Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Subtle Racism of Friends and Allies (reposted)

I see that my link last night to this post I wrote almost two years ago generated some interest. I've thought before about re-posting it and perhaps now is as good a time as any to do that.

Have you ever heard a person of color say that they prefer the open racism of conscious bigots to the subtle racism of us do-gooders on the left end of the spectrum?

I remember an African American friend of mine here in Minnesota who years ago would often tell me that she longed for the day she could move back to the south where racism was right up front for everyone to see. I'd shake my head at her and feel completely clueless about why she would think that. After all, I had grown up in East Texas and couldn't get away from all that craziness fast enough.

Over time though, I've come to understand that view a little better. Much of that awareness came from reading in "the diversosphere." I found that people of color express things in blog posts that would never be said in "polite company," but would typically be shared with each other behind closed doors. I will forever be grateful to so many of them for opening their lives and hearts to me and so many other readers.

For example, here is what I think is one of the most powerful posts ever written on the internet about white progressives and racism. Its from Kai and is titled: The White Liberal Conundrum.

As I've often noted, many white liberals remain oblivious to the depth and breadth of anti-racist work, opting to hide behind the delusion that anyone who votes for Democrats and doesn't have a pointy hood in the closet is "a good guy" in the movement toward greater social justice <...> Some might be surprised to learn that when people of color talk about racism amongst ourselves, white liberals often receive a far harsher skewering than white conservatives or overt racists. Many of my POC friends would actually prefer to hang out with an Archie Bunker-type who spits flagrantly offensive opinions, rather than a colorblind liberal whose insidious paternalism, dehumanizing tokenism, and cognitive indoctrination ooze out between superficially progressive words. At least the former gives you something to work with, something above-board to engage and argue against; the latter tacitly insists on imposing and maintaining an illusion of non-racist moral purity which provides little to no room for genuine self-examination or racial dialogue.

Countless blogospheric discussions on racism amply demonstrate the manner in which many white liberals start acting victimized and angry if anyone attempts to burst their racism-free bubble, oftentimes inexplicably bringing up non-white friends, lovers, adopted children, relatives, ancestors; dismissing, belittling, or obtusely misreading substantive historically-informed analysis of white supremacism as either "divisive rhetoric" or "flaming"; downplaying racism as an interpersonal social stigma and bad PR, rather than an overarching system of power under which we all live and which has socialized us all; and threatening to walk away from discussion if persons of color do not comform to a narrow white-centered comfort zone. Such people aren't necessarily racists in the hate-crime sense of the word, but they are usually acting out social dynamics created by racism and replicating the racist social relationships they were conditioned since birth to replicate.

Any of that second paragraph sound familiar? Yeah, me too. I've been there, done that. I highly recommend following the link to read the whole diary.

I remember a few years ago asking an on-line friend of color if I ALWAYS needed to take a charge of racism thrown at me seriously. I've been on the receiving end of my share of those kinds of charges and sometimes I've questioned their reliability. She didn't give me a yes or no answer. Instead she said that what I have to do is consider it...fearlessly and honestly.

Over the years as I've tried to heed her advice, I've found that there's so much I don't know and don't understand. That's mostly because I haven't experienced things through the eyes and hearts of people of color. And until I do, applying my experience to their lives leads me to dismiss whole realms of reality...and to racism.

Here's how Nezua put it years ago in a blog post titled The Skin of My Soul.

Mi novia says that it really frustrates White people that no matter how much they know or want to know, there may be an area of experience or knowledge that they cannot access.

This is another way of saying White Privilege.

How dare the world harbor some sort of Thing that I cannot experience! How dare you insinuate that you possess knowledge I may have to ask you about in humility! How impertinent of you to even imagine that I cannot, with study and great wisdom and effort, also know what it is like to grow up Brown™ in America! The voice of privilege thinks no seat is unavailable, no land unconquerable, no food untasteable, no right deniable, no experience out of reach. It is a slap in the face to this line of thought that there exists an area that cannot be known, even to a WHITE person. Gasp.

That's the crux of white privilege...thinking that what we've lived and experienced is a valid way to measure what other people have lived and experienced. And because whiteness has been the default for so long in this culture, many of us are not used to the idea that there's so much that we don't know and need to learn. Until we do - we're likely to hurt people and cause them pain out of our ignorance. I don't imagine that most of us mean to cause that kind of pain...but we do. That's what my friend who longed for the South was trying to tell me I think - that it actually hurts less when it comes from people who openly hate you than it does when it comes from your friends and allies.

A few years ago Donna at The Silence of Our Friends told a story that is both simple and poignant about this kind of pain. It starts off with her explaining that she was once part of a group for Native American women. They were open about who joined - as long as the reasons had integrity. One of the women who joined the group had Native American ancestors way back in her heritage and wanted to learn what she could about them. I'll let Donna pick up the story from there.

It was like any friend or neighbor who thinks you are interesting and you think she is interesting and you get along great. I don't know what got up her nose this one day, but we were sitting around discussing current problems on our reservations and things like unemployment came up. She gets a little huffy and chimes in, "Well why don't you just go get a job?" Now the others in the group just stopped talking to her, they knew they got slapped down, but I didn't. I tried to explain that it wasn't that easy and that alot of our reservations are out in the middle of nowhere and you need a car to go into town or maybe even get on a bus and completely leave your home. She didn't hear any of it. She said of course it's easy, you fill out applications and get a job! I tried one more time telling her that cars and gas cost money, that bus fare costs money, that clothes for an interview cost money, the extreme poverty means there is no money, and because of the distance to the nearest city you might be abandoning everything and everyone you know to go somewhere you know is hostile to you. And she dismissed it saying I was just making excuses. She really thought we were either too stupid to think of her simplistic answers ourselves, or too lazy to go and do it. I lost it and gave her hell over it, but her answer to that was that white people don't have to be our friends and listen to anything we say, and yet she did it all this time, and now I was being so rude and ungrateful when she was just trying to help.<...>

I got quiet. I didn't know what to say. I had to stop and ask myself, am I really equal? Am I even human? At that moment in time, I didn't know anymore. Now these kinds of things have happened to me at other times but this one was especially painful because I had been friends with this woman for 2+ years. I didn't see it coming.

Can you feel it?

Certainly this woman demonstrated some ignorance about the employment barriers for Native Americans living on a reservation. But when challenged with that ignorance...the really ugly aspects of her racism arose. "White people don't have to listen and I'm just doing you a favor by doing so. You should be grateful." It reminded me of all the times I silently (but perhaps not so subtly) assumed that I deserved gratitude from people of color for my efforts to engage. Just another layer of my own racism that Donna helped me recognize.

I tell that story to help us be mindful - not as a request to walk on eggshells (which is a whole other problem). Its the subtle things from the people you're supposed to be able trust that often hurt the most. And that's racism too.

44 comments:

  1. thought provoking...I did a post on my support of the CBC and why I do not call it racist for this Caucus to be open just to Black members...I never know if my empathy for the African Americans history of suffering is balked at or understood. I'm always supportive yet worry I'm not saying the right things. It's very complicated because I am a pleaser type personality and never want to say the wrong thing...Sorry if I made no sense! :)

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  2. Sue - I think the desire to not say something hurtful is a good thing. But sometimes you have to ask the difficult questions if you're going to learn...and then listen.

