Things White Activists say to Activists of Color
Jessica, White Pan-African Studies grad student (i love her.) presented on White Studies in class today. We talked about the cure for White people to become race conscious… they have to have an encounter, but even after it, they may still (choose to) remain clueless and reap the benefits of whiteness. the only sure fire way to combat whiteness is through EARLY education.
Hey everyone, this is Gene Marks, the Carefree White Girl of the week! Normally, he writes a column about technology for Forbes Magazine. This week, he decided to shift gears and write: “If I Were A Poor Black Kid.” Surely a white middle-aged technologically oriented man with thinning hair (that tuft up front aint doin you no favors bro), is qualified to write a morally, sociologically bankrupt article about what he would do as a disadvantaged black youth, right??? right???
He opens with: ”I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed. Still. In 2011. Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia.” How does the “poor black kid in West Philadelphia” do it? Marks offers “google,” “google scholar,” “spark notes,” and “wikipedia” as the most useful tools to get ahead. Shit, all one has to do is read abridged, gutted versions of seminal texts to insure his rightful place in 1% ?
UGHHHHH, there’s that tricky issue of access. When “poor black kids” don’t grow up with a PC in their homes they have to use school computers. But school computers go underused because overworked teachers don’t have the time or the resources (extra help) to teach their students how to USE them. Remember holding a mouse for the first time, Mr. Marks? freaky, right? Flagrant budget cuts to public education in Philadelphia prevents kids from being able to use the few computers they actually do have access to!
I tried to find out just how many computers there were in Philadelphia’s public schools, but unfortunately that information isn’t available. I did talk to a staffer at the The Notebook, the education department’s newspaper, and he told me “even if schools are wired, kids don’t have access to computers at home.” Oh damn, kinda kills Marks’ dreams of the “poor black kid” using “Skype to study with other students who also want to do well in my school.” Right now 41% of Philadelphians don’t have access to a computer for personal use. And that’s all of Philadelphia, so imagine how much bigger that statistic becomes in blighted communities of color like West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia?
Read Jeff Yang’s response “If I Were A Rich White Dude,” it hits the spot.
Read Ta-Nehisi Coates response “A Muscular Empathy.” Also hits it.
Read Cord Jefferson’s response “An Ode to a ‘Poor Black Kid’ I never Knew: How Forbes Gets Poverty Wrong.” Brilliant. And he’s a total hottie.
Now, all we need is an ACTUAL “black kid” to respond to this malarkey. They exist, you know! I’m almost sure they’re out there!
This shit eater would look like a smarmy George Costanza, wouldn’t he.
Caption: Students Kritz Eliza and Taylor Matzen, dressed as American Indians, participate during a bake sale led by the Berkeley College Republicans Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, at the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif. The Berkeley College Republicans have scheduled a bake sale where the price of a cookie or a brownie depends on your gender and the color of your skin. The price of a baked good costs $2 for white people, $1.50 if you’re Asian, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women get a discount of 25 cents. From SFgate.com
Wow. White girls in headdresses, participating in the bake sale. Are they trying to get free cookies or what? This is the insensitivity supported by the UC Berkeley Campus Republicans and their bake sale. From the article:
The Republican students said offering more expensive pastries to white students and less expensive ones to students of other ethnicities illustrated the injustice of any division by race. A few feet away from the bake sale, opposing groups held a “Conscious Cupcakes” giveaway, handing out their own treats for free. And around midday, hundreds of people dressed in black laid down in Sproul Plaza, silently demonstrating their support of SB185.
This come from the opposition to a bill that would allow California’s universities to consider race and ethnicity as one of many factors, like extra-curriculars, in college admissions. The bill would still ban admission based entirely on race or ethnicity.
<sarcasm> Here’s something more honest: How about you still charge the white guy $2.00 for the cookie, give him $3 to buy it, and then let him punch the Native American students in order to steal their cookies, screaming “MANIFEST DESTINY, ASSHOLES!” triumphantly? After that, how about the African-American students are forced to clean up after the bake sale, as the Campus Republicans sip mint juleps and supervise? Is that more honest? </sarcasm>
I don’t support throwing the baked goods at them, nor screaming obscenities. I do absolutely love the steps taken by the Harry Potter student group, selling “enchanted Costco muffins,” for “Two galleons to pure bloods” and “Eight sickles to muggles.”
This is hands down the most disgusting image from today.
“Hate” is a strong word, but not quite strong enough for how I feel about all of this.
Native American people are holding cupcakes in a room.
White people enter the room, and each get to take a cupcake from a Native person. Then, they kill the Native Americans, and corral the remaining empty-handed Native Americans into a corner.
