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47 Responses

  1. eilish
    eilish July 19, 2010 at 12:41 am |

    Feministe shouldn’t be your platform for snarky passive-aggressive potshots at a person you had a huge ugly argument with two years ago, which you won. Yep, she fucked up badly. No, she didn’t give you the closure you wanted and should have got. Go over to her house and pull her hair out. Or talk to her. Say what you mean.
    If you can’t, because you are worried about lawsuits, then by all means continue this ugly personal sniping.

    I am really disappointed in the moderators here.

  2. Chally
    Chally July 19, 2010 at 12:52 am |

    eilish: That’s a really bizarre conclusion to jump to. Please watch yourself when you are commenting here.

    ‘I am really disappointed in the moderators here.’

    Well, yours was the first comment on this post, so I guess you mean the post itself? Again, guest posters are in charge of their own content. Though I’m really not sure what you’re referring to in your comment.

  3. Blah
    Blah July 19, 2010 at 1:14 am |

    Anger issues much, Tasha?

  4. Leila
    Leila July 19, 2010 at 1:31 am |

    Tasha,
    Pay no heed to the above comments. I have no idea what they’re talking about. All I know is, your posts are thought-provoking and valuable. As a white feminist I’m deeply appreciative of the challenge you give in providing a reminder to me (and other readers) to be aware of with my privilege and, as you say, “examine the racism” that weaves through the world in subtle and unsubtle ways.
    Thank you.

  5. The Voracious Vegan
    The Voracious Vegan July 19, 2010 at 2:05 am |

    Holy shit. I’m pretty disgusted that someone asked ‘anger issues, much?’ Sounds suspiciously (okay, exactly) like what men say to me all the fucking time when I’m ‘ranting’ about patriarchal oppression and the need for feminist revolution. YES, I’m angry, and YES, you have a right to be angry too. How can that not be crystal fucking clear? When we live in a white supremest, woman hating, bigoted, violent world, tell me again why we all shouldn’t be furious?

  6. elmiragultch
    elmiragultch July 19, 2010 at 2:55 am |

    Thanks Tasha, this was a great article. I’m always interested in hearing the ridiculous ways in which the tea partiers try to defend their bigotry (or call it something else). Its pathetic and I hope people can see through it.

    thanks for the great post!

    Just wishing commenters could convey respectful critiques instead of passive aggressive attacks. I know that we are more intelligent and well spoken group than that.

  7. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac July 19, 2010 at 3:52 am |

    Tasha: And finally, to bring it home, what can white feminists learn from this? If a white feminist has to tell me they’re my ally, they’re probably not really my ally. In fact they probably just did me some harm.

    Word. Applies across all privilege barriers, too.

    ell: Feministe shouldn’t be your platform for snarky passive-aggressive potshots at a person you had a huge ugly argument with two years ago, which you won.

    Thanks for clarifying that. (Snarky passive-aggressive pot-shot. FTW.)

    This strikes me as a classic way to derail the thread, too: attempting to turn this into a discussion about this “huge ugly argument” which I had no notion had happened.

    If this is a “passive-aggressive pot-shot”, it’s an excellent one. If yours was a classic thread-derail, I hope it will prove a bad one.

  8. Jennifer
    Jennifer July 19, 2010 at 4:52 am |

    Reading that Tea Party letter was physically painful. Thank you Tasha, for spotlighting this and how it relates to issues of privelege across the spectrum.

  9. On Feministe: When You Have To Say It: Tea Party Racism (Again) and You? | Red Vinyl Shoes

    [...] [read the rest over at Feministe...] [...]

  10. Agnes
    Agnes July 19, 2010 at 7:40 am |

    ‘when a white person has to tell you they’re not racist, they’re probably really fucking racist.’

    Yup. I’ve never, ever heard the sentence ‘I’m not racist, but…’ unless it has been followed up by something that’s massively racist.

    ‘Anger issues much, Tasha?’

    Similar to above. If the issues Tasha discusses in this post don’t make you angry, you’re probably racist.

  11. Elizabeth Anne
    Elizabeth Anne July 19, 2010 at 8:37 am |

    Do you think *claiming* ally status is a form of cookie-begging? I mean, can someone declare themselves an ally, or is that a status that has to be conferred upon you?

  12. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 19, 2010 at 8:40 am |

    I really think the best any of us can say is “I TRY not to be racist…” if we were brought up in the USA. I can’t imagine growing up in this country and not being at least somewhat affected by racism.

