Conservatives offended by “whitey”

Shockingly, the Michelle Obama “whitey” tape doesn’t exist. Knock me over with a feather. But even though Michelle never called anybody “whitey,” conservatives would still like to talk about how deeply offended they are by the fact that someone, somewhere, calls people “whitey.” Apparently “whitey” is actually a painful and cruel slur towards white people. Now, I’ve never actually heard anyone actually use the term “whitey” seriously — and the term I do hear cruelly hurled at some white people is “white trash,” but that involves a class issue that wingnuts aren’t going to touch — but that doesn’t stop white conservatives from jumping on the oppression gravy-train. I can just see the thought process: “Maybe if we push this one hard enough, we’ll get affirmative action too!”

But the true colors come out pretty quickly:

And yes, yes, I know; there certainly has been institutionalized and individual greed on the part of white people. But the present and past neediness of the world is hardly based on that, nor do white people have a corner on greed or exploitation. If anyone thinks that poverty would be eliminated if black people ran the world, for example, just take a look at so many of the indigenous leaders in Africa—and I’ve also got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Jeff Goldstein also had his fee-fees hurt that black people can call him whitey but he can’t call them the n-word. So unfair.


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220 comments for “Conservatives offended by “whitey”

  1. Elliot
    June 17, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    As a Cracker-American, I consider being called “whitey” to be extremely hilarious.

  2. June 17, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Is that really what you took out of my post, Jill, or are you just now pandering to your readership.

    The post title comes from a Sly and the Family Stone song decrying the tossing back and forth of racial epithets (“Don’t call me Nigger, Whitey / Don’t call me Whitey, Nigger”) — which the band thought was wrong on all acounts. The Chicago Trib piece, on the other hand, argues that whites aren’t entitled to be offended by the term whitey. In essence, the argument was that white indignation at a racially-loaded term is somehow inauthentic because whites have institutionalized power, and that whites who take offense are “morons.” I found this difficult to swallow coming from a worldview that has been preaching “tolerance” based around the idea of not giving offense for so long now it has become almost itself institutionalized.

    Forget for the moment that the Trib’s thesis incorporated a rather sweeping statement about whites. Forget, too, about intent, which as you know is a special interest of mine, hermeneutically speaking.

    In my post, I argued that what we are seeing is an attempt to set the boundaries for this “frank conversation on race” we’re supposed to be having — the ground rules for which, as your post further indicates, will evidently determine in advance who can have a voice in this “debate” without being immediately labeled racist.

    How you got from that to “Jeff Goldstein also had his fee-fees hurt that black people can call him whitey but he can’t call them the n-word” I have no idea. I made no claim that I would or should be able to call anyone nigger.

    Which makes me wonder if you even bothered to read the post.

    At any rate, I’ve long since given up on trying to have conversations on certain subjects with self-righteous leftists who find their self-worth in the degree to which they can apologize. And of course, everyone knows they aren’t apologizing for themselves, really; after all, they acknowledge the evil of others who may appear like them, which makes them one of the good ones.

    It’s sad, Jill, that you can no longer even be bothered to properly read and comment on a post from someone on the other side of the political divide, particularly someone who has gone out of his way time and again to try to start conversations with you and your readers.

    Of course, you aren’t alone in this. Which is one of the reasons I seldom blog anymore. I mean really, why bother with people who start from a position of bad faith?

  3. Bruce from Missouri
    June 17, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Seriously, has anyone used the term whitey in any way except ironically since The Jeffersons went off the air? That’s as dead as “Honky” or “Ofay”. If I was called any of those my immediate response would be uncontrolled giggling.

  4. June 17, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    I’m with Bruce. While I certainly here the word used, I can’t say I have ever heard it used in anything but faux anger. It seems like nothing but an anachronism of — not even real, but campy — 70’s black power. Whitey is a word from a Rudy Ray Moore movie. I, in point of fact, love my “Kill Whitey” t-shirt.

  5. June 17, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    here==hear.. duh

  6. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 12:13 am

    …and the term I do hear cruelly hurled at some white people is “white trash,” but that involves a class issue that wingnuts aren’t going to touch…

    Apparently Jill didn’t read the comments either, because that very point was addressed.
    Or maybe we aren’t wingnuts after all.

  7. Manju
    June 18, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Well, if conservatives are so offended by “whitey”, that explains why they went out of their way to debunk the rumor, which originated btw, from an unhinged racist pro-hillary clinton blogger right before obama won the nomintion. (the timing tells you everything you need to know).

    i don’t suscribe to power theories of racism, but i can see the argument. power matters. mccarythism is not the moral equivielnt to communism, thought they are both evil.

    having said that, i’d toss back a few cold ones with jeff goldstein, but i’d toss the cold one in the face of larry johnson.

  8. Roxie
    June 18, 2008 at 12:42 am

    From Jeff G’s article

    question: was the word “nigger” ever included in anti-black legislation?

    Nigger was extremely frequently used in court cases by judges. Maybe you should read the book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word as well as the Stuff White People Do blog

  9. June 18, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Foucaultean dross

    Ohhhh. That’s the stuff, Jeff!

    I get so sick of the PC backlash stuff. Because people have taken a stand against hate speech, people have to come out of the woodwork, tossing around their favorite non-slur, proclaiming that if you don’t include this in the list of Really Offensive Crap, then the whole movement is a fraud.

    Sigh. “Whitey” just doesn’t have the same baggage as “nigger”. It just doesn’t. Its like the difference between “asshole” and “cunt”. Sure, they are both rude words for body parts (at least here in the US), but one carries with it all of the baggage of the patriarchal denigration of women, and the other doesn’t. Anyone care to guess which is which? See, that isn’t too hard.

    Sure, using slurs is bad, period. But all slurs aren’t created equal, and “whitey” doesn’t even come close to making it into the Big Leagues.

  10. shah8
    June 18, 2008 at 12:57 am

    OT

    Hey Jill, I found this over at TMP Cafe, and like other times that plumb ignorant folks grab ahold a couple of scientific facts and make pie in the arse extensions, I began to froth at the mouth after reading it…
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/06/17/power_laws_and_inequality/#more
    I decide to plunk it here and see if there are nibbles, since it kinda sorta relates to a previous controversy.

    end OT

    As far as that craptastic article, well, we’ve truly have had this talk with whigger, honky, etc, and Jeff Goldstein, I’ve *had* an episode of trying to talk with people who assumed that I was speaking in bad faith pretty much from the outset, and you? Well, here’s the thing…you’ve got everyone here sorta chuckling because you’re so stupid that you use a word that is primarily used in comedy, if at all. You might as well go back to your place and put clown makeup on! Obviously, you’re not related to Jonah Goldberg, but this is the same kind of product of an idiot who genuinely believes that he is producing something intellectual, and comes up something hillariously half-baked.

    Could you not be any more obvious that you were trying to nurse a grudge? If I were you, I’d just insult someone’s mother in some inventive way instead. Less work, more fun.

  11. nonskanse
    June 18, 2008 at 1:02 am

    I don’t want to be called whitey because we are powerful and those people can’t make fun of us and make us outsiders! We’re the insiders and they’re the outsiders! Waaaaaa!

    /snark

    Sure it would suck to be called whitey even in a joking way but it sucks just a bit more to be called the n word.

  12. BRD
    June 18, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Well, for what it’s worth, the times I’ve run into racially loaded terms used in anger, they’ve been generally along the lines of “you white m*fcker” and, at least going with the theory that it’s the anger and bitterness that makes the epithet, in those cases the description white was the term loaded with hatred. But yeah, I’ve had ethnic terms towards me in a most assuredly non-jovial fashion, so it does happen.

  13. June 18, 2008 at 3:32 am

    Does Whitey have a history of murder, bombings, lynchings, rapes and other forms of terrorism and state violence attached to it? Didn’t think so so it’s not comparable in any way to n—-r. A lot of what defines racial slurs is the threat of action that has been taken against a person or people and what has been done. I’ve been called it before. I doubt it’s even remotely the same. Being called a “n—-r lover” which happens may be more so, not quite the same either though.

    Besides, it’s not just the conservatives who are up in arms about Whitey being said. Quite a few progressives as well. They seem much more up in arms about that than the racism and misogyny aimed at Michelle Obama.

  14. Britta
    June 18, 2008 at 4:42 am

    @Jeff G (and anyone else who’s interested)

    As apparently the only person in the last decade to have been called whitey as a bone fide racial slur, I feel I can speak with some authority on the topic. In fact, Jeff, unless you personally have been called whitey, I suggest you quit it with all the hypothetical “outrage.” Cause guess what? It’s not all that offensive. Surprising, yes, but it came nowhere near to cutting me deep into my soul. In fact, I was more offended by the words “fuck you” that preceded “whitey,” and more alarmed that a 10-11 year old boy would shout out “fuck.” I would have been way more offended if he’d called me “bitch” instead. And more importantly, in NO way did I feel vulnerable or threatened by the boy–he was a young kid on my turf, and even though he insulted me, the balance of power in no way changed.

    @12 Radfem is exactly right. There’s no history of violence, hatred, or discrimination behind “whitey.” It comes nowhere even close to n*****. Cracker and honky might have more potential to offend, but again, that’s because they’re synonymous with “white trash,” which has classist implications.

  15. Britta
    June 18, 2008 at 4:52 am

    oops, that’s bona fide (sorry, my inner pedant coming out)

  16. E Buzz Miller
    June 18, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Surprising, yes, but it came nowhere near to cutting me deep into my soul.

    And you are somehow assuming that the N WORD does do this?

    I would tend to think that that word being used as a nice big hook in what appears to be every single rap song means that it really doesn’t and the outrage is feigned.

    Are you black? If you aren’t, then how do you know that it cuts deep into the soul?

  17. June 18, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Jeff G. – I followed the link back to your blog, and I’d be able to take your response a heck of a lot more seriously if you didn’t immediately leap into sexist language.
    ‘Scold’ is not a gender neutral term. And neither is ‘nipple-hardening’.
    Grr.

  18. Pipkin
    June 18, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Jeff G, you are seriously, with a straight face, claiming that people actually use the term “whitey?” Really? Like, not on sitcoms starring white people with one token black character who says “whitey?”

    Oh, the righteous indignation.

    If anyone thinks that poverty would be eliminated if black people ran the world, for example, just take a look at so many of the indigenous leaders in Africa—and I’ve also got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    Ah, I forgot that slavery is tacitly justified by the inhumane behavior of a handful of corrupt governments. Governments who, by the way, have typically been put into power (after the sudden void left by decolonization), propped up, and/or militarized by–guess who? Whitey! Well, whitey and China.

    I mean really, why bother with people who start from a position of bad faith?

    Seriously–you’d have to be intellectually rigorous in your arguments.

    I eagerly await your argument that I woman calling a man a “dick” is just as degrading and threatening and violent as a man calling a woman a “cunt.”

  19. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Jeff G, you are seriously, with a straight face, claiming that people actually use the term “whitey?” Really? Like, not on sitcoms starring white people with one token black character who says “whitey?”

    You people really should go read the post in questions, and then you would know the reason the term whitey is used is because that is the term the Chicago Trib piece in question used. The fact it is a ridiculous choice is part of the point. Or just keep drooling on one another over here, I suppose it is up to you.

    And Kirsten, men’s nipples get hard too. At least I know mine do.

  20. June 18, 2008 at 8:42 am

    question: was the word “nigger” ever included in anti-black legislation?

    Can I get a dollar for every time the word “nigger” comes up in pre-1960s court transcripts, Jeff? Much obliged.

    The funny thing about all this “whitey” talk is that I find myself starting to like the word. It feels like cool, squishy Jell-O in my mouth.

  21. Dan Collins
    June 18, 2008 at 8:56 am

    @Britta

    You’re so special. Freakin’ water buffalo. Ess.

    Did you read the Chicago Tribune article before beginning with the snark? The argument is that some people are more entitled to be offended than others by derogatory statements. It is a strange sort of case for affirmative action in social interaction and an apotheosis of victimization mongering and the crass realities of identity politics brought to its inevitably absurd conclusions (as demonstrated recently, for example, by the Marcotte dust-up).

  22. FashionablyEvil
    June 18, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I tried to use “whitey” while playing Scrabble one time. (What else was I supposed to do with a Y-W-H-T-I-A-A in my tray and an E on the board with access to a double word score?) I was asked to use it in a sentence and came up with “Yo, whitey.” I was (rightfully) rejected and had to settle for “white” (and no double word score!)

  23. Stalkers 'R' Us
    June 18, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Dan, shouldn’t you be doing better things with your time, like trying to destroy the lives of your ex-girlfriends?

  24. Yuri K.
    June 18, 2008 at 10:13 am

    “He said some things whitey wasn’t ready to hear”
    “Didn’t that get you run off stage at the Apollo?”
    “He also said some things African-American-y wasn’t ready to hear”

  25. roses
    June 18, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Dan, you can be as offended as you like. Nobody’s going to stop you. But if you try to claim being called whitey is even close to equivalent to being called the n-word, anyone with an understanding of history and social context is going to laugh at you. Because whitey does not have the force of history or of institutionalized racism behind it.

  26. Chel
    June 18, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Ech, don’t even joke about affirmative action being taken away by whities. It’s happening in my state and it has already happened in Washington, California, and Michigan. I’m working really hard with an organization to stop the petition, but it’s funded by extremely rich whities and run by racist/sexist asshole petitioners who fight dirty.

  27. Cincinnatus
    June 18, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Shockingly, the Michelle Obama “whitey” tape doesn’t exist. Knock me over with a feather.

    You’re not as unsurprised as you pretend to be. I think if the story had been true, you easily could have been sarcastically blogging:
    So the tape is real, it looks like his wife is a real liability. Knock me over with a feather.

    Oh, wait … Hillary dropped out. Never mind then.

  28. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Wow, I thought I’d give Jeff a chance by going over to read his own blog- and all he’s got over there is misogynist wisecracks and penis imagery disguising itself as a comeback. Is he 14? He also has a really hard time understand leftists- apparently “political correctness” is an attempt to discourage right-wingers to argue with us. Huh? I think the term politically correct is only used by conservatives anyway- they tend to accuse leftists of “political correctness” anytime we call them out on racism. For them, political correctness means “somebody doesn’t want to let me be blatantly racist! omg!” This kind of stupidity is why I stopped arguing with conservatives- it’s just impossible to have a conversation with them.

  29. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 10:59 am

    @Britta, et al.

    I don’t think the irritation arises from the suggestion that it’s even in the same league as the N-Bomb, rather that it is a bit strange for someone in group X to say that someone in group Y cannot and has no cause, right, or anything else to be offended. If the epithets had been reversed, it would have been clear as daylight that no white person has business telling blacks when they should or should not be offended by a slur. How is it that it makes sense for anyone of any race or any gender to tell someone else whether or not they can even be offended by a slur, regardless of the context in which it is used.

    I don’t think anyone is making the argument that the two terms represent the same degree of transgression. Instead the argument being made is that, essentially, there is a distinction of type, not degree. The N-Bomb is a slur, but not only is whitey not a slur, because it applies to white people, it cannot be a slur.

    As to Pippin et al.,

    The comedy defense for the use of whitey matters as much for the “well black people use the word all the time” argument in defense of the N-Bomb.

