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Author Topic: "The White Liberal Conundrum"
bigcitygal
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posted 09 July 2008 04:22 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I came across a link to this post written by Kai Chang. Given the issues and strife that's been going on in the Anti Racism forum recently, I was hoping that people would read the post before responding to this thread. The comments are also excellent, but there are a LOT of them. If you care to, please read the first comment by "Yolanda Carrington" and scroll down a bit to read the comment by "thinking girl".

And hey, remember that in the US, they use the word "liberal" the same way we use the word "progressive". At least, that's how it's used in this context.

Here are some great snippets, but please don't just read these and respond. Please read the entire post.

quote:

Some might be surprised to learn that when people of color talk about racism amongst ourselves, white liberals often receive a far harsher skewering than white conservatives or overt racists. Many of my POC friends would actually prefer to hang out with an Archie Bunker-type who spits flagrantly offensive opinions, rather than a colorblind liberal whose insidious paternalism, dehumanizing tokenism, and cognitive indoctrination ooze out between superficially progressive words. At least the former gives you something to work with, something above-board to engage and argue against; the latter tacitly insists on imposing and maintaining an illusion of non-racist moral purity which provides little to no room for genuine self-examination or racial dialogue.

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quote:

Of course not all white liberals are like this. I'd say that a significant minority of white liberals are actually interested in learning about anti-racism once properly exposed to it. This requires enough humility to admit that people of color have something to teach white folks, a concept that many whites struggle with because racism teaches us that whiteness is the seat of authoritative knowledge, while brownness is the repository of murky musical mysticism which whiteness may dip into at will for spiritual support and servile entertainment. Nevertheless, some white folks manage to claw and bootstrap their way out of their own conditioning, opening their hearts and minds to previously unseen worlds from which the voices and stories of people of color emerge; studying and observing the profound effects of racist society on their own perceptual prisms and on the shape of the world; and consciously, steadily working to counteract those effects.

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This next section speaks to some of the experiences that I've had on babble in the past, and speaks to some of the discord in the current moment. It also speaks to a recent experience I had at an AGM related to cooperative housing.
quote:

From what I can see, though, a solid majority of white liberals maintain a fairly hostile posture toward anti-racist discourse and critique, while of course adamantly denying this hostility. Many white liberals consider themselves rather enlightened for their ability to retroactively support the Civil Rights movement and to quote safely dead anti-racist icons, even though their present-day physical, intellectual, and political orbits remain mostly segregated. They somehow take pride in being more "down with the brown" than their conservative brethren; indeed they exhibit a certain strange glee in highlighting and exploiting the "macaca" and "call me" moments of their political opponents. Armed with "diversity" soundbites and melanin-inclusive photo-ops, they seek electoral, financial, and public relations support from people of color. Yet the consistent outcome of their institution-building agendas is to deprioritize and marginalize our voices, perspectives, experiences, concerns, cultures, and initiatives. When you get right down to it, the unrecognized political reality is that most white liberals have more in common with white conservatives social cues, family ties, cognitive biases, cultural backdrops, etc. than they do with people of color. I'm calling this tangle of contradictions the white liberal conundrum.

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quote:

For people of color, the white liberal conundrum manifests as an ongoing and often exhausting struggle to determine the extent to which they can or should work with, or trust, white liberals. Some feel that it's a waste of time, that most white folks will never get it and those who do will find their way into POC-led movements on their own. Others believe that some modicum of energy should be extended toward bringing white persons of good will on board anti-racism and forging common ground. I'm not really sure myself, but I do know that either way, communities of color are going to be on the move and organizing, resisting the racist social order with ingenuity and hope, even as white supremacist imperialism heaps its abuse upon dark bodies around the world.

Full post on blog: zuky


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 09 July 2008 04:32 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
For people of color, the white liberal conundrum manifests as an ongoing and often exhausting struggle to determine the extent to which they can or should work with, or trust, white liberals. Some feel that it's a waste of time, that most white folks will never get it and those who do will find their way into POC-led movements on their own.

That seems to me to be the right approach.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 09 July 2008 04:39 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Having read that, I've decided it is much easier for me to become an Archie Bunker type and be immediately accepted by AR POCs than attempt to find that vague, mushy place where after some undefined journey of self-examination and apparent vow of poverty I can still finally and truly be rejected as an ally.

I will be on my way now.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 09 July 2008 04:46 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
FM did you read the entire blog post? Not just the parts I quoted? As I requested?

This is a piece I omitted from the quotes above. Bold added.

quote:

Countless blogospheric discussions on racism amply demonstrate the manner in which many white liberals start acting victimized and angry if anyone attempts to burst their racism-free bubble, oftentimes inexplicably bringing up non-white friends, lovers, adopted children, relatives, ancestors; dismissing, belittling, or obtusely misreading substantive historically-informed analysis of white supremacism as either "divisive rhetoric" or "flaming"; downplaying racism as an interpersonal social stigma and bad PR, rather than an overarching system of power under which we all live and which has socialized us all; and threatening to walk away from discussion if persons of color do not conform to a narrow white-centered comfort zone.

From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 09 July 2008 05:06 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
FM did you read the entire blog post? Not just the parts I quoted? As I requested?

Yes, I read the whole thing. And I read those parts too. Sort of convenient isn't it? First, stereotype the "white liberal", ridicule the white liberal, say it is better to converse with a racist than the stereotypical white liberal, and when the stereotyped white liberal walks away, shout, "Ah! Hah! That proves you're really a racist!"

C'mon, we can do better than that.

As a white, who happens to be socially liberal, economically radical, and environmentally militant, to a POC who is obviously very concerned about issues of race, what do you want from me as an ally?

Question my motives and integrity if you like. Even judge me. But at the end of the day where would you like to find me and what will I be doing?

I accept this is not my fight. I accept that I can never know what it is like to live in a white society as a POC. I can accept that at times I should just shut-up and listen. I can accept that since it isn't my fight and since I can't know the experience, if I really want to help, I should take direction from those who choose, or who are selected, to lead.

And if you don't want my help at all, that is OK too.

[ 09 July 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Robespierre
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posted 09 July 2008 05:22 AM      Profile for Robespierre     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
...And hey, remember that in the US, they use the word "liberal" the same way we use the word "progressive". At least, that's how it's used in this ontext.

Full post on blog: zuky


Hey, that Zuky blog ain't half bad, read other sections after I read the whole article.

