Friday, January 22, 2010

secretly fear that one day, the tables will be turned

A valued reader recently sent me this photo. I'd seen it before, but I can't remember where. Nor do I know the story behind it.

Does anyone here know about it?

That's one of those thousand-word pictures, isn't it? Words of my own can never do it justice. Actually, "poetic justice" are two words that do seem to fit, until I look more closely, and see that the black hospital staff are trying to save this Klansman, rather than hasten his demise.

The title of this blog post suggests what I see evoked by that image, and also by the one below, which was left on a wall by the British artist, Banksy. Both of these images look to me like fragments from a fevered white dream. Or maybe, from some Surrealist's effort to represent the depths of the collective white American psyche.

I don't think it's just the KKK and their ilk that have that fear -- a fear that some day, the white race will get its just deserts. I also don't think all that many white individuals are walking around with that fear, at least consciously. I do think, though, that a more collective white racial fear of that sort exists, however it is that things like that work.

But that's just what comes to mind for me when I ponder these images. I'm sure that if they represent anything to other viewers, they represent differently, depending on the person.

Banksy left this artwork on the wall of a gas station, just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. The image on the left is his; the image on the right is what was left of it, after some locals took offense.

I imagine that the people who spray-painted over Banksy's art were white, but I can't be sure of that.

I wonder what they felt when they saw it? What drove them to blacken it so thoroughly?

Apparently, some locals actually did like Banksy's image. The African American man who owns the gas station that Banksy chose, for instance.

What are some of the thousand words evoked for you by either or both of these images?

And/or, if you'd like to address it -- do you think there's such a thing as a collective white psyche (or consciousness, or unconscious)?

If so, what do you suppose is in there?

Update: As several readers pointed out, the first image is from an old ad campaign:


  1. The photo in the ER has always made me laugh at how ironic life really is.

    Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies I would often hear my white co-workers confess that they thought that we were going to kill all of them. I think that the turbulent times left that type of impression on their minds.

    I also think that fear still is very much a reality for many White people today. I will contend that the chickens are coming back home to roost. Only they are not necessarily a domestic brand.

  2. The people who spraypainted over the art WERE in fact white. Two men saw them and ended up talking to the garage owner, who gave them one of the panels.

  3. 1st pic:

    I would imagine that blacks had some degree of direct influence over that klansman's wellbeing well before he landed in the ER--cooking his food in restaurants, a black mechanic working on his car, black customers for a store he might have owned, maybe a black housekeeper with access to his home and family.

    The "tables" in that regard had always been a bit more "turned" than perhaps his white hood and robe would suggest. In fact, here his costume strikes me more as a veil behind which to escape from a multiracial reality (into which he has now been delivered) than a uniform through which he can somehow transform it.

    And, huh, I guess they did call themselves "grand wizards," huh? Is an appeal to a magical and transformative occult influence further demonstrative of an attempt to escape this multiracial reality as opposed to a pragmatic approach to changing it?

  4. I don't know what to say about the images other than the first one reminds me of a skit from Dave Chapelle and second one reminds the viewer of lynchings of black Americans that took place in the South. I think Banksy's grafitti represents the KKK getting their just desert and justice for being terrorists. For many African Americans the KKK is a terrorist group based not on religious fanaticism or politics but racism. I don't know why people blacked the image out. I didn't know Banksy was in the U.S. The blacking out just goes to show Americans can't take criticisms from foreigners, especially when they can learn from a non American viewpoint about their own country. But Americans don't mind critizing foreigners on everything they do wrong and America does right.

    For anyone who thinks we live in a post-racial America we don't. Racism is not over with Obama. Just look at how blacks are portrayed in the media, Haitians who survived the earthquake are called looters for trying find food, medicines and other necessities for children and families when U.S. military and soldiers control the airport in Port au Prince and refuses to allow the aid piling up on the turmac to leave the airport because they are terrified that most Haitians searching for safety outside Port au Prince are dangerous and its unsafe beyond the airport gates. The same was said about Katrina. Why are victims of natural diasters who are black or other people of color always viewed as a threat, looters or prone to violence when whites and Europeans in same shoes are not?

