Sunday, August 2, 2009

go on racially trouble-free vacations

It's vacation time for me, so I'll be posting lightly for the next week or so, and with more excellent and gracious guest posters than usual.

As I travel, I will not be taking a break from thinking about and trying to counteract whiteness -- my own, and maybe other forms of it around me. My racial status follows me everywhere, but unlike many non-white people, I can forget that most of the time, if I want to. I can forget that as I'm out fishing somewhere, that somewhere is a place that my ancestors basically stole from other people, and that the theft was in part justified by an unwarranted belief in racial superiority.

I'll also be taken differently by others just because I'm white. When I vacation in The Great American Outdoors, almost all of the people I encounter doing the same thing out there, or working for those doing the same thing out there, are white. That won't even occur to most of us, but it will occur to me.

I'll also be welcome everywhere I go, in part because I'm white, and I'll feel I have a right to go anywhere I like, for the same reason. It won't occur to most of my fellow white vacationers that many non-white people would feel less than welcome in many of the places I'll be going, but that will occur to me.

As I'm fishing, it's not likely that I'll encounter any problems brought about by my being white. Since I'm not black, the lack of anxiety I feel about traveling probably stems from racially trouble-free experiences that go all the way back to childhood travels with my parents. Because I'm white, I have no memories of travel that compare to those recorded a long time ago by Countee Cullen, in his poem "Incident":

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.


Were I of, say, a traveling angler of Asian descent, I might have other things to worry about, such as roving gangs of white teenagers, who hope to find some fun in what they call "nipper-tipping":

Everyone in the area calls it the Blue Bridge. Formally called Mossington Bridge, it is a sturdy, small structure that leads to leafy and lavish Jackson's Point.

It's around these ostensibly bucolic parts that Torontonians -- Asians in particular -- have in recent years been driving up in droves to catch perch, rock bass or the occasional pike on Lake Simcoe's south shore. The angling here is best in the late evenings.

But the area around the Blue Bridge is one of those inevitable late-night magnets of teenage trouble that exist in almost any small town.

The long pier became the flashpoint of violence recently. Following three previous assaults involving Asians and anglers on a federally owned pier near the bridge, a confrontation last month left one young man in coma, another seriously injured and another in jail.

In reports that followed these events, an example of local vernacular emerged, a term teens in the area use to describe how they sneak up on Asian visitors, push them into the water and destroy their gear.

They call it "nipper-tipping" -- an amalgam of the Second World War-era epithet for a Japanese person and the practice of tipping over sleeping cows.

Outside a grim-looking tattoo parlour in the area, I asked a bunch of teenagers if any of them had ever heard of the phrase in question. One youth, who said the practice was for idiots, added he had seen it done to a white man.

Yet the impact of the "N" word has overshadowed the reality of the situation-- what residents say is a sense of lawlessness in the face of a day-tripping boom and bigoted, self-styled vigilantism.

In the past week, Mayor Robert Grossi, who represents the 42,000 residents in the area -- including the towns of Keswick, Sutton and Pefferlaw -- has been conveying his embarrassment to ethnic groups.

Still, he explained, racism is everywhere. "You can drill down into any community and find the same thing."

Though Mr. Grossi has been in serial-apology mode since the Sept. 16 attacks, there is evidence that not everyone in the town is so repentant.

Last week, swastikas, anti-Semitic and homophobic graffiti were spray-painted on houses and cars on a modest Keswick street. This week, just down the road at the Sutton District High School, a swastika was found on a wall and scrubbed off.

"It's seen as an isolated, singular act of mischief," said Ross Virgo, a spokesman for the York Regional District School Board. . . .

It may well be a great place to live, but there have been some, of late, who have found it not such a great place to visit.

Chinese Torontonians have been taking to local call-in shows, claiming that they have been victimized by Georginians.

One caller claimed he was threatened at gunpoint.

"What happens is locals see out-of-towners carrying coolers and coolers of rock bass, and they think it's coming from 'their' lake and that there are quotas," said Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council, who said there are no quotas.

"We really need a dialogue between the communities, and we're going to do that."


Maybe I should count my blessings because I don't have to worry about things like "nipper-tipping," nor other forms of harassment faced by non-white people in The Great American Outdoors.

I'll also be able to relax, if I want to, about the racism buried within the small, racially isolated, and largely white communities that I'll be passing through. Whiteness nurtured in relative isolation tends to be xenophobic in its own particular ways.

But then, I really can't relax about that anymore. As I've explained before, all-white places creep me out now. I know too much about how they got that way, and what kinds of racial attitudes fester in racially isolated places, and how non-white visitors could well be treated differently than myself.

At the same time, I'll be aware that merely being "aware" of these things isn't doing anyone but me all that much good. I'll most likely be riding the wave of my white, male, middle-class American privilege into a smooth, fun vacation, but couldn't I do another kind of vacation, one that somehow more actively counteracts such privilege?

Do any of you know of a better vacation for privileged people? for those among them who'd rather do something other than ride the wave comprised of their various privileges? I have family reasons for taking a fishing trip, but for future possibilities, I'd like to hear about options that are better in this sense.

And what about you? If you've done any vacationing this summer, was race a factor?

Actually, what I should ask is, how race is a factor. Because in anyone's vacationing experience, especially in the United States, it very likely is one.


UPDATE (8/23/09): Another maddening example of something that I don't have to worry about during my summer vacations: "76-Year Old MD Man Beaten While He Fished":

Three white men shouting racial slurs beat a 76-year-old black man while he was fishing in a river early Tuesday, said Baltimore police, who were investigating the attack as a hate crime.

