Thursday, July 8, 2010

wonder if they should call out what looks like racism when non-white people do it

Two readers wrote this week with what amounts to a similar question -- is it ever okay for white people to blame non-white people for actions that they would blame white people for?

What do you think?

Reader 1 writes,

I read your blog regularly (it is a great help, thank you) and know you must receive a lot of emails from clueless white people but I’m still new and learning so I really haven’t seen much about this and I thought you could help.

Sometimes when I watch a show that originates from a non-white majority group or nation I will occasionally see racist caricatures or at least what looks like one from my white, US-based experience. Today, I saw what appeared to be a Golliwog on Univision. The character Simon from Durarara!! has been making me uncomfortable for a while because of his resemblance to black-face characters.

But is it really my place to feel anything toward these? It is my first inclination to treat it the same as racist material that originates in the US but then I think that I have no right to negotiate the racial politics of a non-white nation when, as a white person, I’m helping to contribute to white supremacy. So I guess I’m just asking: what is the proper way for a white person to react to racism in non-white nations? Thanks.

Reader 2 writes,

I want to preface this by saying a few things: I am white. I am not trying to derail the discussion, to make it all about me, or to make myself look good. I know that merely by writing you I am opening myself up to being corrected, exposed as racist, and eviscerated. I accept this.

I'm a cashier in a mixed neighborhood. When WP are openly racist, I give them my death stare, and say, "If you're going to talk like that, don't come back." Yet, when confronted with a POC telling a racist joke or anecdote (normally about some 3rd race, less frequently about WP, and rarely about BP) I carry on like I was momentarily deaf. I ignore it totally.

So what can/should I do? I'm not going to attempt to educate POC about how they should behave in the world, but I don't tolerate that behavior from WP. Am I fostering a racist atmosphere at work? I keep quiet out of the fear that I'll be seen as one of those WP who knows everything about POC/PC behavior and can't wait to let everyone know how "good" I am, and that in an of itself is racist, arrogant and lame.

Any thoughts, even blistering ones, would be great. Thank you.


  1. I've faced this specific problem recently, as I think I've mentioned in the comments before - a couple consisting of a (light-skinned, if it matters) woman of color and a white man. They made a couple of racist comments around me, and at first, I just did not laugh (which is noticeable because I am a loud and frequent laugher).

    Eventually, the lady and I went off to do something on a group trip, leaving our boyfriends behind. She made a racist generalization, and I disagreed politely and calmly with that generalization, using my white boyfriend as a counter-example. She said, "yeah, I guess that's kind of racist" and I said, "well, we all are sometimes." The next time we hung out, neither party made racist comments and when her boyfriend sounded like he was starting to, she gave him a look and a slight head shake, and he stopped.

  2. I should mention! I do feel slightly uncomfortable with the situation described above since I generally think that white people should not tell POC about what's racist. Which is why I tried to wait to disagree with a specific example, rather than calling out a casual joke she made, particularly when she would follow that up with a reference to her race. I think not laughing was really powerful here (and that's probably an indication of my white privilege, as is all of this) in letting her know that I was uncomforatble.

  3. I've only encountered this with POC family members (I'm white). Sometimes I ignore it. Other times I will talk with them about it later when we are alone. It has just struck me that in these cases what was said did not bother me as much as when I've heard white coworkers say similar things. Something for me to think about.

  4. as a WOC (Woman of Color) who have heard ignorant, racist comments from other POC, I have confronted them about it. I've constantly spoken out against racism, colorism and classism which is so prevalent in these crappy Bollywood movies (I am Indian and my family is obsessed w/ Bollycrap movies).

    so yes, I think you should speak out against racism in "non-white" entertainemnt programs and do some research about it. What you find out, may surprise you.

    for the 2nd person:

    I think a white person should ask (or confront) a POC why they think it's OK to tell racist jokes. When I was younger, I used to tell racist jokes against white people... and then I've been confronted by white people who asked me why I thought it was OK to mock white people but not OK to mock POC.

