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This isn't going to be a long diary.  

I really just want to riff on this.

Yes.  I am a white person, and I have experienced the things that are in this diary and comment in particular in many different, frustrating and enlightening ways.

On the Internet, in general nobody knows you are not white, until they do.  What do I mean by that?

Culture, that's what I mean.

For me, culture was this thing I saw in movies, read about in books, and sometimes experienced in the presence of somebody from far away.  I really didn't grok the deeper implications of it though, seeing it more like some cool hat that one wears, or some other shallow thing.

Culture runs deeper than that, and it carries with it all manner of expectations.  Really basic things are different, changed, not malleable, like norms and customs are.  Most of us haven't experienced real cultural changes, unless we've traveled, or been a part of some experience that changed us in some way.

For me, that was adopting a Black son.  At first there were no problems.  Things went fine, other than for some asses who would make comments, or shun us for not being all the same color.  That was annoying, but not something life changing.  

Then it started.  First it was "wigger", the first shot across the bow, warning me of serious things to come.  Wigger* is quite simply a Black person, who isn't demonstrating appropriate Black culture.  This was astounding to me!  I did not understand at all, thinking that it was simply a matter of somebody being less than great people, finding ways to pick at us, like they usually would, no worries.

So I dismissed this, and that was a mistake.

Tensions grew.  My influence as a father on all the basics was solid, but tensions grew anyway.  My white son didn't have the same difficulties as my Black one did, and for the longest time, I could not figure out just why that was.  Thought it was simple envy, with us being a mixed race family, me doing fairly well, we were not exactly high class, but we were not bottom of the barrel either.  But that was not it.  Not at all.

Then there was the kid who started calling out nigger every day at school.  We worked the system on that big, stepping through the conflict resolution steps, having parent teacher meetings, everybody talking about this and that, but it continued.  One day, my son reached his limit, and we agreed it was going to take some old school life lessons to get this to end.  Simple terms, do no real harm, but get it done, get it done quick, and don't over do it.  

That worked.  Wasn't pretty, and the longer version of the story is here somewhere, the point being I thought it was over, but it wasn't.

There were the other kids who showed up, treating me strangely, getting between me and my son, and it pissed me off, and I did not know why.  Relations went to the crapper, with me and my son at odds to the point where I remember the day he finally yelled, "But Dad, You Don't Know What Being Black IS!"  This over my increasing frustration at him limiting his choices, doing things he felt obligated to do, basically NOT BEING WHITE.

Now that's not easy to come to terms with, but I can tell you it's completely true.  What I ended up doing was having a boys night out, where I could get everybody somewhere comfortable, where I could get them to let me into the club, share what being Black is.

And they did.  We talked for hours, with me feeling at times clueless, other times angry, often frustrated and amazed too!  Their world was entirely different, and the closest thing I can compare it to is basic male privilege.  It is a similar thing where one's very attributes change the world, impacting so many things.

A woman will easily tell you what her world is like, and there are so many things, being sure not to be alone, or when things get tough, wondering where the loyalties lie, for they might come in handy, life and death.  Attraction vs targeting, etc...

Anyone married, or who has daughters has seen these things, and can come to understand them.

Black is one of these things!  And for me, the hard part was getting to where they would actually share with me.  As young men, they didn't want to seem weak, or less, or scared, where the daughters and women in my life would talk easily, eager to share more than not, they wouldn't for those reasons, and the idea that I just would not understand.

That turned out to be a baseless fear, but I can very easily see how it's warranted.  Many of my peers would not get this at all, having no direct, no immersive experiences.  I did though, and again we talked.

I'm not going to go down the list of things, though I will highlight a couple.  What I want to convey here is the culture, the norms, the way the world basically works is often very different, shifted, balanced in subtle ways that many of us won't understand, unless we live it, or are close to surrounded by those that do.

I find it hard to write, just because it is subtle, complicated, alien in ways, but make no mistake, it's palpable too.  

White people are mono-cultural in this way, because they do experience what I would call a default norm, where they see differences as choices, not states of being.  People of color, and again I want to place Women here too, because it's similar and instructive and for no other reason, and I hope you understand that, experience different states of  being, because the world treats them differently.  Not default, optional, something contrived, to be enforced, watched for, a burden of sorts to some.  (though that's clearly wrong)

These things run deep, and they take a long time to blend in, and it's a lot like being dropped in some other nation where the very basics are different, and many things seem extraordinary for a long time, because it takes a long time to shift, to blend and become one of the locals.  It's like that.

Shit.  Ok, so it is gonna be a longer diary.  Sorry.

One of the crazy things is simply feeling inhibition about saying Black!  This is so bizzare to me now, though it felt perfectly ordinary to feel that at first, with me often saying African American.  A comedian once highlighted this perfectly for me, with my son and I laughing big.  So, are you European Americans, Asian Americans??  

But still, people will push back on me for writing Black, as if I'm doing something wrong, as if that culture isn't there, denied, suppressed, something that is a pain in the ass, or they push back because they don't understand at all, just wanting to play it safe, because you know people --those people are different.

I resolved this another way too.  When I ask my son, or his peers their race, they simply say Black.  Works for me, after all I think I would say White.  Who cares about the details?  Nobody until they get older, wanting to know all about their lineage and such.

That's just one of so many ripples, lines of friction.

Then we come to language.  Oh man, there are lots of things, new rules.  The basics are the same, but the specifics often change, and the color of stuff, references, what they mean, all adding up to a history that I don't have, but they do.  Failure to recognize that is the source of a lot of trouble, IMHO.  Was for me.

You know how guys speak "guy" and girls speak "girl"?  Well, there is black, asian and other things too, redneck maybe?  Culture.  It's important to understand, and it's even more important to recognize as the force it is, because when we don't, people feel the friction, are inhibited, less potent, diminished, and just generally not at ease, often with many of them not fully understanding why that is.

One of the most striking things to me was the realization that I can just choose to ignore that, if I want to.  The norm is, whether we like it or not, is they are different, and burden is on them to get along with us, because we are normal, or the default, or more simply, just not different.  This is fact in so many places, despite the work we've done to beat it back, control it, push for equality, understanding and peace.

It still is the norm.  There still are places where Black people don't feel entirely welcome, and you know that's just not ok, and you also know that they all share a bond over that.  Similar bonds might be people who have lost children, or who are disabled, or maybe just ugly, or fat, or funny sounding.

I don't mean to equate those things in any way.  I do mean to attempt to communicate the dynamic here in ways that many can understand and relate to.

And I'll end there.  Trust and understanding are key in this world.  When we do the work to really understand, and one of my metrics is when we can laugh about it, ourselves, the differences, and it's a honest laugh, like "isn't the world nuts?" and mean it, with no friction at all, then we really do understand and trust --we then get to the meat of things, holding just a few of the keys that we need to make it a better place for everybody we meet.

I went through that with my Black son, and I can shift and change cultures and I don't feel it anymore, and interestingly, neither do they.  Even Black people I've never met before know.  There are subtle things about me they pick up on, and it's really all OK.  Wasn't always that way.  I had to work for it, and the funny thing is I can't really tell you the steps, the signals, the things that matter.  They are just part of me now for doing that work.

There is friction here, push back, failure to understand, anger, frustration, and all manner of crappy times.  Think about the text, the limited bandwidth we get here, unable to see one another, and just consider how much of a barrier that really can be at times.

Cut your fellow Kossacks some slack.  They might be really different, experiencing the same things you are, lacking the same trust and understanding you do.  

I don't mean to excuse anything.  I just wanted to put some of my life experience out there because it might help.  I honestly had no idea.  Now I do, and I'm happy for it too.

Edit:  So, I have to address the question:

Why do this work, if you don't have to?  Many people don't you know.  They can just avoid it, and that's just how it is.

