Stuff White People Say

July 18, 2008

“I’m a good summarizer of black opinion.”

Many posts on my blog effectively summarize black observation and opinion and black reportage of personal experience–perhaps beginning with the one on how whites often “pet” black people.

(by Macon D in “I’m a spokesperson for black people” comments at Stuff White People Say)

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17 Comments »

  1. [ouch, that’s an ugly-looking comment, sorry. oh for a “preview” function . . . ]

    Comment by macon d — July 18, 2008 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  2. common sense as well of empathy would help you to find the answer, Macon. Because you don’t have both of it every answer will be a waste of time.

    Comment by jwbe — July 18, 2008 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  3. Fuck, Macon.

    You tend to write posts that seem to demonstrate understanding, and then later you say something that shows you didn’t understand, and when people call you out for it, you say, “No, I do understand. I demonstrated my understanding in this post I wrote here…”

    No, that’s not understanding. That’s rote learning.

    As I said in a conversation with you before:

    Human relations programming –> Social justice activism (again)

    “Is it problematic because PoC don’t like it, or for another reason?” (again)

    One black person: “I don’t like it when white people touch my hair. I’m not a pet and people don’t have a right to touch my body without permission.”

    You: “Hmm. If enough black people complain about this, then it might be a bad thing for white people to treat black people like pets and touch their bodies without permission … as it will cause racial tension, and antiracism is about making sure black people don’t get mad at whites.”

    I feel dirty, because I set myself up, and I’m wasting my personal time explaining shit to you again. Fuck.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 5:56 am | Reply

  4. What? That’s not an example of “rote learning.”

    Restructure, your continual characterization of me in childish terms makes it pretty much impossible for me to communicate with you. This latest falsely quotation-marked paraphrase is as ridiculously inaccurate as some of the post titles here–I didn’t base the post about petting on the reported experience of just one black person, for one thing. And what the hell is wrong with getting white people to stop doing something that annoys the hell out of black people? What, it’s too trivial to write one blog post about it, out of over 100 on various other forms of white supremacy and arrogance? Your two terms, “Human relations programming –> Social justice activism,” are not the only forms of anti-racist work out there, and the two categories are not mutually exclusive either. You’re pretty dictatorial about what people doing anti-racist activism should and shouldn’t be concentrating their efforts on.

    There’s no need for you to explain “shit” to me anymore. You can get clean and stay that way. We don’t communicate effectively, and if it does something for you to chalk that up to my supposed immaturity or imbecility, then you go right ahead and keep feeling good about yourself by doing that.

    Comment by macon d — July 19, 2008 @ 6:55 am | Reply

  5. Restructure, your continual characterization of me in childish terms makes it pretty much impossible for me to communicate with you.

    That’s a recurring statement that, how do you say, overstates your importance. Your presumed self-importance. When you’re not mature enough to be honest in your dealings, honest in these exchanges and serious enough to actually listen before you type-speak… then it’s clear an hopes of effective communication broke down a long time ago when you first contracted this selective hearing condition.

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 19, 2008 @ 7:00 am | Reply

  6. All right, maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I shouldn’t use figurative language to explain things to you because you won’t get it.

    The “dialogue” part is not about your post. It is about your question.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 7:02 am | Reply

  7. Oops, it was late at night. What I wrote does not make sense in the morning. To me, the “pet black people” post is fine (but I’m not black).

    The “question” I was actually referring to was not the one in your comment. It was this one, in a comment in another post on a different blog:

    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. If, for instance, one POC does not like it when a white person says this or that to them (e.g., “My, you’re so articulate!”), and then another member of that non-white racial group also doesn’t like that, and then another also doesn’t like it, shouldn’t the white person realize, at some point, that members of that non-white racial group don’t like it when white people say that thing to them? If so, that realization seems to require generalization, doesn’t it?

    You seem to be saying the same thing here, that the reason why you made the post was because it was a “common complaint that black people make about white people,” and not because it’s wrong to treat black people as if they were subhuman, as white people don’t pet other white people or touch their bodies without permission. Your “antiracism” focus is on “human relations programming”, making sure that racial tension is reduced (i.e., trying to keep PoC anger at bay, making sure that white people don’t appear racist rather than fighting actual racism), instead of on achieving social justice.

