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View Diary: Trayvon Martin, White Denial and the Unacceptable Burden of Blackness in America (279 comments)

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  •  I had missed that (0+ / 0-)

    Apparently we have yet another blanket smear that white people are all murderous racists because of the color of their skin.  Yay!  

    And here I thought judging people by the color of their skin was bad.  Silly me.

    •  Wow (10+ / 0-)

      Way to miss the point entirely.

      "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

      by Diogenes2008 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:36:19 AM PDT

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      •  It is just one line (0+ / 0-)

        the larger point about the context of this murder, etc. is not one I have any disagreement with, as I and others have said on thes pages repeatedly.  

        However, other writers have managed to express these same thoughts without this:

        I feel that perhaps we who are white should remind ourselves, before we jump on either bandwagon, that unfortunately, we are much less like Trayvon Martin and much more like George Zimmerman.
        How do you read this differently?  By any standard, that's a pretty damned charged and inflammatory comparison to make.  
        •  Easy!! (15+ / 0-)

          Because we're WHITE.

          Because we don't have to fear walking down the damned street.

          Because we're far less likely to be assumed to be a drug dealer or a shoplifter or a criminal than those who are Black.

          Because we're more likely (yes, even those of us on the left, consciously or subconsciously) to view someone who doesn't look like us as being "suspicious".

          I'm White. I can walk down the street at ten p.m. or even RUN, and nobody gives me a second look. I can carry my backpack into stores without being bothered (and I do it frequently).

          When I walk past someone on the street, they don't clutch their purses in fear, or cross the street, or eye me with suspicion.

          Read the comment I wrote above about the bicycle thief.

          And then tell me that White people like ourselves (maybe not us, personally, but yes, White people) do NOT view Blacks with suspicious eyes, and call the police on them more often than they would if they saw a fellow White person doing the same thing.

          If Trayvon Martin had been White, he would likely still be alive.

          Tell me White police don't pull over Black men more frequently, even if they're dressed in suits or driving nice cars.

          Tell me cabbies don't pass up Black men, even those wearing suits in nice neighborhoods.

          Then get back to me and tell me that we, as White people, are more like Trayvon Martin.

          It's Not True.

          Fear of "the other", especially when coupled with that internal bias that affects a great deal of White society, makes being Black a dangerous thing. Fear makes us do stupid things.

          No, he's right. We might not go out and shoot someone, but we're still closer to Zimmerman than Martin in behavior, because too many of us let that fear rule us. And if you can't see that, then I can't help you.

          "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

          by Diogenes2008 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:52:26 AM PDT

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          •  thank you. (14+ / 0-)

            one person's "inflammatory" is another person's shining light of truth or lightbulb moment.

            I've watched some of my students flip the mental switch and see the light after watching one of Tim's lectures.

            "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

            by Denise Oliver Velez on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:57:59 AM PDT

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            •  I will admit (8+ / 0-)

              He's opened my eyes on some things, as well. And so have you.

              I know I still have a ways to go. I'm still trying to learn, and to grow, but I've realized that I'll never get to that "perfect" non-racist place. I'm not even sure it exists.

              I am, sadly, a product of my environment.

              But I am TRYING.

              "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

              by Diogenes2008 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:00:05 PM PDT

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            •  Quite possibly (0+ / 0-)

              Although I would suggest that it might serve you well to give more careful thought to where people are coming from and whether there is more to the criticism than you might understand.  I know you have thought about these issues than virtually anyone on these pages or off them, but I will humbly suggest that some of these criticisms are coming from a place that you don't seem fully aware of.  They are not rooted in some kind of subconscious racism or defense of privilege.  Quite the contrary.  And the unthinking dismissal of different viewpoints on that basis is missing something.  Perhaps this is another way of saying that perhaps everyone has lightbulbs still waiting to go off.

              Anyway, this is not a conversation that has ever gotten anywhere ever, so it is probaly stupid and useless to even try to make the point.  I'm sorry.  I should just desist.

