Saturday, June 5, 2010

rush to the aid of crying white instigators of racism, instead of the victims

William Ayers recently published a comic book, To Teach: The Journey, In Comics (illustrated by Ryan-Alexander-Tanner). At one point, Ayers pauses to describe the classroom of this teacher, Avi Lessing:



Ayers then describes (and Alexander-Tanner illustrates) the following, relatively common incident, which happens while a white student of Lessing's is presenting a story that takes place at a skating rink.

What happens here is a common form of white solidarity:








It's worth noting that the victim of racism here -- a double victim, actually -- is a black woman. Given the images of black women that commonly lurk in the white imagination, I wouldn't be at all surprised if such white bumblers would be less likely to spark such incidents with their tears if the victim of their actions were another sort of person of color. I think even the tears themselves would be less likely.

In a blog entry on some differences between white women and women like herself, Dr. Renita J. Weems writes of "the vivid memories lots of black women have of white women whose tears promoted their causes over that of the black women":

Many of us, myself included, have stories to tell of white women crying and taking on postures of weakness to avoid conflict with black women. They cried, they shut down, they ran out the room, and feigned helplessness -- especially when confronted with the criticisms black women had about their racism. It’s almost a rule of thumb that senior black women pass along to younger black women to expect white women to faint, get weepy, and come up with stories about their one black friend when the time comes to talk openly and honestly about their complicity in the status quo. Watch for the dagger that follows, I was once told by my own mentor.

Beliefs informed by stereotypes can be so strong that we take them for granted. As black women we know what it is to be saddled with the stereotype of being strong, aggressive, and animalistic in our sexuality. Stereotyping and projecting our worst memories on each other allow both white women and black women to maintain our places in the status quo. It keeps us from finding common ground and from joining forces to battle against the forces bent keeping women sex objects and breeders.

But when is something a stereotype, and when is it true? Not every white woman you and I know has used tears to get her way. Just a lot. Just one too many. Just enough to keep the stereotype alive, I guess.


Yes, this common white tendency -- and I'm sure there are white male versions as well -- is really a way of avoiding conflict, isn't it? And when it's a black woman, a seemingly (O noes!!) Angry Black Woman, then acting as if you're the injured party can seem especially, and ridiculously, prudent. The tears* can function like a false flag, which that loudly signals "Injury!", but also hides fear. I was about to surmise that running away in tears at such moments is also a way of maintaining dignity, but I think what's actually being maintained is a white sense of superiority.

It seems to me that white people who recognize how they're continuously encouraged to be racist by the world around them should prepare themselves for this kind of moment -- a moment in a discussion of racism when someone white suddenly claims that they've been hurt. We should think about how something like a reflex may well lead us to jump to the aid of the perpetrator of racism, instead of helping out or standing by the victim.

I think we should ask ourselves how, instead of expressing solidarity with the white "victim," we could instead express solidarity with the real victim. We should also think about why the latter doesn't immediately feel right. Until it does immediately feel right.



* I like the name that Ayers gave to the crying white girl -- "Misty." What Misty does in that cartoon, of course, is a classic form of a white pathology, widely known as White Women's Tears.

197 comments:

  1. Yes, I have seen this happen. Although crying is more common among white women, I have seen white men also get upset in a hurt or angry way and divert the conversation to their feelings. I have personally had it happen to me with a white man when I raised a gender concern, but I have seen it happen a lot in many contexts with white men and women who are challenged when they say something that others find objectionable. It becomes all about their offense at being called racist (even when the challenger actually did not call them racist but just objected to what they said).

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  2. I gotta hand it to you, this is definitely a white tendency that gets challenged the least. Also, props on your site Macon - I don't know if you hear often enough how much what you're doing is good and not done enough.

    And I don't want to detract from the racist sentiment this post captures, but there's a lot of sexism built into American (and other) culture(s) that encourages white women to act like a victim if they've violated social decorum, especially in issues of racism where they're more pitied than criticized when they've had little contact with people unlike themselves (such as black people).

    *However*, I think there's a silly desire to apply arithmetic reasoning to social concerns present in any such conversation that's also present in your post with which I take issue. Seeing black women as "double victims" is almost nonsensical. Nobody experiences "blackness" in and of itself but being black filtered through the prism of ones' gender as well. Some might disagree, but I think that understanding intersectionality means accepting that one can experience what it's like to be a black man or a black woman, but to just add "womanness" and "blackness" on top of one another ignores how gender affects either, individually or taken together.

    To take it beyond the conceptual, if that helps, look at statistics regarding prison populations, the percentage who have completed HS or attained postsecondary degrees, and even employment to see if one can just flatly declare that being a black woman is so much worse than being a black man that it makes one a "double victim". I think that people underestimate just how much the deck is stacked against black males when they casually extend some abstractly conceived system of patriarchy from whites to blacks en masse, as if to imply that the situation of black men is enviable in comparison to black women, all the while ignoring the reality around them.

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  3. Mike,

    That's not what I wrote when I describing the wronged black woman here as a double victim. I wrote that she was victimized by the racist joking about black people who can't afford skates, and then again by being left alone when everyone rushed to the false-flag victim's side, instead of hers. (note that I wrote, "It's worth noting that the victim of racism here -- a double victim, actually . . .")

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  4. Just want to second Mike about the complexity of gender and the ways in which Black men are particular targets of some kinds of oppression (i.e. policing) while Black women or other POC are particular targets of other kinds of oppression, even as I agree with Macon that his use of "double" referred to first being the victim of racist speech and then being left alone with feelings while all the comfort is given to the perpetrator who is called on her action.

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  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFO1b9I-u5Q

    About 3:55 to 5:04 of the above video really illustrates this. Black woman is profiled, White woman is shocked, simply shocked that this happened, and begins to cry. The entire crew falls over themselves to comfort her. Another Black woman walks away in disgust.

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  6. @Macon

    I guess I can see what you mean, with the context of the post overall. But still, the original sentence "It's worth noting that the victim of racism here -- a double victim, actually -- is a black woman." along with the paragraph in which it appears makes it very easy to read as being a statement that her being a black woman is somehow related to her being a double victim, instead of just being a victim of a racist comment and then having to watch the other person be comforted.

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  7. White woman in midwestJune 5, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Rochelle,

    I don't understand how that is an illustration. The white woman at the store was not an instigator of racism. She was so horrified by it that she cried.

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  8. This is another perfect example of this tendency... not the actual tears, but the same exact premise.... and what bothered me most is that the girl who is in an IR relationship was the first one jumping to the racist girls defense.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M25hLQr2FA

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  9. Oh, in the video I posted above, you really need to have seen the whole video to see the fullness of the situation. A few of the women were angry at the racist chick, but the others were rallying around her.

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  10. @ Macon,

    >> "I was about to surmise that running away in tears at such moments is also a way of maintaining dignity,"

    Maintaining dignity? Running away crying is supposed to be dignified? What thought process led you to *that*? (I'm genuinely curious--I think that it could get at unraveling the white patriarchal conditioning that leads WW to use tears as a tool to get our way)

    I guess my thoughts along these lines are something like: this constructs WW as "weak," and therefore 'women' are weak, but with the stereotype of the Strong WOC, non-white women are excluded from being women. Also, if WW are "weak," then that enables WM to take the role of protector, upholding white masculinity and dominance, and (as the Feminist SF Wiki points out) often leads to MOC singled out as a danger.

    But hey. If we (WW) can be convinced that running away in tears is actually dignified...

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  11. @Willow: If it's a choice between accepting that you're being racist, or being a victim of someone being "mean" and accusing you of racism, I'd suspect a lot of people would think there's more dignity in being the victim. After all, if you're a victim, it's not your fault. It's that OTHER PERSON being mean. But having to admit that you said something racist - OMG THE WORLD WOULD COME TO AN END!

    With regards to the OP, after I read an entry on this topic (IIRC it was on the Angry Black Woman blog) awhile back, I roleplayed it in my head that night. I imagined it happening and figured out what I would say. It's a technique I use for a lot of stuff, because if I decide on my responses before a situation occurs, then it doesn't catch me aback and at a loss for words when/if they actually do occur. (A lot of times my preparation ends up being unnecessary, but sometimes it's been extremely useful. I really can't recommend mental roleplaying enough, especially if you're the type of person that freezes when something unexpected happens.)

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  12. Er, Rochelle, how does that "really illustrate" the tendency addressed in this post? The woman who cries is not by any means an instigator--the instigator horrified her.

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  13. “Many of us, myself included, have stories to tell of white women crying and taking on postures of weakness to avoid conflict with black women. They cried, they shut down, they ran out the room, and feigned helplessness -- especially when confronted with the criticisms black women had about their racism.”

    We can only hope they followed protocol by storing those tears in a sterile, preservative-free, ph-neutral- bio-degradable container as prescribed by law. For the power of a white woman’s tears should never be underestimated. We've seen this same behavior modeled at the box-office, from romantic comedies to science fiction-fantasy. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Count catches Mina's tears and turns them into diamonds.

    Trapped on the losing side of an argument with Whoopi Goldberg over use of the N-Word, watch as Elisabeth Hasselbeck breaks down, and weeps . We saw her repeat this Oscar-worthy performance when she apologized to Erin Andrews, another delicate stereotypical representation of white womanhood. I still marvel at the clip for little sympathy is sensed for Whoopi or Sherri when this dainty wood nymph plays the victim.

    In countless B movie horror flicks if a white woman is running through the woods, wait for the classic trip & fall. If she is confronted by some unknown horror, expect the scream- the trip and the fall. Makes me wonder which came first- the chicken or the egg. By that I mean, do white women/girls model their behavior after what they've absorbed from popular culture, or does popular culture take its cues from the stereotypical model, as defined by white males.

    I was especially taken aback by Hasselbeck’s claim that we (She and Whoopi) blacks and whites, don't live in different worlds. (As defined through her narrow white lens) But we do. To quote Andrew Hacker we’re basically, “Two nations: black and white, separate, hostile, unequal.”

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  14. Willow, my thinking on that was pretty much what Robin said. For many white people, being called out for racism is like being doused with a latrine bucket.

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  15. About the video in Rochelle's link:

    Even though the white woman isn't an instigator she does something that I hear/seen pointed out in feminist conversations/communities and be called 'white woman tears'. She manipulates the situation to be about her and her pain for having to witness such a thing. Thus focus and comfort is torn away from the actually victim and handed over to the white woman for having to endure such a thing.

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  16. @White woman in midwest
    @Rainy-Day Kate

    She's not the instigator in this case, but it's still an example of White Women's Tears because her crying about it shifts the focus from the Black woman was wronged to her, a White woman who needs to be comforted because she had to endure the horror of witnessing racial profiling.

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  17. I wish, I wish, I wish I could be clever enough to make comic strips like this.

    This really is a common white tendency. It reminds me of a video where a white woman comfronts some Black Israelites (BI) on a street. She asks them if they love America. One of the BI's responded by saying how blacks love this (as he said) stinkin' country among other statements. He also shouted how white people don't care about anyone else's humanity except theit own. That was the beginning of the white woman's breakdown. The BI then proceeded and in no time, the white woman was in a total meltdown. Someone came to move her away from the BI's as a way of comforting her.

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  18. OK, suppose it went down like this;

    panels 1 and 2 are unchanged, but in panel 3, instead of the WG running out of the room sobbing...instead, the BG does; she calls misty on the racism, and then is overcome with emotion. not an implausible reaction...

    do you all seriously think the other WP are just going to shrug their shoulders and say 'oh well...'? no, of course they're not! some, several would absolutely go out to comfort the traumatized girl.

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  19. Rochelle, that was.... ugh. I have so many problems with that show (including their mealy mouthed treatment of racism even when it's the supposed topic).

    @Those who don't see how it's a good example of "white woman tears." Who is the man that comforts that woman so immediately when she starts to cry? Why is she so coddled when (for instance) there were actual WOC in the store who were being subjected to a hostile shopping environment, because presumably they didn't know about the fact that it was "just" a show? Why is it ok to fawn over her for her own "oh I hope you aren't saying this, oh my you're saying this" response? It wasn't as if she had actually CONFRONTED the staged store clerk, all she'd done was look vaguely upset while doing nothing.

    That's a shocking display of white privilege right here in the comment thread, that the white woman on the video is getting defended by people who don't even know her, even though she was entirely complicit in the staged racism, and hadn't lifted a finger to stop it.

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  20. @Will Capers

    I saw that video too. It beyond pissed me off that all she did was cry and scream "You're horrible!". And the woman who was giving the BIs the side-eye for daring to make a delicate white lily cry.

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  21. Ah, white women's tears. I drink them like cold lemonade on a hot summer's day, only to return them to my maker later in the day.

    That is I only have temporary use for them. A lovely purveyor of such tears is Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

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  22. You are definitely right! Personally, when i want something or to prove a point, i GO FOR IT without getting all misty! It's a pure waste of energy!

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  23. @ M. Gibson,

    >> "By that I mean, do white women/girls model their behavior after what they've absorbed from popular culture, or does popular culture take its cues from the stereotypical model, as defined by white males."

    Um, I can tell you that in *my* case, in elementary school and jr high I watched other [white] girls take advantage of WWT, although I had no clue it was a raced/racist thing. I saw that it got them attention when they were feeling bad, and a couple of times I made a conscious effort to get attention the same way, despite a deep-seated belief that "crying is for sissies."* (It failed both times. I'm not sure why. I will note that I *completely* missed the race component, yay white privilege, and just saw it as a tears=>attention thing). I think women learn it from each other, and are rewarded by men; pop culture builds off that. On the other hand, I think that pop culture might play a larger part in teaching men to reward the behavior.

    *(Hence my total bluescreen on the "dignity" thing. Don't get me wrong, I don't like to be called racist any more than the next WP--although perhaps we should mind the 'being called one' less than the fact that we did something to merit being called one--but breaking down into tears in public to the extent that I can't even stay in the room is just about LAST on my list of "ways to maintain dignity.")

    @ Robin & Macon,
    I'm just gonna take your word on this one. ^_^ (not that it *is* dignified, but that it is *presents the facade thereof*)

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  24. DeviantE- I think that video was extremely disturbing, especially since they did not let people know that it was just a show and there could have been POC who were negatively impacted by the experience, which was staged simply to "teach a lesson" to people who really are not listening anyway.

    But, I think the man in the video who comforted the woman was her boyfriend/husband... it looked like they were shopping together and he called her honey.

    It was interesting how the woman did not even recognize or wanted to deny that the woman's actions were racist, and was almost asking the clerk to come up with an alternative explanation, as if she is blind to the fact that racism occurs all the time. And then, instead of telling off the clerk or refusing to shop at the store, she just started crying.

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  25. @ randy,

    I know this is probably a lost cause with you but read this:

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2010/04/sit-back-and-watch-while-non-white.html

    White people will do JUST that, just sit there and just go "Oh well" over the tears and obvious misery of a BW.

    Let's see if macon let's THIS comment through.

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  26. @ randy,

    What are you basing that on? That people will comfort a crying girl/woman, no matter her race (or other factors)?

    Think again.

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  27. Anybody up to pointing out instances of the OP that occur on a regular basis on this blog?

    (Hint: It ain't hard)

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  28. @randy

    I've never seen your alternate scenario go down in real life, though, mainly because black people - I don't know about other POCs - get kind of accustomed to people making unconscious racist comments and so it's not exactly the end of the world when someone brings up a Richard Pryor or Dave Chapelle joke at an innapropriate moment.

    But even supposing your alternate scenario were to play out, that doesn't change that there's no reason to feel traumatized when being called out in the case of the white girl. People who aren't coddled tend to just look sheepish and embarrassed, not go histrionic all over the place.

    I think the video Rochelle posted and the one Will Capers mentions help illuminate what's so #(%#ed up about the reaction of some white women when having to experience or even witness a confrontation even peripherally involving race.

    There's a veiled belief that white women somehow just shouldn't have to witness gritty scenes in life, such as when race provokes anger or indignation. This chivalric nonsense causes people to behave as if white women need to be handled like children and the person who causes her absurd over-the-top outburst somehow should have known better than to talk to her as if she were just anyone else. Black men are taught when we're young that you just CAN'T interact with a white woman like you would other people and not risk inciting somebody's wrath, for example.

    Randy, do you really not see modern day chivalry encourage a certain delicate daintiness in white women that isn't encouraged in others?

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  29. @randy: Honestly? Based on my experience of people (growing up in southern California, which is a very polarized place in terms of racism), all the WP would give each other disturbed looks and wait for someone to go do something. Finally someone would say something like, "Somebody should go check on her," and they'd all continue to stand there, waiting for someone else to do it, and finally someone would detach themselves from the group and go after her. But it wouldn't be an immediate unthinking response the way it is if it were a white woman. The only thing that *might* change that are if any of the WP were good friends with the BP; if that's the case, they'd likely go after her without thinking about it, due to their friend bond.

