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“America is a racist country,” Mychal Denzel Smith wrote earlier this month in an article at The Nation. Smith called on whites to acknowledge racism’s pervasiveness and eliminate it. I won’t debate the accuracy of Smith's assessment of what America is, and I don’t know whether or not he was using hyperbole to make his point. Either way, however, his demand that white people admit its truth as part of their pledge to fight racism only discourages some of them from doing what the article’s title rightly demands, to "give up racism."

Smith reduces a complex topic to a yes-no question: Is America racist? Sixty years ago racial discrimination was legal; most blacks were barred from voting and sending their children to integrated schools. Now, we have a black First Family. As Smith indicates, that does not mean racism has disappeared. But it does mean a simplistic approach to American racism is inadequate.

Was America racist in 1850? Yes. Was America racist in 1950? Yes. Is America racist today? I won’t say "no", but a simple "yes", whatever the substance behind it, ignores America's progress. Doing so ensures that many of the whites Smith wants to reach will ignore his message, and I believe there is a more effective way to convince them.
Smith is correct that whites must recognize that racism profoundly affects us all, privileging some and disadvantaging others in countless, often unseen ways. Although Barack Obama certainly agrees, in The Audacity of Hope he acknowledged that even among racial progressives, “rightly or wrongly, white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America.”

In his 2008 "race speech,” President Obama spoke about the “progress” America has made on racism, which shows that “America can change.” But, he said, making continued progress requires “the white community” to “acknowledg[e] that what ails the African American community does not just exist in the minds of black people.” Smith argues the same.

Both Smith and Obama detail the reality of racism, the lasting effects of past discrimination, and the continuation of discrimination today. But first praising America’s progress likely helped make some whites more open to hearing Obama's second message, one that also aligns with Smith’s: Whites must not only acknowledge racism’s existence, but take action to address it.

A point on which President Obama and Smith differ is in their construction of white privilege. Obama noted that many working class and middle-income whites don’t feel “particularly privileged by their race.” He warned against characterizing white resentment over policies like affirmative action as “misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns.” Smith, however, simply dismissed whites who characterize these policies as “reverse racism.”

By showing empathy for the perspectives of resentful whites, Obama demonstrated a more nuanced approach that has greater potential to convince economically vulnerable whites to rethink their views on racism. Smith, on the other hand, tells these whites to surrender privileges they may not see. It’s not about who is right or wrong; it’s about what will work.

Smith is absolutely right about what actions white people need to take—such as listening to people of color—and his brand of truth-telling is a valuable part of the multifaceted battle against racism. Smith's article may be a terrific way to motivate whites who already agree with him, but we need to do more than preach to the choir. I'm in no position to comment on how Smith or any African American experiences racism, but I can offer an opinion on how middle of the road whites might react to his statement.

In Chicago, the day after Smith's article was published, President Obama noted: “We all share a responsibility to move this country closer to our founding vision.” He emphasized that every American should have an equal opportunity to succeed. Convincing whites to give up racism doesn’t mean soft-pedaling its realities. It just means taking a cue from a black man who won enough white votes to make him President of the United States. Twice.

Cross-posted at In The Fray

PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.

Originally posted to Ian Reifowitz on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:38 AM PST.

Also republished by The Federation and Barriers and Bridges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Indeed, a very complex question (14+ / 0-)

    In MA, Deval Patrick is governor. Yet, if he left the security detail home tonight, and went out in jeans and a Celtics sweatshirt, I could name several bars in Southie where he might very well run into some trouble.

    A recent survey showed that about 25% of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi would outlaw interracial marriage (about another 10% were unsure). Yet you can walk into many a church on Sunday now and see blacks and whites worshiping together.

    A racist nation? No, and less so by the generation.

    Progress so advanced that Section 5 can be done away with today, and all affirmative action programs ended, and no evidence of white privilege in employment/housing/education opportunities? Not there either.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:53:51 AM PST

  •  Is America a racist country? Yes. Yes it is. n/t (11+ / 0-)

    Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

    by LiberalCanuck on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:00:18 AM PST

    •  one has to ask (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, Brown Thrasher, Ian Reifowitz

      what do you mean by "racist country"?  Has racist laws?  includes some racists?  How is this defined?