    Look at how Obama is portrayed as not being "truly black" because he, the first lady and other African Americans don't fit the one size fits all sterotypes of Blacks as rappers, jokesters, thugs, etc. Sorry I went off on a tangent but I thought I'd put my thoughts out there. All this came from the two pictures.

  5. First image is from an old ad campaign:

  6. I like Banksy's work.

    Obviously the people who painted over it are racist just looking at the comments section on the link some people are glad it got rubbed out.

    In reply to your most most white people do fear the tables will turn that is why they are scared to become the minority becasue they fear the same treatment that POC go through will happen to them and that says a lot because they know its bad but are not saying anything about it because they recognise their priviledge.

    However even if whites become the minority in USA it does not mean that they won't have power and priviledge though look at South Africa.

  7. Aan, I don't think you went off on a tangent at all. Moreover, I never thought we were in a post-racial society after Obama's election. I am not surprise at the media's reporting of Haiti. It was only a matter of days before the survivors were labeled looters and portray as dangerous criminals, trying to destory what is left of Haiti. It's typical the portrayal is similar to that of wild, savage animals. Worldwide, white priviledge is prevalent. I believe for some whites, the thought of a miniority challenging an unfair system or surpassing expectations 'set' for us is consider frightening to some members of the dominant group. POCs are generally characterize as 'dangerous' or have some insane agenda to murder all whites with 'militant' language when answers are demanded for visible injustice. It is ideal for us to live in a diverse and equal society. However, fear of individuals whose status has historically been view as 'inferior' rising to the level of equal dominance is the elephant in the room.

  8. The overarching theme of having the tables turned is interesting. As many people have pointed out, there is this tense common psyche that may exist among whites. I think that racism as a direct result of scientifically based explorations points to how racism is just a part of the many forms of oppression that exist. Oppression must base itself off of group/collective psychic energy, as this blog analyzes in the more subtler aspects of racism.

    It's so comfortable to go into herd mentality and run with the lemmings, and you would think that education can help undo that. But education can, many times (most?), just stress this herd mentality. What exists in the collective white psyche is such an important question to ask, because if we'd only use half the rationale/logic to question our own inclinations, we might be awed by the absurdity of what we think.

    To say that POCs are going to do better than whites is probably not an accurate premise to go off of, but to let that argument stop any fruitful reflection on racism is probably worse. But good sense tells me that this line of thinking (paternalism in many respects) is the conclusion many would come to.

    These are my assumptions and musings...

    I'm a bit confused about how the American/foreigner bit fit into what you were saying? I may be apologetic for the U.S., but I think in general people get defensive when confronted with correct (or insightful?) criticism.

  9. Speaking to the Banksy image:
    Although there are whites who would probably agree the KKK is a group of bad- misguided whites, most can’t seem to get beyond the fact that it is still a white man hanging from that rope; be he from the KKK or no. This reversal seems beyond some whites to comprehend- so it’s best to turn the tables and call the black Artist a racist. Defer the fact that the KKK evokes memories of lynching, hatred and terror of countless generations. “I don’t care what these men may have done- this is just wrong,” some whites are saying.

    It seems poetic justice to me; but it troubles whites to see this in whatever context. Just as in the Nat Turner's rebellion of 1831 it brings to the surface deep seated white fear of the other. That maybe one day, bottom rail will be on top this time; spoken by a freed black slave in the Union Army to his old master.

    It may be why we don’t see many dead white people in the news. Whites just can’t bear to see harm come to themselves even if that person is an avowed racist. White skin is protected by centuries of privilege; hence white skin harmed in any context is simply unbearable for some. Course when the Klan lynched blacks the hooded white men were still portrayed as good decent folk.