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  3. She said of course it's easy, you fill out applications and get a job! I tried one more time telling her that cars and gas cost money, that bus fare costs money, that clothes for an interview cost money, the extreme poverty means there is no money.

    This was a slight subject change, albeit related. Classism is akin to racism in many ways. While I don’t have the experience with racism, I have been impoverished and I have heard this exact argument. In response to a discussion over an essay I wrote to represent the fact that those who are not impoverished cannot understand the reality in which those who are live, Choosing Dearth, a coworker, whom I usually respect, told me that that some rural gas stations have showers. Everyone can clean up and get a job. That kind of statement betrays a complete ignorance of any reality related to the problem. You cannot intelligently discuss the problem of poverty with someone who makes that statement any more than you can intelligently discuss “entitlements” with someone who says: “we should let charities, not government, solve the problem.”

    I suspect there are all kinds of issues related to racism that just like this, outside the realm of intelligent discussion with those who have no experience with it. They are trying to provide answers without getting the questions.

    I tell that story to help us be mindful - not as a request to walk on eggshells (which is a whole other problem).

    After my discussion with you and Blackman and Sue on her site, I am sure everyone involved is convinced I am a racist. Maybe we all are, but if so, it doesn’t mean we all discriminate against race any more frequently than we discriminate for other reasons, such as I don’t like the way you wore your hair today. I know racism is real, but not everything is racism and certainly some things that are assumed to be racist are in fact innocent.

    Everyone notices differences. It has always been that way and that will never change.

    ”White people don't have to listen and I'm just doing you a favor by doing so. You should be grateful."

    This could have been more of a “non-impoverished people don’t have to offer solutions kind of thing.” Hatred of the poor is just as real as hatred based on race.

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  4. John - You are so right. Classism is just as real as racism. Though they often overlap and are hard to distinguish, they are two very different things. For example, "driving while Black" can be a problem no matter how much money you have.

    In a couple of posts now I've tried to address the problem of intentionality in racism. As I said in this article, I've been challenged for things I've said/done that are racist - I even have some recent examples. That doesn't mean I'm "a racist." It means I've said and done some things that are hurtful out of ignorance. To me the critical point happens when we are challenged. Do we get defensive or do we listen and examine ourselves - as my friend said - fearlessly and honestly?

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  5. Mo'nin', all.

    John, NO. I don't think you're racist. Again, what I've tried to point out is that, and it's happening again, you present one of "The Classic" stances as we try to enter into these discussions. What you point out is that for every 100 examples of why I might say "race", you can give 100 examples of why you think it isn't. And, I believe you which is, again, why I've said the approach that is really going to hit home for you is through your marriage. A couple of things....

    By the example given in Donna's story, there was a resistance by the white woman from entering into what the Native American women were saying. She explained, for HER, what it was. If she was gonna understand it better, she was gonna have to, at least, TABLE what she thought and VALIDATE what those women were saying. Those women KNEW what they were talking about. Now, here she comes with much of nothing from her background such that she would "get it" - and having NO appreciation of this most important aspect - and she's going to tell these women that they really don't understand how their lives have been working???????????

    It's quite hurtful, firstly, but it's aMAzingly patronizing and insulting. Please, consider this.

    This, now, for me, is risky because, it's typing and I've already demonstrated that I might not be as clear as I intend. So, I'll say, with respect - for the second matter - please, listen to me.

    I'm 60 and, in my interracial marriage (fine Scots- Irish red head, she is) of 28 years (we've been together almost 30) you two are going to have, based on your skin color ALONE, SOME tribulations. These tribulations (please note I said "some". not "all") will be even more intense if you become or already are a dad. Plus, you're in Texas (told'ja I was gonna check you out :-) ). You will find that it's not either/or. It's both/and. It's not that racism exists. It's that racism EXISTS.

    PLEASE do not make the error with your wife if you get into these conversations with her (and I really hope you do because, while it would be conflictual at the outset, there is SO much possibility for intimacy to increase on the back end) and she would risk it and tell you the impact of America on her person JUST because of her skin color - that she doesn't know what she's talking about.

    Ms. Pants is saying this over and over. Frankly, I'm blown away at how creative and industrious she is at finding stuff and presenting it yet aGAIN.

    ASK the questions and enter on in, my man.

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  6. And, John I'm an Albert Ellis - William Glasser kind of guy.

    I'm just QUITE sure you're SHOCKED to know this :-).

    Been at it since '81.

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  7. Grrrrr.....

    Should've read over my main post a bit more.

    It's because I've been at this interracial marriage thing for such a goodly bit, now, that I can assure you - unfortunately - that y'all are gonna have SOME - STRICTLY - race based difficulties. Ain't gon' be 'bout no class, my man.

    It's as American (and because it's American) as apple pie.

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  8. Blackman,

    …It's quite hurtful, firstly, but it's amazingly patronizing and insulting.

    I was outraged by the tale. It speaks to a different discussion, not the one you and I started.

    Two questions:

    Question One:

    Is racism subtle and more prevalent in basic assumptions than most people realize? To this question, Ms. Pants continually offers examples to show that it is. That case is proven with great eloquence and irrefutable arguments. I neither challenge it, nor have anything but utter respect for her presentation. In many cases, it is manifest in the tacit acceptable of racist elements as normal.

    Question Two:

    What is driving people out of Obama's camp? Why are people so hard on him?

    It is not racial. I agree that there is a racial component and that component drives some people. Most people who elected Obama and are now complaining about his performance are concerned with his performance, not his race.

    Citing examples of racism against Obama will not prove your case. People were racist when he was elected. They have changed, not due to the sudden discovery that he is black. It is something else, his politics.

    What you point out is that for every 100 examples of why I might say "race", you can give 100 examples of why you think it isn't.

    What I point out is that some of your examples are backed up by racism and some are not. But the issue, as you indirectly noted, is not black and white (no pun intended). You can say that all people have a measure of racism in as much as they notice race at all. Anything we notice, leaves some kind of feeling in us, else we did not notice it. I agree with this idea, but it is not germane to the original discussion.

    For instance, we theorize that people attack Obama’s politics for his race. I argue that people genuinely find his politics objectionable. Perhaps some of the attacks, even most of them, are political? Ms. Pants counters with the notion that race is ALWAYS part of the equation, even if it is not the driving force. I agree to this, but it does not change my argument. Liberal white men suffer heavy criticism for their politics, and race has nothing to do with that. Consider, for example: Jimmy Carter.

    Racism exists and some people want Obama out because he is black. More people than that, and I think by far, want him out because of his politics. Many, probably a majority, of the same people who want Obama out because of his politics, want Clarence Thomas to remain on the Supreme Court because of his politics. They may or may not be racist, but their decisions are political.

    I do not argue that your 100 points are indicative of racial motivation. I do argue that they may not be, and it is exceedingly unlikely that all 100 of them are. There are concerns that are far more important than the color of a man’s skin in America, and even racists feel this way. That is how this whole discussion began. I think it should be obvious, but it would seem that it isn’t.

    I do not like celery. I am totally prejudiced against it. It is vile, beyond disgusting. I don’t know why we continue to grow it. It is foul. However, if you fire me, take away my elderly mother’s Medicare, and include celery in my meal, and I complain about your actions, don’t tell me that it’s really all about the celery.

    I do not mean to trivialize the racial divide. I know racists are more passionate about their racism than I am about celery. I know even subtle unrealized racism is more of a driving force than my distaste for celery. I also know that our political climate is what is driving a lot of anger right now, and that force is more important to the majority, to a lot of racists and non-racists alike, than any other concern.