      One must also ask how you know?  What is your evidence?

      These are always important questions

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:10:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Post-racial society will be easy to recognize (3+ / 0-)

      It will be when politicians of non-white races can fail as  spectacularly and as frequently as white politicians currently do, and the failures will be reported in the news and discussed everywhere with race as only a minor factor.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:18:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Post racist will be when a white man is vilified (3+ / 0-)

        For killing a black man, not calling it self-defense.

        •  And when a stray bullet (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ian Reifowitz

          in a white neighborhood (whether rural or suburban or urban or gated) that results in the death of a child is considered every bit as unacceptable as other "stray bullet" killings.

          Today we call too many stray bullet deaths accidents.

          Note: my definition of stray bullet is admittedly pretty narrow; a bullet emerging from the end of a gun that meets up with human flesh.

          Sometime in the future we will look back on this time in history and call these deaths what they are, extra-judicial killings.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 10:21:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Let's clarify. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Post racist will be when that happens every time. It's not that it never happens now. And of course Zimmerman is and is not "white," but that doesn't matter because his prejudices about young black men are not exclusive to any group in the U.S.

          •  The point about Zimmerman underscores the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz

            point of how easily racism can shift its focus to a new target.

            "White", "almost white", "might have been white", "white-hispanic? whaaa?, oops, oh well" was all that was needed for white supremacists to adopt Zimmerman as their hero, to drive to Florida and parade around, to make threatening statements online and in the press and be cheered for it.

            The racial aspect was, "Anything but black."

            But on a different day some of those same people will have the same fight but the discriminating line will shift to something else, "Anything but brown."

            Come to think of it, it's not that far from the 18th century conception of race, when the discriminating line was "Anything but Indian."

            "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

            by LilithGardener on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:28:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I think it might be worth asking, (6+ / 0-)

    "Is America Purposefully, Knowingly Racist? Or Ignorantly Racist?"

    There's a lot of people who are racist and racism most definitely tainted many of our early laws and our early society. Those attitudes should, and are, challenged although there is still progress to be made.

    But we also have people who are ignorantly racist, people who grew up seeing one thing and never realizing that their points of views are/were racist. I'm not saying that this is "all right" or "acceptable", not by any means-- but I grew up in Boise, Idaho in the 1980's and have a strong sense of 'There But For The Grace of God Go I'. I could easily have ended up ignorantly racist because I had no basis for comparison from what people said about others vs. what I saw those others actually doing; nor was there much opportunity for serious critical analysis under the circumstances.

    So how much racism in America comes from a lack of critical thinking and exposure, vs. how much comes from genuine hostility? Ignorance can be cured; genuine, conscious racism has to be waited out slowly over generations, I fear.

  •  America is a nation with racial challenges... (5+ / 0-)

    ...but a nation evolving for the better with each passing day.

    Little by little our historical bigotry against minorities is dissipating. While I still consider the existence of such prejudice a stain on humanity, and acknowledge its continued persistence, I wouldn't coin the U.S a racist nation in the aggregate any longer.

    Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

    by Love Me Slender on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:04:04 AM PST

  •  It's complex. (6+ / 0-)

    I'm a white male, so feel free to take what I say on this issue with a grain of salt, but here are my 2 cents:

    Barack Obama had to succeed as president, because if he didn't, it would have been very difficult in the future to have another African-American president or a female president or a minority president of any stripe because most Americans would have reset to the default position of President Whiteguy.

    I was born in 1967. The presidents of my lifetime, with the exceptions of Clinton and Obama, could make up Anti-Rushmore, for the most part. (And yes, let me preempt any arguments now: Jimmy Carter is an awesome guy, a living Dumbledore, but he kinda sucked as president).

    In short, I've had a lifetime of failed white-guy presidencies. Nonetheless, no voter has ever said, "This is the last time I vote for a white guy!"