            •  Also, we can raise our "white kids" better (10+ / 0-)

              True story and maybe it will make you glad to hear it, Sis Dee. I know there's no such thing as colorblind. But there's something like raising white kids properly so that they don't associate "black skin" with "dangerous" or even anything much different.

              So, my son was looking at some breakdancing videos a few nights ago. He found one he liked featuring two guys in a tournament. One was a black guy in an orange shirt. The other was a white guy in a black shirt. They were having a dance-off (he loves this stuff).

              We were talking about who would win on and on. They were both pretty excellent dancers. He was really excited and rooting for "the orange guy." I realized he wasn't thinking about the dude's skin color but looking at his shirt color instead. It was like twenty minutes of video with him rooting for "orange guy." I kept looking at him, wondering if he was self-censoring or something, but he was really caught up in the dancing.

              Do you know how hopeful that made me feel?

              It's our kids where we, as white people, can work out the legacy of our systemic racism with any luck. But it has to be a truly widespread effort. Don't know what it looks like on paper or anything.

              You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

              by mahakali overdrive on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:56:45 PM PDT

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              •  that is freakin awesome. seriously. (8+ / 0-)

                (btw, my nephew is a yellow belt in tae kwon do) :D

                This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

                by mallyroyal on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 01:11:22 PM PDT

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              •  Now, THAT really is the key (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                raincrow

                And a lot of us are working on it exactly in that way, just as my parents and teachers did.  And I am in the process of figuring out how to move that one step further (I have a touch of an advantage since my kids mom is Brazilian and is often thought to be African American by people who meet her, so the kids start off with a different image I think)  I think it will pay off big time, and I have to say that for the upcoming generation I see a lot of those signs like that that.  I think growing up with Obama as president and seeing his example is massive too.   For my part, MO, I think you realy have the core of it.

                I love that story a lot!

                •  Well, all I have is the perspective of (7+ / 0-)

                  a white woman doing my best. I have people I consider brothers who aren't white.

                  It's important for white people to mind themselves and their kids.

                  And it's also important to LISTEN to black people when they say they feel like we're not. If a black friend told me I was a racist, you know, I wouldn't even be hurt; I'd want to know about it and learn what I did and what I could do better.

                  So there's that too. That's also extremely important.

                  I think President Obama has set a good example for kids of all races though. I support that. Kids should see that black people can achieve whatever white people can. That's positive for kids who are any race.

                  As far as I'm concerned, anyone who doesn't see white privilege exists, and worse, doesn't care about it, is just a dinosaur. The history is all there. The system is run by white people with power. Obama is, in that regard, an outlier still. When half of our Presidents are black, and when no one sees it as curious, then I will be more comfortable.

                  You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

                  by mahakali overdrive on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 01:28:59 PM PDT

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          •  no, of course not (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raincrow, On The Bus

            I don't think that most of what you wrote is the least bit controversial to my mind, except one thing that absolutely is flamingly wide of the mark.  Virtually all of the examples you mention are not about my behavior, but rather about the behavior of other people and how they react to me because of features I have no control over. Yes, it exists, and no, there's not a lot I can do about it (though there are some actions, and I do take those.)

            However, where you (and Mr. Wise) go pretty far wrong is in trying to assign either attitudes or actions based on skin color.  Here is the part of your comment where you are truly off base (in much the same way Time Wise so often is)

            We might not go out and shoot someone, but we're still closer to Zimmerman than Martin in behavior, because too many of us let that fear rule us. And if you can't see that, then I can't help you.
            I am sorry, but trying to infer my behavior because of the color of my skin (and comparing me to Zimmerman, for crying out loud) lacks any justification at all.  For my part, I adhere strongly to judging people individually by their actions and the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.  And that goes for everyone  

            I will say quite firmly that this move to try to assign bad motives and actions to people because they are white is really a very close cousin to Zimmerman's infering Martin's behavior because of the color of his.  Yes, the consequences are entirely different.  The motivations are probably different too.  But that does not change the fact that on the one side we have an approach that eschews prejudice to aim to judge people as individuals, and on the other we have the same tired race-based thinking 'put eveyone in a convenient box" thinking that I have a very hard time accepting.  To my mind, *that * is the difference.  It isn't whether you are black or white, it's whether you think of people as individuals or as categories.   I would be very circumspect in going there if I were you.  Do some careful thinking.  