    I've been in a situation a couple times where a PoC has left the vicinity upset. The reaction at those times were everyone looking at each other, and then somebody would crack a racial joke or roll their eyes and make a rude gesture, and we'd all laugh and go on with our day. There was no sympathy for the PoC's humanity. Admittedly this was during high school, but I haven't seen a lot that suggests to me people change that much; they learn to be less obvious about their racism and to make the socially appropriate noises about not being racist, but their racism is still there, and when they're in an unexpected situation their true colors show.

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  30. The worse? When the victim(black female) of the instigator falls for the tears.

    Had a "friend" whose eyes would shimmer into waterworks whenever I called her on an offensive comment. The first time I found myself trying to comfort her to soften the blow.

    The thing is..she never learned and would start up again after a period of time. It seemed as if she could treat people with disrespect but fall into tears/behave in an innocent manner whenever someone talks to her about it(even in a mild civilized manner). I've wondered many times if she had a mental problem. After the forth time, I dropped her as a friend. She went into a rant about an Asian friend of mine - Thought it was okay because I wasn't Asian.8-/)

    She still calls me from time to time. Never met a manipulator like her before.

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  31. The most heinous instance of White Women's Tears that I have seen happened when I was 14, when a white girl in my year spit into the water bottle of a Black teacher that she didn't like. After she and her friends got caught, they were made to stand in front of the school and apologise. When she was giving her apology she 'broke down' into the most fake ass tears I have ever seen. She spit in a teacher's water and she was trying to make herself the victim.

    As far as I know she (and her friends)wasn't expelled, but instead her parents pulled her out of the school.

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  32. @Robin per your most recent comment:

    some of that is probably due to the bystander effect but I have no doubt in racially charged situations, white solidarity plays an active role as well.

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  33. @M.Gibson - you know, I don't always agree with you, but I do love your rhetoric.

    I wonder how effective it would be for the comforters of the poor white woman to change the framing: from "There, there, you must feel so attacked" to "There, there, you just discovered an uncomfortable truth about yourself."

    It does seem to me (as a white guy) that when I try to bring up the topic or to point something out, it usually goes:

    'Hey, that's a racist thing to say.'
    'I'm not a racist, you asshole.'

    And the conversation / opportunity's pretty much done. Other than the standard squishy stuff (I statements, "When you say X I feel Y"), have folks found any effective ways to get past that feeling of personal attack?

    (not saying it's anyone's responsibility to do so, not trying to bring up the tone argument, just wondering what people have found to work in confronting acquaintances / colleagues / classmates).

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  34. Running from a room in tears is something I’ve witnessed both in film, and sketch-comedies that satirize white women who do such things to make themselves appear more delicate. This reflects how white men actually viewed women; firstly as pillars of society- but also as frail, child-like maidens in need of a protector. All of us have been conditioned over the yrs to accept the white woman in this role whether we know it or not.

    The white damsel plays a pivotal role in popular entertainment; a venue largely geared towards a white demographic. Victimhood is a commonly used theme in storylines, and it’s her role as victim which renders the whole white hero notion plausible. No one can play a victim like a white person, specifically a white woman. And no one rushes to the side of a weeping black woman to render comfort unless it’s another black woman.

    Mike said...
    “There's a veiled belief that white women somehow just shouldn't have to witness gritty scenes in life, such as when race provokes anger or indignation. This chivalric nonsense causes people to behave as if white women need to be handled like children and the person who causes her absurd over-the-top outburst somehow should have known better than to talk to her as if she were just anyone else.”

    A historical note if I may:
    White women were present during many a lynching, but the men were always mindful not to curse or present themselves in an unseemly manner (drunkenness) in the presence of these delicate wall-flowers. The lynching of Zachariah Walker was such an event. This account and the entire newspaper article is presented in, The Black Book.

    "The Coatesville Record noted: "Everything was quiet and orderly around the fire, if such a thing can be said of a lynching. There was no loud talking, no profanity, and the utmost deference shown to the hundreds of women who came to the scene. Men stepped back as the women came forward and led them to points of vantage where they could obtain the best view of the burning Negro."

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  35. @older woman..

    Its really annoying when people forget that Driving whilst Black actually MEANS driving whilst black.

    DWB occurs to women too, its not a black man disease. Its a black person (man and woman) affliction.

    What is it about black women that makes people just simply erase things that occur to us, or pretend that we are deserving of it or should simply accept our lot.

    You know I've had police tail me, call for back-up, surround my car, ask me to step out, run the plates, before asking me if this was my car or even for my license.

    Then have the cheek to grin at me and tell me.. 'oh we thought it was stolen'

    You know, for us black women, we get frisked and whilst this happens (we are touched in appropriately) because the cops can.

    I've been the victim of racist abuse on a bus, when the police came, they removed me from the bus, in the middle of nowhere at midnight and I had to walk 2 miles in the winter home. And I was the victim but you know what?
    Not 1 of those lovely white people Randy knows got involved.

    I've been in a buses where white men have piled the insults.. shouting go home African b**8!, telling me I was the colour of feaces...

    NOT ONE! NOT A SINGLE WHITE PERSON SAID A WORD.
    They sat there, watching me and my friends go through hell, some thought it was funny, some just refused to get involved. Not one, said a thing until....
    AS I left the bus, a few pushed past us, giving us dirty looks as if our presence was what made their journey unpleasant.

    So please, stop telling us what racism black women don't experience so much. cos you really don't have a clue.

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  36. @all...

    See this is the thing with people like Randy.
    They sit there on their racial superiority throne, denying our experiences because you know, we can't possibly know from our own experiences what usually happens to us?.
    He knows our experiences better, we must be mistaken when we get racist abuse and all the white folk clam up shut.

    When some obnoxious white person says something racist in a store, or a store clerk is rude and the white people behind us start to complain at us about how we are holding up the line with our issues... or shake their heads and roll their eyes at us - we simply don't understand that, that is being supportive.

    You know when we are moved to tears and other customer simply shake their head and share a knowing smile with those who cause us grief or say loud enough... 'They always like to cause trouble'. - yep that's white folk being supportive.

    Foolishness thy name is a 5 letter word beginning with R

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  37. Dersk said...
    @M.Gibson - you know, I don't always agree with you, but I do love your rhetoric. I wonder how effective it would be for the comforters of the poor white woman to change the framing: from "There, there, you must feel so attacked" to "There, there, you just discovered an uncomfortable truth about yourself."

    And nor should you…
    Sir, we are but two men with dissimilar backgrounds... each expressing a unique viewpoint. I would suppose such differences are to be expected in candid conversations on race. With that being said, I think you hit the nail on the head in this excerpt, as this calls into question the authenticity of those tears, and the motivation that lies within. As far as my oratory goes… please forgive me, I’m an artist.

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  38. [Manju, your ad hominem is invalid. ~macon]

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  39. It seems to me that white people can be very inhuman to POC. Macon I would like to know (since they weren't always like this) where did WP as a race went wrong??

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  40. [Dove, this is "stuff white people do," not "stuff non-white people do." The burden should be on white people, not those they've hurt with their racism. ~macon]

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  41. IRL interaction you can almost come up with a formula for how readily a white woman's tears will get her saviors (mostly being white males). The more young and attractive she is the more "delicate" she's perceived as being, thus the more quickly some chivalrous white knight will come to her rescue. Of course I'm not discounting the fact that most white women have the advantage in shedding their tears, it's just that I've seen it's usually pretty young white women who get to reap its rewards the most.

    Also I remember an episode from MTV's The Real World (the third season with that weird biker dude Puck), where a white female roommate really was moved to tears because of a racial assumption she made. She wrongly assumed that her black roommate's girlfriend must have been biracial, because of her skin being light, and when the girlfriend revealed her annoyance at the white girl, that's when the cameras made sure to focus exclusively on this white girl and her "poor little feelings" being hurt by this Angry Black Woman (that's how the show framed the whole incident). I even remember the white girl running out of the house over the matter, which goes to show that not everything is staged on that show!

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  42. THIS! This post right here!

    I had one experience of this when I was in elementary school, and it stuck with me for a lifetime. A (white) female friend and myself (woc) were talking or playing or something, when we were kids. It was during a recess, and an argument occurred, thus upsetting us both.
    I remember us both crying and her getting comforted by an entourage of people, and myself being left to sit there with my tears.
    That was such an eye opener for my 9 year old self and went on to shape how I dealt with all of my problems from then on.

    So, for all of you commenters who think this is a farce and not at all a phenomenon, and that "WOC get comforted, too!" I can tell you for a fact that we do not.

    WOC - specifically Black American Women are "tough" and "hard" because we have to be. No one is going to coddle and comfort us, and tell us "it's okay".

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  43. class of 13,

    I'm tempted to say they went wrong when they started thinking of themselves in first place as "white," and therefore fundamentally different, some 400-500 years ago. Maybe a better answer, though, is that they went wrong when some of them decided to make a big deal out of that superficial difference.

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  44. @ dersk,

    >> "I wonder how effective it would be for the comforters of the poor white woman to change the framing..."

    Um, it depends on the situation, but I'm gonna say that if someone is someone around who was the target of the racist comment/act, the number one thing to do would be to comfort the person who was actually harmed by the racism.

    WWT are perhaps best handled by ignoring them. If it's an attention-grab, don't take the bait. Even if your response is "unsympathetic", you'd still be making it about the WW.

    I guess the point would be, don't ignore POCs' pain in favor of a "teaching opportunity."

    However, if you said, "Dude, that was kind of a racist thing to say" to a WW and then she melts, and there are no POC around, that seems like an good reaction.

    (dersk, I often have good luck opening with "That was a mean thing to say" for 'unintentional' prejudice--most people have a genuine interest in not hurting others, or at least this is what I keep telling myself, and that puts the focus on how other people might be harmed by it. Then, of course, you have to be ready to explain why it was mean. Also, this doesn't work if someone is being blatantly and proudly racist/whateverist on purpose).

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  45. soul: criticism accepted. I do know better because I do know Black women who have been stopped and hassled by police, including several people who have had encounters with swarms of officers with guns drawn in traffic stops in which they'd done nothing wrong. I was referring to the statistical patterns of Black men versus Black women and trying to counter the usual White feminist argument that "gender" is only about harms to women, but I accept that my comment as written seemed dismissive of the police mistreatment of Black women, as well as dismissive of the pain of Black women which is the central point of this particular thread. I apologize to you and other Black women.

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  46. "I wonder how effective it would be for the comforters of the poor white woman to change the framing: from "There, there, you must feel so attacked" to "There, there, you just discovered an uncomfortable truth about yourself."

    @Willow

    However, if you said, "Dude, that was kind of a racist thing to say" to a WW and then she melts, and there are no POC around, that seems like an good reaction.

    WHY? Why the fuck do you think it is OK to comfort a White woman who says something racist when us Darkies aren't around to see it? You don't comfort a child who kicks over a chair and breaks it and then cries when you tell them it was a bad thing to do.

    Why the fuck is it that no matter what shit White women throw in our faces They. Still. Need. To be comforted. Let them cry their eyes out. Comforting them only encourages the behaviour, fucking hell! Them discovering something ugly about themselves still came at the expense of POC, even if we were ~not around~.

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  47. i'm curious as to when precisely it could be said that misty's narrative became Racist.

    when i hear a WP start talking about 'black people' all of a sudden, in the middle of a narrative, i start hearing a distant early warning bell ringing. it's not Racist...but it can be a kind of racism precursor, like 'woops here we go...'

    then, why is she even bringing up BP being at the rink? we don't know, but i geuss there could be both racist and non-racist reasons for doing so.

    and stating that BP are rare at the rink is presumably accurate, since one would assume that misty, being a skater, would in fact know.

    but it became racially insulting when she implied that POC couldnt afford to skate. and compounded it by making reference to a black comedy sketch...

    then she gets in trouble for it and runs out crying...

    so what SHOULD have happened now, at this point?

    i'm thinking someone should have gone over to the young WOC and apologized to her for misty's cluelessness. but still, someone is gonna have to collect misty at some point-calm her down, bring her back.

    what then? where's the teacher in all this drama?

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  48. Um, another factor in this panel is that the white girl running away crying is a student (child) and the BW is a teacher (adult, authority figure). Are we seriously deriding the adolescent girl for behaving like less of a Real Woman than the woman entrusted with supervising and educating her?

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  49. arguyle,

    Read more closely -- They're both students, and Avi Lessing is the teacher.

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  50. [Macon, you don't need to assign me a name. This is my google account]

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  51. @ Macon:

    Wow, you're right, that's very interesting. I guess I interpreted the black girl as the teacher because of her glasses and blazer and slightly more adult hairstyle (well, compared to Misty's miniskirt, tank top and ponytail). Or maybe it's because I see black women as made of titanium (paraphrasing prior post I can't verbatim recall) --> interpret them as older?

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  52. @ Rochelle,

    I absolutely agree that comfort in the classic sense is not good. I was responding to dersk so I used his words; a bad choice on my part (not blaming you, dersk). I am sorry I suggested using POCs' pain-in-absentia as a teaching opportunity, exactly what I just said was a bad thing. I remain unsure of whether ignoring WWT is always the best strategy. So,

    @ everyone,

    Do you think that ignoring WWT, 100% of the time, is the best way to end it? Is there ever a situation in which it can provide an opening for conversation that is not at the expense of POC, present or not?

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  53. @randy

    Yeah, the teacher's job is to make sure the students are in the classroom and learning, so in that sense somebody would have to go fetch the white woman eventually.

    However, I still think you're missing the point. She shouldn't need to be "collected" and calmed down in the first place. She should have learned from a younger age not to cry nor need to be calmed down when she gets called out for race or *anything.*

    The question shouldn't be: What do we do when a white woman starts balling because she was party to something unpleasant?

    The question should be: Why the @!#$ can't we live in a world where no one expects a white woman to have such a starkly different reaction than anyone else?

    Believe it or not, I don't think the "black people can't afford skates" part is the MOST racist part (even if that's where the scene arguably turned racist). People make ignorant comments all the time and there are teachable moments in life where nobody's traumatized.

    The most racist part is that the white woman's reaction is taken seriously and then incentivized. She SHOULD have been equipped in life to get over things long before panel 1.

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  54. @ randy

    "i'm curious as to when precisely it could be said that misty's narrative became Racist."

    The moment she brings BP into her story which didn't involve race in the first place. And it became even more offensive when she tried to be funny and quote a comedian. And it was beyond offensive when she couldn't be bothered to distinguish between 2 different black male comedians.

    White privilege seems to make WP think that they're/we're within our rights to repeat the ponderings, jokes, and observations of BP about other BP as though it were permission granted because those things were uttered in public.

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  55. @willow...

    Well what is the status quo at the moment?
    WWT are not ignored, so you are suggesting a course of action which has been taking place for centuries.

    How can you get different results when the action is still the same?

    And again, why in Gods name are we asking for black peoples abuse/tragedy to be used to teach WW? because when it boils down to it, thats really what you are asking. (this is noble negro territory)

    You know this shit is sickening. Because all it keeps coming back to, after all the polite words and the discussions around it....
    all it really comes down to, is the inability to see the humanity of black women and black people

    Why comfort a bigot?. I don't care when people say it was 'unintended', it just 'slipped out'. What in the holy heck does that shit mean?

    Would you comfort a rapist because he didn't really intend to, he was just buzzed?
    What about a pedophile who didn't intend to, but his/her just 'expressed' their feelings the wrong way.

    I'll say it again, until white people realise that their constant jibes, insults, theorising and denial are no different to the raping, brutal beating and torture on the souls of the black folk at the receiving end...absolutely nothing will change in their (WP) behaviour.

    What don't you get here?
    That the constant racist stereotyping feels like having a knife stuck in you over and over again.

    That no matter what, black women are not deserving of comfort or respite from their role as teachers, comfort providers to their own abusers. I mean for fucks sake.

    how would you feel if someone started crying after hurting you?
    Would you suggest that someone run after that person, comfort them and teach them that saying mean things is mean?.

    WOW.
    You know... this is some real bs. really.. it is.

    Why is it that you think its cool to react differently to racism when its just WP present?. Why should a WP in that situation be cajoled into decency?

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  56. Thanks for the link above Macon D.

    This crying business makes me think of the oft attributed and unsigned quote from the sixties where a young white woman proclaims that she is young, white, and 18 in America so she can do anything she wants."

    The comforts of privilege--even when wrong one can deflect and make oneself right.

