Thursday, June 12, 2008

misunderstand non-white gatherings

Yang Liu
"Lebenstil (Life)"
East Meets West

This post is different from those I've done before--instead of having something to say, I have something to ask.

Karen, a regular white reader of this blog, asked me a question in the comments to an earlier post about the presence of white people at explicitly non-white events. I replied in part that her question reminds me of a post I've been struggling with for awhile on one aspect of the same topic--the way white folks feel left out and even actively excluded from such events; the lack of white understanding about why such events occur; and why whites are sometimes not welcome at them. I haven't been able to boil down my thoughts on this topic's many facets yet to something concentrated enough for a blog post.

So, in the meantime, as I work on my post about why white folks feel entitled to attend such events and gatherings, I'm using this post to take up the suggestion of another regular reader, Just Me. We have a lot of different readers at this blog now, and he or she suggested asking readers about the other side of this topic: why do non-white people seek out non-white spaces, gatherings, and events? Also, when whites are less than welcome at such events, why is that?

The following might help spur your thoughts toward any reply you might leave in the comments.

The topic came up in an opinion column in the Kent State University's student newspaper, the Kent News, where columnist Beth Rankin wrote about her frustrating efforts to take part in events labeled something other than "white."

Here's part of Rankin's article:

While covering a fashion show for Uhuru magazine (I was the photo editor at the time), an angry black student hissed, "Why are you even here, anyway?" when I sat my photo gear next to him on a chair.

Weeks later, while covering a Black History Month talk by Malcolm X's daughter, a man behind me - who apparently was unhappy with my camera - yelled, "Get out of my way, white bitch."

Shortly after, while silently shooting another BUS event, I was called a white bitch again.

Shelley Blundell, a Kent journalism school graduate and native of South Africa, used to be a member of the Stark campus BUS chapter. But when she began attending Kent BUS events, she said she felt extremely unwelcome.

And after a controversial column on separation, Blundell said she received numerous e-mails from BUS members calling her, too, a "white bitch."

In 2005, after humor columnist Aman Ali wrote a satirical column called, "Black people need to start sharing," BUS made one phone call and the two days later, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and NAACP converged on campus, demanding Ali be fired. Some even pushed for his removal from the university.

Yes, Ali's column was inappropriate and the editor made a major mistake in running it, but when pressured, the editor folded like a card table and gave in to every single demand made by civil rights groups. Since then, the Stater has been very careful about BUS coverage, and when I told them I wanted to write this column, they were nervous. I can't blame them. BUS has showed its muscle numerous times over the years.

Now, this is not a column bashing BUS for past mistakes. This is a means to a dialog. I truly believe that BUS should embrace its non-black supporters, because there is power in numbers. We support your cause; now can we please be embraced the same way you embrace your black peers?

So this is what I say to you, current members and leaders of BUS: Tell me again. Tell me again what your goals are. I certainly hope they differ from those expressed to me in 2004.

Tell me what you are doing to reach out to non-black students who support your cause. As a straight girl, PRIDE!Kent has always welcomed me to their meetings and functions because they knew I supported their cause. I want to be able to attend BUS functions and feel the same love.

Racism is still a problem in this country, and it will never be solved if we continue to divide black from white. I have been called names and ostracized for the color of my skin, and I have been ridiculed for sharing my life with a man who is not white.

I am not a white bitch. I am a straight, white girl who will always do everything in her power to support the plight of all minorities.

I don't use the color of your skin against you, so please do not use mine against me.

Please, BUS: Tell me how you plan to use your powers for good. I want to hear your voice, and I want to become a united front in the fight against prejudice.

I am not a white bitch. I am not whitey. I am not a cracker. I am not the man.

And I never want to feel ostracized because of my race ever again. Don't you feel the same?

As Karen wrote in a comment on this blog about Beth's article,

The idea of people of similar hearts being the only categorization to live by, is an ideal one, but Beth goes to a black event where she's apparently not wanted, and doesn't see that people of color is a valid separation too...

So, a question from a white perspective to non-white ones, be they Af Am, Native Am, or Asian Am, or others--why, when the Civil Rights Movement ended de jure segregation, are these forms of segregation still valid?


  1. Think of it like this: if someone different from your own group suddenly tried to invite his/herself into your group, you wouldn't be exactly thrilled. It's just that in these situations, picking on skin color gets an easy rise out of a person. The woman was clearly angry, but I never read her trying to portray herself as part of the group when the attacks came. She was an outsider to an exclusive group.

  2. White people seem to take for granted that they are usually in the majority. If you want to be surrounded by white people, you usually can be. Chances are your boss is white, your boss's boss is white, you can turn on the TV and have channels full of shows with mostly white characters. If you are at a predominately white college, most of your teachers will be white, your administrators will probably be white, and your dorms will be full of white people.

    I went to a predominately white college and it was common that I was the only black person in any given class. Even though I have gone to predominately white schools all my life and I was used to being the dark spot in the photo, so to speak, it is still an isolating feeling.

    Non-white people seek out safe spaces with other non-white people because we do not have the luxury of looking around and seeing faces that look like ours very often who are going through that same feeling of isolation. It can feel like a violation of that safe space when white people enter it.

    I think that gatherings of non-white people bother whites exactly because whites think it is normal to have lots of white people around. That is why the same tired email about why can't white have White Entertainment Television if blacks have BET is still going around even though all white shows still dominate sitcoms on the major networks and most of cable. It all goes back to the example of the black students sitting together in the cafeteria. The white students notice and it bothers them but they don't think anything odd of all the tables of just white students.

  3. I personally haven't been to an ethnicity-specific event or group, but I would not think that I have the right to attend such events or groups if I was not that ethnicity.

    If I was not a victim of sexual abuse, why would I try to listen in at gatherings for victims of sexual abuse? Why would I feel that it is my right to be there, even if I am against sexual abuse? These are real effects on real people; it is not an ideological or hobby group.

  4. Anyone remember the Langston Hughes story or poem where the black servants got together after working all week and they discovered their white employers were secretly observing them and it ruined the party when they asked if they could join in?

    As I recall, the white employers were taken by their black employees "free expression" and happiness and wanted to experience it as well.

    The black employees just wanted an opportunity to enjoy themselves without any expectations and found that even after hours they could not escape those expectations.

    I think many times non-whites just want an opportunity to be free from the expectations of the majority and when whites are present those expectations are naturally present as well.

  5. About me -

    I'm a black man. Having lived in America for my entire life, I know what that means. Especially the "black" part.

  6. I also feel that many black folks feel subjuect to cultural misunderstadings, secret mockery and ridicule when "one or two or five white folks show up".
    It is a very interesting observation, this topic hits head on about expectations of whites and the notion of automatic accecptance of them with other groups. There is this one co worker I work with and she will hear me and my other black frineds planning an outing and she will "jokingly" say " So y'all don't want to invite the white girl?"

    I totally agree with the other posts about the notion of "escaping white America and white Americans sometimes overly childish and perverse curiosity of how black folk act outside the workplace...

    Anyways, Macom D great site and I will continue to come here and read up...

  7. pleae excuse the jumpin on the bed and making my laptop tired eyes don't catch all of the typos...

  8. white people have access to every space in our lives. if we just want the opportunity to be a community without their presence, why can they not allow us even that?

    it's not our duty to put in work to make up for your racism. learn and heal and come to terms with privilege on your own time. give us the space to together without you.

    i look forward to seeing other comments. i'm sure a lot of people have strong feelings about it.

  9. Restructure, to give a little more context that might show that it was a more ambiguous situation --

    She had gone to an event that was not advertised explicitly as only for nonwhites.

    She had gone to see hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.

    His concert was sponsored by Black United Students.

    The title of the group, alone, it seems obvious, means that if she had gone to one of their meetings, that would have been presumptuous and clueless, but the concert seems a little different situation.

    She wanted to go to the concert and then had planned to also go to lectures which the group was sponsoring, with her boyfriend who is black.

  10. Another thought-provoking post. Thanks Macon! As a white woman I can't answer your question, but I wonder if I have encountered feelings that are similar in some ways in my experience as a feminist. I find myself automatically suspicious of men who claim to be feminists and who try to become involved in feminist work. I would feel downright hostile if a man came in and turned the spotlight onto himself and took up tons of space simply because he didn't feel welcome amongst a group of feminists and got his feelings hurt. Although we are talking about race, not gender, I think some of the issues surrounding power and privilege in "safe" spaces are related.

    The way I have interpreted this for myself personally is through the concept of conflict of interest. An ethical person would recuse herself or himself from a situation in which competing interests were involved. As a white person there is an unavoidable conflict of interest when getting involved in a group specifically for people of color who are organizing in solidarity. As earnestly as I might feel the desire to help in the pursuit of their goals, there is the nagging fact that my own privilege as a white person is at stake. Although I can't always recognize it in myself, I remind myself of why I generally disapprove of men in feminist spaces: the conflict of interest is obvious.

    Also, and while this may sound simplistic, I do tend to avoid gatherings in which I feel expressly unwelcome. I think this is a pretty natural tendency. So the desire for a dominant-class person to penetrate those gatherings comes from a complex reasoning that, I think, stems from a sense of entitlement. I can't describe this experience in an academic sense, but I feel very different when, say, potentially intruding upon a black community space than when, say, walking around in an affluent neighborhood or in a male-dominated environment.

  11. Macon, I honestly don't think you can find a pat answer to this. Whether whites are welcome/accepted depends on the:

    1. geographical part of the country,
    2. age group of the attendees,
    3. social/educational background,
    4. size of the event.

    Also think of this way:

    You're a nerdy, chubby 40ish parent and ask your ultra-cool teenager if you can chill with them and their friends at a party. You ain't gonna be welcome.

    Your 20 year old has a new apartment and throws a barbeque and tells you to come, and bring your friends. You presence is welcome.

    You're hosting a small gathering where the purpose is nibbling and having conversation with like-minded political friends. Your significant other has the opposite political views and is quite opinionated. Chances are, he or she ain't really gonna be welcome.

    You're a guy, and you're best friend is getting married. You're going to his bachelor party where strippers have been hired to entertain the fellas. Your girlfriend ain't gonna be welcome.

    And finally, you've entered your poodle in a dog show. Your 8 year old fails to understand why she can't bring her kitty, since Fluffy and Fido get along just great at home...

  12. I see what you're saying with those examples, Kit, but I'm not sure that the parallel quite fits.

    The difference I see is that most whites have been led to think, in the "post-racism" era, that they're supposed to be fully accepting of people of color ("people are just people," "I don't see color," etc.), and they've convinced themselves that they are fully accepting of POC. The flip-side is that they think that now that they've done POC such a big favor by being all tolerant and all, that POC should of course be tolerant and accepting (and hey, why not loving too?) of them in return. Also, from the white perspective, people have never been unfavorable somehow, so they think, Why in the world would someone reject me because I'm white?

    So I agree there's a parallel in your examples, but I'm not sure these elements of the suddenly-outsider mentality of white individuals are true of the Insider/Outsider examples that you gave. . . Not to shoot them down as helpful examples. It's just that I'm trying to parse out carefully what this particular white naivete is all about (and your examples are helping me with that--so thank you!).

  13. Well Macon, you know far better than I about the thoughts of many white folks. Tonight I read this in the KC Star, Groundbreaking Work on White Priviledge.

    This black journalist made a career out of writing conservative to moderate opinions, so I was surprised he stuck his toes in the water of telling it like it is, only to have them bitten off by his audience. They were indignant and completely unable to fathom they are viewed as being privileged - just like the 4th year photojournalist student, Beth Rankin, in your article.

    What pisses me off about her article, "I Am Not A Bitch", is that she lumps in everyone as being hostile toward her. At the Black Union of Students fashion show, one guy called her this, and on another day at the Black History Month talk by Malcolm X's daughter, another man. So two sexist pigs called her a white bitch and suddenly she's pissed at all the black students, so much so that she writes a friggin' article about it. Now that's an example of white privilege, if not paranoia, at least in my mind.

    Too bad it didn't occur to her that had she been black and overweight, she may have been called a fat bitch by this very same guys.

    But let's assume these two men resented her presence because of her race and were not sexist. A lot of men in general think of themselves as "gate-keepers". As such they are more likely to apply for positions in the police force or to enlist.

    At the events Beth Rankin attended, these two 'gate-keepers' looked at her with narrowed eyes and wondered WTF was her real agenda, since whites rarely take interest in those kinds of gatherings. Was she there with her camera to later make a mockery of them and write nasty things about the styles or pick apart the content of Malcolm X's daughter's speech?

    We've been through this as a people and it's still going on. I hit on this in my current post about one black female politician's attacks, May The Fall Like Dominoes.