The assailants also stole the man's sport-utility vehicle, said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. Police caught up with the vehicle and arrested 28-year-old Calvin E. Lockner.

Late Tuesday, police said Lockner was charged with hate crime, attempted murder, first-degree assault and carjacking. During his interview with detectives, Lockner "admitted he does not like African-American people," Guglielmi said.



47 comments:

  1. here is a radical idea: if you so stress yoruself out about the impact you have travelling, then save yourself a lot of grief and just don't take a vacation! Presto! Problem solved, no need to worry endlessly about the potential message that you send in your travels.

    Sorry to be snarky at you, and I realize that my response is impacted by my own history/biases, but it grates-particularly in this economic climate-that you write whole post essentially whinging on about having to take a vacation.

    You are lucky. You are really lucky to have the time and the money to travel, and while I realize that you are trying not to make things worse, this post seems to me a perfect example of where the desire to do anti-racist work crosses the line from being ostensibly about other people to being pure self-indulgence. While there are ethnical questions to be raised re: tourism, it is also true that nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to take time off of work to go on vacation.

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  2. Well, if you've gotta vacation in the United States, then visit one of our colonies: Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

    Or you can challenge yourself: travel to a country--even if it has a majority white population/culture--where English is not the language (just don't go to French-speaking Canada) spoken by most of the people there. Of course, before you go, learn a little bit of the language, or get a traveler's phrase book.

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  3. I won't be going on vacation this summer, but I will be moving to South Korea in a few weeks. On my last two vacations in Hong Kong and Seoul I finally felt the sense of being "other" and it freaked me out. Most people were polite to me, but some wouldn't sit near me on the subway or talk to me if I tried to ask them a question in their own language. It made me think about the fears a person from overseas must feel on moving to a white, English speaking country and then being forced to try to assimilate. Part of the reason for wanting to move overseas is that I, too, am sick and tired of the self-righteous creepiness of all-white, privileged, pseudo-intellectual, middle-class Canada. Even though there is a high percentage of Aboriginal people in the population where I live they are sorely underrepresented in the public sector, including at the local university, and there is an undercurrent of vile racism running through this entire city. Perhaps a larger city might have more diversity, but even living in a larger center for fifteen years did nothing to quell the disgust I felt at the overtly racist sentiments of ignorant and boorish whites who are blissfully unaware of their privileged position in society. White people exist in a bubble, just so damned unaware of how easy and free their lives truly are.

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  4. It means a lot to me to know that a white person can understand how vacationing in rural areas of a white country may feel like for pocs. And what that poem says is so true, "Of all the things that happened there, That’s all that I remember."

    The first time my family went traveling outside the city in Australia, we experienced one obvious racist incident. It was non-verbal so you couldn't call it out, but it was obvious enough that it made one or two of the white tourists in the room feel uncomfortable and guilty that they came over and tried to do some small talk with us to ease things out. It was very awkward for all and the discomfort in the air didn't go away, but we appreciated their efforts. That was the only real incident, but it stays with you.

    And even without the incident, I'm always aware that we're in pretty 'white territory' when in rural areas, hence we're not free to go wherever we want. When people are friendly, we appreciate it (and feel a bit surprised), if people are cold, we expect it. I used to think this was normal, but from what I gather from this site, it's usually the opposite, is that right?

    So I don't feel comfortable traveling outside the city in Australia, but my white friends don't understand why and I've never tried to explain. They probably wouldn't understand. When they travel outside their racial comfort zone into Asia, they usually get treated very nicely, over and above everyone else. Why would they expect things to be different when I'm in their country?

    Thank you for this post macon.

    And now that I've been back in Asia for 7 months, I've hardly ever had to think about my race (except when I'm among white expatriates - not all though. To some I'm just a person like any other, but some can make me aware of my race). I've realized what a burden it was to have to be aware of race all the time, and that it's not a normal state of being!

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  5. People of color are experiencing problems all over this land.

    In the O-State a Latino teen has been beaten twice and drug around with a noose around his neck in the northern part of the state.

    Go and relax. Have a good time and rest your mind. This has been a problem since the founding of the nation. It didn't happen over night and it damn sure won't be solved quickly.

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  6. Here's a stupid answer to a probably rhetorical question:

    I live in the most racially mixed section of a very racially mixed city, Worcester, MA, and going to my aunt's beach house about two hours away I was positively struck by how WHITE the place was. I found it unnerving.

    If you're looking for an escape, you won't find one, at least in this society, anytime soon, depending on how far you extend your white privilege. It's a two-sided coin in my experience; anyone of any race can feel marginalized in a given situation, and there are few opportunities here in the great US of A to find that middle ground. It's an ideal that will take ages to come to fruition.

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  7. Will someone do me a favor and let me know when it's okay to be "white" again! I don't have a problem with other races but I'm tired of hearing how my skin color is the cause of everyone elses problems. Can't we all take responsiblies for are OWN ACTIONS instead of trying to push the blame on someone else.

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  8. When they travel outside their racial comfort zone into Asia, they usually get treated very nicely, over and above everyone else.

    This has been my experience in China too the 2nd time I went. I was deeply perplexed and upset at how it seems that Chinese people (at least in Shanghai) worship White people. It was a bit creepy to see so many White faces in advertising and education.

