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I'm gambling the Dkos community can honestly grapple with an issue concerning race.  I am hoping this community is willing to unwaveringly face some of the complexities of dealing with race in America.  It will be impossible to tackle all the variables that lead to personal bigotry or prejudices or biasness in America with one diary.

Instead I will attempt to expose an ugly reality that is often overlooked by both Whites and Blacks alike: the reality that, in America, white people are seen as individuals, while blacks are often seen as units.  

In 2003, Tim Russert of NBC’s Meet the Press interviewed then-Secretary of State, Colin Powell.  In the interview, Mr. Russert asked Secretary Powell about the views of entertainer and black activist, Harry Belafonte regarding Cuba.  In 2006, Tim Russert asked Senator Barack Obama to comment on a few statements made by Harry Belafonte regarding President Bush.  Tim Russert, according to my research so far, has never asked a white person to make a public comment regarding Harry Belafonte.  The only connection Harry Belafonte had to Powell or Obama was race: all three are considered Black.

Harry Belafonte is seen by many as an "angry" black man in America who sometimes says outrageous and scary things.  Tim Russert had to make certain these two "acceptable" black men, Powell and Obama, renounced and rejected Belafonte’s statements.

When white Americans say ridiculous statements, like Pat Robertson hinting in 1993 that homosexuals were behind Adolf Hitler’s atrocities, I haven’t found correlated evidence of white politicians being persistently asked to denounce these statements.  The reason for this discrepancy is simple:  In America, white people are virtually always seen as individual people who represent only themselves and not their race as a whole.  Pat Robertson, for all his faults, merely represents Pat Robertson—it could be argued that Pat Robertson doesn’t even represent the 700 Club, for his members are not asked to renounce or reject Robertson’s statements.   When a white person speaks in public, it is understood by most Americans that this person does not speak on behalf of his race, or his political party, or even his religious congregation.

Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter go out of their way to be seen as spokespersons for Conservatives in America.  Whenever these two make ignorant comments in public though, other  Conservatives are not held accountable.  White people have the privilege of only representing themselves in America. The same is not true for African Americans.

An African American is too often viewed as merely a small component of his racial identity.  When one black person is in the public spotlight, it reflects—negatively or positively—onto all black people.  When Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson audition in front of the camera for attention, it’s seen as two black men speaking on behalf of black people as a whole.  When black cons like Larry Elder or Armstrong Williams write a bogus article concerning race in America, it’s interpreted by society as representative of African Americans collectively.  

Tim Russert didn’t mean any racial harm when he asked Barack Obama on Feb, 2008 to denounce Louis Farrakhan's so-called "endorsement."  Obama has never been personally or politically associated with Louis Farrakhan in any way.  A line can be drawn to connect the dots between Reverend Wright’s church honoring Luis Farrakhan’s contributions to the Black community, but a genuine stretch of the imagination has to be used to connect it to Obama personally or politically in any way.  In fact, the media has repeatedly lied to Americans by claiming that Farrakhan actually "endorsed" Obama.  Truth is, Farrakhan explicitly refused to endorse Obama.  Farrakhan did speak well of Obama and told members to pray for him. He candidly told his followers that he was not going to "tell you who to vote for." Instead, he used the opportunity to express his wonder at how much the nation has changed and to articulate the pride he had for Obama and the new generation of Americans that Obama represents.  

But a terrifying, offensive black man had said something in public and Tim Russert had to assure America that Obama did not share Farrakhan’s views.  This sets a dangerous precedent for future African Americans hoping to serve this great nation.  If Black men and women have to be held accountable for everything other African Americans say or do in public, they are forever doomed politically.  If a faction of the Ku Klux Klan decide publically to vote for John McCain, is he held responsible for their actions or beliefs?  Of course not.  Yet, this is the standard Barack Obama is held to regarding the New Black Panther Party.  Obama must pay for the sins of all African Americans, real or imagined.

It will be uncomfortable for America to decisively deal with the issue of race.  The first step in this process will require the media, as well as individuals, to rethink and re-approach our own personal biasness.  To White America, this means understanding that every Black person is a very unique individual and do not represent the millions of African Americans across the country.  There are Black people who have never been called the N-word by a powerful White person in their life.  There are others who have been called the N-word by White heads of institutions all their lives. This experience creates different perspectives of the same America.  A Black man or woman can only articulate his or her own personal experience and story regarding race.  

To Black America, this means always being conscious to include the following phrase whenever talking publically about race:  "I can only speak for myself, for I do not represent the millions of African-Americans living in this country." It is a mistake for Black people to talk to friends or family members as though they have some secret insight into the African American community as a whole.  The Black community is too diverse and complex for any one person to speak on it's behalf.  Blacks have to start presenting themselves as individuals before it can reasonably be expected for Whites to seem them as individuals.  

In this light, Black people are responsible for a part of this problem as well.  So long as they use the imaginary term "Black leaders" to label various Black men and Black women who still fight for justice and inequality, it will encourage others to continue viewing the Black race collectively.  There is no such thing as a "Black leader."  African Americans, much like Jewish Americans and Anglo American and Mexican Americans, are too diverse to have one or two leaders capable of representing them all.  The sooner Black people stop feeding into this myth, the quicker the media and White America can divorce it as well.  

When Pat Buchanan used Obama's race speech as a moment to challenge "black hustlers", everyone understood it to be a case of Pat Buchanan talking stupid, as usual.  He didn’t represent anyone but his own ignorant self.  Rev. Wright, Louis Farrakhan, and Harry Belafonte have said some stupid, outrageous stuff in the past.  Let’s not hold Barack Obama accountable for their comments just because they are all Black.  If we don’t put an end to this now, definitively, we’ll be asking Obama to respond to Charles Barkley’s comments or Dick Gregory's comments next.

Originally posted to listentous on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 10:50 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  good diary (4+ / 0-)

      "The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is." - Howard Zinn

      by atemptfailure on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 10:54:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for this (0+ / 0-)

        I posted a diary as part of the dialog on race yesterday here in response to a diary by America Jones Blue Eyed Devil: A Daughter’s Thoughts on Race

        I think it's great that the discussion is continuing.

        I believe your premise is, at least in part, right.  The White majority views being White as a generic or given state.  Anything else is exotic and not quite uhhh....White.

        The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

        by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 01:48:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And to finish my thought (0+ / 0-)

          For some reason White folks don't see being White as a major part of their identity, but they assume the opposite for people of color.  

