Stuff White People Say

November 14, 2008

“A Person of Color said so…

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwbe @ 11:05 pm

…therefore it must be true.”

Among whites and also among “anti-racist” whites there are many wrong perceptions about People of Color.
People of Color are sometimes idealized close to saints with wisdom grown out of suffering and there is the phrase “white allies have to follow the lead of PoC”.
Again this lays a burden on People of Color, a extra burden in a society of white supremacy.

The problem of white allies is that they take PoC fighting against racism for granted. The expectation, directly or indirectly, that PoC will “automatically” figth against racism because it is in their best interest.

Another and more troubling belief by whites is that PoC remain uneffected by the negative impact of white supremacy, as if they live in a vacuum. The video “A girl like me” shows, that some or many Black children have to go through their own struggles and that white supremacy leaves it scars.

The system of white supremacy is so successful in terms of expansion and persistence because it also occupies the victims of it.

“The West initially set out to conquer the world with the might of its Roman armies, but the lesson they soon learned was that building an empire was not a matter of military superiority alone; it was necessary to impose culture as well […] By far the most powerful of European cultural contact and change in Africa has been the Christian Church. […]
The attack was cultural, aimed at the spirit and self-esteem of the African, entities that had been held firmly in tact by a cohesive communal organization. Christianity appealed to the outcasts in order to subvert the solidarity and integrity of the society. It was individualistic, not communalistic like African spiritual conceptions. […] ‘The school was the most important instrument of Christian missionary work in Africa’. Children entered missionary schools only to cut ties with their families and with their traditional rituals and rites of passage; i.e. those institutions that had given Africans such a deep sense of security and identity. Africans were forced to change their names in order to become good Christians – docile, humble and obedient.
Speaking African languages was discouraged, while imitating Europe was encouraged; including Europe’s material culture.
This situation led to the development of a sense of insecurity and inferiority in Africans, marked by a simple process of the loss of identity and of independence in the most traumatic manner. …. For this group [the Europeans], the bulk of the Africans represented a despicable lower level of creatures, with obnoxious religious and social habits who must not be tolerated around the precincts of decent homes.
Soon the “educated” Africans would be taught to think these things about their own people. They could the be used to “lead”. Africans were considered to be “half child, half devil”. But “Christ” was a white man; the saints were white; the missionaries were white.”
Clearly, it has been the evil political genius of the West, since the beginnings of European imperialism, to cencentrate its efforts on the cultural and therefore ideological destruction of the people it conquered.” (Yurugu pgs 427-428 by Marimba Ani)

As a white this means that one will also meet PoC who defend their own oppression. Who will defend “good” white people for whatever reason they may have and as irritating this may be sometimes. This is the “invisible” legacy of white supremacy.

Many whites like to decorate themselves with non-white friends and insist that their Black friends would have no problem with being called the N-word, that a Turkish best friend said this and that and therefore it is true for all Turkish people etc. Many white people even don’t realize their own racism in interracial friendships or partnerships.

For white anti-racists there should be one thing very clear: Are they looking for non-white praise or do they want to deconstruct white supremacy? Are they able to acknowledge the humanity of somebody else with all facets or are they only able to see the parts they want to see?
Are they able and willing to realize that also some People of Color are like white liberals “peace-keepers”, people who don’t want to provoke white people?

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6 Comments »

  1. Are they looking for non-white praise or do they want to deconstruct white supremacy?

    Makes you wonder…

    Are they able and willing to realize that also some People of Color are like white liberals “peace-keepers”, people who don’t want to provoke white people?

    That’s an important question and I liked the way you phrased it. Certainly, we’ve (you and I) seen that phenomenon in a few places. We’ve also seen that phenomenon at play when Whites want to defend other “good” Whites because they don’t want those “good” White folk to be confused with the “real” racist.

    Side Note: Being racist apparently isn’t a state of being like being pregnant. While you can’t be just “a little pregnant” (you are or you aren’t), apparently you can be a little racist and that’s okay because there are people who are the “real” racists who, if nothing else, serve as the people who let all the little racists slide. It’s like people who decry traffic enforcement because there are “real” criminals out there that police should be directing their enforcement energies to.

    What’s really important in the observation you make is the fact that racism/White Supremacy has had such an impact on the victims of racism/WS that it has contributed to different ways in which oppressed people respond not only to White people but to other Black people, e.g., as they attempt to cope with the racism in society. I like the fact that you pointed out the racism involved in ennobling oppressed people both because it places an undue, extra burden on them and also how it fails to take into account their humanity as a diverse people and, again, the impact racism/WS has had on the responses oppressed people make.

    One thing should be noted here is that the “peace-keeping” instincts/behavior among POC is as varied in degree as racism or racist/prejudiced thinking is among Whites. That is, certain things, certain issues may or may not trigger “peace-keeping” reflex in POC the same way certain issues may or may not evoke prejudiced thought/behavior in Whites.

    What I’m trying to say is not only is there diversity within POC as to who responds this way or that way but there is also diversity within individuals: that situation X might evoke a defending/defensive response from person A but not situation Y while situation Y might evoke the defending/defensive response from person B but not situation X.

    Comment by nquest2xl — November 15, 2008 @ 3:57 am | Reply

  2. >What I’m trying to say is not only is there diversity within POC as to who responds this way or that way but there is also diversity within individuals: that situation X might evoke a defending/defensive response from person A but not situation Y while situation Y might evoke the defending/defensive response from person B but not situation X.

    Yes and also because of this I think that somebody white [anti-racist] has to develop ones own ‘racial awareness’ and understanding of this system

    >Being racist apparently isn’t a state of being like being pregnant. While you can’t be just “a little pregnant” (you are or you aren’t), apparently you can be a little racist and that’s okay because there are people who are the “real” racists who, if nothing else, serve as the people who let all the little racists slide.

    This could inspire me to a new post

    Comment by jwbe — November 15, 2008 @ 6:29 pm | Reply

  3. Do you have this book by Marimba Ani? I was doing a search online and it is really expensive. Why is that? I actually found a copy selling on Amazon.ca for $1302.65. WTF?

    Comment by Alston Adams — February 14, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  4. I got it via the German amazon.de from the US for $60, I think it is out of print.
    On amazon.com it is available for $ 30

    Comment by jwbe — February 14, 2009 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  5. The shipping on that item is brutal. Anyway, this woman seems to have a problem with Jews. I am always suspect of those that analyse the racism of others, and then talk about Jewish conspiracies.

    Comment by Alston Adams — February 20, 2009 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  6. I only paid the German shipping costs, 3,90 Euro, yes, normally shipping costs from the US are very expensive.
    I only know the book by her and nothing else. I consider her book as worth reading

    Comment by jwbe — February 21, 2009 @ 10:33 pm | Reply


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