    Had Obama failed, however, he may have ended the hopes of any other black/minority/female with presidential aspirations because many people would have said, "I'm not going to make that mistake again!"

    That's a sneaky form of racism that still exists.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:24:20 AM PST

  •  As you say, it's complicated: a minority opinion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, blueoregon, TiaRachel

    And I hate to say this, but our president is mistaken here:

    Obama noted that many working class and middle-income whites don’t feel “particularly privileged by their race.” He warned against characterizing white resentment over policies like affirmative action as “misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns.”
    I have to appeal to Antonio Gramsci here, and the notion of a dominant culture reacting to being chipped away. This is a sop thrown to the people who suppressed the DHS report on the violent right a few years back. What else could possibly fuel white resentment than a sense of white privilege, whether or not the resentful white constructs it that way?

    And, Mr. President, what legitimate concerns? Perhaps I'm further to the left of him than I thought! But really, it does nobody any good to give the type of respectability that statement gives to the feelings he's describing.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:25:58 AM PST

  •  But isn't that unfair to America to ask simply? (5+ / 0-)

    Because what would the answer be to the question:

    Is the world racist?
    (and if you can't definitively state "yes", then replace racist with classist, sexist, discriminated against on the basis of religion, etc etc etc.

    I challenge you to find me a country where everyone would feel comfortable for being who they are.
    (Europe, China, Israel, a Muslim country, African countries where there is often slaughter based on clan/political affiliation, Latin countries, Caribbean countries where there is often discrimination based on skin tone, etc etc etc.

    As a Jew, I wouldn't feel comfortable in many countries, but I do feel comfortable here.  My wife is black, and her mom (the sweetest lady I have ever known) was black, and thus I do not discount racism in the least.  I just want to acknowledge that we have come very far, and that there is discrimination in most (if not all) countries...thus, some things are not uniquely American, but uniquely human.

    We live in Queens, NYC:  incredibly diverse, and yet we get bad stares sometimes.  Certainly I see the difference in the way my wife and I are treated by store employees almost on a daily basis.  Bring that attitude into the boardroom, and that's how racism persists from the very top down....and it does!

    But it sure as hell doesn't hurt to sometimes look around at the Starbucks in Fresh Meadows, and see four different ethnicities represented in the employees (and who knows how many countries), listen to several different accents and even languages spoken among the customers, and note that many regulars are there, sitting at tables, in cliques that each include at least two races.

    Oh, and the president of this whole mess is black.

    Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. ALL ROYALTIES BETWEEN NOW AND MARCH 1, DONATED TO THIS SITE, DAILYKOS!! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:30:16 AM PST

  •  w kamau bell on the end of racism- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Ian Reifowitz

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:30:28 AM PST

  •  there isnt a country in the world (6+ / 0-)

    that isnt racist if the only options are racist and non racist.

    The two more relevant questions are:

    1. are we progressing the right way

    2. If yes to 1, and I think the answer is yes to 1, what can we do to make it go faster

    Those are better questions than is America a racist nation.

    Europe has as much if not more in the way of racial issues as we do, but not really sure there is a scale that needs to be used here.  Everyone, every culture can use a whole lot more growing up in accepting "them" as "us."

  •  Racism is systems, not attitudes (15+ / 0-)

    I think this is one way that African Americans and white people see racism in completely different ways.

    Have attitudes changed since the 1950s? Of course (or at least it is no longer acceptable to be openly bigoted). Has legislation been passed to prevent the worst outrages. Of course.

    Are black neighborhoods more integrated than they were before Brown v. Board and the Fair Housing Act. No, they are more segregated than ever.

    Are black children attending better, or more integrated schools? No they are attending worse and more segregated schools, although now, segregation has moved to the north as well.

    Are income and wealth disparities across color lines  reduced? No.

    Are policy stopping and frisking as many young white males as young black and Latino males? No of course not.