When I was a little boy I heard my parents discussing politics in the kitchen one day. My father said "liberal voters like us don't vote for Nixon." And, eventhough I didn't like Nixon either---because to a child that bastard had a scary-looking face---I knew then that I'd never grow up to be a liberal. Hell, liberals were bad, they punished their kids by not allowing them to stay up late enough to watch original broadcasts of Star Trek.

I truly do have my parents to thank for who I am today. I should probably add Canada to the list, as well, because Bill Shatner is a Canadian.


From: Raccoons at my door! | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 09 July 2008 05:23 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
BCG, great post, as usual.

I can relate to this in my own experience as a female who has lived in a white world and having been assimilated into this white world, I absolutely know what liberal white guilt is and can do, despite my FN background.

While I completely understand that some POC or FN would rather converse with overt racists than white liberals who feel guilty, I do not follow that. I prefre NOT to have anything to do with overt racists, regardless of whether or not I can "debate" them. Debating a white supremest is not going to get me anything but sad and frustrated and thinking all whites are screwed. I don't want to go there all the time (and I have spent a lot of time there).

I went through extreme guilt during university, when I was first introduced to real anti-racism courses and theories. As a thinking and feeling person, isn't that how we progress? For me, I felt powerless to change things. I felt horrible that somewhere in my ancestry and even in my immediate mostly white family, evidence of racist thinking was everywhere. As low key and covert as possible. The difference for me was, these people ARE TRYING to "get it". And for that, I have no choice but to be thankful we can have partial allies. I also have hope that true allies will eventually get it. The rest? Well, for me, they aren't ever going to get it.

AS frustrating as it is to hear and listen to white people play the victim card in racism discussions, I prefer to foster these white liberals and encourage them to gain more understanding of FN and POC issues. I don't think turning our backs on those who are almost there is productive.

I also can't stand the bullshit "I am colour blind". The only people I have ever heard say this are overt racists.

People, all people, react negatively to being told they are just not "there" yet. To those people I'd say - learn more, understand more and try to walk in others shoes.

Basically, I think a complete rejection of overt racists is in order. They just get more power when POC and FN people say they prefer to interactt with these people. I am an FN person, and I can tell you, I do not prefer some idiot racist over a white person who is sincerely trying to get it. I understand that it is a hard process and that it will take time.

In short, I would not turn my back on white liberals, because they try, even if they screw up. While overt racists will never try. They don't care, and they would love nothing better than to mock me, behind my back, to their fellow white racists.

We need to embrace white liberals, let them hang themselves in their angry "that's not me" guilt, and hope they will get it.

The full-on racist will never get it.

God I hope I made sense.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Robespierre
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posted 09 July 2008 05:31 AM      Profile for Robespierre     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stargazer:
God I hope I made sense.

(Swinging from the branch of a white guilt tree)

I doubt that God had anything to do with that, stargazer. No, seriously, that made lots of sense. Thank you.

And, once I loose this noose around my neck I'm gonna go beat up some skinheads.


From: Raccoons at my door! | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 09 July 2008 05:41 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And, once I loose this noose around my neck I'm gonna go beat up some skinheads.

Hahaha. Skip the noose and go straight for the skinheads. Okay, that was bad. No one should pick on the skinheads. They're just disenfranchised people who want to blame their situation on non-whites. (Well, actually, many are I guess). They lack the skills of critical thinking to tie in their anger with the system, and not other races. Poor white, IMO, should be our allies.

How about Pistols at Dawn? That's honourable and manly. Don't forget the white gloves (mandatory to prove social standing).

Okay sorry for the thread drift.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 09 July 2008 06:20 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Having read that, I've decided it is much easier for me to become an Archie Bunker type and be immediately accepted by AR POCs than attempt to find that vague, mushy place where after some undefined journey of self-examination and apparent vow of poverty I can still finally and truly be rejected as an ally.

Unfortunately, FM, you're absolutely right. It is easier to become an 'Archie Bunker type' than it is to divorce oneself from the structures of white supremacy and privilege that we find ourselves in. In fact, I'm abusing those structures right now by talking to you about our existential difficulty with treating POCs like equals. About the burden of fighting a system that is so confoundedly comfortable, even when we take on an agenda of dissent and radicalism.

I look at this dilemma we find ourselves in and I see ways out. Rationally, I see how I could give up the life of privilege I was randomly awarded in service of those who were denied it. But instead, I'll continue to find less radical, muted ways of appearing like I'm helping, or changing the system, while retaining as much privilege as I can comfortably bear, wearing my feeble displays of solidarity like golden badges of progressivism. And when this illusion that I have constructed for myself is revealed by those who are unsurprisingly ungrateful for my illusory sacrifice, I can see why hostility is the natural reaction. Having one's fantasy dissolved is probably the hardest thing the human soul can bear.

I don't know how I can manage to give over my fantasies for real, radical hope for change, but I reckon that recognizing hostility and self-absorbed pouting are imprudent responses might be a start.


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 09 July 2008 06:31 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stargazer, thanks for your post above. I'm mixed too, as you know, and also have internalized all the stuff you've talked about. It's what makes me able to engage with "liberals" on issues relating to anti-racist education. Something I would not expect of my darker brothers and sisters who have been, are, and will be, more harmed from racism than I'll ever be.

Oh, and I hear progressives, including members of my white family, say "I'm colour blind" all the time.

I'm unsure why the focus on this thread of the Archie Bunker example. There are tons more to the post than that part, including the answers to some of FM's questions about the journey to being an ally, in the excellent commentators following the post, as well as the links embedded in the post's text.


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 09 July 2008 06:33 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

Rationally, I see how I could give up the life of privilege I was randomly awarded in service of those who were denied it.


Really? How? A vow of poverty? Moving to Walden's Pond? Returning to the forest to live as one with the earth?

quote:

But instead, I'll continue to find less radical, muted ways of appearing like I'm helping, or changing the system, while retaining as much privilege as I can comfortably bear, wearing my feeble displays of solidarity like golden badges of progressivism.


How very evolved of you.

quote:

And when this illusion that I have constructed for myself is revealed by those who are unsurprisingly ungrateful for my illusory sacrifice, I can see why hostility is the natural reaction. Having one's fantasy dissolved is probably the hardest thing the human soul can bear.


You seem to be holding up well under the strain.

quote:

I don't know how I can manage to give over my fantasies for real, radical hope for change, but I reckon that recognizing hostility and self-absorbed pouting are imprudent responses might be a start.

You might also learn to look for narcissistic displays of self-righteous indignation.

[ 09 July 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 09 July 2008 06:40 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
I'm unsure why the focus on this thread of the Archie Bunker example. There are tons more to the post than that part, including the answers to some of FM's questions about the journey to being an ally, in the excellent commentators following the post, as well as the links embedded in the post's text.