    Then I stopped with the racist jokes.

  5. I'm a white dude and no expert, but here are my thoughts.

    Reader Number 1: Racism is perpetuated by all kinds of people for all kinds of different reasons in all kinds of nations. It seems like you'd be in a complicated position if you worked on the staff of the show, or were living with a Mexican family that adored the show, and you weren't sure if you should say anything. Certainly, your place in those situations would be complicated, and to scrutinize each potential action would be appropriate. But since you're just asking about your feelings, I'd remind you that as opposed to actions, feelings just happen on their own. They don't need to be legitimized. You need any more to legitimize your discomfort than the simple fact that racism is wrong. That racism makes you uncomfortable is a good thing, because it illustrates that you actually care about the harm that it causes.

    Reader number 2: It seems to me like telling a POC that a joke about POCs, for example, would be somewhat inappropriate, at least if you don't know them. But if it's a joke about 'asians,' for example, I think it would be appropriate and amiable to express your objection. It's up to you how you want to formulate the objection, and who knows how it would be received, but I think it would be appropriate.

    In a situation in which you do know the person, I don't think it would be inappropriate to object to any racist joke from people of any skin color.

  6. I think if someone is being racist (or would it be prejudice?), then someone needs to call them out on it. I do think that we (WP) need to be careful to not be racist in doing so.

    Don't be all like "Now you listen here, BOY, let me tell you what MY mind thinks about YOURS."

  7. Most POCs usually know what's racist, so not-pointing out specifically "that's racist" has understated power.

    A deadpan glare is usually enough to convey the sentiment. An additional "Was the funny? How interesting." can drive it home.

  8. POC cannot be racist. They can be prejudiced, they can be biased, they can say terrible things about people of any race -- but saying "Hey, that's racist" to a POC (in a white-dominated country) is wrong no matter WHAT they are saying.

    You can say "Hey, that's a pretty shitty thing to say about someone". If your store's policy is to be respectful of other people, then say so. But there's a huge difference between institutionalized racism and an individual making offensive remarks, and they do not fall into the former.

  9. @Abrasink

    I'm not sure about that. If we're using the "racism = power + privilege" model, certain groups of POC definitely have more power and privilege than others. But I don't think that's something for WP to comment or make calls on.

    Homeward's deadpan stare suggestion would seem the best to me. There are many nonverbal cues to inform someone that you do not find racism or any kind of racial prejudice a laughing matter.

  10. Reader 1 said…
    “But is it really my place to feel anything toward these? It is my first inclination to treat it the same as racist material that originates in the US but then I think that I have no right to negotiate the racial politics of a non-white nation when, as a white person, I’m helping to contribute to white supremacy.”

    The proper way would be to clean up your own house first. This should serve as a lesson to the lingering legacy of racism and the detrimental effect it has on non-whites. The insidious nature of internalized racism turns non-whites against each other the very same way whites have done to them. When racism ceases to be a reality in this country then you are free to call it out in another country. Considering the sad and terrible racial climate in this country, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

    Reader 2 said…
    “So what can/should I do? I'm not going to attempt to educate POC about how they should behave in the world, but I don't tolerate that behavior from WP. Am I fostering a racist atmosphere at work? I keep quiet out of the fear that I'll be seen as one of those WP who knows everything about POC/PC behavior and can't wait to let everyone know how "good" I am, and that in an of itself is racist, arrogant and lame. ”

    This blog is about Stuff White People do, so it sounds like the classic Arab trader argument to me; for it tells white people on this blog not to feel too bad about their racism, because people of color do it too. Nevertheless, your skin color may get in the way of any rational argument you might try to make to a Poc. Privileged white person is attempting to lecture me about race? It might make you feel good deep inside to know that you call whites out just as you do Poc, (and therefore I’m not racist) but that’s not how it will be interpreted.