    Many times reporters would be on the scene of a lynching, describing the crowd as orderly- well behaved. The reporter might mention how respectful the men were to the women in the crowds by not cursing. Children were gently urged up to the front of the mob to get a good view of the burning/hanging black corpse.

    The image of this helpless white man clothed in the symbols hatred; at the mercy of these Nigras for his very life is poetic justice. The Klansman bleeding on that table, he’s not a Klan member any more. His robes mean nothing, for white power/privilege can do little to save him in this situation. At this point he is a human being fighting for his life.

    The dedicated black nurses and physicians in this image are true heroes. Putting aside whatever feelings they may harbor for the man (in his finally-tailored robes) to do their jobs. The last glimpse of humanity will be the black faces he’s railed against his whole life. Oh the sweet sweet irony.

  10. The first, I see a small narrative, I guess. Despite the fact that the bleeding Klansman deserves to have the tables turned on him, the medical around him will do their best, working around their repulsion at the man. Or they'd use the "conscience clause" and step away. Not because they're saints or any such rubbish, but because they are medical professionals in an emergency situation.

    The first panel of the second image, I see justice. The second, I see fear and anger and denial.

    I don't know if there's such a thing as a white collective subconsciousness, but if there is one, it's ugly, full of the stuff that we WP like to push down and deny and pretend that we or other WP never did or thought of.

  11. I love at the image as ending racism or killing off racist spirits. Of course there are whites that fear that the tables will turn. However, in some elements it already has. We have a Black President, whether effective or not. We have more blacks and other minorities in political offices than we have had in a long time. The tables are turning already.

  12. The image at the top of the entry is from a series of advertisements.

  13. @Aiyo: That was my first reaction. A lot of white people would be scared if they were the minority (coughSarahPalincough). Why? Because they know, in some vague, uncomfortable way, how they treat other POCs is wrong and could very well happen to them.

    and I actually see the second picture reflecting the same sort of thing. I imagine their thinking process goes something along these lines:

    -uh oh. here's a white guy. lynched.
    -Fuck. By who? Probably a POC. Like white people did to black men.
    -Discomfort alert! Discomfort alert!
    -But lyching black guys was YEARS ago and I never did it! I am NOT a racist and this imagery is making me uncomfortable because I am not a racist.
    -Let me just make a few modifications to make myself happy

    OR, the last 2 bullets could have read:
    -I AM a racist asshat
    -how dare they lynch a hero? I better cover it up


  14. My first thought of the Klansmen is pain and suffering. All I see and feel is his hurt. I hate to see pain and suffering from anyone, anyone even a klan member. My heart goes out to him.

    My second thought is one of wonderment. Is he aware of the situation? Did he later see this picture and have a change of heart? Even if he can't come to terms with it and actually verbalize his feelings, what goes on in his mind?

    Thirdly, I think of the triage unit. What are their thoughts?What are their thoughts? I can clearly see their intensity and their ernest attempts at doing the job before them.


    The one guy over the klansmen could be pushing the knife in further... the woman in the foreground could be requesting 20 cc's of cyanide -- stat!!!

    Lastly, I wonder where my mind would go in a similar situation. Would I hesitate? Would my personal experiences, prejudices & pain lead me to make some attempt, even in the slightest way to seek retribution? Would I in this instance become an arbiter of hate, just like him... or much much worse?

  15. On the Banksy piece, the artist in me loves the statement. I like that no one was really hurt. But a notion, a thought and perhaps sentiment was hung on that day. That day when the spray paint hit the wall and an image formed that turned a common accepted visage on it's head.

    If it were a black man stenciled on that wall it may have made the local news. It would have upset some locals for sure. And it may have added a faint brick to the wall of racism common in the world today.

