Stuff White People Say

July 17, 2008

“Then how am I supposed to generalize the racial experiences of people of color?”

And yet, if I’m reading your post right, you offer no guidelines for proper forms of generalization by whites about the racial experiences of people of color.

[…]

So I’m wondering, where and how do you think a white person CAN effectively generalize about POC, based on what POC say or write?

(by Macon D in Common White Fallacies when Dealing with People of Colour comments at Restructure!)

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40 Comments »

  1. No commentary needed for this one. I still can’t believe Macon asked that question with a straight cyber-face. It’s about as absurd as the misguided Whites who want to know why they can’t say the N-word. They just leave you wondering: now why is it that you want to say the N-word; why do you want to generalize about PoC?

    And, really, how is it that an anti-racist or someone like Macon who says they are perform “anti-racist labor” is clueless and needs/requests a “guideline” (because it’s just to hard or too much ‘labor’ to have a clue)? And worse, needs a complete and separate “guideline” outside of the feedback he, Macon in this case, was getting.

    Instead of reflecting on the comments that were already there, he wanted to play the “give me a guideline” challenge and, by doing so, lost. I mean, when you have to ask for a guideline then that’s a clue that generalizing about PoC is something you should avoid doing all together. Smart money is, even with a guideline, you’re bound to f-ck up. So how about discussing Whiteness?

    Yeah! That’s the ticket! lol

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  2. So how about discussing Whiteness?

    Nquest, do you mean, how about discussing whiteness in isolation from other races?

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  3. Macon D,

    Most white people have white privilege, while most PoC do not. Why not focus more on white privilege, rather than faulty white cultural anthropology?

    Stuff White People Like does the white cultural anthropology well (generally), while you do not, because you do not interact with non-white people all that often. Because you don’t interact with non-whites that much, you cannot differentiate between characteristically “white” culture versus “North American” culture.

    Also, SWPL is a humour site, which is why he can “get away” with the generalizations. He is still making generalizations, which are wrong, but it’s not a serious site like yours is supposed to be.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 17, 2008 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  4. For me, exploring whiteness/white privilege starts with Eurocentrism (and also Christianity). A white doesn’t have to “study” the ‘Other’, but has to study the own culture. I do not have to know all different cultures on earth to know what is wrong with white/Euro culture. How much it is built on illusions and hypocrisy, how much it lacks of empathy.

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

  5. No, Macon. I generally don’t have a problem saying what I mean. You, however, by your own admission can’t seem to keep your focus on Whiteness. And you know what you said in your own thread about what happens when Whites are asked to talk about Whiteness: they find themselves drifting into talking about PoC.

    In your “express amazement when non-white people see them as white”, you generalizing about PoC actually was unnecessary for the express point you were trying to make, as far as the title was concerned. So, you would have been able to quote bell hooks and effectively made the point you set out to in the title but for some reason you felt compelled to ring that bell you rung in your “believe others consider them trustworthy” thread.

    Beyond that, the recurring theme of moral equivalence, of you saying PoC say/think the same thing about Whites as Whites say/think about PoC reeks of the lack of any kind of honest inspection. It makes your motivation questionable. For some reason, you want to use those unsupported/unfounded generalizations you make about PoC to teach Whites a lesson.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  6. R and jwbe: I fully agree that white people should analyze themselves, for once. For goodness sake, that’s why I started a blog called “Stuff White People Do” in the first place! So we certainly seem to agree on this point.

    R, you know almost nothing about me as a person, about what I do and who I am as an individual. I have interacted and do interact with PoC “that much.”

    I do agree with you, though, that extensive cultural anthropology of non-white “Others” shouldn’t be part of the white-analysis project–the focus is on whiteness, after all.

    However, as white observers of whiteness repeatedly acknowledge, in what has become a sort of reflexive mantra, non-white observers of whiteness (especially African American ones) have already said most of what current white observers have to say about it. (They also commonly acknowledge that it sucks big-time that white folks are willing to listen more attentively to white commentators saying the same damn things about whiteness that non-white commentators have already tried to get them to hear.)