I don't know if its a male thing or not, but I often see racist banter (Archie Bunker type) enter into social processess between people of different races, often intitiated by people of colour, or people of other non-anglo ethnicities, on the same level as teasing and friendly hazing.

Friends do it a lot. Sometimes it seems like a kind of common ground of social intercourse.

I have never felt the need to do anything about it. But sometimes it bothers me. The chatter doesn't bother me, since it does not seem to be escalating, but I do get a certain amount of poltical disconect. Should something be done about it?

[ 09 July 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 09 July 2008 06:43 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm unsure why the focus on this thread of the Archie Bunker example.

I think partly because it is a somewhat typical statement, BCG.

My intent with it was sarcasm and I apologize for making it central in the discussion.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 09 July 2008 06:47 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I didn't think I was focussing on the Archie Bunker example, but on its obverse. Or rather, how the binary between Archie Bunker and white liberal is a smokescreen, and that the real difficulty is transcending that altogether. I was simply talking about some of the strategies I, personally, use to make myself forget about white privilege and how I find it difficult to over come them. Sorry, bcg, if that instead served as a distraction.
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KenS
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posted 09 July 2008 06:50 AM      Profile for KenS     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Beg pardon in advance if I end up stirring the mud. Not intended- but it seems to happen in ways I can't predict.

At any rate- some of what I read reminds me of one of my persistent confusions about anti-racism looked at from the white folks end.

So I'm going to excerpt from that [short] first comment in the blog that BCG mentioned:

quote:
Funny how white folks dread the specter of "white guilt," but not the everyday cost of racist dehumanization. I mean damn, it's so obvious ain't it---if you're tired of feeling guilty, shut down the cause of the guilt! Wouldn't this be a no-brainer with any other human folly?

"Shut down the cause of guilt" referrs to what?

Work to get rid of racism?

Or the cause in your own head???

Not to deflect from answers people give, but it might help to say that I have never really been able to get it about the white anger and/or hostility... or just call it the more neutral 'displeasure' about the things that can come from POC.

And maybe that's associated with where I come from- and I don't think I'm unusual, even if apparently not the norm. I don't consider myself free of racism, or some kind of 'successful striving anti-racist' or any of that.

Long, long ago... from the minute I was exposed to anti-racist analysis coming from POC. All of it- including outright hostility- made sense to me.

That's it. There wasn't any struggle. It just made sense.

That doesn't mean that I never had issues. But I never had anything to get my head around. It all just made sense. Period.

Which I have belatedly, and correctly or not I have no idea, begun to think maybe that's why I can't really grasp the roots of the white liberal anger and hostility [or just displeasure] at some of the unvarnished stuff they hear.

Logically, intellectually, of course I grasp a fair bit. I accept it happens, certainly recognize the signs having seen it so repeatedly in my life... and its easy to see all the general psychological things this is related to. But really, at bottom, I just don't really get it. Like, I don't understand why people don't just go around it, or something like that. ?

Like I said, only take my personal ramble if it is useful. Don't let it deflect from answers to my starting questions that don't seem to fit with my ramble.


quote:
The second biggest fear that white folks have after guilt is the relentless anger and hatred they assume people of color have for whites, just because they're white. It's like POC predators go lurking around for that unsuspecting white person to stab in the heart with our lethal rage. Now I don't know about you, but I've never hated white folk in my life. If anything, I've held their humanity sacred when I didn't recognize my own, as most POC have. We've always put white folks first. Now that's a damn valid reason to be angry.

Emphasis added.

This is what it looks like to me as well. Yes, maybe the language used exaggerates. If that gives people problems, then discount appropriately. It often seems like there is a reaction from white folks that indicates some picture of POC-in-general needing to pick on them, or getting off on picking on them... something like that.


From: Minasville, NS | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 09 July 2008 08:20 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
All that any of us can do in our daily lives is recognize injustice and, to the extent that we are able, work to correct it.

I recognize that injustice comes in many forms. And I recognize that everyone one of us here benefit from past and on-going injustices.

We are all limited in our abilities to create change for the better and we can not all lead change, and, even for those who can, no one can lead change in all directions.

If I say I want to help, why not just accept the offer and direct me to where I can help the most with my resources, time, and abilities. And if it turns out I'm not of help, then thank me and send me on my way.

If an offer to help can't be accepted in good faith, perhaps it shouldn't be accepted at all.

I appreciate the author alluded to that in the post when it was said: "Others believe that some modicum of energy should be extended toward bringing white persons of good will on board anti-racism and forging common ground. I'm not really sure myself."


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 09 July 2008 01:17 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wouldn't mind getting some feedback on the whole Archie Bunker thing actually, but perhaps this is not the thread.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Slumberjack
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posted 09 July 2008 02:51 PM      Profile for Slumberjack     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I had to read the article a couple of times to appreciate its personal application. Thank you BCG for posting it.

I guess there will always be people who identify as allies for the purpose of advancing their own agendas. If you happen to notice a few white people hanging around AR issues, here or elsewhere, at least some of them, possibly out of some innate yet flawed approach or characteristic, sincerely have absolutely no other place to be, regardless of the scorn, derision, suspicion, ignorance, irrelevance, inconsequence, etc that might accompany their views or thoughts in these matters. To some, that sort of baggage, or price of admission, is much more preferable than hanging out with the Archies. Eventually we'll find our way alongside within the inexorable movement.


From: An Intensive De-Indoctrination, But I'm Fine Now | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 09 July 2008 03:46 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:

That seems to me to be the right approach.


But if these groups don't reach out to the broader community, isn't there a risk that they won't get the support they need to effect real change?
On the other hand, trying to desperately to convert people to antiracist causes could be seen as quite offputting. I have some issues when it comes to race, but I don't really want an activist telling me how to deal with my white supremacist tendencies. It's something that needs to be done without the judgments of other lefties.


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 09 July 2008 05:12 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
But if these groups don't reach out to the broader community, isn't there a risk that they won't get the support they need to effect real change?
On the other hand, trying to desperately to convert people to antiracist causes could be seen as quite offputting. I have some issues when it comes to race, but I don't really want an activist telling me how to deal with my white supremacist tendencies. It's something that needs to be done without the judgments of other lefties.


This is so offensive. On many levels. The implication here is that real change can't happen without the help of white people. And that somehow, POC/FN people have to reach out to whites for things to change and it's their fault if they don't.