    On top of that was the way I was treated as a Black person. It was a regular event for grown people to gawk and stare at me in public. Some people even snapped pictures of me and my friend (also Black) on their camera phones. Keep in mind - this is not a rural town without a lot of contact with foreigners. This is a major metropolitan city that has visitors and residents from all over the world - including Africa. And don't get me started on job hunting. People were really eager to hire my friend until they saw her picture. There was actually a job ad for an ESL teacher that asked for "Caucasians only." And there was another guy I met for whom English was a foreign language for him but he landed gigs that paid almost 3x as much as mine did.

    Needless to say, the racism I faced there was a huge factor in what made me cut my visit short.

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  9. Most of my vacations have been similarly white - my family only ever vacationed in Kentucky to visit a grandmother. Aside from that my only vacations, growing up, were with the almost all white church youth choir on choir tour, where we sang at white churches and stayed with white church members overnight.

    It's remarkable the extent to which churches are segregated, by the way. Sometimes we'd go visit the nearest black church and worship with them, in a cloying and artificial show of racial goodwill. It was fairly silly.

    But during college, I went to Guyana on vacation and visited an Amerindian/Indo-Guyanese friend who lives there, and I went back and visited the same friend in Trinidad & Tobago after that. Both of those places are almost completely non-white, except for foreigners. That was kind of an odd experience, since I'm not used to standing out racially. I started seeing my skin color differently - every time I looked in the mirror I'd think, "Why am I painted this weird creamy color? Oh wait, that's my skin."

    I was still allowed to forget about my race, for the most part. I did get catcalled in a racial way - "Hey, baby girl! Hey, white girl!" - and people fretted over my obvious vulnerability to the sun, but other than that I feel that my white privilege pretty much carried over. No surprise there - Guyana was formerly colonized by the Dutch and then the British.

    However, I did have a very different experience than I would have if I'd come to the country as a tourist, not knowing anyone there, instead of visiting a Guyanese friend. That became very obvious when we visited Kaieteur Falls, a very high single-drop waterfall in the midst of the rainforest, which covers 90% of the land area of Guyana. Our fellow adventurers were majority white. One white woman approached my friend and made sure to tell him that his country was beautiful, as if to say, "Please don't hate me because I'm white and American - here's a show of goodwill!" It felt very strange to hear her address him as if he were an ambassador from an alien planet instead of just some guy, because he was so familiar to me. But I knew I might have done something similar if I'd come to the country for different reasons. And it sounded a lot like the way my mother (a preacher) might address someone from a black church.

    So I don't recommend going to a non-white area/country for the specific purpose of broadening your racial horizons or trying to throw off white privilege. That just makes POC a sight to see, like a building or a landscape, and that's no help at all. Plus, white privilege kind of follows you around everywhere you go due, among other things, to the legacy of colonialism.

    I'm not sure what you could do to avoid taking advantage of your privilege, except not take a vacation at all. Possibly you could stay home and donate the money you would have spent to a worthy cause that affects POC disproportionately. And feeling like you can go anywhere you want shouldn't be so much of a privilege anyway - it should be something everyone can take for granted. Probably the best a white person can do is make sure not to do anything that makes a person of color feel that they don't have a right to go wherever they want. I'm not quite sure how that applies if you're not specifically in a customer service or law enforcement role, but it's all I can think of.

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  10. It can be unsettling and scary being in rural areas. I know that a year or two ago when travelling to a college friend's wedding in rurual southwestern NY and driving there by myself largely on rural roads, I was really nervous. I remember absolutely having to stop at one spot to go to a store, and being pretty scared until I saw a black family coming out of the store and realizing it was probably ok. There are whole sections of the country that I refuse to go to just out of sheer nerves and stories I've heard from other folks of color.

    Thanks for thinking about this, I'm sure that not too many other white folks do, but try not to feel guilty and enjoy yourself.

    Lisa J

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  11. I'm a lurker around these parts. This is probably my first comment here. Love your blog!

    I was just thinking about this recently, too. Personally, I don't think it's possible to run away from the racial aspect of travel. Historically, travel is a privilege, and that privilege is often dominated by members of a certain class and race. As a result, historical privilege is going to influence how that group views the world/the world views them.

    Being in a relationship with a White man (I'm an Asian woman) and having traveled around Southeast Asia and predominantly White rural England together, makes us a target of racism and of (innocent?) curiosity even more. And it tends to be quite different in places: we get stares in rural England, and one-sided special treatment in Malaysia. Not fun.

    I've even decided to write about this (sorry for the self-promo, guys):

    http://cycads.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/notes-on-interracial-and-postcolonial-traveling/

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  12. We are currently experiencing a special case of 'oblivious white world travel'. I am referring to the three Americans who 'accidentally' crossed into Iran from Irag. First what were they doing in Iraq on vacation? Is this a preferred vacation destination now? Why do white people choose to go to dangerous places on vacation? Because some white people feel that they can go where ever they want and do what ever they want without considering, say, common sense?

    Please try to enjoy your vacation, and I do appreciate your awareness. My husband (white but not oblivious) says that since he married me his service in restaurants is not as good as it used to be; I've noticed that service has improved when I'm with him. And that is the reality of travel in America! Two different perspectives on the same situation and the same treatment.

