Stuff White People Say

February 22, 2009

“At least you are trying”

Filed under: Stuff White People Do — jwbe @ 9:54 pm

There is this phrase, “at least you are trying”, where I just don’t get the thinking behind it.

Somebody wrote this comment on Macon’s blog:

We have to allow people the freedom to find their way. Especially if what they’re asking/saying isn’t racist, just perceived to be so by people who, if I may, are seemingly determined to show Macon in a bad light.

Yes, I can agree that people must have the freedom to find their way.
I even can respect that getting rid of the stereotypes and racism whites have learned seems to be quite a struggle for some or many whites. Because I think, racism is not just about learned behavior/thoughts but a much deeper psychological disease and a general way to look at life and to relate to people.
Just a few days ago I got to understand once again that whites can make the choice to ignore the reality of other people but to make a drama out of their own issues as if the world broke apart. Their own world. The world they watch with a certain naivity sometimes.
But what I don’t agree with is that whites give themselves labels like “anti-racists” and then all mistakes should be overlooked.

I don’t want to comment on the rest of the above comment I linked to, but it raised a question for me, and this question I sent as a comment to Stuffwhitepeopledo. The first time was some days ago, he didn’t publish it, ok, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and sent it a second time, again he didn’t publish it.
The comment is:

“There is a question I want to ask to everybody who feels addressed or wants to answer: Would you accept somebody as a teacher who doesn’t truly understand the concept of what s/he is teaching?
Is the “trying” to understand enough to be willing to learn from somebody?
There is something I can watch as a typical white tendency, the “code word” “at least s/he is trying” lets accept many wrongs. Why? This “at least they are trying not to be racist” nonetheless kills people on a daily basis, the victims of white supremacy. And how long do white people believe that “just trying” is good enough? Why the low standard for the white self-declared teachers about racism?
We write the year 2009. We whites consider ourself as ‘progressive’ and ‘civilized’ and praise each other, when we think that one of us somehow “gets it”, at least a little bit.
But somebody is either racist or anti-racist, there is no in between, even if whites do have the privilege to invent the in between, the “trying” and “unmaking” “

I don’t truly understand his reason, besides my thought that I probably struck a nerve, why he was so scared about the post that he refused to publish it, like he also refused sometimes to publish comments by Restructure and Nquest. If somebody white is honest with his anti-racism there is no reason to be afraid of criticism.
Macon D probably considers it as a success, because he discourages some members to post any longer on his blog or like Restructure wrote, he influences the way, she comments. But he is probably unable to see his own white supremacy in action doing this.

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15 Comments »

  1. Hey there jw(be), I saw this linked to Restructure’s post. The reason I rejected that comment is simple–it’s completely off topic, and it seems to be about “me,” rather than about what I wrote, that is, “the topic.” It didn’t “scare” me.

    So, is that rejected comment about “me”? If so, am I being labeled a “self-declared teacher about racism”? If so, where did I declare that?

    As my blog’s profile says, “I’m a white guy, trying to find out what that means. Especially the “white” part.” People are welcome to read along and comment (constructively, and on topic) as I do so, or find more advanced anti-racist writers if they’re so inclined.

    I agree that as you wrote, racism is “a much deeper psychological disease and a general way to look at life and to relate to people.” In fact, that’s basically what my own post today was about.

    Comment by macon d — February 22, 2009 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  2. how is this on topic?

    Anonymous wrote

    Restructure, you wrote,

    “You even go as far as to say that deadpanning is a “racial inheritance”, which may be interpreted as a statement about hereditary influence. (Of course, I don’t think you would think that literally, but I also don’t think you thought through what you were trying to say.)”

    If you don’t think he would think that literally, then why upthread did you say he’s “such an ass”? The only way Macon’s post could be read the way you originally misinterpreted it is to do just that, misinterpret it. You wrote that he claimed “that only white people have the mental capacity for deadpanning and cerebral humour,” but now you’re trying to take that back? By saying “of course” he wouldn’t say that? Get real! (And the post doesn’t say it “is” a racial inheritance, it says it might be, and if so in a historical sense, not a biological one.)

    Macon is not an ass for writing something that could be misinterpreted by someone because their not reading carefully. You’re an ass for not fessing up to your own careless, and wrong, reading of the post.

    as well as some other comments on this post

    Comment by jwbe — February 22, 2009 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  3. “I agree that as you wrote, racism is “a much deeper psychological disease and a general way to look at life and to relate to people.” In fact, that’s basically what my own post today was about.”

    In fact this is not what you were talking about, we don’t talk about the same, because you are only able to be obsessed with the visible and it’s a surprise with your fascination for racist pictures that you didn’t post a primate to make your point.

    Comment by jwbe — February 22, 2009 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  4. “Fascination for racist pictures”? Okaaaaaaaay . . .

    Comment by macon d — February 22, 2009 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  5. tell me how the one comment is on topic

    Comment by jwbe — February 22, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  6. and also, how is this comment by anonymous CONSTRUCTIVE?