          When I speak about race, I speak for myself and don't assume that I speak, in some sense, for all White folks.  But, I think, many assume that when Black people speak about race, they speak on behalf of all black.

          It doesn;t make much sense, but there's a lot of truth to it, at least in terms of people's perception.

          The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

          by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 01:53:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I agree (4+ / 0-)

    Diarist has an excellent point.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 10:56:34 AM PDT

  •  You win for the day (8+ / 0-)

    This is a brilliant diary

    Obama is gonna drink your milkshake

    by LoLoLaLa on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 10:56:44 AM PDT

  •  Been waiting for the Tupac question (11+ / 0-)

    One of these days, some idiot is going to ask Obama the east coast-west coast question. Good diary.

    "I'm not a humanitarian. I'm a hell-raiser." Mother Jones

    by histopresto on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 10:58:27 AM PDT

  •  Harry Belafonte is (14+ / 0-)

    a great man.

    Like Robeson and other African-American entertainers, Belafonte's success in the arts did not protect him from racial discrimination, particularly in the South of the United States. As a result, he refused to perform in the South of the U.S. from 1954 until 1961. In 1960, President John F. Kennedy named Belafonte as cultural advisor to the Peace Corps. Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and one of Martin Luther King's confidants. He provided for King's family, since King made only $8,000 a year as a preacher.

    Like many civil rights activists, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He bailed King out of the Birmingham City Jail and raised thousands of dollars to release other imprisoned civil rights protesters. He financed the Freedom Rides, supported voter registration drives, and helped to organize the March on Washington in 1963.

    Belafonte speaking at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.CIn 1968, Belafonte appeared on a Petula Clark primetime television special on NBC. In the middle of a song, Clark smiled and briefly touched Belafonte's arm, which made the show's sponsor, Plymouth Motors, nervous. Plymouth wanted to cut out the segment, but Clark, who had ownership of the special, told NBC that the performance would be shown intact or she would not allow the special to be aired at all. American newspapers published articles reporting the controversy and, when the special aired, it grabbed high viewing figures.

    snip

    Belafonte was involved in the anti-apartheid movement. He was the Master of Ceremonies at a reception honoring African National Congress President Oliver R. Tambo at Roosevelt House, Hunter College in New York City. The reception was held by the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and The Africa Fund.  In December 2007 he endorsed John Edwards for the 2008 Presidential Election.

    wikipedia

    Harry Belafonte Endorses John Edwards for President

    John Edwards on Beafonte's endorsement:

    "I speak for myself, as I always do, and you know, Harry Belafonte supported John Kennedy, supported Bobby Kennedy, and supported a whole host of presidential candidates over the years. I'm proud of his support, and I thank him for his support, but he doesn't speak for me," Edwards said in response to a question about Belafonte calling the president a tyrant and rallying in support of the Venezuelan leader.

    First Read

    "They're going to give their power away when we take their power away." John Edwards

    by TomP on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:00:25 AM PDT

  •  I always liked Harry Belafonte (3+ / 0-)

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:00:37 AM PDT

  •  Believe me... (5+ / 0-)

    ...many have tried.  I even broached the subject by stating the obvious:  There is a certain percentage of people in this country who won't vote for Obama simply because of the color of his skin.  For my trouble, I was called a racist...

    I want my Two Dollars!

    by Ken in MN on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:00:53 AM PDT

    •  And...this is the problem. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkfarkus
    •  that is the problem... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scoopster, mkfarkus

      too many of us have fed into the ignorant conversation of using slogans and sound bytes instead of reason.  We have let ourselves fall into the republican tactic of calling anyone who disagrees with us names.  We dont have to agree to be agreeable.  Its the same tactic republics use when talking about patriotism--"either you agree with us or you dont love america."  its a stupid argument that isnt productive.

    •  Sorry to hear that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scoopster, mkfarkus

      To recognize that there are racists is not being racist. Wishing they would go away doesn't make it happen.

    •  But What's the Point of the Observation? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bule Betawi, not a cent

      There's definitely some who won't vote Hillary because she's a woman.

      So now we're committed to running a damaged candidate either way.

      So what's the point?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:11:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Defender of the Race (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ken in MN, America Jones

      Having "An Honest Debate" about race will be as difficult as having an honest debate about religion. People are less able to contemplate racial / religious issues in the same dispationate way they might be able to debate tax policy.

      In fact, except for religion, I don't think any other topic in American society is so filled with trappings of dogmatic and magical thinking.

      Just as otherwise intelligent people can, with a straight face and some knowledge of history, insist that no single person in the history of the world was ever forced to convert to Christianity and no single person ever converted to Islam for any reason save they were threatened with death, from 33 A.D. to Today, you get similar dogmatic and fundamentally silly discussions when dealing with race.

      There are a certain class of people who can have an honest debate on race, just as there are a certain class of people who can have an honest debate on religion or any other topics. It requires persons who are capable of critical self-reflection, empaty, and yes...perhaps even fundamentally a bit of curiosity about the other....however you might define him. However, everyone is not possesed of these traits.

      And among those that are, there's an alarming number of people who enjoy being willfully ignorant. And just like arsonist, or those who yell fire in a crowded theater, there are also those who simply enjoy sowing chaos and discord...and attempt to disrupt any constructive discussion on such issue. Unfortunately, such people don't always function in an openly juevinille fashion - poisoining the well with a sophistication that leaves them able to operate behind the veil of simply not being PC.

      Depending on whether or not they're doing it just to get laughs or for more nepharious purposes, we call them commedians or somehing else.

      Still, I do think people, black, white, and other, are starting to realize how their racial fears and concerns have been manipulated in the past for the gain of a few. And I do think that the racial puppetmasters are slowly, but surely loosing some of their power.

      The "White People Be Afraid" and "See Black People, Another Racists!" applaud line buttons are becoming a bit sticky. Still firing, but to less effect.

      In a way, keepng with the religion analogy, perhaps America is entering its Racial Reformation. There will still be a divide between Catholics and Protestants, but no longer are we going to kill each other over it, or let our kings whip us into a frenzy against our neighbors over some itriguing point of (racial)theology.

      And once the Kings realize that 'Defender of the Faith (i.e., Race)' no longer sends so many eager peasants swarming into their armies. Then, perhaps, we'll be ready for an honest discussion of race.