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  13. island girl in a land w/o seaAugust 3, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    thank you for your post. it is a comfort to know that there are some righteous white folks out there.

    i struggle with the unbearable whiteness of the small city where i currently live. being the only POC at a gathering is the norm for me. i am obviously brown and, for the people around here, ethnically ambiguous, and because people cannot "place" me, i think that they often make assumptions about me. among my purported identities: transnational adoptee, mail-order bride, foreign exchange student, cleaning lady and dishwasher.

    that i grew up in the US, am fluent in english (760 in the GRE verbal) and know how to display the requisite middle class markers apparently renders me invisible to middle class white people. i think i put them at ease because, as an ex-boyfriend once told me, i'm just like an average white girl. but i'm not (sorry, average girls don't earn those GRE scores). more importantly, there's are other components of myself -- (e.g. the immigrant me, the child of war survivors) that i can't really bring out in the company of clueless white people. such a pity that i cannot present all the facets of myself. it takes a lot of energy to keep myself in check -- efforts that a white woman probably wouldn't need to undertake.

    this is a long way of saying that it's affirming to know that there are allies out there. if only this consciousness were contagious, like a sort of mental/emotional/transformative H1N1 virus....

    thanks again.

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  14. I often ask foreigners about race relations in their country... you know, try to establish "black friendly" places to go; and managed to come up with a great list of places, where black culture is welcomed and celebrated. But I don't fret over places in America I wouldn't want to visit or places I perceive to have racial hang ups... which happens to be almost anywhere.

    But I notice when my family travels its for reasons beyond mixing with the locals. It's for the weather, jazz festivals, scenery, food, etc... we assume assholes live everywhere. It's great to recognize the privilege of being welcomed everywhere, but POC don't take vacations from racial issues...we're happy for peace and quiet and 'are feelin' whoever's feelin' us'.

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  15. As a minority I have experienced some minor racism while traveling. The thing that is most troubling, is that when I describe my experiences, people tend to minimize the issue and go out of their way to make sure I understand that it is the result of paranoia and not racism. It is unnerving being obviously 'different' and while feeling unwelcome is very different from fearing physical violence -- they both suck -- and will ruin a vacation. With out going in to too much detail, I can't express how frustrating it is to have people assume you don't speak English, especially when English is the only language you speak. In fact that would be an awesome post "assume non whites don't speak english"; if you haven't already covered that.

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  16. JUST SAY NO! JUST SAY NO! JUST SAY NO! JUST SAY NO!

    http://pencildicksvstheworld.blogspot.com/2009/08/culture-of-corruption.html


    DEMO---->RATS

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  17. "I'll also be welcome everywhere I go, in part because I'm white"

    Hahahahaha! Oh, that was good. Have you traveled much? Your wallet is welcome in most places, sure, but, wow, I've seen and experienced some nasty racism in Asia, in South America, and the Caribbean.

    Traditionally, you respond here "well, that's because you're a racist redneck." - save it. I don't turn a blind eye to it, that's one difference, and if the only way I am going to get along is with liberal doses of white guilt and obsequiousness, it's not going to happen, the respect has to be two ways.

    White people are the least racist people on the face of this Earth; remember, the sun never sets on grudges against the British Empire (or the American Empire), the list of people who have grievances against white people is too long to list.

    It's a whole different scenario for women - they REALLY like white women overseas, but for white men we are far from welcome everywhere unless we are opening our wallets.

    Give your head a shake, if you think white people are welcome everywhere - and why on Earth would they be, as opposed to anyone else, especially considering American/Anglo hegemony? - you're not paying attention or you're giving too many free passes.

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  18. I (Dutch, white female) just spent a week in the Belgian Ardennes with my half-creole half-white boyfriend. I never used to think about these things much, but I now spent the entire week being painfully aware of the fact the my boyfriend was damn near the only poc around. It didn't lead to any problems, but once you become aware of these things, the mere fact suddenly becomes awkward.

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  19. Spend a few days at the beach at one of our East Coast's national seashores. Go hiking or camping in the Smoky Mountains, or in the Rockies if you're up for the altitude. Go to the Sonora Desert and watch a desert thunderstorm creep along the horizon. Explore the temperate rainforests in the Pacific Northwest, and while you're at it, catch a few delicious wild salmon for dinner. Or enjoy any of this great big country's national parks.

    None of that is inherently racist. But hey, if you want to see it that way, I won't stop you. The Atlantic shore? Why, that's the first land our murderous, thieving ancestors claimed as our own. And of course the South is completely out of the question, so no Smoky Mountains either. Nor can you hike the Rockies with a clean conscious, or visit the desert, because those places were once home to indigenous peoples, now exterminated or forced into reservations. Same goes for the Northwest. Oh, and the National Parks? Created at the height of American imperialism, and probably as a consequence of that mentality. Every gas station, diner, and motel you stop at on the way will be tainted by racism, and depending on how far you go, you'll doubtless drive through a few racially-isolated white towns and impoverished immigrant shanties. Flying is no better, because I can guarantee you that the majority of people on that plane are, like you, only there because they have enough privilege to buy a ticket or get through security without being hassled for what they look like or the clothes they wear.

    Racism is far from over, and our country has more than a few bloody stains on its history. But it does the world no better to deny yourself the enjoyment you might get out of seeing the world just because you're lucky enough to be able to.

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  20. White people are the least racist people on the face of this Earth...

    And the award for Most Delusional goes to...


    ...remember, the sun never sets on grudges against the British Empire (or the American Empire), the list of people who have grievances against white people is too long to list.

    And Europeans and Americans have absolutely nothing to do with those grievances, right? They had absolutely nothing to do with genocide, slavery, colonialism, and manifest destiny at all, right?

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  21. Thank you AngelH. What a nitwit. I almost laughed when I saw that. Must be nice for him, living in the Twillight Zone and all.
    Lisa J

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  22. @ jules - I actually take that route a lot... vacation is FUN at home - I think so anyway.