    But because it's a hooded man that typifies the imagery of hatred in some parts of America it does blow afoul in a collective white psyche. One that would not readily imagine this type of imagery nor would it be actually deemed as a possibility. Because to believe this type of action or image would be to entertain a complete reversal of power. Even if only for a moment and if only in a picture. Somethings are just very hard to accept.

  16. The first image conveys hope. The idea that people can overlook hatred to do their jobs (and not just any job but saving lives) and maybe (hopefully the klan member will discover humanity) The second makes me cringe. I don't like images of any kind that suggest another person's life being taken and my being white doesn't have anything to do with that. I would feel just as awful seeing the same image with someone else hanging there.

  17. @ MGibson: we ONLY see dead white people in the news. Dead POC don't matter.

  18. 'Equal rights, not special rights.'

    This topic has come up several times before--WP's tendency to believe that "ending racism" doesn't mean equality among people of all races, but rather that POC will be oppressors and WP will become the oppressed. A POC commenter correctly noted (don't remember the thread) that this is, in itself, a sign of the [white] oppressor's mindset.

    It's an important fear to call out and critique because I think it underlies a *lot* of white resistance to anti-racist efforts. WP tend to perceive affirmative action, for example, *not* as an effort to balance out historical oppression, but rather to set POC ahead of whites.

    The point of anti-oppression movements in general, I think, is to get rid of "the tables" altogether.

  19. The white people I've known who expressed the most fear about "the tables being turned" are also the ones who currently exercise the most arbitrary and unforgiving power over other people.

    I realized in reading this post that I always shrugged off their concerns as being unrealistic on two levels: First, the scenarios seem more indicative of their own fears and and projections than an actual risk; and second, even if some of what they fear did come to pass, I wasn't worried about it because I trusted that non-white people would not hold their actions against ME.

    I am just now realizing how much white privilege is tied up in that second part. Whoa, major blindspot for me! Talk about taking completely for granted my right to be treated and responded to as an individual rather than a representative of a racial or ethnic group.

    Thanks for prompting me to think about this.

  20. If white people have this inner fear then doesn't it mean that they know that they are wrong? If they know that what they are doing is wrong then why do they ask POC for help? Also recently this fear seems to be popping up more since white people are expected to be the minority in 2040.

  21. Eman said...
    "@ MGibson: we ONLY see dead white people in the news. Dead POC don't matter."

    Now that's deep...
    Amazing the more you think about it...
    And sad..

  22. Is it really that much of a secret that white people fear having the tables turned on them someday? I doubt there's much secret or unconscious about it at all.

    And really, why shouldn't they fear having the tables turned on them? Are there a lot of examples in history where a group that used to be the majority didn't get their just desserts once the tables turned? My guess is that the weight of historical examples shows the opposite is the case.

    If anything, I'm surprised they aren't MORE afraid.

  23. Whoever on here mentioned South Africa as example of a powerful white minority--I'm with you, just FYI.

    I can't presume to know the collective white psyche, but I do smell that fear whenever demographics are mentioned. Years ago in my social psychology class I remember a lot of students were talking in class and kind of ignoring the lecture until the professor finally just said, "We're dying out. We're starting to disappear."

    Dead silence, y'all. She had their--and my--full attention as she almost solemnly went on. But when the topic passed, the talking resumed, and the denial (?) returned.

    I can't predict what's going to happen when the numbers finally change, though I can say it would be in the very best interest of whites to start making greater efforts to get long and understand POC. Because white denial does not and never has helped anyone. The mentality of, "Oh, some other generation will have to deal with it" is sort of what got the country into this mess in the first place.

    As for the images, it's my understanding the first one was a "creation" and not real, but no less wonderful. The second is powerful and all the good ways. The idea that "no one should have to go through that," IMHO, is bullshit. People should reap what they sow--end of story. What KKK member, while stringing up an innocent, was saying, "You know, darkie, ain't nobody should have to go through this." If his conscience did in fact speak up at all, it clearly wasn't loud enough.

