That’s basically what’s been communicated several times over with statements like this:
“Nquest, in our white supremacist society, white people are TRAINED to be racists.
I’ve been working for a long time now against that training, but I’m still a racist.”
That was a statement Macon made a while ago when I questioned a claim he made about how Black/POC regard Whites. Part of the title of this post obviously paraphrases Macon’s statement. The other part of the title (“but don’t call me racist”) also paraphrases something Macon basically said sometime ago that was discussed here on SWPS in the “You’re trying to make me out to be a racist” thread.
Nevertheless, the reason why I’m writing this now is because of a more recent statement:
“…yes, I do get defensive, probably because I’ve been trained to react that way in discussions about race, but also because, as you noted, some commenters seem more interested in catching instances of my racism and in minor details than in the main issues and points raised in various posts.”
That was a statement Macon made on January 19, 2009. My name came up in that thread even though I wasn’t around and since Macon has specifically claimed that I “come across” as someone who tries to “characterize [him] as a racist”, I think it’s time to set the record straight and finally get someone explain the problem with pointing out Macon’s or anybody else’s “instances of racism.”
The first thing we need to be clear about is that Macon’s remark about “catching instances of racism…in minor details” as opposed to the main issues/points in topics is demonstrably false. You can go back to the Express Amazement thread (see first quote and link above) or any number of threads and you’ll find how the fundamental, underlying assumption or premise of Macon’s threads were the things that were questioned. I know that’s what I did when I questioned where he got the idea that many/most POC view “Whiteness itself” as the thing that makes “a [White] person less than trustworthy.” That wasn’t a MINOR detail. That was the very premise, the main idea/impetus for Macon who explicitly stated that his [unsubstantiated] claim that POC view “Whiteness itself” as the thing that makes “a [White] person less than trustworthy” was “something [he] thought white folks should know–about the difference between how they think they’re being perceived by POC they don’t know, and how POC often actually perceive them instead.”
Note: How POC actually perceive Whites was indeed the point of contention and was in no wise a minor detail. So, without evidence that the “instances of [his] racism” were “caught” in “minor details” as opposed to the main idea or discussion points, we’re forced to deal the question of why Macon gets defensive when he feels like he’s being “characterized as a racist.” Clearly, Macon feels like there is something wrong with someone who does that – which is the reason why it sounds like what Macon really wants to say is “don’t call me a racist.”
For a person who says, “I’m still a racist”, he certainly seems like he has a problem when someone supposedly calls him or characterizes him as a racist. Interesting…
This is interesting because Macon’s apparent anti-racist training leads him to make the AA type of 12 Step admissions that he is a “racist” but that’s always done in the abstract and also done as if such an admission shows an effort to confront his racist training. Nothing could be further from the observable truth.
When “instances of [his] racism” are “caught” Macon doesn’t say, “that was a racist statement on my part.” If he did, there would be no reason to complain about commenters supposedly being “more interested” in catching instances of his racism. And that’s exactly what it is: a complaint.
Certainly a person who is aware of “the way he’s been trained” and seriously wants to undo that problematic training would do more than just offer vague statements acknowledging that they are/he is “a racist” (his terminology, not mine). Seems to me, a person who is serious about untraining “common White tendencies” – knee-jerk defensiveness and assumptions that POC are trying to make them out to be a racist being one of them – would not only acknowledge that they get defensive but identify why they do and then adjust their behavior accordingly vs. constantly reacting in the same manner. But that’s exactly what Macon does — i.e. he reacts in the same manner every time, never acknowledges that his errors are racist, etc.
That’s evidence of something other than an effort to unlearn or untrain problematic racist training. It suggests that the person doesn’t like having instances of [his] racism “caught” — because, of course, those instances were in “minor details” –- and/or doesn’t like being “characterized as a racist.”
I’m still trying to see what the problem is. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people “get defensive” in online exchanges. I also understand how White people don’t like being called/characterized as “racist.” What I don’t understand is the acknowledgment/confession [“I’m… a racist”] people like Macon make when, in actual specific situations where their views on race are questioned, their responses in those specific situations virtually scream “I’m not racist” or “stop calling me racist.” The reaction/response obviously invalidates the confession.
Restructure once pointed out how that was exactly the way Macon reacted [“I’m not racist”] when I ADDRESSED THE MAIN ISSUE in his “get used to Blackness” thread. It appears as if Macon has adopted one part of the AA model or an aspect of that conventional wisdom that says, “Acknowledging that there is a problem is half the battle.” Actually, the way Macon has presented it (the way he’s admitted how he is “a racist” or has been “trained to be racist”), it’s as if the acknowledgment in the abstract is all there is to it.
Again, it seems to me that a person trying to go against their “training” would eventually be receptive of people pointing out evidence of the “training”/problem they say they want to fix vs. being perpetually defensive and finding fault with the messengers and the message — i.e. those “instances of racism” involved only “minor details” and didn’t address the “main issue/points” = both the message and messengers can be ignored/dismissed.
The kind of common sense steps in AA requiring the person seriously committed to recovery to:
1. make a “fearless self-inventory” of themselves and promptly admit when they are wrong;
2. admit the “exact nature” of their [specific] wrongs to others;
3. be ready to remove all defects of character (i.e. defensiveness that comes from “White training”); and
4. make direct amends with people harmed [or offended].
Seem wholly absent from Macon’s reactions/approach to admitting he’s “a racist” (again, his term, not mine). And that’s fine. Macon doesn’t have to follow any of those steps. I just want someone to explain the problem with pointing out Macon’s or anybody else’s “instances of racism” especially when Macon admits he is “still a racist.”