Author: has written 38 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

36 Responses

  1. meggygurl
    meggygurl June 26, 2008 at 12:54 pm |

    w00t!

  2. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm |

    Not to contradict any of the body of your post, but at least in the abstract, I agree with the premise that Obama gets at least a small pass for lack of slave antecedents. I’m not sure how that relates to Michelle though, but in *my* mind, I view Michelle’s experiences as an essential balancing mechanism against Obama’s experiences.

    Whether that means other people attack Michelle just because she has slave ancestors and Barak doesn’t is…kinda strange. You’d have to approach it as well, Michelle is considered a radical just because she’s old fashioned black, and she *tempting* Barak to be that black authortarian who will overthrow the proper order of racial preferences. That’s a very weird attitude for *Steele* to promote…suggests some degree of projection.

  3. noen
    noen June 26, 2008 at 1:19 pm |

    I think he has a point and I don’t think he meant to denigrate Michelle’s femininity. Obama would be treated much more harshly if he weren’t of mixed heritage and came out of the South. Of course the concerns you express are very real. You can be sure the GOP knows this too and will attempt to use it as a wedge to divide and conquer.

  4. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 1:27 pm |

    After reading the article, it does seem like the classical Barack isn’t black enough complaint.

    *I* don’t believe Barack is particularly black. I believe that blackness is a social construction with a cultural history and common touchstones. Blackness is also a social construction that is imposed on all sorts of people without their inputs or recognition. Hence things like the one drop rule here, or the labeling of Chinese people as black in South Africa have common drivers.

    Barack Obama is black both as a choice and as an imposition. My opinion doesn’t matter, because I’m not the boss of him or anyone else. However, I am eased to see a straight-up sister be his wife. (Don’t care about white or black sister, just a straight up sister) It means that a) If he is worthy of the respect and companionship of someone like her, then…well, he probably deserves my respect as well…birds of a feather flocks together. b) She probably anchors him in a way that prevents Barak from taking up some of the noxious attitudes that I have known mixed race individuals to take

  5. William
    William June 26, 2008 at 1:57 pm |

    I agree with the premise that Obama gets at least a small pass for lack of slave antecedents.

    Oh come on. Racism isn’t about whether or not a given person is tainted by their roots as some kind of congenitally conquered person. Racism is about the fear of that which is different from you and the hate of that which you believe competes for the same resources as you. It has it’s roots in humanity’s tribal roots, in the time when survival meant preserving your tribe and destroying the others. Obama gets flack because he is black (and lets face it, to a racist mind there is no such thing as mixed race), because that is what sets him apart from the herd. Michelle gets more because not only is she black, but shes a woman. She has two things that set her apart, she is doubly “other.”

    Talking about slave antecedents assumes far more logic than an unconscious and implicit thing like racism can manage. At best an explanation like that might come after the fact, an attempt to explain and rationalize the inherently irrational reactions of the unconscious mind.

  6. Ahimsa
    Ahimsa June 26, 2008 at 2:36 pm |

    Right on, sister! I’m so glad to hear a WOC talking back to the black civil rights movement. I too am a black woman who takes offense when black men act as if racism is the only issue in the world and ignore sexism, which affects half of all black people!

    Sexism is so pervasive that it’s hard for some people (especially men) to recognize. Michelle Obama doesn’t get harsher treatment just because she’s “blacker” than Barack, but also because she is a woman. Women have been held to higher standards and subjected to harsher criticism than men for a long time.

  7. Renee
    Renee June 26, 2008 at 2:41 pm |

    We may talk about Barack as a bi-racial person however what part of his identity is most recognized and commented on? His Blackness… so the whole slave ancestry thing is just ridiculous.

  8. Rachel
    Rachel June 26, 2008 at 2:44 pm |

    Just wanted to say that I am loving your posts, Renee – keep it up, please!

  9. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 2:59 pm |

    You know William

    You should get out more, mabe talk to different groups of people than you have been talking to. It might be uncomfortable at first, but getting rid of that whole sheltered persona would be a benefit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorism

    This is an okay primer on just one of those complex iterations of racism.