    So it's very difficult to understand how anyone can argue with the common sense, reality based observation that the US is still a racist country. It doesn't mean that all or most white people are bigots. It means that racist systems are still in place, and have in fact been intensified.

    I don't know why it is necessary to sugar coat these obvious empirical facts or preface them with praise of white folks progress in order for white audiences in order for them to accept them. They're facts, not attempts at national self esteem boosting.

    •  You said it better than I did. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eataTREE, Ian Reifowitz

      "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

      by blueoregon on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:51:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Racism = prejudice + power. (12+ / 0-)

      People generally discount the power part of that equation. The fact is, as a black person, you cannot get power with prejudice. It is simply impossible in a country where black people are a minority. But if you are white, it is very much a personal decision. You can get power with or without prejudice. It's up to you as a personal decision.

      This is why we have racist systems. So you can very much have a black friend or two and still be part of a racist system and even encourage its continuance. Knowingly or unknowingly. For example, you and I have the ability to go to a car dealership and buy a car. That's the law these days. The owner can't do anything about that because of the law. What you and I can't do is go get a job at a dealership without our race being a factor in hiring. That's a power decision purely left up to the owner. If you try to do something about that, like complain to the EEOC, you will wait 4 or 5 years before you even get an investigation into it. Why? Because people in power, white people, have decided the EEOC shouldn't have too much authority or money to weed out and punish discriminators. Why? Because those in power to fix this system have decided that this isn't a pressing issue for them, therefore it isn't a pressing issue. As far as they can see, any white person who wants a job at a dealership and is qualified can get one, and a few blacks too. Besides, one would say, "I know a black guy at a dealership! See!" Purely up to the whim of the people with the power.

      The only thing that will cure racism is when people who aren't prejudiced have all the power. Until that day, a long long way away, there will still be racism. And it his nothing to do with the color of your friends.

      •  Important point (5+ / 0-)

        Everyone is prejudiced, to some extent. We're wired that way - to favour the in group over outsider...we're really just a few generations away from living in hunter-gatherer bands. But racism is more than prejudice.

        Prejudice means little without power disparities. Last summer, driving across Tennessee, I noticed something unusual. Normally, when I pass a car that's been pulled over by the police, the cop is standing there, maybe writing a ticket. The driver is sitting in the car. Yet driving across Tennessee it was different - whenever we passed a car that had been pulled over, the driver (and often the passengers) were standing on the shoulder, heads bowed while their car was searched, or while they were frisked...something of the sort. And in most cases (every case, I suspect, but it took a while for me to figure out what I was seeing) the cops were white and the people pulled out of their cars were black.

        This isn't something I see in my regular trips across Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. But I saw it as we drove the length of Tennessee, and then I saw it as we crossed the state again on our way home.

        Racism is not about prejudice. It's about the combination of prejudice and power.

      •  I've been thinking about that equation (8+ / 0-)

        I've been working on a diary about Django Unchained and was thinking about it in exactly this way -- an equation.

        I would just add, however, that it doesn't take prejudice. Tarantino, by all accounts, isn't personally prejudiced. He does have power. Django Unchained is a racist artifact, even though Tarantino isn't racist.

        So I added an additional equation: Power + focus on racial group + ignorance = racism.

        For example, someone recently wrote a diary about the Dawes Act, which subdivided Native American reservations. It was a disaster, and led to vast stretches of Indian country being sold to whites and much of the remaining land being rendered legally useless.

        Yet Senator Dawes considered himself the best friend of the Indian in Congress. By all accounts, he wasn't racist. But he had vast power over Indians and little knowledge of how they used land.

        Police Commissioner Kelly, who has overseen stop an frisk in NYC, was an innovator in police-community relations and community policing, when David Dinkins, NYC's first black mayor, tapped him to be Police Commissioner. I have no doubt that Kelly has no racist or prejudiced beliefs and wants to do what's right. But he's clueless about the effect his policies are having and he is insulated by his power.