    We are hating each other for our politics right now and that hatred is driving. We are in a virtual state of emergency, and a potential historical pivot point. There will be time for other form of hatred later.

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  9. John - I hope this is still a 3-way conversation because I want to jump in here to say something.

    Overall in this discussion it looks like the disagreement about whether or not racism is involved in the attacks on Obama has reached some nuanced (or perhaps mushy) middle. No one is saying its all about racism and no one is saying there is no racism involved. So we're left to discuss degrees.

    But ultimately I go back to what Melissa Harris-Perry said in her second article that strikes me as the core of where I want to converse:

    But listen to this for a moment white allies: many African-Americans (not all, but many) feel that the attacks on President Obama are racialized on both the right and the left. This feeling has meaningful implications for the quality of our national, political fabric. When we tell you that the attacks are racially troubling, painful, we would like you to take our concerns seriously rather than working to simply defend yourself against the claims.

    When we approach it that way - the question is not whether you and I consider racism to be part of the critique - but what is driving so many African Americans to feel that way?

    As I've said before, that isn't a discussion of who's right or wrong. Its a discussion that would likely lead to folks like you and me learning something.

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  10. No, sir. The example is preCISEly what we're arguing about. Same discussion. We haven't been able to get past square one.

    And, therein, for all of what you said,and you say it SO very well, is the crux of the matter.

    Yes. Racism IS more subtle and prevalent than most people realize. Just because it may be unintentional, doesn't mean that it's still not racist. And, PLEASE hear me here because I believe that this is what's hangin' you up... that DOES NOT, then, make one a died in the wool, sheet wearing, hate filled racist person.

    For your second question. You ask it. And, then answer it and go all into why it's what you're saying it is.

    Jusssst like the woman in the example.

    For whatever the reasons, you're, thus far, resisting giving validity to how a goodly number of people KNOW that their lives work. You, at least, are coming off as not being particularly interested in actually learning. You appear to be more interested in your certainty of your position.

    Which, again, is "The Classic" approach.

    I repeat. PLEASE do not use this approach on your dear bride.

    She may not be saying much about it now, but, one day, you may well be in for a MOST rude awakening.

    You're right....your head is really thick - haven't noticed the gooey yet, though.

    I'm old, but I'm up to it.

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  11. Very insightful, as all of your comments tend to be, but:

    When we tell you that the attacks are racially troubling, painful, we would like you to take our concerns seriously rather than working to simply defend yourself against the claims.

    That is a completely legitimate request, but it leaves one is a tough position. In my case, I can clearly see the motivation for the attacks on both sides. If someone is calling them racist or believing they are racist, and if that assumption is more false than true, it would seem to be a proverbial rock and a hard place.

    How do you correct the assumption?

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  12. Keep in mind, by the way, I am an Obama supporter. I intend to vote for him and I am happy to do it.

    Still, there is merit to the accusations the far left makes, lots of merit, even if the ultimate conclusions are wrong.

    And there is merit to the accusations the right makes if you take the axioms the right hold to be true as fact, and, of course they do.

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  13. And, Ms. Pants and I are, differently, saying the exact same thing.

    Which is....

    A goodly number of us really do know the difference between rain and pee. So, therein, if I'm tryin' to say that I'm gettin' peed on - because I have a goodly amount of experience with what pee looks like, sounds like, and smells like, then....I'm gettin' peed on.

    PLEASE do not attempt to explain to me that I'm really not.

    'Afternoon, there, Ms. Pants

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  14. Ahhh, you're there.

    Zero in on what I'm saying is what is hangin' you up. I believe, in these discussions, it hangs up many white folk.

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  15. John

    If someone is calling them racist or believing they are racist, and if that assumption is more false than true, it would seem to be a proverbial rock and a hard place.

    First of all - both Blackman and I keep trying to make a distinction between being a "racist" and saying/doing something that is racist. I know that's not a distinction that a lot of people make, but its where we need to start if we're going to address the dilemma you've identified.

    Secondly, the really BIG question is "who gets to decide if a claim is true or not?" Blackman is calling that the difference between rain and pee. And to me, this is where white privilege comes into play. We are SO convinced that we can be arbiters of things that we've only witnessed rather than experienced. Its like a man telling a woman what to expect during a pregnancy...ultimately ridiculous.

    Finally, implied in that dilemma is something that really pisses me off. Its the assumption that white people need to be protected from feeling uncomfortable about the reality that they've said/done something that is racist. And ultimately the message there is that the pain black people feel can be dismissed in order to protect white people from feeling uncomfortable.

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  16. Oh, and please excuse me for not minding my manners.

    Good afternoon to you both!

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  17. Blackman,

    No, sir. The example is preCISEly what we're arguing about.

    But we both agree with the examples. Are you sure we are arguing about the things were our opinions are identical? If so, let’s stop than and choose another argument.

    Yes. Racism IS more subtle and prevalent than most people realize. Just because it may be unintentional, doesn't mean that it's still not racist.

    Right. I believe I said that too. We are not arguing about this, sir.

    And, PLEASE hear me here because I believe that this is what's hangin' you up... that DOES NOT, then, make one a died in the wool, sheet wearing, hate filled racist person.

    Right. I think we all understand this, and agree. Most racism is a degree of subtlety that probably never drops to zero, as some of it is so engrained in our society and our thinking that we don’t even recognize it. We successfully negotiated this discussion earlier.

    For your second question. You ask it. And, then answer it and go all into why it's what you're saying it is. Jusssst like the woman in the example.

    The woman in the second example is not relevant to the validity of my answer to question number two. Hitler helped his grandmother across the street and I did the same for mine, but I am not just like Hitler. If you wish to address the flaw you see in my answer to question number two, I would be more than happy to listen. Thus far, you have not only failed to address it, but you have failed to acknowledge it. I will ask it again in bold and italics below for emphasis.

    For whatever the reasons, you're, thus far, resisting giving validity to how a goodly number of people KNOW that their lives work.

    You are mistaken, sir. It is you who are purporting to know how the lives and motivations of others work, namely those who do not like Obama’s politics. To support this, you are arguing about how your life works, meaning that you have been the victim of racism. I don’t dispute that. In fact, I think that is the exact thing that is giving you an opinion that is not in sync with data we have available. There are two things that can co-exist without mutual exclusion: one, you and others are victims of racism. Two, people hate Obama’s politics, and therefore hate him. Claiming otherwise as racist without evidence, or even legitimate support for the assumption, will only widen the racial divide because it gives people with no legitimate target to aim at a legitimate target. Yes, some people have measures of racist sentiments for Obama. The exact same number as when he was loved and elected.

    You, at least, are coming off as not being particularly interested in actually learning. You appear to be more interested in your certainty of your position.

    Analyzing data and not seeing what you see does not equate to lack of interest in learning. You would think that about anyone who thinks the reason Obama has fallen out of favor is political. If you disagree, how do you reconcile this disagreement with the fact that he was elected in the first place? How do you reconcile your opinion, which you now claim as truth that I should learn, with fact that Obama was popular when elected, and is not popular now? Is it your contention that he turned black sometime in the last three years?


    Which, again, is "The Classic" approach.

    Your examples of the “Classic Approach” are “not agreeing with your approach. Not agreeing with you may be classic, but I wouldn’t know, as we have just met.