    And yeah, that's a shameless plug... heh-heh...

  14. hello. I just wanna ask how did you manage the 'Recent Comments' to work well?! I used it too but there's no comments displayed there.!?

  15. The difference I see is that most whites have been led to think, in the "post-racism" era, that they're supposed to be fully accepting of people of color ("people are just people," "I don't see color," etc.), and they've convinced themselves that they are fully accepting of POC. The flip-side is that they think that now that they've done POC such a big favor by being all tolerant and all, that POC should of course be tolerant and accepting (and hey, why not loving too?) of them in return.

    Whites make the mistake to project.
    All Black organizations/gatherings etc. aren't the same like "whites only".

  16. Kit, thanks for the article refs, and I look forward to your post. The Diuguid piece is good, though the comments are dismaying, if unsurprising. Most white folks won't accept any talk of "white privilege" unless it's presented sort of gradually, and repeatedly. One large dose doesn't cure the disease of white oblivion. Also, of course, white people talking about white privilege usually get a lot more respectful attention from white listeners than non-whites do, so I'm not surprised to see white readers dismiss this supposedly "whining" black columnist so quickly and completely.

    davlishdave, I didn't do anything special to get the comments widget to work, just followed the rather simple directions linked at the bottom of my comments.

    jw, I do agree that whites make the mistake of projecting what's inside of themselves onto non-white others. Whiteness is often explained as a form of "narcissism" for that very reason.

  17. Good morning,
    When I originally read Beth Rankin's I was disgusted with her, it still makes me angry reading it.

    But to answer your question, many ethnic groups and clubs came about because white society made it that way. Relegated us to finding our own way around. Black fraternities, banks, doctors, etc. After 30, 40 years or longer they becames institutions within our families just as many whites have legacies in theirs. It doesn't seem fair to say we have to give them up if it is all we have for support, guidance and mentorships. My father pledged Alpha he wants my brother too in the same frat, ya know? If things were truly equal and WE truly felt welcome we wouldn't need them.

    I will tell you when my university had events, parties, or cook-outs it was all done from a white frame of reference. Their music choices, their food choices, their games.

    I honestly must say when I go to an event sponsored by PoC. I find it refreshing, releasing.

    As for white oblivian, that is because of all the false history being taught.

    Honestly my husband is white and had no clue to half the things PoC are upset or why we are upset about them, until I explain it to him. We argued for two years over the Confederate Flag, (he swore it was just History and not meant to terrorize folks of color, so one day I made him watch The History of the KKK on The Discovery Channel I paused it on recent footage of Klansmen marching in Texas with the Confederate Flag coupled with the US Flag and the Nazi Flag.

    I turned to him and said "YOU SEE THAT? Those people look like normal people without the sheets on, so how do I know the man in the parking lot at Wal-mart waving his flag around and gunning the engine of his truck (true story) is just proud of his heritage and not doing it to terrorize me? How would I know that?"

    As long as we whitewash what happened to blacks and PoC in this country whites will always be living in a little fantasy world.

  18. mdhaiti,

    I agree that singling out skin color gets an easy rise out of a person.

    Being against singling out people by skin color can be used as an insincere argument by whites to deny nonwhites their space, their needs, their unity, group self-esteem, it's very subtly using the supposed ideal of not seeing skin color, to hurt nonwhites.

    Beth Rankin, I see differently in some ways.

    I interpreted her writing to imply that she really did feel a part of the group, in her eyes, sincere yet myopic.

    The experience that she writes about which began her call for dialogue was her attendance at the Russell Simmons concert, and she and her boyfriend got an unwelcoming vibe when they got there.

    Through noticing the looks and body language of the others in attendance, they realized they were being told they were unwelcome.

    That was the first time she had felt unwelcome somewhere, and at first didn't know why.

    It sounds like her being white should have occurred to her as the reason for the unwelcoming looks, but it sounds like it didn't at first.

    That is bittersweet in a way, her not even knowing why she was not welcome to me shows a touching idealism on her part, not necessarily showing an intrusiveness or ill intention.

    (Am I being naive?)

    But she also did not see the idealism of the black students, of their wanting to self-define and their need for group space, I'm not using very good terms and not using terms they would use perhaps.

    I interpret it that she was seeing herself only in the parameter she was thinking in --

    -- i.e., one of a group of people who wanted to hear Russell Simmons. She felt she fit in.

    She also saw herself as not outsider to the group sponsoring the concert, the Black United Students, she thought she believed in their goals, and thought that everyone was welcome.

    That seems naive of her, given the name of the group, she couldn't be a black united student!

    When white people worked with black people for changes in the society in substantive ways in the '60's, it was such idealism, that for some of us to see other paradigms and other complexities now, can feel like it's wrong.

    Beth is young, I experienced the '60's (though I was very young then) and she did not, but I compare her mindset to a mindset that defines that time.

    There was a predominance of idealistic white people being accepted and welcomed for our intent alone --

    -- and we were trusted because there wasn't time to think about who to trust, I think --

    -- and we didn't think our skin color would ever be seen as outweighing our intent and commitment to the work together, in any gathering.

    It didn't occur to us that being white people, could also be an impediment to the growth and intent of black people in ways we didn't see...(I'm using the term black versus nonwhite in line with the mindset then)

    I was young but my heart was in this paradigm, and I think hers is now.

    Now we need to retrain our hearts and minds...

  19. As others here have stated, our "need" to be together is merely the by-product of hundred of years of being ostracized, excluded and marginalized. These ethnic gatherings are much like a healing balm, and a major STRESS reducer. (And we know that this system places a great deal of stress on people of color!)
    Many of us non-white people need time-outs to recharge, reassess, regroup and recoup from our frequent or daily delectations (not really..j/k) with white folks.

    Actually, I would love to see MORE social, economic, grassroots, etc .. events geared towards narrowing the existing chasms between some of the various people of color - Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islanders, and others - who have not been strong traditional or historic allies in our mutual quest for equality.

  20. To make change in this country, it's gonna take the partnership of white people. How then do we do this if we continue to reject them under suspicion of their motives? How do we make clear what needs to be done if we can't allow the people in the prime position to lend assistance into our our black events. Are we to come up with a grocery list of things for them to do without their input? I think we'll need to show some kind of solidarity with white people if we are truly trying to make some kind of change. If we continue to exclude white people from our gatherings, how then can we affect change?

  21. Bum,

    What delineates the difference, in your mind, between gatherings where it's okay, even good, to exclude, and when it's not?

    A lot of people seem to be wrestling with that.

    I've been excluded sometimes in some situations, and felt welcome other times when I was the only or one of few white people.

    Other times I felt mostly welcome but not welcome by just a handful of people, and sometimes I've excluded myself.

    Example of the latter -- on the black talk radio station I listen to, there used to be shows about a black owner of a real estate organization to help black people financially.

    He would host bus tours from here in Washington D.C. up to Baltimore, to show low-priced properties in Baltimore that were considered great investments (before the mortgage crisis anyway)

    He took people and drove by several houses, then helped the people on the bus going back with getting started buying properties for investment.

    I really wanted to go, because I considered the man really knowledgeable and wanted to learn from him -- and hey, make some money if I could find a good investment that I could in any way afford.

    But I also sensed that this was an opportunity meant, frankly, not for me but for African American people (not even other nonwhite people I think) to try to close the wealth gap that has been produced by white supremacy racism, so I never signed up.

    I would have been intruding on something that was meant for another population's benefit, and plenty has been meant for white population's benefit, to make an understatement.

    That's just one example in my experience of a legitimate exclusion.

    And of course I could go see properties in other ways, though I never did, but I just was instinctively drawn to that particular man's knowledge and helpfulness, he had talents in ways I don't think were very common.

  22. Karen,

    Sometimes I have attended job fairs sponsored by black organizations and I have seen white candidates show up.

    I always thought it took a lot of courage to show up at those events and assumed that it really showed the employer that the candidate really wanted the job.

    But I also wondered if some blacks felt that they should not be there. I never saw anyone say anything.

  23. My college black student organization was also quite unwelcoming to "outsiders." As a (black/white) biracial women, even I caught attitude when I showed interest. I simply shrugged and moved on. But I do understand the desire for groups that are specifically for minority individuals. I didn't at 18, but I understand now. See, when I started college, I was so used to being a small (hated) minority, that my attitude was "hey, I made it this far. I don't need the extra support now." But the more I continue my education, the more of a minority I am and the more I appreciate the few peers around me who look like me. I'm in med school now and there are SO FEW black people in medicine (and especially in med school administration); when my professors express their inevitable ignorance about black people or patients, it's so comforting to turn and lock eyes with the other black students in solidarity.

    The example you used at Kent State is a complicated one, and this letter is only one small part of the story. IMO, the sexist and racially charged slur of "white *itch" was wrong. Flat out. But let's face it; the other part of the problem is that Beth is not used to being in the minority, so when she was, she was (understandably) uncomfortable. And she felt that it was the job of the black students around her (a temporary majority) to make her feel welcome. In other words, she went into those events with a major sense of entitlement. I have witnessed this myself many times. Once in college, some friends heard about a cool party at another college. A bunch of us girls trooped over there, only to walk in and see that it was sponsored by a black fraternity. Rather than experience something out of their comfort zone, they ran back out the door. They were practically shaking. If I wasn't so busy laughing, I would've cried.

  24. Geesh. If that little bit of insult got Beth Rankin that upset, she wouldn't last five seconds as a black American.

    I can't believe she raised such a ruckus because a few individual people made her feel unwelcome at a couple of public events.

    I'm a white-looking "biracial" woman (black/white) and I've had my feelings hurt quite a few times by black folks who felt I represented "the oppressor" and took out a little rage on me. When that happens, I understand where it's coming from and I try not to take it personally.

    I think there are situations where segregation is called for -- my brother regularly attends "Black Men's Gatherings" that are affiliated with our faith, and though they are explicitly "exclusionary" they are intended for the purpose of healing and uplifting black men, who are so often disrespected and disregarded by mainstream society.

    I was recently watching the documentary "Traces of the Trade" about the descendants of a white New England family who traveled to Africa to trace the slave trade route and try to understand what their slavetrading legacy means today.

    While they were at one of the slave trading ports, a black American woman made it clear to them that she didn't appreciate their presence. She was attempting to reconnect to her roots in what was an emotional, spiritual and painful experience and the last thing she wanted to see was a bunch of white faces.

    The difference between those white folks' reaction and Beth's is that they really wanted to know more about the black woman's rejection of them. They wanted to understand its roots -- and though they were hurt (because their motive to be there in the first place was to learn, not to intrude),they wanted to UNDERSTAND the woman's rage and figure out how to be humble, and sensitive to the situation.

    Ironically, Beth has the same surname as John and Jean Rankin -- that white couple whose hilltop home in Ripley Ohio was a famous stop on the Underground Railroad.

    There was a standing offer of $2,500 (a fortune in the 1840s) to anyone who would kill John Rankin, and he was physically attacked on more than one occasion. John's wife and their 13 children endured YEARS of bullying, threats and insults from townspeople who hated them for fighting against slavery and helping black people escape it.

    Come on, Beth, you gotta get a backbone girlfriend, and find your place in the CURRENT anti-racism movement. Hint: the most productive "place" for you to fight racism is probably not at a black gathering -- but among white future leaders where the real fight against institutionalized white racism lies.

  25. Hi Karen
    Some kind of militant organization against white people is the only real place that white people shouldn't be around.

    I understand that we feel hurt and sometimes want to get away and not have to see a white face, but frankly, the problem is far bigger than our feelings. And why encourage this kind of group identity that excludes certain people just because they don't share your color? Isn't that a huge part of why we don't feel welcome in America amongst white people?

    I admit, I do get irritated at the naivety of a lot of white people who seem to be interested in helping, but it helps none to exclude them for that. Everyone starts off ignorant. You can't expect white people who may have had relatively sheltered lives to understand these issues of race without having had the chance to be around non-white people. How are these people who are better able to make change gonna know what to fight for if they are excluded from "our" talks?
    Take a look at some1 like Tim Wise. He wouldn't be nowhere as articulate on issues of race had he not had the opportunity to talk with these people in their personal space.
    Anytime a PoC talks about these issues, we automatically get shut down. I know most of you aren't looking to build a coalition with all non-white people thinking that a bigger group is going to automatically make the people in power fix things.
    White people need to be in on these discussions too. Fuck this "we need our space, too" bullshit.

  26. Bum,

    Thank you for such a from-the-heart response.

    I was talking to a Jewish man about this topic.

    He is one of the leaders of an activism school in Washington.