    Here is a thread we did on the Shopping While Black episode where the young white woman becomes the center of attention.

    http://wearerespectablenegroes.blogspot.com/2009/04/late-to-party-part-1-racism-while.html

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  57. @Willow

    "Do you think that ignoring WWT, 100% of the time, is the best way to end it? Is there ever a situation in which it can provide an opening for conversation that is not at the expense of POC, present or not?"

    I think ignoring the white temper-tantrum or waterworks that ensues is the answer every single time. Once she's done, she can come out and ask her questions, and then it can become a teachable moment because no one is responding to the emotion. In fact, I think that emotion keeps her from hearing and understanding the severity of what she said. She should have her tears and return to the room to see that the people pointing this out to her weren't trying to tear her character down or turn the whole "world" against her, they just want her to stop saying things like that. If she can recover from the emotion and return to the room/conversation, she'd see that.

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  58. Interesting timing; Ebert posted a new column that deals with racism and the issue over the school mural. During some of it he attempts to empathize with specific black people during racist incidents (although often not without a heavy dose of but-it-wasn't-our-fault-really), but then there's three paragraphs where he's musing upon overtly-racist white people, ending with:

    Not along ago I read this observation by Clint Eastwood: "The less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice." Do the drive-by haters feel insecure? How are they threatened? What have they talked themselves into? Who benefits by feeding off their fear? We have a black man in the White House, and I suspect they don't like that very much. They don't want to accept the reality that other races live here right along with them, and are doing just fine and making a contribution and the same sun rises and sets on us all. Do they fear their own adequacy? Do they grasp for assurance that they're "better"--which means, not worse? Those poor people. It must be agony to live with such hate, and to seek the company of others so damaged.

    Yep. Those poor people. Yes, let's make it about those poor sad racists who much be living in such agony. They deserve our sympathy.

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  59. mike,

    i don't think misty could be much older than 17. and she's probably closer to 15. she's a girl, really...not a woman.

    i get that it's a high school class, maybe sophomores. they're kids; not women and men.

    i don't think she can be held as fully accountable for her bad behaviour as an adult would be. she IS still learning.

    that doesnt mean she or any other kid gets a pass for her failure, but age does need to be considered.

    so, at what age should a kid ideally be at least semi-schooled in knowing what is Racist?

    at what age fully aware of the ramifications of words and behaviour vis a vis racial matters?

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  60. Yet another conversation at SWPD descends into disgusting irony.

    (aka - Why does Misty get all the fucking coddling when it's the Black woman who's endured the most damage?)

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  61. @Randy: Are you kidding? There's 15-year-olds that have their own families*, that are working jobs, that are creating and running volunteer organizations that affect thousands of people... 15-year-olds are not children. Yes, certain brain centers that affect judgment are still developing, but they're far from being children, and it doesn't mean they have no judgment at all.

    As to when children should be taught to treat others with sensitivity? When they're small children. It isn't something where you sit down one day and say, "Okay, this is how things are." You teach them to respect people from the time they're tiny, and it's an ongoing project. My five-year-old already understands the origins of racism, and some of the ways it plays out in society, and some of the historical aspects in terms of slavery, segregation, the origins of America and Canada, and internment camps. As he grows and his comprehension increases, I'll teach him more. I don't think there's a "too young to understand" and learn how to treat others respectfully.

    * And yes, I used to work with pregnant teens, and I met some amazing teen moms. My personal experience with more than fifty teen moms showed me that the stereotype of teen moms who don't step up to the plate certainly doesn't hold true for... well, for every one of the moms I worked with. All of them put a hell of a lot of work into becoming good mothers and shouldering their new responsibility appropriately.

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  62. @ soul,

    "Comfort" is not the right word; I'm trying to ask if the best way to handle WWT is just to ignore it altogether or whether ANY attention of ANY kind is counterproductive. But regardless. Point taken. I hope.

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  63. @RVCBard...

    oh no. thats not even it.

    At what age do black kids get to know what racism is?
    You know those black kids.. they just need to get used to receiving racism from birth but they should chill on letting their white classmates know that calling them names based on race or being racist is.. well erm you know... racist.
    Cos you you know.... those white kids are so delicate and must not be exposed to the full meaning of the ugliness they speew..
    But those black kids... erm, well what black kid?.
    Black kids just better grow up quick

    Cos You know when I was in school, those white kids that called me Nig Nog, and called me African booty scratcher and made Monkey noises at me in the playgound...
    I mean they didn't know they were being racist, they just singled black kids out for that specific type of abuse lol

    It's hilarity up in hurr.

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  64. @Willow.
    At this point, I don't give two hoots about WWT, I'm more concerned with the emotional well being of that black woman who has to endure the ignorance spewed from some WW lips.

    Period.

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  65. @RVCBard

    It's sick isn't it.

    @macon

    Commenters like randy have proven time and time again that they refuse to accept the racism pointed out in posts and do nothing but derail, deflect, deny and defend. Why do you keep letting his comments through? There's no 'benefit of doubt' to be given and he's not being 'sincere'. It completely derails the thread, descends into irony and ultimately turns into another occasion where POC have to eat shit for the benefit of a White person's anti-racist journey. It's beyond infuriating and tiring to see this keep happening.

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  66. Thanks for the link, Robin. I don't think that he does end up that way, though. In fact, he seems to end up where maybe this thread should be focused too? On a victim of racism, instead of on (coddling or trying to "understand" or excuse) the instigators:

    One day in high school study hall, a Negro [sic] girl walked in who had dyed her hair a lighter brown. Laughter spread through the room. We had never, ever, seen that done before. It was unexpected, a surprise, and our laughter was partly an expression of nervousness and uncertainty. I don't think we wanted to be cruel. But we had our ideas about Negroes, and her hair didn't fit.

    Think of her. She wanted to try her hair a lighter brown, and perhaps her mother and sisters helped her, and she was told she looked pretty, and then she went to school and we laughed at her. I wonder if she has ever forgotten that day. God damn it, how did we make her feel? We have to make this country a place where no one needs to feel that way.

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  67. @soul

    Oh soul...White children can't possibly be expected to see Black kids as human until they're at least 16 years old. It's just too soon before that. It would damage their delicate selves to treat little nigglets as their equals.

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  68. @ rochelle,

    Will do. I already have been tightening the screws on him (and on several others), and I will tighten them even further. I too was just thinking today that he's shown himself to be beyond "benefit of the doubt" range, and I apologize to you and others for letting as much of his obstinacy get through as I have.

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  69. @Rochelle....

    oh damn. you know, now that I'm a grown up. I forgot all about that. Damn the things you forget due to old age. (for black people and racism old age hits at what 13yrs).

    Me thinks, its that time again.
    Deuces :)

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  70. @macon

    LOL! You have? I really couldn't tell.

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  71. @ rochelle,

    I don't know if that question is rhetorical or not, but yes, I've refused ten or twelve comments so far on this thread.

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  72. @macon

    I haven't seen a single comment by randy in this thread that should have been approved. And I can't recall from memory any other comment he's made on this blog that was not a derail.

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  73. @AE: I don't disagree, which is why I did say that During some of it he attempts to empathize with specific black people during racist incidents (although often not without a heavy dose of but-it-wasn't-our-fault-really). But I felt the multi-paragraph discussion of, and sympathy for, the white perpetrators of the racist acts were very timely for this discussion.

    With regards to his putting himself in the place of others, I was discussing the column more at length with my partner through email, and one of the things I said was, "[Ebert] is assuming that how he views the world as a WP is the same as how a BP would view it. Such things as, "There are many people in this world today who remain enigmas to me, and some who are offensive. But that is not because of their race. It is usually because of their beliefs." show that he feels that his viewpoint is adequate enough to allow him to appropriately totally understand the feelings, thoughts, and motivations of PoC, simply by imagining how he'd feel/think in their situation, as a result it's also an extremely privileged statement. But the viewpoint of BP is usually a very different viewpoint, because although they've been raised alongside us, they've been raised on the other side of privilege. It could be argued that being a woman myself, I'd be able to imagine the viewpoint of a BW easier than a WM could. But I continually find that I miss things that should have been obvious. For example, on the SWPD that I linked to above, someone asked when the cartoon depicted became racist. One of the commenters Victoria (who is a WoC) said, "The moment she brings BP into her story which didn't involve race in the first place. And it became even more offensive when she tried to be funny and quote a comedian. And it was beyond offensive when she couldn't be bothered to distinguish between 2 different black male comedians." And me - even with what I've learned and studied about the subject, which is more than the average WP - completely missed those latter two points, until she said that; I only picked up on the first when I read the cartoon myself. I am looking at the world through the lens of white privilege, as is Ebert, and that means we're going to miss a hell of a lot of stuff that an average BP would pick up on immediately. It's good to try and empathize with others, and we need to be doing a hell of a lot more of it; but we need to stop short of assuming that just because we're *trying*, that means we're *succeeding*, or that our viewpoints and perception are the same."

    It isn't that I don't appreciate him trying to put himself in their shoes; I do. But I don't think his self-assurance that he's gotten it right, or his apparent belief that the way he thinks and feels is the same as the way everyone else thinks and feels, is good. And his consistent use of racism as a past tense ("Racism was ingrained in daily life.", "I was carried along with my society as it awkwardly felt and fought its way out of racism.", etc) I also find extremely problematic.

    My partner said that Ebert reads all the comments posted to his blog, so I'm going to respond to it. But plenty of people on his blog (and Ebert himself, apparently) are going to lack the Racism 101 basics, so I'll have to be careful to make it more comprehensive.

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  74. @randy

    i don't think she can be held as fully accountable for her bad behaviour as an adult would be. she IS still learning.

    I'm just gonna out right say that I hate the age argument and how it pertains to racism. We're all still learning, we're never going to stop learning. Ever. It's not an excuse to do or say fucked up shit. How can you even ask something like:

    "so, at what age should a kid ideally be at least semi-schooled in knowing what is Racist?"

    As I think both soul and Rochelle have reiterated, WE SHOULD BE TEACHING THINGS LIKE THIS FROM BIRTH ONWARD. And if a kid slips up, they should be called on it, not coddled.

    It's ridiculous too because when you're young it's, "you don't know any better" but the second you're an adult and you supposedly should know better than it becomes "it's a generational difference/they're just set in their ways".

    It's all just about avoiding blame, either way, you can say, hey! it's not really my/their fault! it's just another way in which we pass the buck and get to ignore the problem.

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  75. Soul said...
    "You know this shit is sickening. Because all it keeps coming back to, after all the polite words and the discussions around it... All it really comes down to, is the inability to see the humanity of black women and black people."

    Debate never delves that deeply- debate is superficial at best; a feel good exploit that shields whites from experiencing Empathy for the injured party. To truly confront another white person on racist behavior is to bring their own prejudice into question. Whites weep openly for those poor animals in the gulf spill, dousing themselves in oil to prove their Empathy.

    Truly putting one's self in the place of a non-white is almost impossible. To do this, one must assign the same value (Empathy) to black skin as one does with white skin. Apparently this is easier said than done.

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  76. Children start learning about racial categories and social hierarchies by age 3. Observations of preschoolers on playgrounds show them enacting racial hierarchies even in liberal multi-racial schools in which the teachers and parents are trying to teach diversity appreciation. I saw my own children absorb the lessons of racial hierarchy from the society they lived in even as I tried to counter-teach racial equality.

    Children also have a capacity for toward compassion that can be nurtured rather than dulled by upbringing. It is never too early to teach children about compassion and concern for other people's feelings. Preschoolers can learn than other people feel just as hurt as they do when called a bad name. Ignoring the issue won't help, you have to speak to it and educate. Even though it is very hard for White children to avoid absorbing some of the messages of White supremacy, it helps a lot if you talk back to it and if you insist that they treat other people kindly no matter who they are.

    It seems like the crying girls/women are enacting a combination of assumptions of white supremacy, lack of compassion, and a strategy for refusing to engage criticism of their behavior. All of these are learned as children and have to be countered in children. That's part of the job of parents & teachers. A three-year-old can be expected to avoid intentionally hurting the feelings of others. This scene depicts teenagers.

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  77. Um, Randy, get a grip. "Kids" shouldn't be held responsible for their behavior when it comes to racism? Since when? Isn't that what growth and development are all about, learning to take responsibility for your actions, especially when they could potentially harm others? What makes you think that these "kids" can't learn that, right then, at that age? More, what makes you think that smart, impressionable black "kids" need to be the whipping boys and girls in order for that to happen? I call bullshit. Ask the Little Rock Nine about their treatment at the hell hole they integrated and get back to me, son.

    I am an adult WOC who is in therapy because of the horrid treatment I received from my peers in predominately white settings, both educational and professional. Yes, I said it. THERAPY. I have still managed to make and keep white friends over the years, but believe me, I will jettison your ass with a quickness if you come at me preaching some Pollyanna absolution for the racist treatment I've endured over the years, starting with childhood. Those privileged little white monsters who terrorized me had parents who, along the way, sanctioned their children's (and later, teenagers') behavior. So, yeah, before you perhaps think to yourself that I am another Angry Black Woman (TM), I will clearly declare that I do take statements like yours personally, like many of the commenters here already have. People on the string, and in other posts, have said ad infinitum that racist ABUSE starts early. It's not just about sticks and stones and bad black people jokes. You may think my terminology is histrionic, but I can assure you that if you lived this crap every single day of your developmental years, you'd wanna slap the shit out of somebody making intellectually suspect excuses for your suffering, too.

    My white teachers in elementary and high school chose to stand by and watch me occasionally kick my classmates' asses -- verbally and sometimes physically -- rather than intervene in a way that taught these "kids" (and me) that things didn't have to get that far. They never learned WHY they were wrong. They just knew I was angry at my treatment and used it as another way to ostracize me. I was defended in front of them just once, by a religion teacher who later started crying after all hell broke loose in her class my 10th grade year. Of course, I ended up comforting her, and the three girls who called me a nigger in class all somehow escaped the suspension they deserved.

    As an adult, I've managed overt hostility, "microaggressions" and "whitesplaining" in other ways, but it doesn't make me less determined to call it for what it is when I've had enough. It's all well and good for some commenters to get all College Debate Team-Socratic Method up in here, but keep in mind that you are also dealing with real human suffering. Perhaps a good rule of thumb for your visits would be a little Plato (quoting Socrates): "At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know." [Apology, 21d]

    In other words, assume you know nothing about mine and others' pain from white racism, because in all likelihood, unless you also happen to be a person of color, you won't ever know completely. Deal with it, maybe working with some of those innocent "kids," and stop asking the rest of us and our children to do the heavy lifting.

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  78. @RVCBard


    Your surprise is what baffling. Did you expect otherwise? That's why I lurk now.

    @Soul and other sistahs

    Keep striving. Keep living. Karma is a mother and she's going to punish all who disobey.

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  79. @honeybrown:

    Not surprised. Just fed up and disappointed.

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  80. I'd vowed to never come out of lurkdom because I find reading comments much more edifying than trying to give my 2 cents everywhere I go... a refreshing change of pace for me. I'm a WOC who grew up in predominantly white affluent environments, so I'm learning her that I, strangely enough, have alot of racism to unpack myself. This blog has been an invaluable learning experience for me.... So many incidents in m y life that were racially motivated I REFUSED to believe they were racism, because I didn't want to feel outnumbered, I didn't want to feel powerless. Of course there were overt incidences which I couldn't ignore.. but I hadn't realized just how much I had been willfully blind to things that happened around me, because I didn't want to believe I was a target, didn't want to believe that the people I called friends, teachers, mentors and lovers really thought so little of me as a POC.

    But there comes a time you just HAVE to see people from what they are.

    While this thread is already derailing towards Randy's comments (which is usually what happens after his comments I've noticed from my last few months of lurking) I'd also like to offer another common SWPD I've observed:

    Taking sadistic glee in stirring up the emotions of POC.

    Now sadists come in all colors shapes sizes and genders. But certain white folks with a strong passive aggressive and/or sadistic streak love trolling on race blogs and other blogs with socially "volatile" content just for the sheer joy of causing emotional mayhem.

    This is a tendency that cannot be overlooked when considering the history of racist abuse against POC's. Some WP's just don't "get it" when you talk about race, and that's fine... if they came to the conversation in good faith they'll either bow out early becuz they're not interested in hearing your pov anymore , or they stick around and LISTEN and genuintely try to understand.

    But then there are the others who very convincingly pretend to "try and TRY" to understand. They'll pose insensitive derailing questions full of fail time and time again and then sit back and tee-hee up their sleeves when the feathers start flying.