    @fromthetropics - omg yes true... me and my partner (me East Asian, him South Asian, both 100% Aussie) travel a lot to rural Australia (because we can't afford to fly out of the country lol or have a lot of days to spare *sigh*)... usually we don't notice because we're too busy enjoying the flora and fauna (and they truly are magnificent) but if I actually stop daydreaming for a second... I'm ASIAN... it's there... soooo OBVIOUSLY so O_O (unless there's only bush around, then I'm HUMAN... so OBVIOUSLY with my silly camera and clothing, bet the kookaburras are laughing at me)

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  23. @jules - I google earth travel ;)

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  24. Thanks for the topic. As an aware WP married to a POC and having children, I think about this a lot when planning vacations. Where to go? And how to get there either in the day light hours or on the interstate? Not much to add, just wanted to thank you for bringing up the topic.

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  25. Here it is. This post is the essence of what I dislike about your blog, and your supposed enlightenment on your journey for racial/self-understanding.

    You have no problem putting white people into a single, generalized entity, just as long as you are not included in that. Comments like "that won't occur to most of us, but it will occur to me."

    First off, I think it is unfair to all other white people on similar "journeys", though you often write stuff like (and I'm paraphrasing here) "if you are not one of these white people then you are not who I am talking about", you often get complaints from white readers saying that not all white people are the white people you are describing. I think, however, if people keep complaining about it, that the problem may not be with their reading comprehension but your elaboration. After all, what you write only makes as much sense as what people read into it.

    You do not seem to write about how you and other white people like you act a certain way, you basically pit it as you versus "many", "most", "a lot of" (etc.) white people. This is why I do not see your writings as fully committed to racial equality, to me, you seem more committed to throwing well-intentioned (and I mean actually well-intentioned, not in the colloquial sense of the term) white people under the bus in an effort to prove yourself as a real anti-racist to minorities. And if your goal is to establish yourself on the anti-racist side so you can in turn attack the "majority" of whites as the racist side, then your whole "journey" seems more like you trying to join a high school clique than anything else.

    Take for example, your article about the use of the phrase "I Love You". When you write about how white people use it, you never write we (and you never write that in most/all of your articles from what I, and admittedly recent follower, have read) when describing white people. And when you describe their customs you emphasize that they say it a lot, then explain how other cultures say it less perhaps because they mean it more. However, where is your acknowledgment of the positives of saying I Love You more often? Couldn't it also mean that you want your loved ones to know how much they mean to you in case you never see them again? Or are you too worried that writing about racial customs and whatnot in a balanced manner versus your current style of detaching yourself and then finding the negatives in white people would find you less in favor with minorities? If that is the case, I think you intellectually underestimate minorities, by acting like you need to agree with them to gain their respect, you subtly assume they are not capable of being balanced either.

    And I hope you know that
    a) when I say balanced, I mainly mean either you include yourself (and not just like this article where you explain how intellectually different you are from most white people) or you do not refer to white people as such a generalized, essential concept, because as a white person, you yourself know that they are not a monolithic block.

    You see, I would consider myself just as progressive as you, but I would also not be afraid to write a post defending white people in any way, shape, or form (indeed, I don't think I am defending really, but it may be interpreted as such). I feel you are under the assumption right now that to counteract white supremacy, you must write about white inferiority. Personally, I think you would serve yourself and your readers best if you wrote about white mediocrity (couldn't think of the right word, but I think you know what I mean) as equal with the other races, because even counteracting and writing about a race as inferior is still emphasizing them.

    And by the way, I personally feel writing that you can only discuss white issues because that is the title of your blog is a gimmick and a cop out. Your blog does not hold some divine power, you control it and the topics on it, not the other way around.

    Peace.

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  26. Hi Peace, how about this one? He certainly includes himself too(and without much mercy at that).

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/06/think-they-have-right-to-go-wherever.html

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  27. Peace:

    IF IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU, DON'T MAKE IT ABOUT YOU!

    There is a phase in anti-racist activism (or any anti-"ism" activism) we like to call "STFU&L": Shut The Fuck Up & Listen. This is the stage where you will hear some ugly truths about your privileged class - White, hetero, able-bodied, etc. - and you'll think, "Hey, no fair! I'm not that way!" And to that we say:

    "So what? You wanna cookie?"

    Take this time to STFU&L. The individual acts may not apply to you personally, but they DO apply. Instead of saying, "what about me? I've been a good little boy(girl?) Praise me! Praise me," allow the voices of the unprivileged to be heard.

    Also:

    Personally, I think you would serve yourself and your readers best if you wrote about white mediocrity (couldn't think of the right word, but I think you know what I mean) as equal with the other races

    So, instead of saying, "white people do this bad thing," he should say, "white people are just as bad as POC at this bad thing"? Srsly? Because, in case you haven't realized it (I'm sure you haven't, but I'm going to be polite about it anyway) you're still setting POC as the bottom rung of the ladder. White people have enjoyed the tip-top of the racial ladder for millenia. Move aside for a second, and let someone else enjoy the view.

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  28. Macom, perhaps it't time to take a vacation from all your white guilt. Clearly you have issues with the color of your skin, but please don't speak for or push your guilt on me. Hate is color blind. If you think I'm wrong, check the internet on all the black on white crimes. Whites are more likely to be rob, murdered, or rape than the other way around. I'm white and proud, not because of any privy something thinks I have, but because of the way I conduct my life. Give yourself a break. Being white doesn't mean you have to be the fall guy for every problem.

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  29. Just a thought (the irony is hard-hitting)

    Statistically, whites are more likely to face violent crime by other whites.

    Try again.

    The way you conduct your life? How do you conduct it that differs greatly from anyone else?

