Stuff White People Say

July 17, 2008

White people are “calm” and “rational”, while others are “emotional”

Filed under: Stuff White People Do — Restructure! @ 12:59 am
Tags: , , , , ,

As they do so, over these and other racial disagreements, these white people often say something like, “If you’re going to get emotional, then I can’t discuss this with you.” For white people, anger is a dangerous force that blows out the light of reason. They may not realize it (middle-class ones, especially), but white people often insist that discussions be conducted in their way, and not in someone else’s way. Their calm, rational way, that is, and not another group or culture’s more emotionally engaged way. (And guess who’s automatically at an advantage in calm, rational discussions?)

(From refuse to listen to black anger at Stuff White People Do)


  1. I don’t think Macon is totally off in this comment, it’s just his mistaken notion of attributing racial stereotypes as the root cause of the different reactions in discussing race that is the problem.

    Are you planning on offering commentary as well as excerpts in your future critiques? I understand if you feel that would take up too much time with an intellectual endeavor you feel unworthy of that kind of personal investment.

    Comment by LLB — July 17, 2008 @ 3:34 am | Reply

  2. LLB,

    To me, white people discussing racism looks like How to Suppress Discussions of Racism, i.e., not calm or rational.

    I think white people perceive non-whites as emotional and angry because of this: Since When Is Being Criticized Like Having Your Limbs Blown Off by a Landmine? A: Since That Criticism Came from Someone with Less Privilege Than You

    Comment by Restructure! — July 17, 2008 @ 3:54 am | Reply

  3. mention “reparations” for example and wait how long whites will remain “calm and rational”…

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 1:40 pm | Reply

  4. As long as we’re not confusing rational with logical, we’re okay. I know Macon wasn’t “calm” or “rational” when I opined that Black intellectuals he’s been exposed to didn’t penetrate his consciousness (rough paraphrase) on a subject. Instead, Macon acted like I called him a dumbazz and sarcastically and apparently angrily wanted to tell me how smart he was, or in that case, how he wasn’t a dummy — i.e. “I must be an idiot who wasn’t able to finish high school.”

    I doubt if Macon blew his top when JW suggested Macon didn’t know enough about Whiteness or what-have-you. So it’s clear Restructure’s link didn’t just come out of nowhere.

    Comment by Nquest — July 17, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  5. Off-topic, but I thought this youtube clip, and the accompanying text, would interest jw:

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  6. and your point is?

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  7. The point of referring you to the clip? That comment is “off-topic.” I don’t have a point, other than “Since this YouTube bit deals with whiteness studies in a German context, I thought it would interest you.” Sorry if that seems pointless to you.

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

  8. how much do you know about Germany?

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  9. asking, because I still don’t get your point

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  10. jw, really, I don’t have a point in sending it to you! Is it so strange that someone would say to you, “Hey, this might interest you”? You live in Germany and you have an avid interest in whiteness, and the clip deals explicitly with whiteness studies in Germany. I didn’t send it to you as a thing I think we should discuss here, unless you do end up finding it relevant.

    I can’t quantify how much I know about Germany, but I can tell you that I don’t speak German.

    Comment by macon d — July 17, 2008 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  11. hm. I could criticize the text by the yt-author for simplifying [or at least parts of it]

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  12. Their calm, rational way, that is, and not another group or culture’s more emotionally engaged way.

    Some compare white privilege to addiction. I don’t entirely agree, addiction is something one more or less consciously does, white privilege is something somebody gets without ever being forced to know this.
    Serious discussions about race and white privilege destroys, or threatens to destroy, a white persons worldview.
    But like with addicted people awareness doesn’t come in a comfortable way. The emotional realization that one belongs to a group of people with a history which is just not to imagine, this, to put it short, hurts. And this is a legitimate feeling one has and perhaps also a necessary one, and probably every white has to go through this to get another point of view, where rejection of the history and present is no longer possible and where also an (emotional) disconnection is no longer possible.
    A white becomes a representative of his/her race. The individualism gets lost.

    And this is I think, why not so conscious whites react very emotionally when the talk is about racism in a direction they don’t want it to be: That they are responsible by belonging to the group of whites.

    Comment by jwbe — July 17, 2008 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  13. Restructure,

    I should have just said it instead of leaving it unspoken, but I attribute the white persons “calm” and “rational” demeanor to the fact that they haven’t been on the receiving end of racism, and so can be “calm” and “rational”. There is nothing inherent in whites that makes them calm and rational. Their dispassion is comes purely from having absolutely no stake in anything being done about racism outside of pleasant intellectual discussions of it, preferably in the abstract, if at all possible.

    Comment by LLB — July 18, 2008 @ 4:49 am | Reply

  14. And these are some very strange icons your blog is assigning people. I actually wouldn’t want to meet Macon’s in a dark alley.

    Comment by LLB — July 18, 2008 @ 4:50 am | Reply

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