Frankly, what I've seen in this thread from a few people are extremely good examples of white people not getting it. Not only not getting it, but whining about being persecuted in some weird twist of logic. Upset that some POC distrust or dislike some whites? Welcome to the world of "The Others". I do judge other lefties, because you're not really an allies or a lefty if you truly believe that you just don't need no stinking anti-racist activist telling you squat.

If you really feel this way CMOT, you should stop posting in this forum. St aright up.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 09 July 2008 06:39 PM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, Stargazer, thank you.

What happens is one of three things. One, AR activists take time away from our own struggles and fights to attempt to educate well-meaning white folks, who then still end up trying to make it all about their feelings (this often results in anger and frustration on all sides with little accomplished), or two, we fight to gain space/ recognition/ leadership within white-dominated places (kinda like banging your head against a wall - it feels so good when you stop) or three, we go ahead and do our own work and any who find us and come to us, any ally at all, is welcome to work with us on our terms. Those of us in group 3 are the least stressed about issues of engaging white folks.

The level of resistance to having, accepting, and even jebus forbid, encouraging people of colour/FN people to take on leadership positions, and make the majority of decisions, is actually quite insurmountable for some white folks, and that is truly a shame. I mean that sincerely.

[ 09 July 2008: Message edited by: bigcitygal ]


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 09 July 2008 07:56 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Okay, I'm happy to respond. Which in my case really just amounts to saying what parts resonate with a small-town 65-year-old.
quote:
There's no static end-condition at which an anti-racist can arrive and definitively declare, "Hallelujah! I am Not A Racist!" Rather, it's a lifelong process of historical education, vigilant self-interrogation, personal growth, and socio-political agitation.

Certainly makes sense. If you start with a high school in 1960 with no blacks, no Asians, and only two Jews -- one of whom had been told to call herself an Anglican -- and the only visible discrimination was against Catholics, it's a long journey. Helped only slightly by having children who had good friends who were South Asian, Korean-Canadian, and aboriginal, and having clients who were South Asian and aboriginal -- two groups which ostensibly have little in common around here. So I am very relieved whenever someone tells me I didn't sound too colonialist, which would be part luck, part skill, and part politeness on their part. And perhaps having had a grandfather serving in the British Army in India has made me try a bit harder not to sound too colonialist.

Mind you, I'm hoping to unearth evidence that a couple of people in the British Raj actually learned something from some of the advanced civilizations they dealt with.

quote:
This requires enough humility to admit that people of color have something to teach white folks.

Am I wrong to think that most Canadians do humility a little better than most Americans?
quote:
they exhibit a certain strange glee in highlighting and exploiting the "macaca" and "call me" moments of their political opponents.

We have a conservative anti-immigrant school trustee near here. He has made such a fool of himself that glee would be unseemly. It was quite consciousness-raising for many in the community, because we would mostly be happy to have more immigrant families here rather than white Toronto retirees -- this is a family community, contrary to how some developers would like to market it. So it made a lot of people blink when these sentiments crawled out from a previously unnoticed rock. Glee, no. But perhaps it's easier to be aghast at racism when there are too few people of colour in the community to bother even a latent racist in daily life.
quote:
The second biggest fear that white folks have after guilt is the relentless anger and hatred they assume people of color have for whites, just because they're white.

I haven't encountered that fear at all.
quote:
she went on a long rant about how white people shouldn't have to feel guilty for what their ancestors did.

I have the impression everyone I know feels guilty about what we white immigrants did to the First Nations. That's why people were pleased at the multi-partisan apology.

I don't feel particularly guilty about what the East India Company did to China in the Opium Wars. That may be ignorance on my part, but I don't hear anyone in China asking for an apology -- perhaps they blame themselves?

quote:
the consistent outcome of their institution-building agendas is to deprioritize and marginalize our voices, perspectives, experiences, concerns, cultures, and initiatives.

Certainly one of the objectives of last year's electoral reform initiative was to create "a greater likelihood that members elected . . will include more women and others currently under-represented in the legislature. . . . for example, the New Zealand Labour Party has established that its list should fairly represent Maori people . . ethnic groups such as Pacific Island peoples . . ." And this wasn't the objectives of "progressives" but of 103 citizens chosen randomly, after they spent almost a year learning and deliberating. From which I conclude that ordinary Ontarians can learn and understand these needs.

[ 09 July 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
RevolutionPlease
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posted 09 July 2008 08:33 PM      Profile for RevolutionPlease     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
^^^Is this seriously allowed in the anti-racism forum? WTF?!

It's not worthy of a reply.


From: Aurora | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
RevolutionPlease
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posted 09 July 2008 08:42 PM      Profile for RevolutionPlease     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry Wilf, I may be wrong. Went on tilt after your "a little better than America." (that's worthy?)

But read better I apologize for slagging your post.

[ 09 July 2008: Message edited by: RevolutionPlease ]


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skarredmunkey
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posted 09 July 2008 09:08 PM      Profile for skarredmunkey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
BCG, thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed the notion of the "white liberal conundrum" in the sense that I've always thought about such a conundrum but have never read anything that put it quite as succinctly. I encountered something like this, when, as a teaching assistant, virtually every one of the students in my tutorial section reacted with complete contempt for the notion of affirmative action or mandatory social diversity in the House of Commons. It was a very multicultural, multiracial class. And when I asked the class "Why?" the white students responded that white people shouldn't be prevented from running if the electorate wants to vote for them, and that it's not impossible for white people to see issues through the eyes of POC and FN people. I was shocked, but in fact, the POC and FN students in the class nodded in approval at this.

From what I can gather from the blog, the white liberal conundrum suggests a person who on the one hand is nominally anti-racist but on the other is actually (or, unintentionally) buying into racially defined dogmas, discourses, and systemic priveleges... this in some way mirrors very real 'conundrums' that exist in all communities when the topic is race.

There was a fascinating piece in Atlantic Magazine from May of this year written by Ta-Nehisi Coates called "Bill Cosby's Black Man Problem." It posited that not only has there always been a historic divide within the black community between black nationalism (Booker Washington, Marcus Garvey) and multiculturalism/"integrationism" (Du Bois, MLK), but there is a fundamental divide within black nationalism too.

On the one hand you have an essentially 'conservative' black nationalism typified by Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan (and apparently Bill Cosby these days), and on the other SNCC, H. Rap Brown, Black Panthers etc. Cosby's comments of late have spurred a lot of criticism from within the black community for one or more of three reasons: (1) He's essentially "blaming the victim" (all black people) for their plight, (2) because he is arguing from an essentially black separatist position which is bad in the eyes of multiculturalists or integrationists, AND (3) because even though his position is black nationalist in nature it fundamentally buys into white definitions of success, progress, justice, etc.