    For a more general approach…a very fast and concise historical approach to racism

    http://www.amazon.com/Racism-History-George-M-Fredrickson/dp/0691116520/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214506601&sr=1-1

    If you further questions after awhile. I’m always happy to help.

  10. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm |

    Also, for just a bit of clarity…

    The issue is that Steele could not possibly concieve that people are attacking Michelle Obama because of her sex, which is subsumed by the race dialogue that he is invested in.

    This isn’t exactly a doubly “other” situation. In fact this is the exact same situation with her husband. A wish to smother all the aspects of their cultural experiences into a framework that denies crucial perspectives.

  11. juju
    juju June 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm |

    I agree that Steele’s inability to see the role of sexism in the attacks on MO is pretty ridiculous, but I don’t think his argument is completely without merit. He is talking about the acknowledgment of differences between peoples of African ancestry, and the idea that those who aren’t descended from slaves are perceived as better in some ways. It’s the notion that they don’t have the baggage of American slavery and its after effects, so they won’t be so belligerent and are easier to deal with, meaning less threatening.

  12. Renee
    Renee June 26, 2008 at 3:57 pm |

    “It’s the notion that they don’t have the baggage of American slavery and its after effects, so they won’t be so belligerent and are easier to deal with, meaning less threatening.”

    Except where do blacks not have a legacy of slavery to contend with? Slavery is a global phenomenon and not restricted to the US.

  13. juju
    juju June 26, 2008 at 4:07 pm |

    @Renee

    Except where do blacks not have a legacy of slavery to contend with? Slavery is a global phenomenon and not restricted to the US.

    Yes, of course a history of slavery and/or colonization can be found throughout the black world. I’m talking about perceptions and how they function in an American context. Some white people may feel more comfortable dealing with a black person with whom they do not share a national history. As in, they are not angry with me (maybe some other white people, but not me) for the treatment of their ancestors and they will not be asking for reparations, for example.

  14. Renee
    Renee June 26, 2008 at 4:12 pm |

    @juju
    As in, they are not angry with me (maybe some other white people, but not me) for the treatment of their ancestors and they will not be asking for reparations, for example.

    Seriously I don’t believe that race is conceptualized in this manner. People don’t take the time to distinguish between blacks and cultural identity.When it comes to racism blacks are assumed to have one monolithic identity that is how racial stereotyping works.

    @Rachel…thanks so much for your support!

  15. juju
    juju June 26, 2008 at 4:25 pm |

    @Renee

    Seriously I don’t believe that race is conceptualized in this manner. People don’t take the time to distinguish between blacks and cultural identity.When it comes to racism blacks are assumed to have one monolithic identity that is how racial stereotyping works.

    That hasn’t been my experience. Yes, there is the monolithic “black” stereotype, but it can also be more complex. I have personally witnessed the differences in how some white American’s sometimes treat native born black people versus black people born in other places. I am certainly not saying that foreign born black people do not experience racism (and xenophobia too for that matter). I am speaking about what I have personally seen, and the conversations that I have personally been a part of, in different parts of the United States.

  16. William
    William June 26, 2008 at 4:28 pm |

    You should get out more, mabe talk to different groups of people than you have been talking to. It might be uncomfortable at first, but getting rid of that whole sheltered persona would be a benefit.

    Being dismissive and launching personal attacks doesn’t really count as an argument unless you host a show on Fox News. I have talked to different groups of people and I’d be more than happy to have a discussion about racism, but being condescending neither contributes to the discussion nor proves any points you have to make.

    It isn’t that I don’t understand or haven’t encountered the argument you, Fredrickson, and the (I’m sure immanently qualified) wikipedia community make, its that I’m unpersuaded. I feel that if you’re going to look at something with as huge an unconscious and implicit component as racism you have to approach it from a psychological standpoint. You can talk about the history, the stated motives, and all the rest of the set decoration all you want but you don’t get to the core issue of racism: why one group of people hates another. That comes down to implicit attitudes, drives, and cultural learning that happens at such an early age it can’t really be considered conscious.

