Weekly Hungover Feminist Report – You don’t have to think you’re racist to say racist things Edition


Samhita’s post about gentrification and “ghetto fabulousness” has, not shockingly, turned into quite a conversation about race and privilege. I think it’s an important conversation to have, so let’s do it. The whole thing is really getting to me for four reasons.
First, my back hurts.
Second, just last week a bunch of us were sitting at a ceremony celebrating the future of reproductive rights and justice – a diverse group of young women I am proud to be counted among. And now this. Good thing all of those women were young and tough. There’s a lot that needs doing.
Third, instead of sitting here I’m supposed to be in Chicago rocking out at Sistersong.
And fourth, because as the headline says, you don’t have to mean to be racist to say racist things. And I understand that most of the readers here don’t want to be called racist. Fine. Then don’t say racist things. I’m not sugar coating this one, folks. The following comments on Samhita’s thread are either racist, or positively drowning in privilege. Regardless of how you meant it. Read them, and please take a moment to think about why I say this. Just like I assume we’d like well-meaning sexist people to think about why we respond the way we do to things they say.
I stopped writing this post and came back to it later. Now I’m not angry, I’m curious. I’d really like to hear from some of the folks whose comments I include. Thoughtfully, not just angry because you think I’m an asshole and calling you racist. I’m so rarely earnest, but I really mean it.

ooo sorry to dissmiss aspects of your culture, whatever culture you do or think you belong to. this is just so silly.
“To move into a community, uninformed, taking from it, not giving back and flaunting your expensive Ipod and “ghetto chic” accessories, is a form of violence”
Well, if I see anyone wearing a pair punk pins and they are not punk, I guess I should get offended when they come into my punk neighborhood. I guess they are taking a form of violence against my culture… oh wait, i’m white, apparently I dont have a culture.

Can we agree that equating “punk” with race is at best a weak comparison, and accept that people of color could be insulted?

But, someone walking down the street seeing me in a kimono (should I decide to wear one), is allowed to accuse me of cultural appropriation because I’m white?
I’m not trying to be inflammatory, I’m honestly curious. Is a Japanese-American person allowed to yell at me for taking away his or her culture? Am I forced to be an outsider to that culture forever simply based on my ethnicity?

I don’t know why you say they’d be “allowed to yell” at you. If you genuinely believe it’s ok to wear it, can’t they genuinely believe it isn’t?

How about focusing on true injustices here? This is crazy.

Your decision about what is true injustice is different from mine. Why is yours right and mine is crazy?

Stench of white privilege? Can you cite examples? I’m not trying to be a smartass, but what are we supposed to say and how do we act to keep peace in a community? I think it’s safe to assume all of us here are enlightened enough to respect and explore diversity…it just has to go both ways.

What’s funny about this comment is it’s textbook white privilege. You can assume whatever you want, but it’s clear that our idea of what constitutes respecting and exploring diversity are different. You can’t always have “peace in a community” when the community has some learning to do.

applying the term “racist” to the average feminist is going to affect us more than someone like Ann Coulter, and we will take it personally. it goes against who we are and strive to be. please keep this in mind, moving forward; we’re not as evil as you think.

Reading racist statements on a feminist blog that I contribute to affects me more than something Ann Coulter says. I take it personally. Being challenged on bullshit is what helps us become who we strive to be. Please keep this in mind, moving forward.
I could go on and on, but it’s too exhausting. I’m going to stop and see what people have to say, but I want to share a little story first (as usual). I’ve had numerous white friends over the years “jokingly” tell me I’m “not really black” or ‘practically white.” Now, they generally mean two things by that. Either I don’t act in whatever stereotypical way they associate with black people, or they want to think of me as an individual, not a member of a race. And they don’t mean it to be racist. But it is. And insulting. They’re taking whatever discomfort they have and negating something about me. Let me repeat, since I know some of the people who’ve said this to me are probably reading this post. I know you weren’t try to insult me. Hell, some think it’s a compliment. But it is an insult. And it is a racist statement. I can separate intention from result. But not having bad intentions doesn’t mean the result is invalid.
Sorry about the lack of video again, but my computer still sucks.

Today’s hangover is brought to you by Vicodin.

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235 Comments

  1. Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    mamis62: What you don’t understand is that you were not the victim; you’re wife was.
    Here comes that dreaded word again….Ready, set!…Privilege!
    You see yourself as the victim before you’re not even factoring your wife into the equation. If anything, her significance – to you – in your story is that of a damaged piece of property. All you’ve talked about is how you’ve been victimized. (They insulted your choice of accessory, so they insulted you as a white man.) But NOT ONCE did you even mention how humiliated your wife must’ve felt, how embarassed she must’ve been.
    Did you even try to comfort her after that happened?