        In your car dealership example, the hiring officer at the car dealership might actually be totally progressive, liberal and non-racial. But he has to think about whether, in that particular community, the car buyers are going to "trust the black guy," and will hire accordingly. To make an anti-racist hire might mean cutting into his bottom line.

        I think many white people can't understand that people with the best non-racist intentions can participate in and uphold racist systems -- simply by following the economic incentives that are pervasive in a broadly racist system. The young couple whose "best friends are black" but choose to live in a neighborhood with "good schools" are making the same kind of racially incentivized choice. Hence we read many diaries and comments by non-black people about "racism" that are really about prejudice and bigotry. As long as people can think of "racism" being what happens when bigots act, then they don't have to examine how their mundane, incentivized actions (even as loyal Obama voter and supporters) sustain the system.

        So I think there are at least two equations, maybe more, and the most important variable is power.

        •  Right. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HamdenRice, Ian Reifowitz, Mary Mike

          Its the same thing when a white person is absolutely abhorrent about the use of the word nigger, even when no black person is present, but then live in an almost exclusively white gated community because of low crime, good schools and property values. Never occurs to them why this is the case: because they choose to live there, their schools will get all the appropriate funding they need. Of course...who wouldn't make such a decision for their children? But because school funding is tied to property values, and property values are tied to money, and who gets what money is tied to who gets what jobs, and who gets what jobs is tied to the capricious whims of the owners, and the whims of the owners are tied to their own personal prejudices or lack thereof, a totally non prejudiced person's choice to live in a gated private community contributes to school segregation.

          Are the people who live in such areas all racists? No. But their choices, which they have every incentive to make because of the system, contributes to upholding said racist system.

          •  Excellent points about power. (0+ / 0-)

            And how actions that don't have to be motivated by prejudice support institutional racism. You're 100% right.

            I'll ask this, since I'm focused on how best to present these arguments in a political setting: In a sound-bite world, if we argue that what happened to James Byrd or Emmett Till reflects racism, and moving to a middle-class town with good schools also reflects racism, then we're in danger of diluting the word beyond what we can expect a non-academic audience to follow. If we simply tell white people that living in an economically segregated area, one that is open and welcoming to non-whites who can afford to be there, that they are supporting racism, most of them are going to throw up their hands and say, "oh well, I'm sorry, but I can't help you, I guess I'm supporting racism." And then you've lost many people who you could otherwise reach and get to do something meaningful to fight at least some of the effects of racism. By the way, same reaction goes for many people of any race with money who live in such an area. That's what I'm getting at here.

            •  Well, maybe they need to know the truth (3+ / 0-)

              of their situations and the consequences of their otherwise innocuous actions.

              I'm not saying they shouldn't make the decisions they make. But someone needs to help them understand the consequences of the seemingly harmless consequences of the actions they take.

              •  I agree. It's all a matter of how you present it. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                More broadly, I've argued that using positive reinforcement to praise positive, yet incomplete, actions are likely to encourage more positive actions. One of the most effective things these middle of the road whites can do to fight racism is to support progressive politicians at the voting booth, so if we can get more them to do that, it's a big deal for sure.

                We can also then, over time, educate more of them about other necessary steps. But if we turn them off at the outset and they become Republicans, they are lost to us.

                Thanks for coming back to engage with me. Sorry I had to step away just before your comments earlier and didn't see them until after I had had other things to do at the office.

      •  Very well said. (0+ / 0-)

        Agreed 100%

      •  financing also an issue, as well as jobs (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz, a2nite

        I don't know current statistics, but people of color have historically been disadvantaged in choices of financing vehicles, even where poc credit ratings are equal to the ratings of whites. Sure, it's against the law, but judging from reports of poc treatment in mortgages and foreclosures the practice continues.

        Conservatives perpetuate these discriminatory practices by underfunding regulatory bodies.

        We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. -Pres. Obama, 1/21/13

        by SoCalSal on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:05:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Obama doesn't sugar coat the facts. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He still delivers the medicine. But to push the metaphor, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. And people listening to him still hear the medicine on racism in America. In fact, they will be more likely to hear him, rather than tune him out. I know the people we are trying to reach, and some of them, if we begin with "America is a racist country," will simply tune out everything else. In a democracy, we win by convincing people to join us, so why wouldn't we do what we can, within reason, to do that?

