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Zer Netmouse
June 7th, 2009
06:14 pm

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Skip trying to prove you're not racist

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From:netmouse
Date:June 9th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry, who has won what war?

As it was posed to me in an in-person discussion, it is confusing to black people how attacked white people feel by being called racist because (in the view of the person speaking to me) black people are more open and honest about their own racism. They have a different attitude toward it that makes it easier to own it.

I'm uncomfortable with this "one of the worst accusations you can make" comparison that's being made to things like spousal abuse and pedophilia (someone else mentioned pedophilia). Spousal abuse and pedophilia both involve activities that can get you thrown in Jail. Racism, not necessarily. So while it might be nearly as *upsetting* to be accused of racism, the potential affects of that accusation on your life are actually much less... bad.
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From:dd_b
Date:June 9th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry, who has won what war?

Was I actually unclear, or are you just disagreeing?

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From:matt_arnold
Date:June 9th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
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You were unclear. Take out the pronouns.
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From:dd_b
Date:June 9th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
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White people have been taught that being racist is a very bad thing. We seem generally to have internalized this teaching; we think that being racist is a very bad thing.

This is in many senses a good thing.
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From:netmouse
Date:June 10th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
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I think you're generalizing too far. Some white people have internalized this teaching. Maybe even most. not all. The war has not been won.

But for what progress has been made, that is in many senses a good thing, yes. But it's not a good thing in the sense that it make us over-react to people pointing out valid issues.

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From:dd_b
Date:June 10th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
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"All" I certainly can't claim, no. But my conservative gun-nut friends, both here and the friends-of-friends down in Tennessee, seem to have black friends and Iranian friends and whoever else is around that they actually like, just as much as my liberal friends.

I think much of the remaining problem is in recognizing some types of racist behavior, more than in people thinking being racist is acceptable.

On the other hand, if I needed to find a taxi driver who would refuse to pick up black men, I'd look for a Somali (here in Minneapolis). I find this somewhat amusing in a sick kind of way.
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From:dd_b
Date:June 9th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
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Still, socially, it seems to me that it is that level of thing. You're right that, legally, other things are more serious. This is frequently true -- socially serious accusations aren't always the most serious legally. There are still circles where accusing somebody of being homosexual is right up there at the top, too, even though it hasn't been severely illegal in most of the US at all recently. Social and legal don't track, and in the context of the give and take of discussion, it's the social severity that counts.
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From:netmouse
Date:June 10th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
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Social and economic severity, yes. People can still lose their jobs for being homosexual, and still somewhat regularly get beaten to death for that in this country. For being racist? odds are, no. (you might lose your job or employability if you're, like, a radio commentator, maybe, or a big-name actor who lets slip). (more than a quarter of the US still has sodomy laws on the books, and some states still try to enforce them, but we are making progress).

Can you give me an example of someone's *existing* social circle turning away from them because of an accusation of racism? I mean, you don't have to tell me who, but can you think of one? I think people may be reacting more to a mythos of social implications than to a reality.
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From:dd_b
Date:June 10th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm; I'm not sure I can think of an example of someone's existing social circle turning away from them period, regardless of reason. I started looking for those to then sort for causes, and was a bit startled not to think of one. I can think of two cases of people who have moved away from social circles that might have been rejecting them, but it wasn't clear to me.
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