    Comment by jwbe — February 22, 2009 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  7. come and face up to your lies. Or don’t you feel safe because you have no power to censor the uncomfortable truth?

    “As my blog’s profile says, “I’m a white guy, trying to find out what that means. Especially the “white” part.” ”

    how long will you use this as an excuse? How old are you did you say? Sth between 30 and 40. You claim that you have “studied” the issue for more than 12 years. And still you allegedly don’t know your white part.
    Find somebody else you can lie to, but not me.

    Comment by jwbe — February 22, 2009 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  8. “But somebody is either racist or anti-racist, there is no in between, even if whites do have the privilege to invent the in between, the “trying” and “unmaking””

    That sounds remarkably Catholic or fundamentalist, jwbe, casting in tones of sinner or non-sinner, them or us-all-the-way. Do you really mean to say that a person is either perfect in all areas, or else cannot be a net positive on racial issues, or that person may as well be a mod on Stormfront? Is it really a form of white privilege that it isn’t expected that a person trying to essentially rebuild their thinking and behaviour to bypass what was absorbed as children doesn’t achieve perfection overnight? Or that a person doesn’t achieve perfection at all.

    Maybe you’re right and it is, but if so, white people may as well just collectively snuff it, bar whatever percent was luckier in their upbringing or just blessed with more mental flexibility.

    Or is Macon and his website looming so large in your eyes that you’ve just gone to the trenches.

    Comment by Nathan — February 24, 2009 @ 4:03 am | Reply

  9. It is not about being perfect.

    >Is it really a form of white privilege that it isn’t expected that a person trying to essentially rebuild their thinking and behaviour to bypass what was absorbed as children doesn’t achieve perfection overnight? Or that a person doesn’t achieve perfection at all.

    I also don’t expect change overnight and some/many will never change their attitude.
    There is I think nothing fundamentalist in the fact, at least for me it is a fact, that one is either racist or anti-racist. A racist on his/her way to become an anti-racist may be a recovering racist, but the topic of my post is, why a recovering racist, who has “studied racism for more than 12 years” according his own statement, still lacking the honest insight, why some of his posts are more than problematic, wants to be a teacher at the same time.
    Like with many whites, regardless which issue now, this what he claims he wants to do, “unmaking Macon”, isn’t in accordance with what he is actually doing.

    Comment by jwbe — February 24, 2009 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  10. I can’t see Macon’s willingness to actually learn or think about the criticism he gets.
    He wrote for example on July 2008:

    “I’m wondering what you think of my handling of black experience in that post that I mentioned, the one about how white people often “pet black people.” …I wrote that post after reading and hearing black people complain about this common and nasty form of white behavior. I then generalized those complaints into a “common complaint that black people make about white people,” and wrote a post about how white people often do that, in the hopes that some white people would wake the hell up and stop doing that shit.”
    https://stuffwhitepeoplesay.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/we-dont-intend-to-be-racist/#more-689

    February 2009 he writes on his blog, post “laugh at engrish” http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2009/02/laugh-at-asian-english.html

    “Maybe the white folks around this Asian guy thought that exaggerated squinty eyes and buck teeth were some sort of affectionate tribute to him? Whatever. It’s just wrong, because it’s racist. As I’ve heard from more than one person of Asian descent,using your fingers to do that to your eyes is the equivalent for Asian Americans of the n-word.

    Got that, you decent, well-meaning white folks? As I understand it, pulling the sides of your eyes like that is pretty much the same as calling a black person that word you would never, ever call a black person. “

    He does exactly the same. Because enough PoC complain.
    Also, what he is doing is the attempt of “education” to “political correctness”. “PC” only does change the face of racism, it becomes more subtle and less visible, white supremacy remains intact.

    Comment by jwbe — February 24, 2009 @ 11:50 am | Reply

  11. ‘It is not about being perfect.’

    Then why does your language appear to revolve around only perfection or failure?

    “A racist on his/her way to become an anti-racist may be a recovering racist, but the topic of my post is, why a recovering racist, who has “studied racism for more than 12 years” according his own statement, still lacking the honest insight, why some of his posts are more than problematic, wants to be a teacher at the same time.”

    Well, yes, the teacher part does seem a bit unwarrantedly self-gratifying. You’re on the money that Macon seems to focus entirely too much on matters of appropriate social conduct (from what I’ve seen of his site, anyway… confession, by no means a regular of his), which, as you said, merely obscures a problem which it leaves intact. As such, a lot of his work that I can see tends more towards the counter-productive and superficial. And if the power structure can be addressed, well, all of the more superficial symptoms he addresses would sort themselves out pretty quickly in an America where white european and PoC stood on an equal footing in terms of power. Otherwise its like complaining about how ugly the bruising is whilst ignoring the fact the bruising is caused by a broken bone underneath.