    Often we'll have a gut-level reaction to them from the beginning.. we can smell the insincerity wafting from them, but we want to believe the "best" of people and give the benefit of the doubt.

    I find WP tend to get the benefit of the doubt much longer than POC's in general, even in anti-racist forums. Just an observation not an accusation. Their ridiculous, non-listening replies will be parsed and parsed some more as the audience swarms to educate zir. I believe such trolls are VERY skilled at playing on the cultural nuances of white privilege, and I believe they KNOW it, all the while pretending not to see what they are doing.

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  81. (continued)

    This tendency unfortunately isn't limited to online discourse. We all know of people who tell racist/sexist/homophobic jokes and go WHA?? WHAT DID I DO? HOW is that so bad?? Even tho you KNOW they know full well. That's just it tho. They get off on causing social chaos, precisely because they know they'll get a pass, because they know you can't "prove" they meant any harm...

    Sometimes the social sadism turns physically violent. How many beatings, lynchings, rapings of POC's have occurred thru out history for no other reason than the POC's presented an easy target? Take the recent incident in Australia, where a number of young white men in their 20's drunkenly harassed an aboriginal campsite with their car, and then beat an elderly aboriginal man to death. They were presented as "good men" who got drunk and carried away by their defense, and the sentencing reflected exactly that. But they knew damn well what they were doing, and they knew damn well they could get away with it relatively scott free.


    Not every racist incident is the result of calculated mischief or deliberate cruelty on the part of the perpetrators. But some racist incidents definitely ARE... and rely upon the "benefit of the doubt factor," which as white people they know they will get waaaaaaay more of from the get go.

    Just say'n.

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  82. ok...maybe you all are right. i'm 47 and that's a long time since HS. maybe if the young WOC ran out crying the W kids WOULDNT go help her. that seems to be the concensus, so i'll concede.

    and i now see the tone in my 1st post was a bit too strident, so i apologize for that.

    and hey...i hold no particular brief for crying W females, whether girls or women. because theyre 'cheap tears'. there are these 3 teen girls who live on my street-W girls-and i see how they sort of mirror each other emotionally. and yes, easy tears are part of their repertoire.

    you can see them sort of teaching each other to use crying to manipulate situations.

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  83. I've experienced something similar to this. In a philosophy lecture at university we were discussing human rights and freedom of religion. The class was talking about Islam and A white woman, who is a member of the uni's 'secular society' said that she had been "traumatized" because people accused her or racism when she criticizes Islam. I've seen a lot of the discussion on the groups forum and I think that her comments were very ignorant and condescending of Islam and the Muslim participants on the forum. I feel like anti-Islamic stuff is very tied up in orientalism and racism.

    I used to be very passionate about my atheism but nowadays I feel quite weary of Atheist communities as I feel that there is a lot of talking about 'Middle eastern'/Islamic societies as barbaric and 'backward' and the Western societies as flawless, progressive and innocent.

    (sorry if this was a bit off topic)

    I was also wondering, does this sort of thing happen with other marginalized groups? because I remember reading a section in bell hook's 'Talking back: thinking feminist, thinking black' about her being accused of homophobia for not writing about lesbians in some of her work (and she explains why) but she says (I'm sorry but I can't remember the exact quote) that she felt very upset/hurt at being accused of homophobia. however the difference in this and the original topic is that she does address those issues, rather than just saying 'I'm not homophobic how dare you accuse me of such' and leaving it at that which is basically what white women do when they are called out on a racist action/statement.
    I'm in now way mentioning this to detract from the original topic but I just thought it was worth mentioning.

    (I am an Asian woman living in Australia)

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  84. @hemlock, I am so sorry you've had to endure this kind of treatment.

    There's something I've noticed about the women who tend to cry and get attention for it -- it's not the women who were made to feel lesser for whatever reason, the women who have been bullied in school, or bullied at work or subjected to racism or ableism. The criers are inevitably the jerks who are shocked to be called on their behavior, and they do it as a defense mechanism. I don't think they're really conscious of why, they just know it turns the situation around for them?

    Anybody else notice that, or am I wrong?

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  85. You guys, if you keep calling Randy out he might run from the room crying and then the rest of us will have to go make sure he's OK.

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  86. @Jane Laplain

    I appreciate your comments deeply. I too have been a very long time lurker here that just recently decided to post in a few threads.

    I didn't come from an affluent background but I went to a college where a lot of people did. I even studied European history and European languages (not a single African class of either category), so I've been accused before in my life of trying too hard to appease the whites. I even like science fiction and badly written fantasy novels, so I've got many guy friends who tell me I'm not a "real" black guy - Racefail '09 was when I first paid any serious attention to anti-racist literature on the internet.

    I've often thought that it's with the white people who appear to have not been convinced that one should focus effort, because they're the ones who should hear what they haven't heard before. Yet there is a strong possibility that the whites who ask the most questions and seem to solicit the most information might actually be the ones least interested in serious engagement, as you say, and so I wonder whether or not I'm being charitable and ecumenical or just somebody's marionette.

    I do think going into lurkerdom might be more satisfying than talking to people and trying to dialogue whites without being sure I can read their sincerity.

    Yet I still feel torn about whether or not that equates to letting the most thoughtful (the most thoughtful people in all of life are usually the ones who appear the least adamant and certain of themselves) remain on the sidelines, which lets the insincere assholes win, or if engagement with skeptical whites is in itself a form of letting assholes win by jerking you around.

    The internet of course brings the "engage it? brush it off? ignore it? curse it around non-whites only?" debate to an even more difficult position, 'cause it's so much harder to read people in cyberspace than in real life.

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  87. @jas0nburns

    "You guys, if you keep calling Randy out he might run from the room crying and then the rest of us will have to go make sure he's OK."

    That seriously made me laugh aloud! Very good.

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  88. @ Robin

    Just wanted to note that I'm not a WoC. I experience the blinding white privilege you're talking about. Sometimes certain things are clear to me, but most of the time I'm clueless yet aware of the fact that I'm missing something...but can't figure out what it is that I'm missing.

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  89. The whole Randy derail is based on the mistaken notion that some white people are racist or say racist things and some are not. Randy is concerned (or so he says) about whether something is racist or when someone can be held responsible for racist actions because he thinks it's possible to establish non-racist credentials by fitting behavior within certain parameters. This is delusional. Everybody who benefits from racism in a racist society is playing a role in racism. Trying to absolve oneself or others is a fool's errand.

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  90. well jason, mike...hope you have a nice laugh. i wish i COULD run from the room.

    in fact tho', i use a WHEELCHAIR and have exclusively for the last 10 years. good job exposing your ablist assumptions which you impose on the world.

    how does it feel to BE the oppressor, now?

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  91. Okay, so now we're suppose to cuddle you because of that. WOW!
    I have to lay off this site for a while.

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  92. Randy, you get the gong for this comment:

    "well jason, mike...hope you have a nice laugh. i wish i COULD run from the room.

    in fact tho', i use a WHEELCHAIR and have exclusively for the last 10 years. good job exposing your ablist assumptions which you impose on the world.

    how does it feel to BE the oppressor, now?"


    You are:
    a) attempting to play Oppression Olympics
    b) changing this from SWPD to Stuff People Who Aren't In Wheelchairs Do.
    c) deflecting attention away from your previous blunders
    d) further derailing this thread
    e) center-staging like a motherfckr.

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  93. @ bloglogger

    i've been trying to put my finger on that since yesterday. but I couldn't find the words to explain the impulse to defend and excuse the racist behavior of other WP. doing so is irrelevent! If you see that racism exists and permeates all thought and interaction between WP and POC why bother making excuses for white people who demonstrate this? Besides what motivation would a POC have for pointing it out if it wasn't there?

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  94. It becomes more seemingly true to me that any action a WP takes will always be racist.

    Is inaction the only way to not be racist to anyone?

    How does one display compassion without trying to be a WP who "gets it"?

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  95. @how 2
    maybe it would be enough just to break solidarity with the offending WP. A simple "that was uncalled for" coupled with not running after the white girl might go a long way.

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  96. @Julia/the other Julia

    Not sure if I'm just not remembering very well, but my impression is that this happens more with white men than white women. Does anyone share this impression?

    Not trying to play oppressor olympics here, just wondering if macon, you might find white males harder to see through than white females. I offer this only because I've noticed this tendency in myself


    It doesn't matter. A white person derailing is no less infuriating if it's from a woman or a man. I really don't give a shit to the semantics of the derail.

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  97. @how 2

    Is it really a WP's place to show sympathy to the "victim" of racism?

    Well if your show of sympathy is really all about you and how awesome you are for caring so much, and you center the whole interaction around you and your feelings of awesomeness then yeah, you're a jerk. But are you seriously trying to argue that we shouldn't show concern for people that have been hurt? Seriously? I think it's pretty appropriate that if you see someone who's been hurt or insulted (really in ANY type of situation, not just racist ones) to go up to them and say "Hey, are you okay?", to actually listen and care about what they say, and let them know that if they want help you'll back them up. Not to say that there aren't WP who end up making pretty much every situation All About Them, but I'm pretty sure we're capable of showing sympathy without a constant buzz of "OMG I'M HELPING A BLACK PERSON I'M SO GREAT LOOK AT ME" permeating our actions and thoughts.

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  98. Rochelle,
    I guess I wasn't clear, because I agree with you completely. But I think explaining would take focus further away from where it should be (i.e., the victims of racism)so I'm going to shut up now. I'm more than happy to talk more if you'd like: julia.nobodyaskedyou@gmail.com

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  99. Whew! Every time I come here, your posts triggers memories of something that happened to me personally or someone close to me.

    In this case, same thing, at a staff meeting. Little Miss Barbie Doll ran out the meeting crying after I asked her to not drag race into the conversation.

    She got consoled by staff and the boss, I'm sitting there alone like I did something wrong... and she did the shit again a few weeks later and again a few months later with the exact same results. I learned to just shut up when she spit out her "charming" hatred because there was no point in complaining.

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  100. Loki said:
    "It becomes more seemingly true to me that any action a WP takes will always be racist."

    This has not been my experience. And I hope that if you're white you will not use this as an excuse to stop trying to dismantle your own racism.


    "Is inaction the only way to not be racist to anyone?"


    No. Inaction is the weakest, sorriest, most pathetic form of racism a white person can have. You might as well not leave your house if you're going to hide in your turtle shell, hoping to get through life without having to find out about how your actions and interactions either hurt or work with the rest of the world.

    "How does one display compassion without trying to be a WP who "gets it"?"

    The wording in your question seems to point directly to the problem. "display compassion" means that you're only being compassionate as a means of making yourself look compassionate - not that you actually are. Because if you actually felt compassion for someone else you wouldn't be concerned with how you appear when you're doing it.

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  101. @ gadderplum

    I think the girl was clearly not respecting you as another human being, and what you said was a more than acceptable response. I hope when she finished crying that she was able to figure out why it's not ok to make a spectacle of another person's hair.

    I don't know if you're a regular reader here, but I wanted to share a link with you of other posts/comments on the same experience of being pet or turned into an exhibit.
    SWPD: Feel Entitled to Touch Black Women's Hair

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  102. @Loki re: "It becomes more seemingly true to me that any action a WP takes will always be racist.

    Is inaction the only way to not be racist to anyone?"

    Any action a WP takes--including inaction--is coming out of the matrix of racism. But that doesn't mean any action a WP takes is "racist." It suggests that awareness of the racial overtones and implications is always necessary, that we can't just blunder into any racialized situation assuming that our good intentions will make anything we do OK.

    To me, that understanding of racism makes the distinctions you are asking about irrelevant. I think the focus ought not to be whether a particular action can be called racist (implying that it meets some particular criteria), but what effect a particular action has in regards to systemic and everyday racism. Does it appear to support or further the existence of racism or does it not? And how does it work; how does it support or not support racism?

    That might sound like the same thing as calling an action racist, but the latter frame removes the compulsion to label or to avoid the stigma of being labeled racist.

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  103. PlusSizedWomanistJune 7, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Before I start, I want to correct something about Rochelle's video. The woman in the video who is crying isn't a white woman. She is a Latina woman, according to the ABC news report that came along with the "Shopping While Black" video:

    http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/story?id=7131333&page=2

    Now on to the real:

    Randy, FUCK YOU.

    You have some nerve. First you come on this thread and others, derailing left and right with your white privilege, and then you have the NERVE to come out with the Oppression Olympics??? Again quoting Witchsista:

    BITCH PLEASE! Take that shit somewhere else. Nobody is falling for that shit, ESPECIALLY in this thread.

    @ Loki: Quit derailing. Seriously. "Waah, us poor poor white people! We can't do anything without the black people calling us racist!!!eleventy1!"

    You want to know how you can help? Call out the racist bullshit and tell the crying racist to shut that shit up. That's how you can help. It's Not. That. Hard. And yet white people fail to do it damn near EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

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  104. From Rachel’s Tavern, "White Racism and Empathy (or the Lack Thereof)." She takes an excerpt from White Racism: The Basics.

    "Empathy is an essential component of human social life. It tells us that a child's cry means discomfort or hunger or allows us to relate pleasure to a smile and pain to lament. Empathy permits us to come together and communicate, and it requires significant personal effort. Most importantly for our arguments here, empathy is essential for the resolution of racial oppression and conflict."

    From another passage:
    "The persistence of antiblack rituals has been publicized in the United States, although the widespread character and significance of these rituals tend to be ignored or denied by whites. But the cognitive acknowledgment of the racist acts of other whites does not necessarily bring an empathetic understanding of the pain that such acts inflict on the Black victims. Empathy is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy means feeling sorry for someone; empathy involves identifying strongly with the circumstances and pain of another human being."

    Empathy... not sympathy; POC don't what your pity. Until whites come to the point where you can put yourselves in our skin, to experience the hurt we feel as “IF IT WERE YOUR OWN” you will never view the black woman (or blacks in general) as the injured party. This does not mean whites should mimic the actions of John Howard Griffin to reach this epiphany, but it does mean you must “Work” on your humanity.

    So much care has been taken in making sure white children are aware of the “mechanics and theory” of racism, that you’ve failed to instill a sense of empathy for those who don’t share their skin color.

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  105. This is something I've seen so many times.

    As a WOC, I've learned that breaking down in tears when I experience racism does not garner sympathy or support. So, I don't cry anymore. Instead, I get angry.

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  106. Thanks for the food for thought everybody.

    @plus

    I thought it was rather "on the rail." Seems this post is about how white people respond to a racist situation, and asking how to respond isn't really derailing. I guess you assume I'm whining.

    Anyway, I think you 'calling me out' for derailing is more derailing than my comment, so if you really care about the train of thought, I don't think that telling me up and down about how derailing my comment was would be wise.

    Anyway, to be on the point. I am not indecisive and I do tell people that, if I think it's racist, it's racist. It's just that some people on this thread and others have said that when whites say something to a racist person that they are just trying to be 'white heros' or what have you. So I was just curious about what people here think would be the best thing to do.

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  107. @ Loki,

    Please read this.

    And as a brief note, it's really not up to WP to tell POC what is "wise" to talk about. Especially not in racism discussions.

    As for "up and down"? That is a mischaracterization of her comment on one hand (and tone argument-ish, even), but on the other, clearly you have not yet been introduced to the Sledgehammer of Racism Awareness that we WP seem to need in order to get the most basic concepts right even half the time.

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  108. This passionate illustration in support of Aiyana Jones, could also be called, White Woman’s Tears as well. Take a good look at it, for we POC see it all the time.

    In this pic, the woman displays genuine anguish for the white girl she’s reporting on. But notice the contrast in her features- her detachment and lack of emotion when reporting on the death of a black child.

    The term, Emotional Segregation is defined as: “An institutionalized process, whereby European Americans are unable to see people of colour as emotional equals or as capable of sharing the same human emotions and experiences.”

    I’ve seen this so often on the local news I don’t watch it any more. Whites haven’t just segregated themselves physically from minorities, but they’ve segregated themselves emotionally as well.

    Another perfect example of a delicate white woman running away in tears was in the movie Jaws. Chief Brody’s wife, a thin fragile blonde, is shown spending a few moments with her husband. Watch closely… for the more the emotion builds in the scene, the more fragile she appears. Course one could argue it was the saltiness of the limerick that provoked her to tears; not the fear that she may never see her husband again. I’m willing to bet you a great-white, if she had fallen during that scene her body would have broken into a thousand tiny pieces.

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  109. This happens to freaking much.

    In my Black Popular culture class one day we had this discussion in class about various parts of black culture.

    At one point a black woman started talking about how someone walking down the street called her a black b**** because she was walking in the arms of a non-black man and how if one of her white friends says something racist she won't get mad about it cuz she will be labeled an angry black woman.