  2. kmg
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    jessilikewhoa, it’s a decent read. Just to be totally clear, I’m not making any claim that Jews aren’t discriminated against, just that it might be confusing the issue (especially on this thread, which is tangled enough) to talk about discrimination against Jews as racism, that it may make more sense to talk about religious- or culture-based bias or violence. For example, my boyfriend, who is Jewish, has been the target of anti-Semitic slurs, but he also benefits from white privilege: he doesn’t worry about getting pulled over for Driving While Brown, doesn’t have to be extra-articulate all the time just so the people he’s dealing with assume he’s literate, etc. While Jews are “othered” by mainstream culture, they’ve also been redefined (and the majority in the past couple generations in the US define themselves) as white. Brodkin talks about the various reasons why that redefinition happened (and there are some parallels to how the Irish in the US were redefined as white, because originally they weren’t considered so, either, interestingly enough) and if you’ve got the time, I’d recommend taking the book for a spin out from the library.
    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I do think it’s important to recognize that seemingly ingrained ideas about race do change over time.
    Incidentally, I’m writing this from the Twin Cities, one of the centers of the neo-Nazi hardcore music scene in the US, so I’m not unfamiliar with some of the things you describe.

  3. arica
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    It is always amazing to me when the defenses go up amongst people with privilege. I was excited to read the discussions that came from Samhita and Jen’s posts because these issues have often gone under the radar. I wish that instead of attacking and defending oneself, the comments would discuss the points that Samhita and Jen so poignantly bring up. No one has to comment on every post. When I read something like this, I take it as a chance to reflect on the issues and challenge myself by looking at my involvement in such issues. Thank you Samhita and Jen, and all who contribute to Feministing. This is why I read your blogs daily—you discuss thought provoking topics that many people would rather avoid.

  4. timssopomo
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    For chrissake, Malaika, at least read what the man wrote.
    mamis62 says:
    “I realize this may be hard for you to understand, Cara, but when you’re married to someone, and you actually love them, you don’t really separate out the percentages of who got slandered and by how much. In fact, seeing your spouse hurt is far worse than being hurt yourself.
    But I feel much better now that you’ve pronounced me “only minimally” slandered. Thanks. It still hurts to think about the incident…but because of your post, the pain is only minimal.
    Yeah, sure sounds like he wasn’t concerned for his wife at all. Except, you know, phrasing the hurt in terms of hurt to her.
    Looking back through the commments, Cara’s the first one to bring up threats to masculinity/dick size. He phrased his hurt in terms of her own. Granted, the bum was attacking her rather than him (no argument there), but I can understand why he could think she was singled out because of him. And if you genuinely care about someone, that’s what aches, not the fact that he insinuated your dick was small or threatened to “damage” your “property.”

  5. penelope traintrax
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    re:”applying the term “racist” to the average feminist is going to affect us more than someone like Ann Coulter, and we will take it personally. it goes against who we are and strive to be. please keep this in mind, moving forward; we’re not as evil as you think.”
    Us…us…us…white womens priviledge has always tried to skirt the issues that face individuals and women, by using the deceptively all inclusive and militant “Us,” as in
    ‘you are owned by us, and are one of us,’ which is dangling a carrot before theeyes of those who never had such priviledge, and then acting shocked, and offended when they discover you are not ‘one of them’.
    Oh, and by the way, where is that plaid shirt of mine?
    Damn co-options…

  6. Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    It actually does help to hear someone treat me as a human, rather than as a supporting argument for something. Best wishes.
    Um, like how you acknowledged your wife’s full personhood and HER status as the real victim, rather than using an attack on HER as simply a supporting argument for something?
    Oh… wait…
    rabbit, this is an interesting definition:
    To me, “emasculating” means to make a man feel that the characteristics that make him a man are inferior to those of the person doing the emasculating.
    Does this mean, then, that women by definition cannot emasculate men? Or do you mean that “emasculating” equals challenging ANY characteristic stereotypically thought of as “manly,” in which case — what’s so bad about that?