I hope this isn't thread drift, but I am putting this out there because I wanted to show that the type of conundrum being described by the zuky blog seems to exist WITHIN a lot of non-white communities (but you could extrapolate to even fundamentally non-racial questions such as British liberals/socialists who want to keep Northern Ireland "British", the Israel/Palestine situation, Quebec and Canada, etc.). This suggests to me that either the white liberal conundrum is in fact a type of racial conundrum faced by all racial and ethnic (and other) groups, or, that non-white groups facing conundrums like these are tackling a different problem altogether: what is whiteness, and are we being subjugated by it?

Just wanted to throw that out there

quote:
But if these groups don't reach out to the broader community, isn't there a risk that they won't get the support they need to effect real change?
quote:
The implication here is that real change can't happen without the help of white people.

I think CMOT is right to pose this question, but even more so Stargazer is right about the implications of his question. My suggestion for CMOT is to define "real change" and to consider why it must immediately be met with majoritarian or white approval for it to be legitimate, if that is what you are saying...


From: Vancouver Centre | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 10 July 2008 05:36 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by RevolutionPlease:
Sorry Wilf, I may be wrong. Went on tilt after your "a little better than America." (that's worthy?)

But read better I apologize for slagging your post.



I asked the question "Am I wrong to think that most Canadians do humility a little better than most Americans?" because I was interested in answers.

I infer that you disagree. Certainly some Canadians can be as arrogant and insensitive as any American. But do you disagree with the generalization just because generalizations are dangerous, as they are? Or do you have some specific disagreement?

I was reminded of previous experiences on this point when, two months ago, our little group of 12 Canadians found ourselves on an American tour boat up the Long River (the Yangtze). We were a diverse twelve, including four seniors from Vancouver who may generally have been more conservative than the other eight. But we were unanimously appalled by the attitudes to China of the American tourists on the ship.

[ 10 July 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
KenS
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posted 10 July 2008 07:03 AM      Profile for KenS     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This requires enough humility to admit that people of color have something to teach white folks.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Am I wrong to think that most Canadians do humility a little better than most Americans?


Americans are more boorish and arrogant about what they see as important- especially as travellers.

But as to the kind of humility being talked about that you quoted from- Canadian and American whites are twins.


From: Minasville, NS | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 10 July 2008 07:31 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by KenS:
But as to the kind of humility being talked about that you quoted from (enough humility to admit that people of color have something to teach white folks) - Canadian and American whites are twins.

You may be right. Have you seen any survey data which would substantiate this?

I may be over-optimistic in thinking, anecdotally, that Canadians have a relevant different set of experiences. Ever since the Quebec Act, Canadian leaders have had to learn something from French-Canadians, as have many English-speaking Canadians, while white Americans mostly consider any thought of Spanish language rights as akin to treason.

Have we Canadians extended our attitudes to multi-culturalism to people of colour? My impression is many of us have. But as I say, I may be over-optimistic.


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 10 July 2008 08:00 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To answer some of the questions that Wilf and KenS are talking about, one need only look at the stats for police violence in Canada against people of colour, hiring practices (versus what employers say they will do), housing access (ditto landlords) and many other data-based information. You will find systemic and institutionalized racism. I'm not doing that work for you, btw. GIYF.

quote:
Wilf: Have we Canadians extended our attitudes to multi-culturalism to people of colour? My impression is many of us have. But as I say, I may be over-optimistic.

Just 'cuz I'm in the mood, let me parse this out:

we Canadians assumes Canadians are all white.

our attitudes ditto

multiculturalism Nowhere in the OP or the link, and nowhere in any anti racist information does this term come up, unless it's a critique of it. The language of multiculturalism and multicultural discourse has no place in any serious discussion about anti racism. If we want to have a thread about this, it could be worth it, but I will say that multiculturalism exists to make white people feel good.

In terms of this thread, about how whites simply cannot tolerate being usurped from the place where they feel and are given "natural" entitlement: leadership, but need to hold on to some notion that they are "good anti-racist people", the notion of multiculturalism is not applicable, and I would say completely irrelevant.

My impression is many of us have Again, ditto, and assuming that multiculturalism is a good thing, which it is not. Also, your entire point is centred on the "good natured-ness" of white folks towards POC, as if it's only because of such wonderous generousity that something appalling such as multiculturalism is being consdered in the first place.

I may be over-optimisticNothing wrong with that, Wilf. I always feel that way in the morning. But it's almost noon now.

P.S. Comparing racist attitudes of Canadians to Americans is meaningless. To say we are "better" (something that I would argue has not been proven), however negligibly better we may be, is nothing to be proud of.

P.P.S. Racism is about so much more than the attitudes of individuals.


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 July 2008 08:44 AM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stargazer: my initial post was in response to cueball's statement that allowing people to come to antiracist activism at their own pace was the right thing to do.
The first part of my statement was made irrelevant by the second. I apologize for contradicting myself.
Actively seeking converts to any political philosophy is ultimately doomed to failure. You can hold as many seminars, conferences and classes as you want, but if the people sincerely don't see what you're getting at, then those events will fail. So, why try so hard to spread the gospel of antiracism? Let people fight their personal demons by themselves, give them help if they ask for it, but don't pressure or judge.

From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 10 July 2008 09:58 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
(as to comparing racist attitudes of Canadians to Americans)To say we are "better" (something that I would argue has not been proven), however negligibly better we may be, is nothing to be proud of.

Agreed.
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
one need only look at the stats for police violence in Canada against people of colour, hiring practices (versus what employers say they will do), housing access (ditto landlords) and many other data-based information. You will find systemic and institutionalized racism.

As is well-known. If any of my comments sounded like minimization of racism, I apologize.

From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
martin dufresne
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posted 10 July 2008 10:02 AM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
BCG: whites simply cannot tolerate being usurped from the place where they feel and are given "natural" entitlement: leadership, but need to hold on to some notion that they are "good anti-racist people"

Yes, yes yes. So true (and so viciously ignored on Babble).

From: "Words Matter" (Mackinnon) | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
martin dufresne
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posted 10 July 2008 10:06 AM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
CMOT Dibbler: don't pressure or judge.
And what, pray tell are you doing with this haughty statement?