  •  Said Brilliantly (5+ / 0-)

    It would be a start, but I am not holding my breath. This seems to have a griplock in America  and I don't know where the heart of it lies.

    This is the thing that causes me the greatest sadness because whites on all sides of the political line seem to have this mindset.  I wish that it would die but I don't see any indication of that happening.

    I hope that we can start, maybe here at Dkos it will begin.

    Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

    by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:02:17 AM PDT

  •  Is it possible to talk honestly about race here.. (10+ / 0-)

    ...in this ultra-PC environment? I don't think so.  There are people around here that are so incredibly sensitive that any honest discussion would die under a hail of donuts.

    •  I absolutely agree. (6+ / 0-)

      I think it is very difficult to have a conversation about race with people who think of themselves as enlightened on the subject of race.  

      For all their good intentions, some people seem incapable of talking about race without calling others who disagree with them racist.

      And calling a person racist will pretty much stop thoughtful discourse dead in its tracks.

      •  We also have to recognize that discussing race... (8+ / 0-)

        ...is also discussing "culture."

        Not all people share the same culture...even in America, black or white.

        I would go so far as to say that being Republican or Democrat is based on your immediate cultural influences.

        •  Dialect, Accent, Speaking Style Are Cultural and (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkfarkus, Progressive Witness, Brubs

          definitely create a dividing line to whites, in my experience, much more than skin color. Bill Cosby was widely liked 40 years ago for example and is fairly dark. Sidney Poitier --of course he's a Caribbean immigrant with an accent that's foreign rather than one of the mainstream southern accents.

          Forgive me, I don't know the populations well enough to pinpoint this any closer.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:23:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even Here I've Seen Comments That (4+ / 0-)

            Obama doesn't "sound" black, others that Jesse Jackson's voice is an instant channel switcher for some listeners.

            There's definitely a population of blacks that many whites are much more uncomfortable with than they are with others.

            We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

            by Gooserock on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:25:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That goes beyond the superficial...that is where (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Progressive Witness

              ...we need to go.

              It is hard, but that's what must be done.

            •  this isn't even (0+ / 0-)

              a uniquely american issue when it some to sounding different, Pygmalion/My Fair Lady is an example removed from the american racial experience that makes it clear that language can be a class barrier.

              I remember a classmate in school highly offended by a visitor who commented on his southern accent by saying, "Oh, I don't like southern accents, people with a southern accent just sound dumb to me."  That he was a student at a well respected law school didn't impinge on her consciousness as she said it.

              Having mentioned that, I think there is a racist reaction when a number of people hear someone who sounds "black".  But I also don't think its just white people thank "expect" people to sound a certain way.  I can remember a day spent with a client (an M.D.), who in all our business meetings was very professional, perfect english and diction, she sounded 'white'.  But we ended up stopping at a drive-thru for lunch in between stops and as she addressed the lady at the window, who was black, her language changed entirely.   I never asked her about it, but it was very striking to me.  I have wondered how many black people feel caught in between, the price of professional success, to sound and act white, to be accepted among other blacks, to hide the accomodations made for your professional self.  I can see how Obama got caught between too black/not black enough arguments of the two races.

              On a more humorous note, I worked with a young woman who was born in Scotland, but spent most of her life in Tennessee. She had an obvious southern accent, and a couple of words that were different (palm came out more like pam).  One day she received a phone call from an aunt still living in Scotland. Immediately this young woman dropped into a heavy brogue with a topping of southern accent. It was hysterically funny, the combination of the two was indescribable.

          •  There are vastly different cultures among white.. (4+ / 0-)

            people, too.  Even in America.

            Take someone from rural Vermont and plunk them down in rural Mississippi and you'll see that pretty clearly.

      •  If there were one debate... (7+ / 0-)

        ... that I could snap my fingers and erase from the collective conciousness of the country, it would be the PC thing.

        I'm tired of people whining about how they can't say things. I'm tired of assholes saying, "How come they can say it and I can't?!" I'm tired of unfunny comedians telling me how dangerous and un-PC they are.

        "PC" just means common frigging courtesy, and it should have stopped there.

        A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

        by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:10:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Common courtesy" also means keeping your mouth.. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkfarkus, Brubs, droogie6655321

          ...shut so you don't rile any feathers.  Sometimes feathers need to be riled...

        •  I think the PC discussion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          droogie6655321

          extends far beyond words that are allowed or forbidden.  (Example, it is culturally acceptable for a black rapper can use the "n" word, but I can't.  I don't care for the "n" word, no matter who uses it.  It is certainly not a part of my vocabulary.  And I have no problem with the idea that it shouldn't be.  That is a PC rule I fully endorse.)

          However...

          In my years at UC Santa Cruz, I got a rather rude awakening about just how far PC can go.  In my class on mixed race identity, my fellow classmates demanded that I acknowledge the possibility (if not the likelihood) that some of my American ancestors were slave owners.  

          When I said that my family did not come to America until the late 1800s, from Russia and Eastern Europe, escaping their own version of hell and persecution as Jews, and thus, they were not slave owners, I was branded a racist.

          Part of the PC discourse accepts as fact the matter of white guilt.  It requires that all white Americans, regardless of ancestry, acknowledge that they are racist.  Maybe not in an overt, Klan member kind of way.  But the fact of being white means, deep down, there is a racist in all of us.

          It also requires acceptance of responsibility for the wrongs done to African Americans in this country, as if, by virtue of being white, we are automatically guilty.  If I refuse to accept that responsibility, I am, in some PC circles, a racist.  

          Like I said, it's a difficult conversation to have.

          •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Kroning

            Guilt shouldn't be a part of it. I admit that I don't know how painful it is to be singled out and discriminated against because of my race, but I have been called a racist before, and it hurts. Perhaps that pain is comparable.

            A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

            by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:28:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The first thing we could acknowledge (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Silverbird, justCal, David Kroning

              is that our occasional hurt feelings as White people is not comparable to having to deal with racism every day of our lives here in the US.

              I agree that we shouldn't walk around feeling guilty all the time. But we'll never have an honest discussion about race without acknowledge the historical and institutional environment that we live in that advantages us as White people.

              "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

              by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:38:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not saying it's equal (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Angry Mouse

                Just comparable.

                I acknowledge that there is an advantage, or at least a good argument that can be made for such a thing, but I didn't ask for any advantages. I've earned what I own in life, and I refuse to feel guilty for my skin color.