  7. Posted May 31, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    For chrissake, Malaika, at least read what the man wrote.
    Okay. Let’s take a look and see what he wrote: Please tell me if this slanders me. Emphasis mine.
    And let’s also take a look at what Cara actually said: I certainly hope that if my husband I were walking along together and some guy THREATENED TO RAPE ME and said that my husband had a small penis in the course of that rape threat, that my husband would be concerned for me and not seeking sympathy for the supposed threat to his masculinity.
    Did you actually read what she wrote for chissakes?

  8. penelope traintrax
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    re mamis62: “but I can understand why he could think she was singled out because of him. And if you genuinely care about someone, that’s what aches, not the fact that he insinuated your dick was small or threatened to “damage” your “property”
    Yeah, and not to mention that it would have likely been him who could have been maimed, mauled, or otherwise violated should he have responded to this person in an attempt to ‘protect’ his wife, which is a highly likely scenario, and yet another case where we ovrlook the violence potentially perpetrated on men who actually defend women, instead of advocating that women learn to defend themselves.
    Dick size? Sure, there is some element of that in many men, but likely there because social mechanisms like hostility directed at them by women with large vaginas who haven’t figured out how they work yet pawn the guilt of that shame on men.

  9. justicewalks
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Granted, the bum was attacking her rather than him (no argument there), but I can understand why he could think she was singled out because of him. And if you genuinely care about someone, that’s what aches, not the fact that he insinuated your dick was small or threatened to “damage” your “property.”
    The problem is that, even though he may have felt for her, he has no right to claim that his pain over witnessing her humiliation was worse than her actual experience of it.
    I used to date a white guy just like that. Some random black guy asked me beligerently why I’d be some white man’s whore when I could have been his queen, but that now that I’d sullied myself, I was only fit for a dumpster anyway, and the white boyfriend, of course, made all about his emasculation. The guy hadn’t even intended for my boyfriend to hear. Boyo only heard because he turned back around, after he’d walked away, to give me the keys to a storage unit. The white guy may have drawn the creep’s attention to me in this particular case, but the creep’s attention was on ME, not the white guy.
    Malaika924, I’ve come late to the party, but I wanted to extend a public thank you to you, for writing so clearly and unapologetically about racial injustice. I also have to say that, while you were passionate, I never saw any reason to accuse you of crossing a line. I’m glad you haven’t been discouraged from posting your perspective.

  10. Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I love how “penelope” tries to turn this around into an issue women are “supposed” to be worried about (oh no! What if I’m too big! He might figure out I’m not a VIRGIN!!)
    The issue is very simple. mamis came on here with a vaguely whiny missive about how WHITE MEN are discriminated against because a black dude threatened to rape his black wife. He followed this up, not by saying how pissed off he was that someone would be so disrespectful to his wife, not by saying how much it upset his wife (who, indeed, sounds eminently cool with her calm, casual bird-flipping of the creepy jackass), not by saying how his heart ached for the wrong and the sexism and the racism inflicted on HER, but rather by suggesting that HE has been slandered because of HIS RACE (failing to even hint an acknowledgement that the attack had MUCH MORE to do with his WIFE’S race than with his — poll for the white guys with white girlfriends/wives: anything like this ever happen to YOU?).
    This is whiny, pathetic, entitlement. His response to Cara trying to backtrack and protest that his hurt is on behalf of his WIFE is snake-oil-salesman disingenuous. It’s OBVIOUS what he was saying with his first comment, however wrong he may now realize he was.
    Seriously, people, go back and READ THE MOTHERFUCKING COMMENT.

  11. timssopomo
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I did, yes. Cara’s was the first mention I found of the threat to masculinity, which is why I mentioned it.
    He clarified the original statement, saying he was hurt cause she was. That’s all I was reading into it, you’re welcome to extract whatever further you wish. It seems a bit of a stretch to say her value was “that of a damaged piece of property.” That’s all.
    Given the way he started off though, I can see where you’re coming from now. I apologize for the tone of the earlier post.

  12. Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Whoa, my name is all over the place, now. I feel so popular!
    Seriously, though, I think that what I said stands on its own and don’t feel any need to defend it. Thanks all the same, though, to you lovely people who have taken the time to back me up. :)

  13. Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    What you don’t understand is that you were not the victim; you’re wife was.
    They both were. Harassing a woman on the street is (among other things) about asserting dominance over her. Harassing a woman who is with a man on the street is additionally about asserting dominance over him.
    If a man tells a woman that he’s going to rape her, and he does it in her husband’s hearing, he’s calling that man out. The intent and the effect is to humiliate both the man and the woman, and quite possibly to create a pretext for a physical altercation with the man.
    Mamis has behaved like a whiny jerk in this thread, but if this incident went down the way he says it did, both he and his wife were targets of the harassment.