    If you look at the implicit attitude studies that have been done at Harvard, Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, the Milgram experiment, the work done by Bion at the Tavistock institute regarding personality valence and singleton status, Fromm’s studies of Nazi Germany, you start to see a pattern. That pattern is that people respond and react to other people in ways that history alone cannot really account for. The rank inhumanity that human beings universally show to one another, the madness of crowds, these are more than just resonance of poor social values. I know, its an uncomfortable thing to consider, that perhaps there is something wrong with us that is so deeply rooted it cannot be fixed by education and hard work. Unfortunately, thats the nature of aggression.

  17. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 4:46 pm |

    It’s just that I look at what you write, and it’s a antiseptic approach to racism backed by what I percieve as somewhat sophomoric grounding. Perhaps I could be a bit less condescending, but I run into people like you all the time, who approach this topic from a similar “psychological” vantage all the time. It usually turns out that the psychological output isn’t much more than what goes on in your own head with the addition of your direct perceptions of what goes on in other people heads see: EvoPsych People Without Degrees. Hannah Arendt you aren’t. Why not take up reading a book or two about identity in general? Doesn’t have to be race.

  18. jamespi
    jamespi June 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    “we are both black but women must deal with sexism”

    let me know if im totally out of line here and I dont want to equate the two but do you not think Barack also has to deal with sexism as a black man? There is the racial bit but I also think there is some sexism going on when it comes to black men. Their gender when combined with their race has some really horrible results and I just cant call it all racism, I think there is some sexism there too though its not the same as what Michelle will be put through its still there.

  19. William
    William June 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm |

    It’s just that I look at what you write, and it’s a antiseptic approach to racism backed by what I percieve as somewhat sophomoric grounding. Perhaps I could be a bit less condescending, but I run into people like you all the time, who approach this topic from a similar “psychological” vantage all the time. It usually turns out that the psychological output isn’t much more than what goes on in your own head with the addition of your direct perceptions of what goes on in other people heads see: EvoPsych People Without Degrees. Hannah Arendt you aren’t. Why not take up reading a book or two about identity in general? Doesn’t have to be race.

    Perhaps you should keep your assumptions about “people like me” (interesting as it might be entertaining to see what you’ve managed to project) to yourself until you have just a little bit of evidence outside of, well, your assumptions. I’ve tried to be polite, I’ve tried to explain where I stand, but you seem determined to be condescending and personally insulting. Still, I find it interesting how you assumed that what I was talking about evolution when I repeatedly mentioned the unconscious, how you mentioned Arendt in response to Bion while implying that I don’t education to be involved in this discussion. Regardless, it seems I’ve inadvertently triggered something for you and continuing isn’t likely to do anything but lead to more acrimony.

  20. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 5:21 pm |

    I really don’t give a flying fig. It’s even more pointless when there are multiple other posts in here that concurs with my point that you’ve highlighted. Thus, I’m not inclined to think anything other than that you have a problem with me, personally. I don’t mind, since I don’t see the value of your repute. Moreover, in your initial post, you didn’t make anything but a bunch of general comments that were not *quite* germane to the topic at hand. Lastly, despite your tone, what parts you *did* say, you essentially agreed with me.

    /me shrugs

    It’s not like I have any rancor or beef with you. Carry on.

  21. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 5:24 pm |

    ah, that phrase was supposed to go “despite your tone, in what parts that *were* germane*, you agreed with me.

  22. J
    J June 26, 2008 at 5:49 pm |

    I went to the link and I’m a little bit confused here. It would be one thing if Steele said that sexism had nothing to do with Michelle Obama’s treatment, but he didn’t say that. Furthermore, he’s not even talking about Michelle Obama’s treatment in general, only in relation to that of Barack Obama. It seems like a bit of a reach to assume that he is completely blind to sexism based on this little snippet. I also don’t think his statement is representative of the election commentary I’ve seen. I’ve seen black men discussing Michelle Obama’s sexist treatment on websites like the root, Jack and Jill politics, Ta-Neishi Coates, and TooSense; and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Bob Herbert of the NyTimes have done so as well.

