Sunday, January 25, 2009

white weekend links

"Being “colour blind” is NOT a solution" (Uppity Brown Woman)

The way to do away with the existence of race is to ignore it - no specialized groups, programs, or services directed towards anything that may take race into consideration. In short, to get rid of race is to not pay attention to it. To solve racism and make race as relevant as the shape of your bellybutton is to be colour blind. That’s the proposed solution I hear quite a bit from white people who think they are doing anti-racist work. . . .

Colour blindness is not a solution, it’s an endpoint. It’s a destination we must arrive at.

Colour blindness would mean to ignore the current perceptions of races, and racism stemming from those perceptions. It will not undo all of the years of learning that we have all undertaken. We will not unlearn that Europe was simply going abroad and settling in the “New World”, and all of knowledge was created by Europeans (well, the important ones, anyway). We will not unlearn that if the race of a murder victim is not specified (or divulged through name) in a news story, it must be a white person. We will not unlearn that Natives are supposedly ‘all’ alcoholics, drug users, and criminals, not because of colonialism and racism, but because that is just how Aboriginals are. We will not unlearn that young black men are only ever out to rob, stab, shoot, or sell drugs to you, and any time there is a young black man doing anything but robbing, stabbing, shooting, or selling drugs, he must be exceptional. We will not unlearn that businesses, media, politics, and other major institutions are inhabited by a majority white because they did it on their own.

Something's Moving
(the legacy of American Indian boarding schools)

"Obama, King and Kennedy: Empire and the 'End' of Racism" (Andrea Luchetta's interview with Juan Santos @ Black Agenda Report)

Luchetta: Don't you think that, if compared with the situation of the Civil Rights Movement era, a lot of progress has been made on the racial question?

Santos: Again, the old folk saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

My answer? Sure, if you count a new Black middle class, on one hand, combined with the mass incarceration of peoples of color on the other, and a day to day war in our neighborhoods called the “War on Drugs” - which is really a “War on Us” - if you want to count that as “progress” . . . then yes, there’s been “progress.” But anyone who actually believes that that is “progress” is lying to themselves.

At the systemic level, there’s been no qualitative, fundamental “change” at all, really. But at the cultural level, yes, there’s been change, and that change - with all of its dramatic difference and all of its dramatic limits, is what Barack Obama represents at his best - as a cultural symbol, not as a champion of the People.

But, yes there has been a limited but very welcome change in people’s attitudes, ethics and their emotional and cultural open-ness. That much has changed. The system, though, hasn’t changed at all.

"Dear White People" (Renee @ Womanist Musings)

My impressions of whiteness are far from antiquated, rather they are based upon by daily confrontations with it. Unlike you, I do not have the choice as whether or not I will engage with people who do not look like me; whiteness permeates every moment of my existence. It is like an invading force blocking, burning, and pillaging, all in its path. Often times it is presented in a paternalistic form to make it seem benign, but to those of us that must negotiate it, the false constructs work to severely hamper our life's chances. Blackness exists primarily as a spoiled identity to ensure the perception of whiteness as good.

I find it interesting that you would take the time to lecture me on all of the ways in which I am wrong, as though what I have lived is somehow less genuine than your life. Of course, I am not meant to view your paternalistic attitude towards race as ultimately racist. White people cannot resist the urge to tell POC, about our lives as though they have a modicum of understanding of what it is to exist as an "othered"body in this society. You cannot know our truth, and therefore the desire to tell us that we are reading a situation incorrectly stems from a deep felt belief that whiteness owns truth.

"Will Obama have to be better because he's black?" (John Blake @ CNN)

Just days before he was sworn in, President Obama was giving his daughters a tour of the Lincoln Memorial when one of them pointed to a copy of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address carved into the wall.

Obama's 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, told her father that Lincoln's speech was really long. Would he have to give a speech as long? Obama's answer was completed by his older daughter, 10-year-old Malia.

"I said, 'Actually, that one is pretty short. Mine may even be a little longer,' " Obama told CNN recently. "At which point, Malia turns to me and says, 'First African-American president, better be good.'"

The story is light-hearted, but it touches on a delicate question: Will people hold Obama to a different standard because he is the first African-American president?