    Finally, it's okay to be proud of who you are. Once your pride infringes on the lives of others, it becomes dangerous.

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  30. HB,

    We were talking about black on white (or white on black) crimes, not crimes committed against whites by whites. When we are talking about black on white crimes as oppose to white on black crimes, the numbers are in favor of the first. Why are you trying to change that fact but stating something that has nothing to do with what I just said?

    As for how I conduct my life, I'm open-minded to other people's opinions and treat them fairly. Lots of people of all colors do, so please don't try to place words in my mouth that I'm suggesting otherwise. I can take pride in the way you live and be white while not having my pride infringes on the lives of others. Can you do the same?

    Finally, why are you getting so defensive (and rude) about a message posted for someone else? Can’t Macom speak for himself? His message of self-loathing almost makes himself appear as a victim (I can’t enjoy life because I’m white). Seriously, after reading his major guilt trip I almost felt sorry for him. Was this his real intent?

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  31. Angel L, why don't you listen to me? I am not trying to take precedence over you, and I would have let you have your say, but the one thing I will not stand for is for my my words to be misinterpreted.

    Quit making assumptions about how my mind operates. I listen to plenty of anti-racist activists. Go to Sportsonmymind, racialicious, theunapologeticmexican, I could go on more. The point is, I do listen, and have learned a lot. My problem is not with learning the ugly truth about my race in general, my problem is specifically with this blog. So, quite honestly GTFO with that shit.

    Why would I want a cookie? Do you think I am congratulating myself for being above blah blah blah? Hell no. I know that the person who thinks they are above that, probably aren't. I recognize my limitations, and I learn from them. If they are presented to me in a constructive manner, then I appreciate the author taking the time to illuminate that for me.

    Of course the individual acts apply, show me where I wrote that they didn't? Oh, that's right you can't, because you were too busy assuming I was another white person coming onto a blog exposing white supremacy for what it is and defending it.

    And wtf (no seriously, wtf?) are you talking about when you say that I am hogging all the spotlight on top of the racial ladder? Again, show me where I wrote about how I was defending my race? Eff that. I am merely saying, if you want to expose the truth, don't be lazy and just refer to those who perpetuate injustice as white people. That's vague, and generalizes.

    In case you haven't realized it (and I know you haven't because you are still assuming I am That white guy), I am not saying he should white people are just as bad as POC people at this thing. That's unfortunate that you could even take that from what I said. When I said "white mediocrity, I think you know what I mean", I guess you didn't. You are referring to white and POC negativity. I am saying that both POC and white people should not be highlighted disproportionately negatively or positively. Is that so bad? An example:

    In that "say I love you" article, he says that white people say I Love You a lot, and Asian people do not say it as much. But he mentions that this probably means they mean it more. You think I am advocating that he should take away that he mentioned the potentially positive reasons for Asians doing so. I am advocating that he would also put in something like "white people say I Love You more because they don't want the ones they care about not to know in case anything bad happens". Both races have potentially positive reasons for doing so. Easy. No one's hurt about it.

    You think I'm asking to be praised? No. I understand that even if he just writes white people which subconsciously reinforces all white people, that I will still not have to endure the same amounts of injustices as most (hell, likely all) POCs do. That does not make it right to do so. The day two wrongs make a right, I will !STFU and L! Until then, don't tell me how to express myself on a matter I am familiar with just like I don't tell you how to express yourself on a matter you are familiar with.

    The only problem is that I responded so late you will never see this. I'm sorry if I was a bit harsh, but nothing pisses me off when people take what I write and basically change what I mean into things I've never said.

    Peace.

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  32. I so agree with "Peace" and "Just a Thought" ... the small snippets of insight I get from this blog is what I see from a guilty, angry and extremely biased person, a born-again believer caught in the Religion of White Guilt and Naivite, looking for Black Jesus to take away his sins if he is a good White B'woy and bends over for the angry, self-righteous, privileged People of Color who he thinks should be held to different standards, and in our society, actually are. THAT is racism. You are traumatized, Macon, that is why you are so biased. Extreme rebellion or conformation. You were traumatized by your clueless family and you are traumatized by black anger. It is either conform or rebel. You have no balance, no equilibrium. You do not see both sides of a matter, and choose the easy way out.

    My phenotype is Caucasian, and if I pretended I was a POC, I could report perceived petty bullshit racial slights and prejudices that are touted on this silly blog every day of my life. I have better things to do.

    "Statistically, whites are more likely to face violent crime by other whites." Yeah. Out in the cornfields, maybe. In large urban areas, NOT.

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  33. honeybrown1976 wrote,

    Finally, it's okay to be proud of who you are. Once your pride infringes on the lives of others, it becomes dangerous.

    I agree of course, though in terms of race, I've never encountered an instance of "white pride" that I didn't find problematic. Such folks are, as you say, free to express such pride, as long as their expressions don't infringe on others. But then, white pride, like socially constructed whiteness itself, almost always bases its identity on an opposite racial identity -- a falsely perceived and virulently despised opposite. And that virulent opposition often manifests itself in ways that do infringe on the lives of those supposedly opposite others. Those who express white pride rarely focus merely on white people -- in fact, they usually spend far more time and energy, and action, on the non-white people that they despise. (I don't mean to say or imply, by the way, that I think you'd disagree with anything I just wrote.)

    Peace wrote,

    I personally feel writing that you can only discuss white issues because that is the title of your blog is a gimmick and a cop out. Your blog does not hold some divine power, you control it and the topics on it, not the other way around.