    BRD

  30. Dan Collins
    June 18, 2008 at 11:09 am

    How did I destroy her life? I mean, by demonstrating sympathy and admiration towards someone whose profession prosecuted her?

    You all get a lot angrier about that than you do about people actually slandering and libelling others. Do you know why? Because you find it convenient.

  31. Dan Collins
    June 18, 2008 at 11:12 am

    But apart from all that, of course, it doesn’t answer the issue of whether Goldstein’s right or not, or whether he was deliberately misprised by Jill. Your sensibilities trump the truth, the issue. Stick it.

  32. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Bushfire,

    To clarify what I see from here is not that “For [right wingers], political correctness means “somebody doesn’t want to let me be blatantly racist! omg!” but that political correctness means that Groups X, Y, and Z can be racist and discriminatory and sexist as the day is long. However, if you’re a member of Groups A, B, and C, such things are forbidden. I don’t believe that anybody (ok, not very many people) intend to actually allow racism and hate speech only in one direction, but once in a while, it sure feels like some discrimination and hatred is sanctioned, while others are forbidden. That doesn’t make much sense to me, at least.

    Past that, the assertion that leftists use PC to squelch debate is sort of an extension of the above. If person X says that person Y needs to chill because their grievance is pretty light weight, the situation plays out in radically different ways pending the group membership of the people in question.

    White tells white to chill out about whatever = OK
    Black tells black to chill out about whatever = OK
    Black tells white to chill out about whatever = OK
    White tells black to chill out about whatever = RACIST!

    In some extreme cases, that extends so far as to essentially argue (or at least presume) that any disagreement with a disadvantaged group is prima facie racism.

    Regards,

    BRD

  33. prairielily
    June 18, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Hatred of political correctness is grounded in deep bitterness that rich white men no longer have the right to call everyone all the horrible names that they want without anyone telling them to shut the fuck up, because they’re not that special.

    I find it really entertaining that they’re so upset about affirmative action giving minorities an unfair advantage. Now they know how we’ve all felt for centuries, but they’re so trapped in their inability to see beyond their privilege that they can’t see that the reason they’re upset is because historically, they’ve never had to deal with not getting everything they want all the time because That’s How Things Are Supposed To Be. And then when we’re not impressed by how oppressed they are getting 90% of the pie instead of 99% of the pie, and not having everyone bow to their greatness in deference all the time, we’re arguing in bad faith.

    I’m really looking forward to the day when they’re left behind like the boring, antiquated dinosaurs that they are because they can’t adjust to changing circumstances and compete without as much of an inherent societal and institutionalized advantage over everyone else.

  34. Caroline
    June 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    “White trash” is racist….against black people. It means “They’re no better than n*****s even though they’re white.” The fact that “white” modifies “trash” implies that regular trash isn’t white.

    Whole host of other class issues too, of course, but racism — not “reverse racism” but plain old regular ugly “hating black people” racism — underlies the term.

    And also, are we for real having the argument about why it’s okay for a black person to reclaim the n-word, but not for a white person to use it? I just want to quote (probably misquote, the book is at home and I’m not) Nick Adams — “White people don’t get to use the n-word, and black people don’t get to be President. I think we’re even.”

    (It just hit me that soon, I hope that quote won’t be valid anymore. When that day comes it will still not be okay for white people to use the n-word, though.)

  35. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Praririelilly,

    I would like to thank you for an example that so perfectly and clearly highlights the point I was trying to make.

    1) The implication that there can exist absolutely no logical, philosophical, theoretical agreement against a policy against political correctness.

    2) That anyone who argues against political correctness is, axiomatically, bitter, white, male and rich. In fact, bitter rich white men as a class are racist and sexist (otherwise, why would they be so bitter about not being able to use slurs freely).

    3) That there exists no basis for any claim of prejudice, discrimination or hatred if the transgressor is of a group that is entitled to demonstrate bigotry.

    Just goes to show…

  36. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Caroline,

    Maybe we could go for something really, really, really outrageous and just say that racial, sexist, and other sorts of discriminatory slurs are bad, m’kay? Maybe we can say that cultivating prejudice against an other group is something that shouldn’t be cultivated or tolerated, regardless of who the provider and subject of hatred are?

    Is there anything spectacularly crazy about just saying that cultivating group-based hatred is a bad thing?

    BRD

  37. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 11:34 am

    It’s kind of amusing that Goldstein would be all bent out of shape over “whitey” when there are a heck of a lot of other slurs towards white people out there that would be more damaging, like “kike” or “dago.”

    Of course, those slurs point out that the person in question is not actually safely “white” but is actually ethnic, which may be why he’s saving all his indignation for “whitey.”

    (Yes, I’m half-dago, so I get to say it while the rest of you non-dagoes don’t. That’s how it works — get over it.)

  38. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Menmosyne,

    Hey whitey, my mick trumps your dago. ;P

    BRD

  39. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Fascinating… I wouldn’t have thought that an argument for basic human dignity would elicit a chorus of chirping crickets.

  40. SarahMC
    June 18, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Are those of you offended by “whitey” as bothered by McCain’s use of the slur “gooks?”
    No, of course not. It’s only offensive when it’s about you, especially when you’re a member of the majority.

    Bravo, you’re not getting it. Nobody is arguing against basic human dignity. We’re pointing out the stupidity in thinking that “whitey” is anything like “nigger.”
    Racism = prejudice + power

  41. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Bravo Romeo Delta said:
    “political correctness means that Groups X, Y, and Z can be racist and discriminatory and sexist as the day is long. However, if you’re a member of Groups A, B, and C, such things are forbidden. I don’t believe that anybody (ok, not very many people) intend to actually allow racism and hate speech only in one direction, but once in a while, it sure feels like some discrimination and hatred is sanctioned, while others are forbidden. That doesn’t make much sense to me, at least.”

    I work from a paradigm of social justice that seeks to treat different people differently in order to achieve an outcome of equality. This paradigm recognizes that due to the different opportunities and experiences given to people by the dominant culture, people begin life on an unequal footing and would require different types of assistance (whether it be affirmative action, anti-harassment policies, marriage rights, scholarships,etc) in order to achieve the same end result as those people who were born with advantages. This paradigm does indeed treat people differently. The point is that since people are unequal in this culture, giving each group/individual what they need to succeed in their case would require different treatment. This is a paradigm that often shows up in left-wing politics.
    The other paradigm, of course, is to “not see colour” or to ignore systematic discrimination of any kind and treat everybody the same. This paradigm claims that “everyone has rights” and “everyone is equal”. This sounds really nice, but it does not eliminate systematic discrimination. A constitution or charter of rights can say that all people are equal, then when people end up unequal, we can just point at the constitution and say “but look- it says everyone is equal”.

    I’m sure you’ve run into my paradigm before. I’m guessing you’ve also had a discussion very similar to this one before. I do not believe that people of colour can be as racist as white people. Even if people of colour used a word such as “whitey”, like many on this thread have already said, it does not have the same context of hatred as n*****. Even if someone of colour owned a business and hired only people of colour, it would not bring down the large amount of white privilege that keeps more white people in positions of power in North America.

    It does sound nice to say “group A can be racist and group B cannot, so this is unequal”. But group A and B aren’t arbitrary variables, they exist in a context in which one group has systematically discriminated against all others for many years. This context matters.

    I’ve not said anything here that people on this thread haven’t said already- but you addressed me in particular so I answered.

  42. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 11:58 am

    SarahMC,

    Just in case you missed the earlier mention:

    To clarify what I see from here is not that “For [right wingers], political correctness means “somebody doesn’t want to let me be blatantly racist! omg!” but that political correctness means that Groups X, Y, and Z can be racist and discriminatory and sexist as the day is long. However, if you’re a member of Groups A, B, and C, such things are forbidden. I don’t believe that anybody (ok, not very many people) intend to actually allow racism and hate speech only in one direction, but once in a while, it sure feels like some discrimination and hatred is sanctioned, while others are forbidden. That doesn’t make much sense to me, at least.

    I do admit that I am more than a bit amused by the tack of your argument w/r/t McCain. If one were to point out my argument implies that gook shouldn’t be given a pass any more than this that or the other epithet, you have an assertion that is pretty bulletproof. Instead you seem to imply that it’s alright to prejudice, derogatory, foul and hateful, just so long as the person bearing the brunt of any attack – no matter how trivial or vile – is of an anti-protected group.

    BRD

  43. Doug Hudson
    June 18, 2008 at 11:59 am

    When your “argument for basic human dignity” is a barely disguised “but what about the white men” ploy, you aren’t going to hear much more than chirping crickets.

    Its the ol’ “can’t we all just be colorblind?” gambit. No, only whites (and really, only white men) truly have the privilege to be “colorblind”.

  44. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    PS I gather the jury is still out on the word “dago”?

  45. timb
    June 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Jesus, I just made it through that thread of tortured victimization masquerading as a paean to equality. The resulting bans and whining and accusations were just comedic gold. It’s good to see things haven’t changed in my absence (although to hear the voice of Goldstein, I am everywhere).

    Forgive the transgression, as I see the conservatives’ outrage as a function of politics and not race. Conservatives see America as a zero sum game and BRD is right above (all racial epithets are stupid), so it’s wrong to call Goldstein a racist. He’s simply the defender of the status quo and he and his friends are pissed off about society changing. Increasing minority power means, in their view, decreasing their power. Handling change can be hard (explains their nipples) and they’re fighting a rearguard battle with 2004 tactics, while trying to maximize the anti- “society can change” vote.

    As for the “slur,” can’t Obama be as offended by “whitey” as Goldstein.

    The answer is no, because Obama is not storing grievances to use when “he goes to grow turnips.”

  46. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Doug,

    Again, you precisely and explictly have validated the point of Jeff’s post. When argument comes from an anti-protected group, it is axiomatically invalid. Or in other words, by monopolizing the terms of the debate political correctness and other forms of linguistic chicanery are used to stop the debate by asserting that any disagreement is, de facto, racist.

    I’m still surprised to see that nobody even thought of all this as a teachable moment about using derogatory speech, but just as a reason to try to shoehorn two wrongs are actually pretty OK.

    BRD

  47. Education Guy
    June 18, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Hatred of political correctness is grounded in deep bitterness that rich white men no longer have the right to call everyone all the horrible names that they want without anyone telling them to shut the fuck up, because they’re not that special.

    Not only does this assume the worst about a group of people (which is bigotry btw), but it serves as foundational thinking for allowing some groups the right to do what you would deny others. It isn’t equality, it’s muddled thinking that serves no purpose but to allow only one position to be discussed. It’s likely everything you claim to hate wrapped up in nice neat illogical justification.

  48. Sdferr
    June 18, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    “Racism = prejudice + power”

    So Reginald Denny was suffering under your definition of ‘Racism’? And his suffering was instigated by…?

  49. SarahMC
    June 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Bushfire, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you!

  50. Bq
    June 18, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    you just don’t understand how hard it is out there being male, middle class and white.

  51. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Bushfire,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I would like to give it some thought, but I would like to ask (a probably very stereotypical question) just to make sure I don’t put words in your… mouth (keyboard, on your fingers?)

    You noted that “I work from a paradigm of social justice that seeks to treat different people differently in order to achieve an outcome of equality.” Would this be with the assumption that you seek equality of outcome predicated on the idea that equality of opportunity will axiomatically produce equality of outcome?

    And if I understand you correctly when you note \:

    “It does sound nice to say “group A can be racist and group B cannot, so this is unequal”. But group A and B aren’t arbitrary variables, they exist in a context in which one group has systematically discriminated against all others for many years. This context matters.”

    Does this mean that I am not entitled – at least morally – to any sort of protection owing to an accident of birth? White men born and died long before I ever ventured on to this Earth have created a situation where I must pay their penance?

  52. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    BQ,

    And maybe you don’t understand that whitey, white boy, cracker, etc., aren’t really just cute terms anymore when you’re bleeding from a knife wound, or similar phrases have attended each and every single violent crime I have been subject to.

    Maybe it is all about how white men are blind to discrimination when I was shocked the first time that I dated a black woman and saw the attitude that she received from some blacks because she was with a white boy.

    Maybe the world is complex.
    Maybe people are individuals and don’t exist solely to embody a category identification.
    Maybe this group aggregation thing causes more problems than it solves.

    I don’t know, and I wish I did.

    But, this is the nature of the species, I guess.

  53. Stalkers 'R' Us
    June 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I knew that would scare Dan Dan the Teddy Bear Man away.

  54. Education Guy
    June 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    It does sound nice to say “group A can be racist and group B cannot, so this is unequal”. But group A and B aren’t arbitrary variables, they exist in a context in which one group has systematically discriminated against all others for many years. This context matters

    And thus you kill the individual, forcing him/her into a box of your creation in order to attempt to level a playing field that can never be truly level due to our individual differences. In addition, you pretend that systematic discriminations is still the rule of the day, and as such give yourself license to add more discrimination to the mix in the hope (however vain) that this will make everyone equal. It’s insane, and it cannot lead you anywhere good.

  55. Dan Collins
    June 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    How about if you call them gooks in Vietnam, and they’ve got guns and you don’t? How does all the subject positioning calculate out, then?

  56. thor
    June 18, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    White men died to end slavery. White women, not so much.

  57. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    “Doug,

    Again, you precisely and explictly have validated the point of Jeff’s post. When argument comes from an anti-protected group, it is axiomatically invalid. Or in other words, by monopolizing the terms of the debate political correctness and other forms of linguistic chicanery are used to stop the debate by asserting that any disagreement is, de facto, racist.

    I’m still surprised to see that nobody even thought of all this as a teachable moment about using derogatory speech, but just as a reason to try to shoehorn two wrongs are actually pretty OK.

    BRD”

    You are implying that we do not believe anything you say just because you are a white middle class male. Actually, we were pointing out that whitey is not as racist as n*****. We are saying that whitey is not as racist as n***** because of the real-life social context that demonstrates this, not because of the person who said it.

    It is bizarre to use the term “anti-protected group”. On this continent (US/Canada) white people currently have privileges that others do not. This actually makes white people a “protected group”. Leftists try to change things so that we are on equal footing and you equate this with protecting people of colour by giving them special privileges and bigotry against whites. It is not special privilege to extend to a group the same privileges another group has been getting for years. It is not bigotry to take away a privilege that one group has over other groups.

  58. juju
    June 18, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    @BRD

    I don’t think anyone is saying that “whitey” is an ok thing to say. The argument is that the term must be discussed within the context of the realities of social power dynamics. Also, this sort of thing is usually brought up as a way to say that white men, i.e. those who historically weld the most power, are just as victimized as those holding less power, (or maybe even more so since they are an “anti-protected group”), so it’s really all the same.

    This whole argument is kind of funny considering how uncommon this term actually is. I would personally love to hear more talk about “white trash”. I cringe when I hear white, well to do, young urbanites using the term, but as a POC I struggle with exactly how to call them on it. It is much more common for white people to use “white trash”, than it is for POC to use “whitey”.

  59. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    We’re pointing out the stupidity in thinking that “whitey” is anything like “nigger.”

    And we are pointing out the stupidity in thinking that is what the discussion is about. But, hell, you guys still haven’t figured out that this is about a Chicago Trib article and a Sly Stone song. Whatever.

    This sounds really nice, but it does not eliminate systematic discrimination.

    Neither does your paradigm, you just change the means and methods of the discrimination. So how does that make you any less racist?