    I repeat. PLEASE do not use this approach on your dear bride.

    My dear bride becomes angry if I disagree with her on very much. I have to be very delicate in my approach with her.


    She may not be saying much about it now, but, one day, you may well be in for a MOST rude awakening.

    There is no question about that.

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  18. Ms. Pants,

    First of all - both Blackman and I keep trying to make a distinction between being a "racist" and saying/doing something that is racist.

    You made that distinction very early on, not just in the post but in the comments section of the previous one. I acknowledged it as valid and wise and I have not challenged it since that time.

    Secondly, the really BIG question is "who gets to decide if a claim is true or not?" Blackman is calling that the difference between rain and pee. And to me, this is where white privilege comes into play. We are SO convinced that we can be arbiters of things that we've only witnessed rather than experienced. Its like a man telling a woman what to expect during a pregnancy...ultimately ridiculous.

    I agree with this in theory, but not in Obama’s case. We have a real valid test with control data. Those who loved and supported Obama to get him elected, changed. His color did not. The above argument is wise and valid when not applied to the Obama situation, where it is soundly refuted as applicable to the question of what’s driving the turn against Obama.


    Finally, implied in that dilemma is something that really pisses me off. Its the assumption that white people need to be protected from feeling uncomfortable about the reality that they've said/done something that is racist. And ultimately the message there is that the pain black people feel can be dismissed in order to protect white people from feeling uncomfortable.

    Again, this is an utterly profound observation. You express very deep thoughts that are beyond what most people consider. I am highly impressed, not disputatious about them. The only point I disputed was the one with evidence in rebuttal, the idea that politics may not be driving in the turn against Obama.

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  19. John - I believe you are falling into what Melissa Harris-Perry called the "prove it" problem with your assertion that if people elected Obama as a black man, they cannot now be racist in their critique of him.

    I wonder if you ever heard the story during the primaries of an Obama campaigner door-knocking in Pennsylvania. A woman answered the door and was asked who she was going to vote for. She yelled to her husband in the other room asking who they were going to vote for. He yelled back..."We're voting for the n****r."

    The fact of the matter is that all of us white people who voted for Obama did not rid ourselves of racist responses simply by voting for him.

    I also see a lot of employers who hire African Americans but then hold them to completely different standards than they do their white employees.

    I believe you are thinking of racism as a zero sum game - its either there or its not. People voted for Obama for all different kinds of reasons and the same holds true in terms of why they criticize him now.

    One final thing. I think Blackman might have mentioned this before, but its important. From what I've witnessed myself and heard from African Americans - the issue with racism in critiques is not so much what is said as it is with how its said. There is a level if disrespect that is certainly ringing dog whistles for a lot of people.

    I know I hear a HUGE dose of that when folks on the left call Obama "naive." Puhleeze!!! Do you think we would call a white man naive who had:

    1. Been President of the Harvard Law Review
    2. Cut his teeth in Dem Chicago politics
    3. Beaten the Clinton machine in the primaries
    4. Gotten elected President with a middle name of "Hussein" in post 9/11 America

    I'll argue politics with you ALL day. But when folks pull that shit - I know what I'm hearing.

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  20. Ms. Pants, in her last post, says it well.

    I had a white male client say to me just two weeks ago: "We elected Obama as President. The white man is off the hook".

    Am I holding all whites to this? No. But, as I read your statement that is in bold type, it sounds rather similar to the above quote.

    Dr. MHP's complaint/argument is that PBO is being held to a different standard. It makes NO SENSE for all he has accomplished and continues to accomplish, which, factually for time in office, is MUCH more than Bill Clinton, WHY this is even occuring. For me, I have NEVER in my years of observing politics seen SO many people believe that they know SO much more and that he should do what THEY think he should do.

    Herein, I believe that we, as a country, are still working our way through this aspect of the Dred Scott Decision that was made right here in downtown St. Louis.

    "The black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect".

    Electing him was one thing. What all else, including being in a mind set to be comfortable with someone black LEADING something - in this case the country - is quite another.

    It's a wrestle. And, the only way to contend with it well is to call it out, put it on the table, and not say it ain't what it is.

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  21. Ms. Pants,

    John - I believe you are falling into what Melissa Harris-Perry called the "prove it" problem with your assertion that if people elected Obama as a black man, they cannot now be racist in their critique of him.

    Once again, my assertion is that they are political in their assessment of him and the politics are driving.


    I wonder if you ever heard the story during the primaries of an Obama campaigner door-knocking in Pennsylvania. A woman answered the door and was asked who she was going to vote for. She yelled to her husband in the other room asking who they were going to vote for. He yelled back..."We're voting for the n****r."

    You are trying to prove there is a racist person who voted for Obama. As I acknowledged that there is more than one, this argument is pointless.


    The fact of the matter is that all of us white people who voted for Obama did not rid ourselves of racist responses simply by voting for him.

    Agreed.


    I also see a lot of employers who hire African Americans but then hold them to completely different standards than they do their white employees.

    This is a very good point and supports your thesis. I will consider it.


    I believe you are thinking of racism as a zero sum game

    I have repeatedly expressed that I am not, including in my last comment. I am not sure why both you and Blackman persist in believing this, even as I deny, concede to all points that suggest it is not, and make a completely unrelated argument.


    One final thing. I think Blackman might have mentioned this before, but its important. From what I've witnessed myself and heard from African Americans - the issue with racism in critiques is not so much what is said as it is with how its said. There is a level if disrespect that is certainly ringing dog whistles for a lot of people.

    I understand this and accept it. That does not change the fact that Obama criticism is political.


    I know I hear a HUGE dose of that when folks on the left call Obama "naive." Puhleeze!!! Do you think we would call a white man naive who had

    Obviously, Obama is not a naïve man. All liberal democrats have been called stupid and foolish. It is nothing new to Obama. And they have all been very talented. Lieberman said that Jimmy Carter, one of the greatest prodigies the nation has ever seen, was “naïve at best.” I think he may have said it because Jimmy Carter was black. I can imagine no other reason.

    I'll argue politics with you ALL day. But when folks pull that shit - I know what I'm hearing. I beg to differ, my friend. I think you hear a whole host of things that resonates at a frequency many people cannot hear. Some of them, perhaps most, are real sounds. However, if Clinton were the president of the nation in its current state, his approval rating would plummet, perhaps because he is black, but perhaps for other reasons also.

    I hope I am not offending you. I tend to over debate and to be overly aggressive when I do, but I always hope to shake hands at the end.

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  22. Mr. Blackman,

    Ms. Pants, in her last post, says it well.

    I agree. She made some good points.

    I had a white male client say to me just two weeks ago: "We elected Obama as President. The white man is off the hook". More anecdotal examples of racism are pointless, as we all agree they happen. You continue to debate points on which we agree and to gloss over those on which we do not.

    Am I holding all whites to this? No. But, as I read your statement that is in bold type, it sounds rather similar to the above quote.

    It seems very different.


    Dr. MHP's complaint/argument is that PBO is being held to a different standard. It makes NO SENSE for all he has accomplished and continues to accomplish, which, factually for time in office, is MUCH more than Bill Clinton, WHY this is even occuring.

    I can explain this. Clinton presided over prosperity and Obama presides over dearth. Surely you can see a difference. People don’t care if the Tea Party frustrates any effort toward progress. They want results. They want a super hero who can turn all this around. They elected Obama on the impossible promise of change, meaning to them a turnaround, and they resent the fact that he did not yet achieve it. They don’t want excuses. They want results. It’s always been that way. It is not rational, but emotional.