    Really? So, do you go to white supremacist sites and say the same thing? Oh wait, they do talk about non-white people -- A LOT. Do you go to, say, sites focused on baseball, and tell their writers that they should also be writing about football? Or sites focused on flyfishing, and tell their writers that they should also write about other kinds of fishing? I don't imagine you do so, so why are you doing that here? Blogs are focused, you know? So what's wrong with focusing mine on a topic that I find interesting and important, that is, some common tendencies and ways of white folks? Why is that a "cop out"?

    Regarding your point about how I don't include myself in the white folks I write about, as if I too am not also socially endowed with this or that tendency, as fromthetropics pointed out, I often do -- it seems that you, as an admittedly new reader, either haven't read such entries, or miss that part of them. With others, I actually am not endowed with the tendency at hand, sometimes because I never did have it, and sometimes because I've managed to counteract and expunge it from myself. But with others, yes, I do still have them, and again, I do often say so. And no, I am not writing, as you guessed, with the primary intention of merely separating myself from other white people, just so I can look better to non-white people. (If that were the case, why would I blog under a pseudonym?) I write here because I feel a moral imperative -- I see ongoing racial injustice, and I see myself encouraged as a white person to go along with it, and to enact it. I want to resist that encouragement, by spelling out common white tendencies through the focusing act of writing/blogging about them, and through the act of articulating what I've learned about said tendencies to other people, both white and non-white. You seem to wonder about my motives, and oddly enough, given what you wrote so angrily to Angel H. about how she shouldn't guess at and thereby misconstrue your own, I'm surprised you'd do that to me. I also wonder how fully you will now acknowledge the difference between what I've said about my motives, and what you've incorrectly guessed they are.

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  34. Just a thought wrote,

    Macom, perhaps it't time to take a vacation from all your white guilt. Clearly you have issues with the color of your skin, but please don't speak for or push your guilt on me. Hate is color blind. If you think I'm wrong, check the internet on all the black on white crimes. Whites are more likely to be rob, murdered, or rape than the other way around. I'm white and proud, not because of any privy something thinks I have, but because of the way I conduct my life. Give yourself a break. Being white doesn't mean you have to be the fall guy for every problem. . . .

    Can’t Macom speak for himself? His message of self-loathing almost makes himself appear as a victim (I can’t enjoy life because I’m white). Seriously, after reading his major guilt trip I almost felt sorry for him. Was this his real intent?


    First, it's Macon, not Macom. I chose "Macon D" as an homage to the flawed protagonist of a book I admire.

    What makes you think I don't enjoy life? I had a GREAT vacation. I just want to stay aware of how I had a better vacation than I might have otherwise simply because I've been socially categorized as white.

    What's so wrong with keeping that in mind? It certainly didn't ruin my vacation; indeed, it made it better. I do what I can, you see, to be self-aware, in terms of race, and in other ways -- this blog just happens to be focused in part on white racial self-awareness, because that especially interests me, and because I find it especially important in terms of something else that interests me: social justice.

    Also, I'm not speaking for you, and I'm not pushing anything I have to say here on you. You're obviously free to read this blog or not to read it, and as Angel H. says above, if anything I write about -- any particular, common white tendency -- isn't about you, then why make it about you?

    Yes, hate does take all forms. But then, I actually don't write much about "hate," do I. Again, I write about common white tendencies, many of which are unconscious, and many of which are held by people who certainly don't hate non-white people. And yet, nevertheless, the enactment of many common white tendencies does deleteriously impinge upon the lives of non-white people.

    And that's all aside from what being categorized as white does to white people themselves. The word "victim" has bad connotations these days, but yes, I do agree with what Thandeka points out in her amazing book, Learning to Be White: "The white community's first racial victim is its own child." Us white folks are rendered delusional in no-doubt countless ways, and encouraged as well to split their psyches, into a side that's encouraged to think and act toward non-white people in ways that counter what another side of themselves knows is wrong. I'd rather not stay split like that, and I'd rather not follow social inducements (subtle and not so subtle) to think and do what's wrong.

    Yes, racial others think and act in wrong ways too, and some of that certainly is directed towards white people. But here's another thing about which most white people are delusional -- power is almost always on their side. And so, the harm they do to racial others in racial terms, often unconsciously, far outweighs that which those others occasionally, or even rarely, do to them.

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  35. Lumbar, I'm not pretending to be a POC. Quite the opposite. I want to be more understanding than most white people are of what it means to be categorized as white.

    I "choose the easy way out," you say? Hardly. The easy way is to follow the racist inducements of a society that remains fundamentally white supremacist. The harder way is what I'm trying to do -- understand and resist all that.

    Regarding the rest of your comment, please read the above two comments by me.

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  36. Angel L, why don't you listen to me? I am not trying to take precedence over you, and I would have let you have your say, but the one thing I will not stand for is for my my words to be misinterpreted.

    First of all, get my name right. Secondly, I don't give a damn what you will or will not "stand for" because the only one who makes the calls here is Macon D. Interpret that!

    Quit making assumptions about how my mind operates. I listen to plenty of anti-racist activists. Go to Sportsonmymind, racialicious, theunapologeticmexican, I could go on more. The point is, I do listen, and have learned a lot. My problem is not with learning the ugly truth about my race in general, my problem is specifically with this blog. So, quite honestly GTFO with that shit.

    What do you do when you visit those site? Look at the pretty pictures? Because it's obvious that you haven't learned a damn thing:

    #1: You telling me what you "will not stand for" is the absolute epitomy of entitlement. This is not your space and I am not your damn child. Recognize. Remember. Respect.