    But with the language issue … your terms are racist or anti-racist, no in-between. The lexicon is fundamentally and inescapably absolutist. Which, by another name of the same concept, is fundamentalism. According to you, a person is either for you (and PoC), or against you (and PoC). Maybe its just the speeches of a recent president whose name I’ll not mention here that make me a little twitchy to that manner of speech and this approach really is the most appropriate. But I can’t help but point out, this is not a pregnancy (to touch on the Restructure thread that linked here), it is not a physical status where there is a mutually exclusive binary value. Trying to apply binary logic to mental practices (or anything mental in nature, be it a disease or pattern) is as appropriate as trying to measure apples in litres or atmospheres.

    Naturally, however, one would expect to see more time result in more progress…

    Comment by Nathan — February 25, 2009 @ 3:45 am | Reply

  12. ‘Naturally, however, one would expect to see more time result in more progress…’

    Erm…

    Yeah, that was less of an non-sequitur in an earlier write through of the post and I’d kinda forgotten it was still hanging on like some vestigal appendix. Sorry!

    Comment by Nathan — February 25, 2009 @ 7:04 am | Reply

  13. >Then why does your language appear to revolve around only perfection or failure?

    ok I am trying to explain what I mean. Many whites, at least this is my life-long experience, do have the tendency to educate others about issues they really have no or almost no clue about. Many whites lack the decency, the respect and also the humility to just admit or to accept that they are not always the center of all. They are able to tell you “teach me” and at the same time they start arguments with you because they “don’t agree with you” and want to teach you, regardless if they know what they are talking about or not.
    If you are a smoker for example and you have the choice between two people, one still a smoker, unsuccessful in his attempt to quit smoking and one who is a former smoker and successfully quit smoking, who would you accept as that person who could give you advice how to quit smoking. Whom would you listen to?
    The person who isn’t able to quit smoking may have theoretical knowledge by reading books, perhaps was even trying to get help from experts etc., but he does not live it. I can’t respect a smoker who wants to educate others how to quit it by giving advice etc., but himself not able to quit.

    Macon D becomes almost symbolic for this, still a student already teaching, without understanding the basics. I wouldn’t have an issue with his blog, if he were able to be decent. If his approach were a different one, a personal white man’s journey to his own human soul without trying to educate others and most of all without his censorship of PoC who are the only experts when it comes to issues of race and racism. Also, his censorship I consider as paternalism towards his readers. Who is he to decide what is worth reading and not? Only because he disagrees or so doesn’t mean that all of his readers don’t want to read such comments.

    In a certain way Macon’s writing is “sterile” or how to explain the feeling I have when I read his posts. Something he reads about, but doesn’t feel, because he doesn’t live it.
    Some posts, like “Get used to Blackness” are so fabricated that I wonder on which planet he lives.

    >Well, yes, the teacher part does seem a bit unwarrantedly self-gratifying. You’re on the money that Macon seems to focus entirely too much on matters of appropriate social conduct (from what I’ve seen of his site, anyway… confession, by no means a regular of his), which, as you said, merely obscures a problem which it leaves intact. As such, a lot of his work that I can see tends more towards the counter-productive and superficial.

    Yes, and this is the problem. It is his whiteness which acts like a protective shield. Whites, realizing that the world they live in isn’t so great for those affected by white supremacy but they are afraid of truly being committed, because that also includes that they start feeling it. And then white supremacy also becomes painful for somebody white. With addicts it is said that they have to reach their deepest/lowest point and only then they are truly willing to change. I think there is much truth in it.
    It is against human nature, or the nature of life in general, that one wants to change a situation where he feels comfortable in. This will always be superficial with the subtle attempt to keep the comfortable situation intact. Whites can learn not to say the N-word in public for example because this causes an uncomfortable situation for them, but this doesn’t mean that they also stop thinking about Black people in terms of the N-word which would be the actual change.

    >But with the language issue … your terms are racist or anti-racist, no in-between. The lexicon is fundamentally and inescapably absolutist. Which, by another name of the same concept, is fundamentalism. According to you, a person is either for you (and PoC), or against you (and PoC).

    Those who are silent side with the powerful. What would the in between be? Who makes systems possible? Those who actually live it, like Nazis during Nazi-Germany, or slave-owners during slavery and those who are silent by-standers. Why was the person whose name you won’t mention able to declare war? Not because all Americans followed him, but because nobody stopped him and his crew.
    There is no vacuum left to hide or to withdraw oneself from responsibility.

    Comment by jwbe — February 25, 2009 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  14. Interesting… Macon, as he’s done before, justifies not posting JW’s comment with this “not on topic” nonsense then gets church mouse quiet when other examples of “off-topic”, aimed at a person comments are provided. Also, the fact that the poster JW quoted (who obviously inspired JW’s questions in her unpublished post) apparently talked about people out to out to “show Macon in a bad light” was clearly off the topic… Well, we see just how easy it is to call bs on Macon’s bs justifications.

    Comment by Nquest — March 1, 2009 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  15. this is the phenomenon I don’t understand, regardless which contradictions are obvious, they continue lying and denying. I really wonder how that works

    Comment by jwbe — March 2, 2009 @ 9:35 pm | Reply


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