Then, they go into another room and…
YES! Fuck this post-racial anti-affirmative action bake sale bullshit.
listen, i’m sorry that your culture is destroyed and that you all seem to suffer from alcoholism but we didn’t steal your land and we sure as hell didn’t do this to you
we bought this land
like 300 fucking years ago
get the fuck over it, get a fucking job, become a functioning member of society and shut the fuck up.
i have to work and go to school full time to afford to eat, you whiny cunts get free education, tons of race-specific scholarships, free housing etc etc
my family had to put off our disney world vacation by a year to pay for my braces
if we were native my braces would have been free
White guy bitching. What else is new.
Let’s play out a scenario. Imagine, if you will, some family just coming and buying your family’s home out from under your nose. No paperwork, no warning, no nothing. Just all your shit on the lawn one day.
Then imagine, if you will, a bunch of other families who had the exact same thing happen to them. At the same time. All of you are pushed onto distinct pieces of land. You aren’t told to stay on this land, but it’s implied strongly that you should not venture off. You’ve lost the things you rightfully owned, you aren’t allowed to be functioning members of society, you aren’t even a human being anymore. All because imperialists and people went all manifest destiny on you.
You’d want a beer too.
So you can take your white guy problems and start a club. Because what I just described happened to real, actual human beings.
What you just described is a privileged bullshit sandwich.
More accurately: Imagine you were living somewhere. Just living there. You don’t own it because you have no concept of land ownership. Now some people come over to you and say “Hey, we’ll give you this thing if you let us live here.” Of course you’re going to accept: whatever, it’s just some other people living near you. And, hey, you got some nice shiny things from them as well! What nice people! Now, a month or so later, you’re just wandering around and out of nowhere one of them starts yelling at you and throwing rocks, telling you to get off their land. You have no idea what they mean, but you figure they’re probably just having a bad day or something. A few weeks later, though, you wander by again and they shoot you.
You just died because some asshole came and imposed his ideas about life upon you without thinking that you might have different ideas. Before you could do anything about it or even help him understand your worldview, he imposed his upon you and your people with force.
Now imagine this happened en masse to every family you’ve ever known.
Now quit imagining, because it fucking happened.
Um. Also. Can we put to rest this “handouts” bullshit? I do not know a single Native that got free college. There are plenty of white-race-based scholarships out there also, plus just that most scholarships of any (non-race-based) kind go to white kids anyway. We don’t have free housing. Or free health-care. And even so, what is being called “free” is actually the payment for the land you stole. Yes, I know, you have never read any of the treaty agreements that specify how your ancestors were offering to “pay” for all they took. And guess what? There is not one single treaty agreement that has been honored either. I am currently having to pay back a loan of $5,000 for my son’s braces, after the insurance I work and pay for paid their small portion. Like every other Native I know, I work full time, pay rent, pay taxes, have never had a damn thing handed to me, and have no fucking idea of how I will pay for my son to go to college - which, by the way, I did not even manage to ever go to because I don’t get ANY financial assistance to do so. And I have never been to Disney World you sorry sack of shit.
————ADR: I will be replying to this in full very soon.
The government paid for my degree, and i will never apologize for that. I could count on my fingers the number of natives in my year at university. Even with the financial support to go to university, many natives encounter so much resistance / racism / hostility and lack of support on campus that they drop out early, or can’t imagine facing in the first place. The government allotment of money for Native education is ALWAYS a surplus. Don’t fault those of us who make it. We tried our fucking hardest to get here, and we deserve it.
Exactly. I am SO grateful for getting grants to go to school, because otherwise there’s no possible way I’d get to be in college. I work extremely hard for the things I get and I had a lot harder road to walk than most even making it out of high school, let alone getting to college
I got funding from my band, and won a few scholarships for natives, but I worked really hard for them. I studied my ass off, spent nights writing essays, and graduated high school with a stupidly high average, despite all of the racism, discrimination, and general fuckery I suffered in public school. I earned everything that I got. But, as the fabulous yarr-metis said: you can’t call it a free handout if you’ve already overpaid for it.
This is some mad awesome commentary. And thanks crankyindian for calling me fabulous!
So I went to sleep at around 10:30 tonight and woke up a little past 12am, and it is now 3 and I’m wide awake. Lovely. But I did end up finding a tumblr, mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com, that is kind of interesting.
It can mostly be summarized as a native woman taking issue with the hipster fad of appropriating (trans: “picking and choosing certain parts without consideration of the whole”) native culture. I was rather fascinated because I was almost entirely unaware of this phenomenon (really, I was. I’ve seen the neon-colored feather headdresses in Hot Topic, and my reaction was “… What could the purpose of that possibly be? Who would buy that?” (The answer is: “”Fashion,” and hipster douchebags.”)
This is pretty friggin’ awesome.