    If WP are uncomfortable with Banksy's work, then it's simply because of the message's brutal honesty: "In the end, one way or another, everyone's held accountable. As Tim Wise would say, 'Victims have long memories.'"

    That image should've been left up. In fact, artists need to replicate it in as many ways as many times as possible and spread it across the country. Watch the denial start to crumble and shatter. Because I agree with M. Gibson in that [some] WP aren't even noticing the robes because they're too busy having a panic attack about the man's skin.

    Be uncomfortable. It truly is a luxury not to be.

  24. It is worth pointing out that we are making an ASSUMPTION about the colour of the man in the Banksy painting. We're judging him by his clothing, as if it where the colour of his skin, although I think it's no accident Banksy hid the hands. What he's given us is a set of clothing, and we've peopled it with our preconceptions.

    The vandals obviously thought it was a picture of them in some deep way, so they tried to destroy it and its power. And by doing so, they made their assumption true.

  25. Class of 13: Exactly. I've always wondered the same thing. This fear that some white ppl have, especially those who are most outwardly racist--doesn't it denote guilt?

    Raincoaster: Nah. Just, no.

  26. @macon,
    Haven't read the comments yet, but I have to say this:
    "Poetic justice"? That... threw me. No, I'll be 100% honest: it's seriously bugging me. How is the first photo (illustration?) depicting poetic justice? Sure, the Klansman is at the mercy of a black ER crew, but they are apparently rushing to save his life despite the robe. Wouldn't vernacular "poetic justice" be something more like the Klansman bleeding out and flatlining while the ER crew just stands there smiling?

    To me, that photo is depicting something a lot more... I don't know, noble? than "poetic justice." It's very nearly the opposite.

    Bleh. I'm a little upset. I'll be simpler:
    Calling it poetic justice seems like a sincere expression of the very fear you're talking about.

  27. It's not merely a fear that PoC will have the power, it's a fear/assumption that PoC will abuse that power the way whiteness has. It is, to be absolutely blunt, a fear that they will all be hanging from trees if and when the colored folk get control.

    [It reminds me of those men who accuse feminists of "just wanting to institute a matriarchy!"— assuming that a) that "matriarchy" is synonymous with "subjugation of men," and b) that's the only option to patriarchy. It kinda says something about a person that the only kind of change they can imagine is switching who's being oppressed.]

    The White Fear deeply annoys me. It's based on the idea that "well, you know, given the chance, anyone would do what whiteness did/does." It's a kind derailment tactic; as noted, the person claiming this vaguely recognizes the shitty treatment that whiteness has actually doled out— and gets the hell away from that ASAP by fixating on what PoC would hypothetically do "if the tables were turned," concluding that it would just as bad if not worse, because "um, uh, power corrupts!" and metaphorically dusting their hands off with a "case closed!" air. The idea somehow being that chattel slavery, lynchings, institutionalized racism, etc. are just neutral, instinctive expressions of fundamental human nature, so y'know, "how can anyone be blamed? you'd do the same!" And if they really want to drive you off the deep end, they'll bring up Nat Turner or Dutty Boukman as "proof." [Do I have that right, Capt Howdy?? I assume those are the kinds of historical "examples" you're referring to?]

    Somehow— maybe I'm crazy— there's a hint of superiority even in this. Among other things, it seems to assume that given any tiny bit of power, nonwhite people would become brutal hypocrites with insanely short memories, driven only by their craving for bloody vengeance. Unlike WP, who had noble goals (nobler than lowly, barbaric revenge) and... shit, I don't even know, exercised restraint? Or something??

  28. Willow mentioned the common white belief that to fight racism (i.e., to end the oppression of PoC) would mean eventually becoming the oppressed.

    Just wanted to co-sign. It's very true. In a room with one hundred people in it, if half the people were black and half white, the whites would feel hopelessly outnumbered (this phenomenon has been noted with men, too -- when in a large group men and women are equally represented, the men feel outnumbered).