    Other people talked about how minorities have very poor access to controlling the image put out the public, how black women aren't considered beautiful in the mainstream, how black actors/actresses only win oscars when they portray negative/stereotypical aspects of black culture.

    But who got the symphathy?

    Yep you guessed it the only white guy in the class.

    Why?

    He kept going on and on about integration and how
    black people should not be segregating themselves. Everyone in the class disagreed with him and he kept opening his mouth and getting shut down. At the end he was visibly frustrated.

    As we were class some of the classmates expresses how they felt bad about going so hard at him and attacking his viewpoint.

    It was incredible.

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  110. well this just shows that the racist hierarchy is still in place, white man at the top, followed by the helpless white woman, and the black woman at the lowest of low. I mean that's where the whole black women being so "strong" to handle whatever is thrown at us came from.

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  111. As a partner to white male, I can assure you they get their share of "white man's tears". It's tedious and tiresome and silencing.

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  112. @loki:

    "I guess you assume I'm whining."

    Which was a perfectly reasonable assumption to make, especially given how common just such whining is from white people confronted by racism and white privilege.

    As for your "correction" of PlusSizedWomanist, you're out of line. You need to decide whether you want to be an ally or if you want to be right. And, yes, sometimes you have to choose.

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  113. @gadderplum and Phrozen

    I think I'm hearing in both of your comments that there's another layer, that this tendency to help the instigator rather than the victim can get internalized to some degree by POC. Do I have that right? Which sounds like a crazymaking level of cognitive dissonance.

    @KIT,
    I find the image of you sitting alone in that room just haunting. It sounds absolutely surreal--like it would be hard to believe that it was actually happening, like a complete mind-fuck.

    @Ann Laplain
    I think your theory about sadism makes a lot of scary sense.

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  114. Is anyone else disturbed by the silencing in this thread? Why is it that RVCBard can ask a question (pretty clearly not a rhetorical one) and there’s no interest in taking up the answer?

    She is asking us to do this work right here.

    When I gave instances of how I personally have contributed to making this blog unsafe and unwelcome for its people of color participants, I wasn’t thinking that was enough of an answer. I’m just one more stranger online. But this space is collective. Collectively, this space is often doing what the cartoon shows.

    What about the white people here who have identified yourselves as allies to POC for longer than me? What are you thinking about this silencing?

    And can this be a space that does Racism 101 for white people like me, but that also care-takes and empathizes with POC? What would it look like? Or rather, when do the comments here achieve a goal like that? Why? When do they fall short? And why?

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  115. PlusSizedWomanistJune 8, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Loki, cut the crap. The first words you said when you came on this thread were:

    It becomes more seemingly true to me that any action a WP takes will always be racist.

    Is inaction the only way to not be racist to anyone?

    How does one display compassion without trying to be a WP who "gets it"?


    It was YOU who came in BAWWWing about white people being called racist for every action they take.

    It was YOU who came in with the huffy ass attitude of "well I guess I'll just sit on my ass and let things happen because I don't want to be called a racist by these uppity negros!!!"

    Then you come along with this mess:

    I thought it was rather "on the rail." Seems this post is about how white people respond to a racist situation, and asking how to respond isn't really derailing. I guess you assume I'm whining.

    Anyway, I think you 'calling me out' for derailing is more derailing than my comment, so if you really care about the train of thought, I don't think that telling me up and down about how derailing my comment was would be wise.


    "Check your tone, little negro, because you're just being too angry!! Don't you see I'm a special snowflake and you have to teach me how to talk to you people??"

    I suggest you re-read your statements and lose the privileged attitude, because that shit won't fly here.

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  116. Someone asked earlier, Why DOES Misty get all the attention while the poc get none? And someone else mentioned it earlier already. It's because Black women are "SO STRONG".... when we get hurt it doesn't really hurt us as much, cuz we're BUILT to take those licks, don'tcha know?

    In fact the "You're my Hero! I wish I was as strong as you" refrain is one of my biggest pet peeves. When people say this to me I hear it as "You're so lucky you were built to take a punch and I'm SO NOT."

    Isn't that the corollary to this post's SWPD: Congratulating POC's on how well they handle the insults and harms of Racism.

    In My Opinion, whenever people say "You're so strong/brave/awesome for surviving that!" to survivors of abuse, or who are victims of oppressions, or who have been thru extreme trauma of whatever nature, it's not so much praise for the strength of the survivor/victim as it is a conversational derail into the speaker's own fear and helplessness they begin to empathize with the survivor/victim. Its a way of STOPPING feeling what the victim must have felt. How many times have we heard or even used the phrase "My Gosh I couldn't begin to imagine what you've been going thru..." Ummm YES you can. And you ARE imagining it right now. No you can't know exactly cuz you weren't there and you weren't me, but you most certainly can BEGIN to imagine what it was like. It didn't happen on Jupiter, yanno!! So that feeling of panic/discomfort you have right now just THINKING about what happened is a taste of what I went thru as well. But enough about me and MY feelings.. .how are YOOOOOU doing with my feelings? *pat pat*

    Yeah, that.

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  117. I find two instances of irony in this thread.

    Julia, I'm not sure I understand. Choose to be ether right or an ally? That seems to imply that being an ally can actually be wrong. I'm sure that's not what you mean is it?

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  118. @loki
    what I hear you saying in your response to PlusSizeWomanist is "I'm right. You're wrong."

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  119. And can this be a space that does Racism 101 for white people like me, but that also care-takes and empathizes with POC

    @kinsley

    I wonder this alot myself about the board. I'm a POC who has lots of questions about white anti-racism 101 myself. It's not just WP who have a vested interest in specifically WHITE anti-racism. I would very much like to know where my allies stand. Especially considering that historically speaking, whenever WP come together to make plans on how they intend to deal with POC in the future, it hasn't GONE TOO WELL FOR the POC'S. Just say'n.

    Lately I'm reading more and more about it, its goals, its principles, its communal activities, its political theories... all good important stuff. But the meat and potatoes I'm looking for, a sense of genuine empathy (not sympathy) and introspected life experiences have been much harder to come by.

    This has been said before in the threads, but too often (ostensibly) AR-curious whitefolk "innocently" approach the subject of racism intending to debate and define terms. This is the wrong wrong WRONG approach to understanding another person's emotional process, let alone to achieving any lasting healing from Racism. If you comment here simply to triangulate in on what the "right" interpretation of whatever we POC's are saying about our lives and our experiences with WP, you are MISSING THE POINT.

    Don't get me wrong. Articulating racist phenomena, and defining white supremacist terms is essential. One must be able to name the problem and see the problem before one can admit the problem. But that is only the beginning of solving the problem.

    What's the solution look like? To me, it looks like a world in which WP stop indulging themselves that the experiences of POC are so far removed from their own that they will never truly understand. THAT is a disincentive to empathy if I've ever heard one. Oh WP could never *really* know what its like for POC's. (As if that were the point of acknowledging racism). Culturally speaking, WP dont HAVE to think about race if they dont want to, WP have to struggle so much HARDER even to see race than POC's do... WP by virtue of being WP can't even help being complicit in racism whether they like to or not.... its all SO FOREIGN!!

    It's all so conveniently supportive of inaction, silence and emotional detachment when presented with the experiences and opinions of POC's.

    But as a POC that's not what I want from the WP who ostensibly care about combatting the racism that targets me. What I want is to share my truth as I've lived it and my emotions as I feel them, without being debated and derailed into the ground until my words are forgotten.

    What I want is for all these WP people who allegedly have to work so much harder than I do to even believe what I'm talking about in the first place to SHUT UP and consider what it really means to them and to THEIR world if what I say about the racist world we both live in is actually on the level.

    And last but certainly not least I want to know what these WP who supposedly care about ending the racism that targets me actually FEEL about the things they are hearing. And not just that it sucks, or they "can't imagine" or that it must be SO SO HARD.. but what THEY are going thru in dealing with the indignities of racism as I deal with the indignities of racism, etc.

    What I DONT want is to have to explain how I came to the conclusions that I came to. Because ultimately what I'm presenting to you is not just what racism IS in my world, but how it FEELS and what it does and what does that mean to YOU if anything?

    Inquiry Minds, etc etc.

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  120. @everyone

    PLEASE stop engaging Loki, In norse mythology Loki is the "trickster" god who is known for his malicious mischief and double crossing. This is NOT an incidental screen name. "Loki" is a forthright statement of zir intent in commenting here.

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  121. @Loki re: "Choose to be ether right or an ally? That seems to imply that being an ally can actually be wrong."

    Sit ye down, little Loki, and larn of the true irony here. If you have to be right, you're not being a good ally. If you choose to be an ally, you need to give up having to be right.

    Here's why I think you're being an asshat: I addressed at length some reasons why your derailing (attention to you) question was irrelevant and shallow, but did you respond to me? No, you lashed out at PlusSizeWomanist for her tone. She gave it to you straight; I wrapped it all up in theory. She was just more direct--and that rates a rebuff from the likes of you? Hardly. It rates admiration, a thank you--maybe some reflection?

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  122. @ Jane
    I enjoyed reading your post, I think there is a tendancy at least among males to want to understand something well enough to navigate it successfully without emotionally engaging or even beginning to empathize. We just want to know the rules so we can play without committing any fouls. That's pretty much how I approach everything and so far AR has been no different. I can see that that approach is insufficient like the funds in my checking account.

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  123. @ Jason I think that is a white tendency as well as male.

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  124. white woman in midwestJune 8, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    Jane,
    Here is my very edited reply:

    I've read hundreds, maybe thousands of comments here from POC. What really impacted me EMOTIONALLY was hearing that someone, a WOC, had to get off the bus and walk home at night, in the middle of nowhere. Another WOC, a pre-med student, was driven home from choir practice by a male member of the choir. As they sat in the car talking out front, a neighbor called the cops on them. Another WOC was harrassed with vulger names by a man at a bus terminal and nobody defended her.

    I grew up in an all-white, working class area. My college was mostly white. My social group, work groups and volunteers groups are 99% white. Reading personal accounts like these WOC's is a bit shocking to me. I did not realize that this level of abuse was occuring between adults (I expect much less from teenagers and children).

    So much of the energy on this blog is directed not at the CONTENT of the conversation, but at the "how to" of the conversation. What words to use, not use; what is OK to say or ask or never to say or ask, or it depends on who you are.

    I bring that up only because you ask how I, as a WP, FEEL reading this and other antiracism forums. Mostly, I feel discouraged. Because it seems that we, WP and POC, are so new to these discussions that we have to create a common language first and agree to all the syntax before we can actually trade any ideas productively. In real life, when I bring up antiracism topics, people get unusually quiet. I feel a tension in the room that I suspect is because "we" (WP) don't talk about race, just like we don't discuss our incomes or other "taboos."

    Most of the "clueless" questions that WPs have asked the past several days are questions i would have posted, if I were brave enough to attempt posting more frequently. I apologize in advance if this post is an example of derailing or "hogging up all the air in the room." Macon, I trust that you will just not let this through if that's the case?

    So, creating a common language ... how long it that going to take? 10, 20 years? Very discouraging.

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  125. Jane Laplain,

    I hear you on this: "Isn't that the corollary to this post's SWPD: Congratulating POC's on how well they handle the insults and harms of Racism." I'm pleading guilty. I think I understand, now, how gross it sounds. And you're right--I *could* imagine, and I *did* imagine, and it felt like falling off the side of the world.

    KIT,
    I apologize for doing the "I can't imagine" thing that Jane describes in my comment to you above. I see now that it was not only not inconsiderate but also insincere, as I could and did imagine. I'm sorry.

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  126. @ white woman in the midwest

    I feel like you missed the point of Jane's post...or maybe I did.

    "its goals, its principles, its communal activities, its political theories... all good important stuff. But the meat and potatoes I'm looking for, a sense of genuine empathy (not sympathy) and introspected life experiences have been much harder to come by."

    first of all, the feelings your post expressed sounded more like sympathy than empathy I think

    and "creating a common language" as you say, might be the same as the goals and principals Jane was referring to. What I believe Jane is saying in part (forgive me if I'm wrong) is that if you are genuinely empathetic, theories and language may not be so important. and without empathy, theories and principals won't get you there.

    Which should be encouraging rather than discouraging, because anyone is capable of empathy if they focus on it and it certainly is not to much to ask for.

    didn't take long to prove my lack of empathy as male trait theory wrong.

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  127. @white woman in midwest

    It's not about 'creating a common language', it's about White people shutting the fuck up and fucking listening to what POC have to say about race and racism. To just take our fucking word for it. God!

    Discouraged? You feel discouraged? How sad for you. The questions asked were clueless, and from your comments I can see that you are just as clueless.

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  128. @White woman in midwest

    I don’t think POC are new to these discussions at all, but rather “Whites” are new to these discussions. Notice what you said,” Because it seems that we, WP and POC, are so new to these discussions that we have to create a common language first and agree to all the syntax before we can actually trade any ideas productively. In real life, when I bring up antiracism topics, people get unusually quiet. I feel a tension in the room that I suspect is because "we" (WP) don't talk about race, just like we don't discuss our incomes or other "taboos."

    In my experience it has been Whites, who want to set the rules, decide the agenda; define both syntax and tone before a discussion of race can ensue. You must be made to feel comfy before you’ll even engage. Minorities have been trying to engage whites for centuries and whites shrug us off as antagonistic emotional instigators; bringing up the subject of race where race didn’t exist. Ostensibly, the failure of whites to talk about race feeds their denial; this denial in ingrained, and at times it seems almost pathological. In The Pathology of White Privilege, Tim wise says it best in this clip. (Scroll ahead to the 6:00 mark)

    We minorities knew then as we know now, it’s almost impossible to engage a white person in an honest discussion on race without them needing to control the discourse. To affirm Eric Holder’s assessment of race when he uses the term, “a nation of cowards” I think he was dead on the mark. When it comes to the discussion of race, whites will derail, misdirect- rationalize, intellectualize and do everything they can to avoid confrontation on the subject. For fear of losing the debate.

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  129. White woman in midwestJune 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    M. Gibson,
    Thank you for pointing that out. I meant it to read "having these discussions with each other."

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  130. @ Jason

    What I believe Jane is saying in part (forgive me if I'm wrong) is that if you are genuinely empathetic, theories and language may not be so important. and without empathy, theories and principals won't get you there.

    I definitely believe the tools of communication are vitally important. But yes, without empathy, theory won't get you anywhere. Cuz I promise folks, racism ain't a theory. It's not an abstract civil rights issue. It's something that happens right in front of your faces each and everyday, and the only reason not to know that is privilege coupled with a culturally ingrained, dare I say even sociopathic lack of empathy for the human targets of oppression.

    Even saying "human targets of oppression" is distancing however. It's almost as if what we're dealing with is a truth so dangerous, so painful, that it's nearly impossible to discuss it without blunting its razor edges in lofty abstract concepts.

    I'm so tired of protecting myself from feeling the pain Im already feeling tho. And I'm tired of protecting my oppressors from the pain they've caused me, unawares or no.

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  131. Shared language? Everybody on this blog is speaking English, so I don't know... things pretty much make sense to me, and people are good about linking to definitions, so...

    Plus, there's Google, right there in the toolbar.

    I don't know about other people, but I'm here to learn not to do stupid things and how to address racist behavior when I run into it, not to learn to use the right kinds of ally terminology, or whatever.

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  132. @ white woman in midwest

    In real life, when I bring up antiracism topics, people get unusually quiet. I feel a tension in the room that I suspect is because "we" (WP) don't talk about race

    Yeah it's hard to feel that tension in the room isnt it? That horrible creeping shame, cheeks flushed, heart lurchy, everybody is staring at you and resenting the hell out of you right now feeling.

    Now imagine BEING the tension in the room. See? That's what POC's get to feel ON A REGULAR BASIS in predominantly white environments. We can learn to ignore it, mute it, mask it or go numb to it, but it's always there right under the surface. At least that's how I've experienced it.

    So I'm asking you to push thru this discomfort and stay in the room anyway. I'm asking you to endure what is for you and everyone else a momentary feeling of embarrassment or stupidity or guilt or even of being accused, for the greater good of learning to stop a toxic cultural dynamic you KNOW to be cruel.

    It sounds corny perhaps, but there isnt any discreet backdoor entrance into knowing how not to be racist anymore. And who are you to refuse to make mistakes and look a fool in front of others when I don't get that luxury?

    I'm a POC and I know for a fact in my own life I have said and done racist things (specifically I mean being complicit with white supremamcy). I know for a fact I have insulted other people of color in racist ways and have during my lifetime ignored other POC's racist experiences to protect myself from feeling their pain/my own pain. Protecting myself from EMPATHY.