If you do it, you get something.  You get the ability to see people as just people.  This is hard to explain, but I will try.

Every one of us are just people, and we have attributes.  Gender, race, beauty, strength, etc...

At the core of that, we all work the same exact way, but that's hard to see until you've experienced really different people, and have come to know them as you do yourself, and your own.  

It then becomes possible to experience that again and again, each time it gets easier, the core ability more robust, and between all those differences is the key to just people, how they work, what they want, what they feel, and who they are.  The analogy I would use here is learning another language.  It's like that.

Worth it too.

*UPDATE:  Some differences on wigger have come to light.  In my place, at that time, among those people, wigger was used as written here.  Of course, the same group used "bleach your shoes" to refer to the stains that new jeans will leave on new, "fresh" shoes too.  The point at hand here is to talk through those and grow, not battle over what is right and wrong, because culture is a malleable thing, clearly demonstrated here today.

"fresh" being clothing that looks as though it was never worn

I won that fight, getting them to use "tint" or "color", or "stain" where they had started with "bleached", and one does wonder about those things, amplified through people over time, and how it all adds up.  Is there any real wonder we cannot at times understand one another?  No.

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  •  Tip Jar (136+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, sideboth, DaveinBremerton, Dark UltraValia, DeadHead, ER Doc, Kysen, Ramdove, tjcj, JFinNe, Morgan Sandlin, CaliSista, marykk, Luthien Tinuviel, Pluto, gulfgal98, GenXangster, getlost, Kimball Cross, Noor B, jmrichardson, mos1133, matching mole, emmasnacker, Vatexia, glitterscale, exlrrp, Bendra, theKgirls, for your consideration, imokyrok, brown and blue all over, roses, coppercelt, Barbie02360, tgypsy, azrefugee, mikidee, TexasTwister, JamieG from Md, doroma, TrueBlueMajority, DamselleFly, Chi, Naniboujou, zenox, One Pissed Off Liberal, SaintC, Little Flower, meg, mofembot, dengre, geebeebee, tolerant, be the change you seek, Limelite, J M F, Emerson, zerelda, marleycat, The Hindsight Times, tb92, shari, Oke, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, Rich N Mdriems, Julie Gulden, Wordsinthewind, dirkster42, wayoutinthestix, bnasley, billmosby, dotsright, Ebby, Unknown Quantity, Disgusted in St Louis, Misterpuff, lissablack, hester, nickrud, catwho, orson, spooks51, a gilas girl, koNko, Ace Nelson, luvmykona, blue jersey mom, bubbanomics, surfbird007, adrianrf, USHomeopath, pixxer, Vita Brevis, kck, Matt Z, chicagobama, commonmass, catly, Dancun74, icebergslim, davidincleveland, Renee, wu ming, RosyFinch, byDesign, glbTVET, wishingwell, lol chikinburd, petulans, RebeccaG, noemie maxwell, CA ridebalanced, NearlyNormal, WI Deadhead, blueoasis, historys mysteries, SuetheRedWA, greengemini, on the cusp, foucaultspendulum, addisnana, dopper0189, highacidity, operculum, sardonyx, Happy Days, Floja Roja, clenchner, smileycreek, Boris49, Ana Thema, Wood Dragon, mrkvica, jinx303, Land of Enchantment

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

    by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 12:26:34 AM PDT

  •  Great diarY (52+ / 0-)

    I am a biracial (black/white) woman who was adopted by white parents so I understand the struggle you went through.

    What a lucky son to have a father who was willing to explore these issues.  I do think the problem with trans-racial adoption (which I support) is the lack of understanding of how hard it is to raise a child of a different race.  To truly make sure that the child gets the correct cultural upbringing that will allow them not to feel as an outsider.

    I now face sort of the same issue.  I am a black woman raising a white son.  While my son is mine, he is the blondest, whitest baby.  Unless people actually take the time to look, most assume I am the nanny.  How to I install black culture into a child that will always pass as white?  So much of my experience has been based off my skin color.  I now have to go back and truly understand the essence of black culture and make sure my son understands part of his culture even if he doesn't "look black".

  •  Terrific diary (37+ / 0-)

    I had this Pulitzer-esque reply all written until I fat-fingered the control key and "poof!" it went away in a flash of Windows features (not bugs).  I'll try to re-create:

    My family is multi-cultural, and we both have kids from other relationships.  They aren't "her kids" and "my kids", they're all just kids to us.  Even then, multicultural life is chaotic.

    My policy at home is "no prejudiced crap" but I still hear, "Mom, you're sooo Asian!" when she gets a little too freestyle with the English language.  That squeaks by as barely within bounds.  Thanksgiving dinner is turkey with a side of pancit lug-lug, pandesal rolls, and fruit salad that's been frozen solid so it doesn't spoil in Bremerton's tropical November climate.  Kid's birthday parties included beer and gambling games like pares-pares.  Family night is whenever Manny Pacquiao is boxing on pay-per-view.  Sometimes I feel like my own culture is lost somewhere in this stew of ideas, but then I realize this is my own culture--it's my family.

    My teenage stepson, who is Puerto Rican and Filipino caught me off guard one day when for no particular reason he quietly said, "Dad, I love you".  He meant it.  I hope it stays that way as he enters the world.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 01:26:41 AM PDT

    •  LOL!! That's fun stuff. (5+ / 0-)

      And, BTW I absolutely love Asian takes on language.

      Had a neighbor, who immigrated from Japan.  She married a gear head friend of mine.  So much fun!  

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:33:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My wife is a brilliant lady (5+ / 0-)

        Unfortunately, our teenage kids are unmerciful...any linguistic malfunction gets noticed.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

        by DaveinBremerton on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:20:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You might find this site amusing, I do. (4+ / 0-)
        •  Smart Asian woman. (3+ / 0-)

          You are a lucky guy.

          And isn't it simply amazing how teens are.  They notice EVERYTHING.  Sometimes a little of it rubs off, and I find it intoxicating, just because it's interesting and the world has some texture it doesn't normally have.

          Most times, I am ordinary, and that is what makes culture differences fun now.  Texture is a good word for it.  Just interesting, not dull, food for conversation.

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 09:40:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  that's because americans are ruthless about it (4+ / 0-)

          language can be a brutal marker of who is in and who is out, and they'll go right down to accents, word choice, and idiom if they need to, to sort it out.

          •  I know, and I hate that tendency (4+ / 0-)

            What's worse is that my wife frequently asks me what is the "right" way to say something.  The problem with English is that there are multiple right ways, where the Tagalog she is used to is a bit more structured.

            I can sing Tagalog karaoke with nearly perfect pronunciation, but the only words I understand are the ones that mean she's mad at me for something.

            "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

            by DaveinBremerton on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 01:03:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Funny how that works isn't it? LOL (again) (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Floja Roja

              You might consider introducing the concept of appropriate as opposed to right.

              At any time, there often are many choices on the table.  There isn't always a right one, but there are appropriate ones, and from there some flexibility to communicate mood, style, culture, etc...

              To me, that's one of the best things about English, and I've often heard it is the most difficult for non-native speakers.

              Mrs taught English as a second language in Korea for several years.  Man, the stories she can tell!  Hilarious.