    I think the issues in the article go far beyond the ‘Tea Party’ phenomenon, as I have only met one person who went to a Tea Party (a person with whom I volunteered on the Hillary Senate and primary campaign- really showed her inner racism when Hillary lost- and I had to cut her off- though I still get her spam emails) and I have seen much racism in the name of ‘libertarian’ opposition to Obama.

    I do also think it’s significant that Obama is bi-racial as many of these people are even more hostile to miscegenation than just the idea of having a ‘black’ president.

    Having said all that- I don’t think the racism of the Tea Partiers is not liking Obama because of his color. It’s the fear that he might be helping people of color as a whole. The same fear we saw when Toni Morrison made her famous comments about Bill Clinton.

  13. Shoshie
    Shoshie July 19, 2010 at 9:20 am |

    Wow. Awesome post. That letter is disgusting.

    “I’ve never, ever heard the sentence ‘I’m not racist, but…’ unless it has been followed up by something that’s massively racist.”

    For serious. My roommate does this all the time. There’s more than one reason why I’m moving out. Though I’ve finally started getting the courage to tell him, “What you said was racist” when he pulls shit like that. Because I DO want to be an ally, and folks like Tasha have helped me realize that it’s not meant to be easy.

    Also, word to Jesurgislac.

    Also, Elizabeth Anne, the oppressed group should get to decide who’s an ally and who isn’t. If a dude comes into a feminist space and wants to wow us all with his dudely wisdom and won’t let go of his male privilege, well, then he’s not an ally. As much as he may shout until he’s blue in the face that he’s an ally, he just isn’t one. And it’s our right as feminists to say so.

  14. Jadey
    Jadey July 19, 2010 at 9:28 am |

    Two posts I’ve gone back to again and again and again that really made me rethink myself and where/when I would ever explicitly claim ally status (as of now, usually never, except to make a point to other white folks who’ve never heard of the notion of being anti-oppression allies) and how racism can get all up in my anti-racism: Mai’a’s We Don’t Need Another Anti-Racism 101 and Kil Ja Kim’s The White Anti-Racist is an Oxymoron: An Open Letter to ‘White Anti-Racists’.

    I also subscribe to Beverly Tatum’s (author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?) definition of structural racism (and am roughly paraphrasing because I don’t have the book on hand): that to exist as a person in a social context with a racial hierarchy that privileges one’s own racial background and appearance over others’ is to be racist. To my mind, racism is not an action or a personality trait, but a state of being. As anti-racists we can work against the structure of racial privilege (and other aspects of the kyriarchy) and disavow ourselves of our entitlement to our privileges, but we can’t abdicate from being racist. Being anti-racist is fighting the current, but it’s not getting out of the water.

  15. Jenna
    Jenna July 19, 2010 at 10:15 am |

    Unlike the first comment, I like the anger of this post. It is rightful anger. I mean I can’t even clearly articulate at this point how frustrating that letter is. It reeks of racism! These are the people that think the Civil Rights Act solved all our race issues and that to speak of racism is to be automatically racist. These are the people who don’t want to examine their own privilege. Tasha’s anger is completely spot-on, but I am sure she doesn’t need anyone to tell her that!

  16. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz July 19, 2010 at 10:22 am |

    I’ll be honest: I don’t care if Mark Williams is a racist or just the most breathtakingly ignorant wanker in many moons: what he wrote is so painfully racist and directly harmful that I’m willing to leave his personal motivations out of it. (Even if I then go on to cast considerable aspersions.)

    This, of course, is what bothers me the most about the attempt to claim the ally label: the relief that I’m not like that, that I don’t believe that POC are shiftless layabouts looking to the government for a flat screen TV. Well, there’s a cookie-worthy belief if there ever was one. It’s not about what you are, it’s about what you do, and the number of people who will jump feet first into the depths of ignorance and then fish around for their good intentions, humor, or satire is alarming.

  17. konkonsn
    konkonsn July 19, 2010 at 10:27 am |

    My jaw dropped at the first sentence of that letter and didn’t close until I was finished. I mean, really? “The NAACP called us racists. What assholes! I’m writing a fake, racist letter in protest!”

