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View Diary: Wealthy white columnist enters Georgetown boutique, debunks myth of racism in America, exits (205 comments)

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  •  CPT Doom (4+ / 0-)

    may have chosen his/her words poorly.  I tend to view it similarly.  Any negative interaction - or heck any interaction at all can be viewed from a negative perspective depending on one's experience.  A cop racing up behind my car with lights blazing will get me to pull over and wonder what happened.  I typically do not think they are pulling me over (as I am generally careful about my speed).  And I never think that the cop is pulling me over and the reason is because I am being targeted due to some physical feature.  I can walk into a store and receive a similar degree of scrutiny as a black person.  My general, instinct is oh geez they want to "help" me when all I want to do is look and/or make my selection and purchase quickly on my own.  Even if the scrutiny is protective in nature - my thought would be - Wow they have pretty tight security.  I never think - geez they are targeting me solely because of my skin.  

    The insidious part is that racism will impact a black person in the same scenario regardless of the intent of the scrutiny.  Because their experience is that the vast majority of time they are being looked at due to their color of skin not because of store policy that applies to all or the possibility of up-sale - or even just sheer boredom on the part of the sales clerk- nothing helps time go quicker than when you can help someone shop.

    And I think the distinction is important because there are plenty of people who dismiss experiences of racism because they can relate to the event - a clerk or other giving them scrutiny.  And with that experience they believe there was no untoward intent so how can it be that every time a black person receives the same attention it is racism.  IF they understood that it has as much to do with the intent of the attention as it does with the past experience of the person then perhaps they can be more understanding.

    To me there is no difference in effect between a person being targeted due to their race and that person believing they are targeted due to their race.  The root is still racism.

    "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

    by newfie on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 11:10:54 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly my point (10+ / 0-)

      You can see in polls the tremendous divide between blacks and whites vis-à-vis how much racism there actually is in our country. I think you've nailed exactly why that exists. It isn't simply that blacks are more apt to experience racism, it's also the corrosive effect of those racist experiences on every other interaction one has with the wider world.

      The simple act of being followed in a store or pulled over for "DWB" is bad enough in itself, as both instances represent a complete failure of our belief that everyone is equal. The real negative impact of those experiences, IMHO, is that they help continue the divide between those of us who have to put up with those experiences and those of us who don't.

      Why would any black person in this country believe the police are there to help them - even when they are a victim of a crime - in a world where "stop and frisk" is the norm? Why would any black person believe they have an equal shot at a college acceptance or a job when they have their own, and their friends' and relatives', experiences losing out on such opportunities simply because of bigotry? Then you factor in even well-meaning whites arguing that everyone is treated equally in this country because we don't experience, and therefore don't always see, the racism out there, and is it any wonder we haven't been able to crack the problem of racism in this country?

      Boycott Russian vodka, Russian caviar and all things Russian. LGBT oppression cannot be allowed to stand.

      by CPT Doom on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 11:35:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But black people are better judges of this: (5+ / 0-)
      The insidious part is that racism will impact a black person in the same scenario regardless of the intent of the scrutiny.  Because their experience is that the vast majority of time they are being looked at due to their color of skin not because of store policy that applies to all or the possibility of up-sale - or even just sheer boredom on the part of the sales clerk- nothing helps time go quicker than when you can help someone shop.
      I think black people are much better positioned to discern what the "intent of the scrutiny" is than we white people are.  The daily experience of racism gives nonwhites extremely sensitive "antennae" for detecting it.  So if a black person tells you s/he is being followed in a store because of his/her race, that person is almost assuredly correct.  Remember, he or she has been in that situation countless times before and is therefore alert to signals and nuances that we white people won't even see.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 12:50:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not really (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CA wildwoman, SilentBrook

        the best positioned people as to intent would be the person doing the scrutiny.  The best person to discern how the scrutiny impacts them is that person.  If a black person THINKS they are followed because of their race the result is the same as if they were being followed because of their race.  Perception in this case IS reality because the reality is how it impacts the person - in every way - The difference in "antennae" is really the difference in experiences.  I cannot perceive what you perceive - unless we have the same experiences and even then it isn't a sure thing.

        The point is that it hardly matters to the black person in your description as the result is the same.  That makes it all the more difficult to resolve.  And it makes it all the more difficult for a white person to understand.  And that leads to statements that tend to be dismissive of racism because the white person does not have the same experiences or perceptions that the black person has.  To me, it makes racism even more pernicious - or as CPT Doom stated- poisonous.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:09:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And, as you acknowledge, the person doing... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FogCityJohn, SilentBrook, newfie

          ...the scrutinizing may be partly, or even completely, unaware of their own presumptions, assumptions, biases, perspectives, and projections.
          For an interesting -- and possibly surprising (and possibly sobering) -- self-assessment, you might want to check yourself out for unconscious presumptions here:

          https://implicit.harvard.edu/...

          Be warned that you may not like what you learn.

          •  Yes that is entirely true. (0+ / 0-)

            And is entirely true for all parties.  We try to make all aspects of racism simple.  It isn't.  There is so much going on that we may not be aware of that influences our actions and influences our perceptions of other people's actions that (I believe) when we boil it down to the simple terms we lose opportunities to advance.

            Funny thing about our instincts.  Sometimes they are bang on.  If our instincts are validated enough we feel they are always right.  They are not always right or wrong - just somewhere in between.  I go with my instincts a lot  - perhaps we all do.  But when I do I remind myself I could be wrong and I work hard to remain open to that possibility.  I don't find it easy.

            BTW  I checked out your link and took a test.  I did a black/European one since that is the topic here.  This was my result.  Thanks for the link.

            Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between African American and European American

            "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

            by newfie on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 08:13:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, no. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SilentBrook, newfie

          Your comment ignores the fact that racism often operates at a subconscious level.  So the person doing the scrutiny may well believe he or she is not acting out of a racist motivation, when in fact that motivation is present but unconscious.

          "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

          by FogCityJohn on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:53:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes I did ignore that (0+ / 0-)

            that is why I added the follow up.  It does not change my contention who the best person is.  It just shows that intention is not always clear to either party in the interaction and/or a third party to that interaction. But best does not mean only.  In any interaction, any of the parties may be correct in their perception.  But every party is subject to their own experiences which affects their perception.

            "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

            by newfie on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:41:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  To add to the above.. (0+ / 0-)

        the best positioned people as to intent are the ones doing the scrutiny.  Of course, that doesn't mean they will be honest about it nor does it mean that they can be less aware of the reasons for their actions - meaning that they could be scrutinizing the black person because the person is 'suspicious' or 'dressed wrong' or some such.  And they may fully believe that but the root is based in racist concepts.

        And I will fully agree that a third party white person is the worst positioned person to tell if such scrutiny is racially motivated.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:42:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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