From: "Words Matter" (Mackinnon) | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Slumberjack
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posted 10 July 2008 11:30 AM      Profile for Slumberjack     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Personally I could care less if a POC or FN individual considers me an ally. I prefer not to trouble them for acknowledgement or affirmation, as I see no need to bother them with such nonsense. I once had a charge of racism leveled against me through a public service hiring competition. I interviewed dozens of applicants for a position and selected the best qualified person for the job. Later, a person filed a complaint because they thought they were denied the position because they were a POC. I was contacted and informed that a complaint process was underway. It was rather short lived, as the person I hired was a POC. I prefer not to seek anyone's approval or solidarity, nor do I expect anyone to solicit mine. Everyday activities and interaction in real life situations are far more important than any sought after gold star of merit. It's not about strolling around looking to be appreciated for some do good deed. If someone wants to self-improve in their understanding of AR issues, or become active in local surroundings, do it for yourself. It's an individual process, and not really something that other people should be expected to help with.
From: An Intensive De-Indoctrination, But I'm Fine Now | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Slumberjack
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posted 10 July 2008 11:47 AM      Profile for Slumberjack     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
In terms of this thread, about how whites simply cannot tolerate being usurped from the place where they feel and are given "natural" entitlement: leadership, but need to hold on to some notion that they are "good anti-racist people",

Actually in terms of the thread and forum, I suppose there's somewhat of an entitlement, based on conformity to policy, of being able to continue posting here, but beyond that, we're not actually in a position to be usurped from anything. And if those notions of being 'good anti-racist people' that we hold dear are to be dispelled, then it's probably a good thing that we can, if only to be informed as to what we really are.


From: An Intensive De-Indoctrination, But I'm Fine Now | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 10 July 2008 03:43 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skarredmunkey:
On the one hand you have an essentially 'conservative' black nationalism typified by Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan (and apparently Bill Cosby these days), and on the other SNCC, H. Rap Brown, Black Panthers etc. Cosby's comments of late have spurred a lot of criticism from within the black community for one or more of three reasons: (1) He's essentially "blaming the victim" (all black people) for their plight, (2) because he is arguing from an essentially black separatist position which is bad in the eyes of multiculturalists or integrationists, AND (3) because even though his position is black nationalist in nature it fundamentally buys into white definitions of success, progress, justice, etc.

I really think grouping Malcolm X, and Bill Cosby in the same ideological category because they both talk in similar terms about community responsibility, is a pretty surface analysis. The overall intention of saying that people have to stand up and take responsibility for their lives, and build their communities from where they are, and be proud of themselves, and their community is substantial influenced by where the onus of the ultimate responsibility for the injustice lies. Cosby from what I know of him, places the onus on upon US African Americans, as if the sole causual issue is the "defeatest" mindset of African Americans, while Malcolm X clearly places a huge emphasis upon the nature of the US society, making the point that the responsibility for racial inequality is the essesentially racist nature of the "white power" structure, and then going on to say (in his NOI period) that the only way for black people to succesfully rid themselves of the opression is to seperate themselves from the system, and its inherent structural bias by building strength and self-respect in the community at large. For example, he made the demand that the seperation should be paid for by the US state, as compensation to African-Americans, if I recall correctly.

He is basicly saying that seperation is necessary because US social institutions are so badly corrupted that the essential nature of their bias can not be changed, and so the effort to change them in the manner proposed by MLK is not possible. This view was somewhat ammended after he abandoned the NOI, but thematically he never gave up a severe criticism of imperialism, and the institution of slavery, or placing the onus of reponsibility for these historical legacies squarely upon the US ruling institutions, which he viewed as primarily serving the interests of white Americans. I think the experience of the last 40 years somewhat bears this view out.

It is in that context that his statements about community responsibility and self-reliance are couched, and so represent a kind of activist politics much more closely linked with those expressed in the OP, and fairly much out of step with Cosby's statements, who basicly has no general analysis and only focusses on self-reliance, and personal moral responsibility, as if the state of African-American communities is solely a result of a deficit of African-American moral fiber, as it were: "blaming the victim", as you say. I don't think this can be said at all about Malcolm X when the entirety of his analysis is taken into account: He blames the "white power structure".

This is how I have always viewed it, and so I think the comparison is unfair.


Malcolm X speaks about Black Nationalism, and demands "backpay."

[ 10 July 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
martin dufresne
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posted 10 July 2008 04:12 PM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
In terms of this thread, about how whites simply cannot tolerate being usurped from the place where they feel and are given "natural" entitlement: leadership (...)

Slumberjack: Actually in terms of the thread and forum, I suppose there's somewhat of an entitlement, based on conformity to policy, of being able to continue posting here, but beyond that, we're not actually in a position to be usurped from anything.(...)


Denying white privilege doesn't make it disappear; it makes it harder to dislodge.

From: "Words Matter" (Mackinnon) | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 July 2008 05:10 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm making the statement that I don't wish to be preached to. There is racism inside of me, but regardless of how many books I might read on antiracist struggles and how many conferences I might attend, when all is said and done, it is up to me to deal with the problem myself (with, of course, be sympathetic ears of friends and neighbors playing an important part). Proselytizing doesn't work. It doesn't work for the Jehovah's Witnesses, and it most certainly won't work for secular antiracist activists.

quote:
This is the statement i'm talking about:

For people of color, the white liberal conundrum manifests as an ongoing and often exhausting struggle to determine the extent to which they can or should work with, or trust, white liberals. Some feel that it's a waste of time, that most white folks will never get it and those who do will find their way into POC-led movements on their own.


quote:
And what, pray tell are you doing with this haughty statement?

[ 10 July 2008: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]

[ 10 July 2008: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
martin dufresne
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posted 10 July 2008 05:26 PM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
CMOT Dibbler, I don't understand how you can smear the work of anti-racists by distorting it to present it in terms of a religion.
Your vocabulary is insulting to any activist (and I am one): "converts", "the gospel of antiracism", "demons", "preached to", "proselytizing", "Jehovah's Witnesses"... You acknowledge that antiracist activists are "secular", yet everything you say about them belittles their work by presenting their project as proselytizing. Bullshit. Nothing in what POCs or FNs or their would-be allies have posted here supports that conceit and I am calling you on it. I don't give a damn what you do or think "at the end of the day" (even if I really appreciate your relentless challenging of Israel's obscene politics), but I wish you would stop casting this kind of aspersions and deal with your defenses in a less harmful manner.

From: "Words Matter" (Mackinnon) | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 July 2008 05:29 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This would be so much easier if we did it over coffe...
From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 10 July 2008 05:38 PM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
CMOT, I'm glad you're clarifying your position, and I've read your post just above and I'm not sure what you're saying.

Is it that the part you quoted sounds to you like it's proselytizing? That the part you quoted from Kai's blog is a "haughty statement"?

If that's how you read it, then I disagree, but I also sincerely don't see where you get that from and am interested in how you get there, if that's, in fact, where you are.

