Thank you to everyone who committed their thoughts to that discussion thread; I'll be reading it many times over as I assess the future of Stuff White People Do. I'm very satisfied so far that so many readers, both non-white and white, are finding this blog useful in their efforts to think through whiteness, and racism. I started writing here as an effort to think through my whiteness more carefully, and you've all motivated me to keep going.
It's also good to gather that this blog has a mix of both white and non-white readers. White people do talk about race with non-white people, sometimes, and I'm glad that they often do so here. Both sides are getting so many different things out of this blog that it's difficult for me to summarize it all.
Someone else, though, has done a great job of assessing probable white and non-white responses to Stuff White People Do, and I've received permission to include her assessment here as a guest post.
Davita Cuttita blogs at Pregnant Drug-dealing Prostitutes, and she identifies herself as "a Jamaican girl dating a Russian guy." I'm grateful that she took the time to write such a thorough assessment of Stuff White People do, and of its potential place in a broader and necessary discussion on whiteness and racism. I'm honored by her presence here as a guest writer, and of course, we invite responses to her assessment, and to her incitement.
(PS--Via Jannie Sue in the comments to Friday's post, an assessment of Stuff White People Do at White Anti-Racist. Thanks Jannie Sue!)
Hi Macon, ^_^
This is Davita Cuttita coming to you live from Canada!
I've been dipping in-and-out of the internet (busy schedule, work and school!) but I noticed your post "Avoid the topic of race, especially whiteness" so I hope you don't mind that I wrote in; I'm sure with your well-deserved increase in readers, you must be swamped!
Firstly, I think what attracts a lot of non-White people to your blog is quite simple: your honesty and willingness to discuss.
Of course, coloured people talk about many of the issues you do amongst themselves and the general idea is "Oh, White people. They don't care, they don't understand," because when we do talk about these issues with White people, they become uncomfortable, defensive or simply change the subject because, y'know, if coloured people have problems it's all about THEIR feelings, not ours. I guess we don’t have any feelings or lack the cognitive ability to recognize them since racism apparently “no longer exists, it’s 2008” or “maybe the person was just having a bad day.”
Therefore, White people miss out on a lot of insight about how other cultures see them. For example, there are so many movies "exoticizing" the cultures in Africa, China, Japan, Brazil, the Caribbean, etc but very few doing the same to, for argument's sake, America. ‘Cuz, White is White, no need to explain or discuss! They're the default, like Times New Roman font.
Coloured People keep coming to Stuff White People Do because now they know a few things:
1. There is a White person willing to engage in racial discussions with them, encouraging dialogue and taking them and their concerns seriously and asking honest questions.
2. There is a White person willing to listen to what they have to say without getting defensive.
3. There is a White person that doesn't "ignore" their non-Whiteness by being colourblind but accepts it as a valid part of their identity.
4. They now know of a place where they can engage with other White people on racial issues.
5. There is a zone for coloured people to discuss and read of racial inequalities, stereotypes, etc with a White person(s) that won't shift the coloured person's feelings and concerns onto themselves in turn making said coloured person feel guilty for bringing up what is often TRUE.
I know those are the reasons why I visit.
Your site's like sitting in a music studio with a bunch of strangers with different talents. You'll start a tune, another guy will beat-box, someone will chime in on the key-board, etc. It doesn't always "sound" great but hell, it's interesting and we're free to exchange ideas!
As for the White people that think you hate yourself now. . .
I find this type of back-lash always happens whenever a White person speaks up for Coloured People and accepts the facts of our reality and history. It hurts them to know they belong to a group that, historically, is responsible for an overwhelming majority of the wiping out of civilizations, displacing individuals, destruction and inequality that still produces benefits exclusive to the White race even today.
Worse still, to them your site is a slap in the face, a reminder that many of the settlers and founders they cherish and idealize didn't earn any of this land with hard work; no! They just killed, raped, pillaged and enslaved everyone and anything they could. Why are there so few historic coloured people contributions to technology, literature, medicine, the arts and science compared to Whites? Because they'd KILL US if we learned to read! (Also, a lot of technology was stolen and re-appropriated during the Crusades from Indian, Islamic and Black cultures. Did you know the Chinese “discovered” America 300 years before Columbus? Gotta love grade 11 history!)
Hell, we couldn't even chill in our own countries minding our own business without it being a problem.
I'm sure if the White man came singing "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and no one was busy getting killed, maimed or raped, we coloured people could've gotten a 500 year head start too and be waaay better off. White history says they are the best, the most intelligent, the most beautiful and we are beneath them--abnormal and awkward. What, with all their achievements and all! But it just doesn't sound as heart-warming, inspiring and pride-inducing when you read about all the Native babies Christopher Columbus and his men killed for fun or how many thousands of runaway slaves were cut in half.
They cannot face these facts; they don't want to say "Yes, it happened. Yes, I benefit. What can I do? What do you think? DO YOU WANT TO TALK?" No, they only repeat the obvious "I didn't do anything wrong! That was hundreds of years ago!" like broken records and simply don't give a damn. They go into denial and find any means necessary to cut off dialogue because once again, it’s not about acknowledging Coloured People’s feelings and apprehensions. Somehow, our concerns become all about THEIR feelings and THEIR comfort.
Everyone wants to be the victim—that way they don’t have to take responsibility for what happened to them and are free of blame and scrutiny but...
No one wants to be the person holding the blood-stained knife.
"This White guy hates himself."
Oh, please! This White guy doesn’t hate himself; he’s just fed up with ignorance like the rest of us. He has the courage to see something went terribly wrong 500 years ago and like a juggernaut, just won’t stop. He has the intelligence, openness and willingness to listen and admit what he cannot understand and share what he feels he does. He asks questions and unlike the others that just want us to forget and move on, stop talking and just act like everything is OK when we are still systematically discriminated against, objectified and hated.
We Coloured People will always move on but we will never, ever, forget the truth of the matter that slavery happened, genocides happened, bombings happened, rapes happened, intellectual theft happened and keeps happening, all because of our bodies’ melanin levels. The message behind this site and many of the opinions therein never said all White people are evil, but we’re pretty sure most of them are being ignorant about the truth and the truth hurts.
Some White People just can’t handle it, so they take their anger out on you by saying you hate yourself. Maybe they wouldn’t believe that if they consulted one of your Coloured readers for their opinion on your site.
See the pattern here?
I really hope you keep layin' the hurt down on 'um, Macon. They need it.
Congrats on your new readers and keep up the great work!