otherwise).
    On the other hand it can be demeaning and I have been in that situation - I had an upwardly mobile Jewish boyfriend who would make comments about my background (working class and Christian) that made me uncomfortable, and saying so didn't seem to help. Oh to go back in time, I could think of a few zingers to respond with. I think in some situations we are intimidated. But in the lab it seems to work. It's not mean stuff or anything, just occasional gentle teasing acknowledgment of our differences.
    How? Maybe just laughing together at the human condition or something, or showing that we've laid down our defenses.
    I also think to assert your boundaries and to judge another's statement are two different things.
    Lastly, are you willing to concede that redneck is an insulting term, as are trailer trash, white trash etc and that people here should stop using them? I've brought that complaint up before and was laughed out of town. The assumption that all white people are privileged is itself racist.
    *"Several studies have shown that living with a roommate of a different race changes students’ attitudes. One, from the University of California at Los Angeles, generally found decreased prejudice among students with different-race roommates — but those who roomed with Asian-Americans, the group that scored the highest on measures of prejudice, became more prejudiced themselves."
    from
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/us/08roommate.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&ref=us

  • DuWayne says:

    To rather further Samia's comment (oddly, given my pasty beige coloring), the point is not the intent of the person making what are often times very hurtful comments - the point is how it makes the person hearing them feel. And there are a lot of people who are not pasty beige, who have been told repeatedly that racist statements shouldn't be taken so personally, that the speaker doesn't mean "them." That they're an exception to this or that comment. That it was just meant affectionately.
    That it shouldn't matter to them.
    This not only means that these comments cause pain, it also often means that they feel some shame for the pain that they cause. It often means that they feel there is something wrong with them for taking it personally, for hurting because of them.
    This isn't about being PC. It's not about censorship. And most importantly, it's not about you.
    It's about the real and valid feeling of other human beings. Human beings who are often taught that there is something wrong with them. That they have to go above and beyond everyone else, just to measure up. That merely because they are a different color or whatthefuckever trait makes them a minority, that they have to be better than everyone - or they are not nearly as good.
    Consider for just a moment, what it must be like to have someone say to you in such utter amazement; "Wow, you are really smart...," knowing that the unspoken implication; "for a brown person." or; "Wow, you're really masculine..." with the unspoken; "for a queer..." Keep in mind the next time you're feeling put out by someone's "sensitivity" that they probably have spent significant portions of their life hearing exactly these sorts of statements.
    And here is a little tip...The next time you say something that might have been construed as racist or bigoted - just apologize. Don't - absolutely don't say "I didn't mean you of course..." Because the silent part of that statement - the part that doesn't come out of your mouth; "I just meant those other brown/yellow/queer/crazy/fat/ugly people." you know, like the offended's mom, dad, sister, brother...
    Again, it isn't about censorship, PC bullshit or you...It's about respecting and caring about the our fellow human beings and their feelings. Feelings that are far more valid than your desire to say things that hurt other people.

  • Isabel says:

    BTW Samia,
    I am not saying at all that this kind of joking is generally acceptable, just that there is some legitimate history there, or that it is not often offensive, I hope I didn't imply that, or that it would ever be acceptable in cases where someone was clearly uncomfortable, (eg in a clearly inferior position and outnumbered) just trying to point out some examples of why his roommate might have thought he could translate a situation where it was more acceptable, where perhaps there wasn't such a clear historical power relationship as American black&white, and there was a long history of such joking, and crudely extended their usual form of banter. Maybe the roommate felt they were equals, and the stereotypes were stupid and was mocking them. It's hard to discuss without being specific. Or maybe the roommate was uncomfortable about the situation. Who knows?
    I guess what I was trying to say, is that calling something a "racist" statement may not be perceived that differently from calling the speaker racist, and that my first thought after seeing the above video on another blog was that it could easily devolve into the same sort of quagmire you are trying to avoid. I can easily see a person getting defensive about their statement being judged and labeled and saying "but I'm not a racist!" and then you are right where you didn't want to be. A better response might be to ask the speaker what they meant by that? why do they say those things? or the tried and true "how it made me feel, because XXX even though I'm sure you didn't mean anything",rather than first get into a judgmental discussion by labeling the comment.
    And though everyone disagrees with me here, even white people have experiences that can allow them to relate to minorities, and opening the conversation up to everyone, rather than always a victim/perpetrator dichotomy based on skin color might be a healthy approach. And that centuries of "servitude" serfdom and sweatshop work may have a lot in common with centuries of slavery. I call it the upside down pyramid theory, whereby all whites are perceived as being at the top, reaping the benefits of the brown and black minority, when in truth most capitalist societies have a small upper class and a huge underclass, and having the same skin color as the elites does not guarantee a non-shitty life.
    So it's a bit ironic to me that most of the perceived (or self-proclaimed)"enlightened" whites are generally from the upper classes and the perceived "racists" who need educating from the lower classes! Usually this is credited with more "education." But as Jim Goad has pointed out, maybe white liberals feel guilty because they are guilty, and poor "rednecks" don't because they aren't! I dated such a rich white liberal once, and asked him one day how his family got their money, and his answer was interesting - among other things they owned coal mines in England. Well I'm from the class of people who worked in the coal mines. And that worked in those factories and had crosses burned on their lawns, and were viewed as bringing down average IQ points in several states. But yeah I know, it was WORSE for the blacks so shut up and admit you're an exploitative, privileged racist.
    It's like that article Zuska linked to where the woman was describing her grandparents, who worked 16 hour days in an unventilated sweatshop, finally choking to an early death from the dust, as "privileged" because the oppressed Chinese workers had built the railroads, allowing the (true exploiters) to build the factory. I somehow doubt her grandparents felt privileged. And if they did, it was because their previous lives were even worse. Slavery and exploitation continue today - it's a human problem, by no means a uniquely American problem.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I guess what I was trying to say, is that calling something a "racist" statement may not be perceived that differently from calling the speaker racist,
    I think you are missing the second and potentially more-important point. Which is that people such as yourself should take a long hard introspective look on just exactly *why* you always *hear* "you are a racist" when "what you said/did is racially insensitive" is what has been actually said.
    having the same skin color as the elites does not guarantee a non-shitty life
    why, when what is being said is "being generally recognized as 'white' confers some privileges" do you always hear "being white means you have it made in the shade on easy street with no worries whatsoever"?

  • Samia says:

    Hi Isabel, I appreciate your response. You said:
    Well, it's nice to keep some perspective, rather than acting like it's something that happens in the US and South Africa and only is done by white people.*
    I'm all for perspective, but I don't remember acting like racists are all white USian/South Africans.
    Perhaps it would be helpful and more positive if you could give us some examples of countries that are not racist. Where everyone is sensitive and gets along with all ethnic groups and there is no prejudice.
    I don't remember saying that there are countries free of racism, either. The point I was trying to make is that "It's worse in other places" should not be used to ask people to tone down genuine irritation.
    Your examples of "gentle teasing" are not in conflict with my observation that we all deal with jokes differently. The problem is, sometimes one person thinks it's a joke and the other person just finds it hurtful. And the person who made the joke is not always in a position to understand WHY their words hurt the other person, so maybe stopping and listening isn't such a bad idea. Maybe the solution isn't to make people feel bad for not "getting" jokes that aren't funny to them, or to assume ultra-PC-ness as an ulterior motive.
    How? Maybe just laughing together at the human condition or something, or showing that we've laid down our defenses.
    I've spent my whole life pretending to laugh so that other people can be comfortable around me, pretending my defenses are down when the walls are just building up inside. And you know...I'm tired of it. So I think people should be within their rights to stop and say "Hey, that hurt, and I'd like to sit down and explain why I feel this way about what you said." I don't think anyone should have to feel ashamed or weak for that. I don't think that means I have no sense of humour or that I'm trying to police anyone's free speech.
    Lastly, are you willing to concede that redneck is an insulting term, as are trailer trash, white trash etc and that people here should stop using them?
    How would such a "concession" be relevant? I hear "redneck" around my neck of the woods a lot and it's not really insulting down here (usually I hear it used by people who self-identify). But I don't see any use for those words myself, and I personally despise any variant of "trash" (the term "white trash" in particular implies that there is something doubly gross and wrong about WHITE people who qualify as trash, which is wrong on too many levels). The term "white trash" is actually an example of how our system of white privilege others individual whites who don't meet its standards.
    If I make a joke using language that has the unintended effect of offending someone, I should be prepared to apologize for any emotional harm caused. At the very least, I should resist becoming defensive and shutting the other person down. And if I'm making a joke about someone not in my group, I need to think twice about what I am saying and what makes me feel entitled to say it (Dan Charnas called it "having it like that" with people).
    Like DuWayne said, it's more important to communicate with each other and to get along than to make jokes that hurt people. I think we can all agree here.
    The assumption that all white people are privileged is itself racist.
    I understand why one would bristle at the term "white privilege." I empathize with your negative feelings toward the concept. In everyday use, the word privilege draws up connotations of an easy, carefree life and most of us associate it with relative wealth. However, privilege has another meaning in sociology and this is the definition used in discussions about kyriarchy. It can be helpful to think of privilege as conferring immunity from certain types of treatment; a guarantee, of sorts, that one does not need to worry oneself about Factor X on a daily basis. Plenty of white writers have written on this idea, including a few from less-than-class-privileged backgrounds (incidentally, I agree that not enough people bring up class issues in these discussions).
    I learned a lot from writings such as Peggy McIntosh's Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. As you alluded to, there are other sorts of privilege as well-- cis, class, heterosexual, etc. The concept is not as outlandish as it might seem. Each of us probably benefits from at least one type of privilege, and it doesn't make any of us less hardworking, honest or decent people to accept that. But I think it's important to remember that for one person to be oppressed, another must possess unearned privilege.
    So I think you're working off of a different definition than I and most antiracists do. It's kind of like male privilege-- it's there, whether or not every individual man's life is particularly glamourous, because so many aspects of our society are centered around maleness. In the same way, "white" is centered and invisible, putting individual white people in a position to further marginalize POC with their words. And maybe that's why some of these discussions about racist remarks focus on the power of white people to unintentionally hurt others.
    Again, I hope you understand that I do empathize with your resentment of this term, but I urge you to look into it a little further before dismissing it outright. You might find that the idea isn't as crazy (or offensive) as it sounds.
    I have to go freak out over a presentation now, but I'll be back. 🙂

  • furriner says:

    This discussion has gotten too big and philosophical for a regular Drugmonkey lurker like me. Even if I do have more time today since I left the lab early. Good luck and have fun. 🙂
    I'll see you at the next good Rivlin/PhysioProf fight.

  • Isabel says:

    "people such as yourself"
    Excuse me?
    Actually DM the only time I was ever called a racist it was by a woman I had never seen and whose race I had no knowledge of.
    I'm glad all the science bloggers are getting in touch with their racism.
    "Like DuWayne said, it's more important to communicate with each other and to get along than to make jokes that hurt people. I think we can all agree here."
    OMG please check out his abusive, mocking responses to every single one of my past posts on this and related subjects, his constantly unwarranted mockery (btw, I don't read his comments anymore, as he is the most verbally abusive person I have ever encountered - calling me a "fucking moron" a dozen times in a single post - and he constantly jumps in and starts taking over the conversation every time I express myself). If he said that in response to my comments I don't know how to respond! What a hypocrite.
    And I think you may have misunderstood me- I thought the roommate was insensitive, but possibly innocent, until he did not respond to the complaints. I did not in anyway say furriner should just take it! I was explaining why some people joke this way, and suggesting that might have been the original intent.
    And I've pretended to laugh too. Plenty of times. BTW redneck used by a person who considers themselves above the 'rednecks' is a completely different story. Like the "n" word situation. And maybe you don't use these terms, but others do and think my complaints are unjustified.And I find DuWanged's use of "beige people" and pasty etc offensive as well.
    "But I think it's important to remember that for one person to be oppressed, another must possess unearned privilege. "
    I have never felt immunity from anything. I've been harrassed by cops, even treated like shit by power-tripping black nurses aides when I was young, poor and getting emergency treatment in a welfare hospital. Making me lie in pain for hours without a pillow, talking about me in the 3rd person "I SAID I'd get you a pillow, didn't I say I'd get her a pillow?" "You sure did" etc etc. Knowing I was terrified and in their hands and would be afraid to complain....the incident I mentioned above was when I was working on a satellite project for a huge corporation which had it's headquarters on the other coast. I was technically a consultant, but I had to commute there every day, and dress nice, and needed the money, and they took advantage of my status by holding my pay for weeks, even months, even after promising to pay me. The last straw was when the accountant promised over the phone to Fed Ex my 6-week check by the end of the day on a Friday, but once again it did not arrive. When I called she was gone so I just lost it and left an angry message. Just angry, no threats, swear words, insults or anything.
    On Monday morning my bosses were waiting for me. She had forwarded the message to all the top execs and was charging me with harrassment and RACISM. A woman I had never seen Apparently I had said "What's wrong with you people? You make a promise..." Yep I said You People (obviously I had not studied my anti-racism texts carefully enough or I would have known what a historically charged term it was.) Of COURSE by 'you people' I meant 'you people in the accounting office that keep screwing me over. My bosses were sympathetic, and did not think the message was offensive, but I was forced to write a humiliating letter of apology, because of this mega-corp's deep pockets.
    The whole privilege thing is a scam as I have written before, which goes back to the creation of racial slavery in the US. The purpose was to pit the groups of servants/slaves against each other, because they were increasingly joining forces and rebelling, and it is still working today.
    "whites" are not immune from police harrassment "rich whites" are. If there is a measurable difference, that is privilege, based on an obscure academic definition (and I've been lectured about this before on the blogosphere) and yes I did confirm the definition. So if I am in a position of power and want to keep my underlings squabbling with each other, on a regular basis I slap you across the face, but slam my fist into DM's jaw, you are privileged? Maybe by some technical measure, but it wouldn't be a good reason for DM to target his rage toward you, although he might react that way because he had grown to resent your lesser punishment. The better solution would be for you and DM to work together to overthrow me, or at least express your anger more appropriately.
    What do you expect me to do? Go to confession? I worked on a project all summer bringing science to inner city kids. My family took in Fresh Air fund kids when I was growing up even though we had little. I've dated blacks, babysat for blacks, and I just hung out with a cool female black scientist who had some good suggestions for my research after my talk at the conference today.
    If we are going to have a dialogue it has to be a dialogue, not a one-way lecture, however gentle. Every one gets to tell their own story, and has to listen respectfully to the other. If I seem a little defensive, it is because you are the first person on this ultra PC academic/science blogosphere who has done so. So thank you.