    #2: Parading POC-operated anti-racism sites like they're trophies makes me wonder if you did a quick google search and pulled out a few names. BTW, do any of them know you're using them to prove your anti-racism?

    The problem with your both of your posts is that you just don't realize that POC are stereotyped and pigeon-holed ALL THE DAMN TIME. So when somebody writes a post that talks about how white people are often oblivious to racist systems - in this case, the privilege of international travel without racial implications - and the ONLY thing you feel the need to respond to is "putting white people into a single, generalized entity".

    You said nothing about the CONTENT of the post, nothing about the experiences of the POC here who have experienced these kinds of racist acts. What got you hyped-up wasn't the injustice of the situation, it was that white people were being generalized. I don't know or care about whatever insights you think you gained by your gracious visits to other anti-racist sites. When you failed to acknowledge the experiences of the oppressed, you became THAT white guy.

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  37. Macon D,

    You might wish to reference those three to the "Derailing for Dummies" article. But, then again, why bother since they obvious have the implementation done pat.

    So, white guilt = recognizing the dehumanization of POCs or other groups and trying to reconcile it? Wow, learn something new every day.

    Also, Just a Thought, it wasn't rude of me to answer your comment. It is a message board and others (especially regulars) will discuss each other's comments, no matter who they are addressed to. That's how message boards work. If you wish to privately converse with Macon D., send him an email. Otherwise, don't get upset when someone replies.

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  38. Interesting post. However, I find that in my experience, the factors of male versus female, as well as complexion, play a part. I am a "hard to place" woman of color. I am currently living in Italy.
    I notice that white women, and Black American men, seem to have the easiest time here. While, I have seen some very frustrated average white American men, go through hell. Of course, if they are rich with capped teeth, they have no problems.

    Yet on the other hand, if you are a light brown woman of color, for some reason, you always have to be on guard. Why? because everyone seems to think that you may be that "Brazilian" prostitute on her day off. Black men on the other hand, seem to light up faces and benefit from honorary American whiteness, as do white women. No one has a problem with them.

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  39. I never said you don't enjoy life. What I said was give yourself a break. You seem to have issues with your skin color.

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  40. HB,

    If this doesn't apply to you, why are you so defensive?

    You doth protest too much.

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  41. Just a Thought,

    Are you here to add something to the conversation that's valid, or are you here to derail the topic at hand? You provide false information and irrational anger about what others see as if your reality is the only valid one. You're the defensive one.

    Yet, maybe I am defending Macon D. as I see someone trying to remove himself from a false consciousness that he, along with myself and many of his other readers witness on a daily basis, either implicitly or explicitly. In addition, maybe I'm bored of those individuals coming on this board to waste precious time debating false and/or paranoid notions from their "realities". As a frequent reader and participant, it does pertain to me. If you are too touchy about it, perhaps Macon's blog isn't the place for you.



    Here he is trying to evolve socially; but, he has to deal with individuals so content in their arrogance, denial, and sheer ignorance of what's surrounding that perhaps, just perhaps,

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  42. I am a black woman who is planning a trip around the world. I am avoiding Eastern Europe because many people have told me that it can be flat-out unsafe for a black woman, especially one traveling alone. If I mention this to people that I am avoiding Eastern Europe I get 2 reactions; the "sheepish looking at the floor" or "oh, we had a good time; you should just try it." I actually feel sorry for those who do the former and wonder if some of my acquaintances have a death wish for me on the latter.

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  43. HB,

    I made my point and didn't have to resort to name calling to do it or take a self-rightist approach as you did. If you can’t see my point than I can’t help that.

    “Arrogance, denial, and sheer ignorance of what's surrounding (us)”? Where do you get off saying that to people you don’t even know? What makes your opinion better than anyone elses here? Because you agree with the poster?

    “Derailing the topic at hand”, that’s a laugh coming from you. When I mentioned black on white crime vs. white on black crime you jumped in trying to change what I wrote by suggesting white people are more likely to face "violent" (debatable as to what is consider “violent) crimes by other whites. SO WHAT? What has that got to do with what I had said?

    Let me state my point again. Hate is color blind and when it comes to race relations, whites deal with more crimes committed against them by blacks than the other way around. Yet according to MacoN and yourself black people are victims because of whites. Yeah, okay, sure. If you say so.

    Apparently you have never had a love one murdered by a black person, or a female friend raped by a black person, or been robbed by a black person. All these events happen no matter what the skin color is, but to ignore that black people commit these crimes against white people is just plain ignorance.

    MacoN wants to feel guilty about being white and all the things white people have done in the past. That’s his right I suppose, but he really needs to stop beating himself up if he hopes to “evolve socially” as you put it. I think he’s a good guy trying to carry the burden that white people are the cause of everyone elses problems in todays world. If so, that’s a shame.

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  44. Only a corny white dude would write something like this.

    I'm glad I have my posse of relaxed non-white friends. Post-modern white folk are so boringly serious and politically-charged/correct.

    Don't worry.
    Be happpy.
    Peace out.

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  45. Speaking of going on racially trouble free vacations. I had a friend who asked me, why aren't there any of few black (African-American) travelers? I advised him to first look into REI catalogs, travel related medias or magazines and that might be the first start in The Black-Less Traveler

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  46. Haha I am from Keswick (and black). It is a racial town, but I loved it. Going on vacation in 5 days to the sunny, sandy beaches of MEXICO. I cannot imagine having a racially troubling vacation. You pay big bucks and you are treated like a queen (at least I am!) Los Cabos here I come, hope I spot Jennifer Aniston!!!

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