            So, I'm not sure who needs to be hlpeing whom here.

          •  And here's how I'm like Trayvon Martin (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Agathena, raincrow

            I am a harmless person going about my business and should be treated with full respect and dignity, just as I seek to treat others.  

            If we want to divide the world, how about we divide it into people whose values are to be decent, kind caring people to all comers and those who are motivated by hate and anger and greed and jealousy.  That is the real division in our society.  yes, the latter group overwhelmingly takes their hatred out on particular groups, and it is our duty to defend the Trayvon Martin's of the world and to denounce the George Zimmerman's at the top of our lungs.  

            And guess, what?  That's precisely what a lot of us people are doing.  Even white people.

          •  I don't think badly of non-white people (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Diogenes2008

            walking or running in my largely white neighborhood.

            But, I do have to remind myself not to think that way every time. I find myself inventing reasons they have to be here. I don't do that when I see white people in the same situation.

            I guess that's some kind of progress, but not much.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:53:55 AM PDT

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        •  I have to agree (0+ / 0-)

          More people should say "I" rather than "we" or "you."

          Relatively few white people I have known, even those who are outright racists/xenophobes, are like George Zimmerman. They manage to go through life keeping their personal bullshit well enough contained so as not to physically harm others. Moreover, most of the racists I've known well enough to discuss the matter believe, as best I can see, that physically harming others -- even those against whom they are deeply prejudiced -- is  wrong (altho they often take no responsibility for the ripple effects of their racist/xenophobic beliefs or hateful speech). Most of them are able to work alongside, work for, and live near people against whom they are prejudiced; and grudgingly accept them as family members. (And, as happened to two sets of parents when my sister and a black man married, grudging acceptance can turn into revelation and transformation.)

          But once a law like Florida's "stand your ground" law makes murder legal, there's no telling what worms start crawling out of the mind of a hating person formerly restrained by fear of prison.

    •  are you fucking kidding me? (5+ / 0-)

      I'll be back to address this after a cigarette.  need one badly rightaboutnow.

      This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

      by mallyroyal on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 12:22:26 PM PDT

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    •  nevermind. anything I'd say, I'd say not-nicely (8+ / 0-)

      and besides I've said it all before.

      This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

      by mallyroyal on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 01:00:22 PM PDT

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    •  I think your comment here is misplaced....? (0+ / 0-)

      I think you're responding to the diarist, not me; just a guess.

    •  Defensive Much? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diogenes2008, mallyroyal, TenthMuse

      Seriously.  Who has ever said that all white people are murderous racists? Who has even thought it?

      Nobody.  Yet you went there.

      You really should examine why.

      If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

      by shanikka on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:42:01 AM PDT

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      •  Since you asked (0+ / 0-)

        Let me walk you through it.  Look at the last line of the diary.  Now, obviously he means that white people get treated better, as Zimmerman is being treated right now, than they get treated like Martin was treated.  

        However, at first read through, it is a little hard to miss that he is comparing a whole bunch of people to a pretty repugnant human being.  He could have said something like "white people are more like Adolf Hitler than Barack Obama" too, and have been right, but I think you might understand, if you spend time thinking about it, that being compared to Adolf Hitler might hit some buttons.  

        So, although it was an overstatement, Tim Wise did draw the comparison, so, it isn't strictly true that nobody went there.  I don't think he meant to go there though.

        And I can tell you exactly why I push back against it, if you are genuinely interested, and it is for reasons I would be kind of surprised are what you think.  Actually, typically asking people why and listening to them often draws out things we would not expect.

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