Stuff White People Say

March 19, 2009

“I see no reason to bog things down here like that”

Filed under: Stuff White People Do — Restructure! @ 4:15 pm
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Once again, Macon D censored my comment on his blog. Luckily, I saved my comment to a text file:

Macon D,

Of course, sometimes you appear to learn, and sometimes you incorporate what you’ve learned in other blogs and improved the recent quality of your posts. Maybe it’s even far more common than I realize, and the white assumption that you are the race expert isn’t pervasive throughout your blog at all.

But then, it may be worth noting 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 is your duty as a white person to generalize the racial experiences of people of colour; you once believed that it was your duty to be 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 “apologized” to Okanagan with “my apologies if the post offended you”, which is a variation of “I’m sorry if you were offended.” And your “apology” also included “I’m sorry to hear that you sense a “prideful” presence in me” (emphasis mine).

I hope that you, a white antiracist, are not reproducing the white views and white power relations that your antiracist blog is supposed to be criticizing. But at this point, in my continual effort to come to terms with your writings on race, I think you might be.

Perhaps it was too subtle, but this is a satire of his post laugh at deadpan comedians starting from “Of course, some”, and it is a response to his insistence that the “Of course, some” disclaimer paragraph in his “laugh at deadpan” post nullifies what comes after.

In the end, he published the last paragraph, decontextualizing it as a satire, so that it looks like I was bringing up something that was off topic to the conversation.

March 13, 2009

“How does it feel to be the problem?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwbe @ 11:35 pm

“It’s time for white people to fully acknowledge that in the racial arena, we are the problem. We have to ask ourselves: How does it feel to be the problem?

The simple answer: Not very good.

That is the new White People’s Burden, to understand that we are the problem, come to terms with what that really means, and act based on that understanding. Our burden is to do something that doesn’t seem to come natural to people in positions of unearned power and privilege: Look in the mirror honestly and concede that we live in an unjust society and have no right to some of what we have. We should not affirm ourselves. We should negate our whiteness. Strip ourselves of the illusion that we are special because we are white. Steel ourselves so that we can walk in the world fully conscious and try to see what is usually invisible to us white people. We should learn to ask ourselves, “How does it feel to be the problem?” (Robert Jensen)

Robert Jensen’s question “how does it feel to be the problem” and the simple answer “not very good”, how do ‘white anti-racists’ or those who want to be it answer this question for themselves?
White guilt, white denial, this is not what I am talking about here, also not white paternalism or “do-gooders”. I talk about “feeling it”, something I believe Robert Jensen is doing, according his writings.

But not only the question how it feels to be a part of the problem but also how it feels to want to be a part of the solution is an important one for any white participating in anti-racist work.
Because with whites the European mindset also comes which can interfere in all what we are doing. Some or many whites use the same language to other the ‘enemy’, simple targets are produced to detect the ‘real racists’ (Neo-Nazis etc.), the feeling of “we (anti-racists) are better than you (racists), multiracial gatherings used to demonstrate how ‘diverse’ somebody is, exotism perpetrated without realizing it, listing the nationalities or skin-colors of friends or imitating other cultures to be ‘cool’. Whites who use organizing as a place to justify their desire for violence or looking down on others, white “anti-racist” organizations which are led by white males who see nothing wrong to ignore the voices of PoC and women. Organizations which fall apart because even within a small organization many whites can’t live what they want to preach: justice and equality.

Criticizing other people isn’t so difficult. Criticizing oneself and actively listening to criticism is more difficult, but the most important part for any white I think who once started the journey away from Eurocentrism or wants to. I believe that many whites who overcome their feelings of “white guilt” end up in some sort of vacuum. An empty space where there is no culture left one can identify with and a “sub-culture” has to be developed. I also think that with that a lot of frustration can follow as well as anger against mainstream society, the feeling of being stripped of a place within this society without visible alternatives left. Hardly we will find our white role-models in history books, they are mostly the invisible ones who led their lives in silence and history doesn’t talk about them. Whites who tried to remain humane or to regain their own humanity and sometimes or often probably failed.