    So, given that non-white perspectives are an important part of the dialogue on whiteness (and because, as R says in one of her blog posts, if I remember it right, non-white people know more about white people than the opposite), then surely a white commentator on whiteness should call on those perspectives, instead of just pretending that what he or she is pointing out hasn’t already been pointed out before. And such references outside of whiteness to non-white people need not constitute “white cultural anthropology.”

    Another post on this blog is relevant here, the one that Nquest finds so hilarious–for a white observer of whiteness to call on those perspectives responsibly means “generalizing” about what they have to say. That’s because calling on just one of them would have the effect of the white person saying, “Here’s a common white tendency that white people should wake up to, and hey, you know it’s gotta be true, because look, this one black guy over here thinks it’s true too!” What the responsible white observer of whiteness should clearly do instead is find out if more non-white people also have that perspective on that common white tendency, and particularly if more credible, accredited, vetted, and published non-white observers do. And if they do, then work with and report that GENERAL consensus. This is especially worth doing if the common white tendency in question is one that has a deleterious effect on non-white people–drawing on the reported non-white experience of that deleterious effect helps to make the case that the common white tendency should be highlighted and stopped.

    So yes, generalizing about PoC or any other group of people is usually a bad move, especially if the generalization is a claim that ALL members of a group do this or that. But that’s not the only way to generalize. In fact, I think we HAVE to generalize, in limited, informed, and responsible ways, if we’re ever to get anywhere in deconstructing the illusory, hypocritical, and non-empathetic fantasies that are still promulgated by white supremacy.

    And while focusing on whiteness and Eurocentrism is clearly important, we should not merely discuss whiteness in isolation. As Steve Garner writes in my current bed-time book (“Whiteness: An Introduction”), “the best way to understand whiteness is to think both relationally and comparatively.” There would be no racial “whiteness” if there hadn’t also been people labeled “red,” “black,” “yellow,” and so on. Despite its construction as a supposedly transcendent and superior status and perspective, the very notion of whiteness is ontologically dependent on fantasized notions of Otherness. As I imagine you know.

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

  7. You don’t have to cite how much you read, but you have to demonstrate that you understand what you read.

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  8. Nquest, I wrote the above comment before seeing yours. Responding extensively to points you just raised (again) in yours, which I see as a misreading of what I’ve said in posts and comments on my blog (as I’ve explained ad nauseam in various comments threads there), would be merely repetitious. And your claim that I can’t seem to keep my focus on whiteness is outlandish–every post on SWPD is about whiteness, and occasionally drawing on the observations and experiences of non-white people with whiteness does not constitute a failure of focus.

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  9. Thanks for the tip, jw–I’m pretty confident that I do understand what I read. If you’re referring to the comment of mine before yours, I wasn’t citing “how much” I read. I was using a relevant quotation from something I’m currently reading to support the point I was making.

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  10. making assumptions about Black people/non-white people is about whiteness??

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  11. No Macon, I talk about how you display your whiteness on some of your posts on your blogs and also your reactions towards criticism. You also use a tricky way to run away from accountability: You are still in “unmaking Macon”.
    But as Robert Jensen said it: privilege makes crazy and stupid and I guess he is right to a certain degree because privileged people aren’t truly forced to dig deeper, lip service or superficial attitudes are enough.

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  12. >I’m pretty confident that I do understand what I read.

    no, you aren’t. Your whiteness comes in the way

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  13. it’s also a difference if you understand the concept of othering or if you use the concept of othering on your own to “understand” whiteness.

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  14. Macon, the problem is, as demonstrated on your blog, you were NOT drawing or taking your cue from “non-white” people. You know that. I know that. There would be no reason for you to ask why it was important to know where you got your idea from if you actually got it from Black people which, again, is not a substitute for all non-white people.

    So, yes, in those instances, you have a problem keeping your focus on Whiteness and invoking what all you post about on your blog is rather curious since you’re the one who asked the stupid question:

    Nquest, do you mean, how about discussing whiteness in isolation from other races?

    Under the pretense, as stated on your blog, that it’s hard for you to do that; hard for you to keep your focus on Whiteness without thinking you’re “a white man speaking the black man’s truth” or being a other peoples’ “summarizer.”