    For me, I have NEVER in my years of observing politics seen SO many people believe that they know SO much more and that he should do what THEY think he should do. Agreed!!! 100%. All those who can barely balance their checkbooks have all the answers.


    Herein, I believe that we, as a country, are still working our way through this aspect of the Dred Scott Decision that was made right here in downtown St. Louis. I am from St. Louis. I left it for a job seven years ago. I know, that is irrelevant, but it came to mind.


    "The black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect". There are bunches of black men and bunches of white men.


    Electing him was one thing. What all else, including being in a mind set to be comfortable with someone black LEADING something - in this case the country - is quite another. They elected him over all white challengers to lead the country. A majority of people, myself included, chose him over the rest. As Ms. Pants noted and keeps pounding into my head, they may hold him to a harsher standard. However, this does not prove that politics aren’t driving, and I think it cannot, because I think they are.


    It's a wrestle. And, the only way to contend with it well is to call it out, put it on the table, and not say it ain't what it is. You take good points to extremes, probably causing most people who would consider them to turn the other way. Despite what you probably think, I do not count myself among them.

    My conclusion to both of you will follow.

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  23. Ms. Pants and Mr. Blackman,

    I have found this whole discussion very enlightening. I choose to take the wisdom imparted to me, without embracing dubious conclusions based on it.

    A third of black men end up in prison at some point. It is indicative of something huge. The fact that racism is a presence; and there is no such thing as the absence of racism because it is real, regardless of whether people are explicitly racist or explicitly using it to make decisions. The fact that to be aware of race is to be effected by it, one way or another; to be aware of the issue of racism makes it impossible to be “above it.” Everyone is invested. The fact that some racism is so subtle that we are not aware of it, and thus can never declare ourselves immune, as to do so would be to proclaim to be immune to something that resides beyond our awareness. How could we know?

    I take much away from this debate. There is one more thing that you will not like that I have also had crystalized. Victims of moral crimes cannot objectively separate the effects of those crimes from their worldview. They are susceptible to forming false correlations when they see the concurrent presence of two forces, in this case political passion and racism. Both exist, so the crime that I suffer is driving. In reality, both exist, both are having effect, but politics are the driving force and racism is very secondary (I think).

    Some of what you say is obviously true. I doubt that racism is the driving force behind Obama’s approval rating drop. I will acknowledge that his approval rating may be very low, but higher, if he were white, as the effect of some racists would be removed. Maybe ultimately this is all you are saying. If so, then I will not dispute the suggestion.

    I am truly sorry if I have offended either of you. I never learned to debate gently and I generally only hold my tongue upon request. I considered remaining reticent. After all, who wants to expose his racism, right? I often consider holding my tongue, but I never do. I truly hope no one is injured or agitated by my narrow-minded or racist views. Remember, you have more data than I do, so perhaps I am just speaking from a perspective of ignorance. I am sure you can appreciate this, though: knowing how people like me think gives you more data than not knowing.

    I am very much ostensibly in favor of social equality, and intellectually I truly believe should all be treated as such, and moreover, that we truly are equal.

    Additionally, I think Obama, the man, is one of the century’s great thinkers. I am ambivalent about his ability to play the hand he was dealt, but had he been dealt a different hand, I think he would have played better than any alternative. He is a long-term visionary, as proven by the fact that he went after Universal Healthcare over the economy, something very few people would have spent their political capital on. I think he believed that the effect of that could last centuries into the future, whereas the economy fluctuates and is more mysterious than we like to admit. It was not the best political decision, but it was the best decision for America, or that is what he believed, anyway.

    If the republicans take over for another eight years as a result, the Supreme Court will probably be stacked with conservatives and under the auspices of judicial review, a century of social progress will be reversed. If that happens, then the effect of Obama’s strategy will have proven disastrous. It is a dangerous game he played, and regardless of its success or failure, the game was dangerous. He made a nation changing decision. Only time will tell if the strategy worked, and the strategy will be falsely judged on whether it succeeded or not. That may or may not be what the country needs right now. I am not sure.

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  24. Clinton is not black.

    What I've noted, John, is that you claim to agree with matters that Ms. Pants and I both point out. Then you appear to credit Ms. Pants with that she hears things at frequencies that many people can't hear.

    Now, if that's true, a question is might one of those people be you?

    And, if one of those people might be you, then why would you say to her that: "some of them, perhaps most, are real sounds"?

    You allege that you give credit and/or agree. But, then, you take it right back.

    If, as you've said, you're not very versed in this arena, how could you tell her that some....perhaps....most.... are real sounds?

    If she knows what the sounds are, and she's clearly demonstrated she does, she does. Ain't no some. Ain't no perhaps. She does.

    "The Classic" argument has nothing to do with being in agreement with me. It is - and it has happened over and over here regarding the central matter - which was presented by Dr. MHP - being stated by you - who admits that he's not well versed in race matters - that what's driving this hoo-ha from The Left is policy issues. But, not race. And, the minority person - though one of them is Ms. Pants - tries to explain how, actually,

    race is more of a driver than may well be believed.

    And, thus far, we are at the usual place with, to me, the usual result.

    Regardless of what Ms. Pants or myself has presented. Or, as she initially did and wrote two entire pieces on it, Dr. MHP. It's policy.

    And, you probably will continue to see it that way until your eyes are opened more. And, again, that is gonna happen - I can almost guarantee you - as your marriage continues.

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  25. Mr. Blackman,

    Clinton is not black.

    That was my point, sir.

    Now, if that's true, a question is might one of those people be you? It could be. How would I know? I wouldn’t.

    And, if one of those people might be you, then why would you say to her that: "some of them, perhaps most, are real sounds?" If you asked the question, my thesis was not clearly expressed. My point is that some of what she hears is undoubtedly true, and some false.

    You allege that you give credit and/or agree. But, then, you take it right back. No, I gave credit where credit was due, but not more credit than was due.

    If, as you've said, you're not very versed in this arena, how could you tell her that some....perhaps....most.... are real sounds? I based this on the Obama analysis alone. Perhaps I should have said “one of the sounds.”

    If she knows what the sounds are, and she's clearly demonstrated she does, she does. Ain't no some. Ain't no perhaps. She does. And if she heard a sound that the political climate suggests exists differently then she heard it, she does not know. She knows a lot, but not all. Your passionate expression does nothing to change this.

    It is - and it has happened over and over here regarding the central matter - which was presented by Dr. MHP - being stated by you - who admits that he's not well versed in race matters - that what's driving this hoo-ha from The Left is policy issues. I am well-versed in psychology. I see the mistake being made. I see the political situation and it being interpreted as race. I am familiar with confirmation. She presented a thesis that in my opinion was not fully supported. I am very familiar with logic and critical thinking as well. She made lots of good points.

    race is more of a driver than may well be believed. Could be. In many cases, probably is.

    Regardless of what Ms. Pants or myself has presented. Or, as she initially did and wrote two entire pieces on it, Dr. MHP. It's policy. Mr. Blackman, you make passionate claims, but do nothing to refute the idea that a white man with the same climate and same result would be criticized. Do you remember Carter?

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  26. I see you're still up. too.