              ***Be Excellent To One Another***
              IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

              by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 01:18:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  i did an intensive language program once (0+ / 0-)

              where the students and profs all lived together in the dorms, and only spoke the language we were studying 24/7, for the summer. it was really disconcerting on the last day, when suddenly everyone was allowed to speak english again, how strong these subtle unconscious judgements i had been making about everyone had been, all based on how clearly or fluently they'd been speaking chinese.

              all of a sudden, my teachers seemed slow, halting, foreign, when the day before they had been quick-tongued and witty. my classmates, some of them a level below me, that i'd sort of thought of as nice but a little slow-witted, were talking a mile a minute. and the korean grad student next door, who was the best of all of us, spoke with a halting, strong korean accent. even though i was in a freaking language program, my american-trained subconscious had been judging people, and was still judging people, in both languages, and making all sorts of unfair snap judgements because of it. while my second thought was to disavow that first reaction, and feel embarassed about thinking it, that culturally-trained snap judgement was right there, and couldn't be gotten rid of.

              it's not at all different from the socially-enforced first thoughts that come from being in a racist society. you can try to make good, to surpass and transcend your upbringing and culture, after that first reaction, but it's incredibly hard to change those gut feelings and assumptions.  

              we put a lot of weight on how people talk, in part i suspect because there are immigrants or descendents of immigrants from all over, so it's a way to sort who's "in" and who's "out" when appearances wouldn't necessarily tip you off. it sucks, but it's rooted deep in there, and it takes a lot of work to even dampen.

              •  Language ability is a lousy intelligence indicator (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wu ming, surfbird007

                The best algebra professor I ever had was this Chinese immigrant whose accent I had a lot of difficulty with.  However, the dude explained advanced algebra in a way that none of my high school teachers ever could.

                I can't even remember his name anymore, but I remember the lesson.

                My problem is a gift for picking up accents and rythms.  I can read and write Spanish fairly well, and I can mimic it as well as any parrot, but I barely comprehend oral Spanish.  When I say "No hablo a Espanol", I nail the accent so well the person I'm talking to assumes I must be screwing with them and comes back with a blizzard of language that totally loses me.

                My wife, on the other hand, deals with English pretty well, plus Tagalog, Visayan, and a decent amount of Japanese.

                "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

                by DaveinBremerton on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:54:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  And I thought being Asian was cool (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          potatohead, surfbird007

          All teenagers are hypocrites, don't trust anyone under 30.

          But, I'm forced to agree being Asian is cool (;-P

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 12:05:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  the free-stylee (5+ / 0-)
      when she gets a little too freestyle with the English language

      That tickled me. It actually made me think of how much I love people who aren't afraid to go freestyle with English. It can come from many cultural backgrounds, from homegrown to foreign-born. It makes life more interesting.

      I have a good friend from KY who during a bad cold spell said, "It's been so damned cold I had to wrap the 'chimley' with 'plaskit' to keep the wind out." It's hard to explain, but it just sounded so beautiful. She has an accent almost like Loretta Lynn, and speaks with such a flowing, carefree style.

      She also introduced me to "it's untellin'," which replaces "there's no tellin'." I use that all the time now. I think we should adopt it as colloquialism-turned-correct usage.

      Those kids will love that stuff when they grow up and get past the needless insecurities/embarrassments so common to the childhood years.

      So I was at a concert the other night, and the performer says at one point: "I was born in 1980... So I've lived my whole life in postmortem America."

      by surfbird007 on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 09:18:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. Valuable insight (12+ / 0-)

    This excellent diary has been officially tipped and recommended.

    :-)

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 01:57:41 AM PDT

  •  while i may never know what being black is, (5+ / 0-)

    i still have a fair idea of what being human is.

    I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: "No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Ramdove on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 02:17:04 AM PDT

  •  Outstanding Diary! (5+ / 0-)

    The only Oprah show I watched featured black women married to white men and it was rollicking funny.  Appearing on the program was a very close friend of our family who was there with her husband and he was as far out to sea about the culture of his wife as were all the other white men.  

    When our friend married, we had the wedding reception in our house with her parents, friends and other relatives doing the cooking.  The bride and groom arrived two hours (late?) after the reception started, guests ambled in when ever they got there, food appeared when it was done while other dishes were still being prepared.  I was a wreck.  That was just not the way things were done in my culture, yet I was seemingly the only one who found this to be not routine.  Tiny example, but culturally, it was a shock to me.

    •  enjoyed your story - but remember there are (5+ / 0-)

      so many differences even under that umbrella.  I'm a black woman and even though we sometimes practice a little "CP" time, we pretty much run a tight ship here - nothing like your friends.  However,  I have a few Caribbean-American friends, some of whom seem to take being late to an art form.

      •  my wife was raised Lutheran (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        potatohead

        We attend many multi-cultural events now and that has been a hard switch for her. If we have a party at our house we know what to expect...

        Starts at 12:00
        Her mother and family will start arriving at 11:30 or so
        Families we know will start arriving at about 12:15 (something always happens at the last minute to make us late)
        friends with different cultural backgrounds/ races arrive between 1-3.

        www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

        by WI Deadhead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:47:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You don't speak for white people anymore than (4+ / 0-)

    you can speak for black people:

    White people are mono-cultural in this way, because they do experience what I would call a default norm, where they see differences as choices, not states of being.

    I'd put this differently: "white people have the luxury of being able to see differences....."
  •  Um...my apologies, but... (16+ / 0-)

    I didn't read the rest of your post because I got caught up in your incorrect definition of a particular insult. I'm pretty sure a "wigger" is a white person who acts as if he is black, not a black person who acts white; that one's called an Oreo. Know thy racist insults!

  •  Interesting Experiences T&R... (24+ / 0-)

    I glad you were open minded enough with your son that he felt free to share his racial reality with you. You used a good analogy wrt to a man not intrinsically comprehending a woman's apprehension walking to her car at night. That disparity is magnified because while it's possible for many White people to conduct their lives without meaningful contact with Black people, that is rarely the case with men and women.

    I'd like to challenge you a bit on your view of the dominant culture and societal norms. I believe I understood where you were going with that but where you say "they are different" and "we are normal" I would argue that we are different from each other and that many White people assume that their reality is what is normal for everyone else.

    As an aside, I've always known wigger to be the exact opposite of your definition. In my experience, a Black person who acted White was pejoratively called an Oreo.

    Just so it won't become a distraction, can I offer a teeny editing suggestion? If you could change

    Colored people, and again I want......
    to
    People of color, and again I want......
    you might save some molar gnashing.

    "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

    by CaliSista on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 04:44:55 AM PDT

  •  You may wish to change your reference (12+ / 0-)

    to "colored people" to "people of color" or PoC.

    That's rather a tone-deaf phrase in a diary like this.

    In this country, white people feeling solid in playing around with the lives of black people is a FEATURE, not a bug. -- mallyroyal

    by Yasuragi on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 05:07:47 AM PDT

  •  really good writing and very insightful (4+ / 0-)

    diary...thanks for sharing this short piece of work!

  •  "Black" (31+ / 0-)

    To tell you the truth, "black" is perfectly fine with at least 99.9% of black people I know. Just saying.

    Thanks for sharing your story. White parents of black kids; come on in and shut the door for we have much to discuss and despair about raising black kids.

    As these children get older, you will discover more things about being black and so will they. Depending on how African they look, they will be treated a certain way by a few black people and it will confuse them until they realize that no culture exists in a vacuum. Light skinned privilege is less prevalent today but the damage it has done to darker people is still evident because most of the faces of the poor in the hood are much darker than a paper bag.

    Living in Whiteworld won't teach them everything about being black, obviously but they will be quite astute in some kinds of racism that kids in Blackworld will never see firsthand because there's nothing but miles and miles of black people. Living in Blackworld didn't teach me everything about being black, either. When I went off to a white university, living in white neighborhoods with my black son, I had a shocking and depressing awakening about the world. Then I had a revelation about myself. Looking less African than a lot of my black peers was why I thought I could go to college in the first place. Light skinned privilege.

    Don't stop writing and sharing your experiences with us, as hard as it may be. There are plenty of people here who know what you're going through and what's coming down the road. Oh, just wait until you have to have the "talk". Not the birds and bees but the other one. The one about how to behave if the police stop you.