                A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

                by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:45:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And what about economic advantages? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  David Kroning

                  I am white and middle-class.  I have a black cousin who is upper middle class.  He went to one of the top private colleges in the country.  I went to a public college.  He's traveled more, been given more, had more financial assistance from his parents.

                  Am I still more privileged than him because I'm white?

                •  Well, then you are not interested in (0+ / 0-)

                  having an honest discussion about race. No one is asking you to feel guilty... just be real.

                  White people don't have to "ask" for advantages- they exist.

                  "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

                  by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 12:13:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't think you're following me. (0+ / 0-)

                    I said the advantages may exist. But if they do, I never asked for them, so I think it would be silly for me to feel guilty about them.

                    How am I not being real?

                    A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

                    by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 12:16:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Back to guilt... (0+ / 0-)

                      I don't want you to feel guilty. I just want you to see reality. Damn! I'm begging you to see reality.

                      I am White. I have been married to a Black man, and his family for thirty plus years now. I have seen things from both sides. I am not a victim, and I do not feel guilty. I do feel frustrated when I read comments from potential, progressive "soulmates" (no pun intended, seriously) like you that bring up the unease, the guilt, the dodges over and over again.

                      If you were tall and could play basketball better than your buddy would you feel guilty? If your parents could buy you a car when you turned 16 would you feel guilty? Do White people go around feeling guilty about the random advantages that they have vis-a-vis other Whites? Probably not.

                      But when a system is designed and maintained to advantage one group above another can't we be honest about that? Can't we roll up our sleeves and do something about it, on an individual level, every day without being paralyzed by guilt?

                      "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

                      by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:30:40 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Wow. Good way to shut down that (0+ / 0-)

                    discussion, blindyone. Doesn't seem like you're interested in having an honest discussion about race either. Because that would entail allowing people to "discuss", and stuff.

                •  On the other hand you've probably never (0+ / 0-)

                  been pulled over by the police for DWB (driving while black) - a real phenomenon I (a middle-aged White man) witnessed when I was working with inner-city kids in Chicago.

                  The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

                  by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:06:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  this is why... (0+ / 0-)

                in my opinion, the conversation has to work both ways.  blacks and whites have to be willing to listen, cant be a "black lecture to whites" or vice versa.  it has to be a sharing of perspective. maybe there should be a "church exchange" in the same way we have "foreign student exchanges" lol.  i dont know all the answers...but i do see the problems--virtually daily

              •  another thing we should acknowledge (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catte Nappe, David Kroning

                is that it's hard for white people to recognize that they benefit from being white in America. I don't want white people to feel guilty or black people to feel like victims. Just a discussion on how we can fix the situation and move forward.

          •  You make an important point when you say (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe

            In my years at UC Santa Cruz, I got a rather rude awakening about just how far PC can go.  In my class on mixed race identity, my fellow classmates demanded that I acknowledge the possibility (if not the likelihood) that some of my American ancestors were slave owners.  

            When I said that my family did not come to America until the late 1800s, from Russia and Eastern Europe, escaping their own version of hell and persecution as Jews, and thus, they were not slave owners, I was branded a racist.

            When I was in a seminary workshop on race, I very baldly admitted that all four of my grandparents had grandparents that were slave owners.  The statement brought gasps from my White brethren and kudos from my Black and Latino brethren.

            For Whites whose ancestors emigrated AFTER the official end of slavery the circumstances are different, but there is still the issue of the institutional or intrinsic racism that is part of our society.  

            Not to pimp it, but I discuss that at more length in my diary Continuing the dialog on race begun by Barack Obama

            The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

            by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:03:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  And there it is right there (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bule Betawi, David Kroning

        I think it is very difficult to have a conversation about race with people who think of themselves as enlightened on the subject of race.

        Couldn't agree more

        Obama is gonna drink your milkshake

        by LoLoLaLa on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:44:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The thing I hate most... (8+ / 0-)

      ... is some well-intentioned liberal saying things like, "I just don't see things in terms of color."

      Of course you don't. You have that luxury.

      A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

      by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:09:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know that's true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, mkfarkus, Catte Nappe

      but I'm curious about the specifics. Who gets offended and why? I see the people who are white progressives who don't want to be seen as racists in any way, don't want to own up to even race sensitive attitudes, etc. But I think it's even harder (and it's understandable to see why) for a white progressive to discuss race in a way that is critical of minorities. But a "candid" discussion of race has GOT to include that aspect of the situation. There have been ways in which minorities were complicit in what has happened to them--and even if you believe that's not the case, I think most people agree that minorities have to take a prominent role in improving their situation, and not in a way that consists mostly of blaming white people.

      Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

      by JMS on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:14:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  but do you see how... (4+ / 0-)

        when churches or other groups recognize your point and put together programs that specifically target black youth or black empowerment--deciding not to depend on the government, but themselves---it get twisted by folks like sean hannity as a "racist" black movement and is turned into a sound byte on tv?  its a catch-22 situation there.

        •  the reason for that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkfarkus

          in my opinion, is that  black people succeeding on their own terms, not white terms, is scary to a certain segment of the population--black successes would be more palatable if successful blacks all went to Harvard, and wore preppy clothes.  But beyond that, I don't know that there's even necessarily one path to "black empowerment". While we're being honest here--some of those paths (it seems to me anyway) do appear to be more dependent on keeping the black community separate from other communities, or to frame success as something of a zero sum game with other groups. My opinion is that that may empower some communities in the short term, but is not the best way to a path where you really do still have to live with other races.

          Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

          by JMS on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:27:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  as you stated... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mkfarkus

            i think there are many paths...but i think it is unfair for us to target anyone who decides to find creative ways of dealing with these problems.  AIDS and incarceration and crime and education, etc are serious problems in the African American community--im excited whenever anyone attempts to tackle some of these problems, even if i dont agree with their methods.  the problems are so big, everyone can participate, and the idea that there is only one or two "right" ways of handling these problems is a twisted view in my opinion.  For instance, a friend of mine is putting together a letter to public figures who happen to be african americans to "give a shout out" to all the african american women kidnapped and reported missing in america.  the media will not tackle this problem.  Its scary once you see the data, in this year alone.  many blacks are upset that only white females seem to get media coverage when missing.  but instead of complaining or waiting for help from society, these guys are petitioning entertainers and sports figures to spearhead the movement.  new, creative approaches to problems are sometimes the only way to deal with them.  so i congratulate anyone sacrificing for the greater good in america--black or white, regardless of the issue.

