On his blog Macon writes: stuff white people do: believe others consider them trustworthy
He posts a picture of a white guy with a shaved head, looking like a recent victim of a beating with a broken nose, a swollen eye etc.
There is a tatoo around his neck, an eagle holding the swastika (the German Reichsadler during the Nazi era).
Macon writes, referring to the picture:
“I don’t imagine the man in this mug shot looks trustworthy to you. If you were to meet him on the street, or in a bar, what features or characteristics make him untrustworthy? His tattoos? His broken nose? The desolate look in his eyes?
How about the fact that he’s white?
If you’re a white person, you’re unlikely to list his whiteness as one of the characteristics that would keep you from trusting him. You might cite the “white power” sympathies suggested by his tattooed swastika, but not the simple fact of his whiteness itself.” see below: comment 1
He also writes:
“Unlike a lot of non-white people, most white folks think that the world sees them as trustworthy, reliable, and honest, unless they do something to prove themselves otherwise.” see below: comment 2
“White people can dress in a variety of ways or wear a variety of adornments or tattoos that will lower the level of trust other people are likely to place in them.” see below: comment 3
It is curious that Macon wants to prove with the picture of a Neo-Nazi/white supremacist, that “the simple fact of his whiteness itself” is not an issue. Being a white supremacist also indicates (and also mentiones already with the name) somebody’s whiteness.
In this case it isn’t possible to separate race from appearance.
Simplifying social reality with statements like this are always problematic.
In a broader context Macon is referring to (or wants to refer to) white privilege, which isn’t a question of being trustworthy but a question of white ‘race solidarity’: Who looks like me is like me. It’s also othering: Who looks not like me is not like me.
With saying that “White people can dress in a variety of ways or wear a variety of adornments or tattoos that will lower the level of trust other people are likely to place in them” he admits, that something like automatic trust also doesn’t exist among white people.
His statement rises the following questions:
– What kind of trust is he talking about?
– How must he/she look like to be ‘automatically trustworthy’?
– In which situation?
– To what level?
– Gender? (He also lumps all whites together in a ‘genderless’ group.)
It becomes clear, that while individual whites may consider themselves as trustworthy, something like ‘automatic trust’ granted to whites by other whites doesn’t exist.
Remember your own childhood and what did your parents tell you? ‘Be careful with people you don’t know, don’t go with them, this can be dangerous.’
So you learn a certain distrust towards strangers and this is just normal human behavior.
I am sure, that parents didn’t tell their white children: “If a person is white you can immediately trust him/her”.
But they probably did tell their white children about certain stereotypes of the alleged “other”: dangerous, thiefs etc.
This negative stereotyping of ‘others’ teaches whites [together with positive stereotyping of ‘us’] to reject people who look different and to prefer people who look like them. But again, this doesn’t tell anything about trust and the different levels of trust.
His simplyfied [eurocentric white male] point of view leads him to this conclusion:
“Now that’s a strange thing to say, isn’t it? Most of the people reading this blog believe that it’s racist and unfair to mistrust a black person, simply because he or she is black. And I agree. But as I’ll try to show here, in most cases it’s actually realistic, not racist, for a black person to withhold trust from a white person. This is because black people tend to know more about white people than white people do about black people. And what they tend to know is that white people who haven’t untrained themselves can be annoying, and even dangerous.”
In his entire post he fails to make clear of what kind of trust he is talking. But he makes clear what white people think:
“What white people should learn, and somehow tell each other, is that when people of color they don’t know seem guarded, standoffish, or even rude, it may be because they don’t trust you. And it’s up to you to show that you can be trusted. Which can take time.”
he also says:
“If Peggy McIntosh or another white person were to interact with a new black person, they may not realize that while their skin color is often an asset, in this situation it may be counting against them. At least initially, until they prove themselves atypical. For many non-white people, white individuals need to prove that they’re not going to enact an array of common white tendencies before they can be trusted. This can take time.”
At least one question arises:
– what is ‘atypical white’?
both statements by Macon reveal a lot of white problematic projection and curious expectations about the non-white ‘other’.
I commented somewhere on his blog:
“Subliminal expectations of whites, how the “black or non-white other” has to act toward them: Assimilation into a white society, giving up their own identity, which means also giving up their own reality.
Subliminal expectations of whites: Non-whites have to be kind to them because whites consider themselves as kind to them.
It’s white privilege to intrude and to interfere in non-white people’s lives and the subliminal expectation of whites is to be considered as friend, somebody who will be welcomed immediately when s/he meets somebody non-white. Just because they are white.”
He didn’t mention once that white actions and behavior could be the true reason for non-white ‘mistrust’. He also rises the issue of whites and their belief to have the right to be treated always friendly and nice by POC, not realizing or making an race-issue out of it, when whites treat them ‘not nice’.
Because of othering, whites feel much more offended by non-whites than by whites. They can also much more remember negative treatment by non-whites and tend to forget the uncountable times where other whites called them names or mistreated them. Othering people also leads to an immediate generalization of the negative actions of an individual Person of Color to all People of Color.
Whites believe, that they have to be always welcomed and out of a white supremacist attitude they demand and insist, that non-whites have to be grateful, respectful, open to whites without a right of privacy, demanding automatic and unquestioned trust. Non-white people aren’t allowed according a white supremacist mind-set to be “guarded, standoffish, or even rude”. Confining non-white people, what kind of normal human behavior they are ‘allowed’ to show in social interactions and what not.
Therefore, the next time a Person of Color is “guarded, standoffish, or even rude” to you [white people in general], start with exploring your own behavior and attitudes. And sometimes non-white people also just have a bad day, yes imagine that.