The greater the knowledge becomes for an individual white about European history and white supremacy the less is left, the realization that there is no way to walk through life without leaving white footprints and also no real answers which way will be part of the solution and which way part of the problem.
The feeling of running into a dead-end-street or talking against walls when having discussions about race with other whites, the tedious “code-book phrases” like “I am not racist”, “others did the same”, “people will always be the same”, as well as self-reflection of who ‘I am’ within this world, this society, which approach, which style is appropriate or perhaps successful and the fine line between talking for others or talking about racism.

March 1, 2009

“I don’t think about things like that”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwbe @ 12:18 am

Some or many whites claim that they “don’t think about things like that” which means they believe that they don’t think about issues which do not directly affect them.

One white person I know says: “I live in my happy little world”. But this doesn’t mean not knowing, it means using a filter to twist reality in a way that it becomes ‘harmless’. Harmless for the white person who benefits from the privilege to be able to ignore reality.

This person once sent me a racist picture (at least I consider it as racist) about Pres. Obama, shortly after his election. I told her that I consider this picture as racist and that she should never again send me anything like this. She wrote back, telling me, that I was so complicated, that she would never consider a person to be inferior because of skin color, but that she nonetheless thinks that the picture was funny. But she promised, that she never again will send something like this.

A few days later she sent a joke to me, not about Black people but with the (German) N-word in it. I sent her a link back to a website of a Black German media watch where there is also the explanation why the N-word is offensive and dehumanizing.
Her answer to me was: “I didn’t mean it that way.”

The happy little world where whites can send racism around without thinking about it and then claiming “it wasn’t my intention”.

A few days ago she came up with the movie “North and South” (with Patrick Swayze).
She wrote an email to me, saying to me “If you had lived during this time you would have been like Virgilia. But you would have remained more grounded, wouldn’t you, and not so mad”?
Continuing: “What makes me angry about Virgilia is that she generalizes about the South. Of course, slavery is wrong and it was about time that it was abolished. But it takes some generations until people change their minds to end slavery. Because it was their way of life. I also don’t believe that all slave owners raped their slaves or almost beat them to death. I think that many were like Orry (the “good” one). And then I can understand when people like Orry become resistant (to change).”

I wrote an email back to her, but she changed the topic [ok, you know, who wants to have arguments with people like Virgilia *rolling eyes*]

Yes, I think that is what such movies do to people who have “good intentions” but refuse to look at the whole picture. Already the justification that there would be such a thing like a good slave owner also indicates that the stereotype of the “happy Black person” still works.

It is the justification of violence towards people who are considered as “the other”, the “other” who already is satisfied with “good” treatment by his white master. The whites have to be understood with their way of life, not those who wanted to abolish slavery and most of all not those who had to endure slavery.

And this brings me back to a post by Nquest and this question:

“why was it necessary to have a n*gger in the first place?”

Baldwin reasons that the very creation of the “n*gger” indicates that there was a need for the “n*gger” and that White America has to find out why. ”

Black is not just the alleged opposite of white, I think that it was also necessary to justify the violence as well as to direct the violence. The invention of the “born victim” where it was legal to commit all crimes which were illegal within “the white club” itself. The creation of the “soulless opposite”, where the sickest phantasies could be lived. Perversion became protected by laws.
The function of it is probably not only controlling the masses but controlling the aggression. When the little man does get the power over somebody else within a system where he has no power, he is more likely to controll the “easier target” than trying to fight a system, which also exploits himself. Creating free rooms for lawlessness, I think also for this it was necessary to create a N*****.

It also helped creating these empty spaces for white persons who want to live in their little worlds. People who are assimilated and silent won’t face any trouble. The perfect tool within a system of white supremacy.

I have more thoughts about this, therefore, to be continued.

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