    He said, when I told him of times I was treated a certain way because I was white (it wasn't exactly exclusion I was telling him about, though; it was different treatment), but perhaps similar topic, and he said:

    "You weren't being seen as a person... Is that how you felt, they didn't see "you"?"

    I thought about it, because one definition of racism is seeing people as members of a group, rather than as an individual.

    And even though I think that black people excluding white people is often for good reasons, like knowgoodwhitepeople's brother's men's church group --

    Yet, my heart resonates with your post, against the intellectualizing of my head, on a primal level.

    I've been grappling with a phenomenon I haven't known how to express, but I'll try --

    My heart, gut, and subconscious mind feel so strongly on some sad level that I'm being racist and as horrible as being racist against blacks would feel, when I accept and endorse exclusion of whites in certain ways.

    My gut doesn't abate the pain of exclusion when it's blacks excluding whites.

    My mind distinguishes complexity and the difference between exclusion of whites and exclusion of blacks, but...

    There is some part inside our souls, where warning bells go off about any exclusion, no matter how justified, does anyone know what I mean?

    Sometimes I think that the brain doesn't process the higher level justification of correct exclusion thoughts, it just reacts at the primal level, and feels that something feels wrong...

    And how much should we listen to that primal gut?

    To engage in any kind of separateness, even talking of separateness, bothers my heart in ways.

    Even when I write on here -- for example, when I wrote that perhaps no white people should teach black children because of whiteness training in all of us--

    --it felt on one level, sad...

    But it's okay to sometimes lump people together by color, in the right ways for the right reasons, my higher rational mind argues...

    My brain feels confused in its very mitochondria or something!, because I would NEVER endorse exclusion of blacks and that has been in my brain since childhood.

    Maybe race exclusion in indefinable ways hurts everyone.

    Maybe, though, "Exclusion of whites" is a very different thing from "Blacks as a group being together without whites", and I'm trying to define the difference.

    If the focus is specifically exclusion, it can feel and seem like the same old mentality of racism.

    "Blacks as a group being together without whites" is different than exclusion if... well, I think a lot of it comes down to clarity.

    Giving white people looks and unwelcome vibes, coldness, that is exclusion...

    It leaves whites baffled and with no real clarity for the reasons they're being treated that way.

    Instead, when black people come out and say directly, kindly, wanting to teach and help white people, as many of these posts have done, "These gatherings are for non-whites" --

    Then that is a need being expressed, and expressing a need to someone is tautologically not excluding them from your most intimate self perhaps?

    That is expressing a black self-caring, a reaction to white racism, and it's being expressed in a sharing, not exclusionary, way.

    I don't think 'we need our space too' is bullshit if done that sharing way...

    Your honesty and courage of your convictions is strong. I appreciate so much your honesty, Bum. You inspired my honesty back.

  27. New commentator here. In my opinion there's no excuse for most black exclusivity. If a white person comes to a "black" activity and wants to participate they should be welcomed and trusted. I could be biased, however. As a biracial woman with a white mother I have watched her be shunned at the African-American centric gatherings I was a part of in college. It was terrible. To be honest my white mother is more involved and knows more about the African diaspora than I do but where I was barely tolerated with my brown skin she was out and out rejected. Needless to say I stop participating in those gatherings. I understand most people like to be around others who look like them but public spaces like demonstrations, theatre performances, job fairs, and lectures are public for a reason. The exclusivity I've seen my fellow African-Americans express is disheartening and in my opinion just plain wrong.

    Oh, and calling someone a "white bitch" isn't defending their right to a safe space from those who might attack them. It's being an asshole.

    I find the site interesting. Thank you for bringing up these topics.

  28. "If a white person comes to a "black" activity and wants to participate they should be welcomed and trusted."


    What I mean is, do you understand why they would not be automatically trusted and welcomed all the time?

  29. Why do white people feel the urge to join Black organizations? It seems to be some sort of "addiction". I think that every group has its right to have spaces on their own, because every group has particular issues/topics where others just shouldn't have anything to say or to interfere.
    Do white Americans also feel this urge to join eg Muslim organizations, to paricipate in prayings of other religions etc.?
    To defend people's rights under the constitution, is it necessary to be a part of such groups?
    There are many ways to stay informed about what is going on in one nation regarding minorities within one nation.
    Racism, institutionalized and otherwise, doesn't only take place where Black people actually live. There it is only visible. In places where only a few Black people live - what are white Americans doing to combat racism in America? When they can't join a Black organization because there isn't any?
    When a Black organization makes it clear that it is for the empowerment of Black people, why is it so difficult for white people just to respect?
    Whites impose the burden of combatting white supremacy on Black people with that attitude. Black people have to combat racism because it affects their lifes. Black people have to force white people to become democratically, because whites aren't able to hold their own government accountable. So when do whites start to grow up and to really let their government know "no longer in my (white) name".
    Then for example police brutality. Does anybody white actually have to ask Black people what they think about it? About the shooting of Sean Bell and many others? Are whites really so extremely disconnected from their own humanity and empathy to be outraged, outraged enough to finally let the police and government know that enough is enough?
    Whites may feel hurt by not being allowed in some Black organizations, but white "anti-racists" constantly demonstrate that they leave Black people alone, while they still struggle to "acknowledge" white privilege.
    This feeling of togetherness of being one people regardless race, nationality or gender within one nation doesn't develop by looking for approval or acceptance from non-whites, it's an understanding of democratic values and universal human rights together with the honest belief that the government which represents one nation has to respect all people within this nation.

  30. jw

    Are you a white person?

  31. JW,

    Whether it's black separatism or white separatism, many people, both black and white, have a gut reaction against separatism as a philosophy, in different degrees.

    Having black gatherings is of course not separatism.

    But there are white people who tell other white people that the best way to fight racism overall is separately... and I question that philosophy in ways.

    I believe in black people having black gatherings, and in white people respecting black separation needs...

    ...but the philosophy that feels wrong to my gut is the philosophy that racism should be fought mainly separately.

    Whites talking to whites is important, but not the only important venue.

    Some whites who try so hard in anti-racism work come across as, "Let's stay separate, but we'll help you. You nonwhites don't/shouldn't want us around with our whiteness white supremacy training, our sense of entitlement that we bring that brings you down, but let's know about each other's needs'.

    Do most nonwhite people even want that? Maybe they feel that knowing each other in person is the best way to know each other. Maybe they feel that being together is one way of breaking down white peoples' stupidity of societal training.

    I know that many black people advocate more separation in fighting racism.

    I know that many black people disagree.

    JW, how, why, and in what circumstances do you approve of black and white people being together?

    ... working together, living together, thinking together, crying together...

    Do you think white and black people being together is good in some ways or in any ways, in the fight against 'whiteness' as a function?

  32. Hi Karen, my post wasn't really some heartfelt response. I think it's just being honest. I'm curious, though, as to your reasons to continually point out how you appreciate other poster's viewpoints. Do you do this with everyone you talk to?
    Restatement of previous post
    I don't think any1 should be excluded, but as has already been mentioned, you can't escape the past. So I do think it's important for white people to understand where these emotions from non-white people come from. And to that, I think this Rankin character is a clown. How easy it must be to overlook a lot of the issues we deal with today the minute your feelings get hurt by a handful of people who called you a "white bitch" to then go on and write an article about it. I don't think she is grounded in reality, more like fantasy. How is it that she can honestly make the issue about her and then contrast the black group with the primarily white group to prove how unaccepting we are. All this based on a few people's inexcusable comments and some stares. She's weak.

    So yeah, there is an issue with white people coming into these groups and make it about them helping these people affect change. That's tired, but I don't think they should be excluded. This whole white anti-racist thing seems to be pretty recent. I don't think you can expect people who have been oblivious to the situation to just wake up and suddenly understand what PoC go through.
    Rankin can grow, though, with more time and experience. So, again, that's why I don't think we should be trying to exclude people just because our feelings get hurt too.
    Ultimately the goal is to fix what has been done wrong and move forward. A few naive people, I think, is just 1 of many issues that "us" PoC have to swallow.

    We need to move away from this "us vs them" mentality anyway. The fact that another person is black doesn't mean I'm going to get along with his ass. I think it's more to do with the conditioning with which I'm told he is my friend because we might go through some of the same struggles. It may serve a short term purpose, but to think in this way so much so that we get angry when a white person wants to join our group, is to severely limit our own horizons on what race is and how it relates to us. Can't just say "I'm black, he's white. They did this to us, so that is that".
    Just because white folks forced us into this way of thought doesn't mean we have to internalize it.

  33. Hi Karen..again,
    There may be situations where it is best for groups to be apart. Such cases where they are trying to find their own "identity" away from the majority group influence. I don't personally care for it, but the situations do arise.
    I personally believe that a person's identity should be independent of one's group. It's good to see what role you're given to play in society and how that affects you, but it should never say anything about who you are personally, just what other people think you are.
    For me, race is a role you play, not who you are. No person should ever give up their identity for whatever the group thinks it should be.

  34. Karen, I will try to explain what I mean.
    There is this fixation on race which makes it impossible for some whites to broaden their political horizon I guess.
    Racism and anti-racism aren't issues of "the heart and mind" but political issues.
    I am German and perhaps this influences my way of thinking. After the (German) holocaust surviving Jewish people had the possibility to leave Germany and to live in their own country. They could make the choice to never see any German ever again. They didn't have to "integrate" into a society which wanted to exterminate them.
    Black Americans were forced to integrate after Emancipation. But instead of respecting them as citizens they still have to fight for their rights - rights which are granted by birth - or should be granted.
    Black people aren't one monolithic group, there are also Black people wanting a nation of their own for example.
    As I mentioned elsewhere on this blog, it is not about a 'happy multiculti' with whiteness still at the center.
    The political goal is not to just end racism, it is to destruct the entire system of white supremacy/capitalism/imperialism. It is also not about how many different colors/races somebody knows to combat this system, it is about which people (mind-set/political point of view) one knows and which groups one joins to combat this system.
    When whites join Black groups to "help them fighting racism" whites don't understand the issue I would say.
    Shortly back to Nazi-Germany: Do you think that anybody could have reached Hitler's "heart and mind"? Why do think that there have been attempts to assassinate him. Nobody was talking about "get used to Jewishness", the world was just saying: Stop it. Now.
    Working separately doesn't mean to be isolated. Working in solidarity with does not necessarily mean multinational or multiracial. Particular groups can work their own way and can join as a network when there are common issues.
    And also again, anti-racism is a way of life. This starts first with knowing oneself: who I am within a society. And as long as a white still feels comfortable within this society and can identify with mainstream, I state that an anti-racist life is not possible. Nobody burns his own home. It will then only be some cosmetic change.
    I am not sure if I made clear what I mean?

    @just me
    you are welcome

  35. Bum,

    It came across as from the heart only because when I sense someone is writing from deep truth, honesty does seem heartfelt.

    As Keats said, "beauty is truth and truth, beauty".

    Re your perceptive comment, yes... I do rush to point out how I appreciate others' viewpoints, see all sides, too-quickly tell everyone I see their points.

    I think that's actually why I admired your post of straightforward, right-off-the-bat this-is-my-truth directness.

    I admire that more than my people-pleasing neurotic tendencies. But I'm also strong-minded and insist on the deepest truth in myself and others.

    Like in websites like this, there can develop an ethos, a mindset, an agreed-upon vocabulary, a group worldview, that can become truth that almost shouldn't be challenged, and that scares me because it can become fascistic if left unchallenged. And it takes courage to challenge group truth.

    I challenge group truth, but in often a too wimpy, wussy, and waffly a way. Argh!

  36. Just was thinking, it's quite a juxtaposition of ways to look at the world and at race, Bum's last post and JW's post.

    JW, thanks for your response to my questions, more response back to you, to come in the next few days. God, I've been at this computer all day! Going on out to the sun!

  37. i'm kind of jumping in at the end here, but one thing i haven't seen mentioned is the main request in beth rankin's article: that the black united students organization talk to her about white people. that really struck me as a white entitlement moment.

    i think it ties into with macon's post about white people assuming they are trustworthy and safe to have around. this woman attended bus events with great intentions, but nonetheless ended up trying to get the organizers involved in a discussion about herself and white people in general. i wouldn't consider that a totally safe turn of events, but it doesn't sound like beth thinks it is a distraction or an interruption at all.

    this is also reminding me of the post about that "angry white black boy" book. (can you tell i have been lurking? ha.) there was a note about the author or the main character (i forget which) wearing a malcolm x tshirt to an event where he expected most of the participants to be black, and he did it expecting to get challenged about it because he was conscious of what his whiteness meant in that context. i don't know how i would respond consciously to being called a white bitch in a mostly-black group of people, but some kind of conscious response would be my goal. challenging the bitch part, acknowledging the white part, negotiating for mutual safety.