    Do give them a few books about the black experience and encourage any classes that might be available at the school, etc. if you can. It sounds absurd but I learned so much about myself in black history classes from college that life wasn't giving me articulate answers to. I learned how to interpret the images I saw on TV and how to object to them if they fell into one of the 7 or 8 black Hollywood stereotypes that are damaging to blacks. I recommend this for everyone, whatever race they are. There are too many blunders made with regard to race on this site and it seems to be because people are just blind to what they're doing rather than being malicious. It could be cured with a simple lesson or a few books from the library. The "aha" moment will come.

    "Warm smell of Moulitsas rising up in the air..." -seanwright

    by GenXangster on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 05:27:13 AM PDT

    •  I've had it. Hated it. (10+ / 0-)

      But we got that done with few issues.  

      I think the best thing that came out of it is, "I have your back", and of course I do.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:01:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Outstanding comment (16+ / 0-)

      Most people don't even know what they don't know and I love how you touched on that.

      As a white father of three biracial sons, I got plenty of reminders that I couldn't teach them everything they needed to know in life.  Once my sons were playing around on Saturday at a local school.  A ball went on the roof and some kids including my eldest two sons went up to get it.  They discovered that throwing gravel off the roof as about as fun as the ball game (I didn't get it then, I don't get it now...).

      My youngest son comes running home to tell me his brothers are in the back of a police car.  Out of 7-8 kids, the white boys (they were white, they were boys) were told to go home and my sons were being held for vandalism.  Realizing the situation, it took a lot to keep a respectful attitude with the officer (bottom line, my sons were involved...BUT).  Part of me realized I was in the wrong because they were involved, but I also realized getting an attitude with the man was not gonna be a good lesson for my boys.  So I got a broom, cleaned up the schoolyard and my sons were released.  I'm not sure how that woulda played out if I wasn't so bright and shiny.

      Afterwards, we talked about the inequality of the situation and they learned that in a group of those friends THEY are most likely to catch problems.  And more importantly, if you brush with the police, stay respectful.  To this day, for as much as I think I know, I still don't know what I don't know.

      I'm glad this diary was written.  I didn't quite follow along with everything but it never gets better without these conversations.  Diversity doesn't do us much good without understanding and acceptance.  A professor once told me, "If you look around and all of your friends look like you, you're not as diverse as you think you are."

      We were all Newts once. Some of us evolved.

      by Rich N Mdriems on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:31:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, this happened to my adopted bi-racial son (4+ / 0-)

        Of the group of boys, he was the only black and the only one taken to juvie hall, the only one put on probation. They were all in the wrong, and I was glad consequences were given to my son. I thought the others would have benefited from that as well. Even so, I was angry that he was treated differently. Another strange thing about the whole deal was that I could see that he was proud to "take the fall" for the others.

        working for a world that works for everyone ...

        by USHomeopath on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 09:48:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is a great comment - (6+ / 0-)

      Will you please recommend a few of the books you think of when you say "a few books" - I would very much like to read a few of those books.

  •  What about "negro" and "caucasian"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    potatohead

    I never hear them used by anyone.
    Are these words so archaic that there is no opinion on them anymore?

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 05:54:27 AM PDT

  •  Well, I think you have it exactly right (23+ / 0-)

    it is an always has been about culture, not skin tone.  That's the first big step you've taken and high-lighted.  I've talked about some of this a few times, but I'm not sure I did it as well as you just did - most recently when I wrote about Black Perspectives on Speech-Gate

    One of the things I say - and not all Black people are intimately familiar with the history, but they often feel the weight of it  - is that for many of us America is a string of broken promises.  The Declaration of Independence promised that "All men" deserved freedom, yet the Constitution which was supposed to implement and protect that Freedom for all of us, simply didn't.

    There's the 3/5th clause of course, but also the Fugitive Slave Clause and other elements - all of which led to the Dred Scot Decision where even Free Negroes were essentially stripped of their Citizenship Rights.  Not just the slaves, the "free" also.  There was the Civil War, and as I often point out the use of slaves as a bargaining chip by Lincoln in the so-called Emancipation Proclaimation. Then came the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments which supposedly freed the slaves (except for the duly convicted), supposed reversed the Dred Scot Decision and established equal rights under the law (except for the Black Codes & Jim Crow) and granted Blacks the Right to Votes (except for the Poll Tax & Literacy Test).

    After that you get Plessy v Furgeson which establishes "Separate But Unequal".  

    It's decades later that you get to Brown V Board and Plessy finally gets undone.  It's nearly a CENTURY after the 14th and 15th that you finally get the Civil Rights Act & Voting Rights Act to protect the rights we were supposed to already have.

    Now we're 50 years past that and we can see the poll tax returning with Voter ID requirements in many states.  We're still having this fight - 240 plus years after the initial promise was made with the Declaration.

    The thing about Black people is that they haven't been sitting around holding their breath on the porch of America finally waiting to be let in.  Culturally they've moved forward, and that separate life has become very lived in over the past few centuries.

    We've been living in an entirely different America, side by side, separate and not even close to equal, for Centuries.

    The Civil Rights Act didn't change that, because it didn't change people's hearts, it didn't change history, and it didn't change the separate and unique Black Culture that we created because it had to exist independently.

    So now when America has finally begun to open the screen door and finally let us in, all of us, our culture, our perspective, our history, our hopes and our disappointments are what's coming in.

    Not nearly enough of us are ready or that, even today.

    Vyan

  •  i thought "wigger" (6+ / 0-)

    was a white kid who wanted to absorb black culture

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    I am a volunteer for Bob Massie for MA-Sen

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 06:35:33 AM PDT

  •  This was a fine Diary (7+ / 0-)

    and a great one to read any day, but I found it especially nice to read on this sad anniversary of the start of a decade of madness.

    Thanks

    Time to clean up DeLay's petri dish! Help CNMI guest workers find justice! Learn more at Unheard No More.

    by dengre on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:05:54 AM PDT

  •  I support the 'cut some slack' sentiment. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Ebby, tardis10, orson, potatohead

    Too often I see comment string after comment string derailed simply because one person or another jumps in to immediately insult someone or make a snide remark about how someone else will be along to insult the diarist in a pre-emptive insult attack on people who haven't even read the diary.

    The signal-to-noise ratio around here is so bad at times that it's a noise-to-signal ratio.

  •  Reminds me of a recent kerfluffle at Balloon Juice (12+ / 0-)

    In the comments:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/...

    Corner Stone - September 5, 2011 | 1:02 am · Link

    @Darnell From LA: Darnell From LA, you’re an idiot. I can’t make it any plainer than that.
    You hate white people and have a grudge against tiny little websites you imagine to be significant foes.
    You counter every outcome against how it plays against these otherwise insignificant websites because it makes you feel special and powerful in some way no one has yet been able to explain to you.
    You aren’t special, the websites aren’t significant and your futile attempts to stage against a foe have failed.
    Miserably.
    Because no one cares what FDL thinks about the EPA rules.

    Followed by "Darnell":

    Darnell From LA - September 5, 2011 | 2:54 am · Link

    @Corner Stone: Ahh, the racism comes out.

    You see, idiot, I am white. Not black, white.
    Nowhere in my comment is there any remark even bordering on race.

    But, sure enough, whenever I use a traditionally African-American name for my comments it acts as bait. And every single time a racist like you reveals themself.

    i.e. Nothing, NOTHING borders on race in my comments. I make arguments that are based on emperical data and histoirical fact. But, whenever I use “Darnell” or “Tryell” etc, for my comments it’s like a juicy worm in the face of racists, it is only a matter of time before a vile, disgusting, racist fool such as you have shown yourself to be accuses me (2nd gen German / Swiss) of “hating white people.”