      •  I'm a white person...I've done and said racist... (0+ / 0-)

        ...things. I know its not right.  I've kept my mouth shut when other people have said racist things...so that I didn't ruffle any feathers.  

        I know its wrong...I try not to live my life like a bigot...but sometimes we ALL do.

    •  PC is a right-wing talking point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux

      There have been many fine diaries on racial topics here, especially since Obama's speech.

      "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

      by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:32:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If there's one thing we can all realize.. (0+ / 0-)

      in ourselves, from the speech that Obama gave last week about this subject, it's that we all have a lot of learning and talking to do and that talking is gonna be extremely un-PC yet extremely productive.

    •  People are UBER pc here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bule Betawi, David Kroning

      I jokingly said I wanted to throw a brick at a Fox News anchor and got TR'ed to death

      Obama is gonna drink your milkshake

      by LoLoLaLa on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:44:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love that black people... (8+ / 0-)

    ... are often called upon to reject the comments of other black people, regardless of the fact that they share nothing else in common.

    It's also beyond silly that every time someone says something disparaging about black people, they have to go kiss Al Sharpton's ass. Sorry to be vulgar, but it's almost comical how dumb that is.

    These are both examples of the racial stalemate Barack Obama mentioned. It's been this way since I can remember.

    A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

    by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:04:56 AM PDT

    •  16 April 1963 (8+ / 0-)

      Still fighting this fight...

      Letter from a Birmingham Jail --ML King, Jr.

      I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." 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.

      Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

      by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:17:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What can we all do? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkfarkus

      We all needs activist and agitators to make our society better.

      However we need a mechanism where when our children are shot down in the street like dogs it can be heard. When young black women disappear no one gives a damn. The Justice Dept, EEOC and Police Boards are useless in most cases.

      Will whites raise their voices in unison for the loss of black lives?

      We are trapped in this shit!
      Black children are not viewed as children.
      Missing black  women are not viewed as victims.

      Voiceless and Faceless. WHAT IS THE SOLUTION???

      Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

      by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:34:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why does Al Sharpton have to be brought (0+ / 0-)

      up in almost any diary on a racial topic here? Is he some negative touchstone that we Whites are supposed to rally around? Are we all afraid of the power of Al Sharpton? Ooooh... scary Al Sharpton. I can honestly say that I've heard less than a dozen comments about Al over thirty plus years by Black family members.

      Why is kissing his ass any worse than all the White asses Black people are supposed to kiss every day? Obama is in trouble today because he, metaphorically at least, hasn't yet kissed White America's ass by cutting Rev Wright loose.

      "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

      by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:46:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It could have just as easily... (0+ / 0-)

        ... been Jesse Jackson or any of the other people who claim the ability to speak for every black American.

        I'm not asking anyone to rally around anything as a white person. That's precisely the opposite of what I'm trying to do.

        We need to look at one another as individuals, and not monolithic groups with nothing in common.

        A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

        by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 12:05:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I invite you to read the comments (0+ / 0-)

          in so many of these "race" diaries and count to ten. Then, a comment about Sharpton will pop up.

          Jesse Jackson would have no credibility as a spokesman for all Black Americans if he weren't the fall back spokesman for the Black community contacted by all of the lazy media types. By the way, I think that is changing, and I am happy to see a bunch of new people on CNN and MSNBC.

          "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

          by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:17:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Someone dug up (8+ / 0-)

    something Obama had written while he was in law school, basically wondering when black law students would have the "right to be mediocre"--which is to say, he said that he (no modest wallflower) would have no trouble getting whatever job he wanted, black law students at less prestigious schools would be disadvantaged compared with similar white law students. I agree--it's a greater sign of progress when minorities or other disadvantaged people are allowed to be mediocre or to fail without everyone making assumptions about the whole group.

    Also, consider when certain crimes are committed, who cringes when they find out that the offender is one of "their people"? (I did the cringe after VA Tech), or who is extraordinarily proud of something achieved by one of "their people", even if they had nothing to do with it personally?--because that cuts both ways.

    Being white is the default mode of "personhood" in much of America. Which is more of a neutral statement than you might think. After all, being Asian is the default mode of "personhood" in Japan or Korea, isn't it? But it does lead to unconscious assumptions--not ones that we should beat ourselves up about, necessarily, but that we need to remind ourselves about every so often. Just not assuming helps--don't assume that people think like you or have the same habits you do--be more open to learning what people really do and think, even if you find it odd or in some cases offensive.

    Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

    by JMS on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:05:21 AM PDT

  •  good points (10+ / 0-)

    But Buchanan was not talking stupid.  'Race hustlers' is a phrase that extends back to the early 1990s and Buchanan chose it carefully.  He used it in his last column to invoke a much broader argument about black leadership taking advantage of white guilt to justify acts of immorality and violence in black communities.  The logic Buchanan seeks to invoke by labeling Obama a 'black hustler' is that of a black man becoming president, followed by black citizens burning down the  country, and then the black president blaming whites for the mess--reverse apartheid.  

    Buchanan is a lowlife piece of trash whose disgusting ideas are regularly mainlined into American consciousness via his 24/7 presence in the media.   He's actually worse than the KKK because the KKK has far fewer members than Buchanan has viewers. Exponentially fewer.  

  •  we can talk honestly... (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    mkfarkus

    What you're asking is, will we talk in a way that YOU call "honestly"?

    And you're being no different than, say, Pat Buchanan in that regard.  This isn't to knock your points, which are good, but rather your framing, which is fracking awful.

    I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
    But I get the feeling that you don't like it
    What's with all the screaming?

    by Leggy Starlitz on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:09:13 AM PDT

  •  part of it is isolation (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkfarkus, bwren, yuriwho, geejay, I, haruki, listentous

    and lack of interracial communication in everyday life.

    White people don't need to be reassured that not everyone white is in or approves of the KKK when they are dealing with white people.  They tend to deal with lots of different white people all the time, they know there is diversity of opinion even if they are "clannish" in their behavior by tending to associate more with white people of similar belief.  

    But how many white people deal with black people all the time, and even if they do deal with them, how many are on such trusted and intimate level with black friends and co-workers that they get let into those "kitchen table conversations".  They don't have a way into the thinking of black people without making an effort.  And people don't make those kind of efforts too often.

