Skip to main content

View Diary: The subtle racism of friends and allies (106 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I'm a man of color & that blog post is bullshit (18+ / 0-)

    I'm Indian-American, a 41-year old brown man who grew up often literally a minority of one in then-virtually-all-white central Iowa.

    It's not the same as being black, or Hispanic.  It's easier.  Quite a few white people treated me as an "honorary white person" socially.  And as a son of immigrants with no "community" of children of my ethnicity, assimilation and the easier socialization that came with it was inevitable.

    And for all that, not even facing the worst of what white people will throw at people of color, no I do not and never did prefer open racism to discretion.  I don't know who the blog post author you quoted hangs out with, but I imagine (s)he's exaggerating quite a bit.  That blogger doesn't know what racism is if (s)he thinks it's better to face it out in the open.  It's not.  It's worse.

    All the open racism I've experienced has been hurtful and angering, and made my day and life only a little bit harder than it had to be.

    Think of it this way:  if you're overweight, do you want strangers calling you ugly names because of your weight?  Or would you rather they just treat you the same as everyone else and keep their opinions of your appearance to themselves?  Anyone I know who's ever had a weight problem, myself included at times in my life, will answer the latter.

    It's a well-placed principle of society that some thoughts are better kept to oneself.

    And liberal whites are far superior to conservative whites on race.  There's just no question.  It's beyond stupid to get aggressive against liberal whites who try to integrate with people of color when, frankly in this still-two-thirds-white country they don't really have to.

    In a time of war, is that really the time to be asking whether we should be at war?...When it is over we should ask whether we should leave. -- Stephen Colbert

    by DCCyclone on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:14:04 AM PDT

    •  Perspectives. (12+ / 0-)

      All the open racism I've experienced has been hurtful and angering, and made my day and life only a little bit harder than it had to be.

      It's hard to argue with that.  Without disagreeing that overt racism is more harmful, though, I wonder, if the blogger was saying something different.

      Perhaps the blogger was saying, "I'd rather we both knew that you don't think of me as an equal than for me to be the only one who realizes it."  I'm genuinely not sure, but I sort of got that sense.

    •  I think DCCyclone, you missed the point of the (10+ / 0-)

      post.  The point isn't to encourage us to exhibit overt racism or that overt racism is "better".  It's to make us think.  To make us realize that we can't understand what we have experienced and so we have to listen to those who have experienced it.  And then we can't expect gratitude for being "better".  Instead we need to continue to try and understand why there might still be some hostility to us and what we try to do.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:20:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Add a "not" before "experienced in above post. (8+ / 0-)

        Duh!

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:24:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A friend from the South (7+ / 0-)

        who migrated north once confided to me he'd rather have the racism he knew in Mississippi than the Minnesota Nice he experienced in my state.  

        The reason is he never knew what to expect in any situation.  One minute he could be having a pleasant conversation with a white person, the next minute something ignorant would be said and then the denials would start flying.  He said he'd rather be confronted by an out and out cracker than someone who was pretending to know about his plight and try to tell him how to think.

        The advantage of being able to tell a racist by their pickup truck was being able to prepare for it.  

        When he first said it I was taken aback.  He grew up in the days and area where people were getting the fire hose.  

        Over the years, I keep going back to what he said.  

        I found the blog post to be most illuminating in light of my experience with him.  

        "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." -Bob Herbert

        by Nada Lemming on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:46:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, as Kai says: (5+ / 0-)

          Many of my POC friends would actually prefer to hang out with an Archie Bunker-type who spits flagrantly offensive opinions, rather than a colorblind liberal whose insidious paternalism, dehumanizing tokenism, and cognitive indoctrination ooze out between superficially progressive words. At least the former gives you something to work with, something above-board to engage and argue against; the latter tacitly insists on imposing and maintaining an illusion of non-racist moral purity which provides little to no room for genuine self-examination or racial dialogue.

          Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by NLinStPaul on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:51:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Fear of the unknown and unexpected is one of (3+ / 0-)

          the scariest.  I've found there are few situations I can't handle as long as I'm prepared and know what to expect.  And I can understand how that would be true of racism as well.  Now if we could just get rid of ALL of it - overt and covert - that would be best case scenario.

          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

          by gustynpip on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 11:24:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm gonna go with you on this one. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paul2port, miss SPED, KentuckyKat

      I find it hard to believe that open & vile racism would be preferable to annoying white liberalism. (as people, almost anyone is preferable to annoying, hyper-PC and overly-earnest white liberals, but we're talking specifically about their racial attitudes)

      My take: if I have some micro-racism that expresses itself in small & minor ways, I'm more-or-less OK with that.  I'll just continue to try to be a basically decent person to everyone and let others worry about putting their subconsciouses under a microscope to scrub out any last vestige of racial thought.  That level of self-policing seems kinda creepy to me, frankly (see, eg: Foucault's descriptions of technes of the self as creepy.  It's the same thing: compelling and proscribing confession so that we can control the discourse of the self.)