    So be mindful of what your skin represents when you attempt to dress-down a Poc on the virtues of race. Consequently, the minute you call a non-white out for a bigoted remark, you implicate yourself by virtue of your own race. (Least that’s how a Poc might view it)

  11. @ Abrasink

    POC cannot be racist. They can be prejudiced, they can be biased, they can say terrible things about people of any race -- but saying "Hey, that's racist" to a POC (in a white-dominated country) is wrong no matter WHAT they are saying.

    This is a point I think needs some debate. I agree that POC cannot be racist in the sense that POC collectively lack the power to enforce our own particular Race's supremacy at the expense of whites or of the other marginalized races. I can talk all day about how I think all the other races are inferior to the Black Race (i don't,btw)... but I would not be able to plug into any institutional, social or economic frameworks to impose my ideology in any meaningful way.

    HOWEVER. I submit that ANY person who acts to support white supremacy, who lives complicit with white privilege, and actively promotes any of the racist stereotypes generated by White supremacy... they are in fact Racist. Racist=Being an Instrument of Racism.

    Case in point. I am black. I went to a 99% white private school where I was one of 13 blacks in the entire student body of 1700. During one year, I and at least three other blacks joined in the torment of two black girls in particular who were attending on scholarship. We talked constantly about their hair, mocked their "ghetto fabulous" accents, and their relative "poverty." . We did this to distance ourselves from their Blackness. We did this to reinforce our own precarious places in that blindingly white campus which treated all 13 of us exactly like we treated these two girls. We couldn't see the futility of our attempt to segregate ourselves from these "ghetto girls." The white kids AND Faculty regularly mixed up our names, even tho there were only 13 of us in the whole school. We couldn't see our actions as anything but justified because THEY were making us look bad, THOSE LIVING STEREOTYPES, they were misrepresenting us... the REAL blacks.

    What we did supported White Supremacy. What we did was RACIST (not to mention classist). Yes, we were the targets of racism but we turned right around and inflicted it on our own anyway.

    I will not ever excuse what I did. I can only try and understand why I did what I did, and why I thought it was okay to do that at the time. I will NOT pretend what I did was anything but Racist. And if any white person had called me out as racist for what I was doing to one of my OWN, they would have been 10000% RIGHT to do so.

    Of course, no white kid ever did call us out as they were too busy thinking we were all somehow the same person. I'm just say'n.

  12. "POC cannot be racist."
    Yes, they can, if they're the dominant group in a country (as Japanese people are)...

  13. Read number one: Firstly I'm a WOC. That reminds me of Bobby Ologun. He contorts his faces to look like a Sambo. When I was in Japan, I was watching a show w/ him on it, and while I was enjoying (and learning the language, I couldn't help but feel so awkward..and I couldn't sake this feeling like the Japanese have been fed these stereotypes through White culture. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

    You're probably feeling like since its not from your culture, you shouldn't touch it. WRONG. As we grow up we hear the ol' "Its part of their culture" as a way to silence us from talking about the bad parts of it.

  14. I call out prejudice when both white people and other POCs express it (I am a WOC). It's more complicated for a white person to speak up in such situations, so I'm not sure what advice I would give at this point. I would just say that, in my experience, white people often (erroneously) interpret anger or joking about white supremacy or white racism as prejudice against white people. So, I would caution a WP against jumping on a POC for what they perceive as anti-white prejudice. I think it's a more clear-cut situation when it's a 3rd party who is being offended, say, when a black person makes a ching-chong joke.

  15. @Jane Laplain re: "I submit that ANY person who acts to support white supremacy, who lives complicit with white privilege, and actively promotes any of the racist stereotypes generated by White supremacy... they are in fact Racist. Racist=Being an Instrument of Racism."

    Thanks for the very clear distinction and illustration of what it means for PoC to be racist, i.e., to support in some way the institution of racism, and not simply having some bigoted opinions about other races.

  16. In response to Reader 2, isn't it possible to express discomfort at the joke without "educating"/correcting the person telling the joke? (e.g. "I really feel uncomfortable with jokes that make fun of x type of person")

    Will everyone accept such a response graciously? I'm guessing not, but the point isn't to be liked universally, is it?