    I guess it makes sense. If you're white, then generally speaking you're used to walking into situations and automatically being part of a powerful majority. Anything less would feel like being marginalized.

  29. karinova wrote,

    "Poetic justice"? That... threw me. No, I'll be 100% honest: it's seriously bugging me. How is the first photo (illustration?) depicting poetic justice? Sure, the Klansman is at the mercy of a black ER crew, but they are apparently rushing to save his life despite the robe. Wouldn't vernacular "poetic justice" be something more like the Klansman bleeding out and flatlining while the ER crew just stands there smiling?

    To me, that photo is depicting something a lot more... I don't know, noble? than "poetic justice." It's very nearly the opposite.

    Bleh. I'm a little upset. I'll be simpler:
    Calling it poetic justice seems like a sincere expression of the very fear you're talking about.

    Thanks for pointing that out, karinova, and I apologize for describing that image in an upsetting way. I can now see how my perceiving "poetic justice" in that situation, merely because the Klansmen is in a racial situation that he'd never in a million years want to be in, overlooks how the medical staff is depicted as frantically trying to save him, rather than gleefully hastening his demise. I've now edited that part of the post; please let me know if the edit doesn't address your concerns well.

    FTR, here's what that part of the post used to say:

    That's one of those thousand-word pictures, isn't it? Words of my own can never do it justice. (Actually, "poetic justice" are two words that do seem to fit.)

  30. What I find rather remarkable is that when white people fear that the tables will be turned, it's always in a negative way. They never support the idea of table-turning in a positive way. Like turn the table by assuming the credibility of a PoC in the way you'd assume the credibility of a WP. Like listen when a PoC talks the way you'd listen to a WP speaking. Like cast a PoC (not Denzel, Halley, or Cuba) for a lead role in a movie and DON'T make the movie about race and don't just market it toward PoC. Turn the tables in a way that doesn't "even the playing field" by denying privilege. Even it by spreading the privilege across the table so everyone can have some of it. It should not be a privilege to be respected. Yet, somehow it is.

    The problem is that it's tied to White Guilt. White people have "slavery was bad, and white people in America did it, and that was bad, and we should have been punished but we weren't but now it's too late because we didn't do the enslaving and slavery's over" floating in their minds somewhere. White people are ok with feeling guilt until the day that they die if it means they never have to endure the pain of admitting people are still affected by it and that they're rightfully angered by that. We can't handle having people angry with us - and possibly resentful too. WP do fear that the other shoe will drop on them. So it leads to a flawed outlook on table-turning. We can't see how there is a positive way of going at that

  31. That first picture made me think of my husband, a Black physician who has treated many a white person who deliberately called him racist names and made other derogatory comments as he worked to ease their pain or save their life. Some were delusional or had dementia, so it was their thoughts that they might think but would "never" say out loud, and some were people perfectly lucid, just pissed to have a Black doctor.

  32. It's not merely a fear that PoC will have the power, it's a fear/assumption that PoC will abuse that power the way whiteness has. It is, to be absolutely blunt, a fear that they will all be hanging from trees if and when the colored folk get control.


  33. @amanda:
    Your husband is a true Healer. I don't know if I could do that (not that I would react with hate, I just think I'd spend a lot of time crying, frozen with shock and world-breaking heart-hurt, unable to do my job. I'd burn out immediately). I've heard of cases like that before, and even though I like to think nothing racist shocks me, they do, every time. You'd think having your life saved by your "enemy" might change your thinking, but somehow it just makes them more hateful?? Life literally isn't worth living if they have to be attended by a PoC? It's some kind of madness. Would these people rip the transplanted hearts from their chests if they found out the donor was nonwhite? Would they even notice, "Oh, hey. I'm alive!"?