    You’re exposed. Racist. You are the type of person who makes non-racist white like me people feel shame.

    Lonely, racist, most likely angry old person. That’s you. I feel bad for you. God have mercy on you.


    Kevin dropped his ice cream and blames Obama? He's gone hamsher!

    by punditician on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:11:25 AM PDT

  •  Grandparent Here (6+ / 0-)

    of two bi-racial grandchildren.

    Love them, love their color.

    Hope their parents and we grandparents are able to teach them to love themselves.  To love their color.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:14:26 AM PDT

    •  You probably don't have to hope too hard. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, potatohead

      I think people get resenting experiences because of who we are confused with resentment about who we are.  Sure -- there are people who seem to genuinely wish they were something else -- but I haven't known many.

      I love my color -- to the point of being rather conceited about it.  Even though I know there are some folks out there who would make negative assumptions about me or even think negatively about me -- period -- I'm confident even most of them think my skin color is beautiful.

      The task before you is to try to keep the messages that white is superior and everything else is inferior from affecting their self-esteem, self-confidence, etc.

  •  This. This right here is an (25+ / 0-)

    AMAZING diary.  I've been lurking on Dailykos for a long time, but no diary has touched me so much.

    I'm black and mostly had AP classes with white kid. School was always emphasized in my house, I HAD to do well, no if, ands, or buts about it.  My school was not predominantly white, however, only the advanced classes happened to be.  I was never really called a 'wigger', but I have been told-'wow you're different from those other black people' or 'you're not like one of them niggers, you're just a regular black person.'

    Insane!

    Those statements were from the white kids; I never had run in's with the black kids, but there was always something slightly different about me from them.  I didn't talk like they did, didn't have certain behaviors.  So I changed and acted the way the other black kids when I was around them and when I was around the white kids, I acted another way around them.  It was exhausting-believe me!  It reminds me of the term Dr. WEB Dubois coined: double consciousness-'he double consciousness of black folk.'  It is real and it exists!

    He says it far more eloquently than I ever can: "The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn't bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.”

    Finally, I said fuck it.  I will be me, and whoever doesn't like it, can get to stepping!  How liberating.  Not having to be two people.

    Anyway, best wishes to you, your son, and your family! Great diary.

    •  Excellent, and yes you should be you. (7+ / 0-)

      It is after all not morally just to ask that somebody live a lie.

      Your comments mean a lot to me.  Thanks for them.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:43:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In my high school (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl, potatohead

      our all-white AP history class read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X".

      "Yes, this is called 'irony', children. "

      The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

      by raboof on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:16:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had a little taste of this, as a white kid (6+ / 0-)

      I spent a wonderful summer at Claflin College in SC, a traditional Black college.  I went there for a summer math and sciences program with some friends from high school.  I was the only white girl there.  It was an eye-opening experience, to be completely immersed in another culture so completely, but I was with friends.  Everyone was guarded at first.  By the end of the summer, though, a conversation of why I was fitting in so well came up.  My room mate for the summer program said, simply, "Cathy black."  Not true in the least - I'm mixed American white mutt - but the simple two word statement was one of the best compliments I could have received at the time.

      Conservatives: They love America. They hate actual Americans.

      by catwho on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:32:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  my bi-racial adopted son grew up (3+ / 0-)

      in our mostly white family in a mostly white neighborhood. Today at 23, he says most people see him as black when they meet him (he looks black), and see him as white when they know him well. And he appears to be comfortable with that.

      working for a world that works for everyone ...

      by USHomeopath on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:14:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I used to get that all the time when I was (4+ / 0-)

      a kid.

      I was never really called a 'wigger', but I have been told-'wow you're different from those other black people' or 'you're not like one of them niggers, you're just a regular black person.'

      All the fucking time with these fucking racist-ass white people and their backhanded, patronizing judgements.  They think a black person with a brain is an interesting novelty, that is until you outperform them on a test or for a job, in which case they get really angry, as if you'd stripped their white skin off them and exposed the abject stupidity underneath.

      On the other hand, I was also gay and there ain't a lot of love from black folks when you're different that way.  I've been estranged from my "religious" family for years now.

      I've had equal amounts of contempt for black and white alike for quite some time now.  I often feel as if they're mirror images of one another.

      No need to squabble girls. There's plenty of me to go around. - Pam from True Blood

      by fou on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:52:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is so real. (3+ / 0-)
      He says it far more eloquently than I ever can: "The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn't bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.”

      After years for braiding or otherwise straightening my hair, I finally decided not to do anything to it.  And it's fair to say that I have a job that's corporate-ish in an upscale, predominantly white area of my city.  I finally just said 'fuck it', and you know what?  I'm getting compliments left and right, much to my surprise and delight.  I couldn't be happier.

      No need to squabble girls. There's plenty of me to go around. - Pam from True Blood

      by fou on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:59:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My mom just went natural about a year ago (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fou, davidincleveland

        and she loves it!  Her fro is gorgeous, I wish I could put a pic up but she would probably kill me lol.

        I was natural all of my life until I was 19 (2 yrs ago) and just gave in to the pressure of getting a relaxer and coloring my hair and basically fucking it up!  I regret putting the creamy crack on my hair, it aint natural!

        But I'm glad you've been getting compliments girl!  Rock ya natural, I love seeing black women with their natural hair out.  I'm the type of person who will go up to you and compliment your hair, then get in a conversation about hair products hahaha.

        •  Girl, I love it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland

          I love what it does when I don't put a comb through it for a day or two.  It's long so it does all kinds of interesting things, kinda like what clouds do.

          It's nice to meet you.  Lurking is certainly fun, and glad you decided to participate.

          No need to squabble girls. There's plenty of me to go around. - Pam from True Blood

          by fou on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 05:30:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  As a biracial kid myself I know of which you speak (14+ / 0-)

    I remember some interesting conversations with my (white) mother during my teenage and young adult years. I went pretty far over into the black side, reading lots of Malcolm X and Huey Newton, eventually going to a black college, etc. Lots of uncomfortable situations as I tried to reconcile my black consciousness with my white heritage, and most of all, my love for my white mother (and other family members, and friends for that matter).

    I'm sure that my mom understands the issues and lines around race better than the vast majority of white people because of the whole experience of raising me and my sister. In the end though, all of that in my opinion because so very inconsequential when stacked up against the reality of the love of between a parent and child. I can see that love in the words you've written here about your son, and I can see that you already understand what I'm saying. Congratulations for "doing the work" required to cross over to the other side, to be able to see past all of this culture and race to the essential commonality between all of us.

  •  I've heard that, too (7+ / 0-)

    My wife and I adopted 2 biracial sisters when they were 3 and 5 years old. Well, you don't get to be adopted at those ages without some horrific history, no matter what color you are. We thought enough love would be enough to cure anything, make it all better. It wasn't. This was in Texas in 1980. Our agency social worker was Black, and she told us to our faces that if it were up to her, she wouldn't approve placing a Black child with a White family. It was against the manifesto her organization - The National Association of Black Social Workers - at the time. Maybe still is, I don't know. She would rather the children grew up in foster care or orphanages - and for the very issues you explore in this diary. The only reason she approved it was that her supervisor ordered her to in order to be compliant with state law that forbade race as a factor in placing adoptions.

    It was the history that was the far bigger issue. The problems were so severe that the racial issue was never really addressed until they were adults - and even then, only in occasional flashes now and then, merely to acknowledge that it might be an issue worth exploring.

    We - my wife and I - always understood that there would be gap in our experience that would not allow us to help them find their identities. We encouraged them to embrace the Black community, which they did with some success.