  38. Hmmm.... I'm a white woman, and I have one comment, and then a very simplistic and probably naive question.
    First off, I like how you are always distinguishing that there is a difference between being white and acting white. I have some power over how I respond to my privileges, however, no one can help the fact that they're white. And there are more white people than there are people of color. I can't help that, nor do I feel that's inherently wrong. It's how you handle and what you do with the fact that there's a bigger number.

    That being said... racial activists preach unity, right? The unity of all people, hopefully. So isn't it sort of counter-productive and hypocritical to insist that black people have complete equality in the world, but white people aren't welcome in certain places? And isn't it counter-productive to the fight for desegregation? Because all-black events seem to promote segregation.

    So I guess I'm asking the question... which way do people of color want things to be? An integrated world, or a segregated world? I mean no disrespect, I just don't understand and would like to know.

  39. I don't think it's fair for her to compare both gay pride clubs and PoC clubs. I understand why she'd parallel the two, however pride/gay organizations are typically more social-political organizations, whereas PoC clubs are more about unifying persons within a race.

    Now, with regards to the events she went to, I think there's a solid line that one shouldn't cross. If the event is public (i.e. a student group brings a speaker to campus for a campus event, or partakes in a "cultural awareness" type of event that campuses usually like to throw annually), then I think it's totally acceptable for anyone to attend, and I think it's great that someone who's not of the ethnic/racial background to attend that event to further their understanding...educate themselves. However when it comes to a PoC organization's weekly/monthly meetings, or something that invites have only gone out to members, I don't think it's really the place for a white person to come in and take a piece of the ownership of that events' success. Public events, ok, private, not at all.

    Now, I do have some limitations, and perhaps you can finally squelch these feeings, but when I went to Colorado State University's student orientation (the first time I had really been introduced to the campus), I noticed that the orientation groups on the day I was there didn't include any black people. Of course, I thought that odd. Later in the day I finally found them all, they were in their own orientation. In a way, that angered me, as it seemed more restrictive to the diversification of all students (white and other PoC's) by way of creating an orientation that created immediate bonding between CSU's black freshmen. Now, I would have gotten over that, however I realized quite quickly that once school started and I was in the dorms, there were virtually no black freshmen in sight. I'd go from dorm to dorm, dining hall to dining hall, and really couldn't find but 1 or 2. That is, until one day I went to one of the two towers (the farthest dorms from campus, the tower in question was actually *the* farthest dorm from campus) to eat one day, only to find that their dining hall was full of nearly all black freshmen.

    I learned that it was all orchestrated by the Black Student Association. I also learned that many of the white guys I lived with in my dorm had at most 2 or 3 PoC's in their high school. Their entire high school! How does this sort of segregation aid in benefitting people who essentially spent their lives under a rock, not being exposed to anything but their whiteness?

    I really think that took it a bit beyond just a PoC gathering. I was never given the opportunity to live in an all-gay dorm, a good friend who is Korean was never given the opportunity to live in an all Asian dorm (let alone an all-Korean dorm).

    All people, no matter the racial background, need to at some point experience life. Life for 90% of the world was 100 times more diverse than life at CSU, and I strongly feel that was perpetuated by this BSA segregation-by-choice tactic.

    Through reading this, and people comments, I better understand the notion of being in an environment of people who are like you. Being gay has taught me that! However, in the real world, you're likely to have non-black neighbors, non-black people sitting at the next table at the restaurant, even non-black roommates! This wasn't giving really anyone the preparation for this reality, and in fact, may make it more difficult for all people involved to go from this environment to an environment in the real world.

    again, though, if you can make me believe this was a good thing despite my support for it not being so, then I would really appreciate having that insight.

  40. I'm going to respond to some points of the later posts that stood out to me.

    That being said... racial activists preach unity, right?

    Not really. I think the main point of antiracism is to eliminate racism. Racism is a problem with Whites or the majority. The problem isn't "black people" or trying to integrate black people (or non-whites) with white people.

    How does this sort of segregation aid in benefitting people who essentially spent their lives under a rock, not being exposed to anything but their whiteness?

    I don't think non-whites should be forced to spend their company with white people in order to "benefit" the white people, especially that kind of white people. White people should be doing things to "benefit" non-whites instead.

  41. "How does this sort of segregation aid in benefitting people who essentially spent their lives under a rock, not being exposed to anything but their whiteness?"

    This way of thinking is why I burned out of anti-racism activism a few years ago. I thought that the way to fight racism was to make myself available to educate whites and answer their questions. The problem with that approach is that it puts all of the obligation and all of the work of anti-racism on POC. Furthermore, it puts POC back into the historical role of being a curiosity rather than seen as individuals.

    If you want to be exposed to something other than whiteness, as you pointed out, the real world can do that for you. If you want to explore your white priviledge and be anti-racist, that effort has to come from you.

  42. If you want to be exposed to something other than whiteness, as you pointed out, the real world can do that for you. If you want to explore your white priviledge and be anti-racist, that effort has to come from you.

    yes I really would like to understand this mind-set of whites. This inability of ?empathy?. The inability to step aside from ones own experience to look at ones own life and opportunities from outside. This is something which comes from oneself.
    Too many whites act as if their life is the only valid experience. They truly consider themselves as norm and as if the wealth, success and living standard is only because of their own merit. Living in a vacuum, an empty space and this emptiness translates into their inability to see beyond race, to realize the human behind ones race. (I don't talk about "colorblindness")
    When you look from outside at your own white people and their actions you can't help but feeling alienated. This is something nobody can do for a white. And perhaps this is an unconscious knowledge whites have - because if this happens you don't have this feeling of belonging anymore. You realize as a white that this white world what is meant to be 'your place' isn't your place. And what follows is a sometimes quite painful journey. You leave the comfort zone of 'whiteness' because surrounded by whites only no longer makes you feel comfortable and being 'exposed' to whites can then become quite stressful.
    Difficult to explain what I mean, I guess, but I hope that some can follow my thoughts.

  43. KellyDiane said..
    "... there are more white people than there are people of color."

    When it comes to planetary numbers, white people are by far the overwhelming minority. Population forecasters are predicting that if the present birth and immigration rates persist, whites will shortly become the minority in the US.

    "So I guess I'm asking the question... which way do people of color want things to be? An integrated world, or a segregated world?"

    There isn't one pat answer to your question because different (individual) people of color, and/or different black people, have different points of views. Just look at the myriad of views posted by the commentors here. Nonetheless, I think it would be safe to assume that all (or most) POC would agree what's needed is the total eradication and dismantling of the racist-white supremacist system. If this occurs then these smaller side issues and concerns re integration, segregation, and whom should attend what events & gatherings would pretty much dissolve or work themselves out.

  44. JW, you write so passionately and I agree with what you say, but I find myself questioning separateness as a philosophy of fighting racism.

    In your writing I sense that you generally don't approve of mixed groups working against racism, that we should more come together in ideology than in person? (Am I misinterpreting you?)

    I think you're saying your reasons are because of whites' blindness, entitlement issues, whites wanting to come in and take over, etc., that those things get in the way of the work?

    These days it is more and more common to be told you're a racist white if you want to work together with blacks --

    -- That startling-sounding view is in many ways a good jolt to make white people aware of whiteness issues! -- but it misinterprets many white peoples' hearts so often...and I do think hearts, minds and intentions are relevant, not just policy and systems and political issues.

    I went to a hearing of a subcommittee that John Conyers is chairing, the subcommitte on study of reparations --

    A black man I sat near to in the audience told me of his organization, NCOBRA, that is working to get reparations.

    I told him I'd be interested in joining, and he referred me to a white sister organization, with whom they occasionally get together.

    I totally respect his organization, and I don't want to join it knowing that it's for black people.

    That is what is right for him. But I just feel scared of one-size-fits-all prescriptions for everybody, as if every black or white person has to feel like that man feels --

    Where there's a mindset we ALL have to follow, it leads to fear and lack of individual thought. Just some initial not well-put thoughts to your good posts, JW.

  45. Karen, a question: Why do you expect Black people to combat racism?

    And when it comes to reparations: West-Germany didn't pay reparations to Jewish people because of changing hearts and minds, the majority of Germans were opposed to paying reparations. We paid only because of political reasons and pressure from outside.

    There is a European Union directory about combatting racism. There they write that it is an important right to make sure that minorities within one nation get a safe space for themselves to empower oneself.
    It is not talking about segregation even if you have a hard time understanding this.

  46. jw wrote:

    "When you look from outside at your own white people and their actions you can't help but feeling alienated. This is something nobody can do for a white. And perhaps this is an unconscious knowledge whites have - because if this happens you don't have this feeling of belonging anymore. You realize as a white that this white world what is meant to be 'your place' isn't your place. And what follows is a sometimes quite painful journey. You leave the comfort zone of 'whiteness' because surrounded by whites only no longer makes you feel comfortable and being 'exposed' to whites can then become quite stressful.
    Difficult to explain what I mean, I guess, but I hope that some can follow my thoughts.

    I I think I can follow your thoughts, friend. I believe I see exactly what you're saying.

    To me it seems that you have had a spiritual awakening, or perhaps an epiphany of sorts. Giving birth to new thoughts and ideas can be painful...but very much worth it in the end. It's like you see our one GREAT common denominator that is present in all of humanity, regardless of our outer covering.

    And, that there is far more to life than whiteness and the "white" or Eurocentric point of view. Humanity's spiritual connectedness transcends our geographic origins, different skin hues and visible outward features. And by limiting your connectivity exclusively to white people you sense that you're missing the greater collective connection that entails ALL PEOPLE.

    JW, am I somewhat getting what you're alluding to?

  47. JW, I'm sorry I'm not understanding exactly. I'll reread your posts before I respond.

  48. Appreciate this post. And though some of the comments are very headdesk and facepalm worthy,they provide good examples to this post about "misunderstand non-white gatherings" and others like "believe others consider them trustworthy," "fail to see institutional racism" and the most recent "think they have to right to go wherever they like" to name a few.

    I, myself am no longer surprised at how many people fail to understand the concept of a 'safe place' let alone activities and gathers that are not geared towards 'those people*' nor made for their benefit.

    Guess it must be a serious offense to make you and yours a subject since white people must always be the subject matter while we play object for them.


  49. matt, with regards to your experiences in college, where black students were very separated, how does your reaction translate in terms of HBCUs? Do you have a similar reaction to all-black educational institutions?

    You talked about the fact that people need to mix at some point, since they will have non-black neighbors, roommates, etc. But that's sort of the point. That insular college group was probably the only place those black students were amongst other blacks in great numbers. The self-segregation is, IMO, a defense mechanism against the overwhelming experience for many blacks (especially those who reach college or higher levels of education), where creating a safe space with other blacks is a small respite from the very white world in which they reside. For me, I attend a historically black church (everyone is truly welcome, but it is mostly black faces every Sunday), and it is the only time in my whole week when I am not one dot of brown in a sea of white.

    And I say this as someone who had a similar reaction to the self-segregation of black students at my college. But I was 18 then and I've learned a lot since then. :)

  50. @just me, I don't know with awakening, it was about protecting my soul, I was still a child when I made the decision to not become like them. Yes, I had the feeling that otherwise it would only be my 'outer covering' without soul, which is present in the world, and I wanted to remain whole. My favorite sentence when I was young was 'you won't get me'.

  51. Thesciencegirl...

    HBCU's are just that, HBCU's. This was a state school, anyone going there....anyone....would know that people of all racial/ethnic backgrounds would be attending. My problem wasn't in the idea of a "safe place" it was just the extent to which was afforded to black students, and the negative affects that extent could have to not only those black students, but all students despite their racial/ethnic background. It's not to say that "safe places" are bad, as I was a part of the GLBT Student Org and appreciated having that safe space, especially at a time when I was forced to live with small-minded people. However, it was because of those small-minded people that I was allowed to grow within myself to better understand who I was, and how to deal with anti-gay banter, and to educate people that saying "that's so gay" is rather offensive. So, I'm appreciative of the fact that I wasn't placed in an all-gay prepared me better for life in general.

    However, I do understand the differences between gay (social/political) and black (race/ethnicity). I always think "I can hide my gayness, but one can't hide their blackness". Yet, I don't know/understand how the self-segregation becomes the most effective way to prepare for life outside. Is the self-segregation taking this too far? Would it not have been more effective to spread across campus so that during organization gatherings black students could seek support and guidance with regards to any problems they're having? I guess that's how it worked for me with the GLBT student organization/services on campus.