    You're attempting to explain. What we've and Dr. MHP are saying, to your explanation is - and this is CLASSIC as well... IF "we" are allowed into any number of positions - particularly if "we" are a first - we HAVE to hit HOME RUNS. Period. Makes no difference - I repeat - MAKES NO DIFFERENCE if its prosperity or dearth. There's a reason why black firsts are so damn exceptional. We CAN'T be average. History bears this out. But, you HAVE to know MORE about how this country has been toward people that look like me and what all is going on as break throughs are made.

    You ever stop to think about WHY it took so long to see a starting black middle line backer or a black quarter back on a pro football team? It was because those are the "thinking" positions on the defense and offense side. "We" can't think, so the story goes. And, when those firsts came, EVerything that was done was examined with a fine tooth comb. Average just could not happen. And, from there, if those firsts were able to be exceptional enough, more behind them would be allowed in.

    I use this as an example - and there are many more - to explain to you how black advancement in America has happened. Note what Branch Rickey was looking for when he gave Jackie Robinson the nod. There was NOTHING average about Jackie. Why? Because of what he was going to have to go through. And, have to hold it together with almost inhuman grace as all of that crap was thrown his way. Historical fact. Nothing to do with "bunches of black men and bunches of white men" (I have NO idea what you meant by that).

    Our President is NO exception in this regard, either. The Left has NO substantive argument re: his successes. And, we agree on that. But, "the first" ALWAYS has to contend with desired perfection. Centuries of power and privilege shall NOT be ceeded easily. And, it's REALLY gonna go down swingin', here.

    I REALLY can go on about this, but so much is a matter of record. LEARN about American history vis a vis black people and advancement. THIS is what we, actually, have been talking about. And, you WILL see certain patterns. Including, as Dr. MHP is pointing out, the different standards that we have always and still are held to. And, I will tell you this...

    The person who is least surprised that he is going through race mess from The Left is...Barack Hussein Obama. It ain't new to him, or me, or any number of other black folk who have been blessed with having some degree of success in this country.

    Your life just has NOT worked this way, John. But, my brotha....there are some alterations waitin' on you. Still won't be like mine. But, you are in for some eye openers.

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  27. And, really for the last time, what you're doing is putting yourself in the position of my having to PROVE something to you.

    As opposed to your, whose life hasn't worked like mine, allowing for the, at LEAST, probability that, as I'm trying to explain it to you, I know what I'm talking about.

    You get to say: "not good enough. not good enough. nooooot good enough". When you don't, by your own admission, even
    know enough to say it's not good enough.

    You're even doing the: "you're being emotional and not logical" thing. You get to define the correct way debate should happen and what is and what isn't on point. And, we're conTINually talking about the same thing.

    I, in my 60 years of living and navigating this American thing, have to prove it to someone who is GOING to stay in his position, have to prove it you? Because YOU'RE not convinced???

    I remember Jimmy Carter quite well. And, what I can tell you about him is that he was NOT called a nigger.

    And, I do not have to, especially on YOUR terms, which cannot be satisfied, prove anything to you about what being black in America is about.

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  28. John - I can't speak for Blackman, but my experience is that you are saying nothing that isn't implied every damn day by countless people. I much prefer someone who will just own it up front. If you read that first paragraph by Kai up above in this article - it describes well what drives me crazy about conversations with white liberals. I respect your directness.

    And now I'll give you an example of how you've done the same thing many of Obama's liberal critics do.

    I am ambivalent about his ability to play the hand he was dealt, but had he been dealt a different hand, I think he would have played better than any alternative.

    To me you're making President Obama a victim of his circumstances rather than an actor.

    If you are referring to the economy on the hand he was dealt, I just wrote a post the other day where I demonstrated that the US is moving out of this financial crisis faster than any other country that has experienced one.

    And if you are referring to the obstruction by Republicans, I have written several times about the fact that President Obama has offered them two choices...bipartisanship or paint themselves into an ever-increasing extremist corner. It is my opinion that it is his actions that have made those their only two choices.

    And yet you, and way too many Americans continue to see him as the victim of his situation and somehow ineffective in dealing with the "hand he's been given."

    I happen to think there's a good deal of sexism as well as racism involved in that assessment because he doesn't tend to fit the "swing your dick" and "pound your chest" kind of leader we're used to.

    But whatever the mix that's involved - this is NOT a man who sits back and allows circumstances to dictate his fate. A simple look at the life he has led makes that absurd on its face. To me - that is what you implied. I see NOTHING in this man that warrants that kind of assessment. And yet, you are right in that it encompasses most of the background for the critique. So it surprises me that anyone would not ask the question about why that is.

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  29. Mr. Blackman,

    But, "the first" ALWAYS has to contend with desired perfection. Good point. I shall think about this aspect.

    LEARN about American history vis a vis black people and advancement. I am sorry to say, this is not one point where knowledge and experience improves your argument. You are forming unsubstantiated correlations and using “your history and experience” as evidence. It is a false appeal to authority and does nothing to prove your position.

    And, really for the last time, what you're doing is putting yourself in the position of my having to PROVE something to you. I am not putting you in that position. The soft science of critical thinking is. The burden of proof is the always on the one making the assertion. You are seeing a political situation, and saying it is not politics driving it.


    You get to say: "not good enough. not good enough. nooooot good enough". When you don't, by your own admission, even know enough to say it's not good enough. Actually, I do know enough to say this, I believe. I know a lot about programming, but that does not make me right or wrong about the political situation going on. You know a lot about racism. I am not claiming “authority” to prove my stance, as you are.


    You're even doing the: "you're being emotional and not logical" thing. You get to define the correct way debate should happen and what is and what isn't on point. I did not define the “correct” way to debate. The soft science of critical thinking did, and really no one who is familiar with the science disagrees. If I am mistaken, please point me to the person who does.


    I, in my 60 years of living and navigating this American thing, have to prove it to someone who is GOING to stay in his position, have to prove it you? Because YOU'RE not convinced??? No, because you made the assertion that Obama’s presidency is working differently than the presidency of his predecessors because of his race. With an economy that is in a perpetual state of emergency by the reckoning of most; with a Tea Party intent on rolling the nation back to the 1800’s and removing the last vestige of democracy (and being very very close to realizing this dream), you think it is all about race. You think that race is more important than the real emergency in progress. Perhaps your faith in this matter is right, but the burden of proof is on you.


    I remember Jimmy Carter quite well. And, what I can tell you about him is that he was NOT called a nigger. How is that relevant? Remember, we were talking about a highly intelligent prodigy being referenced as naïve, and how that would only happen because of race. I used Jimmy Carter has a recent example that refutes that notion, so you change the subject, instead of ceding the point.

    And, I do not have to, especially on YOUR terms, which cannot be satisfied, prove anything to you about what being black in America is about. I agree that my terms cannot be satisfied. My terms are, show me how more than faith substantiates your thesis. You cannot satisfy those terms, as demonstrated.

    I am hesitant to post this. I think it is the wrong thing to do, as it serves no purpose. My weak propensity for completeness compels me to do so, even over the objections of a great deal of internal compunction.

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  30. John - its your internal compunction that you should be listening to. Not that you shouldn't have posted this - but it indicates that something is resonating but your reliance on "the soft science of critical thinking" is struggling with it. I'd suggest you work towards settling that dissonance.

    Notice how many times you referred to the need for proof. Your experiences affect what you would consider proof just as much as Blackman's do his. It is in the meeting of those two minds (and hearts) that I have occasionally found wisdom.