  17. I have been in similar situations (to #2) and have felt equally awkward about speaking up as a white person.

    In one case, it was [black] American kids bullying African immigrant kids (*one* of which happened to be my son, further complicating the issue). Since I don't think you can really call that racism it's a little different, but still an example of a relatively privileged group hating on a less privileged one.

    In another case, it was my black neighbors making derogatory remarks about my (not African this time) immigrant neighbors.

    In the first case, I let it go for as long as I could but because it involved my child's well-being I finally talked to a teacher, who said 'yes, we know that happens a lot, we're just not sure what to do about it' (?!?!? - but that's a post for another blog...)

    In the second case, I acted surprised and dismayed. Something like "Really??? I've never noticed that about the family who lives next door to me. They've never been anything but [fill in positive attributes]. I think that [behavior you refer to] was very unusual and not typical of [immigrant group] in general."

  18. @Abrasink

    Perhaps you mean PoC cannot be racist against white people. It is possible for some PoC to be racist against other PoC if they uphold the dominant paradigm, as Jane Laplain beautifully illustrates.

    Reader 1:
    I'm going to be in your situation soon. I'll be living in Spain for a year, and I hear that they're pretty racist against the Roma population. While I plan to say "I do not feel comfortable when you say bad things about Roma people," I don't think I can exactly school them on racism in their own country since I cannot equivocate the US racist situation with all other countries. I plan to make it a learning experience because after all, I am a guest in that country.

    Reader 2:
    I'm going to go with other readers on this one and say it's fine to tell others you don't feel comfortable when they make "comments like that," but as soon as you start talking about how other people are racist, it opens up a can of worms, the likes of which you are predicting. Tone is important in this case.

  19. As a POC, I personally don't like WP commenting or getting involved in intra-POC conflicts. I'm with M. Gibson on this. WP need to clean up their own house first.

    However, if POC say something offensive about other POC, by all that YOU are offended, and that you won't tolerate that shit - personally.

    Lecturing POC on race, however, is not the smartest route for a WP, as it often leads to disaster.

  20. This is reader # 2. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I'm going to keep telling WP to shut up, and stay silent towards POC who seem bigoted. I really don't have a clue, and I shouldn't broadcast that fact to the world.

  21. Are we talking about white people criticizing all forms of racism in every instant? If so, then I say, YES. Call it out. Each and every time.

    However, one thing white people like to do is excuse their own racism or complicity in the white power structure by illustrating nonwhite racism. And I'm opposed to this plea to excuse racism.

    I just posted about this on my own blog (not dagSeoul, but Some Very Big Bullshit. The links are available through my profile. Please visit^^) And I linked to this blog, which I'm happy to say is becoming one of my daily reads. Thanks for all the work.

  22. If it is a random POC, let it go. If it is someone you consider a friend...make sure you know them well enough to predict their response. If they would get upset about it, maybe let it go. If they just slipped up or something, maybe say something in a non-confrontational tone.

  23. POC cannot be racist. They can be prejudiced, they can be biased, they can say terrible things about people of any race -- but saying "Hey, that's racist" to a POC (in a white-dominated country) is wrong no matter WHAT they are saying.

    This is wrong on a lot of levels, as many of the above commenters pointed out. Here's my own two cents on it, because I have to admit I encounter that argument a lot myself:

    Being a person of color is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, (as completely ironic as that sounds). I've had Black, Asian, and Latino friends alike express their dismay when they found out I was Muslim, for instance ("Oh, but you seem like a nice girl...") or that they think it was "understandable" that the FBI "visited" my house, or that they think that Arabs should stop "colonizing Europe," or that if my father can't speak proper English he should "go back to where he came from." Racist? Xenophobic? Privileged? Utterly.

    And then they try to tell me that "I'm [insert race], so I can't be racist."