    Nobody gets to grow up in a racist society and magically NOT have internalized racism. Least of all those who benefit most from racism. So if it means being a racist until you learn how not to be, then fine, whatever it takes to get the job done, right?

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  133. Trans Racial Family ManJune 8, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    So I'm asking you to push thru this discomfort and stay in the room anyway. I'm asking you to endure what is for you and everyone else a momentary feeling of embarrassment or stupidity or guilt or even of being accused, for the greater good of learning to stop a toxic cultural dynamic you KNOW to be cruel. -- Jane Laplain

    After every post here the comments should begin with this. A great opening prayer. Amen Jane.

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  134. @ Jane Laplain

    Thanks for replying to me. You said pretty clearly what this place needs to do to be a safe space for you (and, I imagine, a space that's not a complete waste of your time and energy). Is creating that safe space compatible with also doing Racism 101? I don't know in theory, but in practice the answer that keeps getting worked out around here is "no."

    So many POC keep pointing out that they give this place side-eye or lurk now rather than commenting (see honeybrown1976's comment above). And it looks to be particularly black women who are silenced, verbally trampled on, disrespected to the point of giving up on commenting. Over and over again.

    That can't be acceptable here. If it is, doesn't that make the white commenters/readers/lurkers just like the shoppers in the video Rochelle linked to above, the ones who keep on shopping because it's not their problem and they can't see any reason why they need to step in? That can't be acceptable here, but apparently it is.

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  135. On a more positive note, you ain't gotta worry about that shit happening in Tulpa, or Anne&Me. I don't think Anne even sheds a tear! Almost - her eyes sorta well up - but not quite.

    Of course, I could collect a special flavor of White Women's Tears (the classic BlackGirlsRSoMean) from the actress playing Anne Hathaway in the staged reading of my piece.

    All for 365 easy payments of $49.95.

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  136. @Jane Laplain

    "And last but certainly not least I want to know what these WP who supposedly care about ending the racism that targets me actually FEEL about the things they are hearing."

    Sad, angry at the world, sheltered, useless/helpless because it is so rare that I even have to witness the events you and other people of color describe. I feel perplexed, wondering if I am simply blind to these events or if it is just another aspect of how privileged I am. I feel self doubt, wondering how would I respond if I was a witness.

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  137. @ Jane Laplain

    And at the base of it all I feel fear. Fear for you, the other people of color who post/comment here, and the people of color I love.

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  138. After reading this, the first thing I thought of was an interview with Jane Elliott, the inventor of the Brown Eyes/ Blue Eyes exercise.

    She detailed how one woman refused to participate int he exercise and tried to get others to join in her derailment as a sort of "sit in", her point being that if oppressed people just banded together, then racism would magically end.

    Elliott knew that some people would be tempted to believe the woman was right. What she let them know was that the woman was carrying out her "sit in" in a totally safe environment. She was free in her attempts to derail the exercise because no actual harm would come to her. She didn't have to fear police dogs or fire hoses or jail for her "sit in".

    Elliott let that sink in and left the room to let the others vote on who would stay or go. The other participants voted that the lady who was derailing the exercise to leave.

    It was only after I thought of all this that i thought of an experience from my own life.

    I was taking a Human Relations class and we eventually got around to discussing racism. The professor had already given the obligatory warnings that we were to "respect" different points of view, etc. etc.

    She began by defining racism and then went on to list, what I felt, were everyday examples of discrimination: being profiled by the police, being followed around in a store or being denied a job or housing.

    Mind you I live in Cincinnati and we're not that far removed from the 2001 riots over the shooting of an unarmed black man by the police.

    So this young white girl, who was old enough to have lived during the riots, raised her hand and said that she was aware that things like that happened some places but she didn't think anything like that would ever happen, here, in
    Cincinnati.

    And most black people in the room gave collective sigh or hiss of impatience. One woman spoke up - how can you not know that this city is considered one of the most discriminatory and conservative cities in the Midwest?

    And the girl sat there saying, "Well I didn't know," and eventually the tears started, silent tears that we could be so cruel as to sneer at her ignorance.

    Meanwhile, I simply felt that no one could be that dumb or unknowing. The professor gave us a minor speech about understanding that this is "her experience" and her experiences in life don't include racism. I kind of got it - for the first time - how oblivious white people can be racism and how they don't necessarily train their children to be racist, but to simply ignore anything that doesn't fit with their perceptions of how the world should be.

    And I began to feel sorry for the little crying white girl and I approached her after class & told that no one was mad at her - just frustrated that something we experience every day goes unnoticed by most white people. But she insisted that she just couldn't believe that things like that happened in her hometown. She just didn't know. Why was everyone so made at her?

    I offered to talk to her about it, or if she had any questions to please, feel free to ask. If she wanted to discuss some of the things we were talking about in private, then maybe she wouldn't feel like everyone was "mad at her", just angry about the way things are.

    She never took me up on that offer.

    Now reading this and thinking about the Jane Elliott issue, I see them as one and the same. I feel like white people risk very little in discussions about racism. Even bursting into tears brings only sympathy for them.

    I wish I hadn't spoken to that girl after class or offered her anything now. I wish I had just let her stew in her own discomfort. Because no one is surely coming to comfort me over my frustration at her ignorance and her ability to not even see what is often an albatross around my neck

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  139. @Jane,
    I'm actually suprised that you would be interested in how WP feel about racism or the effects of racism. The prevailing wisdom here seems to be that that isn't important. Or that's how I have read the situation. Do you mind explaining why you think our feelings are important?

    I hope my question doesn't fall under expecting POC to educate WP. I only ask because I can imagine many self-centered, patronizing white responses to your question that I would rather avoid. And I want to be able to answer you as best I can.

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  140. @kevinrp

    And at the base of it all I feel fear. Fear for you, the other people of color who post/comment here, and the people of color I love.

    And I believe that you do. But this is what I have trouble undersanding about WP who feel as you do, ie helpless, useless, afraid FOR POC's.

    Why aren't you afraid for yourself too? Why aren't you bewildered that people who live right next to you, work with you, drive on the same streets as you do and shop in the same stores as you do can have such a dramatically different experience of the same living environment as you do.

    Because for me it makes me feel CRAZY. How can these things which happen to ME right in plain view of everyone be such a mystery to so many? What is it about the way WP see the world that ALLOWS them to filter out incidents which are flamboyantly cruel and predatory towards certain people? People they claim to know and like or love even!!!

    Of course the answer is white privilege. The privilege to not HAVE to see it if you don't wish to, and frankly who would WISH to see such horrible things if they had a choice? It's only rational right? *eyeroll* But that doesn't satisfy me as an answer. Well, I've told you this is how it goes down. Now you know. Keep a look out for it. But the response always seems to be helplessness and further silence, at least in real life.

    Why do WP, who apparently have the power to do SO MUCH in this society, feel so powerless when it comes to their own white culture, their own white circle of friends, family etc? That's an awfully convenient "limit" to have on your collective powers of persuasion, no?

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  141. @Jason
    I'm actually suprised that you would be interested in how WP feel about racism or the effects of racism. The prevailing wisdom here seems to be that that isn't important. Or that's how I have read the situation. Do you mind explaining why you think our feelings are important?

    Keep in mind I'm only speaking for myself. I want to know about WP's feelings about all this because I want to know that they actually HAVE feelings about racism.

    At least feelings beyond "You poor suffering things!" Or "SuX0r 4 u LOL" or "Fascinating! It boggles the mind!"

    I want to know, because if you actually don't have feelings beyond that point then I can stop trying. I can stop looking for faint traces of humanity I keep searching for in your faces everytime you step from right behind me in line while im waiting for the bus in order to board the bus ahead of me. I'll know to stop hoping that one day when I get to the deli counter and stand there for 5 minutes waiting to be noticed and served that I'll get the same treatment as the white lady who steps right up to the counter and has her order taken right away. I'll know to stop hanging out in anti-racist forums hoping to hear that WP feel like changing their racist world, not just reassuring the POC's that they don't act the same as those other WP's, or at least not anymore.

    I want to know that these stories these POC's pouring our hearts out or crying or screaming in outrage is more than just... disturbing social trivia... that otherwise has nothing to do with you and yours.

    Cuz if not, then cool. I can finally let that dream go and cut a whole lot of folks loose in the process.

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  142. Thanks for all your comments, Jane, and for answering Jason's question. (And, yes, thanks to the other POC too who are willing to write on this blog.) I didn't answer your question when you first asked because the answer is long and complicated and I don't want to take up air time. So the short answer is that the emotion I feel most often is grief. Grief for my own weaknesses, grief for the pain other people feel that I can't change. Sometimes I feel confusion or anxiety. Because of my own background and what I do, I spend at least half of my time thinking about race, so POC stories I read on this blog are rarely the first time I've heard such a thing, at the same time I still get perspectives and angles I have not thought about before. Also, because of my age and position, despite what I feel is my genuine interest in the experiences and opinions of POC, I am often protected from their criticisms, especially of me, so being the recipient of criticism and even snark is a valuable reminder for me, even as I don't particularly like it.

    My experience as a white person who thinks about race a lot is like you describe. I am always uncomfortable, I am never sure of myself, just as I think I'm doing ok, I mess up somehow or realize there is something I've missed. So, to be honest, I felt affirmed by your saying this is what you want white people to feel. But I know that even this feeling is open to attack. What I know deeply is that I am embedded in and implicated by my white racial privilege, even as I try to work to undo the structures that give me the privilege. It is an uncomfortable place to be.

    I spend a lot of time talking to and teaching white people whose backgrounds are different from mine, who are from the all-white communities where they grow up knowing zero people of color and learning nothing about the true history of this country. This gives me some sympathy for their "shock" and "I never heard this" reactions, even as I completely understand that this sympathy itself is a kind of white racial solidarity and why POC hate it. As I said, I live in the unease and do what I can to pass it on to other WP.

    Um, I still feel like this has been a self-serving comment. I think it is really hard to connect as a human being in this kind of thin forum.

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  143. @Jane: In general, now I try to stay away from sharing my feelings because I don't want to make it All About Me. How I feel about racism as a member of the privileged class isn't important; what matters are my actions. All the horror and sorrow in the world doesn't help if it doesn't prompt action.

    That being said, I understand your reason for asking, so here's my answer: when I read about what's being done to PoC because of racism, I feel sorrow and rage. Sorrow that as human beings we aren't above this shit, sorrow that I did that kind of shit myself when I was younger, sorrow that people continue to suffer because of my unconsciously racist actions despite my best efforts, sorrow that my children are growing up in this environment and will hurt others in the same ways, sorrow for all the PoC children who are growing up in this environment and it isn't likely to be much better in twenty years or forty years or a hundred years than it is now.

    I feel rage that racism is so deeply entrenched and so formidable to conquer, that it feels like we are just some tiny Davids against a massive titanium Goliath who doesn't even feel the stones. I am not completely hopeless, because I do believe we can overcome it. But the progress is so horribly slow and that's just not acceptable. As I told someone a few days ago, "Accepting the status quo is straight-up inhumane." And I mean that in the strongest sense of the word: as humans, as thinking creatures with prefrontal cortexes and other structures that should hypothetically allow us to be intelligent, it is not human to accept these types of abuses. People who accept this shit are giving up their humanity.

    I am so fucking frustrated at the inability and/or unwillingness of so many whites to even see racism, much less be willing to take action on it. Part of the action I've chosen to take is reaching out to other whites, writing articles and responding online and in real life, trying to teach others about the reality of racism, and the level of willful cluelessness is just... I don't need to explain it; every PoC and every white activist here knows exactly what I'm talking about. You're talking to someone white who seems intelligent and open-minded and thoughtful, and then you bring up racism and they just shut down, and it makes you feel despair that if you can't even reach someone who seems open-minded and thoughtful, how in the hell are you ever going to reach the masses who seem to be be proudly close-minded?

    I try not to despair, although I still do on a regular basis. I keep reaching out to other whites and trying to educate them even when I do feel despair, because mass education is the only way we're ever going to overcome racism. People need to wake the fuck up. I can't wake them up en masse, so I just have to focus on waking them up one at a time, and hope that when one person wakes up, they'll join the effort in trying to wake up others. And if I can't wake them up, then at the very least I need to make them so uncomfortable that they'll keep their racist shit to themselves.

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  144. @ Jane

    I really, from the absolute bottom of my heart, want to thank you for your comments here.

    Now I'm wondering, do any other WP on here actually get ANGRY over racism? I mean, I have my feelings of helplessness and despair like anyone trying to fight a corrupt institution (particularly while being an unwilling part of it). But when I see a black woman getting disrespected on the bus, or a group of white males "ching-chang-chonging" an asian guy on the street, I have no problem getting confrontational. But I'll admit, sometimes I'm worried that this makes me someone trying to be a White Savior. But I know that I don't want to save the day, I want to help and support someone in pain, and that has to be alright, doesn't it?

    Even with white friends, I'll flat out tell them "that's racist bullshit" if it's needed. It's cost me a few of them, but it's hard to consider them a huge loss if they can't even try to reexamine their behavior and prejudices.

    I guess it's because really, I can't think of anything more blatantly WRONG than racism, and all the WWTs and "innocent questions really guys" ring a lot more like trying to justify ignorance than trying to understand. The truth is laid out pretty flatly on this blog and all the other anti-racism blogs out there: SHIT HAS GOT TO CHANGE.

    This was probably a pretty jumbled comment. Sorry about that, it was pretty emotion-driven.

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  145. It grieves me as a human being every time I realize that a white person must consciously and rationally decide how and why to care about how racism hurts me. If I have to teach you to see and care about another person's pain, I don't feel there's anything I CAN teach you. That problem is at the root of what this cartoon/post are getting at, and it plays out on SWPD frequently. When the WP in the room are quick to comfort another WP who is upset during a conversation on racism but it doesn't occur to them that the POC are upset by the topic, it speaks volumes. Frankly, I find it very distressing. It's very dehumanizing to realize that you must show someone how to see you as a fellow human being worthy of empathy.

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  146. I was just watching Hell's Kitchen, the second episode, and in the eggs four ways challenge there was a totally clear moment of white women's tears and blaming the big strong angry black women (rolls eyes). Siobhan was told to work alone and do some eggs, one soft spoken black girl said "Well I can help you do one, want a hand?" and the other black lady said that she could help too (HELP mind you, HELP) and then chef ramsey asked afterwards what did Siobhan do and why didn't she work alone like he told her to and HERE CAME THE TEARS. She starts crying like the black girls made her, she should have worked alone but they pressured her too much, she is so mad that she listened to them and didn't work alone, completely throwing them under the bus. What a load of crap! White women's tears strike again

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  147. Jane Laplain,

    Thanks for your posts. What I feel most reading this blog is a sense of validation, that it wasn't just me, that other people can see it too and I'm not alone. I am a survivor of gendered abuse and domestic violence, and since racism is a form of abuse yes, I do feel empathy. It was inevitable for me that I saw the same patterns and tactics in the racial conflicts around me and the same kind of trauma as a result. This post in particular struck a chord with me because it has been my experience too, that people will comfort and protect the perpetrator, whilst at the same time denying the abuse occured. And it did make me very afraid to realise that I live among people who will not just turn a blind eye to gendered and racial abuse but will actively perpetrate it while claiming ignorance and denying it exists. It sure is crazy-making. It hurts and it makes me angry and it makes me active in speaking out against it wherever I can.

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  148. @Jane

    I hate to be like a WP coming out of the woodwork suddenly talk about HIS feelings...but there was one thing that I wanted to add to what others have said. I think for me (and I'm guessing others), there's not just the despair, outrage, and compassion...the emotions that should be there. There's also fear--fear that I could have been, may have been, or will be exactly the oppressor who attacked you. And there's fear that you'll see it in me, too. I think this might have been close to what olderwoman was talking about in feeling unease and tentativeness (but don't let me put words in your mouth).

    It's fucking sick that I would have such self-centered emotions when your emotions should be the most important. But I do see that in me, and it seems to be where a lot of my derailing, dismissing, and denying comes from.

    How much I attend to and nurture that fear instead of empathetic emotions seems to determine how racist my actions are. And I think I am at my worst when I pretend those fears aren't there--when I don't stay in that "room" to push through that discomfort instead of just seeing you. I'm sorry that that fear is there in me and often dominant, and I will be heeding your request to push through it.

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  149. @cinammon girl

    Amen. I am trying to be better about speaking up myself. I'm so tired of avoiding being The Angry Black Woman (tm), because no matter what I do outside of cheerful compliance to everything WP expect of me, that is exactly how I am perceived anyway.