  • Samia says:

    Isabel:
    I don't read here a lot. The only reason I ended up on this post is because my blog was getting hits from it. Hypocrite or not, DuWayne's point here was valid.
    And I've pretended to laugh too. Plenty of times. BTW redneck used by a person who considers themselves above the 'rednecks' is a completely different story.
    Oh, definitely. It's weird, because when I moved here, I thought it was one of those Terrible Words We Must Never Say. I now have a more nuanced view of this type of vernacular. I was just weirded out because Jay's video seemed (to me) to be about those instances where someone DOES say something hurtful, and how we might go about pointing that out.
    I have never felt immunity from anything.
    Immunity is not something we actively feel; we take it for granted until it is exposed to us. This is a hallmark of privilege. And no one here is saying that it's impossible for a white person to have a hard life.
    The whole privilege thing is a scam as I have written before, which goes back to the creation of racial slavery in the US. The purpose was to pit the groups of servants/slaves against each other, because they were increasingly joining forces and rebelling, and it is still working today...What do you expect me to do? Go to confession? I worked on a project all summer bringing science to inner city kids. My family took in Fresh Air fund kids when I was growing up even though we had little. I've dated blacks, babysat for blacks, and I just hung out with a cool female black scientist who had some good suggestions for my research after my talk at the conference today.
    I hope you don't feel put on the spot to justify your lack of racism. But it seems that way. I'm not accusing you of being racist or harbouring racist beliefs. And I am wondering what you have read about the idea of privilege to make you think it's a scam.
    If we are going to have a dialogue it has to be a dialogue, not a one-way lecture, however gentle.
    I wasn't aware I was lecturing you, or that this exchange has been "one-way."
    Every one gets to tell their own story, and has to listen respectfully to the other. If I seem a little defensive, it is because you are the first person on this ultra PC academic/science blogosphere who has done so. So thank you.
    I have many issues with scientists who only think they're tolerant and progressive. I don't see SB as PC at all, actually...

  • DuWayne says:

    OMG please check out his abusive, mocking responses to every single one of my past posts on this and related subjects, his constantly unwarranted mockery...
    Isabel, you are a fucking loon. You ignore science, in favor of outcomes you prefer. You will argue until you are blue in the face, that there is no such thing as white privilege. You will argue until you are blue in the face that the reason people of color get arrested more often, is because they commit more crimes - again, ignoring evidence to the contrary. And you argue until you're blue in the face that the fact that a great many beige people were indentured servants, a couple hundred years ago, is somehow relevant to a discussion about white privilege.
    When you make extremely loony comments, people will often mock you for it. This is not the same as making racially insensitive comments. And honestly, you're feelings, when it comes to racial comments are perfectly valid. Though I entirely fail to see how referring to myself as pasty beige is the least bit offensive - I am - especially my tush. I think it is ridiculous to refer to my skin color as white, when I'm not an albino. But whatever - point is your feelings are valid. However there is another side to the equation - does the speaker actually care that the listener happens to be offended?
    I am not real big on political correctness - just not my thing. I also became rather strongly involved with a lot of homosexuals in the mid to late nineties, when the PC movement was really hitting it's stride (actor, musician, poet, playwright and drunk in Saint Louis). I would guess that about five percent of my friends in SL were straight and maybe another five percent were bi - the rest were all queer. Most of them were laid back - just folk. But some of them were stick in the ass, PC extremists - for example taking offense to people referring to gays as queer. Given that I wasn't particularly into sex with other men, but happened to be quite strange enough that my friends often referred to me as queerer than most of them, I liked that reference. And given the PC squads major distaste for me and a number of my friends, I not only didn't care that they found things I said offensive, I was regularly quite provocative because of that - especially when I happened to be a public radio guest.
    Context matters, as does the person or people. I don't mock you because of your race. I mock you because of your attitude about science and evidence. And I have mocked you in the past, for saying rather crazy things, though I am less inclined to do so since coming to believe that you are in serious need of mental help.
    "whites" are not immune from police harrassment "rich whites" are.
    And no one has ever said they aren't - least of all me. I have been repeatedly and regularly harassed by cops. I have even gotten my ass kicked by cops, because they found civil disobedience offensive and once, just because they could. That doesn't change the fact that they still treat me differently than they treat brown people. Make all else equal - they are going to fuck with the brown person a lot worse than me or you. And that is just as true if the cop has brown skin, as it is when their skin is beige.
    And this is also true in school, I've noticed. Students with brown skin are, as a baseline, not expected to do as well as their beige skinned counterparts. When they do, they are often met with surprised congratulations. Horrifyingly enough, I have been guilty of that one myself.