    Once again, you’re being incoherent. Nobody can ever understand what you mean because you constantly want to deny that the things you say mean what they do.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  15. “I think we HAVE to generalize, in limited, informed, and responsible ways…” – MACON

    That’s exactly the problem and what’s been said about the problem with you generalizing: that you did so in neither an informed or responsible manner. That’s why you still have yet to come up with an African-American, let alone any other PoC, who has said what you did and irresponsibility attributed to Hooks, McCall, etc.

    And, really, if your lack of focus on Whiteness was such an occasional thing then how does the LABEL you assigned to me of being the “guardian” of blackness work? If your threads/topics where you lose your focus on Whiteness are so few then how is my “guardianship” even remotely something that’s remarkable?

    we should not merely discuss whiteness in isolation

    You’re shadow boxing, Macon. You’re not arguing against someone who said you must discuss whiteness in isolation…

    “the best way to understand whiteness is to think both relationally and comparatively.”

    The problem with your attempts to “understand whiteness comparatively” is that you take the lazy way out that just assert that non-whites say/think the same things Whites say/think about non-whites which is so obviously not what a comparative (and honest) analysis entails.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  16. Surely a white commentator on whiteness should call on those perspectives, instead of just pretending that what he or she is pointing out hasn’t already been pointed out before

    That’s not what you did when you attributed something YOU think to what you’ve never posted in terms of what Bell Hooks, Nathan McCall or Amaryah thinks.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  17. Another post on this blog is relevant here, the one that Nquest finds so hilarious–for a white observer of whiteness to call on those perspectives responsibly means “generalizing” about what they have to say.

    WTF are you talking about? Which post?

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  18. Macon, you’re always complaining about being misrepresented (mostly, IMO, because you don’t like how what you say “comes across” or what it means once that mirror is held up for you to see what the things you say mean when taken to their logical extension). But here you are purposely mischaracterizing what I said and what I laughed about.

    I laughed at the fact that someone who claims to be an anti-racist would have to ask for a guideline. That’s what I found “hilarious.” And my reaction to that, to you being so damn clueless as to need/want to ask for a guideline was that, since you are so damn clueless, that you need to leave trying to “generalize” about non-whites alone. Obviously you’re too far below the curve for a guideline to help you and, IMO, someone who is serious about anti-racism, someone who is a serious anti-racist, by definition, wouldn’t need a guideline and even if they erred they would be smart enough to criticism already given into consideration as opposed to dismissing them by way of demanding a Complete Guide To Make Sure I Don’t Say Something Ya’ll Will Criticize Me For.

    Really, I was trying to help you since your obvious goal is to avoid criticism: stop trying to use generalizations about PoC to make whatever points about Whiteness or for Whites that you want to make.

    It’s real simple.

    Macon, you want to claim that you’ve been around PoC “that much” but when you have these “emerging” those which are just now occurring to you — thoughts about having your sh*t straight and well substantiated before you make generalizing claims about PoC — then the fact that you’ve said things like that betrays whatever point you think you’re making.

    Now that’s something that’s utterly hilarious. For an anti-racist to just now have the “emerging” realization that you just can’t bs your way through talking about what PoC think, etc., that PoC would actually insist that you respect them and the subject matter enough to approach it with rigor… Well, it’s laughable that you’re in a position to argue about generalizing about PoC.

    By your own statement, you were NOT doing a responsible job of it.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  19. No Nquest, I’m not “purposely” mischaracterizing what you said. There you go again, assuming you know what’s going on inside my head.

    I’ll take what you say about not asking PoC for guidelines and weigh it against what Tim Wise and Restructure have said about the responsibility that a white person doing anti-racist work has for being “accountable” to PoC and PoC perspectives. Turning to non-white people for advice, guidance, etc. seems like one way of being accountable to them and their perspectives.

    Asking Restructure for her thoughts on how to generalize effectively about non-white people is not the same as saying “Hey, I’ve never thought about this before! Can you tell me how I should do this brand new thing I’m thinking about doing?” As I recall, I wasn’t asking for a guideline. Instead, I was simply asking for her ideas on the matter, since it was part of the topic at hand.

    No, I’m not going to stop using generalizations about PoC in my writings–I’ll oontinue using them in the limited, responsible sense that I’ve discussed elsewhere, and that they use about their groups as well.