    The thing is, it doesn't work like that. Oppression doesn't cancel out privilege. So I'd say, if it's a clear cut example of racism (or sexism, or homophobia, or whatever) by all means, call it out. Because it's not really about you -- it's not really about the person who's telling the racist joke. It's not about some kind of racial power dynamic at play between you and the offender. It's about the people that their oh-so-funny comment is actively oppressing. So basically -- I hear joe schmo tell you that my dad is a terrorist? I don't care if you're white and joe's black, or if you're asian and he's from outer space. I want joe schmo to stop talking shit about my dad.

    (Sorry if that got rambly...this is a subject that hits a liiiittle close to home.)

  24. I think the key here is that the title of the post includes the phrase "what looks like racism". This, to me, means the commonplace (and arguably incorrect) definition of racism, which is "talking shit about another race". (We can use the power+privilege definition if we want, but it doesn't sound like that's what Readers 1 and 2 are talking about.) So to me, the question is not whether PoC can be racist: this has been addressed many times in the literature, from many viewpoints. Beverly Tatum, for example, writes that using the power+privilege definition, in the U.S., POC cannot be racist, but notes that they can be bigoted and prejudiced (as can anyone).

    So, if the question becomes "Should WP call out what looks like bigotry and prejudice when non-white people do it?", I think the answer is "Yes, but". In particular, WP should consider whether it's a good idea, what the WP will get out of the interaction, what the PoC will get out of the interaction, and what's actually going on in the situation. It'd be easy, I think, for many WP to mistake frustration, anger and outrage at WP as "racism". And, I agree with M. Gibson, that WP have to "clean up their house" first. If, for example, Rush Limbaugh told off a Black person for making a "ching chong" joke, it would be meaningless, no matter how offensive the joke was. And the White person also needs to think about why they want to get involved. Like M. Gibson said, this can come very close to the Arab Trader argument. If the WP is looking to "prove a point" and show that "Hey, look, Black people are racist too!!!", then nothing good is going to come out of this, and the WP needs to stop and re-evaluate their thoughts.

    The one case where I definitely wouldn't get involved would be a PoC making derogatory and bigoted statements against their "own" ethnic or racial group. It's such a complicated situation, particularly given internal conflicts the person may be feeling; an outsider just woudn't have enough information to say anything constructive.

    But if a WP were to get involved in a situation like the examples mentioned in the original post, I think it comes down what others in this thread have said: You can say that you didn't like the statement, or didn't find it funny, or question the stereotype involved. But if a WP (in the U.S.) starts ranting about "racism" to a PoC, they need to know that there's a good chance they're going to look like a complete moron and forfeit any opportunity for a positive interaction.

  25. @Abrasink
    I wouldn't say that POC cannot be racist. If you look at power sharing amid non-white people here in the States, Blacks have greater media representation and a greater share in the corporate world than say, American Indians. I had to put in my two cents in a black forum when a number of members began to offer vitriol against Indians and they often used the same arguments that whites do when putting Indians down.

  26. Sorry to criticize, but it feels like there is an idea of "He did, so it's OK for me to do it to." going on. I think that ideology is flawed, though people still hold fast to it.

  27. First off, I think it is important to acknowledge that people of different cultures has different views of communicating. As a black woman, I grow up in a family that use humor to strip away the daily stresses of racism. And I believe there is a different between sarcasm and anger towards whites and other groups. For example, when I am around other POC, we are not Political correct. We tease each other and it takes some of the weigh off living in the world( and points he ridiculousness of it) obsessed with our skin color... When I am with people in my own family, I do correct them on offensive statements towards whites and other groups of POC. But I am apart of that family and culture so I know the difference between their sarcasm and actual prejudiced jokes.
    Therefore, if you are judging someone who is not part of your culture it is important to put what they are saying into context.
    With that said, if someone is clearly saying something hurtful I suggest
    1. That if its a POC who is being prejudice towards someone in their own group. Then leave it alone. It is not your place to fix someone's else community. It will only make you seem the" white knight."
    If they are making fun of white people I say also let it go. As, it will probably come across as a "White person tells me how to talk." Or" a white person tell allowing me my anger and frustration."