  60. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    “Not only does this assume the worst about a group of people (which is bigotry btw), but it serves as foundational thinking for allowing some groups the right to do what you would deny others. It isn’t equality, it’s muddled thinking that serves no purpose but to allow only one position to be discussed. It’s likely everything you claim to hate wrapped up in nice neat illogical justification.

    This is a repackaged version of what BRD has been saying. Conservatives have the idea that social justice movements want to “allow some groups the right to do what you would deny others” but they make the word “rights” so abstract and divorced from the actual context that they change its meaning. Conservatives are already in the process of allowing some groups rights that others do not have. Conservatives want to allow some people the right to marry but not others, some people the right to health care but not others, some people the right to a good education and not others, and the list goes on. This particular comment of Education Guy’s is referring to the “right” to decide what is racist language, or to use words that mock groups of people. It is a social context of actual discrimination that changes the way different groups of people use and understand words, not leftist imagination. Racist words against African and European Americans are very, very, different, not because I/leftists/feminists said so, but because if you look at the real world that is what you will find. To put “whitey” and “n*****” in the same category would not achieve equality. Putting them in their context and recognizing their true differences is a step toward understanding the inequality already in existence. That inequality, by the way, was put there by rich white heterosexual males, and once again, all together now, working toward equality for all people does not discriminate against the people who currently have privileges over all others.

  61. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    So, BRD, you have of course written an indignant letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame because they use an ethnic slur to refer to Edward Ford, correct? After all, it’s just as though they were referring to N*gger Robinson right in the museum.

    And you will do the same if anyone refers to Dorrel Herzog or Carroll Lockman by their common nickname in your hearing, correct?

    PS I gather the jury is still out on the word “dago”?

    Why is the jury out? “Dago” and “mick” are offensive ethnic slurs. I’ll add “wop” in there, too, along with “kike.” “Whitey” is not an offensive ethnic slur because — guess what? — “white” is not an ethnicity. Irish, Italian, German, English, French, Swiss, and Swedish are examples of ethnicities. “White” is not.

    If someone called me a “Papist,” I would be offended. “Whitey”? Not so much.

  62. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    juju and Brushfire,

    It’s one of the things that I think is a very, very valid argument. The N-Bomb is a much, much worse word. It’s not a word that should simply be excluded from conversation, but rather a word that should exclude the user from conversation. Whitey ain’t that.

    My gripe is the idea that the article implies (at least to me) that “whitey” is a perfectly OK thing to say. If one were to go so far as to say that its uncivil and has no place in intelligent discussion, I’d think it’s pretty much squared away.

    Past that, I am not making the argument that all groups are shafted equally, or that once someone uses the term whitey that it is the same as lynching. I do however, take exception to the implicit argument that there can be absolutely no hate crime, no prejudice, no discrimination, or no foul if the person on the receiving end is white. This would seem to be the apparent logical conclusion to the arguments presented here, and that just doesn’t make any darned sense to me, and past that, I’m quite certain that nobody here is advocating open season any group, privileged or not. It’s just sometimes easy to believe that when the sole response one gets to a question feels very much like a long and convoluted set of assertions which sum to “Shut your white hole, you bitter, rich, white, male.”

    I mean I find it baffling that I have to get to comment 54 before someone even dares to suggest that I might be incorrect in thinking that “anyone is saying that ‘whitey’ is an ok thing to say”. Granted, getting there the implication that I must be some bitter rich white male who is structurally and irrevocably racist has been tossed about. And I do understand and appreciate the argument that “are just as victimized as those holding less power”, but I also wonder if granting the power of control over language and the narrative isn’t trying to fix the first problem of racism by simply creating another power inequity. Which isn’t self-evidently the best way to tackle the problem.

    I mean it’s silly, but why is it that juju’s statement “I don’t think anyone is saying that “whitey” is an ok thing to say.” is something that would have pretty much shut me up at the outset, and turned out to be so darned hard for anyone to say?

    BRD

    PS w/r/t to white trash or redneck, I think that’s a pretty basically a classist slur, but I am also troubled by the tones of cultural bigotry it has taken on. But that may be a discussion for a different day.

  63. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I can’t find anything here to suggest that the term “whitey” is completely polite. Of course it is a negative term- but so is “stupid head”. Are you arguing on here all day to try and get us to understand that “whitey” is somewhat impolite? I think nobody has said it yet because it goes without saying.

  64. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Actually,

    Juju – on very brief reflection, I think you should totally be comfortable in calling folks out in situations where you “hear white, well to do, young urbanites using the term [white trash], but as a POC I struggle with exactly how to call them on it.

    I don’t have any good way to suggest doing it, but I might go along the lines of calling them a$$holes (or insert your epithet here), proceeding from the logical basis that they basically are discriminating purely on the basis of culture, but don’t even have the intestinal fortitude to be honest enough about their elitism to hate the culture of other people who look different, lest somebody confuse their oh-so-comfortable purely elitist snobbery with racism.

    Ok, so it doesn’t roll of the tongue, but maybe someone can figure out a good way to turn it into English.

    BRD

  65. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Brushfire,

    It’s that it’s an impolite and discriminatory term.

    The thing that actually does make me smile about this whole episode is the contrast to the Don Imus eruption of stupidity, I relish bringing this up as a counter example when people say that the Rutger’s team shouldn’t have gotten offended by it, or that it was a manufactured outrage or the like. The Rutger’s team was asking to be extended the same basic, fundamental courtesies one expects for one’s self.

    Wait… is stupid-head abelist?

  66. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    It’s that it’s an impolite and discriminatory term.

    Ok, that’s fine, you feel the term is discriminatory. Now could you point out a case where a person of colour used the term “whitey” while discriminating against a white person? Like, maybe there is a case of someone of colour firing a white person for no reason while saying “whitey” or a case of someone refusing housing to a white person while saying “whitey” or some other similar case? Let’s go back to the word “discrimination”. This word means to see the distinguishing characteristics of something. The term “whitey” could be discriminatory because it points out that someone is white. Is it bad to point out that someone is white? Then would the term “blacky”, if it was used, be discriminatory because it pointed out that someone was black? What about “reddy” or “yellowwy”? What if I used the term “blue-eyed” to point out that someone had blue eyes? Would that discriminate against people with blue eyes. Well, of course it would, but it wouldn’t be hurtful. “Blue eyes” would only become hurtful if was used repeatedly by many people who were not blue eyed as they did harmful things toward people with blue eyes. Then, over time, hearing the term “blue eyes”, even without a hurtful action to follow it, would still incite fear.

    The term “whitey” would only be racist if it was often used against white people and accompanied by violence, shunning, shutting out, shutting down, etc. Then it would acquire a racist meaning. The *n* word acquired a racist meaning this way. BRD, when you hear the word “whitey”, do you fear losing your job, being beaten up, being arrested without cause, because you are white? Or do you just think it’s kinda mean?

  67. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Oops sorry I made a mistake with the italics. That non-italicized quote is from BRD and the italicized text is mine.

    BTW, my name is Bushfire, not Brushfire.

  68. AAA
    June 18, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Question: If a white person living in a predominately black area is harassed, bullied, and shunned by the black majority, then would the term “whitey” be considered hurtful and racist? I’m speaking as someone who had this experience in school growing up.

  69. June 18, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I don’t get how people are claiming that “whitey” is discriminatory. It’s like saying “the man” when talking about a general group of people in power. It’s like calling sexist men or the police “pigs.” It’s about a group who’s been historically oppressed expressing their anger or distaste for the group that’s oppressing them. What do those people have in common? Their whiteness. Hence, whitey. Yes, I know people are gonna come at me with blah blah blah about individual white people not being responsible for that or slavery being over or some such b.s.

    There are huge differences between hating, disliking, mistrusting, or calling people names because you think their race makes them lesser beings, and hating, disliking, mistrusting, or calling people names because they’ve continuously hurt your people because they think you’re lesser beings because of your race. The former is racism and prejudice. The latter, while perhaps not the most positive outlook, pretty much makes sense insofar as it’s no wonder that some people of color might feel these things about white folks. I mean, what do white people think is going to happen after centuries of colonialism, slavery, terrorizing, and discrimination of the sort that continues to this very day? Do you think all people of color are going to love all of you or give you guys the benefit of the doubt because maybe you’re not so racist as individuals or you’re sorry or something? Nah, sorry, doesn’t work out that way.

  70. shah8
    June 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Maybe it’s a racial solidarity thing…

    Instead of actual insults like micks, rednecks, white trash, in which the dominant and wealthy anglo saxon white protestant looks down on other white people, the Tribune wanted to make it simple with whitey that some proverbial retro 70s person uses or used. Thing is, Honky, while nearly as antiquidated is still in a bit more use. So are various forms of Yankee. How come not those?

    Nah, not as easy to recognize as a call for unity for all white people in there humiliation by the PC Crowd!

  71. juju
    June 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    @BRD

    I do however, take exception to the implicit argument that there can be absolutely no hate crime, no prejudice, no discrimination, or no foul if the person on the receiving end is white. This would seem to be the apparent logical conclusion to the arguments presented here …

    It’s an issue of proportionality.

    And I do understand and appreciate the argument that “are just as victimized as those holding less power”, but I also wonder if granting the power of control over language and the narrative isn’t trying to fix the first problem of racism by simply creating another power inequity.

    This sounds like a fear of revenge, the idea that the evils committed by whites will now be visited upon them. This seems to be the subtext of some rightwing Obama discussions.

    Political correctness is not “reverse racism”. Referring to people by the name they choose for themselves is not communication oppression. And we are a long way away from traditionally marginalized groups “creating another power inequity”. This should go without says but, “creating another power inequity” is not the goal; this is not about one day seeing white men in chains. You got me chuckling again …

  72. June 18, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Also, I really don’t think that conservatives and other white folks were all upset because Michelle Obama allegedly called them a naughty racist word and they were genuinely hurt. No, I think they were all enraged at the idea of the possible future First Lady being a Black woman who wasn’t just gonna smile big and act like white people never did a damn thing to her and her people. The thought of Black people in power scare lots of white Americans; Black people in power who are unapologetic and vocal in their anger about racism? Scarier to the nth power.

  73. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Bushfire –

    Apologies for misspelling your name. I guess the crystalizing events that I’ve imagined were discriminatory were cases where I’ve been the subject of assault, and in one case assault with a deadly weapon, where ample note was made of race issues, and I can’t really believe that when someone is trying to stick a knife through my ribcage while announcing “You white **” or things to that effect weren’t purely empirical observations about skin color.

    Or the times when out of a group of several people, the magical ability of the one violent asshole in the group to decide that the one person of pallor was the one person that could be compelled to take abuse or sacrifice personal property through force or intimidation.

    Or perhaps the time when, after sitting somewhere, a person of a darker hue looks at me, muttering something about a white m*fker before moving to a seat several feet away or on the other side of the bar.

    You state that “hating, disliking, mistrusting, or calling people names because they’ve continuously hurt your people because they think you’re lesser beings because of your race.”

    You couldn’t possibly mean the odd run of luck I’ve had over the last 30 years that while my entire nuclear family has been subject to at least two violent crime incidents, there was a bad enough run of spectacular luck such that each and every single one of the people who visited violence on me or loved ones happened to be one of the people of African heritage would mitigate my use of a epithet? I might even go so far as to be crazy enough to suggest that the fact that the two times in my life that I’ve needed stitches from violent assault in no way shape or form allow for any kind of discrimination – even if the assault in each case proves that – at least in those instances – the power dynamic was radically shifted against me.

  74. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Jack,

    It has nothing to do with the idea that there was some sort of genuine offense, but rather the idea that racist speech is OK, provided that you belong to the super-special “we’re allowed to be racist because of our race” club. I am still trying to get to the point that someone might be so ambitious to say that racism is a bad thing regardless of who the racist is or what the color of the racist.

    Or to put it another way, it should be pretty evident that Hillary, being of disadvantaged (to whatever extent) doesn’t get a pass on being racist. Obama, being disadvantaged (to whatever extent) doesn’t get a pass on being sexist. Maybe I’m just silly, but the idea that we could broaden the blanket to say that any sort of racism or sexism is bad, shouldn’t be that alien.

  75. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Very sorry to hear about these incidents. It is curious that you’ve been trying to convince us of the racism you consider to be contained in the word “whitey”, yet until now you’ve never brought up the one piece of information that would have proven your point. Clearly then, for some people, the word “whitey” can be accompanied by actual racism, but until this becomes widespread, it still does not come near other racial slurs. There is a much wider context that is relevent here.

  76. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Juju –

    I’m not sure I fully understand your comment on proportionality, but would it be fair to say that if a white person uses the N-Bomb, they should be excoriated, and that if a POC uses a epithet in a hateful fashion the response shouldn’t be that the white person should shut up and take it?

    I really don’t believe that anyone here is running about, rubbing their hands and cackling with glee planning to slap the shackles on the white man at the earliest available opportunity.

    I am rather vexed by the proposition that he who has been historically wronged can, by default, commit no crimes today. I don’t think political correctness is reverse racism.

    I would argue that saying that no standards of conduct in race relations apply to POC is just goofy. I mean there is the obvious notion of tackling the big issues first, but for something relatively simple and trivial, is it anathema to suggest that racist speech – regardless of source is a bad thing? And that it shouldn’t be tolerated?

    I mean if we folks do disagree with those statements, I would really, really appreciate it if they had the intestinal fortitude to stand up and announce that “I think it is perfectly fine for a black person to be vile and hateful to a white person based on the white person’s race and context.”

    BRD

  77. Education Guy
    June 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    So then there are gradations of acceptable bigotry, a sliding scale of allowable slurs based on perceived (or real) power positions of the group in which you are placed? Then it works in much the same way as pregnancy or death. Mostly dead not being as bad as all the way dead, and a little pregnant being something you can ignore.

  78. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Question: If a white person living in a predominately black area is harassed, bullied, and shunned by the black majority, then would the term “whitey” be considered hurtful and racist? I’m speaking as someone who had this experience in school growing up.

    It is with this “but” — what peers say to one another can be hurtful and racist, but it’s not the same as if, say, your friend’s parent called you as “whitey.” That introduces a power dynamic that’s just wrong.

    Kids say all kinds of dumbass things that they have to be trained out of saying. I was shocked to discover a few years ago that These Kids Today still use “gay” as a synonym for stupid/lame. The fact that they do it is more a demonstration of the background noise of racial tension than proof of discrimination.

  79. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Bushfire,

    I do have to scoot for a bit, but look forward to reading further discussion on these issues. But before I go, I do really have to chuckle here. It’s a pretty compelling illustration of context.

    But getting back to the statement I said way, way back earlier, I don’t think the two slurs in question here are equal in degree by any stretch of the imagination. I do think they are of the same type, and things of that type shouldn’t be endorsed, given a pass, or otherwise let slide. I don’t think that the writer of the tribune article should be fired, put on leave, or even needs a stern finger shaken at them. I think it might be worthwhile to note that if you want to tackle race issues, starting off with telling somebody on the receiving end of an epithet to shut up and smile and play happy might not be the most effective way of working through this incredibly complex problem.

  80. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    So then there are gradations of acceptable bigotry, a sliding scale of allowable slurs based on perceived (or real) power positions of the group in which you are placed?