    As a side note, you mention historically black churches. I live in the Sugar Hill/Harlem area of NYC where there are a number of HBC's, and often times I've wondered if I would be accepted in them. Would it be wrong of me to attend an HBC being a white guy? You mention that everyone is welcome, but in my experiences, being the son of a long-haired tattooed biker, my father wouldn't have been accepted - at least positively - at many of the churches my grandparents would take me to. If white people can't accept white people in a church, will black people accept a white person in an HBC?

  52. What HBC is located in Harlem?

    HBCU = historically black colleges and universities. Some are state schools some are not. Most are in the south but not all e..g. Central State University and Wilberforce. Many were founded after the Civil War and/or Reconstruction or later.

  53. Matt, by the time a black person reaches college, they have been fully made aware of how the world sees them. I don't think segregation during those 4 years makes one bit of difference. I was not involved in BSU events in college; most of my friends were white (that's what happens when you don't segregate yourself in a nearly all-white environment). But even if I had just hung out with black kids, it wouldn't have mattered because I was already prepared for life as a person of color. That preparation began in kindergarten.

    Anyway, as for historically black churches, I actually had a long discussion with my mom about this recently. My mom is white (I'm black/white biracial), and for about 25 years, she's been the only white member of our home church in DC. It's the church my father grew up in, but one that my mother embraced as her own. She encountered some resistance from people at first, especially black women. I think part of that was their distrust of white people (many of them having grown up in the south under Jim Crow), and part of that was the fact that my white mother married a stable, college-educated black man, one of the few from that church. My mom used to take things personally when preachers talked about uplifting black people; she felt excluded. She got hurt. But she told me that over the years, she realized why it wasn't about her. She said to me last week, "If black churches can't lift black people up, who can?" And I was really proud of her for realizing that and for being the rare white person who can make her life among black people and actually become comfortable with that. That church is the biggest thing in her life (along with family), and she told me now that after 25 years, people are so used to her being there that they don't even seem to register that she's white anymore. She's just part of the family.

    The church I attend now (I moved to Chicago) is part of the same denomination, and we often have visitors who are white, and I've never seen anyone bat an eye. They are greeted with warmth just like any other person. It is their choice, of course, whether they feel comfortable enough to stay and experience being in the minority.

  54. @JW

    "Yes, I had the feeling that otherwise it would only be my 'outer covering' without soul, which is present in the world, and I wanted to remain whole. My favorite sentence when I was young was 'you won't get me'."

    Obviously they haven't poisoned you with their...stuff. And they can never 'get you'. For it seems that in your heart lies beauty, wisdom and truth that comes only from the Giver of Life. That's what "they" can get, if they would just receive it.

    Being WHOLE.

  55. Yet, I don't know/understand how [black] self-segregation becomes the most effective way to prepare for life outside.

    Firstly, this makes no sense to me. White people are the most segregated. Black people are more exposed to white people than white people are exposed to black people. I think by the time people are in college, most black people have experienced some kind of racial discrimination against them as individuals or as a group.

    Secondly, what do you want black people to prepare for? Do you think they should experience racism from whites in college so that they have more experience with racism when they graduate? How does making black people experience more racism help eliminate racism? Do you mean that if they are exposed to white racism in college and they experience white racism after college, they will be prepared and respond more cordially and diplomatically to whites who offend them, thereby helping the whites overcome their own racism in a way that is smoother and less painful for whites? This view is like saying that to combat racism, the people who need to grow and change are the black people.

  56. Restructure,

    Your post sounds like you are only factoring in to a self-segregation decision, one quality of the white people in colleges, their 'whiteness'/racism.

    A black man pretty much saved my life, so what someone of any color can give someone else of any color or race is always a mystery of possibility. He reached out a hand, and I took it.

    Since you said you are Asian, may I tell you of my experience of being let into the life of a girl I spent one summer with, at a School of Fine Arts, the first Asian friend I had at fifteen.

    She and I were more loyal friends to each other that summer than anyone else.

    She and I shared things that transcended race, music for one.

    Our whole piano class got to know each other, and we all stuck together -- and we were of every race.

    If whatever whiteness traits or training I have, hurt her in any way, I hope and pray not.

    But I also have kindness. Macon should list that as something white people do, be kind, because that's common in many white people, too. White people aren't all 'whiteness' traits, we are many traits.

    I ask you to please, don't see me as just a 'whiteness', see me for all my traits.

    My friend and I related to each other through our music, and how we shared painful family dysfunction, and the best finger exercises - she had finger of steel on the keyboard!, how to interpret Debussy, etc., and of course, the boys.

    She was a total joy and surprise.

    We chose our friendship based on individual choice of each other, there were plenty of Asian girls with whom she could have become closest friends instead of with me.

    It's not always to a nonwhite's best interest, in my experience though I'm sure many will write to disagree, to see any friendship with a white only based on the idea that the white would hurt you just by definition, with his whiteness, and you would be hurt.

    Frankly I see a lot of anti-racism theory that teaches seeing whites as defined only in terms of 'whiteness', as too reductionist.

    College is a time of experiencing everything, and all people, usually, but I'm glad to hear the other side, too.

  57. thesciencegirl...

    You're right. I suppose my perception of that comes from two different places. Then, it was kind of shocking, as I came from a high school that minorities made up nearly half the student population, which for the city and the school, was actually one of the most diverse high schools in the city, perhaps the state. Then I go to a school where things were all of a sudden separated, and the concept was a bit jarring to me. Then to find out that many people that I lived with in my dorm had a drastically smaller ratio of white people vs minorities in their high schools, made me frustrated with them, because in some ways, they didn't seem to have experienced much life; I didn't relate to them much at all because I spent half the time telling them how offensive it was to say what they were saying (the other half telling them it was offensive to refer to something negative as "gay"). Now, I don't at all think that it's a PoC's duty to "diversify" white people, but I knew that virtually none of these people would ever change their conscious/subconscious racism because they went from one white community to another, and will probably end up in a white suburb and never truly understand their whiteness (which is perhaps a more modern created perception on those people). As I was originally writing my response I attached a perspective on this situation based on who I am today, and in that respect I see how coming into my gayness toward the end of high school, and being thrown in with a bunch of chest-beating heterosexual males really gave me a crash landing into understanding how to be a strong gay adult male.

    I also have a more modern perspective on this situation that asks why I wasn't afforded the choice to be in a gay dorm, why there wasn't an asian dorm, an indian dorm, a muslim dorm. Or at least a floor in a dorm.

    Maybe it all comes from jealousy.

    I will say that I think I have a better grasp on this via the's something that's kept with me over the years, and through exploring it via this, and through other aspects of whiteness via this website, I'm understanding soooo much more than I did when I was 18 :-p

  58. Karen,

    I've been exposed to white kids since preschool. It's harder for me to remember preschool, but I remember that I've had white best friends since first grade, some of them who I still know.

    These people never hurt me because of whiteness, nor did they really act white. However, I grew up in a racially diverse area, where 'whites' were the minority.

    When I went to university, I was suddenly exposed to whiteness from my peers, rather from the teachers. These are the kind of people that Matt described, white people who grew up segregated and inexperienced, and said things that were very offensive and ignorant. One of them did think that it was my job to diversify him.

    I think my concept of white people is a bit more complicated and nuanced than what you think it is. There isn't much time for me to even prejudge some whites that I meet, because as soon as they open their mouth and ask me "Where are you from?", it already reveals their lack of racial awareness.

  59. Karen,

    Also, why do you think of your Asian friend's potential friends as either yourself or other Asian girls, when your class was of 'every race'?

    Do you think that when I say that people of colour spaces are necessary, I personally want to hang around with people of my specific ethnicity? Why are you giving me examples of knowing black people and having an Asian friend, trying to show that interracial interaction can be positive? Do you even know the racial makeup of my friends? My best friends have been Indian, white, black, Chinese, and Filipino; my regular friends are even more diverse. An Iraqi has saved my life.

  60. Restructure, that's a good question. I realize I was thinking of her choice being other Asians, at that time, and writing in my mindset at that time.

    The class was mainly Asians and whites, very few of other races, I should have said that. It was in Banff, Canada.

    Thank you for noticing that way I was thinking, though, it gives me insight into my thinking then and now.

    Restructure, honestly at that time I did not think of 'people of color' as a category, at all.

    I did not think of the world as nonwhite/white. No one had told me to.

    I saw Africans as a different category than Asians as a different category than Hispanics as a different category than Iraqis.

    I was giving examples of positive relationships because that is part of the truth and doesn't seem to get written about here.

    I don't always agree with the ethos on any web board which concentrates on one right paradigm, for example the idea that whites, to be anti-racist will stay away from people of color.

    Yes, if you are white, stay away from non-white gatherings where you are not wanted, respect safe spaces for other groups, but the implication that I as a white person should stay away in general from people of color, as a positive anti-racist thing? I don't agree with that.

    If the Iraqi man who saved your life saw himself as white, which most Iraqis do, they see themselves as Caucasian, and if he had been told it would be anti-racist to stay away from people of color, you wouldn't be alive!!?!?!?!

    I wasn't surprised when you write you have friends of all races, colors, ethnicities, etc. I didn't mean to imply anything about you personally, I just feel worried that some of the anti-racism expressed here verges on being in some ways to my mind close to its opposite, not in intention but in effect.

    Sometimes the paradigm here seems one-dimensional, in contrast to peoples' lives.

    I like to read your posts, full of depth, thought, and many paradigms. I truly was writing in general concern about these issues, though I adddressed the post to you specifically.

  61. @Karen
    but the implication that I as a white person should stay away in general from people of color, as a positive anti-racist thing?

    who said this? Why do you think that anybody on this board said this?
    And you didn't answer my question, but I would like to get one please: Why do you expect Black people to combat racism?

  62. I'm wondering the same thing as jw. Who here is advocating that white people stay away from non-whites in general?

  63. hi I'm not at my computer but am trying to use my iPhone. This Is one finger typing. JW I agree that victims of racism are not the ones who should have to end it but nonwhite people have always fought for what's right and overcome so much but I agree with you that the logic is that victims of mistreatment should not be the ones to have to work to end the mistreatment. I'm glad I misunderstood the other point, I'm glad separation in general is not being advocated. Hope that clears up the misunderstandings andhope this phone works.

  64. Karen,

    Another thing that annoyed me about your post is that I said that an Iraqi saved my life, and then you turned it into "a white person saved your life; if it wasn't for a white person, you wouldn't be alive!"


    In Canada, Iraqis are generally not considered white. Arab Canadians are categorized as visible minorities in the Canadian Census. I looked up how the US Census worked, and it turns out that Arab Americans are considered White Americans. So what I said about Arab Americans in "ask asian americans where they're really from" was technically wrong in terms of the US Census, but I think socially, they are still considered foreigners and not whites.

  65. Karen,

    Do you consider Saddam Hussein a white person? Do you think that he should be included in the history of what white leaders have done? Or would the answer be no because he did bad things?

    Good Arab -> white
    Bad Arab -> not white


  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. Restructure, your response is really a terrible misinterpretation of my thoughts, but I'm sorry I wrote unclearly.

    I just wrote a post where I tried to go into a long explanation of each point, but deleted the post because I should say it shorter, and also, I can't seem to make it as clear as I'd like because it's complicated.

    Briefly -- an Iraqi saving your life:

    My point was not and would never be that you should be grateful to be alive because of a white person?! I'm trying to figure out how you got that?!

    My point was:

    I wanted to point out how sad/bad/dangerous it would have been if the man who saved your life had considered himself white and thought he should stay away from nonwhite people.

    Is that confusing? I don't know how to say it better.

    My fear is if white people get the impression from anti-racist work that their whiteness is so evil and horrible that the only solution is to stay away from nonwhite people!

    There are consequences to every line of thinking.

    The point about the Iraqi man who saved your life is that if he believed what he is told by America's racial categorizing, then he would believe that he is Caucasian... right?

    -- and if he thinks he is Caucasian, and if he thinks Caucasian is white, there are dangerous consequences to Iraqis and to everyone

    I believe that categorization of race is ambiguous and unnecessary and harmful.

    I believe that Iraqis being categorized as Caucasian is confusing because they are not seen as 'white' in popular American thinking, nor are they treated as 'white' in function.

    In this war, people say, "This war is not about racism, because Iraqis are white'.

    That is the danger of confusing Caucasian with 'white' in terms of what 'white' really means in function, etc., in my opinion.

    Does that make sense?

    I can't imagine how I've given the impression that white equals good, and a good Arab would be a white Arab. I think each person is good or bad, no one is good or bad by race or color. Generally, I see nonwhite people as more filled with justice and love right now.

    I have to wonder how I came across the opposite --

    I believe that white supremacy put Hussein in power, and controlled him, then blame him for the weapons we gave him.

    He wanted to deal in euros for oil, and change from dollars, which would hurt us financially, so suddenly we have to get rid of him.