    If they are being prejudice towards another POC of a different culture ( who is not in the room ) then say is is fine to say that you find that offensive. Don't say racist as you might get laughed at or end up being lectured on why POC cant be racist.
    As far as lecturing people in other countries. I say its best to work on your own country. However, sometimes outsider opinion is valuable but you have to research their culture and do so in a way that isn't " Western tells this place what to do."

  28. Reader 2: I'm a black woman. I say call them out on it. You might not wanna shout out that its racist if you're white because that might raise a few eyebrows. They might say "What do you know about racism?" and dismiss you. Say its inappropriate and it makes you uncomfortable. If it were a POC they can say its racist since they can't argue with them and say they don't know what racism is.

  29. If the question is about horizontal racism, racism against other marginalized racial communities, like Latinos or East Asians/Pac. Islanders, or anti-Islam attacks, yeah we ALL should call it out, but I still think it's best if people of color stand to that challenge first. I think if WP take this on without understanding how much space WP take up just by being in the space let alone taking on an activist role, they risk shutting out and shutting down PoC even if that's not their intent.

    I also just don't feel confident that if WP do call out horizontal racism, it's not gonna be followed by, "Yeah like how [X celebrity of color] treats white people!" That goes down the nasty lane of "reverse racism" and from my experience, that's not far away when white people talk race.

    I want to say, "WP go forth and tell your truth to all people of all colors," I want to say this! Jane and so many peeps I can't remember make great points about why everyone's voice is needed in fighting racism and all forms of oppression; I just think it's more complex in terms of cultural norms and social power dynamics, at least in the US. I can't honestly say that I could always be in favor of a WP calling out a PoC I guess, even if it's totally obvious that PoC is in the wrong, like if Clarence Thomas ever talks.

  30. As a Nigerian-American who spent the past two years working in Nigeria I have seen a great deal of discrimination and prejudice from people of colour directed at people of colour. Whenever I see it I call people out. Not by saying that thye are wrong or bad but by telling them that what they are saying is untrue. The one thing that I always point out is that no group is monolithic. Furthermore I always try and relatethe issue to treating EVERYONE with respect and humanity. I also try to focus more on white supremacy since that is what drives a lot of this, the closer people are to the white norm that white supremacist ideology pushes the less likely you will face discirminitation and prejudice.

  31. I agree with what M. Gibson wrote.

    His post explains everything that I don't have the time to say at the moment. Just one more thing...don't make it all about you and how offended you are, and don't try to lecture.

    I know of people who want clearance to correct poc when they don't even have their cards together. Chose your words wisely because its not only what you say, its how you say it.

  32. Racism expressed by one minority against another minority is still racism. The effect of such bigotry is to keep both minorities focused on blaming each other instead of the majority in power, thus allowing the majority free reign. So, yes, racism against a minority by a minority still has the same effect as racism expressed by a majority. It should be confronted because it harms both minorities.

  33. I think the issue of whether to address the bigotry of a POC is the wrong question, so it is not relevant to give it an answer. What is the purpose of fighting racism? To change the power imbalances between WP and POC. To teach WP this imbalance is real and wrong. To take steps to make this happen. Is racism the problem of POC? Of course not. The brutalities that all people inflict on one another in the U.S. are in the context of a violent and oppressive social order created by WP. So I think the question is irrelevant. Calling out a POC for something they said (when you are a WP) treats the symptoms of the disease of racism and not the root cause WE need to take responsibility for.

  34. @DOvs and ( kinda) @ Jane

    Though Jane raised a good argument for why a POC can be racist( which gave me pause)... I think a better term is " internalized racism." The reason why I say POC cant be racist is to acknowledge that racism is not just situational. WP who are racist have a society that reinforces and approves their racism ANd reinforces their whiteness and privilege. A Poc ( as jane point) might be helping that overall system, however, they are being used to erase their own cultural identity, they are upholding "whiteness" at the cost of their own identity( even if they are attacking a different group it still implies white is better than everything else or they are buying into racism that hurts their own community)... they do not benefit in the some ways that WP do from their racism. Therefore, different words are use to highlight the difference in impact.