  • Isabel says:

    "You will argue until you are blue in the face that the reason people of color get arrested more often, is because they commit more crimes - again, ignoring evidence to the contrary."
    Samia,
    Just so you know I have never said anything even remotely close to this.
    And I went back and read his earlier post. The entire theme was how it's not about me! How is that about talking to each other? I'm sorry to feel like I am being lectured, or enlightened, but I feel the same way about Obama saying this whole thing is a "teachable moment" - I get the strong impression that Gates will be doing the teaching, and the officer the learning. Again, sorry, I am just speaking from 99% of my experiences - maybe I will be surprised. 😉
    Again, I appreciate your respectful conversation, and do not mean to prolong it...
    One thing we do agree on is there needs to be more discussion about class. The only time it is mentioned (okay with RARE exceptions) is when it attached to the word race, as in "race and class" with no further illumination. That Deranged DuWayne (sorry Samia, there is a lot of history here, and I am fed up - how respectful is calling someone a loon???) thinks white slavery is irrelevant is bizarre. But not too surprising. On another thread when I brought it up, after someone suggested it was "time to enslave the whites" I was called a holocaust denier!
    But the fact is class trumps all the other privileges. Imagine if we discussed it even a third of the time - that would be amazing!
    DuWanged,
    When you get into a top-10 school, TA there four semesters, and then pass your qualifying exams with flying colors, with five world-renowned scientists on your committee, talk to me about my mistaken ideas about science, okay?
    You have absolutely no justification for calling me a loon. You are the loon. You are also unbearably pretentious, arrogant, and generally insufferable. Please stop bullying your way into every conversation I try to have here.

  • Isabel says:

    "You will argue until you are blue in the face that the reason people of color get arrested more often, is because they commit more crimes - again, ignoring evidence to the contrary."
    Samia,
    Just so you know I have never said anything even remotely close to this.
    And I went back and read his earlier post. The entire theme was how it's not about me! How is that about talking to each other? I'm sorry to feel like I am being lectured, r enlightened, but I feel the same way about Obama saying this whole thing is a "teachable moment" - I get the strong impression that Gates will be doing the teaching, and the officer the learning. Again, sorry, I am just speaking from 99% of my experiences - maybe I will be surprised. 😉
    Again, I appreciate your respectful conversation, and do not mean to prolong it...
    One thing we do agree on is there needs to be more discussion about class. The only time it is mentioned (okay with RARE exceptions) is when it attached to the word race, as in "race and class" with no further illumination. That Deranged DuWayne (sorry Samia, there is a lot of history here, and I am fed up - how respectful is calling someone a loon???) thinks white slavery is irrelevant is bizarre. But not too surprising. On another thread when I brought it up, after someone suggested it was "time to enslave the whites" I was called a holocaust denier!
    But the fact is class trumps all the other privileges. Imagine if we discussed it even a third of the time - that would be amazing!
    DuWanged,
    When you get into a top-10 school, TA there four semesters, and then pass your qualifying exams with flying colors, with five world-renowned scientists on your committee, talk to me about my mistaken ideas about science, okay? Until then STFU.
    Your comments are hardly scientific. They are little more than a loose collection of cliches, with no statistics or references. Science? Where?
    You have absolutely no justification for calling me a loon. You are the loon. You are also unbearably pretentious, arrogant, and generally insufferable. Please stop bullying your way into every conversation I try to have here.

  • Isabel says:

    sorry for the double post - it timed out and gave me a weird 'internal server error' so I tried again - should have refreshed the screen and checked. I've been getting some strange error messages the last few days!