    I have never thought in terms of 'good Arab bad Arab' or 'good Arab is white', that is cesspool thinking.

    I am off to a health clinic in Dallas pretty soon and am getting ready, so if I don't respond more it's not because I'm upset with these misunderstandings, just thought I should say that in advance. Also, I get discouraged in writing groups versus in person where people can also interpret words through facial expressions and tone of voice.

  68. Karen,

    Sorry for the misinterpretation.

    My point was not and would never be that you should be grateful to be alive because of a white person?! I'm trying to figure out how you got that?!

    I guess one of the first things that stuck out to me was that Iraqis are not white with respect to the whiteness that we are talking about, yet you categorized them as white in order to prove your point. I do not think that Iraqis have white privilege if they cannot pass for white. I also have doubts that Iraqis consider themselves white when in North America. It seemed like you were ignoring the racism that Iraqis and Arabs generally experience, trying to change the reality of racial relations into something that it is not, to prove that whites should not be segregated from non-whites.

    It just seemed like a stretch, saying that Iraqis are white and not people of colour, since they cannot pass as white except in your strange thought experiment.

  69. >My fear is if white people get the impression from anti-racist work that their whiteness is so evil and horrible that the only solution is to stay away from nonwhite people!

    You are really the first white who comes along with such an impression.
    And if a white is truly so guilt-ridden I think he should look for psychological help, seriously.

  70. Karen said:

    JW I agree that victims of racism are not the ones who should have to end it but nonwhite people have always fought for what's right and overcome so much but I agree with you that the logic is that victims of mistreatment should not be the ones to have to work to end the mistreatment.

    So what's the problem with the idea you talked about in terms of how racism should be fought?

    You talked about your gut feeling... Well if you agree that the victims of racism "should not be the ones to have to work to end the mistreatment" then who else does that leave?

    It seems like your very philosophy demands that the victims of racism not only "work to end the mistreatment" but have to do that work with non-victims.

    You do realize that you're insisting that victims of racism carry a burden not of their own creation and, worse, when and if they feel like they need to do that work separately you have a problem with them not doing work they shouldn't have to do in the first place (by your own admission) the way you want them to. WHY??

    Why is your philosophy based on the idea and that anti-racism work (which, again, shouldn't even included the victims of racism) has to be integrated work?

    I think the victims of racism could use a break but your philosophy demands that they do part of somebody else's work. I don't know if you know just how inconsiderate that is.

    Not only do victims of racism have their own everyday human problem that just come from being human but they have problems the internal problems that racism, internalized racism and the effects of it, has caused within them and their communities.

    So, without talking about ending racism, the institutionalized, material discrimination aspect of racism, victims of racism already have 2 jobs to do. You want to add/maintain a third because you don't like the way "separately" sounds or whatever your real issue is.

    So, 2 out of the 3 burdens victims of racism have to carry are things not of their own making. I don't think White anti-racist can do much when it comes to internalized racism. So that's 2 burdens African-Americans, e.g., will/have dealt with all on their own. Now you insist on them making someone else burden lighter by working to end racism when you say you believe they shouldn't have to do that work.

  71. Karen sounds like she's misinterpreting an idea I know I've heard Tim Wise promote:

    In terms of fighting for racial equity, what specific things do you think whites can do?

    (()) First, recognize that racism is a white problem, and a problem that all whites must address...

    (()) Second, don't worry so much about interracial alliances and organizing. First, organize around racism in the white community; with friends, colleagues, family members, neighbors. I know we all want to work together, and build alliances with people of color, but unless we spend just as much time working on cleaning up our own shit, intraracially, then no long-term alliances are going to last.

  72. Restructure, thanks for further working that out. I really appreciate your clarifying further what was bad about my post.

    I see now how I was very unclear, but I truly did not mean to, MYSELF, categorize Iraqis as white in order to prove my point, I was talking about if THEY categorize themselves as white -- maybe that's a silly differentiation but it felt different to me.

    It was a stupid point, you're right.

    I don't think that will ever happen, they will never accept a categorization of white even though white people in this country do often say they are, especially now that the white leaders of our country have decimated their country and artifacts and...thousands and thousands of lives.

    So your point is well taken, that my point was a stretch.

    Restructure, maybe I made that point because of my own soul searching and somewhat traumatic experiences, by one group of African Americans who were sincere, they were good well-meaning people, but they did have a separatist philosophy and made me think I should stay away from nonwhite people if I didn't want to be racist.

    They considered that is racist of me to be around nonwhite people because they said the best use of time is to talk to other white people.

    I had never been told that talking about racism and race to nonwhite people, was racist.

    It did, for a while, make me fearful to be around nonwhite people, I had taken in so deeply what had been told to me in such strong terms, I started questioning everything about myself in terms of being around or talking to nonwhite people. It would take a book length to go into the experience.

    This was a few years ago, and I am still working out in my mind. It is hard to explain an experience like that. I didn't want to be racist, by their definition.

    It took me a while to get my own mind back from that conditioning. It's a long story. So I was projecting that experience of mine, sorry.

    But Iraqis -- Never would they want or should they want to assume a racial categorization that has been created by others.

    I have discussed this extensively with many people in America who insist that Iraqis are Caucasian and will not listen when I say that doesn't mean they are white --

    -- and to my mind doesn't even mean they are Caucasian, whatever that means -- what IS Caucasian, anyway?

    Just the dividing of all of us into races is a problem, to begin with, in some ways-- or is it? I've debated that with people too.

  73. JW, thanks for your post. I actually have been seeking psychological help for a few years over having my name put on a website as a racist because I wouldn't agree to only talk to white people about racism, and went into it a little bit in the post to Restructure.

    I also was called a racist because I talked about my black boyfriend that I had in my twenties, and acknowledged being attracted to black men. They said that is the most racist thing a white woman can say or do, to be involved with a black man.

    It was all very confusing to what I had thought in the sixties when I was horrified by white women who wouldn't date black men.

    I had to really come to terms with reconciling two opposing yet valid viewpoints.

    I came to understand much more why there is validity to their feelings and viewpoint. My saying I was attracted to black men could be interpreted as racist didn't seem right, but I came to understand, I hope, their viewpoint.

    There is often contradiction in truth. I think we all have different experiences (obviously) and taken in different things with more angst and it's an individual thing.

    I'm sorry if I bring these experiences into this website and if they make me not always see things in the way I would if i didn't have those experiences.

    I'm still learning, still working things out in my mind/life. To me, working against racism is the most important thing in life, and it's not always seen the same way by all black people or all white people or all Asian people etc. I'm trying to learn from everyone here. It's truly a matter of life and death for our planet.

  74. Nquest, that is a very profound post from which I want to learn, and all of JW's and everyone's too.

    I think I've written more than my share for this morning, so I will like to respond more to your post in the next few days. Thank you so much for it, I really want and need your dialogue and perspective.

  75. @Karen,
    I think that it is always also personal experience. I can't separate my personal experiences within this society and how I grew up from this what I am. For some reasons not so important here I have serious issues with this system and what kind of white people grow out of it.
    What I find most annoying as well as very destructive are paternalists. People with 'good intentions' without realizing that they do what they do only to be in the center and to dominate. Their lack of empathy is stunning and their 'I know it better attitude' just leave a single thought in my mind: Stay out of my life. Their abuse of the pain of others just to give their poor emotional life something like a superficial meaning is disgusting. Such people you will find on a regularly basis in every organizations. More destructive than anything else.

    The political side of combatting white supremacy: Did you ever think about that this isn't welcomed by mainstream as well as government? Are people such naive to think that there will be a great red carpet for them? In a political organization you will never know - who is your enemy and who is your friend. Political organizations are quite often infiltrated by enemies. "Allies" who are only there to destruct an organization from within, with a smiling face and playing to be 'on your side'. The same in daily life.

    So why do whites so extremely insist that they are welcomed by Black people (again, it only seems to be an issue with Black organizations, or I am wrong?).

    > I had never been told that talking about racism and race to nonwhite people, was racist.

    I know that at least some whites are just offending curious. And also making the assumption that somebody non-white just waits for a 'race-conscious' white who wants to talk about racism. Some whites intrude the privacy of non-whites by doing this. (I don't know if this was the case with you).
    I also think it is typical white/European to not respect anothers privacy in general.

  76. Nquest, JW,

    Nquest, your comments bring to my mind the work of Neely Fuller, who is so brilliant and logical, though I think many people misinterpret the way he means certain things.

    That was really moving they way you had put it, what you said about victims of racism already having to do two burdens, and one is a burden of a result of racism that only they can do, the burden of internalized racism.

    The victimization of having to do the work of internalized racism reminds me of something I read, which said that if you are a victim in a car accident, even though it is not your fault, you are the one who will have to live with the health conditions resulting, and you are the one who will have to heal.

    But the insurance company of the other driver, the doctors etc. have their responsibility.

    I hope I don't put added burdens. I think I was meaning togetherness in certain ways that I did not think put the burden of fighting racism on nonwhites, but I need to think about those ways and my attitudes in reference to your points.

    JW, interesting post. It's all about psychology in some ways.

    I've had people help me and it felt so wonderful, and other people help me and it felt so horrible, like paternalism, condescending. I think one feels the difference instinctively.

    The root of the word 'pater', meaning father... there are different kind of fathers.

    As a female and women need a father for so many reasons, I've been eternally grateful to one man who gave me fathering that my own father didn't, but it wasn't paternalistic at all. I knew the difference instinctively.

    I hope I know the difference in my own actions, I look for the reaction of the person I'm helping.

    The man who was like a father has inculcated in me that life is all about helping others. But not in a paternalistic way. That is hurting, not helping.

  77. Karen,

    I appreciate your response and especially your willingness to talk about the experiences that caused you to adopt the view you have. My intent is to have an actual conversation on the issue to arrive at some answers to the questions I asked. But, for now, I'll just make the following observations:

    1.) Accident > Rehab > Insurance
    You put it way better than I did. I appreciate that.

    2.) As I understand it, the Whiteness project hinges on the very things JW keeps hinting at: that White people are damaged in the process. I think your race accident analogy helps us see that. (Note: There is no such thing as an "accident." That's why police/insurance determine what/who caused the "accident" or crash.)

    3.) Reflecting on #2, I get the feeling that too many people who consider examining Whiteness, White Privilege (and White Supremacy which often gets lost in it all) are treating Whiteness like it's the new colorblindness -- the problematic idea, IMO, Whites took from the nation's experience during and immediately after the civil rights movement.

    4.) Back to the analogy, your idea of "togetherness" still indicates that you insist that the victims of racism do work that you say they should have to do because there is simply nothing crucial to ending racism for them to "work together on" other than to make the "other driver's" burden lighter. The picture you're painting is one where "the other driver", the one responsible for the victim's injury doesn't have to fulfill their full responsibility. And that's the way you figure it should be because you place "working together" as the highest virtue without taking into account who is responsible for what.

    I think we've all participated in group projects before and I doubt if anyone would ever assert that individual group members should ever have to not only do their own individual part in the group project but be held to the idea that they have to "work together" and help another member do the one thing they were charged with doing in order to hold up their end of the bargain in the group project.

    Karen, I wish you would just say whatever it is that makes you feel "working together" is so important and why you lose sight of what the real issue is including who is responsible for what and who is carrying unnecessary burdens.

    One more observation... Your first response to my questions/post was to say that you want to learn. No offense but that's disconcerting and, perhaps, revealing at the same time. And, frankly, because that's a standard response, I really don't know what to say.

    Really, I feel like what's the use?

    I really don't know what there is that we can "work together" on when it more and more apparent that we would be working at "cross purposes." That's not about you. Just a general observation.

  78. Nquest,

    Why would we be working at cross purposes?

    Do you mean, you have a belief that white people can never really work against white supremacy, so white people will always be in some level working against nonwhites' interests?

    I don't agree with that from my observation of so many white people in the world working against it, and from knowing my own mind and feelings against racism white supremacy.

    Do I think a lot of white people in the world don't want to give up power and privilege? Yes. But many many whites are working and will always work for the same purpose as nonwhites and anyone who wants justice, I honestly know that without a doubt.

    What I mean by saying I want to learn is I don't want to count out any minds to learn from based on color or 'race'. I think some of the best minds that have promoted the cause of justice in this world have been nonwhite.

    And some of the people I've learned the most in general about life are nonwhite. It makes me shudder if I had not learned from them and hopefully, them from me.

    Every morning for years I learn from The Black Eagle Joe Madison on radio, on local WOL and satellite XM.

    He's taught me more about history, black history, critical thinking, sociology, current events, and white supremacy racism than I ever learned from anyone. I know experientially he can only know the victim side, but his understanding and analysis are acute.

