Stuff White People Say

July 20, 2008

There is a “palace of racial wisdom”.

Macon D gave a fellow white person advice on how to travel the path “toward the palace of racial wisdom” (emphasis mine), which was covered in another post on this blog.

Unfortunately, there is no “palace of racial wisdom”. Antiracism is a journey, not a destination.

Yesterday, 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” professionally and otherwise, and is the author of Stuff White People Do. I felt that Macon D’s understanding of racism was superficial and amounted to rote learning, since he seemed unable to apply the principles that he wrote about outside of his blog posts. (See the comments of that post for details.) It was depressing to know that Macon D was a white antiracist with credentials, yet he remains overly defensive, oppressive, and egocentric.

However, besides jwbe, there are also many other ordinary white people who “get it” and are “getting it”, white people who are focused on antiracism instead of on the appearance of antiracism.

After dealing with Macon D, late at night, I started reading Dumbass things I’ve said/done to POC – the White People’s Greatest Hits confessional thread! at debunkingwhite. These confessions are very uncomfortable, yet my mood went from cynical to positive and happy. They were uncomfortable for me, because I recognized the racist things I have done to and thought about other people of colour, even towards my own “racial group”. Some of these confessional items are things I hadn’t even thought about until I read them, and they are coming from white people thinking hard and critically about racism.

Racism and the white supremacist power structure are unimaginably pervasive, even in the minds of people of colour, yet white people can figure it out themselves, if they are honest with themselves and think critically.

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18 Comments »

  1. Thanks for posting this, Restructure. From the sounds of it, Debunking White is going about examining Whiteness in the very way I’ve always been intrigued by what I call the Whiteness/anti-racist project. The idea that the confessional thread there introduced you to things you hadn’t thought about affirms the idea I spoke about on Macon’s blog:

    there is a “White man’s truth” to be told when it comes to anti-racism

    Okay, now you’ve raised my expectations and given me another source (thanks for the link) to increase my understanding…

    Comment by Nquest — July 20, 2008 @ 2:06 am | Reply

  2. Oh and please excuse the male gender reference.

    Comment by Nquest — July 20, 2008 @ 2:07 am | Reply

  3. Unfortunately, there is no “palace of racial wisdom”. Antiracism is a journey, not a destination.

    This reminds me of the movie Stalker:

    (Stalker is a 1979 science fiction film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. It depicts the journey of three men as they travel through a post-apocalyptic wilderness called The Zone to find a room that has the potential to fulfil a person’s innermost desires.

    At the end, when they reached the room it remains unclear if they ever entered the room.

    Comment by jwbe — July 20, 2008 @ 2:43 am | Reply

  4. Nice little circle jerk the three of you have going here! What a pleasant bit of poison to add to the blogosphere. You’re each such good, kind, charitable souls. (not)

    Comment by runawayfred — July 20, 2008 @ 4:18 am | Reply

  5. Circle jerk? So if it’s one-blogger blog, then it’s a self-jerk?

    Comment by Restructure! — July 20, 2008 @ 4:31 am | Reply

  6. Make up your mind, RunAwayFred. You had a problem with [me] “dominating” Macon’s blog. Now you’re here voicing your displeasure with this blog. I won’t ask you WHAT IS YOUR REAL ISSUE because you don’t respond well (well, at all) to questions.

    And circle jerk?? Macon has been in the middle; he has 10 posts on the “I’m a spokesperson for black people” alone. So, really, you keep having trouble with these concepts you want to introduce.

    And the “poison” is… what? Positions that you have not sound argument against?

    And, let me do this Counter-Racism.org style… Are you a White person?
    (I just want to know for the purposes of the unofficial poll disputing “calm and rational” stereotype.)

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 20, 2008 @ 4:41 am | Reply

  7. Circle jerk? So [when] it’s one-blogger blog, then it’s a self-jerk?

    Echo chamber, maybe?

    (That’s one of them trendy but stupid internet/blog talking points terms, too. Seems like it applies for the type of board Macon’s “avid readers” would like to see.)

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 20, 2008 @ 4:50 am | Reply

  8. Back to the topic or, actually, an example from Debunking White:

    – wanted POC to help me become less racist, tell me what to do and generally allow me to keep up anti-racist appearances without making any real progress – posted 2005-06-08 02:51 pm UTC

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 20, 2008 @ 4:55 am | Reply

  9. Let’s not talk about what other people do from the White People’s Greatest Hits thread. If he thinks he does nothing on that entire mega-list, then he’s hopeless.

    Have you done nothing from that list, Nquest?

    Comment by Restructure! — July 20, 2008 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  10. Restructure, feel free to delete that post. Your question… I scanned several post and didn’t see anything that reminded me of anything I did. So I don’t know if any of my “sins” we on the list. I take that back.

    I’ve asked Asian Americans (like I do any apparently recent immigrant) “where are you from?” I asked because I’m generally intrigued about different cultures and always wished I would have traveled more. I had no idea the kind of awkward position that puts a person in. So I feel bad just contributing to that.

    More than ten years ago, I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth saying someone of Italian heritage looked Jewish and, worse, like a ‘Holocaust victim.’ I didn’t say it to be mean and I don’t remember the context but I do remember how the person reacted and just how stupid it sounded coming out of my mouth. Stuff like that, I’ll never forget.

    I’ve also felt bad about calling a White person by another White person’s name (I think I was actually talking to neither one of them but it was bad enough). They were co-workers of mine who I had worked with for maybe a month or more. Of course they didn’t look alike. And while their names started with the same letter, I caught myself moments after I confused them trying to figure out why I had confused them. I’m bad with names but that was ridiculous.