    Why is this such a strange concept? If you rob someone, there is an entire range of punishments that you could be sentenced to depending on the circumstances. We don’t decide that a kid who steals a gumball from the 7-Eleven should get the same penalty as a group of home invaders who set the place on fire as they leave. Our entire system of justice is based on the idea that you have to look at the circumstances surrounding the crime before you decide what the punishment is.

    Are you advocating that, say, a person caught going 5 miles over the speed limit and someone who deliberately smashes into a school bus full of children should be treated the same way? After all, they’re both traffic violations, right?

  81. AAA
    June 18, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    It is with this “but” — what peers say to one another can be hurtful and racist, but it’s not the same as if, say, your friend’s parent called you as “whitey.” That introduces a power dynamic that’s just wrong.

    Does that mean there is no inherent power dynamic in simply being the majority, and being able to single out a minority for harassment? Because I tend to disagree with that.

    Kids say all kinds of dumbass things that they have to be trained out of saying. I was shocked to discover a few years ago that These Kids Today still use “gay” as a synonym for stupid/lame. The fact that they do it is more a demonstration of the background noise of racial tension than proof of discrimination.

    I also have to disagree with this statement, though I can understand why you might think that not having been in my situation. This wasn’t a matter of kids just saying stupid, thoughtless things, but ofovert racism, probably taught to them by parents. I was told by some kids that their parents wouldn’t allow them to be friends with white people, other times they would yell things like “white whore” at me right in front of their parents. This was in elementary school, by the way. And no, I’m not bitter and brooding about it, I only want to point out that white people don’t have a monopoly on vicious racism.

  82. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    There are huge differences between hating, disliking, mistrusting, or calling people names because you think their race makes them lesser beings, and hating, disliking, mistrusting, or calling people names because they’ve continuously hurt your people because they think you’re lesser beings because of your race. The former is racism and prejudice. The latter, while perhaps not the most positive outlook, pretty much makes sense insofar as it’s no wonder that some people of color might feel these things about white folks.

    Bigots expect stereotypical behavior, progressives demand it.

  83. Education Guy
    June 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Mnemosyne says:

    In your example you are not comparing apples to apples. What you need to be asking is if a kid from one group robs a 7-11 does he get the same punishment as the kid from another group does if he commits the same crime. If it is bigotry, then it is bigotry and as such should be discouraged in equal measures.

  84. SarahMC
    June 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Jack @ 1:54 – AMEN

    I hate when white people claim that since “slavery is over” and they, as individuals, were not directly involved in it, black people should trust them and be “colorblind” (like they are!).

    You are not necessarily trustworthy.

    Racism does not begin and end with American slavery. Check your privilege.

  85. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    This was in elementary school, by the way. And no, I’m not bitter and brooding about it, I only want to point out that white people don’t have a monopoly on vicious racism.

    No, but we white people do tend to have a monopoly on institutional racism.

    I guess that is where I draw the line (thin as it is) between bigotry and racism. Most people from most ethnic groups are bigoted against someone and, yes, many people are assholes and decide to take that out on other people. Humans being humans, we do tend to spot the weak link, the Other, and act on that. It’s the classic Blue Eye/Brown Eye experiment. During the riots here in Los Angeles, you had black people specifically attacking stores run by Korean shopkeepers because of racial tensions. Frankly, people suck sometimes, and no one is a saint.

    Contrast that with, say, Yale University (allegedly) systematically denying admission to qualified Asian-American students. That can’t be excused as assholery or not knowing better or being a jerk.

  86. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    In your example you are not comparing apples to apples. What you need to be asking is if a kid from one group robs a 7-11 does he get the same punishment as the kid from another group does if he commits the same crime.

    Are you sure you want to get into discussing whether two kids of different races get treated the same way by our court system? Because we can flood you with statistics showing that they don’t, by any stretch of the imagination. And it’s not the black kids who are getting off with a slap on the wrist.

  87. Education Guy
    June 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Mnemosyne

    Does that mean that one group should not be discouraged from the crime in the example I used? How can a sliding scale of ethics be beneficial to anyone?

  88. GumbyAnne
    June 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    By the way, I think the use of the term “fee-fees” so represent “feelings” is pretty goddamn funny.

    That is all.

  89. June 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Bigots expect stereotypical behavior, progressives demand it.

    B Moe, I’m not demanding anything, nor am I suggesting what people should or should not think or feel. Rather, I’m saying that it’s understandable that a historically and currently oppressed group might not like or trust the group of people responsible for that oppression.

    Education Guy: I think that you’re missing the point of Mnemosyne’s analogy. Mnemosyne isn’t saying that two people of different races should be treated differently when they commit the same act. Mnemosyne is saying that the two acts – here, calling someone “whitey” and calling someone “n*****” – are themselves qualitatively different and should therefore be regarded differently. Just like if kids in a schoolyard are calling each other names; if one says “doo-doo head” and the other says “motherfucker,” those actions are going to be treated differently even though they’re in the same character. The latter term is a lot more nasty and packs a lot more force than the former.

    BRD wrote:

    It has nothing to do with the idea that there was some sort of genuine offense, but rather the idea that racist speech is OK, provided that you belong to the super-special “we’re allowed to be racist because of our race” club. I am still trying to get to the point that someone might be so ambitious to say that racism is a bad thing regardless of who the racist is or what the color of the racist.

    This is the problem: I don’t think that it’s racist for people of color to call white people “whitey.” For reasons why, see what I’ve already written.

    I acknowledge that the violence that your family has experiences is inexcusable and wrong. I also acknowledge that being called racial names while being attacked was hurtful. But instances of white people being hurt, or attacked, or even discriminated against by Black people do not change the reality of the wider power structures of racism in American society – a reality in which, on the whole, Black people and other people of color are subjugated to white people based on race.

    I always marvel at how insistent white folks are that everyone can be racist, or that Black people hating white people is just the same and just as bad as white people hating Black people. It seems like a sad ploy to absolve white people of their far more significant responsibility for racism, its sordid history, and its continuing effects today.

  90. juju
    June 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    @BRD

    I’m not sure I fully understand your comment on proportionality, but would it be fair to say that if a white person uses the N-Bomb, they should be excoriated, and that if a POC uses a epithet in a hateful fashion the response shouldn’t be that the white person should shut up and take it?

    No, that’s not at all what I am getting at. My point is that there are relatively few environments where POC have the kind of power to actually put “reverse racism” into action (or women to use “reverse sexism”, etc.). Even in the examples of the hatefulness experienced by some white minorities in majority POC neighborhoods is limited in scale, because when so warranted, the white person stands a better chance of having positive police/state involvement than a POC experiencing the inverse. Not saying white people can’t experience prejudice/hate crimes/etc., my only point is that it is relatively rare, and on a different scale.

    I think it might be worthwhile to note that if you want to tackle race issues, starting off with telling somebody on the receiving end of an epithet to shut up and smile and play happy might not be the most effective way of working through this incredibly complex problem.

    Who is saying this?

  91. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Juju – I’m still crashing through deadlines, but I wanted to respond to you very quickly.

    You stated: “Not saying white people can’t experience prejudice/hate crimes/etc., my only point is that it is relatively rare, and on a different scale.”

    All I am trying to figure out is if anyone on this board might be convinced to say: “Not saying white people can’t experience prejudice/hate crimes/etc., my only point is that it is relatively rare, and on a different scale, but scale or rarity do not make such instances acceptable.” Sure they’re rare – being rare doesn’t make them good. Sure they’re not as deeply intertwined with the entire depth or breadth of our national experience – but that doesn’t earn anyone a free pass for continuing such behaviors.

    With regards to the bit that you quote where I am paraphrasing, that’s in reference to the original article which kicked this whole thing off. In the article, the author notes that racism is prejudice in action. Which is, I guess, a passable formulation. I think it would be nice to add the idea that even if not as vile as racism, prejudice isn’t a good thing.

    Rather, the article ends by suggesting that anyone who is stupid enough to be offended by someone exhibiting prejudice towards them, that they deserve to be insulted. I don’t see this as a propitious start to a dialog on race.

  92. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I’m saying that it’s understandable that a historically and currently oppressed group might not like or trust the group of people responsible for that oppression.

    But then wouldn’t it be understandable for me to not like or trust them, since I am getting blamed for an oppression I had no part in, didn’t benefit from, and absolutely oppose? When is the cycle going to break? And whatever happened to two wrongs don’t make a right?

  93. SarahMC
    June 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    You do benefit from it, B Moe.

  94. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Jack, et al.

    If one wants to borrow the legal analogy, there are conditions which aggravate a charge – such as assault. I don’t think that anyone here thinks this is wrong. But the question at hand is this. Is there any underlying charge that we can agree is bad?

    On a slightly different note, I have to admit that while I do respect your expressions of sympathy and do recognize that they’re not required, I feel a bit of a twinge of frustration. To assert that someone can be subjected to ethnic violence – whatever the context – but in that some cases, the “hate” component – i.e. the prejudice – doesn’t matter is just a wee bit offensive to my person. Or, to extend the crime metaphor, a hate crime is a hate crime, unless you have a mitigating circumstance namely, the perpetrator being black and the victim being white. At the very bear minimum it suggests that if I can be hung out to dry and am not entitled to the same legal protection because I share pigmentation with people who did bad stuff, then I don’t know why I should feel super encouraged about the prospect of trying to fix structural racism.

    For the irony impaired, the last sentence above works – for very different reasons e.g. DWB – when the races are reversed. I am just not sure why I should work particularly hard at securing a set of legal protections that I am expressly not entitled to participate in, owing to the color of my skin.

  95. juju
    June 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    @BRD

    but scale or rarity do not make such instances acceptable

    Absolutely, I bet most people here accept that point as a given. But here I’ll say, it’s not right to call those having European ancestry “whitey”.

  96. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    juju!!!

    Hooray!!!

    Actually – I hope to everything that is good nice and does not suck, that you don’t think I’m being sarcastic, I really do.

    I shall endeavour at the next available happy hour to hoist a pint in your honor. (Among my Mickish sort, that’s quite the complement.)

  97. Bushfire
    June 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    BRD, I have explained myself thoroughly and also come to understand your point of view. Although we disagree on a few things, I actually think we also agree on a few things. At this point I don’t think there’s anything else to be said between you and me. I’ll check back later to see what the rest of you are discussing.

  98. June 18, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    SarahMC:

    Racism = prejudice + power

    No, racism = prejudice. Institutional racism = prejudice and power. -ism always denotes attitudes or politics – Communism, Fascism, antidisestablishmentarianism, and so on. Trying to warp the definition so that it refers to an institutional attitude only is disingenuous, dishonest and effectively shuts down dialogue by claiming that racial prejudice only goes —can only go— one way. It’s horseshit.

    Shah8:

    the dominant and wealthy anglo saxon white protestant

    Do you mind not using that terminology, please? As a bona fide Anglo-Saxon (albeit a poor and atheist one), I resent my ethnicity being used as a near synonym for rich, evil, racists.

  99. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Bushfire,

    Sounds about right. This is a big project and surely won’t be finished in one post, and I feel that we are now at that most hallowed ground of democracy – stuff that people can disagree about without anybody being axiomatically evil for being wrong.

    But I did finally figure out why I slipped to ‘Brushfire’ – I have been working on a project incidentally about satellite monitoring of wildfires. But once I realized the source of the mistake, I then realized that Bushfire has a good working mnemonic as well.

    In any case, have a good evening, enjoy and remember there always someone wrong on the internet.

    Cheers!

    BRD

  100. June 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Adding to that: Using the term Anglo to refer to all White Americans is pretty damned offensive, too, because you’re erasing the distinction between English-Americans and every other White ethnicity and thus effectively erasing all of them alike.

  101. shah8
    June 18, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I really hate reading responses from people who quite obviously merely wish to be offended.

    You, Mike, could do with some remedial exercises in reading comprehension. Then you might, *faintly* actually comprehend the subject-verb direct object relationship between Tribune, racial solidarity, use of generic term instead of specific.

  102. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    You do benefit from it, B Moe.

    Does that crystal ball work on sports, SarahMC? How are my Bulldogs going to do in the CWS?

    I really hate reading responses from people who quite obviously merely wish to be offended.

    Dude that might be the funniest thing I have ever seen on teh intratubes.

  103. June 18, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    B Moe: Are you white? Then no crystal ball is needed: you benefit from white privilege. For a more full explanation I direct you to the classic and ever-handy White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.

  104. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 18, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Jack,

    May I ask if you are white?

    BRD

  105. June 18, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Nope, I’m not white. Why?

  106. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I was having a hard time taking that list seriously, Jack, and then I came across this one:

    I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

    and I felt a lump in my throat, my eyes misted up, and I had to fall to my knees and thank God for blessing me with actual flesh colored bandages. The scales have fallen from my eyes.

  107. Dabney
    June 18, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Wow. Almost a full day for this post and so many responses. *sniff* I never knew whitey was so oppressed. Where’s a Civil Whitey rally when you need one?

  108. June 18, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I really hate reading responses from people who quite obviously merely wish to be offended.

    Then stay off the progressive blogosphere, chum; it’s a failing from our end of the political spectrum.

    You, Mike, could do with some remedial exercises in reading comprehension.

    No, I’m good. My reading skills are just fine, but thanks for caring. It’s that commitment to empathy that makes you such a role model.

    Then you might, *faintly* actually comprehend the subject-verb direct object relationship between Tribune, racial solidarity, use of generic term instead of specific.

    Ahem. I’m still good; I understand what subjects are, what verbs are, and what direct objects are. And once more – get your hands off my ethnicity. You don’t get to use it as a slur, you petty little bigot.

  109. June 18, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    B Moe: So you couldn’t find one thing on that list that you could relate to as an actual privilege that you experience? And you had to pick one of the admittedly easier targets to mock instead? Well then, guess there’s not much point in trying to engage with you more on the topic of racism and white privilege. Can’t say I’m going to shed a tear over that one.

    And once more – get your hands off my ethnicity. You don’t get to use it as a slur, you petty little bigot.

    Dude, Mike. First off, look at the context of shah8’s original reference to Anglo Saxons:

    Instead of actual insults like micks, rednecks, white trash, in which the dominant and wealthy anglo saxon white protestant looks down on other white people

    shah8 was referring specifically to discrimination towards some whites (poor, Irish, etc) by rich, dominant whites – and in this country, English people definitely dominate(d) that class. What, exactly, is the problem with that? Second, someone called Anglo Saxons on privilege and you’re gonna flip out and call them a “petty little bigot”? Listen as I play the world’s smallest violin for your plight.

  110. Silver Owl
    June 18, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Goldstein bitches but his white arse has yet to f*cking deliver on all the shit his own goddamn entitlement mentality of his white superiority says he’ll deliver. White conservative men talk more than they actually work. I’m sure it will more be more of the “I don’t remember.”

  111. Chel
    June 18, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    I love how it’s just conservatives that are freaking out about ‘whitey’. It just goes to show you who ARE the real “whities” in the literal, oppressive meaning of the word.

    Another meaning exists when I say, “Man, I’m such a whitey” in reference to my inability to become tan.

  112. catfood
    June 18, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Let me get this straight. We’re offended because Michelle Obama used the word “whitey.” Then it turns out she didn’t say it. So now we’re offended because some unspecified other person may have used the word?

    Is this going to be the right-wingers’ defense now for all their smears?