    The elder fatherly man in my life is black he has asked me a lot of questions, says he's learned a lot. He says he has to help me so I can help him so he can help me so I can help him! etc. etc....

    There are some manifestations of racism against which middle class whites and nonwhites are equally helpless and need to fight together -- this is some of my reasoning on togetherness that helps everyone:

    -- for example, the Iraq war.

    As you probably did, I marched, spoke out against it, wrote on websites against it, but all of us, even in the thousands in the biggest march in D.C. against the war, felt powerless --

    -- against white supremacy forces of greed for oil, disregard of human life, disregard of national boundaries, and an unresponsive political system.

    Why should only white people have marched and fought against that racism?

    The white people in power weren't going to end it. So the rest of us, the less powerful, had to fight it. Both whites and nonwhites were on an even duty, I think.

    Another example, the genocide in Sudan.

    Even though it's one brown-skinned group killing another, there's white supremacy causes involved, and Chinese money interests involved.

    The average Chinese person probably feels powerless against his government's involvement in that genocide.

    But for example, some people feel we should boycott the Olympics in protest of China's role.

    Why should only whites boycott? Why do I have more of a responsibility than you?

    I'm up against powerful, powerful white people in this world. I need your help as much as you need mine.

    And I need your mind, sharing it here, really -- if I sense a good mind, why wouldn't I want to learn from you?

  79. This issue of whites not wanting to focus their anti-racism efforts on other whites is reminding me of the film "The Color of Fear" where eight men of different racial backgrounds came together in an intimate setting to do the difficult work of communicating with one another about how race and racism impacts them personally.

    As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that the one person who has no clue about racism and white supremacy and how they affect people's lives is (surprise) David, the white guy.

    The film devolves into "let's educate David" "Let's sensitize David" "Let's focus on David's ignorance" to the point where a great portion of the film is about attending to David's need for education, awareness and growth.

    That's great for David, but not so great for the men of color who came to the project to talk about their experiences and explore their own needs for justice and healing. They were frustrated at having their purpose usurped by David's needs.

    That's not to say that addressing David's needs is not meaningful and critical work, but why is it the responsibilty of people of color (who have their own meaningful and critical work to do)to ALWAYS be teachers?

    If David had been to a couple of Tim Wise's talks prior to the making of that film, I think the conversation would have begun at a much more productive level for everyone involved.

    Having said that,

    I have found that there are many white folks who are sincerely interested in helping to build a just society -- and they are willing to deconstruct white supremacy and the privilege it affords them.

    But just because someone says they are ready to be a part of the work, doesn't mean they've stripped themselves of their subtle (and sadly, sometimes blatant) superior/privileged attitudes and behaviors -- that is the work other whites can help them with first.

  80. Why should only white people have marched and fought against that racism?

    That question was answered before you even asked it. And the cross purposes start here:

    Why should only whites boycott? Why do I have more of a responsibility than you?

    Cross purposes because you simply can't ask that question with any sense of integrity when that's the very issue we're dealing whereby your very idea of "working together" demands that the very victims of racism "have more responsibility than you" when those victims of racism HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY -- i.e. aren't responsible for it.

    It's like, magically, everything that's you've said to this point:

    "...if you are a victim in a car accident, even though it is not your fault, you are the one who will have to live with the health conditions resulting, and you are the one who will have to heal.

    But the insurance company of the other driver, the doctors etc. have their responsibility."

    was just talk.

    What do you mean: Why do I have more of a responsibility than you?

    By the obvious noted and objective and supposedly understood count you don't. Your very philosophy insist on you have LESS RESPONSIBILITY.

    Do you not understand the words that came out of your own cyber-mouth?

    By my count, you prefer that victims of racism not only deal with the internal damage past and present racism has done to them and what it takes for them to "rehab" themselves but you insist on them carrying your burden. You insist on them doing what is solely your responsibility.

    I'm up against powerful, powerful white people in this world.

    And the road to rehab for victims of racism is up against that too. Yet, none of that erases the fact that as the "other driver", as the "insurance company", etc. that you have your responsibility and it is yours and yours alone because the victims of racism already have their hands full. After all, they are the victims. They're the ones who've been taking the blows.

    What part of that do you not understand?

    You're asking those who have suffered the most to not only do the most but to take a big chunk out of what is uniquely your responsibility. And no sleight of hand nonsense on your part (the rather ironic and utterly false, reversed question: Why do I have more of a responsibility than you?) will ever detract or distract from that truth.

    many many whites are working and will always work for the same purpose as nonwhites and anyone who wants justice, I honestly know that without a doubt.

    I really should just like JW address this but I won't. Those "many, many" Whites were conspicuously absent in Jena, LA. I didn't see "many, many" up in New York either (Sean Bell verdict).

    I have no doubt that there are White people out there... Indeed, I find Tim Wise (and Robert Jensen when he has time) to be very insightful. But you are just not being honest when you exaggerate with that "many, many" stuff. I know that. You know that.

  81. Why would we be working at cross purposes?

    It's rather clear that the idea of "working together" is more important to you than dealing with and accepting your responsibility as your own and yours alone. As it is, you're placing "working together" as a greater priority than ending racism itself. You'd rather pretend that it's you who has "more responsibility" when in actuality you're being charged, finally, with handling what was always your responsibility and yours alone.

    With history as our witness, Black people, for one, have already done more towards "your" responsibility than "you" have. Tell the truth.

    History says Jews made up a disproportionate number of non-Blacks/Whites who joined in the civil rights struggle. Hmmmm....

    Now, think. Ending racism was NEVER the responsibility of the victims of racism. You said so yourself:

    "victims of mistreatment should not be the ones to have to work to end the mistreatment"

    But look at what happened with the civil rights movement. It was the victims who showed up en masse in the largest of numbers for what was NEVER their responsibility. By my tally, in this "working together" group project, the victims of this car crash we call racism have done the bulk of the heavy lifting. Done perhaps 50% or more of the work themselves on your part of the project.

    They've already done a lot of your work for you when they, by your own admission, should have never had to do anything.

    Do you mean, you have a belief that white people can never really work against white supremacy, so white people will always be in some level working against nonwhites' interests?

    I mean what I said. And it's clear:

    When the method for you (and I'm talking about you personally and every individual white person I know who has voiced the same sentiments not "white people") -- in this scenario where there is nothing inherently wrong with the choice of methods -- is more important than the objective, then we clearly working at cross purposes.

    We clearly don't see eye-to-eye and you're insisting on something not needed or necessarily desired which, by definition, means it's not needed.

    We got a group project here. You have to do your part. Why is that so hard? Why do you insist that we "work together" on what is solely your acknowledged responsibility?

    Also... How in the world can you ever ask why you have "more responsibility" when what we've been talking about is was never anything but your responsibility and ONLY your responsibility in the first place?

    You make this curious notion of "working together" necessary to ending racism. Cross purposes.

    You want to know what I believe? I believe White people aren't handicapped. IMO, they are fully capable of taking care of what's left of their responsibility and obligation to end racism. Fully capable of doing it all by themselves.

    That's what I believe. You would believe that too if you were ever anywhere close to be honest about the "many, many" White people working for the same purpose as nonwhites; White people who want justice, the same justice nonwhites seek.

    By the way people talk/write, they ain't but a few Whites who don't work at cross purposes.

  82. They were frustrated at having their purpose usurped by David's needs.

    Thank you, KnowGoodWhitePeople. I guess I would say that the problem here is how "The Color Fear" group represented here has the would-be Tim Wise character insisting on having the multi-racial group meeting with David's ignorance in tact. This is a case of the would-be Tim refusing to use his pre-meeting access and influence on David to get David up to speed before the meeting so that valuable group meeting time isn't spent on the group attending to David vs. the group's primary business of which David, educating him or setting him straight, is not.

    Clearly, that stuff should have happened before the meeting.

    And then, now that I think about it, it's even worse. This group project is hampered by our would-be Tim having an identity crisis as he slips in and out of his Tim and David and Chris characters and basically cries for help himself.

    Tim = progressive
    David = not
    Chris = stuck on supremacy/privilege

  83. Why should only white people have marched and fought against that racism?

    The white people in power weren't going to end it. So the rest of us, the less powerful, had to fight it.

    *** Both whites and nonwhites were on an even duty, I think. ***

    Karen, stop lying. You know better than that. Regardless such an "even duty" means that Whites were only doing HALF their duty. Not one single bit of it was nonwhite people's responsibility.

    Again, the victims of racism, by your own admission, shouldn't have to work to end racism/mistreatment. When and where they do means that they are taking on MORE responsibility than Whites are. And that's the way your philosophy prefers it.

    That's a cross purpose.

  84. But Nquest, I came here to a site designed, as I understand it, for white people to discuss white privilege and help other white people, with nonwhite people wanted and welcome too...

    ... but Macon stated in one post that he wants white people to participate especially and is disappointed that more don't.

    You came here to a site and say you don't believe in us working together. But you posted to me, which to me is working together, or your trying to get across to me your views.

    My focus of my actions against racism is on white people who are the perpetrators, but also is a focus that I share with both black and white people.

    If you don't think nonwhite people should HAVE to work against racism with white people, I agree with you, they shouldnt' have to. I respect those who don't. I just know many who do.

    If you don't think nonwhite people should have worked against the Iraq war, you're entitled to that views. Many nonwhite people disagreed with you and worked against it.

    If you think black people should not have HAD to work against the Iraq war, or against any manifestation of white supremacy racism, yes you're right in logic and fairness. They shouldn't have HAD to, especially in a fair and good world, which this isn't.

    Even if no nonwhite people worked againt it, I would still work against it.

    It's not up to me whether you or any nonwhite people work against the Iraq war or work against racism.

    I'm stating my view that I think racism will be ended sooner and better if we work together in some ways.

    But your opinion is yours, maybe right now we have to agree to disagree but I will listen to and think about your views.

    I find that by trying to express my honest views here, I am getting some of the same more judgmental rather than helpful responses that I got at the site for nonwhite victims of racism.

    I came here thinking it was a safe and legitimate space to question and learn. I WANT you to disagree with me me on ways you think I'm not right, but to say I'm lying is hurtful and is wrong.

    I think my views have validity. But I am still learning, always. If my belief that everyone of every color and 'race' working together against racism, in some circumstances, like protesting the war, is a wrong belief --

    -- or a blind belief that comes from my white privilege, some of which I am sure I am unaware in myself, or from white supremacy racism of which I am not aware in myself, and want to be if it is there, then I want to learn that.

    But not to say I believe that, just to get along with your view -- right now, I don't agree with.

    I'm being honest with you, for whatever that's worth to you.

    No, I don't think nonwhite people HAVE to work against racism. I have a lot of friends with disabilities, as an example of another area of great disagreement about working together.

    My legally blind friend doesn't want normally-abled people to come to her disability group gatherings. But other disabled people there do want to work together with able-bodied.

    As a metaphor for racism, that fits inversely for me because in a system of racism, it's the perpetrators who are truly disabled, and are causing disability in the victims, too. Sometimes victims helping perpetrators is just one more road that can lead to justice, too -- as unfair as it sounds.

    There are already plenty of people from the other site who will call me a racist for these views and who continue to do so and who continue to badmouth me and my sincerity. You can join that treatment of me if you want, or let me dialogue here to want to help and learn together, not judge.

  85. I came here thinking it was a safe and legitimate space to question and learn.

    Stuff White People Do: Believe that everywhere should be a safe space for whites. It's like taking a course on whiteness studies and demanding that they tone it down because it would be offensive to whites who are taking the course.

    As a metaphor for racism, that fits inversely for me because in a system of racism, it's the perpetrators who are truly disabled, and are causing disability in the victims, too.

    Stop using 'disabled' as an insult. You shouldn't use ableist language.

    Sometimes victims helping perpetrators is just one more road that can lead to justice, too -- as unfair as it sounds.

    Yes. What's your point? Do you think this unfair way is the better way?

    There are already plenty of people from the other site who will call me a racist for these views and who continue to do so and who continue to badmouth me and my sincerity. You can join that treatment of me if you want, or let me dialogue here to want to help and learn together, not judge.

    So you want to discuss whiteness, white privilege, and racism, but nobody is allowed to judge anyone? Is it because in such a discussion, the people who could be judged are whites?

    It looks like for you, "learn together" trumps everything. For you, "learn together" antiracism is superior to the type of antiracism that judges white people. You're not truly interested in ending racism, then. Your main goal is 'racial unity', and you are using 'antiracism' as a means to achieve your goal. Your goal is for whites and non-whites to no longer have racial anger, so when a non-white judges you, you feel they are getting in the way of the goal.