    When it comes to things like these, I imagine that if I was standing right next to the person as I read this, I would stare at the letter, then turn and slap them up the back of the head and yell, “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

  18. Sas
    Sas July 19, 2010 at 10:33 am |

    I just clicked the link and read the Kil Ja Kim article referenced in the above comment, and it’s really something every white person should read. It made me think some terrible things that truly shocked me. It’s a horrible feeling to be confronted with one’s own racism, but a necessary one.

    Oh, and: Anger issues? Seriously? Why don’t we just accuse her of having her period? Men have had great results with that dismissal in the past.

  19. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe July 19, 2010 at 10:33 am |

    It’s worth noting that Mark Williams, like Glenn Beck, was a shock jock before he got into politics.

    I’ve always thought that on the ethical scale, shock jocks were somewhere between slugs and mildew. It’s instructive that conservatism would turn to them as spokespersons.

  20. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 19, 2010 at 10:52 am |

    Bitter Scribe,

    HEY, slugs and mildew perform valuable functions in the ecosystem! I may not allow them to grow in my house, but, unlike Beck & Co, they do have some non-harmful functions…

  21. Rose
    Rose July 19, 2010 at 11:48 am |

    I’m not from the US, and experience American culture mainly through its media exports. From what I’ve seen [this post included], racism is certainly still a problem.

    Perhaps there are people who object to the policies of the current US government who aren’t racist, and who object to the policies of the Obama administration purely because they have a different fiscal point of view, but my God are they getting drowned out by the people shouting “I’M NOT RACIST, BUT…”.

    I’d like to think that such obvious displays of racism [the letter above] were long gone, and I’m deeply saddened to see that they aren’t.

  22. Ama
    Ama July 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm |

    Just to make sure I’m understanding this correctly: The NAACP said, “Tea Party, tell the people in your group who are being racist to stop being racist” and a person who identifies as a Tea Partier responded with an overtly racist letter?

    In what universe would that make sense?

  23. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil July 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm |

    “I TRY not to be racist…”

    I totally second this phrasing.

    Also, Jay Smooth, anyone?

  24. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub July 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm |

    Dumbfuck issues much, Blah?

  25. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin July 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm |

    You know, early on I informed the female members of Feministing that as a man, I was their ally. This was done not to make me seem like a good person, but rather to state that I was seeking to learn and that, moreover, my motives were noble.

    Not to be Captain Obvious here, but there is a racist strain in the Tea Party. But what is the deepest tragedy to me is that poor whites and poor blacks have much in common, but have been divided against each other by those who had much to gain by keeping them separate.

  26. Mizz Alice
    Mizz Alice July 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm |

    The tea party needs to be renamed to the train wreck party. They have never been, nor have attempted to be structured in any way.

    I still can’t get over the tea party using the term “tea bagging” while hanging tea bags from their garments. I have no idea what their “cause” is at this point.

    Here’s an interesting article: National Equality vs. Tea Party

    The tea party is very hypocritical. Apparently they are funded by the very entities that they are protesting against. Well, either they’re hypocrites, or extremely dumb, I guess both. It is no surprise to me that they are being hypocritical about racism. Racism is ignorance. That letter is a prime example of racism and ignorance, and if it’s not, somebody please tell me what is.

    All this just makes my stomach turn.

  27. Samantha b.
    Samantha b. July 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm |

    Comrade Kevin, for poor whites to have much in common with poor blacks, their unemployment rate would have to be over 17% nationally. It isn’t.

  28. Jordan
    Jordan July 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm |

    @Comrade Kevin. But the tea party isn’t made up of poor whites. Tea Partiers are richer and better-educated than the average American.

  29. scrumby
    scrumby July 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm |

    I read even a few of his fans were put off by this letter which just goes to show how insular the Tea Party crowd has become. Mark Williams is so used to listening to his own little echo chamber of support he has forgotten to feel out the audience before he selects which level of bull he’ll be spewing.

  30. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe July 19, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    I read even a few of his fans were put off by this letter…

    Yeah, he took that post down but for some reason left up the comments. (I think. I ‘m not hunting for them.) Most of his commenters were trying to chide him in a nice way, along the lines of, “I know you’re not a racist, but…”

    He got all huffy and defensive at first, but then conceded the point:

    …on reflection and re-read I agree with you that my use of the word “massa” was ill-advised and probably offensive. That is an unnecessary detraction from my point so I have revised the offending copy… along with a phrase about “wide screen” television sets, that too could be construed as racially based.

    Regarding the wide-screens, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they’ve replaced cell phones at the top of the List of Things That Poor People, Especially If They’re Black, Should Not Have.