  113. Manju
    June 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Is this going to be the right-wingers’ defense now for all their smears?

    left-wing smears. see comment 8

  114. Mnemosyne
    June 18, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Does that mean that one group should not be discouraged from the crime in the example I used? How can a sliding scale of ethics be beneficial to anyone?

    And yet that’s exactly what our justice system is built on: a sliding scale of justice. You don’t automatically get the death penalty just because you killed someone — the court and the jury looks at the circumstances to figure out if it was self-defense or manslaughter or Murder Two instead of Murder One. Again, I’m not sure why this is such a foreign concept to you — have you never seen a single episode of “Dragnet” or “Law & Order” or “LA Law”?

    Along the same lines, I’m not quite sure how this idea has promulgated that only white people can be prosecuted under hate crimes laws, because even a cursory look at the FBI statistics shows it’s not true.

  115. BRD
    June 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Jack,

    I apologize for appearing to run off on a tangent, but I was curious about a particular idea.

    At the outset, I want to clarify it is a thought experiment, not a metaphor or accusation:

    But the concept was that if an American harbored a vehementl and unreasonable hatred of white males, that the psychological and belief structures might map very well on to those of anti-semitism.

    Given that this was a theoretical investigation, and that juju was the only person I recall off hand identifying as a POC, and you were the most recent (guessing) male, I was kind of curious on how our exchange mapped on to this idea.

    BRD

  116. Skullhunter
    June 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    What a predictable whine-fest from the usual suspects. “We’re not racists, you’re the racists!”, brought to you by the same fine folks who brought you “The Nazis were really left-wing liberal environmentalist pagan homosexuals”.

    We get it folks. You want to be able to stand in the middle of the street and scream “NIGGER!” at the top of your lungs with no repercussions. You want to be able to call people fags and spics and beaners and wetbacks and slopes and suchlike without the eeeeevil minions of Political Correctness descending upon you. You want other people to actually think you’re a maverick or brave or funny for being “politically incorrect” and talking shit about people who don’t really have a whole lot of power in our society compared to you, like you’re taking some kind of huge risk to life and limb. You want to be able to do these things without people looking at you with disgust. You want to act all wounded and wronged when someone essentially (and rightfully) smacks you in the mouth for it. We get it. We know what you want.

    You’re just not going to get it. You’re going to continue to watch what you didn’t earn by any honest means slip through your fingers until there’s nothing left of it. It may take another generation, or another 100 years, but it will happen as it has continued to happen and eventually everything you hold dear, everything you believe to be the foundation of a pure society will be nothing more than another historical footnote for future generations to look at and wonder how people ever thought that way.

    So suck it, whitey. The future isn’t yours.

  117. BRD
    June 18, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Catfood,

    Don’t be silly, oversimplify and – at the bare minimum – denigrate the explanations and discussions your cohort has engaged in.

    The question for myself wasn’t whether or not Michelle said “Whitey” or whether or not she harbors a maniacal hatred for white folk. Rather my inquiry revolved around the question about whether or not a white person is allowed any protection (moral or legal) from hate crimes stemming simply from the matter of pigmentation.

    Or, to borrow from the formulation of racism = power + prejudice; can we say that prejudice is the essential, underlying moral wrong that can be amplified to the skies by structural power imperatives.

  118. B Moe
    June 18, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    B Moe: So you couldn’t find one thing on that list that you could relate to as an actual privilege that you experience?

    Yeah, but I couldn’t see many “privileges” there that my black, asian, female or any other pigeon-holed friends don’t also experience, because I live in a law-abiding, civilized city in a law-abiding civilized country. I don’t know where you live, dude, but if it is hard for you to go about your day to day business without being stalked, harassed and assaulted you need to fucking move.

  119. June 18, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    @BRD:

    But the concept was that if an American harbored a vehementl and unreasonable hatred of white males, that the psychological and belief structures might map very well on to those of anti-semitism.

    I don’t quite get where you’re going with this. As for the “vehement and unreasonable hatred of white males,” I’m not talking about anything unreasonable when I say that it’s understandable that some people of color may develop anger, distrust, or even hatred of white people based on long oppression. Note that I’m talking about thoughts and emotions here, not violence or other actions.

    Additionally, in terms of hating white folks “mapping” onto anti-Semitism – I think that these are two different things altogether. Kind of how white Jewish people can benefit from white privilege yet be oppressed by anti-Semitism, because those are two different things.

    Given that this was a theoretical investigation, and that juju was the only person I recall off hand identifying as a POC, and you were the most recent (guessing) male, I was kind of curious on how our exchange mapped on to this idea.

    Er, what? Now I really don’t understand what you’re getting at, but I will note that I am neither white nor male.

  120. TheirFrailDeeds
    June 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Just wanted to note to those commenting about Jeff G. and his post on the term “whitey” that Jeff is in fact a bona fide Jew. I’m not sure if whitey is the appropriate slur in this particular situation, and if it can apply to Jews as well, is Jeff allowed to speak on the issue, being a minority and all? Should he wait for “kike” to be deployed? Or perhaps Jews are even worse on the oppression scale than white society?

  121. BRD
    June 19, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Jack,

    Sorry, but I really am going to have to bow out until tomorrow, but

    1) appreciate your response

    2) apologize for the total fall off in coherency on my part.

    All being said, if I don’t catch you here, I can be emailed at [email address here]
    Cheers,

    BRD

  122. June 19, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Second, someone called Anglo Saxons on privilege and you’re gonna flip out and call them a “petty little bigot”? Listen as I play the world’s smallest violin for your plight.

    Anglo-Saxon does not mean privileged; it is an ethnicity with its own customs, language and habits. Would you like it in caps to make it clearer? An ethnicity is being used as a slur, which does make the person using it a bigot.

    As for the privilege part, please, give me a break. Anglo-Saxon does not mean privileged (or rich, or Protestant). That’s stereotyping based on a few members of the ethnicity; it’d be like saying that all African-Americans are Supreme Court Judges because of Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.

    So, once more, take your bigotry and shove it.

  123. Dabney
    June 19, 2008 at 3:41 am

    Catfood, pretty much. It’s just one long ass, oversensitive, white whine. These people just can’t seem to get over it. I mean, whitey is just a word and they have to cry about it and pull out the race card since comment two.

  124. tinfoil hattie
    June 19, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Are you black? If you aren’t, then how do you know that it cuts deep into the soul?

    Read her comment. At no time did she say n***** cuts deep into people’s souls. She said being called “whitey” did not “cut deep into my soul.”

    You’re looking for a fight where there is none.

  125. tinfoil hattie
    June 19, 2008 at 8:48 am

    It’s like calling sexist men or the police “pigs.” It’s about a group who’s been historically oppressed expressing their anger or distaste for the group that’s oppressing them.

    All cops are white? All sexist men are white?

  126. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 8:56 am

    And yet that’s exactly what our justice system is built on: a sliding scale of justice. You don’t automatically get the death penalty just because you killed someone — the court and the jury looks at the circumstances to figure out if it was self-defense or manslaughter or Murder Two instead of Murder One. Again, I’m not sure why this is such a foreign concept to you — have you never seen a single episode of “Dragnet” or “Law & Order” or “LA Law”?

    Not quite. You are talking now about the effect of the crime and mitigating factors towards it’s commission. The underlying act is still the same. Using a racial or bigoted epithet is the underlying “crime” in this case. Where the difference lies in the effect of that slur and the motivations behind it. A black person being called nigger can likely expect to have the effect be more pronounced because of the historical weight of that word. It’s a hanging word, and as such impacts the target accordingly, assuming that the motivation behind the utterance (if known) is intended to be harmful. A white person who is called whitey is still the target of bigotry, only there is no shared historical weight of implied violence and oppression behind the word so the effect may be lessened.

    To tie that with the robbery example earlier the effect of being robbed for a poor shop owner will be greater than it will for a more well off owner, but the underlying crime of robbery is still exactly the same.

  127. juju
    June 19, 2008 at 10:16 am

    @Education guy

    A white person who is called whitey is still the target of bigotry, only there is no shared historical weight of implied violence and oppression behind the word so the effect may be lessened.

    “the effect may be lessened”? You question this? This suggests that you really don’t get what it means to be a POC living in a white supremacist society. The effect of a POC calling a white person “whitey” vs. a white person calling a black person “n—–” is profoundly different.

    And would someone please explain to me why there is so much being made about an antiquated term that is hardly ever used. Does this really impact anyone’s life? Really?

  128. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 10:33 am

    juju

    I don’t question this, but I reserve individual circumstance as the deciding factor, thus the use of the word ‘may’. And yes, it impacts everyones life because it is a societal issue. Bigotry is bigotry must be our baseline, or you are merely helping to further entrench lines of division.

    I am unsure why you think it is a big deal to have these sort of conversations.

  129. Bushfire
    June 19, 2008 at 10:38 am

    “so the effect may be lessened”

    That’s really fucking disgusting.

  130. Bushfire
    June 19, 2008 at 10:40 am

    “Yeah, but I couldn’t see many “privileges” there that my black, asian, female or any other pigeon-holed friends don’t also experience, because I live in a law-abiding, civilized city in a law-abiding civilized country. I don’t know where you live, dude, but if it is hard for you to go about your day to day business without being stalked, harassed and assaulted you need to fucking move.”

    It’s so nice being middle class.

  131. June 19, 2008 at 10:41 am

    @tinfoil hattie:

    All cops are white? All sexist men are white?

    Uh, clearly not, and I don’t think I ever said or insinuated that. I was giving examples of other derisive names directed at oppressive groups. What’s your point?

    @Mike:

    Anglo-Saxon does not mean privileged; it is an ethnicity with its own customs, language and habits. Would you like it in caps to make it clearer? An ethnicity is being used as a slur, which does make the person using it a bigot.

    Anglo-Saxons, people of English descent, white people in general – these are all groups that have benefited greatly from white privilege and have contributed to the oppression of other people. Are you really trying to deny that? Pointing these things out is absolutely not a slur in any sensible definition of the term. It seems to me that you just really want to be able to call other people bigots for hurting your white/Anglo-Saxon feelings by speaking truth about the general trends in your people’s history. Also, this.

  132. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I explained the use of the word may, so I don’t understand why it’s disgusting. Are you going to totally disregard what I said about the historical implications of the n word so that you can be outraged at reserving space for individual circumstance?

  133. June 19, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Bigotry is bigotry must be our baseline, or you are merely helping to further entrench lines of division.

    No. “Bigotry is bigotry” as a baseline is a blatant attempt to disregard historical and current systems of power in order to absolve white people of their tremendously greater share of the blame for racism and prejudice. It’s like kids fighting in a schoolyard. One kid hits the other kid with their fist, the other kid hits them back with a sledgehammer and then says “But they hit me too!” It just doesn’t fly.

  134. June 19, 2008 at 10:58 am

    @B Moe:

    Yeah, but I couldn’t see many “privileges” there that my black, asian, female or any other pigeon-holed friends don’t also experience, because I live in a law-abiding, civilized city in a law-abiding civilized country. I don’t know where you live, dude, but if it is hard for you to go about your day to day business without being stalked, harassed and assaulted you need to fucking move.

    Do you live in the United States? The country that, you know, illegally declares war on brown people, imprisons them without charge, shoots unarmed Black and Latino men on an all too frequent basis, inflicts the subprime mortgage fiasco primarily on Black and Latino people, allows Latina school teachers to be fired for teaching too Afrocentrically instead of sticking to the usual Eurocentric colonizer-celebrating curriculum, historically displaces people of color in order to make room for white folks (from the destruction of Native Americans to gentrification in modern cities), routinely uses racial profiling in its policing, so and and so forth ad infinitum? Because that’s the kind of city I live in (NYC) and the kind of country I live in (US). I’d hardly call that law-abiding and civilized.

    Just because your friends live with relative privilege – or maybe they don’t share with you the ways in which they don’t – doesn’t mean that you get to extrapolate from that and deny the experience of countless people. I myself am a college-educated Latina and get to escape some of that shit, but all I have to do is look at my own parents, my extended family, my neighbors, and beyond to see that I am an exception to the rule. So maybe instead of telling me to fucking move, you need to fucking open your eyes and your ears and listen.

  135. juju
    June 19, 2008 at 11:01 am

    @Education Guy

    And yes, it impacts everyones life because it is a societal issue. Bigotry is bigotry must be our baseline, or you are merely helping to further entrench lines of division.

    How does this impact everyone’s life, how is this a societal issue? I could probably come up with an endless list of the ways in which slurs impact marginalized peoples; help me understand how “whitey” impacts the lives of white folks, and/or society in general.

    Also, what Jack said.

  136. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Jack,

    By that logic any crime committed by a black person against a white person should be treated as a lesser offense then if the roles were reversed.

  137. FashionablyEvil
    June 19, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Anglo-Saxon does not mean privileged; it is an ethnicity with its own customs, language and habits

    Could you identify those customs, language, and habits for me? Because I’m Anglo-Saxon, and other than speaking English (which hardly seems to be a determining factor), I can’t think of a single one.

  138. Meghan
    June 19, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I hear the argument that “racism is racism, it’s bad no matter where it comes from” a lot. And it’s always bogus. It tries to isolate instances of racism from the racist paradigm, and tries to undermine the fact that institutionalized racism is legitimized by individual racism.

    So if I call someone a ‘n******’, I am not just being prejudice – actively supporting institutionalized racial oppression. If I’m called “whitey”, no such system is being legitimized. There is no exercise of privilege or power in the latter. The acts are different. They don’t just have different implications. They not the same act with different contexts. They are different acts.

  139. Mike Hammer
    June 19, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Very entertaining, fellow boppers. Nice to see the youth of today actually stringing thoughts together in a cogent fashion; thank you.

  140. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:05 am

    One kid hits the other kid with their fist, the other kid hits them back with a sledgehammer and then says “But they hit me too!” It just doesn’t fly.

    No, it is more like the first kid hits the second and then the second hits some other party who shares some similar characteristic as a means to make up for the earlier hit.

  141. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:07 am

    How does this impact everyone’s life, how is this a societal issue?

    Because our goal is equality, if it is something else come right out and say it.

  142. June 19, 2008 at 11:09 am

    @Education Guy:

    By that logic any crime committed by a black person against a white person should be treated as a lesser offense then if the roles were reversed.

    Way to distort what I’m saying to make it seem ridiculous. I’m not talking about crimes here. I’m not even talking about hate crimes – a whole other ball of wax. I am talking about words – contrasting “whitey” and other terms for white people against “n*****” and other words used against Black people and other people of color. I’m also talking about thoughts and emotions and beliefs like dislike, hatred, and distrust. Not actions. Let’s not get it twisted.

  143. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Jack

    I’ve already agreed with you on the impact of the word being different, so I guess I’m not sure where the distortion comes in.

  144. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 11:13 am

    A very goodly portion of why bigotry=bigotry point is relevant, is basically whether or not all whites are evil and culpable regardless of what they do or choose to do soley by virtue of whiteness, which at the bare minimum is bigoted as all heck, but more practically, is a real big disincentive to help. Essentially, it gets back to questions of sin, original sin and penance.

    If there can be no absolution for whites, then we are eternally condemned to be evil.

    I don’t dig on that.

  145. June 19, 2008 at 11:13 am

    The distortion comes in when you ask me what I think about crimes being committed by a Black person against a white person. I’m not talking about actual crimes or violence here.