    And I’m not trying to avoid criticism. I’m here, ain’t I, at this blog that’s all about criticizing mine? (which is certainly an honor, by the way–what’s that they say about imitation, sincerity, and flattery?) I’m here interacting with the critics, still learning from them, still being accountable. Sometimes I find you impossible, Nquest. In this case, you blame me for asking for PoC perspectives, and at the same time you think I try to avoid their criticisms. When I ask for PoC perspectives, half the time what I’m doing is ASKING for criticism.

    As for the rest of your comment, I guess it’s a good thing that you find my efforts so laughably pathetic. They say laughter is good for your health. So, you’re welcome.

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  20. Macon, when you have what I actually said in front of you and you chose to ignore it in terms of the context in which I said what I did then you purposely and knowingly mischaracterized what I said. That’s an accurate observation about what you did. Don’t need to know what’s in your head to know that you purposely ignored what I said and tried to make it fit some bs you wanted to say.

    As I recall, I wasn’t asking for a guideline.

    Macon, Restructure quoted you as saying:

    “And yet, if I’m reading your post right, you offer no guidelines for proper forms of generalization…”

    Thanks for playing, Macon.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  21. I guess it’s a good thing that you find my efforts so laughably pathetic.

    What are you talking about “your efforts”?? Quote exactly what I said about your “efforts” or STFU! What I’ve said has been specifically about specific things you’ve said and it’s “impossible” for you to mount an legitimate argument against what I’ve said which is why you purposely mischaracterized what I said because it’s “impossible” for you to deal with it honestly.

    In this case, you blame me for asking for PoC perspectives, and at the same time you think I try to avoid their criticisms. When I ask for PoC perspectives, half the time what I’m doing is ASKING for criticism.

    English. Learn how to speak and read it (this is what I said that you obviously want to dismiss):

    1. “Instead of reflecting on the comments that were already there…”

    2. “IMO, someone who is serious about anti-racism, someone who is a serious anti-racist, by definition, wouldn’t need a guideline and even if they erred they would be smart enough [to take the] criticism already given into consideration as opposed to dismissing them by way of demanding a Complete Guide To Make Sure I Don’t Say Something Ya’ll Will Criticize Me For.”

    Simply put, instead of dealing with the criticisms that were already given, you chose to take another route and now want to spin that into you asking for criticism? roflmao!!!

    and please…

    If anything, I “blame” you for not taking the criticisms that were already offered. And, again, if you’re a serious anti-racist who takes anti-racism seriously then you shouldn’t have to say “you offer no guidelines for proper forms of generalization by whites about the racial experiences of people of color.”

    And don’t invoke Tim Wise unless you have some information where he asked for “guidelines for proper forms of generalization by whites about the racial experiences of people of color.” The criticisms you’ve received should be “guidelines” enough and you got those without asking. But what did you do with them?

    The whole time you were disputing the validity of the criticisms. So there is no way you can claim that you were accountable or asking for criticism.

    I’ll take what you say about not asking PoC for guidelines…

    and continue to mischaracterize it because you find it “impossible” to mount an legitimate argument against it. Restructure already said PoC shouldn’t have to educate you, etc., etc., etc. So your weighing scale is f-cked up too.

    One of these days you’ll stop being dishonest.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  22. I feel like this shit is obvious, and white people can figure it out as long as they put in mental effort instead of expecting it to be something easy like flipping a switch. I feel like I have to spell out everything for you, which takes up time and effort on my part, when it’s not even my job to end racism. Maybe I’m wrong and white people can’t figure it out themselves, although it still seems obvious to me. However, you are being an asshole by telling me, “it would be nice if you’d just say what you mean, instead of making me guess with a handful of questions” and requesting, “help me learn from you”. Why do I have to be nice to you and educate you about antiracism? This reeks of privilege. Check #13.

    From Restructure’s blog: “Common White Fallacies when Dealing with People of Colour”

    Sounds like what I said. Macon’s weighing scales are off.