    The older child took it on the lam at 14 and hasn't really lived with us since. In and out of homes, on the streets, engaging in crime, later in and out of jails, abortions, multiple children taken from her at birth, not a pretty story. Today, she and her significant other make a living panhandling, and have no certain address.

    The younger had a long term significant relationship and even a child which she took home with her - unlike her sister. But he turned out to be a cocaine user and woman batterer, so she left him - and she and her child moved in with us. At 35, she has a job as a nurses aide in a geriatric community, and her employer is sending her to school to get an RN. She is connected with the Black community, but doesn't bring it home with her. Every now and then she'll go out on a date - why not, with Grandma and Grandpa to babysit for free? - and sometimes bring a friend home.

    But even after all that, the issue of our daughters being Black is somehow secondary to other issues. We wish our elder daughter wasn't homeless and lost the rights to her kids, but that is how it is. We wish our younger daughter had connected with a man that respected and supported her, and gone to college when she was in her 20s rather than her 30s, but she didn't.

    Next month, I'm retiring from my profession at age 60. Maybe we'll start to address how growing up Black in a White family has affected them. But probably not. If it hasn't really been a primary issue before now, it is not likely to come up.

    picking off right-wingnuts at the ballot box, one vote at a time

    by JohnMac on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:49:05 AM PDT

    •  We experienced some of the same things (7+ / 0-)

      here in Oregon.

      They didn't want to do it.  But, they were a sibling group.  One totally "mayonnaise" white, one asian mix (we really don't know), and one black.

      In the end, I resolved it this way.  Had the birth parents not been in such a bad state, they would have struggled with them, same as me.

      So you work through it.  Good as it gets.  Go and work through it.  Lots of good ground to cover yet.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:52:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know (5+ / 0-)

        and, we will continue to work on it. One thing I learned about parenting - no days off. No holidays, no weekends. No vacations. And now, even into their 30s and 40s... no retirement. Thanks for the encouragement. For years, we thought we were all alone.

        picking off right-wingnuts at the ballot box, one vote at a time

        by JohnMac on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:41:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, ain't that the truth. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, cfk, davidincleveland

          You are not alone.

          I had many of the same thoughts.  Still do.  The worst for me was the very late teens.  What a mess!!

          Seems they grow quickly though.  The difference between 17 and 20 is huge.  Long years though.

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:44:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes parents never get a day off, I was nearly 50 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          potatohead, davidincleveland

          when I lost my mother and lost dad 2 years prior to that...both died of rare cancers.  I felt so lost, alone and actually had that feeling of being an orphan. My sister still struggles with that as she never married or had kids. She sometimes feels very alone even though her life is very full of friends, strong connections, and a job she loves and finds fulfilling. She says although she is over 50,she feels like an orphan and always would if not for me.

  •  Send your son on a trip out of America. (7+ / 0-)

    Great diary, and you raise some very important points. Part of the challenge you face would be there anyway in an adoptive situation. But the cultural challenge you are facing is NOT intrinsic to your respective skin colors, but the product of a toxic cultural context in contemporary American.

    I use the term "toxic" deliberately because I'm old enough to remember the promise and optimism of post-civil rights  America - when a group like Blue Mink could produce a hit song Melting Pot, and it wasn't irony. The warning signs were there however - as a Brit I really didn't realise how bad things were in the US. Madeline Bell had to come over to the UK to launch her career, and she's still living in Europe.

    If you look at the aftermath of Barack Obama's election there was a genuine sense of surprise and appreciation that a country that had defined itself as "white", would actually go ahead and elect a "black" man to the highest executive office. Of course the Onion may have had it correct the next day Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job - but part of Obama's challenge was to be accepted as "Black" by a community that knew he had almost nothing in common with the urban black experience (a few years in Chicago doesn't override growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia).

    Unfortunately Obama's election seems to have also unleashed a flood of barely disguised racism from people who are clearly afraid of the dramatic changes to America's landscape, and this extends to a Black community now being demographically overtaken by Hispanics as the dominant minority in America.

    Which brings me to my simplistic advice - both white and black American culture seems to me to be stuck in a time warp - unaware of how much has changed round the world. If you can afford it - send your son to Europe (or South Africa) for a few weeks so he can hit the reset on "black" identity. Here's a recent blog from a black American who did just that - he writes well and it might give him a different perspective on his own experience. A Black American in Europe.

    •  You are SO right on with that. (3+ / 0-)

      I can't afford it right now.  Sure wish I could.

      I have however, had many conversations with people either from overseas, or just through Internet activities of various kinds.

      The most striking thing about those interactions is THEY understand US better than we do.  The US is in a bubble of it's own making, and I think that bubble will cost us in so many ways just now being realized.

      Great call, and I look forward to the read you linked.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:38:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's (6+ / 0-)

    hard to feel like you're caught in the middle of two equally racist groups.

    Terms like "Wigger" come from the idea that blacks should still be slaves, all chained together.  No identities, no autonomy, no individuality.

    A belief held by many members of both groups.

    I grew up around the Black Sad, and decided that wasn't my life. That there were so many other things to focus on, and understand.

    Many people feel I shouldn't have that right.  Like they want to force all blacks to have an identical life experience, because it will empower the entire race somehow,to keep everyone down together.

    I became a lot happier as a person when I learned to ignore those people (of both races), create my own life and identity, and not let anyone trap me in their miserable version of what being black should be.

    •  See the great comment just above. (0+ / 0-)

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 09:24:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, (4+ / 0-)

        my comment had more to do with the racism on both sides.

        For example, once, when I was a teen, I was listening to Duran Duran on my headset (still remember the song even, New Moon on Monday), and my older sister burst in, snatched them off (I'd apparently not heard a command), and yelled, "Stop singin' that white mess, they don't like you, they hate you, they don't want you singing their music, they laugh at you behind your back!"

        Maybe, maybe not, but what were my choices?

        I could hunker down in the blues, have someone yell at me about being a 'bitch' and a 'ho', and about how I was worthless (audio misogyny), songs crying over some man, or about making money, or about how wonderful girls who didn't really look black were.

        Who was it that loved me so much?

    •  What? (0+ / 0-)

      Even using the term as the diarist defined it, I don't see how you get to

      ....idea that blacks should still be slaves, all chained together.  No identities, no autonomy, no individuality.
      I could also quibble with "equally racist" but I'll skip over that for now
      A belief held by many members of both groups.
      Really? How many Black people think this way? Also, what is the "Black Sad"? Based on the rest of your comment, I have an idea what YOU mean, but I don't want to assume incorrectly.
      Like they want to force all blacks to have an identical life experience, because it will empower the entire race somehow,to keep everyone down together.

      ....and not let anyone trap me in their miserable version of what being black should be

      There seems to be some other issues going on here or maybe your town is really really unusual.

      "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

      by CaliSista on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 05:48:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Allow me to make an observation: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        potatohead

        When a commenter highlights another commenter's blockquoted posting thusly,

        ....and not let anyone trap me in their miserable version of what being black should be
        instead of like this,
        ....and not let anyone trap me in their miserable version of what being black should be
        it says certain things about the second commenter's perspective, and perhaps that commenter's comprehension. Of course
        ....and not let anyone trap me in their miserable version of what being black should be
        carries a third meaning, or question to the first commenter. I personally find it regrettable when a kossak does this:
        I could also quibble with "equally racist" but I'll skip over that for now
        I call that sort of sentence "debate dishonesty" because by bringing your objection to it into the thread you have already "quibbled," but adding that you will skip over what you just got through NOT skipping over leaves the other party at the unfair disadvantage of not being able to refute your quibble without seeming petty or argumentative. It is a tactic on a par with
        A belief held by many members of both groups.
        Really? How many Black people think this way?
        where the use of both questions together is designed to dismiss the blockquote they reference as being invalid. Had the commenter said "a great many" or even "very many" you might perhaps be justified. But the commenter said a simple "many" which can only be honestly contradicted by the equally simple and equally non-quantified "I disagree."
        In point of fact, I tell you right now; many blacks do indeed think this way. If you disagree with my statement you would have to question my personal life experience by defining what I mean by "many" and by then demonstrating (with actual statistics) that my you-defined "many" is untrue. Since you can't credibly do that, either to the original commenter or to me, your two-question retort is a rhetorical fallback and a further example of debate dishonesty, aka bullying.