  146. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:21 am

    OK Jack. But bigoted words are bigoted words, the difference lies in the intent of the utterer and the effect on the target. Which is what I’ve been saying since the beginning.

    It’s not an excuse for racist words, nor some attempt at dodging privilege, it is the assigning of equal rules of conduct for all humans. If you don’t have equal rules of conduct, then you can never have equality.

  147. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 11:22 am

    I am right in understanding that given:

    I’m also talking about thoughts and emotions and beliefs like dislike, hatred, and distrust.

    That these thoughts and emotions and beliefs such as dislike, hatred and distrust are bad in general, and even more bad when they arise out of prejudice, particularly racial prejudice.

    Is that a fair statement?

  148. juju
    June 19, 2008 at 11:24 am

    @Education Guy

    Because our goal is equality, if it is something else come right out and say it.

    This has already been addressed; reference my responses to BRD upthread, #72 in particular, but also 59, 91 & 96.

    You are not responding to my question, so I’ll repeat it here:

    How does this impact everyone’s life, how is this a societal issue? I could probably come up with an endless list of the ways in which slurs impact marginalized peoples; help me understand how “whitey” impacts the lives of white folks, and/or society in general.

  149. June 19, 2008 at 11:28 am

    But bigoted words are bigoted words

    But I hold that “whitey” is neither bigoted nor racist. It’s a term that came about because people of color were (and are) angry at white people for oppressing them. I just don’t believe it’s bigotry.

    It’s not an excuse for racist words, nor some attempt at dodging privilege, it is the assigning of equal rules of conduct for all humans. If you don’t have equal rules of conduct, then you can never have equality.

    See, some of us aren’t content merely looking for “equality.” I’m primarily looking for justice; equality is a by-product of that. And I don’t think justice is about white people suddenly being all “OK, we’ll respect you and stop oppressing you, as long as you play by our rules and let go of all your anger at us and pretend that all things are equal.” White folks who claim to be all about equality for people of color yet can’t deal with people of color being angry or not liking them so much and expressing that through words like “whitey” don’t seem to be very invested in letting go of their privilege and power over others.

  150. Meghan
    June 19, 2008 at 11:29 am

    A very goodly portion of why bigotry=bigotry point is relevant, is basically whether or not all whites are evil and culpable regardless of what they do or choose to do soley by virtue of whiteness, which at the bare minimum is bigoted as all heck, but more practically, is a real big disincentive to help. Essentially, it gets back to questions of sin, original sin and penance.

    If there can be no absolution for whites, then we are eternally condemned to be evil.

    I don’t dig on that.

    No one has said white people are condemned to be “evil.” But trying to equate prejudice against white people with racism is entirely counterproductive to ending racial oppression.

  151. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 11:33 am

    juju,

    At the risk of putting words in his mouth, the question that “whitey” raises is whether or not there is a desire to deprive basic, fundamental rights based on color, in particular to whites.

    Are whites human? If they’re not deserving of fundamental human rights, then there is nothing wrong against being bigoted or prejudice towards whites.

    Or, to turn it around, if it is alright to be prejudice or bigoted towards whites, are you dehumanizing them.

    It is my belief, based on the comments, that the intent here is not to deprive whites of their basic status as human beings.

    If this is true, then we can say that universally, prejudice is bad. I don’t think there’s any contradiction between saying prejudice is bad and saying prejudice that does (all the bad things one can say about white on black active racism), and saying that prejudice in general is bad.

  152. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:34 am

    juju

    I did answer the question – see 142.

  153. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Jack

    Tell me what justice would be in this case, from an individual standpoint if possible. What is required of a black person to bring it about and what is required of a white person?

  154. juju
    June 19, 2008 at 11:55 am

    @Education Guy

    I did answer the question – see 142.

    No, I’m asking for tangible examples: institutional/structural effects, emotional/mental health, whatever you can think of. “Help me understand how “whitey” impacts the lives of white folks, and/or society in general.”

  155. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Meghan,

    I think we are within a hair’s breadth of being in absolute agreement.

    Correctly or incorrectly, in my part of the political universe, racism is seen as having a lot of it’s inherent badness arise from its overlap with the evilness of discrimination/prejudice/bigotry. As a result, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

    In this political neighborhood, the badness of racism is derived in more equal measure with the badness institutional abuse of power and much, much, less (but still a part) from the badness of prejudice/bigotry/etc. As a result, in this political lexicon prejudice=/racism.

    The point that I think we pretty close to convergence on is that doing bad things (oppressing, assaulting, etc.) are all bad, and in all cases are made worse by adding an element of prejudice to it. We can disagree about degree, but if one starts getting into the headspace that it is OK to assault/discriminate/do bad things to some people, because of their pallor, it can be a dangerous, dangerous direction to go in.

  156. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    juju

    It’s not that “whitey” affects anyone per se, it is that accepting one slur while decrying others establishes different classes of people. It sets the stage for allowable bigotry, which must always be a societal issue.

  157. exholt
    June 19, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Contrast that with, say, Yale University (allegedly) systematically denying admission to qualified Asian-American students. That can’t be excused as assholery or not knowing better or being a jerk.

    Mnemosyne.

    The subject of the story, Jian Li is actually bringing Princeton under EEOC investigation for denying admission to qualified Asian-American students, not Yale as he is currently a student there.

    This, unfortunately, is not a recent phenomenon…but a well-known dirty secret among Ivy league/level school admissions counselors for the last 2+ decades. Some relatives and friends who worked in Ivy undergrad admissions admitted that Asian-American students are held to much higher grading, standardized testing, and extracurricular activities than their White counterparts over dinner.

    This severely impacted my urban public magnet high school with its large Asian-American population…especially when most of us were new immigrants or first-generation Americans from working class backgrounds with parents who didn’t have the socio-economic privileges to navigate the byzantine maze known as the college admissions process and to partake in many extracurricular activities (Many of us worked long after school jobs to help support our families).

    One interesting thing I kept experiencing, however, is encounters with many angry young White men who blame Asian-Americans for taking up all the spots at the top Ivy-league/level schools when the reality is that Whites still make up the majority at most of those places with Berkeley being a possible exception.*

    In one memorable incident while walking along Mass ave toward Harvard to visit a friend, six White dudes walking toward me angrily pointed to me as an example of an Asian-American taking up all the Ivy league places that rightfully belonged to them. I almost got into a fight with them when I retorted, “Maybe you would have gotten in if you had spent more time studying and less time whining!!”

    * To set the record straight, I did not attend nor graduate from an Ivy-league school….and the jury is out on whether my undergrad counts as an Ivy-level…especially when most undergrad classmates would actually recoil in absolute disgust at such labeling judging by recent alumni discussions about how the current college administration’s excessive obsession with our USNWR rankings is completely at odds with the college’s progressive ideals.

  158. Bushfire
    June 19, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    “I explained the use of the word may, so I don’t understand why it’s disgusting. Are you going to totally disregard what I said about the historical implications of the n word so that you can be outraged at reserving space for individual circumstance?”

    I am well aware that you don’t understand why it’s disgusting, but since someone else already explained it and you ignored it, I’m not going to repost it.

    “OK Jack. But bigoted words are bigoted words, the difference lies in the intent of the utterer and the effect on the target. Which is what I’ve been saying since the beginning.

    It’s not an excuse for racist words, nor some attempt at dodging privilege, it is the assigning of equal rules of conduct for all humans. If you don’t have equal rules of conduct, then you can never have equality.”

    The differences between the particular words “whitey” and “n….” have been thoroughly explained many times. Maybe you should try reading this thread? Ignoring the context that makes some bigoted words different from other bigoted words is indeed dodging privilege.

    “It’s not that “whitey” affects anyone per se, it is that accepting one slur while decrying others establishes different classes of people. It sets the stage for allowable bigotry, which must always be a societal issue.”

    So in one message box you say “bigoted words are bigoted words” yet in another you admit that “its not that whitey affects anyone per se”. Get your story straight. I have explained earlier why “treating everyone the same” when in reality they are on unequal footing does not make them equal. Jack has also explained this very well. There are already “different classes of people” in society. Those different classes were created by capitalism and patriarchy. Leftists attempt to make those classes equal by acknowleging privilege and by giving each group what they need in order to have the same privileges as the dominant group. Recognizing the differences between “whitey” and “n*****” does not create a special class of people, it acknowleges the special class that already exists. “Allowable bigotry” is already in existence in the form of white privelege and racial stereotyping and it is allowed by white people. Acknowleging power differences and the anger that come from those differences is not bigotry.

  159. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    It was worth a try. Have fun with your bigotry (which you will pretend is something else).

  160. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Jack,

    When you say “people of color being angry or not liking [white people] so much” is it reasonable short-hand to just say “hate white people”?

    I don’t know of any person who thinks that equality means that POC will run around with effusive praise for whites.

    BRD

  161. SarahMC
    June 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I live in a law-abiding, civilized city in a law-abiding civilized country. I don’t know where you live, dude, but if it is hard for you to go about your day to day business without being stalked, harassed and assaulted you need to fucking move.

    And that’s your privilege talking right there. Your experience in this society does not mirror everyone else’s. Just because you aren’t harassed, stalked or assaulted in your community doesn’t mean that members of marginalized groups don’t deal with that shit. You have the PRIVILEGE of living your life relatively free from those worries. You have the privilege of being given the benefit of the doubt in your interactions with others. You have the privilege of being looked at as an individual rather than as a representative of White Men. It is a privilege to live with the expectation that nobody will rape you unless you go to prison. And apparently you have the privilege to move wherever you please, whenever you please, with no problem.

  162. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Actually, this notion of what justice means sounds like a scary combination of Mosaic (eye-for-an-eye) and Napoleonic (presumption of guilt) legal traditions.

    Anyways, past that, I would assume that this isn’t restricted to black resentment and anger – I would guess that Native Americans might have grounds for resentment and anger as well.

  163. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I suppose my last comment was not needed, I take it back. That said, in no way was my use of the word may (to denote individual circumstance) disgusting.

  164. juju
    June 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    @Education Guy

    juju

    It’s not that “whitey” affects anyone per se, it is that accepting one slur while decrying others establishes different classes of people. It sets the stage for allowable bigotry, which must always be a societal issue.

    Yes, bigotry is wrong, should not be tolerated, and is counter productive. There would have to be a major power shift in the western world for white people at large to need any sort of protective status. And are you saying that all of this is about a term you admit has little if any negative impact for the overwhelming majority? As has already been said: slur+power=bad, slur+no power=not so bad

  165. June 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Have fun with your denial, Education Guy! Also, again, this. Damn, that picture is handy these days! (ETA: wrote this before Education Guy took back his previous comment.)

  166. SarahMC
    June 19, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    It is my belief, based on the comments, that the intent here is not to deprive whites of their basic status as human beings.

    The word “whitey” doesn’t deprive white people of ANYTHING! For chrissakes, as white people we’re still in possession of 90% of the pie. We’re at the top of the heap. And you have the nerve to demand that people of color not harbor any contempt for whites? People of color are not responsible for bringing about equality, whatever that means. White people are. And the first step is to shut up and listen to people of color when they talk about their experiences and viewpoints.

  167. Bitter Scribe
    June 19, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    If every racist or racism apologist who has ever made this argument:

    If [blank] is offensive to blacks, then why shouldn’t [blah blah] be offensive to whites

    —were obliged to send me a dime, I could retire.

  168. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Sarah – I’m trying to ask about general, general concepts here.

    I believe it was you that pointed out some time ago that racism = power + prejudice.

    The question I am trying to explore is whether or not prejudice in general is a bad thing.

    And shutting up and listening is essential. I am not certain that bigotry is critical to the process of talking about their experiences and viewpoints – others may be.

    And as far as it goes, if bigotry is critical to the process of talking about experiences and viewpoints, am I allowed to be a bigot when talking about my own experiences or viewpoints? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.

    At this point, you might wonder what I didn’t understand about 90% of the pie. I would maintain that this 90% of the pie thing creates a moral hazard of excusing small scale local evils in the name of large-scale grievances. If a bunch of POC burn down my house or beat me while chanting racial epithets, I don’t believe that anyone here would give it a pass. If a POC comes into my office and says “I’m going to fire your pasty white a$$ – I’m sick of all you crackers and I won’t have any white SOB on my payroll” I would contend that this is something that I should be able to respond to with something stronger than “You are right – I am wrong because I am white”.

  169. SarahMC
    June 19, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I don’t think anyone here would give those incidents a pass, either, Bravo. But lucky for you, talking about those scenarios is an exercise in theory rather than reality, which is why “whitey” is not in the same category as “nigger.”

  170. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    SarahMC,

    You note:

    Your experience in this society does not mirror everyone else’s. Just because you aren’t harassed, stalked or assaulted in your community doesn’t mean that members of marginalized groups don’t deal with that shit. You have the PRIVILEGE of living your life relatively free from those worries. You have the privilege of being given the benefit of the doubt in your interactions with others. You have the privilege of being looked at as an individual rather than as a representative of White Men.

    This is something in which I believe you are perhaps oversimplifying. As pointed out in comments 74 and 82, being subject to “harrassment, stalking, or assault in one’s community” based on being in a group is not restricted solely to a white-black relationship.

    You have the PRIVILEGE of living your life relatively free from those worries. Except, of course, when that’s not true.

    You have the privilege of being given the benefit of the doubt in your interactions with others.
    Except, of course, when that’s not true.

    You have the privilege of being looked at as an individual rather than as a representative of White Men.
    Wow – this one is really, really, really not universally true. My father was a social worker on the South Side of Chicago for many years (it was during this work when he got assaulted) – and let me tell you that your presumption that he was looked at as an individual, rather than a representative of “White Men” is way, way out of line with his day-in-day-out life.

    Going back to the broader assertion that racism = power + prejudice is interesting – and something that I’d like to dig into, because it makes a lot of sense and may have good descriptive power. I would assert that people do not exist solely as members of a group – they, as individuals have the ability to make moral choices, and retain the power of agency. Given that, then the question of power can take on elements of the institutional situation as well as the local circumstance. To deny the local circumstance robs the individual the power of moral choice. That being said, I would argue that there can be on some occasions — on very rare (possibly implied by juju in comment 91) — occasions where, on a small scale, the power dynamic might not always reflect the idea that whites always have power all the time.

    BRD

  171. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    SarahMC (171)

    I have said it many times on this thread – I don’t believe any individual person on this thread says the two are equal. There is an argument made that both involve prejudice, however, the historical context of the N-Bomb is so vastly different that it obviously has huge implications and impact.

    As far as it goes, I think the closest analog to whitey would be darkie. And I think it would still be insanely bigoted or prejudice to go on about how “Darkies caused X, Darkies caused Y, and so on.”

    Based on that assumption, I get a bit confused by assertions that it is never bigoted behavior when someone says “Whitey caused X, Whitey caused Y”.

    When coupled with a notion of justice for which equality is a desirable side-effect and the mechanisms for compensation is the application of a Mosaic/Napoleonic hybrid fueled by historical grievance, the world starts looking a little spooky. It has been asserted that justice must include certainly the ability to be angry at whites and for whites to smile, nod, and agree.

    When one takes that any further by adding retribution/compensation/repartions which have no implied requirement to abate anger of hatred, then I think you are laying the groundwork for the very thing trying to be addressed. Given the chuckle juju got in 72 from the idea that I am wandering around afraid that the black man is going to shackle me, I can pretty well guess that this outcome is not desired by anybody.