    I have a bad habit of going to my horsey roots for analogies, but I am reminded of a friend who was trying to do her own training of her young horse
    rather than relying on a professional.  It was all new and foreign to her, she was trying to learn to work him on a lead line and get him to relax and we would tell her, watch his body language, see him relax, see him give you his ear, see how his footfalls are changing.   And she finally said, I'm sorry, but when I try to watch him move, all I see is a big red blur.  The details were lost to her, she had no frame of reference and the experience was rather overwhelming to her.

    And since I am white I can't know, but maybe both sides just see a big blur, no details, no information, no communication.

    •  The "blur" (0+ / 0-)

      Why "they all look alike"

      For example, Levin explains, "When a white person looks at another white person's nose, they're likely to think to themselves, 'That's John's nose.' When they look at a black person's nose, they're likely to think, 'That's a black nose.'"

      http://www.apa.org/...

      •  As a White man (0+ / 0-)

        I used to use that phrase all the time when I was working with Latino and Black gang members in inner-city Chicago.  

        A kid would say, "Hey, I thought I saw you on the street the other day, but it was some other White dude."

        "Don't worry," I'd reply, "We all look alike."

        The kids would give my a huge double-take and crack up.

        The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

        by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:18:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't have the luxury (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkfarkus, Catte Nappe

      maybe both sides just see a big blur, no details, no information, no communication.

      Blacks have never had the luxury of doing this. It would be lethal. You had to pay close attention because missing the details could get you killed.

      Historically and now blacks have always had to be double minded. i wish I had a better word for this but i hope you understand wha I am trying to say.

      Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

      by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:38:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can appreciate the survival skill (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mkfarkus, Catte Nappe

        aspect of being able to distinguish more than a blur.

        What about verbal communication, once you hit comfort level that survival isn't at stake, is it all 'background noise' we don't distinguish differing voices, we just hear the buzzing?  Do both sides have a tendency to tune out the message when it isn't delivered in the right voice?   I think part of the Rev. Wright shock effect was more than the words, it was the voice level, the degree of movement, that is just outside so many white's experience (those at least without experience of the more exuberant evangelical churches)?  Are we divided by a common language because the details of delivery are so different?  Or do we hear but dismiss the sincerity of message because of past prejudice?

        •  2 worlds (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkfarkus

          Are we divided by a common language because the details of delivery are so different?  YES.

          The why is more than I can type.

          This is a stay up all night drinking crying cursing yelling hugging conversation. In my lifetime I have had them only once or twice with a white friend. That is piss poor but it is more than most.

          I know whites are afraid to talk about it but you have to treasure the friendship in order to "go there"

          Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

          by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 12:24:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sounds like another diary in the making. (0+ / 0-)

            The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

            by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:19:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I appreciate the reply (0+ / 0-)

            I understand how hard it is to talk about it, I think I self edited my post several times trying to come up with a question that would be fair and neutral, etc. etc.

            But if we don't talk, we won't learn to listen, so I truly appreciate you taking the effort to write.

            •  sounds familiar (0+ / 0-)

              I self edited my post too so not to come across "angry".  

              God help us all. We are trying I just don't know if we are succeeding. I am not a good writer so I can't do a diary on this stuff but it was good to cross the divide in a post.

              If you have a black or white friend just jump in and go there on a topic. Be prepared to fight but the outcome is really cool.

              Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

              by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 06:18:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Talking past the point of comfort (0+ / 0-)

          Are we divided by a common language because the details of delivery are so different?  YES.

          The why is more than I can type.

          This is a stay up all night drinking crying cursing yelling hugging conversation. In my lifetime I have had them only once or twice with a white friend. That is piss poor but it is more than most.

          I know whites are afraid to talk about it but you have to treasure the friendship in order to "go there"

          Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war And civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

          by kiki236 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 12:36:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Consider This (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkfarkus, martydd, haruki, Bule Betawi

    I agree.

    Consider this.  Is it just blacks that are not seen individually or is it all minorities?  

    What about the "Latino" vote?  What about the 2004, "Soccer Moms?"

    Isn't it only white males that are not seen as a group.  You never hear about the "White Male" vote?
    Do you?

    We have a lot to change in the USA.

    Isn't it just more pronounced with blacks?  

    Good Diary.

    •  I dunno (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkfarkus

      I'm "the youth vote."

      I used to be "the fundamentalist vote." Now I'm a non-churchgoing, lower middle class, high-information voter. In short -- a nobody. ;-)

      A panda eats shoots and leaves. Michael Corleone eats, shoots and leaves.

      by droogie6655321 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:17:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  sometimes i wonder... (0+ / 0-)

      if the media is responsible for creating these "groups"...as it reduces complicated problems into easy to present sound bytes.  they dont have the time to explore the complex problems of many issues. i dont know.  but the media uses it to sell papers and to keep a complex story line going.  sadly, we often feed into it without asking hard questions.

    •  That's "marketing" (0+ / 0-)

      Pollsters aggregate all of us into some category - yuppies, NASCAR dads, metrosexuals.
      I think this diary touches on a larger issue about how the rest of  us group and cluster people who are not like us, with race being a large part of that.

    •  that's certainly a habit on our country (0+ / 0-)

      to try to understand people as large groups with common motivations. We constantly break down people into demographic groups. But the collision between demographic "analysis" and race stereotypes can make both particularly difficult to break out of.

      "I ain't so afraid of losing something that I ain't gonna try to have it." Zoe (Firefly)

      by geejay on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:28:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lower down (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      I tried to get at this with my comment but took so long thinking about it it fell down the page.  I think everyone does this - not just politics, not just the media.  If I meet someone Amish, I will ascribe to them everything I've ever heard about the Amish.  Wouldn't you be surprised to see an Amish person pull out a cellphone?  And yet this is exactly the same thing - it's seeing the Amish as a unit, not as individual Amish people.  It's something that everyone does because we use proxies to make decisions about people and things and issues every day.  It becomes a problem when people don't choose the minority they are identified as belonging to.

      •  Why would the "choice" matter? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silverbird

        One can choose a religion, but at this very site one can say "I belong to an evangelical Christian church" and get pounced on and accused of hating gays, wanting to kill abortion doctors, and being a credulous fairly tale believing fool.