I read that as the writing of an AR activist about his reflections on the POC perspective of this "conundrum".

From my experience, when white folks enter POC spaces and have not done their work, they become very obvious through their behaviours and actions such as taking up a lot of space, asking for AR education when it's not appropriate, questioning decisions inappropriately, the list goes on. Yes, I've experienced all of this and am not making any of this up. I've come to realize that they just can't help themselves.

The response, on a practical level, is either to ignore them (for those of us who are less confrontational), to take them aside and ask them: to tone it down; to go away and educate themselves and then come back; to leave; or to challenge them outright in the moment. None of it ends pretty. Well, maybe the ignoring, but that causes the rest of us high blood pressure.

Kai is stating a truth that he's experienced, that I concur with from my own experiences.

As for coffee, I'd love to have a coffee with you in B.C. I love the West Coast. Wish I could get out there sometime in the near future, but alas, it is not to be.


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 July 2008 05:54 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by martin dufresne:
CMOT Dibbler, I don't understand how you can smear the work of anti-racists by distorting it to present it in terms of a religion.
Your vocabulary is insulting to any activist (and I am one): "converts", "the gospel of antiracism", "demons", "preached to", "proselytizing", "Jehovah's Witnesses"... You acknowledge that antiracist activists are "secular", yet everything you say about them belittles their work by presenting their project as proselytizing. Bullshit. Nothing in what POCs or FNs or their would-be allies have posted here supports that conceit and I am calling you on it. I don't give a damn what you do or think "at the end of the day" (even if I really appreciate your relentless challenging of Israel's obscene politics), but I wish you would stop casting this kind of aspersions and deal with your defenses in a less harmful manner.

For fuck sake martin, I really wish That you would stop spewing your treakly, self righteous bullishit all over the board. It's one thing for stargazer or BCG to challenge me, but for all I know, you're as white middle-class as I. your right, there has been no proselytizing or judgments made on this thread, but there has been in other threads in this forum. I shouldn't really be so defensive, but I still believe in the idea of trying to recruit activists (deciding whom to trust, work with, etc.) is a draining and ultimately self-defeating project. Those who are truly of good heart will come, those who aren't, will show their superficiality and be turned away.


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 10 July 2008 05:57 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I do wish the thread title could be changed. Bcg correctly identified the use of "liberal" to mean "progressive" (though I'd add not too progressive, as it excludes anarchists, socialists etc) in the US, but I've noticed people here uncritically picking up on it, which is most pernicious. That is a strictly USian usage that one does not want spreading anywhere else, like Lyme disease.
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 July 2008 06:04 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
CMOT, I'm glad you're clarifying your position, and I've read your post just above and I'm not sure what you're saying.
Is it that the part you quoted sounds to you like it's proselytizing? That the part you quoted from Kai's blog is a "haughty statement"?

No, I'm saying that I agree with Kai's statement.

I was responding to Martin, who said I was being haughty.


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
martin dufresne
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posted 10 July 2008 06:06 PM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't see race issues as a space where Whites aren't and non-Whites should settle for the help of those Whites who will descend from some ivory tower and "come" there out of their "good heart" (but with no pressure whatsoever).
There is no such separate space. My understanding is that we Whites are generally already there where racism happens, because we are the ones exerting it, each in his or her own manner - the blog quoted by BCG is ripe with telling insights about that. (What is the ethnic origin of the maintenance workers serving you, for instance?)
So there is no ivory tower to start with. We have to get off their backs and possibly in a helping rather than hindering mode.

From: "Words Matter" (Mackinnon) | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 10 July 2008 06:33 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
My understanding is that we Whites are generally already there where racism happens, because we are the ones exerting it

So you are white middle-class just like CMOT?


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
remind
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posted 10 July 2008 06:44 PM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
So you are white middle-class just like CMOT?
Is that rhetorical, or did you mess up the puntuation, and mean it as a statement? After all, you, yourself, quoted Martin self-identifying as; "we whites".

There is a lot nasty bickering and baiting going on, by whites, in the anti-racist forum, and I do not want to add to it, but please do stop it, all of you.

And Martin, if you had issues with CMOT's word usage you should have taken it to babble reactions and discussed it there, as you did not, you are being what you accuse others of.

Disrespectful, at the very least.

[ 10 July 2008: Message edited by: remind ]


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 10 July 2008 06:58 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Is that rhetorical, or did you mess up the puntuation, and mean it as a statement?

I'm not sure what's wrong with the punctuation. But CMOT Dibbler said to Martin:

quote:
It's one thing for stargazer or BCG to challenge me, but for all I know, you're as white middle-class as I.

And it turns out, he is right. That is relevant not only because CMOT pointed it out, it is also relevant to Martin.

quote:
For people of color, the white liberal conundrum manifests as an ongoing and often exhausting struggle to determine the extent to which they can or should work with, or trust, white liberals.

Despite all his righteousness, and I assume he has cast of "all the systemic advantages and interlocking privileges and perks of whiteness" (and I'm not at all sure how one would do that), his efforts may not even be welcome.

But I'm always open to being edited, Remind. Thanks for your efforts.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
skarredmunkey
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posted 10 July 2008 07:20 PM      Profile for skarredmunkey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
This is how I have always viewed it, and so I think the comparison is unfair.
I agree with you. The history of black nationalism and its many manifestations is a very complex one and Coates probably lumped Cosby in with a bunch of people that are not comparable for any reason other than the one which he was making. My point however was this: given everything else that people like Cosby or Malcolm X say or have said, especially their (generally) regressive attitudes on gender and (certainly in Cosby's case) class, can it be assumed that either constitute part of the anti-racist struggle we're talking about, or, are they actually buying into the oppressive doctrines that provide foundations for the social structures that maintain white power, privilege and racism?

I guess the question is two-fold:

How does one recognize anti-racism when they see it, given that there are many genuine anti-racists who are also genuine sexists or classists - who, it can be posited, could just as easily be buying into certain types of white privilege as the next person?

And second, can Kai's theory of a white liberal conundrum be expanded so that we might find examples of "(insert race here) liberal conundrum" in non-white communities or even regarding fundamentally non-racial issues? (Witness: Japanese 'liberals' who woefully supported anti-Chinese textbooks; the Israeli left who support Palestinians in theory but then do nothing to help their situation or attack their own privileged situation, etc. etc. ad infinitum.) It strikes me that the notion of a liberal conundrum in the white community, while interesting, accurate, unfortunate and 100% true, is at the same time and unfortunately not one that can solely be limited to whites given the nuances of racial hierarchies around the world. But I'm willing to be proven otherwise.