    However, if one adds retribution/compensation/repartions which do have an implied requirement to abate anger of hatred, then you run into two problems. The first is the racketeering/danegeld/protection money hazard. I’m not saying it has to happen, just that the structural foundation for that is created. The other problem is a bit more vexing in that it would seem to contradict Jack’s sentiment in 151 that “White folks who claim to be all about equality for people of color yet can’t deal with people of color being angry or not liking them so much”

    So, where I am I going with all this? That in the desperate effort to address racism and redress the impacts of racism, we run a risk of creating unintended moral hazards and consequences if we don’t think about it in sophisticated terms.

    BRD

  172. June 19, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    @BravoRomeoDelta

    The point that I think we pretty close to convergence on is that doing bad things (oppressing, assaulting, etc.) are all bad, and in all cases are made worse by adding an element of prejudice to it. We can disagree about degree, but if one starts getting into the headspace that it is OK to assault/discriminate/do bad things to some people, because of their pallor, it can be a dangerous, dangerous direction to go in.

    BRD: Who ever said that it’s okay to oppress, assault, or do bad things to anyone, including white people? Again – there’s a big difference between those violent or oppressive actions and POC calling white people “whitey” or not liking them.

    To make my viewpoints clear:

    White people not liking or hating people of color and calling them words like “n*****” = ENTIRELY WRONG because it’s based on thinking that people of other races are lesser humans than white folks because of their race, and always DAMAGING not only on an individual level but also on a societal level because of deeply entrenched and long-standing institutionalized racism.

    People of color not liking or hating white people and calling them words like “whitey” = NOT (entirely) WRONG because it is based on anger or distrust of the perpetrators of oppression and beneficiaries of racism and white privilege, and sometimes DAMAGING on an individual level but not on a societal level because we’re nowhere near a point where the collective power and privilege of people of color outweighs or even counterbalances the collective power and privilege of white people.

    Anyone attacking, harming, or otherwise initiating violence against anyone else because of that person’s race = WRONG.

    People of color committing violence against white people is societally DIFFERENT from white people committing violence against people of color simply because of the historical and current racist power structures in which white people generally have power and privilege over people of color. I.e., when a member of a group in power attacks a member of an oppressed group, they have their collective power and privilege to back them up, whereas when a member of an oppressed group attacks a member of a group in power, they have that collective power and privilege coming down on them for it. Note, I’m not saying that one is better or less wrong than the other, and not talking about how damaging or hurtful these actions can be to individuals.

  173. B Moe
    June 19, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Just because your friends live with relative privilege – or maybe they don’t share with you the ways in which they don’t – doesn’t mean that you get to extrapolate from that and deny the experience of countless people.

    That works both ways, I resent your projecting some special privilege onto me just because of your experiences in one city.

    I myself am a college-educated Latina and get to escape some of that shit, but all I have to do is look at my own parents, my extended family, my neighbors, and beyond to see that I am an exception to the rule. So maybe instead of telling me to fucking move, you need to fucking open your eyes and your ears and listen.

    Again, why should I when you refuse to listen to me? Small town America is not NYC. I live in a racially mixed part of a small college town in Georgia where the local neighborhood businesses are being revitalized by an influx of Hispanic immigrants and businesses. We all get along just fine and no one is any more privileged than anyone else.

  174. B Moe
    June 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Sorry, I blew the quotes in 175, the first and third paragraph are quoting Jack, two and four are my responses.

  175. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Jack – you cover a whole league of good stuff, but very quickly, I did want to note one, quick thing (forgive me from quoting out of order, etc.)

    You said “attacking, harming, or otherwise initiating violence against anyone else because of that person’s race = WRONG.”

    That’s the thing I’ve been trying to unpack – I would think that the reason it is wrong – in general – is “because it’s based on thinking that people of other races are lesser humans”.

    The lesser humans thing being the really important bit. I would frankly be a bit hurt if you were to hypothetically say, “BRD, I think you are in fact a lesser human than I, because I was born hued, and you were born pallid.” At that point, explaining that I am a lesser human because of historical and institutional what not does sound like a rationalization after that.

    I suppose part of it is the hate the sin, not the sinner aspect – hating white institutional racism without hating whites.

  176. B Moe
    June 19, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Honestly, Jack, do you not understand how utterly bigoted your post at 174 is? Your complete dismissal of the individual and only judging the morality of an action by the race of the groups involved is so counter to the original idea of civil rights in the 60s and 70s that I truly don’t know how to respond.

  177. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    juju

    I think we mostly agree. Bigotry is bad, period. And at the same time the historical weight of instances of bigotry (use of the n word) render the effect of its use as potentially/likely more harmful to the intended target.

    Please note, again, that my use of words like potentially and may is only as a nod to the fact that individual circumstances always play a part in any situation.

  178. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    juju,

    You note that “Yes, bigotry is wrong, should not be tolerated, and is counter productive.” and I agree with this.

    The thing about the original ChiTrib article and subsequent discussion was the implied idea that if a white person thinks being called by any slur is bad, then they are evidently stupid enough that they deserve to be insulted. Or – in other words, if whites don’t acknowledge their status as lesser humans – then they are obviously stupid, because it is self-evident that whites are lesser humans.

  179. Bushfire
    June 19, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I get a bit confused by assertions that it is never bigoted behavior when someone says “Whitey caused X, Whitey caused Y”.

    It’s not bigoted in cases where Whitey did in fact cause X and Y.

    B Moe, that list of white privileges wasn’t all about violent neighbourhoods. Many of those things could happen anywhere. It’s great that your town is so violent-free, but that cannot be said about many other places. Someone called you out on generalizing your experience on everyone else, and then you did the exact same thing in your next post.

    Again, why should I [listen] when you refuse to listen to me? Here’s why you should listen. You benefit from white and middle class privileges and Jack does not. Only Jack knows what it is like not to have those privileges. There is no need for Jack to listen to your opinion because white opinion is blasted all over the media, literature and education every day, and it is biased. Jack has heard it before. It does not reflect Jack’s reality.

    I’ve read through Jack’s 174 post several times now and it is definitely free of prejudice. She does not claim that “whitey” is completely without harm, she claims that it is different, which it is. Your lack of ability to see your own privilege and bias does not make Jack a bigot, it makes you ignorant.

    For heaven’s sake, I’m white, and I don’t think Jack is bigoted. Can you explain that?

  180. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Bushfire,

    Perhaps the thing that BMoe stuck on was the statement that “People of color not liking or hating white people and calling them words like “whitey” = NOT (entirely) WRONG” wasn’t couched by a “in cases when whites actually did the thing in question”. Being angry at lynching in general is so obviously correct that there’s no real room for ambivalence about it. Being at all whites – regardless of their participation – in lynching is an argument being made here – I’m not sold on the concept, but I am not sure about modes of disagreement.

    I suppose the other point on whether or not the word WRONG or UNREASONABLE is used. If someone is upset at whites, it might be reasonable, but I would still stipulate that it is not right to decide to hate someone at first sight based on skin tone alone.

    Where it gets a bit strange is whether or not it’s entirely wrong or unreasonable to just not like or hate white people as a general principle. If someone wakes up in each and every single morning, looks themselves in the mirror, and proudly announces that they hate all white people just because they dislike bagpipes and white folks sure do play a lot of bagpipes, that’s a bit dicier.

    BRD

  181. Education Guy
    June 19, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Jack

    It occurs to me that I never got an answer from you regarding what is required to bring about the justice you seek. I understand it’s not an easy question, so I will understand if you don’t want to. In fact, anyone who agrees with Jack could take a stab at it if they so wanted.

  182. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Ok – maybe not bagpipes, but you get the idea.

  183. June 19, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    The thing about the original ChiTrib article and subsequent discussion was the implied idea that if a white person thinks being called by any slur is bad, then they are evidently stupid enough that they deserve to be insulted. Or – in other words, if whites don’t acknowledge their status as lesser humans – then they are obviously stupid, because it is self-evident that whites are lesser humans.

    No, the original article addressed exactly what is being discussed here, by juju, jack, bushfire, et al. Acting like whitey is a big awful slur is silly (or disinegenuous, even), because of its lack of social weight.

    Or as the article states:

    To be truly offensive, a derogatory term needs to have an ominous context that “whitey” lacks.

    Eminently sensible, and refreshing coming from the more conservative of my home town’s mainstream dailies.

  184. June 19, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Jill: I posted the last comment in anger; would you please delete it? I’d simply like to wothdraw myself from the discussion at this point; I don’t see any mileage in engaging with someone who’s using that kind of bigoted description.

  185. juju
    June 19, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    @B Moe

    I live in a racially mixed part of a small college town in Georgia where the local neighborhood businesses are being revitalized by an influx of Hispanic immigrants and businesses. We all get along just fine and no one is any more privileged than anyone else.

    I wonder what your new neighbors would say about this. I wonder what is said in conversations that you’re not privy to.

    Your complete dismissal of the individual and only judging the morality of an action by the race of the groups involved is so counter to the original idea of civil rights in the 60s and 70s that I truly don’t know how to respond.

    I think you have misinterpreted Jack’s points. Is your understanding based in any particular study of the civil rights movement(s)? The “original idea”, as you say, of the movements active during the 50s-70s seems pretty close to what Jack is talking about, that being justice.

  186. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I can’t help escape this nagging feeling that none of these points would apply if disability were the question.

    That there would be a point at which anyone here would argue that it would NOT (entirely) be WRONG for the disabled to hate the abled. That if there’s a deaf person who hates and despises hearing people, and harbors them ill will, that’s it somehow not at least questionable on a moral basis.

    I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that there’s a reasonable chance that the vast majority of people on this thread are sighted, and that it’s OK if they run into a blind person who upon introduction mentions that, by the way, they hate all sighted people.

  187. Persia
    June 19, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Because I’m Anglo-Saxon, and other than speaking English (which hardly seems to be a determining factor), I can’t think of a single one.

    Jello salads?

  188. June 19, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I’m not sure why you persist in misunderstanding the difference, BRD.

    To speak from experience: I don’t really hate all straight people, but I sure as hell am tired of over and over again explaining what queer means, exactly. I am tired of giving a point by point description of my identity and my life so that they can, you know, understand. And I have learned that if I have to do the above, my new straight friend will have no qualms about judging me for my difference from them; will chide me at my anger that I don’t get the things they do and will urge me to see that it’s not their fault. The very act of being angry at my mistreatment will at some point have to be about them. And then I will have to set aside, once again, my actual interest, my actual feelings, and guide them through What it’s Like to be Me 101.

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but when I say “damn, I hate straight people”, that is just one of the many regularly occuring little indignities (to say nothing of the times I fear for my life, my livelihood, or loved ones) that make me say awful things like “straight people suck” (something even more hurtful than “whitey”).

    Somewhere there is a roving gang of queers beating up straight people, but the majority of queers who express such a sentiment are not among them. They’re just fucking tired. Not to water down a lot of emotions and history into my own life like it’s exactly the same, and obviously race and sexuality are not the same thing, but despite the unfortunate things you’ve experienced, my very strong supposition is that the people who are defending the sort of talk I’m describing are not talking about the roving gang or the person who inexplicably casually announces their bias upon first introduction.

  189. Persia
    June 19, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Bravo Romeo Delta, would it bother you, deeply, if ONE blind person confessed to feeling resentment at a society which rarely bothers trying to accomodate them? If they used ONE slur– let’s use “sighty”, ’cause rhymes are awesome– to describe those people? Because I might not agree, but I could totally get where that anger is coming from.

    And this isn’t– or wasn’t anyway– about hate. It’s about the use of a word to describe a group. Not a flattering one, but a relatively minor one, with very little real consequences. (Side note: I’m very sorry you were assaulted, but a quick look at crime statistics should show you that there’s plenty of white-on-black violence, too. It’s a big world, and we all have to be willing to look outside our own experiences.)

  190. Bushfire
    June 19, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Butch fatale, I so agree with you. My being queer is exactly what makes me aware of privilege, and what makes me listen when other people talk about their own experiences. Straight people often have no idea that my life is more of a struggle than theirs and it is so hard to explain. I make fun of straight people all the time, and it has no effect, because they do not lose their privilege and I do not gain any. However, a straight person making fun of a gay person causes silencing, depression, fear and suicide. They have actual power to fire, not hire, beat up, ridicule or refuse us and we do not have that power over them.

    Different privilege, same deal.

  191. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    ButchFatale,

    Ha!

    Ok, I am seeing a bit better – aggravated as all get out, tired, frustrated, etc. yes. Hating solely based on preference alone – not cool.

    At the end of the day, it sounds like the experience of just being sick and tired of being always and inevitably introduced as “Oh, this is so and so my [insert group] friend!”, or “So-and-so is an [insert group] but they are really smart/funny/nice/whatever,” or whatever. Being angry at folks for always, always, always putting you as the little special pet token, yeah, that really does get annoying.

    And being annoyed is one thing, being bigoted – however challenging being that annoyed may make it – is a different deal, and just not reasonable.

    Although being Jewish is much more clearly a preference, I can see how this sort of thing might manifest itself in that context.

    BRD

  192. June 19, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    @Education Guy: Sorry, this is a very involved and long comments thread, AND I’m trying to get work done in between engaging with the blogosphere – heh, that should probably be the other way around, huh?

    Tell me what justice would be in this case, from an individual standpoint if possible. What is required of a black person to bring it about and what is required of a white person?

    So yeah – this is a huge question, and one that’s not very easy to answer. I’m not even going to try to give a conclusive or comprehensive answer to what different groups of people need to do to achieve racial justice. I’ll just offer a couple of possible answers.

    A few things that white people need to do to work towards racial justice: acknowledge and own their white privilege. Acknowledge that there are differences in power between people of color and white people in our society, and that white people institutionally and as a group come out on top. Be willing to listen to the voices of people of color without jumping to defensiveness.

    What do Black people and other people of color need to do? Frankly – I don’t think this is a question that white people need to be asking. Racism is neither people of color’s fault nor their responsibility to fix. However, I think it’s wonderful when people of color organize, support each other, bridge gaps between POC of different ethnicities (stopping the POC on POC prejudice and violence that only serves to divide us for conquering), and find ways to fight back against oppressive forces.

  193. June 19, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    @Butch Fatale – Really well put, and as another queer, I totally feel you and Bushfire on this.

    and that it’s OK if they run into a blind person who upon introduction mentions that, by the way, they hate all sighted people.

    BRD, I don’t think hyperbole like this is gonna help this already twisty conversation. No one is saying that it’s totally cool that a person of color should hate all white people as individuals and announce this upon meeting any white person. Yet even there, there would be a definite difference between that situation and the reverse (a white person doing the same to people of color) due to the power structures we’ve discussed ad nauseum.

  194. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 19, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Persia,

    If one blind person pops out with the word sighty, I don’t think there’s a living soul who will blame them – its any suggestion that aggravation and bigotry should be – on a society-wide basis – ignored, discounted, or whatever. When I can’t think of any situation in which I fear that nobody on this thread would ever, ever come across a person doing something foul and obscene [use your imagination to generate something that would strike you as deeply offensive] at a white, straight guys and think to themselves, “Ok, that’s just uncalled for.” let alone ever speak up and say “Hey, that’s enough of that. Knock it off.” I start to wonder.