        Shouldn't we try to look beyond the assumptions about a group anyone belongs to, by choice or not, and recgonize the possibility of individual differences from the assumed traits/beliefs?

        •  Aren't there some assumptions (0+ / 0-)

          that are valid to make based on people's choices?  If someone says "I belong to an evangelical Christian church", I think it would be valid to assume that they, for example, believe in a dogmatic scripture-driven interpretation of Christianity, they are likely to be extremely anti-abortion, and would be extremely disapproving of gay people.  I have yet to meet an evangelical Christian who self-identifies as such who doesn't believe these things, and would be very interested in one who, say, was pro-choice.  I would have so many questions to ask them, and I'm sure they would represent themselves as atypical.

          My point was to draw a distinction between someone who self-identifies as something where they have a choice to identify themselves as such (eg. an evangelical Christian) - and say maybe it's valid to think of them as more of a unit - and something that they can't choose (eg. an African American) where clearly it's not logical to think that people of a certain skin colour all behave in a certain way.

          There's an excellent book that I read the summer before I went to law school called "Probabilities, Profiles and Stereotypes" by Frederick Schauer which had an excellent discussion of exactly this problem.  The blurb says it better than I can:

          This book employs a careful, rigorous, yet lively approach to the timely question of whether we can justly generalize about members of a group on the basis of statistical tendencies of that group. For instance, should a military academy exclude women because, on average, women are more sensitive to hazing than men? Should airlines force all pilots to retire at age sixty, even though most pilots at that age have excellent vision? Can all pit bulls be banned because of the aggressive characteristics of the breed? And, most controversially, should government and law enforcement use racial and ethnic profiling as a tool to fight crime and terrorism?
          ...
          These decisions must rely not only on statistical and empirical accuracy, but also on morality. Even statistically sound generalizations may sometimes have to yield to the demands of justice. But broad judgments are not always or even usually immoral, and we should not always dismiss them because of an instinctive aversion to stereotypes. As Schauer argues, there is good profiling and bad profiling. If we can effectively determine which is which, we stand to gain, not lose, a measure of justice.

          Recognizing that we make broad stereotypes every day, and use them in every sphere of our decision making, is the first step to distinguishing between which ones do people an injustice and which ones don't.

  •  Great Point. I will try to keep it in mind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkfarkus

    To Black America, this means always being conscious to include the following phrase whenever talking publically about race:  "I can only speak for myself, for I do not represent the millions of African-Americans living in this country." It is a mistake for Black people to talk to friends or family members as though they have some secret insight into the African American community as a whole.  The Black community is too diverse and complex for any one person to speak on it's behalf.  Blacks have to start presenting themselves as individuals before it can reasonably be expected for Whites to seem them as individuals.  

    It's a very easy trap to fall in. It comes from constantly having to over explain your view point. You start off just wanting to give some context, but you end up assuming authority on the viewpoint of a whole complex community. But you are right that it is our responsibility to stop doing that.

    "I ain't so afraid of losing something that I ain't gonna try to have it." Zoe (Firefly)

    by geejay on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:18:06 AM PDT

  •  Bravo (0+ / 0-)

    You hit the nail on the head.  Id never thought of the contrast in how one person is thought to represent a hole group v. another and how race affects it.  Its common sense and obvious but again new to me
    Thanks for pointing it out

  •  this is nonsense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yuriwho

    Why do you need to offer an invitation about having a discussion on race as if you need permission.

    Just start talking about it.  The title is as self aggrandizing as my subject.  Its really meta and weak.

    You have an excellent essay bookended by a discusion of whether or not we should have a discussion about race.

    Ken

  •  Excellent point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silverbird, listentous

    Good diary, tipped and rec'd.

    My only quibble:

    [The] ugly reality that is often overlooked by both Whites and Blacks alike: the reality that, in America, white people are seen as individuals, while blacks are often seen as units.  

    I would argue that this is not necessarily about the media associating African Americans with each other in a way that they fail to do with white Americans.  It's about associating together members of any minority or particular group.

    I once met a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and asked him about how he could vocally support so many raging homophobes.  Does that mean I see all Republicans as a unit?  I suppose my answer to myself is that you choose your party affiliation but not your race.

    If minorities group together out of solidarity, pride, cultural affinity or whatever, people will naturally react to them as units and not as individuals.  For example, if I met someone who told me they were Jewish, I would probably ask them lots of questions about Israel and Zionism.  Their reaction might be "I'm not a Zionist and I think all the settlers should be thrown out of the West Bank."  My reason for asking about Israel would explicitly be because they were Jewish.  Should I not have asked them that question at all?

    This is probably because people use these these markers or flags as an easy metric or proxy for what people believe.  The difficulty comes when the identification is something they can choose to be a part of (eg. being Catholic) or something they don't choose (eg. being African American).

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is this isn't something racist against African Americans - it's a problem that attaches to any minority group.

  •  Part of the problem is not enough diversity on TV (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Silverbird

    If we had more minority politicians and pundits on TV expressing all different types of views, those not belonging to the minority group would start to realize the range of views that exist in each minority group. For this exact reason I always listened to what Alan Keyes had to say, even though I thought he was a looney on a majority of issues.

    "lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed"

    by yuriwho on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:24:04 AM PDT

  •  Yes, it's a race thing, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    listentous

    because blacks are finally in a position to challenge white hegemony at the highest levels.  Guilt by association, at its most tenuous level, isn't new, however: it's exactly the same cudgel wielded by Senator McCarthy in the 1950s.  Obama would be well served by deflecting every question of its type by beginning his response with, "Of course, blacks including XXXX have a variety of opinions on that issue, just as whites do."

    Like it or not, Obama has to do the 21st Century equivalent of "I am not a Communist."  The Other has always been problematic in American society.

    "Success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives." --George W Bush, May 2, 2007

    by mspicata on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:28:34 AM PDT

  •  Not While We Have 2 Historically Excluded Groups (0+ / 0-)

    with identity candidates nearly tied in a fight for the most powerful elected office on the planet and no chance of the voters resolving it soon.

    Worst. Time. In. Decades.

    It'll be very important to restart the conversation about both race and gender a week or two after the nominee is picked.

    But during such a contest there are tremendous incentives to inflame and against resolving.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:30:06 AM PDT

  •  Does the country need to talk honestly? (0+ / 0-)

    IMHO, what's much more important is good policy.  I don't really give a hoot about how a given person feels about something, as long as their actions are helpful.