    I don’t want to deny your point that there is sexism within the civil rights establishment. However, I think this piece buys a bit into the pervasive and annoying meme that black women have been giving black men a free pass when it comes to sexism out of a sense of racial solidarity. I’ve seen this quite a bit in the back and forths over feminism and intersectionality and it’s just not accurate. Black women are not just waking up, we’ve been fighting this battle for a long time now. I’m all for calling out black men for the sexism, feminists for their racism, and my own damn self for all of my blind spots and privileges; I just don’t want to play the “why is everyone picking on the feminists?” game a la Hirshhman.

    I really think the problem here is that a lot of these old guard organizations are having a difficult time adapting their message in today’s post civil rights society. I think people are much more fluid and individualistic in terms of how they think about their identity, and that these organizations aren’t equipped to deal with that. We can clearly see this in the struggles of WOC to get their voices heard, and even in some of the discussions about young women and feminism. I like Shah8’s point about trying to force everyone’s experiences into a particular framework. I actually think we could use this to tip toe back to the point you were trying to make and the question you were trying to ask in your feminism post. Even as these organizations are struggling to connect, these structural issues of racism, sexism, poverty remain. How do we effectively organize around those issues? I think I saw another post on here that asked that same question and I’m curious as to what other people think.

    Renee, I also just wanted to say that although I didn’t comment, I was really, really bothered by the treatment you received in response to your feminism post. I like the question you posed and I hope we can get to it somehow.

  23. Lauren O
    Lauren O June 26, 2008 at 6:02 pm |

    This is a great post. Many white feminists make the opposite mistake – thinking sexism is the only problem in the world and not acknowledging racism. It makes sense that some black men would forget about sexism in their fight against racism, because it’s harder to recognize oppression that doesn’t affect you. But it’s important to recognize that oppression! It’s all interconnected! Kyriarchy!

  24. prairielily
    prairielily June 26, 2008 at 6:53 pm |

    I really, really don’t want to derail the thread, Renee, because I want to see this issue discussed… but isn’t this sort of the same thing you were calling Clinton supporters out for? They don’t want to sit quietly in solidarity with other liberals who treat them badly because it’s just assumed that they’re a guaranteed demographic because of Roe. You’re saying that black women shouldn’t sit quietly in solidarity with black men who ignore and belittle them because it’s just assumed that their blackness is a guarantee of their support regardless of how badly they’re treated.

    You could even extend it and say that discrimination against Michelle Obama is being discussed (somewhat) because of her prominent position right now, but the discrimination faced every single day by black women who aren’t famous is still invisible. I mean, I completely agree with this post, and I really have been enjoying your writing. I just think it applies to any minority/group subset that is marginalized within their minority/group because they’re considered unimportant.

    If I’ve misunderstood you, I apologize. I’ve been having some issues lately, where I come back later and realize that what I wrote makes no sense. (I think it’s my new medication.)

  25. Renee
    Renee June 26, 2008 at 7:29 pm |

    “Why are they attacking Michelle Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and not really attacking, to that degree, her husband?” Steele asked. “Because he has no slave blood in him. He does not have any slave blood in him, but Michelle does.

    By that commentary Steele makes it clear that the issue with Michelle has nothing to do with her gender and everything to do with her color. When we ignoring gender he privileged race.

  26. shah8
    shah8 June 26, 2008 at 7:53 pm |

    Gotta understand…part of the issue is the whole “women have to take it” nonsense. So while much of this, like the fake rumors of Michelle saying whitey, circle around race, is about volume, and is also about making Obama look weak in the “he can’t protect/assert control over his wife”.