    Try again, Macon.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  23. Macon:
    So yes, generalizing about PoC or any other group of people is usually a bad move, especially if the generalization is a claim that ALL members of a group do this or that. But that’s not the only way to generalize. In fact, I think we HAVE to generalize, in limited, informed, and responsible ways, if we’re ever to get anywhere in deconstructing the illusory, hypocritical, and non-empathetic fantasies that are still promulgated by white supremacy.

    why then do YOU create a stereotype “[most/many] non-white people don’t trust whites”, just because they are white.
    Again, according to the title you wanted to write about white amazement. But instead of this you wrote about non-white people.

    the best way to understand whiteness is to think both relationally and comparatively

    thinking comparatively isn’t just ‘whites do this, non-whites that’. Othering has a long tradition in European culture. Not just towards races or people/groups in general, but also othering nature and even the universe.
    I think that there are questions which have to be answered.
    First: what is considered as ‘norm’ within a Eurocentric society. This includes all, race, gender, culture etc. You have to understand ‘norm’ to understand ‘othering’.
    What does it mean to be ‘norm’. Why does this have advantages.
    What does it mean to be not part of the ‘norm’, what disadvantages does this have.
    Then you can split norm into further parts: What kind of behavior is necessary by somebody part of the norm to no longer being considered norm, but still benefitting from certain advantages.
    Stereotypes: Positive stereotyping of the norm and negative stereotyping of the other. Why is both so powerful?
    One important part of othering is the dehumanization of the alleged other.
    So one of the most important aspect for every white who is in his/her ‘unmaking’ is to re-humanize people. Nobody exists only via skin-color or race. Within every body is a soul which has a right to be whole.

    Comment by jwbe — July 18, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  24. […] just today, in “Then how am I supposed to generalize the racial experiences of people of color?”, you said this: I’ll take what you say about not asking PoC for guidelines and weigh it against […]

    Pingback by “If People of Color are telling me something, do I just let them vent?” « Stuff White People Say — July 18, 2008 @ 1:15 am | Reply

  25. I am new to the blogosphere, and I don’t have a website, but I wanted to thank you for this site. I have been visiting SWPD and so much of what he is saying hurts me, angers me, disgusts me. He just doesn’t get it, his comments section is so prideful. He does not hesitate to make generalizations about “Indians” (his term) either – in his “Steal from People” post and comments. Trivializing and exoticizing and simplifying FN people and providing guidelines for other liberal white people like him so as not to offend us. I know this is off topic (sort of), but he is generalizing about “stuff” he does not understand beyond a surface level and I just had to thank you for taking the time and energy to create this safe space to challenge his internalized domination.

    Comment by Okanagan — July 19, 2008 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  26. Okanagan,

    Thanks for your feedback and letting me know it’s working as an alternative space.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  27. “I don’t hang out at pow wows, so I’m not sure how to tell which are legit and which are not. I have heard, though, that anyone trying to sell NA spirituality to non-NAs is a fraud.”

    Fraud? As in fradulent Indian???? What the f*ck does that even mean???

    When asked what whites could “safely” appropriate from FN culture, he replies:

    “I don’t really know, SH. I don’t think that’s for me to decide.”

    But he can’t help himself, so he adds:

    “How about a gift from an actual indigenous person, something accompanied by the blessings, as it were, of that person?”

    Cause we all bless gifts before we give them to actual white people. A cultural appropriation blessing, as it were. Does this guy know any “actual” FN people, or did he just watch Dances with Wolves? And how dare he advise another white person on what is “permissible” to appropriate from FN culture (and there is not just one culture – he says that too but those are just words. Why else does he assume that we are blessing gifts for white friends?)

    Someone asks him:

    It just seems like there are so many traps for us average white people to fall into. What CAN we do without offending the people you defend?

    His response:

    “I think you put this point beautifully. Yes, there are so many traps…”

    Yes, because anti-racism work is all about not offending people and avoiding TRAPS. Like, get rid of your dreamcatchers white people. Steal our land and our resources and our children, but put away your dreamcatchers. Don’t fall into that trap, you don’t want to LOOK like a racist afterall.

    Comment by Okanagan — July 19, 2008 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

  28. […] Comment by Okanagan for […]

    Pingback by This appropriation from “Indians” might be permissable. « Stuff White People Say — July 19, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  29. okanagan, your being unfair, as if macon d didn’t also write this post:

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/04/ignore-our-holocausts_13.html

    You are also ignoring those words he pointed out in the other comments, “as it were.”

    If an “Indian” decides to give a gift, then that’s not cultural appropriation, is it? The Native American DECIDED, not the white person . . .