    (or, at a minimum, not counterproductive.  that minimal threshold applies to pals, not politicians.  Here I agree with Bush's logic of for-us/against us: there's not a lot of middle between them when it comes to policy, and it's either one or the other.)

    "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

    by burrow owl on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:32:25 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blindyone, kiki236

    well said. But I have to disagree with your analysis. Timmeh and Buchanan want to ensure every black politician renounces Farrakhan not because they think blacks are responsible for everything each black person says or does but because they think of blacks as "outsiders" and this is their country and they better be sure what this outsider stands for before they consider them worthy of being allowed to participate in the governing of their country.

  •  part or the problem is that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    liberal America insists upon being very "class conscious" or "race conscious" or whatever group conscious that you want to name.

    Conservative America, by and large, not being nearly so much the negative subject of whatever "ism" you care to name, really wants to be color-blind.  But isn't sure how.

    Talking amongst themselves, they treat each other as individuals.  Talking amongst outsiders, they are keenly aware of a different group dynamic, and don't want to step in some mess that (they are sure must be there) they can't see, and are unsure how to act.

    As a result, they are not smooth at it. And it comes out as this sort of patronizing "so how does your group feel?"

  •  IMHO (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, justCal, David Kroning

    The blogosphere is an odd place to talk about race. Sure, we're overwhelmingly an educated and open-minded subset of the population, but the cool thing about the blogosphere is that in the blogosphere, race really doesn't matter.

    I've always found it fascinating (and encouraging) that the blogosphere is a really egalitarian place. There's an old saying, "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." But on the Internet, no one knows your race, your gender, your socioeconomic status, your sexual orientation/gender identity, your educational level, or any other demographic information unless you consciously choose to reveal it. Moreover, who has an opinion and access to an Internet connection can blog (which sets up a discussion of how minorities are likely to be underrepresented in the blogosphere due to socioeconomic disadvantages, I suppose--and if you want to have that discussion, go for it.).

    People rise and fall to the top of the Recommended List and to the top of people's blogrolls based solely on the intellectual merits of their posts (yes, Silly Season at dKos is probably an exception), not because of the color of their skin. The blogosphere is the one place where it's your ability that matters, not who you are.

    On the Internet, no one knows that I'm a dog 26-year-old, college-educated, disabled white gay only child from a lower-middle-class two-parent family in the Midwest.

    "We do not love people because they are beautiful; they seem beautiful to us because we love them."--Source Unknown

    by PerfectStormer on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

  •  Who is a "black" person? Who decides? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Progressive Witness
    •  It is all about appearance. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Progressive Witness

      I'm sure there are people now trying to get used to the new darker Obama since his vacation in the tropics. He'll fade out after awhile.

      "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

      by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:53:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But throughout so much of our history... (0+ / 0-)

        ...it was about anything but mere "appearance."  During our culture's long, ugly flirtation with eugenics and "racial science," all it took to make you "black" was "a single drop" of non-White blood, if you were unlucky enough for someone to find it out.  Being "high yellow" enough to "pass" wouldn't help you if Walter Ashby Plecker's ugly crowd got hold of your birth records.

        va dare's superb diary on Appalachian racism from a couple of weeks back points the way, I think, to the ground on which our discussion of race would bear the most beneficial fruit.

        What it always comes back to for me is that there's no "pure" anything.  Most "White" Americans, whether they're aware of it or not, are probably anything but pure, and meet Plecker's "one drop" criterion for Black, or Indian, or Asian, or some combination of the three.

        There ain't but the one race.  The rest of it is just variations.

        Prog

        •  You are right about this. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Progressive Witness

          But the "one drop" manifests itself in different ways. Some people could pass. Others couldn't.

          Birth records are a whole other deal. On the other hand, who was listed as Strom Thurmond's Black daughter's daddy?

          "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

          by blindyone on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 02:20:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  First and foremost: (4+ / 0-)

    We need to de-segregate American history in our schools, libraries, and bookstores.  I realize that much of Black History is not American History, but much of Black American History generally relegated to the Black History section IS.  And aside from the odd book or few pertaining to the Underground Railroad, these books are almost always relegated to the BLACK History section, although they arguably relate more to American History than Black History alone.  I think this speaks volumes.

    •  you do realize though, that (0+ / 0-)

      if we do desegregate black history (and womyn's histyry, and every other oppressed group), that they will get little or no attention?

      It is sort of a zero sum game for the amount of time and attention we spend on different subjects.

      For the last 40 years, the classics, civics, and American history have suffered in order to spend more time on other things.

      If we stop spending time on the subjects you have listed, they will get thrown back into the mill and judged along with everything else.

  •  I would add that (0+ / 0-)

    we of course should be teaching all Americans an integrated view of American history, generally.  I know that I did not learn anything about all of the Black representatives elected to office in many southern states between 1868- 1877(?) in public school.  And the "Compromise" that Rutherford B. Hayes made that led to the disenfranchisement of said representatives, and blacks throughout the South.

  •  Amen! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    America Jones

    Awesome diary! We as Black folks have placed an incredible burden on ourselves because often when we speak up or out, we KNOW it will be seen as representative of all of us.  Our history in this country has always been we are FIRST Black, then whatever else.

    The experience of slavery forced us to die to the individual self - for the sake of our physical self and mental sanity.  Our survival has always rested in the "whole", and we as Black people are just getting comfortable with the idea of completely individualistic thought.  We will get more comfortable, I believe, as we realize that us being seen as individuals does not water down the strength of who we are as a race, but in fact enhances it.

    ...Everything is permissable, but not all things are prudent ~ Apostle Paul

    by angeleyes on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 03:17:23 PM PDT

    •  Great comment Angeleyes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angeleyes

      We now have the "luxury" of being individuals. Our collective history of struggle in this country has bought us this right.

      I too have felt the need at times to speak on behalf of my people when making a point. I'm sure I'll still do this from time to time, but I also know how diverse we are - and really opinionated!

      No leader speaks for me. I can speak for myself.

      I might agree with certain opinions of influential blacks, but I'm also free to disagree with them too.

      I hate it when the MSM picks the same "go to" black persons to speak about race issues. There's lots of diversity of opinion in our community, and I'd like to see it and hear it on TV.

  •  Excellent Diary (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent Diary and so right on time. Well done.

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