  • Isabel says:

    And I am wondering what you have read about the idea of privilege to make you think it's a scam.
    Samia,
    This is a huge subject, try just googling 'white indentured servitude' for starters if you are interested.
    Jim Goad's "Redneck Manifesto" is brilliant. It's hard to find in the library, unfortunately, but it's pretty inexpensive on Amazon.
    Again, say a small group of 'Isabels' is lording it over a huge clan of Samias and a huge clan of Drugmonkeys. Everything is fine and dandy, for the Isabels anyway, until the DMs and Samias get together and rebel. These rebellions continue and nearly succeed, when the Isabels get the brilliant idea to slightly elevate the position of the Samias and slightly demote the Drugmonkeys. Of course, their evil plan is to let most of the Samias starve, and have the rest work for crummy pay. The drugmonkeys grow to resent the Samias, and the plan is successful - the two groups of underlings never join forces again.
    And the Drugmonkies become aware that the Samias and Isabels are both females and they grow to hate females. Samias are still suffering and slaving away, but they now see a light at the end of the tunnel, however imaginary, and imagine themselves superior to the male DMs.
    But who are they really closer to - the female Isabels or their fellow underlings the DMs? And are the DM's accurate in thinking the problem is that females are evil?
    That is what happened in the early years of the US colonies. And we are all still screwed up! 🙂

  • Samia says:

    Hi Isabel:
    You seem to be arguing that the existence of white indentured servitude and a poor white lower class negates the possibility of race privilege in the United States. How so? And why should we perceive the institution of white privilege as a complete denial of the hardships faced by white Americans? Which parts of Peggy McIntosh and others’ writing on the subject deny that the lives of white individuals can be difficult?
    In other words…why can’t we talk about racism directed at people of colour without someone bringing up the fact that some white people have crappy lives? I’m not understanding how these two are related. I guess if you don't believe that people of colour in the United States are oppressed, then that's that.
    In a discussion about the unique difficulties faced by LGBTQI individuals, isn’t it missing the point a little to mention that most victims of crime in the U.S. are heterosexual? I think so-- because the existence of heterosexual suffering does not negate the fact that members of the LGBTQI community are singled out based on their LGBTQI status. In a discussion about feminism and patriarchy, do we need to discuss the way men are oppressed (by institutions besides patriarchy)? Does the existence of male suffering constitute proof that our society is not male-dominated and male-centered? I don't see how.
    Just because white people can lead tough lives doesn’t mean our society is not dominated by and centered upon whiteness-as-normalcy, with non-whites marginalized as Others. Pointing out white privilege is not the same as denying that other forms of oppression exist; it’s simply recognizing that those white people who have it hard don’t have it hard BECAUSE THEY’RE WHITE. Race can be a strike against a person of colour, affecting their quality of life in a negative way. Just because whites can be oppressed in other ways doesn’t make race issues less important. If I sound harsh, it's because I'm a person of colour to whom white privilege is clear as day, and truth be told, I'm getting a little frustrated with this conversation.
    You say that class “trumps” all other oppressions. Class oppression is very much related to other types of oppression. In my town, all the rich people are pretty much one colour, and the poor people are other colours. The poor are mostly women, too. There are some connections there that we can’t ignore by pretending class exists on some separate plane of human reality.
    I see no point in playing Oppression Olympics because no one should have to prove they “have it the worst” in order to be heard and validated. I shouldn’t have to prove that I’ve Had the Hardest Life Ever in order to get someone to accept that white privilege exists. And my acceptance of its existence is not tantamount to denying the reality of past wrongs (such as indentured servitude) suffered by white Americans.