    Also, the posts about how a POC can be most powerful than other a POC seems like a slippery slope to Oppression olympics.
    Spending time arguing over who has some power just keeps us from fighting to together.
    Powerful Oppressed is oxymoron for good read...( not to say poc cant be powerful. Power here is used in context of racism)

    It ignores the subtleties of racism. Ex: some might think Black Americans are powerful in the political world because of a collective voting block and a black pres. But this ignores that "perceived" power is use against POC. Ex: the black vote has been suppressed since we got because it has the powerful to ensure the victory of one party. The powerful black face is use to kill programs because they might abuse them and they got enough. Regardless of whether or not other POc groups and Marginalized Wp might benefit from that program... Here fear of one group who has too power or other reason needs to be feared is used to get other marginalized groups to screw themselves over.

    So I think how we define things are important as it states who has the real power.

    But with that said, what matters for the questioners is calling POC racist is still pointless. for that matter calling a WP racist is pointless. Because they are likely to tune you out. Point out their offensive language, get into a discussion of privilege and prejudice but the R word is too heated for a first conversation.

  35. I've seen the anime mentioned in example 1, and I'm familiar with the character of Simon (a black Russian man who runs a sushi shop in Ikebukuro). Given the fact that this is an animated representation of a district in Tokyo where several non-Japanese people visit and live, I've got to admit that, as a black woman who has studied abroad in Japan and is familiar with its culture, I'm not offended by Simon's portrayal.

    Here's why: Japan is extremely novice when it comes to accurately representing non-Japanese ethnicities. They're working towards more awareness (which, unfortunately, stereotypical black Japanese-speaking comedians aren't helping in the slightest), but anime-wise, they've come a long way from the days of Dragon Ball Z's Mr. Popo:

    Simon in Durarara is somewhat limited in his Japanese-speaking abilities, but he's usually the most aware of character's situations, keeps the peace, and is the voice of's a lot more positive than a shuckin', jivin', grinnin' coon portrayal, which is a breath of fresh air in an industry that doesn't see a lot of people of color to begin with. That's my take, at least.

  36. The obvious solution after they are done telling the joke is to politely say "I don't get it..." and if they explain what's supposed to be funny ask them "why?".

    It works, people don't ever tell racist or homophobic jokes around me anymore.

    I don't think people should differentiate between different forms of racism because it all sounds like making an excuse for why 'this type' of racism by this group is unreproachable, yet 'another type' of racism is horribly wrong because it's perpetuated by those in 'power'. It's all racism and it's all wrong!

  37. This is reader #1. Sorry for my lateness in reply ( I was out of town) but I just wanted to thank everyone for their considerate replies. It has given me a lot to work with. Thank you.

  38. I am troubled by advice that says if you are white, you should do X, but if you are a person of color, you should do Y.

    It seems to me like it would be progress if people of all backgrounds were equally free to challenge bigoted ideas, wherever they come from. Everyone should be sensitive to the way their words might be perceived, but the people getting called out on a racist joke should ask themselves why it matters what race the person is who is calling them out. While racism hurt people of color obviously a hundred times more than white people, and some races much more than others, we all have an interest in living in a respectful society.

    As a white person who has dedicated my career to serving children who are frequently the victims of racism, especially in school, it really bothers me to be advised that I should be excluded somehow from sharing in the indignation and fury that we all should feel when we hear ignorant and mean-spirited comments that perpetuate and make light of racism.

  39. @ troubled

    doesn't it make sense that.....If you are a WP who benefits from racism and white privilege in myriad ways whether you believe it or want to or not, that it would be a bit presumptuous to lecture a POC on his/her racism?

  40. @ troubled (again)

    "It seems to me like it would be progress if people of all backgrounds were equally free to challenge bigoted ideas, wherever they come from."

    if people of all backgrounds were equally free, we wouldn't have any bigoted ideas to challenge. And if we did, it wouldn't matter because as we would all be equally free bigotry would be irrelevant.