    I'm learning from this blog the deep and subliminal ways in which I have conspired with racist denial and racist belief in order to protect myself from the way I knew I was being perceived, or when I was not being perceived at all as the case may be.

    This blog has been helping me to un-make the oppressor mascot I've kept in my own head to keep me "ahead of the game" when dealing with white folks. I thought "well if I learn how to speak the language of the oppressor fluently, including all the subtle nonverbal cues, then I would somehow be safer from harm. Knowing exactly when to brace myself would lessen the sting of the slap, or whatever.

    In some ways this strategy succeeded for me socially. But in most ways it was just a comfortable delusion. Sometimes my own outrage at the way I've deceived myself/allowed myself to be deceived in relation to WP's frightens me, paralyzes me. I don't want that.

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  150. I'm so tired of avoiding being The Angry Black Woman (tm), because no matter what I do outside of cheerful compliance to everything WP expect of me, that is exactly how I am perceived anyway.

    We have a winner!

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  151. @Jane

    Revulsion. I feel dirty.

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  152. The most common emotion expressed by white folk as a collective in response to anything on SWPD is DISBELIEF

    How telling you guys aren't adding that o your list of feelings?.

    Its the disbelief that you express so clearly over other emotions and its disbelief which keeps you quiet and many times in denial of the horror and terror many black people feel from the minute they step outside their front door.

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  153. There's also fear--fear that I could have been, may have been, or will be exactly the oppressor who attacked you. And there's fear that you'll see it in me, too.

    and

    But I do see that in me, and it seems to be where a lot of my derailing, dismissing, and denying comes from.

    Again I'm only speaking for myself, but this helps me out alot to hear you say this.

    The single most crazymaking aspect of racism for me is not so much the mean stuff that happens but the abject silence of everywhiteone else when it does.

    Inwardly repulsed one may be, but that silence merely says to me, "Who cares?" Or worse, "I agree."

    As a POC you never really know what to think of a room full of white people who are willing to watch a big angry, frankly SCARY looking white guy mumble "There are too many fucking niggers in this store!" as he shoves roughly past you and rolls his cart over your foot, and not ONE of the bystanders in the aisle, all white mind you, make eye contact with you. Nothing by way of saying, "Hey.. I SAW that. He's the disgusting one, not you. I'm sorry that just happened to you. Not because I'm white and MY team just made a foul. I'm sorry because no person should be treated that way and I see that you are a person too.

    But no there must have been Five other people in that aisle. I was the only black face. That was "too many niggers" apparently. So its just me and my possibly broken toe, and guilty white silence to my left and my right. Maybe he just said aloud what they were already thinking, who knows? Nobody will even look at me let alone speak.

    Which gets me to thinking about how whenever something like that happens to me or to another POC and we're both there to witness it, I often share "the glance" with them. It doesn't even have to be anything as dramatic as the example I just gave. Usually it isn't. Just small tiresome incidents that aren't worth getting all worked up over but are still working your last nerve. So we'll look over at each other and exchange the briefest moment of eye contact, as if to say "Here we go again." It only takes a microsecond but that glance will say everything.

    We don't do that just because we're POC's and we're all in this racism thing together. We do it because we feel each other's tension, each other's pain. We see what's going on, we're not crazy. We NEED each other to know that WE KNOW.

    So it's refreshing, Brigantor, to hear that at least you really do know too... But I wish that instead of feeling all guilty and implicated on behalf of white people as a white person, you simply said Yes, I saw that. Or even Yes, I did it. It shouldn't have happened. That small honest gesture can go such a long long way.

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  154. @Jane...
    I had to quote you in your entirety.. because damn these white readers don't get the half of it and no matter how much you bleed on these interwebs ... they won't unless it is spelt out.

    Ladies & Gentlemen... what Jane describes here is the process of consciously, knowingly losing your soul in order to survive.

    Having to conspire with the very system, learn the language and speak it fluently. That means black people having to do the racist talk of white people to survive...
    So when you see a black police officer in the midst of 4 white officers accused of racial profiling, thats how it happens.

    When a black man joins the chorus of white racist presumptions and attacks a black woman for defending herself against racism... thats the fallout

    when a black person has to reassure YOU by listing how much into your culture we are in order to denote his/her 'progressiveness' - thats the fallout

    It is war on the mind
    war on the soul
    war in the spirit
    everything is fucking war.

    You guys are so busy living in theory whilst we are busy dying in the practise your theory creates.

    WHITE THEORY: Feel angry, sad, fear...
    WHITE PRACTISE: -----

    BLACK THEORY: Feel angry, sad, fear
    BLACK PRACTISE: compromise or re-define or become that which you hate

    This place will forever be a talking shop until as mgibson says ...'iuntil it personally affects you' and it never will.
    So .... blah.

    I am trying to be better about speaking up myself. I'm so tired of avoiding being The Angry Black Woman (tm), because no matter what I do outside of cheerful compliance to everything WP expect of me, that is exactly how I am perceived anyway.

    I'm learning from this blog the deep and subliminal ways in which I have conspired with racist denial and racist belief in order to protect myself from the way I knew I was being perceived, or when I was not being perceived at all as the case may be.

    This blog has been helping me to un-make the oppressor mascot I've kept in my own head to keep me "ahead of the game" when dealing with white folks. I thought "well if I learn how to speak the language of the oppressor fluently, including all the subtle nonverbal cues, then I would somehow be safer from harm. Knowing exactly when to brace myself would lessen the sting of the slap, or whatever.

    In some ways this strategy succeeded for me socially. But in most ways it was just a comfortable delusion. Sometimes my own outrage at the way I've deceived myself/allowed myself to be deceived in relation to WP's frightens me, paralyzes me. I don't want that.

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  155. @everyone

    I think I would like to go back to strictly lurking now. I had this feeling that if I ever started commenting here I wouldnt be able to stop, and there's a big difference between working a few personal issues out in a public forum like this and creating a captive audience for those same issues.

    I would like to thank each and everyone here who has commented, particularly on this blog post which seems to have struck a chord with many. I've gained some great insights at SWPD, and save for the few trolls who sneak in, I feel that this forum has been in remarkably good faith. We may not be solving racism, but I do not believe this discourse is for naught.

    Thanks again to everyone who has posted, commented and LISTENED.

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  156. kevinrp said:

    "Sad, angry at the world, sheltered, useless/helpless because it is so rare that I even have to witness the events you and other people of color describe. I feel perplexed, wondering if I am simply blind to these events or if it is just another aspect of how privileged I am. I feel self doubt, wondering how would I respond if I was a witness."

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

    And Jane LaPlain replied:

    "Why aren't you afraid for yourself too? Why aren't you bewildered that people who live right next to you, work with you, drive on the same streets as you do and shop in the same stores as you do can have such a dramatically different experience of the same living environment as you do."

    I'm definitely bewildered. "Surprised and yet not surprised" is my reaction to a lot of the stuff (like Jake Knotts' little outburst recently regarding Nikki Haley running for SC governor). If it comes from someone I know personally I try to break it to them gently ("You realize how racist that is? You're better than that"), but I haven't witnessed an incident like the ones described here. I'm hoping I would be able to screw up the courage to at least say something, but I don't want to seem like I'm doing it for attention.

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  157. Oh, also, to address the most recent question asked, the answer is "frustrated." Overwhelmed, guilty, and frustrated. But, also I have felt moved to action, meager as my efforts may be.

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  158. Sorry to go back to old stuff but I have an image that may help the White woman in the midwest (as well as others). Imagine this:

    There are, let's just say, 100s of people playing double dutch on a playground using a single rope (you're familiar with double dutch? Jumprope, two rope turners, one on each end?) So, 100s of people are jumping. They are of various races and they're all jumping together in unison and have been for hours. You walk out onto the playground and see them.

    You want to play double dutch so you walk up to the players and immediately jump in. The rope stops, the jumpers look around, confused, and you start to shout, "I just want to jump and you won't let me in."

    You're not the first person to do this. In fact many of the jumpers did this at first. But, patiently, someone takes time to explain, "You stand right here on the side. Watch for a while. When you think you can follow, jump in. Ready? We're starting on our right foot."

    You immediately jump in again. This time, you cry. "Why can't we establish a common jumping style? What will it take for us all to get along!?!"

    Does this analogy make it more clear why you not only seem like a whiny, helpless, ridiculous baby but also elucidate why the person who originally helped you now wants to punch you in the face?

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  159. Oh, one more thing. I forgot to add the part where WWFTM says, "It's because I'm white that you won't let me jump!" and jumping WP grind their teeth and hit themselves on the forehead, grateful they've not yet been ordered off the playground for their previous association with you because, really, they just learned the jump and they aren't ready to stop yet.

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  160. island girl in a land w/o seaJune 10, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    @ soul

    i am with you. imho, white disbelief is at the heart of the emotional responses described by many of the white commenters here.

    i get a bit weary when discussions of racism get mired in talk about feelings. it *is* totally possible to overcome strong emotions such as fear, disgust and rage. if you have ever changed a diaper (especially on an adult), dealt with foul mold in your bathroom or run into traffic to save your dog from getting hit by a cab, you know it's possible to put aside what you're feeling and do what needs to be done that moment.

    i am in disbelief that (some) wp seem to have difficulty overcoming the emotional responses to racism visited upon Others. i wonder what it is yall *think* you have to lose by actively standing in solidarity with POC when racist shit goes down. is it the idea that society (especially in the US) isn't the free, democratic, meritocratic place we're told it is? is it the idea that yall "made it on your own"? or what?

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  161. @island girl: You lose white solidarity. You lose the sense of yourself as being liked and respected by your peers (which we subconsciously believe to be other WP). You're afraid that you'll making yourself an outsider by breaking ranks.

    (I think it's the same principle behind the whole "race traitor" name used against WP who stand in solidarity with PoC, and why it was often so effective.)

    The good news is that once you actually start overcoming that fear (by acting appropriately to situations of racism - which is to say, speaking up and taking action), it goes away pretty quick (IME). A lot of WP are paralyzed by the idea of ending up on the wrong side of white solidarity, but you quickly realize that the only people that are losing respect for you are cowards and racists, and the opinion of people like that don't matter anyway. And yes, sometimes that's going to overlap with your friends and you're going to lose them as a result of taking a stand, but you're better off without them anyway.

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  162. @ Island girl: First let me say that I am embarrassed and remorseful but I will recount an incident I silently witnessed recently in answer to your question. I was at daycare to pick up my baby and a WM with his children breezed past me. A WOC (who I assume was his children's teacher because she was clocking out without any children and because the teachers wear a sort of a uniform but not so much so that it couldn't have been someone's clothes) was standing at the "clock-out" station (where you clock out children and where staff clock out). The man started chatting with this woman in what I felt to be an overfamiliar way. The woman did what she needed to do in her position and talked back in a friendly way. The man told her that she needs to come to his house for dinner sometime...eventually everyone left without major incident.

    Now, I'll tell you why I didn't say anything and, you're right, it has to do with disbelief:

    (1) I felt unsure that the situation was what I perceived.

    (2) I didn't want to cause a scene.

    (3) On some level, I didn't want to bring unwanted attention to the teacher who needs to protect her relationship with this man.

    (4) It happened very fast and I wasn't sure what to say.

    But, the bottom line is that,

    (5) It was late and I wanted to pick up my baby and go home. I wanted for the situation to be different because I wanted off the hook. I allowed myself to believe that there were a lot of reasons but, really, I wanted it to not be true because I like my privileged life and I like pretending that everything is okay so that I can smile, pick up my baby, and go home. Before I got there, I had a nice song in my head and the weather was nice and I didn't want to be all coated in the slime of the situation. For the record, it didn't work. I just ended up on the wrong side of the slimy incident.

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  163. @ Island Girl and Soul,

    I do believe you. I believe these things happen constantly, and I believe you when you say it's maddening, sickening, terrifying. I'm here reading because I do believe you.

    I'm not asking for a cookie; I know it's not enough. I just wanted to let you know that even if I am an imperfect hearer, I'm listening; even if you don't care, I do believe you.

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  164. Hullo, I'm a new commenter. I promise to do my best to, well, learn and help. And to respond appropriately when I fuck up. Thanks very much for posting this, as with all the other posts.

    I just wanted to say I found this post very worrying because I realised I can't remember ever being called out on racism in real life. Which means that I have surrounded myself with people who, when I do something racist, aren't the sort to notice or call me out on it. Which is very, very bad. I apologise for yet another act of cluelessness that I've added to clueless-mountain, with that.

    In the video that Rochelle posted, did anyone ever bring up the fact in the debrief that this happens *all the time* after so many of the bystanders were like "Oh yay it's not real"?

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  165. @ Jane

    I was in a state of disbelief when I found this blog. What has replaced the disbelief is anger and determination. Those feelings help me to overcome the fear of speaking up and working to counter the racism I encounter.

    Part of what makes me angry is how simple it is to do the kinds of things that POC are asking us to do,
    yet most of us still don't do anything. I have never heard any POC on here ask a WP to quit their job and join an AR campaign or anything remotely drastic or even hard. it's just stuff like calling out the waiter at a restaurant who ignores the POC or the deli guy that lets you go ahead of the POC in line. WTF? is that hard? a little socially awkward yeah. big deal. sac up.

    anyway thats how I feel about it without going too long. it's weird to talk about cause I don't want to draw attention to myself. On the other hand I would want to know what effect my words were having if any on the WP who read here.

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  166. RVCBard said...

    (aka - Why does Misty get all the fucking coddling when it's the Black woman who's endured the most damage?)

    ...and this is why I have no hope. Again, this is another derailment tactic that some SWPD are famous for.

    A few weeks ago, I got into a heated discussion with a white male about why can't Black Americans be "jolly" like Blacks in the UK. I explained to him that racism is definitely in the UK, don't kid yourself and they haven't had the history of slavery, etc. like we had. Of course, I got the usual "Slavery happened a long time ago, it's blacks that have a chip on their shoulders....blah, blah...its up to blacks to change" speech. I didn't even bother getting into the complex white supremicist(sp?) set up, because I knew it would be pointless. Once again "everything" is black people's fault.

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  167. @Ebony

    Don't forget "if it's so bad here, why don't you all just go back to Africa!!"

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  168. Hi,

    I've been lurking on this sight for the past couple of weeks and have decided to post a comment. I was wondering if anyone has encountered the phenomenon of WWT outside of the U.S.?

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  169. @Middle - Personally, I've not seen it here in Holland. I think the typical Dutch reply would probably be more blunt and just deny any racism in the comment.

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  170. @dersk
    Thanks, I was just wondering if this was a phenomenon that was common throughout the western world or if it was isolated to the United States. I've found that when I have had conversations about race and racism with white women from other countries I don't get the tears. I have gotten the same denials and the same levels of cluelesness about race and racism, but no tears.

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  171. Remember in the news a few weeks ago when that british person said "where are all these eastern europeans flocking/fucking* from?" to one of the UK politicians before the election? And he called her a bigot, which was totally totally true, but then there were all these news reports about how HURT she was with pictures of her crying and he had to apologise for calling her bigoted? In that case everyone involved was white but it was still a case of accusation of racism being met with WWT. And I've seen in it NZ, where I live.

    *its hard to hear, transcripts differed

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  172. @Ebony..


    Well, erm.. I'm black in the UK and and I am not fucking jolly.
    And yes racism is different in the UK, it manifests in ways you could not even begin to imagine.
    By stripping you of your identity, your heritage and your culture.

    You will never hear the word, 'Afro-brit' because British identity does not allow it. We blacks over this side of the border are living with the WP who invented indentured slavery.

    No, we have not had the history of slavery you've had, because our history has been wiped out. Hidden and erased from the pages of History books.

    Where do you think Saara Bartman (venus Hottentot) was paraded naked down the streets as a side show freak?.

    I wish to God, people would realise that slavery didn't just happen in the US and no, you guys didn;t get the worst of it. You just got it documented.

    And whilst we are at it, what is it with WP holding other black cultures of which they have no understanding of, up as some kinda model black pathology.

    Listen..WP, when you are on holiday we can tell.. because you relax your attitude towards us, you say please and thank you and you step out of your hard ass shell, you pretend to be interested and to some extent we chill around you because we know you are only here for a little while.

    It doesn't mean that you understand us, what we are struggling against and for and you definitely cannot speak on our behalf.

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  173. @Middle Name J.

    No its not a White American thing. It is universal.

    Why do people presume that everyone reading or responding to this blog is American or talking about American experiences.

    I am not American and I don't live in America and most of my experiences detailed here happened out side of America.