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  31. Ms. Pants,

    And now I'll give you an example of how you've done the same thing many of Obama's liberal critics do.

    I am ambivalent about his ability to play the hand he was dealt, but had he been dealt a different hand, I think he would have played better than any alternative.

    To me you're making President Obama a victim of his circumstances rather than an actor.


    Let me explain: here is the hand he was dealt:

    1. An economy in ruins without a clear direction to fix it. A global economy also in ruins.

    2. A state of war without an easy way to withdraw.

    3. The advent of a Tea Party whose stated mission is to create an oligarchy of control.

    4. Expectations of a desperate electorate for whomever they elect to work miracles, as opposed to making gradual sensible progress.

    You make the irrelevant rebuttal that he has done better than other nations and better than expected, that he has been active, not passive. That completely misses my point. We are talking about what the expectations of the next president were to be, verses what actually happened. There is a huge chasm between expectations and delivery. Boasting of Obama’s successes does nothing to address this fact. Your answer sounds impressive if you don’t consider the question.

    I am not blaming Obama for this, but the situation, which you take to be an indictment of Obama as a victim for some reason.

    And yet you, and way too many Americans continue to see him as the victim of his situation and somehow ineffective in dealing with the "hand he's been given."

    I happen to think there's a good deal of sexism as well as racism involved in that assessment because he doesn't tend to fit the "swing your dick" and "pound your chest" kind of leader we're used to.


    He was the victim of his circumstances, not because he was black; not because he was male; but because the circumstances at the time he took office were not good. It is you, not I, who have made that a racial question.

    But whatever the mix that's involved - this is NOT a man who sits back and allows circumstances to dictate his fate.

    Very emotional. A combination of action and circumstances dictate all our fates. Life it not just what anyone makes it, as proven by the state of the nation after three years of an Obama presidency. Again, not implying that it is worse than when he took office. Implying that it is not fixed, and I am not blaming him because of it, and I don’t consider not blaming him to be an insult t him.

    A simple look at the life he has led makes that absurd on its face. To me - that is what you implied. I see NOTHING in this man that warrants that kind of assessment.

    Refusing to acknowledge the difficulty of the circumstance he inherited, lest you imply that he is a victim is completely irrational and completely unfair to him. You seem to think the fact that he is an excellent black man changes this. You can become a president during a troubled time AND be an excellent actor. The two notions are not mutually exclusive.

    I would like to withdraw from this debate, as it has become circular. I believe it started with a simple observation that we are in a highly charged political situation and that charge is far stronger than racial concerns. I don’t think I have a receptive audience here. I keep getting additional anecdotes of racism to “prove” that politics is not driving the situation.

    Every president in a troubled economy or in troubled times has a low approval rating, regardless of how well they lead. For all the others, the reason was political. For Obama, it is all about race. Were he white, everyone would take a few moments to look up from their position of agony, to praise him for a job well-done.

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  32. P.S.


    Notice how many times you referred to the need for proof. Actually Blackman repeatedly refers to this and I answer using the same terminology. I may have introduced it a time or two, but not repeatedly. I don't even require proof. I require the thesis to be addressed and supported. Most of the argument has been anecdotal attempts to prove racism exists. To say that politics is not driving a political situation because a black man is involved is a thesis that merits support that addresses it. Every other president had to contend with the politics of his presidency, but Obama's presidency, one that exists at a pivotal point in history, is defined by race. That is a very large statement and anecdotes of racism do not support the thesis.

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  33. John - you are the one who said you were ambivalent about his ability to play the hand he was dealt. What did you mean by that? It was in that reference that I saw you doing the same thing I see from other white liberals. You weren't simply describing a bad hand (as you go on to do with your 4 points), you were questioning his ability to handle it. And in doing so, you seem to indicate that perhaps some other President could have handled it better. Those were your words, not mine.

    I know the general public hasn't given him credit for the successes he's had. But that's not who we're talking about here. We're talking about active political junkies on the left - who happen to be white. They should know better. The question on the table is why don't they?

    No one has said that racism is the only answer to that question. But MHP put it on the table as a factor. Since then there's been a HUGE backlash to her invitation to have a conversation about that. As I wrote in my latest post - it merely goes to her point.

    On the issue of proof - I noted that Blackman has talked about that, but that his experiences color what he sees as proof - just as yours do. Is there another way to prove this point other than the "anecdotes" of history? If so, I'd suggest that Mr. Lyons recent response provides just that. Or is it just another "anecdote?"

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  34. @Ms. Pants,

    John - you are the one who said you were ambivalent about his ability to play the hand he was dealt. What did you mean by that? He is and has made a play for the long term. He tried to tackle the beast known as Universal Healthcare and spent much of his political capital doing it. That is a New Deal kind of move. It did not address the immediate emergency. I think it is good that he did it, if the Tea Party economy survives. If not, it is bad. It was a huge gambit whose outcome is not yet known.

    It was in that reference that I saw you doing the same thing I see from other white liberals. That was not a racial statement. It was a commentary on his political strategy. Remember, I think politics is the driver right now.

    You weren't simply describing a bad hand (as you go on to do with your 4 points), you were questioning his ability to handle it. And in doing so, you seem to indicate that perhaps some other President could have handled it better. Those were your words, not mine. I indicated that the strategy takes a very long view and it may or may not work. You made something else out of it looking through your race-colored glasses.


    I know the general public hasn't given him credit for the successes he's had. But that's not who we're talking about here. We're talking about active political junkies on the left - who happen to be white. They should know better. The question on the table is why don't they? Because our real-world experience is not very different from what it was under Bush. You don’t have to agree, but that is the explanation they give and what they are thinking. They write long articles complaining about, not just attacking Obama, but attacking the Tea Party and everyone they perceive is involved. You have decided it must be racial, just like it wasn’t with every other president who was criticized when presiding over a bad economy.


    No one has said that racism is the only answer to that question. But MHP put it on the table as a factor. Since then there's been a HUGE backlash to her invitation to have a conversation about that. As I wrote in my latest post - it merely goes to her point. People would be foolish to involve themselves in this discussion, for political reasons.


    On the issue of proof - I noted that Blackman has talked about that, but that his experiences color what he sees as proof - just as yours do. Is there another way to prove this point other than the "anecdotes" of history? If so, I'd suggest that Mr. Lyons recent response provides just that. Or is it just another "anecdote?" No need to use anecdotes of history as proof. Instead, make this same argument: “Racism has happened, is happening, and therefore nothing is political if a black man is involved. How do I know? I have racial anecdotes, and that’s all the reason I need for my faith.”

    If what has always happened, president low approval in bad economy, continues to happen, it does not become racist as soon as the president is black. Your anecdotes, while good, and sometimes enlightening, do nothing to support your thesis.

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  35. John - OK, with the "race colored glasses" remark, I'm done.

    I notice that one of the only things you didn't comment on was this statement by me:

    No one has said that racism is the only answer to that question. But MHP put it on the table as a factor.

    And yet you continue with your "race colored glasses" meme and want to only see it as "political."

    I thought we'd gotten farther than that. So perhaps its time to back off before I get angry.

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  36. Ms. Pants,

    I apologize if that offended you. It was not my intention. I was only trying to point out bias toward a perspective, nothing more.

    No one has said that racism is the only answer to that question. But MHP put it on the table as a factor.