  • Isabel says:

    I'm not about negating anything, never have been, just about bringing some sanity and perspective to the conversation. For example, I think it is very eye-opening to see how little race had to do with slavery originally in this country, and how it was deliberately brought in to the equation well into the story by those in power, for very cynical reasons. And to note that a possible majority of white Americans who are descended from the early pioneers also trace their roots back to slavery, and that whites and blacks once rebelled together, which is a history we should be celebrating!
    And important to see that the unifying issue is still class, which we rarely discuss. And that all whites are not equally 'guilty,' which has in fact been said right on this thread, unless "all" was referring to all people, even the supposed oppressed. Funny how no one has complained about the fact that everyone is upset about the treatment Gates received as if the same happening to lower-class blacks every day is no biggie. See, everyone has it ass-backwards in my opinion- in the media, even the blogs, race always trumps class.
    I also don't think all the statistics agree with white privilege, median income certainly doesn't, it points to a solid Asian privilege(as would university admissions and police records), especially after controlling for region and very recent immigration. Depends how you parse the data, I saw one interpretation a couple years ago, where if you separate income between the coastal cities and the land in-between, almost all the racial income disparities turn out to be on the (liberal, educated) coasts with almost no difference in between (i.e. in the "racist" red states) again, illustrating how the white working classes have more in common with the non-white working classes than they do with the upper classes. Always have....if you had been here a century ago, most of the poor would be whites, as most of the recent immigrants were white. So, what would be your simplistic conclusion then from looking around your neighborhood? Again, it is not always about race! It is simply way too dominant in the conversation, confusing the issues. Do you really think that if we can get everyone to agree that no race is superior, we will all become equal as a result, and that some specific idea of "white" supremacy is the main barrier to human equality? I think this is a very naive, non-scientific and outdated view.
    And it is still true that one group is singled out as okay to mock and ridicule, even though they are a poor oppressed group, and that many liberal progressives who are not from oppressed backgrounds enjoy the sport, in fact they seem to feel it makes them better liberals!... There is a lot of hypocrisy going around!
    "I see no point in playing Oppression Olympics because no one should have to prove they “have it the worst” in order to be heard and validated."
    It is never long before we hear this when the continued oppression also suffered by working white people for centuries is brought up. But you can go on and on til the cows come home about racial oppression and no one will ever say this. Again, I never said poor whites had it the worst! YOU said it. They had it bad too, horribly at times, and it's true that sometimes the black slaves were better fed because they were more valuable to the rich. Why am I negating someone else's suffering just by bringing this up. first you(and others) deny it's true, then admit it but in the same breath yell at me for trying to steal the people-of-color's thunder. Further, you aren't really admitting it, it's obvious how you and DM get around this by saying "some" whites "can" have shitty lives etc, as if it was not systematic in cases involving whites, as if some whites are just unlucky or are just losers. This is ignorant thinking, sorry.
    All over the world people are lording it over their fellow humans, and they always have. Why make such a fetish of "American White Supremacy"and attack me for trying to de-mystify it?
    Well go for it if that's what you are all into. I give up!

  • Samia says:

    You're making a lot of incorrect assumptions about my tone and what I "really" mean, and you're also lumping me in with people like DM (??), which is making me think further conversation may not be productive for us. I'm sorry you find my commentary invalidating, but I still don't think our viewpoints are actually that divergent. Much love!

  • Funky Fresh says:

    Samia, there is no point in arguing with someone who is unwilling to consider their own privilege before engaging. Isabel is an ignorant little thing.

  • Isabel says:

    Shut up Fucky Face, no one cares what you think. If you have a disagreement with someone why don't you confront them directly instead of being such a wimpy, pathetic pain in the ass? Have you ever even had an original thought?
    Samia, I'm sorry I was not able to make my point, that anti-racism has become a convenient form of scapegoating, and is an incorrect and ultimately ineffective approach to human equality, in my opinion.
    No group should be singled out for blame, and the "white race" is no exception. I'm not convinced white privilege has much effect in the US anymore, working people of all races have similar frustrating lives. And most of those people in the US are white, a group that has been completely disenfranchised in the liberal media, which is mostly run by guilty upper class whites who are enamored of "people of color" and disgusted with working class whites.
    It's a sick situation!
    Good luck,
    Isabel

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