Words are just words. If you get upset with someone for using a word you don’t like even if the speaker meant no disrespect then you’re an idiot, and in fact you’re the reason that racism and political correctness is so hard to understand.
Intent is everything. If offense is meant then be offended. The words aren’t the offender. Don’t tell kids off for using “racist”/whatever words when you really should be telling them off for meaning offense, racist or otherwise. Words are nothing. Intent is everything.
Don’t say “you can’t say that word!” Ever! Punish intent only.
For example, “But Chinese people don’t like being called chinky!” Why? Aussies call us English people “poms”. Americans call us “limeys”. We don’t give a fuck. And don’t generalise Chinese people by saying “they” don’t like something! That itself is racist. It’s no wonder that most people find it impossible to know what’s “racist” and argue over harmless things. If an individual Chinese person objects to the word then tough shit. If they find offense where none was intended then that’s their hang-up. That goes for all of us.
Saying “Damn niggers!” is bad because of intent. It’s NO different from going “Damn Norwegians!” The racism is in the intent, not the word. Stop caring about words, despite your instinct. Your instinct is wrong. Don’t be worried about seeming racist. It’s the only solution and it’s embarrassing that we haven’t done this yet.
Racism-Awareness is devastating to interracial harmony. It makes people uncomfortable because they’re on-guard, trying not to seem racist. It served a purpose in darker times but now it’s just holding us back. “Just fucking call us crackers and chinkies and eskimos and niggers and indians etc.! It’s cute! Relax!” It’s the ONLY solution. Even descriptive words like “round-eye” and “ghost” (asian nicknames for caucasians) are cute if you stop taking the slightest, inconsequential God-damn thing so personally. There may be exceptions but I swear I can’t think of even one.
The only rule: Don’t object to nicknames for your race. It’s fucking ridiculous. Object only to racist intent. Words aren’t offensive. Offensive people are offensive.
Let’s be the generation that let go of all the stupid baggage weighing us down from older, more ignorant times.
You are white. (BTW, so am I.)
You do not understand what it is to be a person of color and to be a target of racism. You may not think it is a big deal, but that is because you benefit from white privilege, and you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to have your identity, humanity, and equality challenged on a constant basis.
Your assertion that to be aware of racism is to perpetuate it is absurd. We need to not only be aware of racism, but confront it in order to work towards defeating it. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Intent is not everything. Language has its own history. Words matter. Racist epithets are more than just “offensive,” they are destructive.
Your idea that to point that out is what is racist, and not the epithets themselves, is ridiculous. It’s a canard that racists use to silence the conversation about their racism, to distract from the fact they are being racist.
Racists should be shamed - and you should be ashamed.
AMAZING COMMENTARY IS AMAZING. ^
Excellent summary of a day spent idly in privilege.
Some examples which might jog your memory:
- As I walked around in several stores today, I never felt self-conscious about my race.
- I never felt outnumbered by people of a different race.
- As I drove down the highway at my usual ten miles per hour over the speed limit, I never worried that my race could make me a more likely target for a ticket.
- As I drove through small towns on my lengthy commute to work, I never felt a need to remind myself that some of them were, until quite recently, sundown towns, and that most or all of them still weren’t exactly welcoming to people who are not the same color as me.
- When I cut my finger while cooking tonight, the bandages that I’d hastily grabbed from a grocery store shelf pretty much matched the color of my skin.
- When I spoke with a white colleague about the extra and excessive scrutiny that a recent black job candidate had received compared to the white ones, my claims were met with skepticism, but I never felt that my own race further discredited what I was saying. I realized that instead, it did the opposite.
- As I thought about the conversation afterward, I realized that I have never faced the many stress-inducing trials that a successful black job candidate would face in my workplace—and that in fact, my whiteness continually paves a smoother, less stressful path before me as I navigate that workplace.
- Throughout the day and into the evening, no negative incidents occurred that made me wonder if what happened had something to do with my race.
- When I had dinner at a multiracial gathering, I never felt self-conscious in racial terms about which foods I should eat.
- When I arrived late for that gathering, I didn’t worry about whether my lateness was a bad reflection on me in terms of my racial status.
- As I conversed with my friends, I never worried if anything about my manner of speaking or the words and phrases that I used might reflect badly on me in terms of race.
- As I sat in my car alone on a quiet street at night, waiting for some friends to emerge from a house, I never worried that my race could make me a potential target for harassment by police.
- As I sat in my car alone on a quiet street at night, I realized that if I had encountered the police at any point during the day, the law enforcement official would probably have been a member of my own race. Even if he or she had not been, I would be likely to trust that person to deal with me fairly and respectfully, and I would not have worried in either case that my race would put me at risk in the encounter.
- As I now head for bed, I realize that I’ll probably sleep better than I would if I were not white, having had that much less of a stressful day.