        No wonder our Big Tent has gotten so stinky; there's pigmy pachyderm poo all over the floor.

        by davidincleveland on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 12:15:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I want to express my appreciation for this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland, Wood Dragon

          meta-comment.

          I sometimes do the same.  Not sure why you do it, but I do it, because I value the discussion.

          Good stuff there.

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:15:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you. I do it because I believe sloppy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            potatohead

            expression is a result of sloppy thinking, and both lead directly to misunderstandings. I am always hoping to inspire the response, "I hadn't thought of it that way; thanks for pointing it out."
            Of course, even when I do it carefully I'm usually ignored (as a least-hostile response) or the commenter responds defensively, so I tend to reserve the tactic for really necessary (to me) occasions. I am far more likely to jump in if I feel debate dishonesty is being used to bully someone else, especially younger or newer kossaks, even when (or especially when) bullying wasn't the commenter's actual intent. Generally when it is used on me I ignore it.

            The judgment of whether racism applies cannot be the sole purvey of the people who are wronged by it. The concept is intersubjectively defined and shared. It is not the private property of one group or another.

            by davidincleveland on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:59:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again, sorry for the late reply. (0+ / 0-)

              It's likely that this sort of statement

              I do it because I believe sloppy expression is a result of sloppy thinking,
              may be the reason why
              I'm usually ignored (as a least-hostile response) or the commenter responds defensively,
              I don't think I'd expect many favorable responses if I started off with that sentence.

              Unless you've examined a ton of my comments, I doubt you know my age so I'd imagine it would difficult to know who is the elder between myself and Maori. You are correct in that Maori is a newer Kossack. If my ~30 day head start gives me such an advantage, than I should be cowering below my keyboard at your response since according to your profile (cute pic, btw), you are my elder AND a longer term Kossack by nearly 3 YEARS.

              "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

              by CaliSista on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 10:37:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately for me, your comment (0+ / 0-)

          has been sitting here unanswered for a week and my response is unlikely to be seen by you. I accept that as one of the downsides of the boycott.

          Starting from the top with the blockquote: I quote the comment so that it's clear I didn't fabricate and I highlighted what I found objectionable. Whether he or she meant they see other(?) Black people in a "miserable existence" or whether he/she believes Black people see themselves in a "miserable existence" or feel that he/she and/or Black people think being Black is a "miserable existence" is a difference without distinction as far as being objectionable.

          I'll try and clear up your 2nd point. Maybe I should have written:
          There are so many things wrong with this comment that I'm suspect about its authenticity. Almost every sentence has something objectionable and rather than spending paragraph after paragraph making note of every single thing, I'll skip over this particular one because there are other things on which I'd rather focus. But...Don't think I didn't see this too.

          Not as short as my version but more accurate.

          A belief held by many members of both groups.

              Really? How many Black people think this way?

          where the use of both questions together is designed to dismiss the blockquote they reference as being invalid
          [Sorry, I don't know how to double blockquote like yours]

          You're right. That's exactly how I meant it.

          Debate dishonesty? Maaaayyyyybbbeeeee w/the quibble thing. Bullying? Can't agree with you there.

          "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

          by CaliSista on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 10:06:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Insightful diary. We also adopted (3+ / 0-)

    across color and cultural boundaries and even this many years on,still growing together as a family.
    We lived many years overseas and that was both more and less difficult. Racism and misunderstanding exists everywhere. Still somehow it has all worked out better than we ever dared to dream.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:22:54 AM PDT

    •  That's good news. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, davidincleveland

      I wish I could have lived overseas for a time.  Maybe still can someday.

      It does exist everywhere, but people can talk through it and just be better for it.

      With us, it was a sibling group.  Package deal, LOL!!  I think it's going to work out well for us too.  A lot of the journey is done, so far, not bad.

      Thanks for your nice comment.  Appreciated.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:17:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A wonderful diary. I also endorse the editorial (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    potatohead

    comments above, posted by other kossaks; something I rarely do in a diary. But let me say something on my own: It is clear to me that you are a superb father. Your children are very lucky.

    No wonder our Big Tent has gotten so stinky; there's pigmy pachyderm poo all over the floor.

    by davidincleveland on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:30:52 AM PDT

    •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      Did I miss some edits?  Thought I made them.  

      It was just a quick work, really a "riff", where I was more focused on content than form.  Lemme know.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:40:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I went back to look. You did make them. And you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        potatohead

        demonstrated that we were wrong about "wigger." The people who used the word toward your son were incorrect in their choice of pejoratives, but you correctly reported what they said. My bad for even endorsing an editorial suggestion, and I apologize. Now I have to get back to the comment thread of your beautiful diary, so I can rec comments while they are still reccable.

        No wonder our Big Tent has gotten so stinky; there's pigmy pachyderm poo all over the floor.

        by davidincleveland on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:16:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No worries. Just wanted to treat the folks right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland, Wood Dragon

          Seriously.  Thanks.

          Trying hard to live up to my sig.  I am tempted to add:

          Consideration due is consideration given, but I am torn on that one.  Could go badly, if people don't really understand consideration.

          "excellent" seems easier.  :)

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:17:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re your sig, you again show your wisdom. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            potatohead

            "Be Excellent To One Another" is impossible for English speakers to accidently misconstrue. Consideration not only means different things in different geographies and subcultures, it can mean different things depending on the user's profession; for example, psychologists versus lawyers.

            The judgment of whether racism applies cannot be the sole purvey of the people who are wronged by it. The concept is intersubjectively defined and shared. It is not the private property of one group or another.

            by davidincleveland on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:38:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ahh, context. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              davidincleveland, Wood Dragon

              Isn't it such a bitch?

              Glad you agree.  The matter is settled then.  I'll leave it, no worries.

              Re:  Wisdom.

              Well.  I don't know.  Maybe.  Truth is, I love the language.  Here soon, I really am going to take on another one proper.  I know smatterings of various languages, but have no real skill yet.

              The thing is fidelity.  High clarity communication is valuable because it's potent and it's low risk.  We have so many words and so many contexts, with those both known and unknown, making each expression a game of sorts.  The known is easy, then you gotta go and gamble, work for best case, on the unknowns.

              What I particularly enjoy are those times when a construct becomes obvious in it's applicability, the idea rendered near perfectly, clear, no redundant bits, unambiguous.  When those happen, I am always pleased, and I love to see it as much as I do writing.  

              Then there is speaking.  Real time, can't often consider the words in the same way, for simple lack of time.  That's a game too, challenging one in it's own way.

              At least online, there is time to think things over.  So many don't though.  

              ***Be Excellent To One Another***
              IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

              by potatohead on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:44:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Really enjoyed your contributions to this one. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              davidincleveland

              Your family and it's mix of cultures, the clash, teens calling it all out, seeking their identity in that mess, judging, weighing, made me laugh.  It's clear you enjoy it all, and that is good to see.

              ***Be Excellent To One Another***
              IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

              by potatohead on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:46:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It was indeed my pleasure, as well as a privilege. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                potatohead

                Diaries such as this one, and diarists like you always inspire me and make me wish to contribute. Thanks for the opportunity to interact with a joyful feeling; it is something that has gotten rarer around here, and we must and shall get back to that.