    From the way you framed it, it seems like the first time a black person complained about hair touching, you dismissed what she was saying because she was only one person. Only after several black people complained about it and it seemed to be a “common complaint that black people make about white people,” THEN you started to take it seriously because it indicated that white people were “in danger” of the “collective” anger of black people. In other words, you started caring only after you realized it made white people, as a whole, look bad.

    It seems like you don’t actually understand why it’s wrong. You dropped the word “condescending” in your post, but is it “condescending” only if enough black people complain about it? Does the number or percentage of black people who complain about it affect whether or not the act is condescending?

    It’s like if a PoC tells you, “I don’t like it when white people do X, as it’s dehumanizing because of reason Y,” you don’t care to evaluate “it’s dehumanizing because of reason Y,” because it requires too much thinking. Instead, you focus on “[PoC] don’t like it when white people do X,” and create the rule “[PoC] don’t like it when white people do X, so white people shouldn’t do X,” without any deep understanding of the problem, because it’s easier. It’s easier to do “human relations programming” and ask PoC what whites should and shouldn’t be doing, rather than take the criticism seriously as a real criticism about injustice.

    Antiracism is not about having good intentions towards PoC. You actually have to think, take PoC seriously, and employ critical thinking skills. You cannot be antiracist if you lack critical thinking skills. You cannot be antiracist if you are intellectually lazy.

    You have to actually understand the deep structure instead of using rote learning and training yourself to give the “right answer” in a test situation. If you do not understand the problem and cannot apply it to situations outside explicit test situations, then it shows that you do not understand.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  8. Macon D,

    Your two terms, “Human relations programming –> Social justice activism,” are not the only forms of anti-racist work out there, and the two categories are not mutually exclusive either. You’re pretty dictatorial about what people doing anti-racist activism should and shouldn’t be concentrating their efforts on.

    This just shows that you haven’t made the Base Shift of Antiracism 101, and you don’t even understand it. You also think that I’m the one being dictatorial, when you reject even this base shift.

    Comment by Restructure! — July 19, 2008 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

  9. […] I was quite frustrated with Macon in the comments of “I’m a good summarizer of black opinion.” Macon D has purportedly been examining whiteness for “over a dozen years” […]

    Pingback by There is a “palace of racial wisdom”. « Stuff White People Say — July 20, 2008 @ 1:44 am | Reply

  10. […] from “human relations programming” to “social justice activism”, he replied: Your two terms, “Human relations programming –> Social justice activism,” are not the […]

    Pingback by White people think that ‘racism’ means racial conflict. « Restructure! — October 7, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  11. […] Funny how that works. […]

    Pingback by “We don’t intend to be racist” « Stuff White People Say — October 31, 2008 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

  12. […] a spokesperson for black people; and later on you wrote, “Many posts on my blog effectively summarize black observation and opinion and black reportage of personal experience”. I also just realized that 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

  13. […] 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

  14. Hmm, I have never thought of myself as “petting” black people. I like the African anatomy and the hair, it feels so cool… When I first got to college, I got to meet some black people for the first time. One of them really liked me for some reason, and I liked her, so I asked her one time, “Can I touch your hair?” LOL. She laughed and said I could touch her hair any time. Whatever… when I was a kid, girls liked to play with each other’s hair all the time. When I was in high school, I had short, spiky hair and people always wanted to touch it to see what it felt like. I thought that was cool as long as they asked me first.

    Then, I knew this black guy, and for some (stupid) reason, I assumed he wouldn’t mind if I touched his hair, so I did that. Then I thought about what I had done and asked him if it bothered him. He said it did, and I apologized. Then he told me I was objectifying him. It kind of ticked me off that he was so negative about it after I apologized, and I thought he was exaggerating compared to the other sh!t people do. So I abruptly left the table.

    Another time, I told a girl I liked black people’s hair, and I don’t remember if I asked permission, but I started very, very lightly rubbing my hand along her hair. She said it felt good and to keep doing that. Later she wanted me to scratch her scalp because she said black people’s scalps itch so much! I refused that one, but then she started scratching this other guy’s scalp. LOL

    Hair is fun. Petting is probably not a thoughtful way to describe it… heck, I don’t even believe in pets because that’s so patriarchal, for lack of a better word.

    Comment by L — April 28, 2009 @ 2:30 am | Reply

    • *heavy, deep sigh*

      Comment by witchsistah — May 8, 2011 @ 6:30 am | Reply


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