    We have all agreed that it is a factor, as it is a part of the equation unless we ignore it entirely and it is always there due to the very nature of the history of race. Therefore, I did not realize there was anything further to discuss. It is not the driver, politics is. You convinced me that it "was a factor" with your very first response to me, I believe, and I acknowledged that it was.

    I thought we'd gotten farther than that. So perhaps its time to back off before I get angry. It was bound to happen. I apologize. In intended no offense and no harm. I saw your perspective as biased, and I addressed that bias. No good could have come from it. Again, I am sorry.

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  37. John - I accept your apology and want to emphasize that I spoke about walking away BEFORE I got angry.

    Would you agree that all "perspective" comes with bias?

    If so, does not yours as well?

    That's what I meant about the meeting of minds and hearts leading to wisdom. I think its the only way to get there.

    My goal would be to do that without diminishing a different perspective.

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  38. I, honestly, just don't know what else to do.

    From my perspective, I didn't say it was ALL about race, either.

    The economy is bad. People are freaked out. Most likely, if we had an unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent and falling, some of this noise wouldn't be occurring at all.

    As I recall it, a statement was made that it was only about politics. I believe I've said a number of times it's not either/or it's both and.

    I NEVER said NOTHING was political and it's JUST about race. I've been trying to point out it's a lot more at work than any number of people would believe AND is a significant factor because of who the President is.

    Now, in order for you to buy into that, I believe I hear you saying that this position must be supported. I point out that what's been presented you define as anecdotal. For whatEVer the reasons are, I really would like for you to get this. Plus....

    In a black/white interracial marriage - that we both are in - you may find yourself in this position one day. You'll say this has NOTHING to do with what we're talking about, but, I assure you it really does.

    If you are or become a dad, your child is GOING - and I say this with certainty - going to experience degrees of difficulty because of simply what they look like. Before it's all said and done, verrrry probably gonna be called a nigger by some white folk. I can hear you now about annecdotes, but, unfortunately, it really does work this way. So...your child comes to you MOST upset because this is what they went through and they know, because of how this made them feel, what the intent behind it was.

    Do you buy into what your child is saying to you or do you want, just so you can really be sure, their claim be supported? And, if they have to offer support, what would the support be in order that your child be believed??

    You'll think this is silly. But, all support for my claims appear to be brushed aside. What kind of support are you looking for such that you can see this better?

    I'll actually attempt to deal with this as, I repeat, this approach will really not work if your wife wants to bare her soul to you.

    You, currently, may not see all of this as related, but, in time, I believe you yet shall.

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  39. Ms. Pants,

    Would you agree that all "perspective" comes with bias?

    Reluctantly, yes.

    If so, does not yours as well? Damn it. Yes.


    My goal would be to do that without diminishing a different perspective. It is hard to challenge an argument without also challenging the perspective that inspires it, but I will try.

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  40. Mr. Blackman,

    From my perspective, I didn't say it was ALL about race, either. Agreed. You did not. The argument was about whether politics or race is the driving force that resulted in Obama’s low approval rating. The possible answers are 1. Politics ; 2. Race; 3. Both. Both equally, Is not a likely answer. I think the driver is politics, that’s all.


    The economy is bad. People are freaked out. Most likely, if we had an unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent and falling, some of this noise wouldn't be occurring at all. I think this is my real point. If it is your position also, then perhaps our entire discussion is mostly a misunderstanding.


    As I recall it, a statement was made that it was only about politics. I believe I've said a number of times it's not either/or it's both and. If I made that statement, I misspoke. I think politics is the driving force. As Ms. Pants added early on, and I agreed, racism is a factor. I added that in this case I think it is not the driving factor.


    I NEVER said NOTHING was political and it's JUST about race. I've been trying to point out it's a lot more at work than any number of people would believe AND is a significant factor because of who the President is. I suppose this could be an area of slight disagreement, as I think politics are the main driver because of the intense political drama inherent in this situation.


    If you are or become a dad, your child is GOING - and I say this with certainty - going to experience degrees of difficulty because of simply what they look like.

    My wife is expecting. She expects to give birth in April.

    [To Be Continued …]

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  41. [Conclusion…]

    Before it's all said and done, verrrry probably gonna be called a nigger by some white folk. I can hear you now about annecdotes, but, unfortunately, it really does work this way.

    No, I will be very upset by this, and it will not be anecdotal. I will be furious at the culprit, and I will not resent those who hate Obama’s politics one bit because of it, as I will perceive that to be a separate question.

    So...your child comes to you MOST upset because this is what they went through and they know, because of how this made them feel, what the intent behind it was. And I will agree with my child.


    Do you buy into what your child is saying to you or do you want, just so you can really be sure, their claim be supported? And, if they have to offer support, what would the support be in order that your child be believed? My child would have a very solid case against the culprit and I would be very supportive of him. If my child tries to tell me there is a lot of racism out there, I will tell him know that I know there is.


    You'll think this is silly. It would seem I will not. I don’t think my child will blame, Dusty Taylor, for example, who despises Obama for his politics. He will blame those he knows to be racists, and I will also.

    But, all support for my claims appear to be brushed aside. What kind of support are you looking for such that you can see this better? Your evidence supports the contention that racism exists. I do not brush it aside. I accept all of it. I have also been convinced that racism is pervasive, a part of America’s fabric and not something placed on top of it by a few people. That fact does not condemn those who hate Obama’s politics either, and it applies to everyone, not just whites.


    I'll actually attempt to deal with this as, I repeat, this approach will really not work if your wife wants to bare her soul to you. I have a soul also. I will not be blatantly dishonest with her. That creates distance, and distance born of deceit. If I am to be estranged from my wife, I choose to have it happen from a position of righteousness and blamelessness, which is to say, from an honest position. I love my wife very much. I will be there for her when she needs me. I always have. I will not condemn one innocent man in support of my wife, though. I hope she does not, and will not, want this, from me. As you said, time will tell.


    You, currently, may not see all of this as related, but, in time, I believe you yet shall. There is a good chance you are right about that. I see the potential now.

    [The End]

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  42. "Finally, implied in that dilemma is something that really pisses me off. Its the assumption that white people need to be protected from feeling uncomfortable about the reality that they've said/done something that is racist. And ultimately the message there is that the pain black people feel can be dismissed in order to protect white people from feeling uncomfortable."
    *******************

    Tell the truth and shame the devil. In a society where white privilege is the predominant force, whites want to make the rules, they also do not want to experience one ounce of discomfort regarding race. I'm really getting to the point where I want to say, "Fine! We are only trying to open you up to your full humanity and move you away from your distortions (racism causes distortions)!" But there is so much obstinacy and denial that I'm beginning to give up on ever crossing the divide.

    I know my anti-racist friends and colleagues and I guess I can live with having that...what is even more frustrating is that it is indeed a choice to live within the bubble and myopia that white privilege grants. Whites actively engage in this fantasy because it self-affirming. Most do not care that their investment in Whiteness, while self-affirming for them, is annihilation for non-whites.

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  43. princss6 - I hear you on your pessimism about ever crossing the divide. Sometimes I get discouraged and I don't even know the half of it.

    I just read over at The Grio that Joan Walsh said that its "only Blacks" who support MHP. First of all, if that was true, does it diminish the idea that we need to listen? But secondly - I'm here to say that its definitely NOT TRUE.

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  44. Oops, I just re-read The Grio article and it was Lyons who said its only AA that agree with MHP.

    ReplyDelete