    You demanding to be "equally free" is a slap in the face to those who are rarely seen as equals by WP.

    for clarity's sake pretend it's a class thing instead.

    Pretend you were born super duper rich and you see 2 people fighting over 5 bucks. do you think you have a right to jump in and admonish them for being petty and say "hey lets all be brothers, we're all in this together as one."? Not really, because you don't have to deal with the same shit every day that they do. On one hand fighting is wrong, on the other hand your part of the system of privilege that put them in a position to fight in the first place.

    I don't know, am I wrong? help me out here.

  41. troubled,
    I know it seems weird, considering how we (at least here in the US) are raised. But the plain truth is, we're already in a situation where a POC and a nonPOP can each do X, and get/cause different results. Because: context. Lots of Xs have different connotations depending on who's doing them.

    We've been working with that reality for some time.

  42. Troubled said...
    “As a white person who has dedicated my career to serving children who are frequently the victims of racism, especially in school, it really bothers me to be advised that I should be excluded somehow from sharing in the indignation and fury that we all should feel when we hear ignorant and mean-spirited comments that perpetuate and make light of racism.”

    I noticed how you took the time to give yourself a generous pat on the back for being the crusader/savior that you are, but the realities of racism exist ‘beyond the confines of school’ despite your good intentions. You do all of this great work (and get paid for your effort I see) while your privilege remains relatively intact. Your boast of racial piety is just that for you have no idea what a person of color goes through ‘even if you think you do.’ Conversely, your claim to empathy rings hollow when you choose to make yourself the center of this discussion.

    As a person of color it bothers me that as a white person you have trouble appreciating why white people need to do X, or why some POC should do Y. It wears us out having to explain things to white people who’ve dedicated ‘their whole career’ blah blah blah, to antiracism and yet still don’t get it. If this were a perfect world sir there would be no need for either race to do X or Y. Hence your simplification of a complicated matter is troubling to me.

  43. As a white person, if a friend of mine, regardless of ancestry, makes any comment that stereotypes members of an ethnic group or attempts to say that all persons of an ethnic group are x negative quality, I respond the same. I go completely silent, stare at them a moment, and ask, "Wait, what did you just say?"

    If they repeat it, or try to shrug it off, I just reply, "That was insanely offensive. Seriously, who SAYS that?" and walk off. That way, I'm making it clear that it IS offensive and hurtful, but by not actually calling it racist I don't give them the chance to shrug it off as "oh, white person trying to tell me what racism is." Privilege doesn't mean you can't tell when something is cruel.

    If it's not a friend, I usually just go noticeably stone-faced, finish the interaction as quickly as possible, and ignore all further attempts at small-talk.

    The one time I don't do this is when people are racist against their own group. I'm still not sure how to address that, but I generally leave it at not agreeing with it or joining in.

    The important thing is not to lecture about racism (or anything else. Talking down is bad). Yes, it's racism. However, it is more importantly CRUEL, WRONG, and HURTFUL. By pointing out the cruelty in the statement in a way that shames them, you can at least let them know that there are repercussions for their bigotry without them dismissing you. Being white doesn't make you a souless automaton who can't be hurt by witnessing cruelty

  44. Old topic but I wanted to add that. Even though I am a Poc I would never called someone out who was talking about their own group. Why? Because there is a difference between someone saying a stereotype and speaking about cultural norms ( that I am uneducated about.) unless it an overt stereotype I have no way of knowing if the people is saying something offensive about their own people.

    I have a white friend who loves to tell people they are stereotyping. He done this to me twice when I was talking about culture. I was not stereotyping he simply does know Shit about African-Americans or our culture. Which made him racist for trying to silence a Poc talking about their own culture. Trying to insert his views into my story...
    So be careful not to make an Butthead out of yourself trying to be "right", Make sure you actual know what you are talking about before you correct someone or get offended.


Please see the "commenting guidelines" before submitting a comment.

hit counter code