  27. BR
    BR June 27, 2008 at 10:50 am |

    wait, men have penises? where’s mine? (oh wait i can’t afford one)

    sorry i know picking on the “men have penises/women have vaginas” bit misses the central point of the post and the discussion that is already happening is more important, just wanted to point it out (i generally think of feministe as having a bit more nuanced/less transphobic gender analysis).

    so yea ok, everyone proceed with the discussing!

  28. mabisa
    mabisa June 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm |

    Wanted to chime in against the “men have penises/women have vaginas” wording as well–I know ya’ll know better than that. Up for a rewording?

  29. wiggles
    wiggles June 28, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    do you not think Barack also has to deal with sexism as a black man? There is the racial bit but I also think there is some sexism going on when it comes to black men. Their gender when combined with their race has some really horrible results

    I’m so f-ing sick of hearing about sexism towards Teh Menz I don’t know if I can express how sick I am of hearing about it. It doesn’t exist.

    Repeat: Men. Are. Not. Subject. To. Sexism! No matter what their race.

    By the way, there’s no such thing as racism towards white people either.

  30. Alister Crane
    Alister Crane June 29, 2008 at 11:36 am |

    I can see where you were going and totaly disagree with you. Anyone can clearly see that Michelle Obama is going to catch hell because she and her husband don’t fit neatly into the narrative that the U.S. have crafted for Black People. The Obamas are *married* in a *loving relationship* with *two beautiful children*. They both have achieved *academic* and *career* success which has put them on the road to the White House. They’re not at each others throats, poor, and the children aren’t in bad shape so America hasn’t figured out how to treat this “anomaly” (despite the fact that its more common than realized). The country then decides to go back to its old standard of the narrative: she’s a (black) bitch and he is a (menacing black) hooligan waiting to do something (scary) to you.

    I also understand that you would think ill of the comments from the CEO of SCLC, but depending on the person’s age and background that argument would make some sense. When you look back at the history of people of color, especially black people, in America both women and men suffered just for being part of that group. Black Women had to suffer rape or the possibility of rape, beatings, inadequate health care, poor economic prospects and lynchings simply for being black. Black men had to suffer rape or the possibility of being raped(from white men and white women), being forced to rape black women, beatings, being worked to death, inadequate health care, poor economic prospects, and lynchings. So from a point of view it wouldn’t matter if you were male or female you would suffer simpy due to color. Sadly your gender would determine how they would make you suffer.

  31. Mariella
    Mariella June 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm |

    @shah8
    “She probably anchors him in a way that prevents Barak from taking up some of the noxious attitudes that I have known mixed race individuals to take”

    what’s that supposed to mean?

  32. Hara
    Hara June 30, 2008 at 3:11 am |

    THANK YOU!

    For putting it into words and sharing.

    thank you thank you thank you

    I’d like to make posters of this and plaster Detroit, New Orleans and any other place I (and my sisters) were subjected to the BS about how we gotta get behind our men to get anywhere.

    thank you
    THANK YOU

  33. Hara
    Hara June 30, 2008 at 3:32 am |

    Sha8

    However, I am eased to see a straight-up sister be his wife. (Don’t care about white or black sister, just a straight up sister) It means that a) If he is worthy of the respect and companionship of someone like her, then…well, he probably deserves my respect as well…birds of a feather flocks together.

    “Good”, “respectable”, “straight up” women, who are educated professional, run businesses, etc
    have been known to survive abusive relationships with men and women who haven’t earned anyone’s respect.

  34. Gina
    Gina July 2, 2008 at 8:37 pm |

    Here! Here! Renee’ This past year of blogging has been like taking the red pill during the movie the matrix. I didn’t know how bad it was until I started kicking over rocks.

  35. Renee
    Renee July 2, 2008 at 9:13 pm |

    WOW!!! Thanks so much Gina…I have so much respect for what you do!

  36. shah8
    shah8 July 2, 2008 at 9:20 pm |

    Hara

    Please read what I said…please!

    “If he is worthy of the love and companionship of someone like her…”

    That’s a stipulation that they have a healthy relationship, no coercion or anything like that.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.