    Comment by Nquest — July 20, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  11. I also can add.
    On radio they played a hip-hop song and I really liked it. But they didn’t tell the group. So I tried to find the song via google but because I totally mispelled it, it was clear that I couldn’t find it.
    aol has a function ‘search members’, and I thought, that Black Americans probably also listen to hip-hop. So I searched for Black Americans+hip hop, found a few and used the aim function then. Telling, that I am looking for a certain hip-hop song and how the refrain starts [mispelling;-) and that I think that this also could be the title.
    One actually answered and he also understood what I was talking about. Told me the title and group, Jay-Z, and I bought it then.

    My former dog, who was quite large, was a little bit difficult with people in general, he didn’t liked to be touched or when strangers came to close. I wanted to use the elevator, so we (my dog and I) were waiting at the door and when it opend, a Black man came out. My dog immediately started barking and snarling. And the Black man shouted at me: Your dog is racist, you are racist with such a dog etc. And my first reaction to that was, I shouted back: What a sh*t, he is black and white, how can he be racist.

    Comment by jwbe — July 20, 2008 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  12. Here are some things I’ve done:

    * thought biracial children were “smarter and more attractive” than “monoracial” children
    * congratulated self for being attracted to poc “not my race” and considering dating them
    * In my younger years…..way younger, I wanted to be black because “black people were cooler.”
    * asked a “mixed” person, “so, like, what are you?” when meaning to ask, “what is your ethnic background?” which is still really not my business unless someone chooses to share it with me.
    * assumed certain acquaintances of a given “ethnicity” were interested in links related to that “ethnicity” and sent them articles
    * felt that my opinions regarding racism against a different POC group were invalid because I was not that group
    * thought that having friendly, sexual or romantic relationships with people of color was in some way inherently revolutionary
    * mentioning POC that I am friends with for “cred”
    * thought that the fact they I have friends of other races made me cooler
    * said something racially insensitive by accident, but didn’t apologize because i hoped they hadn’t noticed
    * called Korean people “Chinese”
    * assumed strangers of my own “race” weren’t native English speakers until they spoke, even if I am personally sensitive towards that when it’s done to me

    Comment by Restructure! — July 20, 2008 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  13. More of mine:

    * A black co-worker of mine who is married with kids from a white women asked me about the number of black kids involved in a sport blacks are underrepresented in. I reflected, obviously without thinking, that there was only one black kid but a few “mixed” kids.

    * I was also surprised when I learned that my co-worker (who often talks about black kids/people this and that) was married to a white woman just because I wasn’t prepared for it and never thought he was (though, from the little stuff I knew about his reputation, the idea of a white woman being attracted to him and vice versa, wouldn’t have surprised me one bit). Of course there’s nothing wrong with interracial relationships (though I am aware of colorism and the effect it has had on black people). I’m personally am against Black-White interracial relationships (meaning for me, myself; I personally can’t rationalize it given the history; which says nothing about personal attraction) but people are people as far as I’m concerned. I think people tend to like and fall in love with people they have regular, intimate contact with. Anyway, like the other “sins” of mine, I feel bad contributing to the type of stuff, the ignorance and just plain disregard, people face all the time.

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 20, 2008 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  14. I guess RunAwayFred just…. ran away.

    Comment by nquest2xl — July 21, 2008 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  15. I would like to know, these white people who make their confessions, how they feel to live among whites and within a Eurocentric culture and what they think about this, and how old they were when they started to think differently.

    Comment by jwbe — July 22, 2008 @ 2:17 am | Reply

  16. jwbe,

    How old were you when you began to think differently?

    Comment by Restructure! — July 22, 2008 @ 3:23 am | Reply

  17. Somehow always. When I was a child the RAF in Germany was very active, I was on the one side scared as hell. On the other side they wanted to change something. They were the generation after WWII and this generation was very critical towards their parents and what they did during WWII.
    I had no real idea or understanding, I was to young and nonetheless I admired them somehow for their courage to be against a nation.

    German news perhaps differ from American news, you are informed what is going on in the world and somehow for me as a child all this pain, violence and wars in other countries were too much for me. I realized my privilege what it means to be born in a country were there is peace, enough food etc.
    I found the entire German society wrong and the RAF somehow right. That doesn’t mean that I support violence but I just didn’t want to be one of them (society).
    And regardless which issue, Europe or Germany was always negatively involved. Let it be the de-forestation of the Amazonas for meat-production in Europe, the cruel conditions of workers and children in third countries to produce luxury products for us (industrialized countries) like flowers, coffee etc. Also issues like nuclear power, missiles, environment pollution etc.
    It isn’t difficult to realize that the privilege is not only because of being German but white. Also because you realize the difference of society’s reaction towards violence or resistance. The RAF killed white Germans and attacked German institutions and they were called terrorists and all was done to stop them.
    But attacks towards refugees or non-whites, “foreigners” are always just “incidents of individuals”. The different criterion how life is valued, that it is accepted that people are being terrorized within one nation just because they look different or aren’t of German nationality, I find this deeply disgusting. I don’t want to be protected by the government/nation because I am white. I don’t want to live in a society which values skin-color more than the human being.

    Comment by jwbe — July 22, 2008 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  18. […] here how, you one gave advice to another white person on how to travel toward what you called the “palace of racial wisdom”; you gave a suggestion about how to safely appropriate from indigenous people; you believe that it […]

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


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