      Like I said, I don't question Smith's experiences, and like I said, the answer to the question "Is America A Racist Country"? can't be "no." But we all have to decide what's our purpose in talking to people. There is a role for 'truth-tellers' like Smith and a role for people who speak the way Obama does. Both are valuable.

      Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your perspective as always.

  •  By focusing on the people we stole from Africa, (6+ / 0-)

    American's will never understand that it wasn't slavery that made our society racist. Up until that point, Christianity forwarded the theory that white people were above all others, including the First Nations of the lands we invaded. This country is inherently racist, and colonialist and imperialist and until americans acknowledge that and get over trying to convince themselves they aren't racist because they've never used the "N" word, nothing will change. Our schools do a bang up job of allowing us to continue our denial of what we have done, and what other empires, have done. in the name of liberty. It's always been about rich people not wanting to pay their taxes, just like in the famous line from "Dazed & Confused".

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:47:21 AM PST

  •  I know racists and bigots. (3+ / 0-)

    They are in my husband's family in another state.  I have had to ask them not to use the n-word in my presence or words against Hispanics, from which race I derive.  We don't like to visit this state because of the bigotry and racism we encounter from his family members.  

    I also have a friend who moved to this state for a decent job at a university.  A beautiful Hispanic woman.  She moved back because she couldn't handle the racism and bigotry she was subjected to by students and coworkers in this state.

    When you are in conversation with people and they are talking about someone and have to qualify their race to you (ex. I have this friend, she's black, and she said....  OR I know this Muslim guy and.....  You get my drift) this is a form of racism.  What does their race or religion have to do with your story?  It is a person you are talking about.  Pointing out their difference from you needs to stop.  It's one way we can move to curb racism.  

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:10:06 AM PST

  •  Just based on its actions outside it's own borders (5+ / 0-)

    the U.S. is incredibly racist.  The War OF Terror, destablization of countries, regime changes, global militarization that causes genocides, etc., are all a continuation of Manifest Destiny, as racist an ideal as they come.  The entire idea of American exceptionalism is racist.  

    "The Global War OF Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:57:01 AM PST

  •  The Jim Crow Blues - Live - Odetta (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    From Radio City Music Hall in NYC 2003 - Lightening in a Bottle blues concert is a documentary tribute to the history of the Blues. We have made much progress addressing racial prejudice, and reducing some forms of segregation.

    Yet, the new Jim Crow sure looks a lot like the old Jim Crow.

    "We got to get together people and put a stop to this ole Jim Crow"
    Written and originally sung by Lead Belly (1930)

    It seems to me that almost EVERY DAY somewhere in this country, laws are repealed or presented as reasonable and necessary new law, but somehow a lot of them have the effect of disenfranchising predominantly non-white racial minorities.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:06:21 AM PST

  •  hate radio made it more acceptable the last 25 yrs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    and theres a political upside for the GOP.

    guys like limbaugh have been blatantly racist from 1000 radio stations on a regular basis and the left has not gotten in his face in an organized timely way until recently with stoprush. it's always been here and always will but if it's OK all over the country on the radio....

    he's not the only one- it's part of the GOP agenda they all follow, but he's very skilled at rationalizing and excusing the racism. for years the think tanks have been sending them stories they can talk about, victims they can use. and it's common to hear the details fudged, left out, exaggerated. it has been very useful for selling ALEC style voter suppression and ID laws, guns, anti-immigration fervor, and racist candidates.

    and they do it on our loudest radio stations, many of them piggybacking on the community standing of our largest universities by paying a few bucks to broadcast their sports.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:28:11 AM PST

  •  It's a Moving Target (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, a2nite, Mary Mike

    "Is South Africa a racist country?"

    Ask that in 1989.  Ask that now.

    Here in Utah, the dominant religion taught until 1978 that dark skin was a sign of a curse by God.  