    Finally visited that Snopes link about the first image, and: Sweet baby Jesus. That campaign consisted of about 15 kinds of fail. And how do those ads go together? And WHAT IS UP with that tagline?? Even if I earnestly try to think like a hipster asshat, I can't make sense of any it. Interesting that Snopes, which usually explains the sociological origins of the urban legends they debunk, offered basically no commentary at all.

  34. @Karinova re: Amanda: No - it makes sense that they'd be MORE hateful because they're in a POC's "debt" so to speak. God forbid that they ever be beholden to one.

  35. 1. I'll give the station owner kudos for guts and also foolhardiness. I am glad that he is ok.
    2. I will admit that the drawing also reminded me of Abu Ghraib.
    3. I find it hard to believe that the majority of whites fear for their/our lives, but they do fear for their/our vanity and privileges.
    4. There is a very distinct racist element within the conservative non-denominational and neo-Pentecostalist Protestant movements. The back-to-the-land "Quiverfull" (maximal childbearing) movement, with fear of the "evils of the city" seems to be all white. Excluding these sectarians, I don't imagine that fearful whites are going to increase family size. The racist commentators are talking to each other and not to the average white family for whom middle class expectations, housing prices, availability of jobs, availability of childcare are the main factors determining family size.

  36. i agree with the post about people assuming the hanging figure was white. although i'm sure most people assume that the figure is white because of his outfit, i do notice that the hands are either dark, or in shadow to be hidden. banksy might have been making a statement about how, in a way, kkk was also hurting themselves when they hurt others -- racism and terror are beneficial for no one.

    also, i don't know much about banksy, but i wonder if he's from the south. being from georgia i can imagine what kind of ire this could stir up, and i think it's insensitive and borderline offensive of banksy to not think about what people in birmingham of all races would feel after seeing the image. even thought it says the people who covered it were white, i wouldn't have been surprised if the defilers were POCs.

  37. Annie, fwiw, Banksy is British. (Apparently. He's pretty elusive.)

  38. @karinova - it seems like you were asking me to reply, so here it is:

    As far as examples of cases where the tables get turned on previously dominant groups, I vaguely know about the Nat Turner rebellion, and Dutty Boukman is new to me before today (thanks for the references btw).

    The examples from world history that I know of are probably more prosaic: Zimbabwe, South Africa, the breakup of Yugoslavia might be relevant (or might not, not sure), I think Israel is an interesting example that might be relevant: a heavily persecuted minority finally gets a space to live in and then promptly turns around and oppresses the hell out of another minority... I'm no academic like many who comment here seem to be - are there better examples?

    Thinking about it more, I don't know if the average white American thinks much about examples like this. Again, just guessing, but I think their fears of getting their just desserts might be evoked more by incidents that they're more likely to have heard about and which strike closer to home. I'm thinking of incidents like the St. Louis bus beatings, the Baltimore bus beatings, the recent attacks in Denver, Minneapolis and Maine, the Richmond gang rape, etc.

    If someone were really interested in exploring white people's secret fears that one day the tables will be turned (which I don't think are that secret at all) ask them what they think about these recent stories - I think you would get a much stronger, more telling response than a Banksy stencil or an ad.

  39. I found the Bansky image offensive but I do think the people who crossed it out were wrong for vandalizing someone's property. I would find any depiction of murder/execution offensive no matter how much the person "deserved" it. I'm also anti dealth penalty, go figure.

  40. @ Nancy P-

    have you seen this video? Right wing European nationalist parties especially are using this type of propaganda to encourage Europeans to up their birth rates, least they be taken over by the Muslims.

    The math and statistics on this video have been disproved by the BBC, but tons of people lap this sh** up, and I don't know whether they are going to start making more babies or not, but that is clearly the intent of the video. This is not some fringe movement.

  41. I once read a letter to the editor of a religious right wing conservative magazine, in which a white South African expressed fear now that whites were no long the dominant force in South Africa. I would've laughed if I weren't so pissed. The years that black SA spent in terror and abject poverty did not cross this woman's mind, but when she realized she was no longer the center of attention, she suddenly felt "fear?"