From: Vancouver Centre | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 10 July 2008 07:48 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And second, can Kai's theory of a white liberal conundrum be expanded so that we might find examples of "(insert race here) liberal conundrum" in non-white communities or even regarding fundamentally non-racial issues?

Why not? The key to the question for me, is the line I pulled out above:

quote:
If white folks disavow and destroy all the systemic advantages and interlocking privileges and perks of whiteness, then they're off the hook!

I would argue "whiteness" is not exclusive to skin color but is also a state of being.

I am willing to bet, materially, my life is not very different from the author of the article. In a world where a good part of the population lives in darkness and dies from malnutrition or contaminated drinking water, or violence related to resource extraction or other conflicts, we can both hop in our SUVs, fuel up 24hrs, drive off to the all night Wal-Mart that is bristling with merchandise brought together from the far corners of the world, load up on cases of bottled water, and head home to sit in front of the warm glare of our computers where I can be dismissed as being too white to appreciate racism all the while snacking on cheap and available snacks.

Perhaps it is true. Perhaps I am too white to appreciate racism. But the author, himself, on a global basis, enjoys "all the systemic advantages and interlocking privileges and perks of whiteness" as I do.

In a white dominated society where I, with no choice of my own, was born white, I enjoy a greater privilege and a greater sense of entitlement simply by the virtue of being white. I acknowledge that. But what we are talking about is not anti-racism or social justice but, rather, pecking order. I gladly give up my position in the pecking order to him.

But there remains that which destroys spirits and lives in a real sense, right along with the rivers, lakes, trees and the life they once sustained, and of which we are both net beneficiaries.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
RevolutionPlease
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posted 10 July 2008 08:46 PM      Profile for RevolutionPlease     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There's so much wrong here. It may take me days to comprehend this thread.
From: Aurora | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
Slumberjack
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posted 11 July 2008 03:17 AM      Profile for Slumberjack     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Perhaps it is true. Perhaps I am too white to appreciate racism. But the author, himself, on a global basis, enjoys "all the systemic advantages and interlocking privileges and perks of whiteness" as I do. [/QB]

A comforting illusion no doubt, sustained in part by infatuation with our own surroundings. Trouble is, it matters not one iota what pinnacle one is able to reach. Case in point:

Michaelle Jean - Negro Queen

No, it really is exclusive to skin colour.

[ 11 July 2008: Message edited by: Slumberjack ]


From: An Intensive De-Indoctrination, But I'm Fine Now | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 11 July 2008 04:10 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd like to pop back in and ask if everyone contributing currently has actually read the article (and I'm not referring to those who have already indicated that they have).

Here's an idea, how about everyone re-read the linked article to keep this thread on topic?
If you're bored reading the article again, please read the nested links. Thanks.

I won't be changing the thread title which is in quotes precisely because it's the title of the post, as written by Kai Chang on his blog zuky. I explain the use of capital L liberal in the OP. I don't take responsibility for those who choose to interpret it otherwise, but I do ask that the thread conversation be about what the article actually says, rather than incorrect interpretations, such as "pecking order".


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 11 July 2008 04:17 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But again, that goes to what the poster above described as follows:

quote:
It strikes me that the notion of a liberal conundrum in the white community, while interesting, accurate, unfortunate and 100% true, is at the same time and unfortunately not one that can solely be limited to whites given the nuances of racial hierarchies around the world.

We have our own racial hierarchy here . We got a nice example of it today in the London Free Press.

But I don't think you could convincingly argue that we do not all benefit, in our society, from the racism that extends across the globe and enriches our material world at the expense of the global south.

The Iraq War, for instance, is a racist war. But the control of that nations resources, and the geo-politcal strategic interests of US troops occupying both Iraq and Afghanistan, and using tremendous violence and oppression to do so, ensures a continued flow of fossil fuel resources for the civilization of which we are a part.

Unless AR requires that we divide global from local racism.

I don't know.

ETA: Given the response to my posting in this thread, that will be my last post on this topic. BCG, I would like to thank you for tolerating my intrusion here.

Despite all the over-the-top reactions to my posting in this thread, I think it is useful to inform you that I often do just read what is posted here even though I seldom participate. And that it, and you, have helped to shape my attitudes. For example, I now get what you mean and what is intended by "white supremacy" even though we once had a warm, not heated, discussion on the topic where I did not get it.

So despite the much ranting and raving, even an old white dog with a bad attitude can learn.

[ 11 July 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Slumberjack
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10108

posted 11 July 2008 04:39 AM      Profile for Slumberjack     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
Unless AR requires that we divide global from local racism. I don't know.

It seems logical that each topic deserves it's own thorough discussion without being diluted to the point where the central issue becomes lost. Bringing forward disconnected material from other areas, or for that matter, the constant sniping that surfaces, tends to accomplish very little but to frustrate.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd say that a significant minority of white liberals are actually interested in learning about anti-racism once properly exposed to it.... some white folks manage to claw and bootstrap their way out of their own conditioning, opening their hearts and minds to previously unseen worlds from which the voices and stories of people of color emerge; studying and observing the profound effects of racist society on their own perceptual prisms and on the shape of the world; and consciously, steadily working to counteract those effects.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Even the simple act of staying on topic is a small stepping stone in itself, because merely through the act of straying away to dwell on our own fixations do we expose our core problem.


From: An Intensive De-Indoctrination, But I'm Fine Now | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
RevolutionPlease
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posted 11 July 2008 07:07 PM      Profile for RevolutionPlease     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From the OP:

quote:
If white folks disavow and destroy all the systemic advantages and interlocking privileges and perks of whiteness, then they're off the hook! But you can't enjoy the lifelong fruits of the legacy while disowning the accountability, right? That's not how it works.


From: Aurora | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
RevolutionPlease
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posted 12 July 2008 08:55 AM      Profile for RevolutionPlease     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've finally gotten through all the comments. Just having trouble with the exchange at the end between Julian and Michelle but it looks like they were continuing something there.

The comments were perhaps even more valuable to me as a learning tool than the post. I really appreciate Kai's handling of the comments. Her definition of racsim was interesting.

quote:
Racism is an institutional system of power and exploitation, consisting of an interlocking set of economic, political, cultural, and social structures and beliefs, which systematically ensure the unequal distribution of resources, privilege, and influence in favor of the dominant racial group at the expense of all other groups.

And I liked R Mildred's as well but I guess Kai's is probably better. Or not.

[ 12 July 2008: Message edited by: RevolutionPlease ]


From: Aurora | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged

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