                The judgment of whether racism applies cannot be the sole purvey of the people who are wronged by it. The concept is intersubjectively defined and shared. It is not the private property of one group or another.

                by davidincleveland on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:47:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I am thinking the President and your son have (3+ / 0-)

    this in common and I am thinking your son can relate to the President as he was raised by his white mother and her family.

    Granted, The president was not adopted but his father was not in his life at all , he met him just once for a few days, and I am thinking the President and his mother had some of these talks where he tried to explain some things to her and where she tried to understand where he was coming from.  

    •  Yeah, he does. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland, wishingwell

      We've talked about that some.  Obama winning was, and is all kinds of awesome.

      His late Grandfather cried when the news came, and we actually were there, able to put that "you can be anything" into some real context.

      That idea is a lot more solid now, than it was years ago.  I like that the conversation is different now, expanded, progress made.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:21:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A few thoughts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    potatohead

    1. Wigger is a white person acting HOOD.

    2. Why is it that whites, especially those who say they try to understand black culture, assume that black culture is monolithic.
        Not all blacks use terms like "fresh", which is mostly used by hip young blacks. I see kossacks equating black culture with blings and rims. How about the church-going, amen-saying side of black culture? How about the baseball loving, football watching side? These people tend to be very reserved and disapprove of blings and rims. How about those blacks who love jazz and soul but look down upon hip hop? And there are hundreds more facets that I cannot list here.

       Have a nice day.

    •  Nowhere did I say it was monolitihic. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      on the cusp, davidincleveland

      What I did do what share the experiences I had, the things that happened and what they meant.

      That includes context for what are otherwise arbitrary slang terms, just like anybody would do when trying to communicate something.

      The greater point here is we often do not understand one another well, because of these differences, not that the differences themselves are defining.

      Where I lived, the things I wrote of happened just as I said they did.  I've no reason to lie about it.

      Clearly things are different, depending on a lot of things, right?

      Your post communicates that nicely enough.

      Now, you do realize I was talking to and about young Blacks right?  Doesn't that put "fresh" into context?  And what of the Kossacks with no exposure at all?  Don't they need to know what it is I was trying to communicate?

      Sure they do, which is what I did.

      That in no way defines you, or Blacks in general, particularly given:

      1.  I did emphasize giving other Kossacks some slack,

      2.  I put the experiences I had out there to support why that is a solid thing to do,

      3.  I took the time to communicate life experience, and was careful about it, being honest about it being experiences.  Not like I can change them.  Not that I would want to.

      Frankly, I don't think you understood me all that well.  That's ok.  We can talk about it, if you want, which was the core point after all.  Or, not.  That's ok too.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:50:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And your answer. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      Why is it?

      Well, simple lack of interaction and exposure.  So much in life comes down to that.

      For me, currently, people from the middle east all look the same.  I have trouble with Asians too.

      I don't have that much exposure.  As I get more that will change, the differences better known and associated with enough things to reach clarity, rather than one big lump.

      And you do know that's not a problem unique to any one particular race right?

      Of course you do.  Have a nice day.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:59:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "yo" and "fresh" are staples in my vocabulary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        potatohead, davidincleveland

        Yet, I'm aware that it in no way means that other young blacks are like me. I know a lot of young blacks who would never use those terms in a million years. I wasn't accusing you of lying. I was simply pointing out that young black culture is not black culture. Even the hip hop culture is not young black culture.

  •  also a multi race family (6+ / 0-)

    I adopted two sons who are black. (I usually use "black" except around my youngest. He has specifically asked that I use African American, especially for him but also for others because he doesn't like the way "black" sounds. and because he is brown, not black.)

    The biggest thing I have learned about white privilege is that it is invisible to those who have it. I strongly recommend that everyone go out of their way to be a minority at least occasionally. Go to "that" McDonalds and just stand in line and order your food. Shop at the mall on "That" side of town. You don't even need to make a special effort to notice things, I think you'll notice plenty.

    People staring at you? Not sure where to stand in a line? Unsure what is considered polite?

    I am involved with a cultural council at work and that has  led to some very powerful A-Ha! moments. Co-Workers of different races have shown me what it is like to always be On Stage. When they are in meetings they feel pressure that I don't feel - if they are late they can almost read minds to hear "Those people are always late". If they are silent or speak a lot they know that it will be perceived in a "black" context.

    I go out of my way to make eye contact and smile when I come across a person of color in a pure white environment, something I have noticed is that too often they are either ignored or they are stared at (glared at).

    Thanks for a good diary today.

    www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:42:23 AM PDT

    •  Yeah. Spot on. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WI Deadhead, davidincleveland

      Those parts of town, those other places, filled with those people.

      I particularly like your effort to make some eye contact and smile, to recognize everyone.  I do the same, and it works well.

      My experience is that goes a long ways.  Doesn't take much either.  Knowing you've got a friend or two in the room, or even a potential friend can make all the difference in the world.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 12:01:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  in the room (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CaliSista, davidincleveland

        one of the things I now do is count colors in the room. At meetings I am now curious to see how out of balance the ratios are. I am rarely the minority by gender or race but I am now more aware of it.

        I have been told that many POC do count black faces when they enter the room, just checking, just curious.

        www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

        by WI Deadhead on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 01:08:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary, we do need a discussion of both (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    potatohead, davidincleveland

    our differences and similarities.  President Clinton (I think this comes from a book by Salmon Rushdie) has given many commencement addresses where he includes this topic.  Although his focus may be intended to highlight the divide in religious beliefs, I immediately thought of him upon reading this diary, and another one posted today.

    https:/www.knox.edu...

    June 02, 2007
    snip
    .....as President Clinton reminded graduates that both centuries-old religious teachings and the latest scientific discoveries assert that "what we have in common is more important than our differences."
    ....."I learned as a layperson from the sequencing of the human genome... that every human being on earth genetically is 99.9 percent the same. ... Every difference you see between yourself and someone else, the color of your skin, the color of your hair, the color of your eyes, the shape of your body, every single thing is rooted in one-tenth of one percent of your genetic makeup. And yet, think about how all of us basically spend 90 percent of our time thinking about that one-tenth of one percent."

    http://www.salon.com/...

    snip....

    Bill Clinton speaks Oct 2007

    In a speech made earlier this month at Yale University

    Our country is highly diverse -- we have people here today from just about every country, every racial and ethnic group and every religious heritage. What terrorists seek, first of all, is to make us afraid of each other. And secondly, to make us afraid of the future: afraid to plan; afraid to invest, afraid to trust. That is what they seek. Therefore, terrorism cannot prevail unless we cooperate. It is not a military strategy, it is a psychological and human one. We have to give the people who attacked us permission to win, and I do not believe we are about to grant them that permission.

    •  Great diary. (3+ / 0-)

      I got into a dustup today on the net.  I don't look at people's profiles when I read.  I read first.  

      There is no gender, culture or racial identity on the net unless you identify yourself that way.  And it's the net, so who really knows?

      I was raised in multi-cultural, multi-language neighborhoods, so I'm sometime shocked when a comment is made in real life that doesn't fit that multi-cultural view I have of the universe.

      But, it's the net and people make mistakes.  No big deal.  It's only electrons.

      But it may change which 5th dimension timeline we are on.

      Again, great thread.  You have a gift for writing.

      The Dude abides, now get off my lawn.

      by Boris49 on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:25:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. High praise indeed! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boris49, Wood Dragon

        Yes, I find I experience similar things.  Mixed race family norms are almost always different from single-race family norms.

        There are things to us that are almost invisible, until you bump into where they aren't.  Used to get frustrated by that, and now am more likely to grin inside and be glad I have the ride through this place I do.

        ***Be Excellent To One Another***
        IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

        by potatohead on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:51:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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