    Arrogance is a white privilege. Many whites are not used to ppl doing to them what they do to other people. It's the only way whites will be humbled, when they are faced with images like these.

  42. I don't think this is what was intended with this post but the title reminds me of an upper-middle class white male friend of mine who is afraid that China is going to become such an economic power-house that we (in Europe/North America) will have our standard of living destroyed. I'm like, "Wuh? Is this some kind of zero-sum game going on? Aren't you more worried about the 'environmental' unsustainability of our wealth? Are the powerful Chinese are going to come invade us, steal 'our' property and otherwise turn the tables." Anyway his idea seems rather fearfully white to me. White supremacist in the sense of God forbid a country of POCs be economically supreme.

    @NancyP: I'm not sure that promotion of white reproduction is limitted to quiverfulls, who are literal about it. Individual decisions are not just about individual circumstances (childcare...); they're highly influenced by social expectations. Ever heard the expressions "three is the new two" or "competitive birthing"? I also see a lot of "white" women's magazines wagging fingers at women who wait too long and take their fertility for granted. Keep It Trill has a related post.

  43. Somehow— maybe I'm crazy— there's a hint of superiority even in this. Among other things, it seems to assume that given any tiny bit of power, nonwhite people would become brutal hypocrites with insanely short memories, driven only by their craving for bloody vengeance. Unlike WP, who had noble goals (nobler than lowly, barbaric revenge) and... shit, I don't even know, exercised restraint? Or something??

    What if some of us wanted at least some bloodshed, would we by justified? or should we be the bigger individuals and rise above the "crass" feelings or revenge and retribution?

  44. I'd like to throw in another theory. Again, I feel that I cannot always trust the media, but it always seems to me that the Far Right in this country use the "abortion" argument to cover up their intentions.

    I don't want this to turn into an abortion discussion and I'm not sure what the statistics are when it comes to race and class, but I can't help feeling in the back of my mind that the Far Right have this fear that POC will outnumber, so therefore we must do everything in our power to stop this from happening--i.e. making abortion illegal. The loudest cries seem to always come from White men.

    I remember reading somewhere (sorry can't remember the source), that Hitler "encouraged" abortion when it came to Non-Aryans, but condemned it when it came to Aryans...

  45. "do you think there's such a thing as a collective white psyche (or consciousness, or unconscious)?

    If so, what do you suppose is in there?"

    Quotes from Friends.

  46. yeah, i would say it's not too secret a fear in most white people. personally, i don't have a lot of fear of it-i don't really think that every white person would be hanging from a tree if the tables turned, but if we all did, i guess that would be deserved. so what if i PERSONALLY have never lynched anyone? i'd be willing to bet a lot of money i don't have that relatives of mine have. moreover, i think it would be of limited duration-i don't see us being able to live on the planet too much longer if we keep up the way we have been. just one more thing we probably deserve. i am a believer in karma, and i figure we'll eventually all get ours.

  47. The words that flashed through my mind when I saw the first picture were, "How far is 'be the bigger person' supposed to go?"

    As for a collective white consciousness, I've experienced it first-hand. It's not that we're psychic, but that we're a hive. We influence our members both subtly, as when children (and sometimes adults) base their worldview on off-hand comments or physical cues from other people, and overtly, as a hive member who disagrees with the consensus ("what WE believe") will rapidly be mobbed by other members of the hive in an effort to cure the dissenting opinion.

  48. Picture #1 - i do believe that if he came into a predominately Black operating room, he would be treated well and they would do all they could to save him. They took an oath and would do t their jobs. Blacks have been doing their jobs (even the ones no on else would do) since they were kidnapped and brought here generations ago. The offsprings of these GIANTS are now deserving citizens of these United States of America. Phone #2 no one should be hung but the artist has skills!

    Follow me on Twitter @blsuccess


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