    It certainly looks to me like we're working towards different things. Your goal is racial unity, and you are trying to get non-whites to unify with you by using 'antiracism' as a proxy.

  86. Karen, let's straighten a few things out:

    First, I'll take back my statement where I told you to stop lying. I said that, at least initially, under the impression that you were talking about Whites "evenly" matching the work effort, carrying an even burden as nonwhites in the US long history of civil rights struggle. Now to the current issues.

    "...but Macon stated in one post that he wants white people to participate especially and is disappointed that more don't..."

    You were just trying to convince me that there are "many, many" White people like Macon and you knew better.

    You came here to a site and say you don't believe in us working together.

    You never heard me say that. Instead, what you've heard me talk about is who has what responsibility and who you prefer to have extra burdens on them and how that strikes as you (and you are not alone) "working at cross purposes."

    I wanted you to talk about what's at the root of your philosophy of "working together" and why it's so important to you. I guess you just did that when you said:

    Sometimes victims helping perpetrators is just one more road that can lead to justice, too -- as unfair as it sounds.

    Obviously, you're okay with the UNFAIRNESS. You prefer it. That's just identifying, accurately, what your philosophy consist of.

    Here you are after having the group project division of labor laid out and you're saying you prefer that the victims of racism, Black people in particular because that's how this thread developed, not only deal with the internal fallout that racism cause in their lives but because you're "up against powerful, powerful white people in this world" and that's the reason why you can't take care of your own responsibility.

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and what you've presented here is the weakness of would-be White anti-racists -- those who share your "cross purpose."

    You say, "sometimes victims helping perpetrators... can lead to justice, too" but please tell me about those times when "the other drive" takes full responsibility and carry their own burden on their own.

    Do you not see the incredible selfishness involved in that? The incredible lack of responsibility you're talking about? And look at what you said:

    Why do I have more of a responsibility than you?

    How can you ever even begin to form that question when you don't care how "unfair" it sounds the other way around? I haven't judged you. I've talked about what you philosophy entails. But the work load inequality is not only something you prefer, it's something you feel is "better."

    I'm stating my view that I think racism will be ended sooner and better if we work together in some ways.

    No. You're stating your view that insist on a work load inequality. You're stating your preference for Black people, e.g., having more responsibility than you.

    I think my views have validity.

    I've shown how your views are structured on inequality.

    You can join that treatment of me if you want, or let me dialogue here to want to help and learn together, not judge.

    First, I have no idea of what other site you're talking about. Second and more important, you "want to help" what? Who??

    You continue to speak with unexamined, underlying assumptions that aren't "helpful." You aren't helping anybody when you insist that they carry an extra-added burden because you have issues assuming and taking care of your full responsibility.

    This is a group project. You have to do you part.

    None of that is me saying anything against "working together." What I have done, however, is pointed out the "cross purpose" that it represents, the way it is promoted by people who share your views.

    KnowGoodWhitePeople story is a prime example of how UNHELPFUL your views are. And don't put that "judgment" thing on me. I joined a conversation that was already going on between you, JW and Restructure.

    Because I point out how "unfair" your views are and how you prefer it to be "unfair", I invoke images of those who called you racist. Don't out that on me either.

    I asked you in a very polite manner to consider the uneven work load; the even/unequal burden. You essentially said you didn't care that it was "unfair" or uneven as long as you weren't the one left with more responsibility. If anyone has judged you or called you racist it's yourself.

    When you can look racial inequality in the eye and say preserving/practicing that inequality is "better" even as "unfair as it sounds" (as if there is no real "unfairness"; it only "sounds" unfair) then I don't have to judge anything. Your own words stand in judgment of you and it's your own words calling you racist or whatever you're feeling now that you've fully embraced the unfairness and inequality inherent in your position.

    Now let me be clear about where I stand on "working together."

    Since "working together" is NOT the goal and since the victims of racism are already have an EXTRA-added burden of dealing with the internal fallout/impact of racism on them and their communities... I just want racism to end and I also want White people to take their full responsibility.

    Unlike you, I feel White people are fully capable of handling their responsibility and I insist that they do. Nothing at all unfair about that. I'm not asking them to do anything beyond what they are responsible for in this group project.

    So, I believe racism can come to an end with or without "working together" (as you see it). That's why "working together" isn't that important to me. It's not a goal of mine and, as KnowGoodWhitePeople story illustrated, it's a huge distraction for the victims of racism.

    Basically your view interferes with victims of racism "healing."

    As far as what we, as victims of racism, do in terms of "working together." That's just what we do. Nobody ever had to tell us that we have to work on the internalized racism that exist in our communities. We just do it.

    The problem here is you've insisted that the "working together" victims participated in that was voluntary be mandatory and required which all works towards White people not fulfilling their share of the bargain.

    You can call that racist if you want. That's your prerogative. I'm just pointing out the obvious difference and insistence on this inequality. I'm also pointing out the obvious "cross purpose."

    After some 300 + years White people still talking about "learning." I just don't happen to think that White people are that damn dumb. IMO, they are fully capable of handling their responsibility.

    That would be better for all of us. Then all of us who already have an extra-added burden of dealing with what racism has wrought in terms of internalized racism and the devastation and disadvantage racism has caused... then we can finally rehab and heal. Instead of doing that, your view would have us forsake that in order to HELP you.

    So how in the hell do you frame what you're doing as "helping"??

  87. I would like to post a German spot against racism:

    This is what the people say there:
    White woman: "I can't sit here. It's unacceptable"

    White man, addressing the Black man: "It's really unacceptable that you have to sit here. Because of this you get a seat in business class."

    text: racism makes lonely, show civil courage

    What are your thoughts?

  88. Karen, what you demand (and I think many other whites also) is, that Black/non-white people are present for you.
    When I was quite young I wanted to become a development aid volunteer in Africa. I wanted 'to help' the people there. I really thought that I could give 'them' something. I was so lucky to ask the right people, who challenged me and my true intentions and they also gave me some books to read about "development aid" and why it will never truly work and what big business for the west is often behind "development aid" and also European arrogance.
    And that it is necessary to change the own German system, which causes many problems inside and outside Germany. That it is not enough to feel guilty (as a child I did) about a holocaust etc.
    I thought I could repair something by helping. But I realized quite quickly that there is nothing to repair and that the only way to stop this is to stop white German people from continuing history. It is this system which takes me as 'norm' while it excludes people who aren't considered 'norm'. It is this system which includes me and makes me a yeasayer as long as I take this for granted. Not working against this is being in agreement with the exclusion of others.

    And I always read (in America, in Germany that's different) that whites want to be allies of people of color.
    Where are all these allies??? Yes indeed, as Nquest mentioned it: Where were the white people in Jena, were are they now in the case of Sean Bell? It's like causing damage to the damage, like waiting for the victim to even call the ambulance themselves, to say so. And then the victims of racism, who rally against etc, are blamed to be "race-baiters" etc, the weird, angry Black people who just can't be silent.
    The absence of whites in 'many many numbers' telling their own government to stop this sh't adds damage to the damage.
    Where are all these white "allies" in the case of Troy Davis? Or is the death penalty in America so normal that the average citizens even stopped questioning this f*cked up way to demonstrate power? Troy Davis is innocent, nobody can prove his guilt and nonetheless he is going to be executed. His sister who is fighting for his life is suffering from cancer and here are whites who ask for a safe space. What is the problem with being challenged by those who are affected by our system? What is not safe with that?

    And another example, sundown towns, in Germany they are Nationalbefreite Zonen. There are no non-white people there to combat the racism in such areas. Would white "allies" wait for non-white people to settle there to "work together" with whites? Or doesn't it make more sense that those whites who already live there unite against the fear-mongers to make such towns/areas safe places for all people? To show them that sharing white skin-color doesn't necessarily mean *race solidarity* and agreement.

    Sorry for the long post

  89. That's a good post. I think you give good examples of things white people should be doing like fighting against the white racist system in Jena, fighting for Sean Bell and other examples of focus on the system and the white people.

    Thank you and Nquest and Restruture for thoughtful posts. may I continue the dialogue after getting some health issues squared away, which in our country always involves privilege unfortinately. Excuse phone type

  90. Follow-up to "Stuff White People Do: Believe that everywhere should be a safe space for whites":

    No Such Place as Safe: The Trouble With White Anti-Racism by Tim Wise:

    I think I've figured out what it is I hate about those "racial dialogue" groups that seem to be springing up across the country nowadays. [...] it's the part where the dialogue facilitator says something to the effect of: "We want this to be a safe space, where everyone feels free to express their views without fear of being shouted down or ridiculed for their beliefs."

    Although it isn't usually made explicit, this admonition about the importance of safety is almost always really about making white people feel safe. After all, people of color rarely feel safe discussing race amongst members of the dominant group, and it's pretty unlikely that a simple sentence calling for civility would change that. Black and brown folks know that race is a touchy subject, and yet they engage in race dialogue (whether formal or informal) as a matter of survival: they have to do it, safe or not, because the alternative is to continue neglecting an issue that is far too important to their everyday lives.

    The whites in these dialogue groups, on the other hand, are often tentative to a point that is almost farcical. Nervous, afraid of saying the wrong thing, and convinced that people of color will yell at them for a slip of the tongue, whites often remain in a shell when racial dialogues begin. This is one of the reasons that facilitators often go out of their way to create "safety." They are hoping that whites will participate more honestly if only they can be guaranteed that black people won't attack them for their ignorance.

    Such a concern is, of course, preposterous, coming as it does from members of the most powerful group on the planet. I mean really now, do we, as whites believe there is any group on Earth that is safer than we are? Do we honestly think that people of color are in a position to jump our asses in a controlled workshop setting? What do we think they're going to do? Knife us for God's sakes?

    If you want to see this kind of white paranoia in action, sit in a room full of white folks watching the anti-bias documentary, The Color of Fear, and you'll see what I mean. As they watch one scene in particular, where one of the black participants in a dialogue group goes off on one of the white participants (after putting up with copious amounts of conservative, "anyone can make it if they try" silliness on the part of the latter), whites recoil from the clearly agitated black man, Victor Lewis, as if they honestly expect him to jump out of the screen and strangle them where they sit. The funny thing being that throughout the scene, the only person really at risk was Victor Lewis himself, who knew that his indignation would mark him as the "angry Negro" in the minds of most viewers. And that's the point: even in these racial dialogue settings, whites are always the safest persons in the room. It is black and brown folks who run the risk of being seen as "too sensitive," "too emotional," or some such thing, while whites can almost always content ourselves with the belief that we are calm, level-headed and rational, no matter how absurd the things we say may be.

  91. Okay, so I know we've beat the hell out of this topic, but I came across this quote in an article by filmmaker Katrina Browne whose documentary "Traces of the Trade" debuts this week on PBS.

    "People of color I worked with in my 20s had said very directly that it was really important for white people to deal with our baggage with each other. They were tired of holding our hands through it all. It was a plea for us to do our homework, and then come back to the table."

    To read the entire article visit "People of color...were tired of holding our hands"

  92. Excellent post, excellent blog.

    As others have said, we sometimes need a space (as members of an oppressed minority) to speak freely and without being concerned with the judgement/feelings of White folks.

    On a personal note, I felt the ending of her letter revealed how little she actually knew about us and when she mentioned the non-White boyfriend, it made me sick. I have a problem with any Black man who would date her. That may be another reason she was less than welcome. I'm sorry, but there is no excuse for Black men do to date White women in America yet. I've tried to make peace with it so long, but I just find it unjustifiable. Maybe when ALL White folks are as enlightened as Macon D, we can revisit the issue.

  93. Interesting blog. I had no idea white people even thought about these things.

    Your question has an obvious answer; the white person is not welcome because s/he is not trusted. S/he is not trusted because S/he is not deemed to have accumulated the necessary cultural capital to interact with the group on their terms. I'm talking about mores, manners, customs, expectations. If the white person had a clue, perhaps s/he might be invited. It is not the job nor obligation of the group to educate the white person who has made no effort to educate himself. I'd go so far as to say that white Americans have a reputation for disrespecting whatever non-white social situation they might be in. Just not knowing how to act in general and attracting undue attention to themselves. This can be an annoyance as it takes attention away from the group. And nothing takes the fun out of something than having to explain everything.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding the question, but this seems really obvious to me. But the other reason might simply be spite; non-whites often feel excluded rather than included among whites in everyday life because they are always the Other.

  94. Thanks Anonymous, and yes, there are quite a few white people out there thinking about these things in the ways that I do.

    Regarding the white presumption that others will trust them, I agree--you might find this post on that topic interesting.

    Here's hoping that more and more white folks will PROVE themselves trustworthy to non-white folks, instead of just immediately assuming they deserve such trust.


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