    I wouldn’t blame a person here if they’ve never, ever run across such a situation, but the idea that there no such situation could ever exist, explicitly because the person on the receiving end was born of a specific color and gender, I get a bit bothered.

    Juxtaposed against that, I then look my own family – that my mom and dad have both been assaulted at least twice in recent decades by blacks. It’s not that I got assaulted, it’s that I got knifed in the chest on one occasion, and had my face cut open on another. And in neither case did my magical powers of white privilege ever result in so much as the person responsible ever get so much as a stern glare from this oppressive system that’s supposed to back me up. I have been jumped by a car full of young black men who were out looking for presumably white person to beat the crap out of for amusement (this is one I hadn’t mentioned because it was broken up very, very quickly).

    I mean you’ve been in situations where in a group of people having a pretty relaxed time and some a$$hole singles you out. You can see it in their eyes – I am going to come over here and f*ck with you, because I can, and you can’t do shit about it and you’re going to have to take it.

    And then I go back to this idea that, in fact, when that black guy singles me out in the room for harassment because of my color, gets in my face, and all that crap and it’s not racism (or discrimination or whatever) I have to say that’s nonsense.

    People can drudge out all the societal justification you want, but you can sure tell the difference – I mean you can feel right down in the core of your self when it happens – between that and generic asshole behavior, or generic assault, or generic whatever. You can feel the malicious spite and anger.

    When I get told that when I get a flash of contempt and hatred of that sort from someone based on my color, you can’t tell me that’s not a unambiguously a moral wrong.

    Look back up at posts 82 and 86, wow, people were genuinely hostile to you as a kid because of your race, and, well, sucks to be you.

    I don’t have some gigantic race issue – I believe that the majority of violent muggings and assaults against my family and I were purely about cash, the racial mix was largely a combination of bad luck and high-crime environments but I also full well know that in at least two cases, race was a specific contributing factor as to why I, specifically got the short straw.

    In ButchFatale’s post above “Somewhere there is a roving gang of queers beating up straight people, but the majority of queers who express such a sentiment are not among them.” Absolutely, I don’t think the majority are. And I would submit that the mystical gang of roving queers beating up only straight people are actually genuinely ethically worse than the mythical gang of roving queers who aren’t picky about the orientation thing, but will jack people for wearing plaid or whatever.

    For now, what, fifteen, twenty years, I’ve heard about hidden discrimination, the idea that silence about discrimination is equivalent to aiding and abetting discrimination, and even compelling other groups can even result in deaths of those groups, and so on. The idea that a system that discourages an abused person from speaking is as culpable as the aggressor themselves. I remember the first time I started seeing the silence=death buttons, and marches about AIDS and all this stuff.

    I now put all of this in front of me and can’t help but being confused.

    It was extra bad to be silent and stand by doing nothing when somebody is bigoted and is doing something hateful, but when it comes around to whites, don’t count on any backup? This sense that I get from folks was that when somebody does something bad to a white guy, the white guy isn’t correct in calling it racism. That, because of historical context, it’s not racism, but it would be if there were any other color combination is basically free license to do what you will to white men, because they probably deserved it.

    In my years on the planet, I have met a huge number of people and in no way, shape or form, can imagine that the people commenting here would ever just “stand by” – folks here are articulate (patient as the day is long), and I’d grab a beer of coffee with any of them. So why do their words and explanations seem to suggest that bigotry is not an unambiguous evil – it’s not really wrong to be a bigot to me?

    This, after all is said and done, is why I was so darned thrilled to read in post 96 “But here I’ll say, it’s not right to call those having European ancestry “whitey”.”

    BRD

  195. BRD
    June 19, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    IN general,

    Here’s my feelings about the whole race discussion.

    I haven’t been told that I’m inherently evil for being male. Granted, I’ve run into a number of folks who at the outset regarded me suspiciously for being male. I don’t like that a whole bunch, but if I am merely suspect because of my gender, then the case is pretty straightforward – try my hardest not be sexist. I don’t believe I’m intentionally sexist, so I think that with a bit of caution, this is a reasonably achievable goal.

    However, when one assumes that the notion of white privilege means that I benefit from being white – in other words, regardless of any personal prejudice, I am racist, it then leaves me with the assertion that:

    I am white, therefore I benefit from white privilege, therefore I am racist, therefore I am inherently wrong or bad or immoral.

    I don’t like the assertion that, effectively, being white makes me a bad person.

    This is why the question of bigotry being a universal evil is important.

    If being white makes me inherently racist (e.g. wrong and immoral) then it would follow that hating me solely because I am white is somehow permissible, because, in essence, I deserve it enough that it’s not a bad to be bigoted towards me.

    Flowing that backwards, if I’m not automatically evil, perhaps I am not automatically racist by virtue of my birth. We agree that racism = prejudice + power, and we can pretty assume that structural, institutional racism exists. So, then, if I’m not axiomatically racist by accident of birth, then it means that I have the choice to either be bigoted or not.

    Or, if in other words, I might not love the idea that to all POC I am suspect by accident of birth, but I can live with it. And it is a heck of a lot better with the concept that I am axiomatically immoral and wrong by birth.

  196. Bushfire
    June 19, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Dude, privilege and racism aren’t the same thing. You’re getting really dramatic.

  197. June 19, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Jeff Goldstein also had his fee-fees hurt that black people can call him whitey but he can’t call them the n-word. So unfair.

    Jeff Goldstein is kind of a dope but this is not a good representation of what he wrote. Just because he’s an annoying person doesn’t make it right to distort what he said. Does he want to run around calling people niggers? Maybe, but his post is hardly evidence of that.

    I laughed at the idea that “Anglo” when used to refer to white people denotes a shared culture and language. Wow. Someone needs to crack open an elementary school textbook.

    I suppose all black people, all over the world, speak the same language as well?

  198. June 20, 2008 at 3:15 am

    I laughed at the idea that “Anglo” when used to refer to white people denotes a shared culture and language. Wow. Someone needs to crack open an elementary school textbook.

    That was rather the point – Anglo-Saxon is a specific ethno-cultural marker which does not refer to White people generally.

    As to elementary school text books – no, thanks. I’ve seen American textbooks.

  199. Pipkin
    June 20, 2008 at 8:14 am

    “I don’t like the assertion that, effectively, being white makes me a bad person.”

    Your comments are dripping with self-pity. It’s really unappealing.

    You’re assumed to be a bad person based on your skin color– and what consequences have you suffered as a result of that assumption? Higher income, better education, better health care, a lower likelihood of being imprisoned? Oddly, that sounds like you’re assumed to be a *good* person based on your skin color. Weird.

  200. juju
    June 20, 2008 at 8:14 am

    @BRD

    It sounds like you and your family have survived some pretty horrendous experiences. I feel for you, I have been there, as I imagine have others who have contributed comments to this thread.

    When I can’t think of any situation in which I fear that nobody on this thread would ever, ever come across a person doing something foul and obscene [use your imagination to generate something that would strike you as deeply offensive] at a white, straight guys and think to themselves, “Ok, that’s just uncalled for.” let alone ever speak up and say “Hey, that’s enough of that. Knock it off.” I start to wonder.

    You’ve probably misinterpreted some of what is being said here. I don’t think this has been implied, and in fact Jack @174 has explicitly stated the contrary.

  201. June 20, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I am white, therefore I benefit from white privilege, therefore I am racist, therefore I am inherently wrong or bad or immoral.

    BRD – see the part that I bolded there? That’s the part that no one on this thread has said. It’s the part that, personally, I don’t believe. If I did believe it, I probably wouldn’t have white friends, nor would I have had long-term white partners. Those people are white. They all benefit from white privilege. Because none of us can escape the prejudice that’s programmed into us by our society, and because racism = power + prejudice, they’re all racist. But they aren’t inherently wrong or bad or immoral.

    I think that you can have white privilege and therefore be racist but doing your best to not be actively racist, to not use your privilege to exert power or unfairly benefit over others, to not discriminate, to speak out and fight against racism. That’s different from ignoring or denying your privilege and therefore not doing anything about it, or being a more active or willful bigot. But even if you’re not going around hollering racial slurs or discriminating against people, even if you’re just being apathetic or denying your racism or privilege or responsibility, then you’re contributing to the problem and helping to shore up the systems of racism in our society.

  202. Education Guy
    June 20, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Jack,

    Thanks for your response. I think your suggestion about communicating with each other without the need for defensiveness (although you have it as more of a one way requirement) is extraordinarily good advice. I also happen to think that with each passing generation this becomes easier and easier to accomplish, so long as we are willing to leave any ideological or partisan baggage at the door. Hopefully there will be enough people who see the value in this to ensure it is accomplished. If the history of this country is any guide, it is likely to be a long and slow process, but a necessary one.

    The only thing I would disagree with is that whites and blacks need to be asking many, many questions of each other so as to avoid presumption and to ensure that we are steering things in a direction that is acceptable to all. If we set or accept any situation in which open communication is limited, then we will likely end up working at cross purposes, which is less than helpful.

  203. juju
    June 20, 2008 at 10:51 am

    @Education Guy

    I think your suggestion about communicating with each other without the need for defensiveness (although you have it as more of a one way requirement) is extraordinarily good advice.

    The onus is on the perpetrators/beneficiaries of a wrong to do most of the work and most of the listening. So yes, it really has to be “more of a one way requirement”.

    I also happen to think that with each passing generation this becomes easier and easier to accomplish, so long as we are willing to leave any ideological or partisan baggage at the door.

    I think you’re asking too much of victims/survivors.

    And this conversation is so much larger than just about “whites” and “blacks”.

  204. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 20, 2008 at 11:16 am

    juju,

    On a fundamental and ethical level, you’re absolutely right.

    I work in a policy field, and getting the bad guys to meet all of their moral and ethical obligations under their own steam is about the surest possible way to make sure that the very little that will get done, gets done slowly.

    It doesn’t make that a desirable or ethical situation, but it’s an empirical observation. If nothing else, just keep in mind cost/benefit analysis and the reinforcement of positive behaviors. Humans are sufficiently critter-like that it doesn’t hurt to make doing the right thing easier.

    BRD

  205. Bravo Romeo Delta
    June 20, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Just ot make it clear – I’m not advocating or defending it in any case – it’s an observation about the power of inertia. I am working on an environmental issue right now, and see it with my own eyes. Waiting for an entrenched system to self-indict is a long, long process.

  206. Education Guy
    June 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    juju

    If one side is content to merely point an accusatory finger at the other, then you can forget about any sort of progress. Setting any conversation on an adversarial platform will lead to defensiveness and will not work.

  207. Education Guy
    June 20, 2008 at 11:50 am

    juju

    I guess to be clearer I should point out that fostering an environment in which everyone can see the importance of removing historical oppressions/bigotry, and can feel that they are part of a workable solution that benefits them is the best way to ensure success, and the only way to do that is to learn to be honest and candid with each other.

  208. juju
    June 20, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    @Education Guy

    If one side is content to merely point an accusatory finger at the other, then you can forget about any sort of progress.

    Do you really believe that this is what’s meant by “justice”?

    I guess to be clearer I should point out that fostering an environment in which everyone can see the importance of removing historical oppressions/bigotry, and can feel that they are part of a workable solution that benefits them is the best way to ensure success, and the only way to do that is to learn to be honest and candid with each other.

    So it looks like you already know what you have to do. Those with power are the folks who need to be spending their time convincing others with power of how “they are part of a workable solution that benefits them”. What’s that Frederick Douglass quote again…oh yeah: “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

  209. June 20, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Jack,

    One thing that I keep chewing on and can’t seem to figure a way out of is this line of reasoning:

    1) racism = bad or immoral

    2) being white =/ bad or immoral person

    3) being white = guilty of racism (by way of privilege)

    By #2 and #3

    guilty of racism =/ bad or immoral person

    Combining with #1

    guilty of racism(a bad or immoral thing) =/ bad or immoral person

    So, the only way to be guilty of racism without being axiomatically bad or immoral is if somehow being guilty of a bad or immoral thing exculpates one from any actual personal responsibility for bad or immoral thing.

    Which flat out doesn’t make any sense.

    I’m sorry, but if we go with the idea that being white = being racist, and with the idea that racism=(bad or immoral), then I can’t see any way to accept the construct that white =/ (bad or immoral) without completely and totally excusing myself from any personal responsibility.

    BRD

  210. Education Guy
    June 20, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    juju

    Power is an intangible. Many times you don’t know if you have it or if you don’t, and if you don’t give concrete measurable actions that people can take, then they won’t know how to “give up power”. This is one reason why the lines of communication must be open on both sides, otherwise you just have a bunch of people standing around not knowing what the hell they are supposed to do. If I tell my white neighbors they can right historical injustice by giving up power, they won’t know how to even go about it. As I said earlier, people will act if they see the act is beneficial to them, so all of the measurable actions must account for that.

  211. Education Guy
    June 20, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Anyway, I appreciate all those who took the time to discuss this with me. Hopefully there will be other chances to do so in the future.

  212. juju
    June 20, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    @BRD and Education Guy

    Power is an intangible. Many times you don’t know if you have it or if you don’t, and if you don’t give concrete measurable actions that people can take, then they won’t know how to “give up power”.

    There is a wealth of resources out there to answer these very questions. I am simply not the one. With social dynamics being what they are you shouldn’t necessarily expect that here. These issues have been addressed ad nauseam; it’s time for you all to figure some of this out on your own. You might benefit from the work of Tim Wise (a white man who speaks to other white people). Perhaps others, if anyone is still reading this thread, may be inclined to suggest additional reading material.

  213. June 20, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    These issues have been addressed ad nauseam; it’s time for you all to figure some of this out on your own.

    I agree with juju here. The conversation is getting pretty circular, and something that often comes up in these sorts of discussions is that it isn’t the job of people of color to hand-hold white folks through understanding racism and getting to an anti-racist place. I’m kinda ready to let this conversation be for now.

    The debunkingwhite Livejournal group is another good resource; googling “white privilege” or “anti-racist” would probably also produce some good info (or bad info – tis the internets, of course.)

  214. June 20, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Fair enough – 215 comments is no small chore, and at the very least, I don’t think the entire weekend should be shot on this.

  215. June 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Just wanted to add – I definitely don’t mean to quash conversation on this thread in general; just explaining why I might duck out of things.

  216. June 20, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Tell you what – I’ll assume your post 215 was inteded to quash conversation and/or duck the issues, if and only if racism has disappeared by next Monday morning. Otherwise, weather permitting, enjoy the weekend.

  217. Juan
    June 20, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    If only whitee* used this much time and energy on combating actual racism and not shifting blame, entrenching in denial and/or crying about reverse racism among other things.

    *I decided to be polite and use two e’s rather than use ‘whitey’ which crackas, not ‘crackers’ because that’s offensive too, decry as derogatory**.

    **tongue so far in cheek I think I punctured it.

  218. Tom
    June 24, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Just came across this, figured that I’d give my personal opinion. “Whitey” never had any significance to me. “Cracker”, “white bread”, “white trash”, “trailer trash”, “hick”, “hillbilly”, “redneck”, “peckerwood” and anything in that general area do, depending on who says it and how they say it. Anything like that means: “I’m better than you because of who my family is and where I come from”. When someone says that in my earshot and hasn’t noticed that I still occasionally mash up my vowels or use an adjective as an adverb, I tend to take it personally.

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