    And how can we be sure YOU are not a fraudelent Indian? You write like Nquest . . .

    Comment by anonymouse — July 19, 2008 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  30. You write like Nquest . . .

    And how do I write?

    Point out one thing I’ve said that you can contend with. Tell me something Macon has said that’s relevant to points of contention/disagreements we’ve had that I ignored.

    It’s just that simple. Either you do that or keep my name out your mouth.

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 19, 2008 @ 9:04 pm | Reply

  31. okanagan, your being unfair
    Telling others how they have to feel is also typical white. Go and join Macons f+cked up blog.

    Comment by jwbe — July 19, 2008 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  32. anonymouse,

    Why does Okanagan have to “prove” it if s/he is indigenous?

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  33. It should be noted how ironic this is given how it applies to Macon:

    The basic message, again a terribly presumptuous one, is “I need to tell you how you should live your life. And if you try to complain or explain what race means in your life, I’m going to tell you how you’re wrong about that too, because somehow, I just know more about what it is to be you than you yourself do.”

    When called to do the very basic thing of supporting his claim (and the burden of proof is on the person making a disputed claim), Macon failed to supply support for his claim about what other people, in this case Black people do, in terms of what factors in on their decision of whether or not to extend trust to “new” Whites. I posted many a counter-claim to show how the very idea and the very sources he used did not support what he claimed and attributed to them.

    When confronted with actual non-white people who disputed his claim, Macon felt like he was still right to make the claim he did as if he knows more about Black people than I do.

    As I posted before, I’ve been Black all my life AND have focused on these issues for almost twice as long as Macon said he has. Simply, Macon is in no position to make a claim about Black people riddle with all kinds of errors and then think he can come back and try to redeem himself by trying to shift the focus from his major f-ck up to “many of the threads” he’s written that, really, would only lead to discussions of other things problematic about him, and him alone, making shade-tree claims about non-white people, in this case Black people.

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 19, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  34. edited

    Comment by jwbe — July 19, 2008 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  35. […] anti-racists, e.g., “should not discuss whiteness in isolation from other races.” (paraphrase) Somehow or another Whiteness is not something to be considered on its own merits, so to […]

    Pingback by “We want to talk about racism, but how can we do that without people of color there?” « Stuff White People Say — July 30, 2008 @ 5:18 am | Reply

  36. […] If we accept the hypothesis that people incompetent in a knowledge domain generally have inflated self-assessments with respect to their competence in that knowledge domain, and if we combine this with society’s expectation that white people are more competent and knowledgeable in general, then that white presumptuousness about race that feels all-too-common is an unsurprising result. Obviously, personally observing hundreds of white and black people shake hands does not give you access to the inner thoughts of non-whites with respect to handshaking preference; watching BET heavily does not make you especially knowledgeable about black culture; reading The Joy Luck Club does not mean you understand Chinese American culture; and even if you had studied race for over a dozen years, no white person—or even black person—is the spokesperson for black people. Unfortunately, many white people think that it’s that simple, that people of colour can be understood through prototyping, stereotyping, and generalization. […]

    Pingback by Who has the right to speak about racism? « Restructure! — August 14, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  37. […] racial experiences of people of colour can be generalized is highly problematic, and is discussed elsewhere. However, another serious problem with his comment is that he believes that ‘racism’ is […]

    Pingback by Anti-racism is not human relations programming. « Restructure! — October 6, 2008 @ 12:50 pm | Reply

  38. […] to safely appropriate from indigenous people; you believe that it is your duty as a white person to generalize the racial experiences of people of colour; you once believed that it was your duty to be a spokesperson for black people; and later on you […]

    Pingback by “I see no reason to bog things down here like that” « Stuff White People Say — March 19, 2009 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

  39. […] too many white antiracists cannot comprehend this. Related […]

    Pingback by White antiracists appropriate the words of people of colour to advance their thesis. « Restructure! — April 25, 2009 @ 3:26 am | Reply

  40. […] Stuff White People Say: “Then how am I supposed to generalize the racial experiences of people of … by Restructure! at Stuff White People Say […]

    Pingback by White people dismiss non-white knowledge before they can question it. « Restructure! — October 21, 2009 @ 12:24 am | Reply


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