  31. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable July 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm |

    @Jadey – I LOVE that book. And I love that definition. I’ve quoted it myself at least twice on Feministe. For anyone who is just starting out and trying to be a good ally, read that book. It’s amazing, thought-provoking, and just wonderful.

  32. Bushfire
    Bushfire July 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm |

    The comment about anger issues written by Blah is clearly racist. Why has it not been deleted? Leaving shit like that on here clearly demonstrates that Feministe is a white blog that doesn’t care much about racism.

  33. maggie
    maggie July 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm |

    This letter is so bad you sort of wonder if it’s even real–that is, that someone even thought this would be funny and create it.

  34. maggie
    maggie July 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm |

    Uh i’ll mention that blah is not the same from jezebel, as I am that blah. I’d like people to know that.

  35. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz July 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm |

    And right on cue! Yet another apologia trying to validate the grievances of white Americans. Douhat squeaks in with more commentary. And here I thought we were going to get a momentary reprieve.

  36. scrumby
    scrumby July 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm |

    @evil_fizz: I love it when they seem to beheading towards a call for equality and egalitarianism across the board and somehow turn it into a “what do I get?”

  37. Chally
    Chally July 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm |

    @Bushfire This non-white moderator (please don’t erase the non-white folk on this blog) read that comment about a minute after Tasha posted in response – that is, four minutes after it went up. I was hardly about to interfere with Tasha’s moderation and delete a comment she’d already responded to; her having responded was, to me, a clear demonstration of what she just commented on: that she wanted to leave it up. I was, I assume, the only Feministe moderator online at the time as it was my turn at moderating. I then sent Tasha an email asking her what degree of support she would like in her thread, as I didn’t want to leave her unsupported, nor did I want to step on her toes. Does that answer your concerns?

  38. Aidan
    Aidan July 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm |

    I always appreciate being reminded. Thanks.

  39. Manju
    Manju July 20, 2010 at 6:04 am |

    But what is the deepest tragedy to me is that poor whites and poor blacks have much in common, but have been divided against each other by those who had much to gain by keeping them separate

    I understand this and its many variations is a core progressive belief, but it is almost certainly wrong. Even Paul Krugman has conceeded the point.

    In short, poor white males never left the democratic party, except of course in the south. But they left there primarily because of the demise of Jim Crow, where the democratic party’s one-party state artificially inflated the numbers. When they left, they only did to the degree that they started reflecting the %’s of the rest of the country.

    I can post the data and elaobarte later if anyones’s interested. But for now, suffice to say, this meme is part of progressive denialism about the reality of Jim Crow and who benifitted from it (hint, it wasn’t Nixon).

    The teabaggers are assholes and dickbags, i say as a rightwinger myself. But the death of robert byrd should tell us something about where racism and politics really intersect. The NAACP did themseles no favor by bizarrely asserting that the man who filibustered the ’64 CRA and oppossed the ’65 VRA “was a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act”

    http://www.naacp.org/press/entry/naacp-mourns-the-passing-of-u.s.-senator-robert-byrd/

    The meme Comrade pushes is part of this denialism, and is probably exhibit A in Tasha’s thesis (though I’m unsure if she appreciates me bringing it up).

  40. Bushfire
    Bushfire July 20, 2010 at 9:17 am |

    Does that answer your concerns?

    Yes it does.

  41. Bushfire
    Bushfire July 20, 2010 at 9:19 am |

    Leaving it up there for me just proves my point about white progressives needing to look at their own racism.

    There’s always a crowd waiting to prove that point.

  42. g_whiz
    g_whiz July 20, 2010 at 9:56 am |

    I love this post probably a little too much. On an interpersonal level I find this issue keeps flaring up lately. People I considered very close friends presuming I’m over reacting to “just words” and not really allowing themselves to step out of their protected bubbles of privledge long enough to connect to anything else. It becomes deeply troubling to not only have to defend yourself from actual racism from one camp and casual racism or apathy from the other. Your commentary about allies is 100% on point and I really thank you for making a case for something I’ve been too disapointed with others to articulate properly.

  43. On the Anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird”: Going Beyond a “Conversation on Race” : Ms Magazine Blog

    [...] persist we pull an Atticus Finch and persuade ourselves into accepting them. Or, as Tasha wrote on Feministe in the wake of the Tea Party’s response to the NAACP: You have to work to be anti-racist. It’s [...]

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