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  174. Having read over the cartoon and many of the comments several times, I want to say again that the way racism is framed in our society is a huge contributing factor in this kind of incident. "There are racist people in here" translates in the white imagination as "You are a morally degenerate poor excuse for a human being." Hence the tears, defensiveness, willful ignorance, derailing and all the rest.

    Shouldn't be this way? Right you are. But it is. Our understanding of what racism really is and how it operates in society has to evolve before the masses will see racism and everyone's part in it as a problem for us all that we all must solve for our mutual benefit and survival.

    By the white girl's definition of racism (unmitigated evil) she is not and will never be a racist person regardless of what anyone says or how she comes to understand the hurt she has caused. And she will go on thinking that it's the REAL racists who are the problem, and she will be secure in her belief and supported by all of white culture around her.

    What has to occur IMO is a radical reframing of the problem: not that there are racists, but that there is racism, and that it works through the most well-meaning of people whatever their intentions or conscious beliefs. And maybe most important, that it doesn't make them evil to discover that racism is working through them.

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  175. if you rush to the aide of crying WP that instigated racism,if you seek reassurance that you are not racist, if you try and justify your comments with crap like (but not limited to) I have POC friends or if you claim that 'everybody is racist':
    You are a racist and just trying to make an excuses.
    The contemporary media is doing the same. Whenever you read about Eyewitness Misidentification in the news, more than likely the media will present you with statements and pic's of the crying WP instead of the POC victim wich had to spend most of his life in jail.

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  176. I looked at this post and the comic and read it several times. I've also read about 25 of the comments and I stopped because I need to interject and make a point. As a Black woman who has witnessed white women's tears, etc. etc. I have come to the conclusion that some of this is a class issue and it goes beyond race. I grew up around two different classes of white people here in California (where I'm from) rich, influential, WASP's and working class portugese, italians, and irish. I went to private schools full of fragile white girls who cried at the drop of a hat but my small, rural town was full of white girls who would beat your ass. Totally different ballgame. Class is an issue here! I was reading an old post on SWPD about "touching black women's hair" and reflected on an incident that happened to me in high school. I was in French class and a white girl began to play with my braids in class w/o asking me for permission. She was sitting behind me. I didn't even think to warn her or yell at her, I just turned around and shoved the open palm of my hand up her nose and I bloodied it. I don't know what made me react that violently but I did. She did not cry! She did not wilt! She did not talk about how Black women are "stereotypically violent bitches" at all. She wanted to throw down. As a Black woman I want to suggest to the readers, spectators, commentators,etc. of this blog who are POC not to mash all white people in the same category even though they do have white privilege. I have encountered many working class white girls, who when they are confronted with their own racism and white privilege....they don't cry or make it all about them, they will beat ass. I've seen it. Now I have had the opportunity to go to private schools too. In my experience upper middle class, and affluent white girls/women do the whole crying, damsel in distress, victime schtick....and yes it is annoying. But working class white women do not act like that. All of the working poor white women and working poor white women that I've ever encountered Do NOT act like Scarlett O'hara from, "Gone with the Wind." I'm sure many will disagree with me on this blog, and I encourage it, but as I've said before; as a POC, myself I don't want to start labeling and categorizing that all white women play the victim and cry. Some of them do that, but I believe that it's due to class as well as race. It's important not to stereotype or categorize anyone because then we as POC's perpetuate a problem that already exists....white people stereoyping us. An example: I would also like to point out that Scandinavian women do not burst into tears over shit, because they come from a different culture that has taken 3rd wave feminism to a whole new level. So this white women's tears and racism deflection by the majority is a uniquely North American problem. Granted projections and nuiances of racism exist worldwide but the whole "pathetic crying thing" is very American, very antebellum, very Southern, and very Upper class. This is why white Europeans make fun of white American women. I've traveled a lot and this is one of the negative stereotypes about white americans that is pervasive in the rest of the world.

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  177. baradaban,

    That all seems true, but you need to check the subtitle of this blog.

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  178. thank you Barbadian...

    For telling me that I am imagining shit in my corner of the globe which is infact in Europe and not America.

    Thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart for pointing out that POC pointing out a common trait they have encountered during their own experience is simply perpetuating a black stereotype.

    Also, thanks for negating everyone else's experience in place of your own and for missing the damn point.

    Bravo. You have done well

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  179. Is Any Body Listening? IABLJune 15, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    @M. Gibson: You like fantasy fiction? Have you read the Inheritance Cycle books: Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini? Well, in these books is a 20-year old young black woman named Nasuada, who ascends to power as Commander of the Allied Army.

    The protagonist or hero is a white male, who had never seen black people before and comments about it in his thoughts. Well, this character, whose name is Eragon, becomes a Rider of a blue dragon, and due to war-time circumstances, vows himself to Lady Nasuada as her sworn vassal. She becomes his lord. He is one of the most powerful males in the land.

    OK... on the official forums, the white girls are going absolutely crazy at the thought that Eragon and Nasuada may end up together in marriage. Eragon is shown being infatuated with a "delicate" damsel fair elf princess, who is disrespectful to his “brothers,” and who doesn't return his lusts. Because the author has written some tale-tale lines that hint at the possibility that Eragon and Nasuada may get romantically paired together, the white girls have launched into full TEAR & TANTRUM CAMPAIGN, calling their possible union stupid and impossible and threatening to burn the books and vomit and so on, if Eragon and Nasuada end up romantically involved or if Nasuada became a dragon Rider.

    The WWTT campaign launched the moment Eragon got down on bended knee and swore himself to Nasuada! Their campaign (1) makes sure to point out that they are NOT being racist to deny the possibility of their romance; (2) makes sure to find every tiny crumb in the story to paint her as some power-hungry witch --to appointed positions no less, she did not ask to be Leader of the Varden and she did not ask to be Commander of the Allied Army and she did not ask for Eragon to swear himself to her-- in other words, they've launched character smear tactics; (3)makes sure to vocalize how puzzled they are that this black female is "what?" getting her own point of view (POV) chapters in the books, because they can't see how she can possibly be important in Eragon's journey; (4)make sure to promote an alternative relationship, like to Eragon's older brother Murtagh, who happens to be a slave to the opposing king and fighting on the "bad" side against her in the war. They make sure to point out that the author stated in an interview that he never intended for Nasuada's character to become so prominent. The author knew exactly what he was doing giving the WWTT jerkers false comfort that "awww, there there now, this black female character wasn't meant to be so powerful." They ate it up, and are using it in their new (5) "character devaluation campaign" that Nasuada's character is "nothing."

    The author clearly has made her quite powerful and dominant and passionate, yet the WWTT jerkers cling to that author's comment for dear life, refusing to realize that though she may not have been meant to be this prominent --SHE IS!!! She is not the invisible black woman they are trying so desperately to make her. She is the main character's LORD and COMMANDER, whom he has declared that he cares about beyond his duty as her vassal!!! The WWTT jerkers have launched their war against this character's presence and dominance in the story. They have been doing this heftily without press, blog or forum opposition countering by the spreading of LOVE for this character. I ponder if the WWTT jerkers may be successful or if the author was prepared for controversy when he included her character in this medieval fantasy fiction tale.

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  180. IABL said...
    “Because the author has written some tale-tale lines that hint at the possibility that Eragon and Nasuada may get romantically paired together, the white girls have launched into full TEAR & TANTRUM CAMPAIGN, calling their possible union stupid and impossible and threatening to burn the books and vomit and so on, if Eragon and Nasuada end up romantically involved or if Nasuada became a dragon Rider.”

    lol
    I love how you wrote this...
    What this review says to me is that white women are well aware of their station in this country. That even though they act naïve of this fact at times (playing to white male expectations) they’re well aware of their worth and status over non-white women, and will employ all available means (Tears) at their disposal to maintain that social hierarchy.

    I’ve read some science fiction, not much though,
    Ray Bradbury: The Other Foot.
    Ray Bradbury: All Summer in a Day
    Philip José Farmer: Riverworld
    A few Clive Barker books;
    The Hellbound Heart, Weaveworld, The Inhuman Condition, The Damnation Game, but I do love science fiction fantasy in film. (Eye-candy)

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  181. Anyone seen this on Racialicious? I'm specifically referring to the comments thread, where a huge number of comments are defending the teacher with crap about how the white teacher must have suffered from allergies or “fragrance sensitivity”.

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  182. Riche - that's outrageous. What a throwback to the days of white people being offended by the "smell of Negroes."

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  183. @riche,
    yeah, I was really frustrated by that thread.

    To me, the teacher was out and out wrong--and it doesn't really matter to me why she did what she did. It's racist, plain and simple.

    But I can also appreciate that many commenters were frustrated by the ableism that characterized many of the comments about chemical sensitivities.

    It seemed like a false dichotomy was created with people feeling that they had to choose between calling the teacher a racist and validating the seriousness of chemical sensitivities, not realizing that they could do both.

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  184. As a disabled woman, let me say...disability is NEVER an excuse for acting racist.

    To use it as such is an insult to POC *and* all people with disabilities...especially people of color with disabilities.

    Suggesting that we can't be "moral" or hold to basic standards of respect for others because we have disabilities...You want ableism? THAT'S ableism.

    /vent

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  185. @Soul;
    Soul you made a comment about what I said. I was under the earlier post name, "Baradaban"

    You do realize that I am Black right? I felt the need to metion my race because I got the impression from your comments that you might think that I am a white person trying to discredit this blog topic and everyone's comments. So I feel the need to mention that I am a Black woman.

    In regards to your comments:
    No, I am not saying that you don't have a right to your feelings or the experiences that you have each day. What I was specifically saying with my previous comment was that I do believe that this is a "class issue" as well as a "race issue." Class is just as much of an issue as Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia are in this country. (and any other "ism" that one can think of). I am reiterating this because of some comments that I saw later on about what I had posted. If we are going to have a discussion about human behavior because at the end of the day, any discussions about racism are about human behavior then we have to talk about culture and if we talk about culture then we have to talk about class. Just like there are certain behaviors in the Black community in the U.S. which are considered acceptable and unacceptable depending on class (wealthy black people vs poor black people) it is the same with white americans as well.

    Regarding the comic strip in this blog posting and "Misty's faux tears" to avoid discussing the real issue, which was her racist comment, we must also consider the fact that her "reaction of removing culpability from herself" and her "tears" are a integral part of class/race and gender in the U.S. The wealthy, helpless, white damsel in distress. Even if you vehemently disagree with me and as you are reading these comments, you are getting angry; as an academic and as someone who is examining human behavior, class must be considered.

    Would Misty have reacted that way if she were White, Poor, and from the poorest area of Detroit Michigan?

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  186. @Bardaban/LeBoitedePandore
    "I have encountered many working class white girls, who when they are confronted with their own racism and white privilege....they don't cry or make it all about them, they will beat ass. I've seen it."

    Ultimately, both types are unwilling to face their own racism. Some are passive about it while others get aggressive. Great curve ball with the classism there. Thanks for playing.

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  187. LaBoitedePandore

    I think its safe to say that we all know that not ALL white women exhibit the trait of WWTs (give us some credit lol), however the class issue does not negate the fact that if given the opportunity to redirect any negative attention that "some" white woman won't do it. I've seen many white females regardless of class exhibit WWT tears, to cover their asses in various situations when they were in the wrong. WWTs is not exclusive to white women of middle and upper class. They have the privilege of whipping out the tears if its convenient for them at whatever situation if they really don't want to take responsibility for their actions especially when race is involved. As I said before, do all white women do this? No. However they do have the privilege of using it, and I personally believe that all of them are aware of that in some manner.

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  188. @Bardaban/LeBoitedePandore

    Yes. You left your black credentials in your first post. Why in holy heck would you think my response to you would be different based on your race?. I think it might do you well to check your presumptions and assumptions at the door.

    ohhh I get it!!!. At some point you are going to tell us about being told by black folk that you 'sound white' right.... right? cos you know most of us negresses on this board ain't neva hearded that ish =.. no, no. Not neva.
    where is witchsista when you need her

    I mean seriously, are you fucking kidding me?.
    Okay let me ask the question: What in my post made you say that?.
    - Was it the thanking you for negating my experiences? or
    - Thanking you for saying POC in some way might be perpetuating a stereotype
    - or the thanking you for negating my experiences?

    Which of these 3 things led to your absurd deduction?


    I refuted your post cos it didn't make any darn sense to my reality.
    My response was based on the tired ITS CLASSISM strawman you are employing as well as its AN AMERICAN THING!

    I am not American, I don't live in America and when I type my experiences on this board people don't even realise that, because the behaviours being spoken of are endemic in my corner of the world.

    Why you keep trying to ignore this and undermine my experiences with your.. 'its an American and class issue' i have no idea.

    Saying something repeatedly does not make it right. You just repeated everything you said in your first post and it still doesn't address the fact that you are maligning other POC who experience WWT outside the US.

    You have made your case and I refuted it, NOT your race. What ever issues you have with your race are not my concern
    Simple.

    ReplyDelete
  189. @M. Gibson and IABL: Here. I've read those Inheritance books and yes the WW are "crying" out loud about the hero possibly ending up with Nasuada. But, I want to point out how these WW use the internet to lobby for what they want to see or rather demand for the author to do in his upcoming book sequel. Sorry to say it, but their WWT have gone uncontested because, well, I just don't know of many black women who even read fantasy fiction to know that this black female character even exists. Sorry. I hope the WWT don't prevail and the author does something breakingly different for once. IDK. It would be to his credit, if he did. He's already taken the "risk" in developing such a character, he might as well go all the way.

    Another thing I'd like to second is that you see how inconsiderate these WW can be to promote Nasuada being with the slave whose fighting in opposition to her, not the hero whose fighting along side of her. If Nasuada were a WW, I seriously don't think they'd be trying to pair her off with the slave instead of the hero. Again, I hope they don't succeed with these WWT on this.

    ReplyDelete
  190. @garbanzo,
    So let me get this straight... WWT in sci-fi again are black womens' fault?
    Its because black women aren't visible on this?.

    Right..

    Because if black women are aggressive enough and scream loud enough and fight hard enough this wouldn't happen. Right?.

    Exactly how many fronts do you think black women are fighting on?.

    You know, google is your friend, use it.
    Cos us black female sci-fi readers and writers are here, we are just not shouting around waving our damn hands in the air asking to be treated specially because of it.

    Seriously your ignorance is not an excuse.

    http://ankhesen-mie.livejournal.com/31163.html
    http://theangryblackwoman.com/2009/08/05/this-is-why-science-fiction-cant-have-nice-things/

    These are simply the authors/discussions I know.

    I guess black women are spending their time writing their own stories instead of whinning about it.

    ReplyDelete
  191. @ garbanzo,

    "I hope...the author does something breakingly different for once."

    Oh, like write something good?

    Also, why did you assume no Black women read fantasy? Does everyone on all these discussion boards (that you obviously read...) say, "I'm white, and I don't want them to hook up"? Or are you making an assumption based on the idea that white people are the "default human"? (Yes, I'm challenging you to examine your thought process).

    And finally: if you don't know many Black female SF fans, why are you assuming you know what ALL of them want? And that they'd all want the same thing?

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  192. @willow...

    Its because 'he is special'.
    Cue the 'I grew up listening to rock music and other black kids teased me, people say I don't sound black and I hate hiphop'.

    Don't you know, that us negress biatches are to blame for people trying to abus and missues us?.
    I'd cry, but erm...
    You know us negresses we don't cry we are made of fucking plutonium.

    ReplyDelete
  193. @willow.. also notice something in garbanzo's comment.....

    He is basically saying, black women no one will fight for you.
    You know, its that old chestnut, black women you are on your own. If you are not there to defend yourself no-one will defend you, people simply see it as a failing of black women for not being there.

    See WW fdon't even have to be there or be arguing for anything for people to defend them, they don't even need to be crying.
    Here's Garbanzo saying :
    Hey black women, its your fault these white women are attacking you, because really you are not there to defend yourself'.

    Amazingly pathetic, but amazing nonetheless

    ReplyDelete
  194. @ soul
    "If you are not there to defend yourself no-one will defend you, people simply see it as a failing of black women for not being there."

    I put myself through reading his posts again...apparently the WW actually attacking you are merely "inconsiderate." Because this is a matter of being polite. :o(

    @ garbanzo, you fail logic forever.

    ReplyDelete
  195. Oh yes, another classic case of white racial bonding that supposedly doesn't exist. This also mirrors a popular sentiment expressed when someone is called out for saying/doing something racist...that it depends on intent and the morals of the person. It's a copout.

    ReplyDelete
  196. I also written an article similar to this topic.
    I call it the double victim strategy. This tactic is very common but rarely addressed.
    http://hubpages.com/hub/Double-Victim-Strategy

    ReplyDelete

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