    In 2012, a Haitian - American won the Republican nomination for congress in one of the whitest districts in the country.

    (For the record, Mia Love's skin is not Cursed By God, but her brain clearly is.)

    It's pretty funny to hear people from the country where it's completely legal to put up a Help Wanted sign that says "Se requiere buena presentacion" (Dog Whistle for "Only Light Skinned Applicants need apply") say that the US is a racist country.

  •  "No matter how much cats fight" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    I'm far too lazy to look up the statistics.

    But aren't the numbers of interracial marriages and kids growing by a pretty big percentage every year?

  •  They took away our drums (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Ian Reifowitz

    Angelique Kidjo - Senie Zelie Live Lightning In a Bottle

    "They took away our people, they took away our drums,
    but the one thing they did not succeed in taking away from us, is our voice."

    Antoine Fuqua's documentary on the blues,
    shot at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, 2003.

    In 2011 when the Occupy Wall street were diverted and they found themselves in Zucotti Park the drumming circle became a powerful symbol of the protest. It was also a call to action, and a rallying sound by which others could find them. One only had to emerge from any subway stop in the vicinity and walk toward the sound.

    The sound was also a nuisance to the community around the park. Of course, local noise ordinances were passed for good reasons, and do need to be enforced. Immediately the protestors were prohibited from using megaphones, amplifiers, or loud speakers, even though such devices are tolerated all over NYC in street music and street theater.

    I'll go ahead and assert (without proof) that some of those residents wouldn't have minded a bunch of people giving speeches all day, even all night, but the drumming itself was too persistent, was too much "in your face."

    And many of those same residents may also enjoy contemporary music infused with African rhythms, without knowing where the rhythms originated.

    Music is sneaky like that.  ;)

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:41:55 AM PST

  •  How far we haven't come was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, a2nite

    demonstrated yesterday in my office. Won't go into gory detail - suffice it to say someone who acts as a leader in my company commented that an expected visitor who we hadn't yet met "is probably a terrorist" because of his name. I did a very disgusted double face palm but didn't say what I was thinking - sure my feelings have been duly noted, but not speaking out because he's boss eats me.

    Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

    by hulibow on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:00:24 AM PST

  •  I see a lot of racism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, LilithGardener

    I think we've come a long way, but there are still people in our midst who openly make racist comments, and probably many more who may not voice their racist thoughts, but do have them.

    There is definitely a streak of red neck attitudes about life in general in a large number of individuals, especially outside of large urban areas.

    An African American friend of mine recently told me how less racist the people seemed to her when she visited Vancouver, Canada. And when her father was stationed in Germany in the military, she also experienced less racism, she felt.

    We have a long way to go before we cast off the racism that has been one of the worst aspects of our cultural heritage.

    Let's not kid ourselves.

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

    by ZhenRen on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:46:08 AM PST

  •  Simple answer is yes & I'm tired of pale Americans (3+ / 0-)

    Complaining about it. People voted for a big fat evil rotten racist demented monster in 1980. He made racism fashionable instead of bringing people along & encouraging inclusion. That strategy now has doomed an entire party. He's waiting for them in the 9th circle of he**. He's the ultimate betrayer.

    What will make it better? I am looking forward to a Latino plurality. That will make it better.

    No both sides don't do it.

    Brown power, brown power, brown power.


  •  I used to resent the phrase "white privilege", and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, LilithGardener

    that was back in the 60's when I was arrogant and ignorant. Although things have changed, and in some ways improved, today's Supreme Court hearing on the Voting Rights act, which is in great peril, just shows that things have not improved enough. Roberts asks, “Is it the government’s submission that citizens in the South are more racist than citizens not in the South?”.

    Not the point. Actually attacks on voting rights, in the guise of "voter ID", have moved north. If the Act needs change, it is to strengthen it, not weaken it.

    So yes, we are a racist country still, and much needs to change before we can stop asking that question.

  •  Looks like I need to write some diaries on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz


    Thanks Ian!

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