Uprising Radio: Special Inauguration Edition
Obama’s Historic Inauguration Speech
New Speech by Tim Wise: Between Barack and a Hard Place

"Suspect in Brockton slayings intent on carnage, police say" (Jessica Fargen @ Boston Herald)

Had Brockton police not stopped an “evil plan of mass murder,” dozens of innocent people could have been massacred by a 22-year-old computer geek intent on stopping the “extinction” of the white race, police said.

“It really could have been a disaster,” said Joshua Cohen, rabbi of Temple Beth Emunah, where accused double-murderer Keith Luke told police he planned to end his hate-fueled rampage by spraying a bingo night crowd of hundreds with bullets. “Only through the good work of Brockton police were we able to avert a huge disaster and tragedy.”

He later told cops he was “fighting extinction” of the white race.

Luke was arraigned yesterday in Brockton District Court on murder, assault and rape charges, and civil rights violations. The 320-pound, 6-foot-tall defendant was ordered held without bail.

Killed in the attack were Arlindo Goncalves, 72, a homeless man who was blasted in the face and back as he pushed a carriage of cans, and Selma Goncalves, who was shot in the back as she fled her blood-splashed apartment, where Luke allegedly shot and raped her sister.

"Danny Hoch and 'Taking Over': He's a stranger in a strange land"(Los Angeles Times)

As Danny Hoch ambles through Echo Park, a familiar sight catches his eye. Although he's far from his home in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, Hoch instantly recognizes the telltale signs of approaching urban Armageddon: pasty-faced guys in porkpie hats, prowling for overpriced espressos; pierced and tattooed young women pushing strollers; a vintage clothing store rubbing elbows with a Salvadoran pupusería.

The spray-painted handwriting is on the wall: Here come the trendies, there goes the neighborhood.

"OK, here's a good example," says Hoch, the Obie Award-winning solo performance artist whose latest one-man show, "Taking Over," about the dark side of gentrification, opens Friday at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. "Here we have our little hipster couple," Hoch continues, nodding toward a bohemian pair perambulating west on Sunset Boulevard. "They're not bad people, but they're certainly in their costumes. . . ."

In recounting how once-unfashionable, mixed-ethnic Williamsburg has been colonized in recent years by invading hordes of up-market developers and the bright-eyed young Midwestern transplants they attract, Hoch's characters pull no punches and spare few expletives. One of them, the semi-autobiographical "Robert," lambastes "yuppie alternative-rocker, post-punk white people -- and black people too" who've jacked up rents and run roughshod over local historical memory in their pursuit of an "authentic" urban experience.

Hoch, 38, refers to them as "the missionaries, the do-gooders, us white, progressive folks," a category in which, tellingly, he places himself. Some send Hoch angry, self-justifying letters, which he reads at the end of his 90-minute, intermission-less show. They tell him that they do give back to their community, that they teach in Harlem, that they spend their money at local stores, that they had to leave Michigan or Oklahoma to make it as an actor in the Big Apple. Their common refrain, he says, is, "Well, then what am I supposed to do?"

Stephen Colbert gets emotional
with blackness


  1. The question should not be “must” Obama be better because he is black -
    rather, he “will” be better because he is black.

  2. Oh, will everyone please stop allowing the media to race-bait you? Obama has never made his race an issue. He doesn't have to; he's brilliant, well educated and qualified. He's president because a whole lot of us white folk voted for him. We weren't voting to show Blacks how politically correct and enlightened we are. And we weren't voting to continue with the divisive identity politics that had been so pervasive among Black leaders, when they mislaid Dr. King's point.

    I read here and other places that we must become color blind. Say what? What apologist nonsense. I like black people because they are black and contribute to the cultural richness of our society.

    We cannot be color blind. We cannot dismiss race and racial differences. Racial differences exist in the world because it is human nature to associate with with others who are like us, those part of our tribe and shared culture. It is an a part of our evolution. Every attempt at social and cultural homogenization has failed. Rather than pretend we don't see a black man when we look at one, why don't we appreciate him for his blackness? Dr. King never asked us to do otherwise.

  3. You messed up on the Uppity Brown Woman link.

  4. Thanks for letting me know--got it fixed now.


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