      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:22:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I appreciate your perspective very much!!! (12+ / 0-)

      And I immediately realized when reading what you said that I had no intention of minimizing the ugliness of outright racism and hatred. I join you in condemning that with as much vigor as I can.

      In weighing the seriousness of one over the other - I have to sit back, listen, and learn from my friends of color...like you and other people I interact with both online and off. Its not for me to say.

      I suppose part of what prompted me to write this is that we have had a lot of ranting here at dkos about how awful the racism of the wingnuts is. I felt a little balance was in order.

      I'm a big believer in Gandhi's statement about our need to "be the change we want to see in the world." In addition to condemning the racism of others - we need to examine our own.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by NLinStPaul on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:22:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree insofar as overt racists (12+ / 0-)

      have institutionalized racism whenever they've had a chance to.  

      That said, I get the point of this diary.  To me is far more hurtful to be "betrayed" by a friend than hated by an enemy.

    •  I would think it's more a matter of what's around (8+ / 0-)

      you at a given point in time.

      If you're surrounded with the 'subtle' racism, but no overt racism, it's probably easier to make the statement that you'd prefer the overt.

      But if you then go someplace where you're surrounded by overt racism I think you might decide to change your views after a while.

      'Grass is greener' syndrome.

      Obviously the ideal is to actually find a place where you aren't surrounded by either - but you won't do that until we drastically alter the American history taught in public curricula to include a heck of a lot more of the reality of 'living while black' in America so that liberal whites don't actually shrug off dogwhistles out of ignorance of the experience.  As one of the boxquotes mentions, they'll never actually experience it firsthand, but unless you show it to them, they'll never see it.

      Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:31:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It made me think of this: (12+ / 0-)

      Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

      Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From A Birmingham Jail

      Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man" Loving v. Virginia

      by KentuckyKat on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:32:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  rec'd (4+ / 0-)

      for diversity of opinion.

      Because there IS that much diversity amongst people of color. Some would rather confront the overt racism of the south and others would not.

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:45:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not BS... (10+ / 0-)

      to those of us who have not had the luxury of being viewed as "honorary white folk"... The reason it's true is because one is vulnerable around friends and allies; one's guard is down and when the ignorant statement or attitude comes, it cuts to the quick... David, in the book of Psalms puts it like this:

      Psa 55:12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14  with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship...

      When you know you are in the presence of those who mean you no good, you are on guard for any attack... but when that wound is struck by someone you have trusted... that trust... and the friendship it fostered... is destroyed. Compounding that is the fact that moving forward you will find it difficult to trust another because you don't want to be vulnerable again... so you will let people in up to a certain point and no further... and humans are beings in whom living in close communion is inherent in our being so having been wounded one will eschew that which our innermost being seeks to keep from being wounded again.

      •  So beautifully put (6+ / 0-)

        that it brought tears to my eyes.

        THANK YOU!!!!

        This is one of the lessons that Donna taught me with the story. I used to get frustrated and a bit judgmental when my African American co-workers continued to keep me at arms length when I was trying so hard to connect.

        I finally realized that I had never had the kinds of experiences they had of being wounded by offering trust across these color lines. It gave me patience.

        Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by NLinStPaul on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 11:14:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have to agree with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miss SPED

      you DCCyclone. Give me a break. One generation is too polite to be overtly racist. The generation after that is colorblind. Then you're free to divide the world into two classes of people. People you can trust to have your best interests at heart and those you can't trust. How do you tell the difference? You watch what they do, not what they say.

      What we learn from History: History repeats itself. History never repeats itself. Histories lessons are always ignored.

      by Hector Gonzalez on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 11:12:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Implicit in liberal thinking is the belief that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sybil Liberty, NLinStPaul

      all people are equal.  If the society we live in systemically treats one group of people in an inferior manner based on race, gender, sexual preference or class, is it not incumbent upon liberals to help change that society?

      You wrote:

      And liberal whites are far superior to conservative whites on race.  There's just no question.  It's beyond stupid to get aggressive against liberal whites who try to integrate with people of color when, frankly in this still-two-thirds-white country they don't really have to.

      I believe that we should either be part of the solution or we inevitably end up being part of the problem.  To borrow a phrase:  Silence=Death.  Why do you believe that the diarist's perspective appears aggressive to liberal whites?  The woman in the example that the diarist noted made no effort to try to understand the obstacles the people she was trying to help face.  While it is indeed true that liberal whites do not have to try and "integrate with" non-whites, doesn't that attitude run counter to liberalism?  

      I may be wrong but I don't agree that non-whites need to be grateful.  We are after the same things; equality benefits both of us.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site