  14. Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    If a man tells a woman that he’s going to rape her, and he does it in her husband’s hearing, he’s calling that man out.
    I’m trying to parse this out. I understand that the INTENT of the street harrasser may in fact be to intimidate and embarrass both parties, but seriously, think about the implications of this. The way to insult a man is to harrass the WOMAN he’s with??? I mean, doesn’t this just absolutely smack of misogyny??? And, if the guy is genuinely feminist/progressive/etc., won’t he kind of be unfazed by the attack on his “masculinity”? In other words, it seems to me the ONLY men that this can really affect, short of the harrasser physically attacking him without provocation, are men whose consciousnesses still need raising. Which means that EVERY SINGLE DAY they themselves are doing some small harm to the women they love.
    I mean, think about those words: calling the MAN out. Why does the rape of a woman have ANYTHING to do with the man she happens to have consensual sex with, other than the unremarkable fact that we all hurt when our loved ones hurt? Really and truly, I would love to hear a non-sexist explanation of the particular connection.

  15. Raging Moderate
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I understand the candy analogy, but I think that if it’s an accurate analogy, we’re in trouble.
    If the only way for whites to combat racism is for them to give away some of what little candy they have (and yes, many whites have very little candy), I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

  16. Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    If the only way for whites to combat racism is for them to give away some of what little candy they have (and yes, many whites have very little candy), I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
    Well, precisely RM, why do you think we’ve been fighting this battle (as well as the one for gender equality) for so many centuries? Because no one wants to give up their power.

  17. Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I;ll tackle that. First, a caveat–I don’t think the relative damage to man and woman from that kind of rape threat are even vaguely comparable. If you’re looking for someone to try to give justification that they’re equal, this isn’t it.
    Neither is threatening to rape a woman as much of an assault on the guy as directly threatening to assault the guy.
    Now, on to the response:
    Since this is a race thread, I’ll start with a hypothetical: Me and my friend Lumkile are walking down the street. Some assholes walk up beside us and start taunting him, calling him a n__.
    That’s an assault on him, not me.
    But it’s ALSO going to get a rise out of me, because if someone is fucking with someone I like in front of me, then I tend to react to it. Ignoring the physical aspects of it, standing up for each other–sharing both damage and defense–is what friends do.
    Because is it widely accepted (perhaps only among males, but that’s still pretty wide acceptance) that this is what friends do, it is not uncommon for people to deliberately pick fights in this fashion. Don’t ask me why; I’ve never done it. But it happens. The perpetrator is trying to use the existence of a friendship to rile up someone, so that he can say “he started it; I never insulted him!
    And a “the enemy of my friend is my enemy” effect is even more pronounced when one is married or in a serious committed relationship. That’s because you feel even more connected, and it feels like an assault on them, really IS an assault on you.
    As a result, it is not uncommon to insult/attack the woman in a partnership, as a way of making the man upset. It is an incredibly obnoxious tactic, which I believe is practiced almost entirely by men**.
    But it’s not misogyny.
    When you say this:
    Why does the rape of a woman have ANYTHING to do with the man she happens to have consensual sex with, other than the unremarkable fact that we all hurt when our loved ones hurt?
    You have the answer; I’ve bolded it. It’s just that for some reason you have chosen to exclude it from consideration; I don’t know why.
    I would rather suffer than have my wife, children, or close friends suffer. An attack on them is also an attack on me.
    That’s not misogyny; it’s love.
    **I may well be wrong on this.

  18. Raging Moderate
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    So how do you convince people to give up their candy?

  19. Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I suppose that you have to convince them that everyone is as equally deserving of opportunity as they are. As soon as I figure out why some people realize this and others don’t, I promise to let you (and everyone I ever meet, see or talk to) know.

  20. Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    The way to insult a man is to harrass the WOMAN he’s with??? I mean, doesn’t this just absolutely smack of misogyny???
    Absolutely it does. It’s a powerfully misogynist act, and its misogyny is rooted in all sorts of patriarchal assumptions.
    And, if the guy is genuinely feminist/progressive/etc., won’t he kind of be unfazed by the attack on his “masculinity”?
    If I’m out walking with someone, male or female, and that person is targeted for abuse that has the potential to turn violent, I’m implicated. If the person I’m with doesn’t respond, I need to figure out whether that’s because of fear, and if so whether I can best defuse the situation by walking away or by intervening.
    If the person I’m with is a woman, and the harassment is sexual in nature, my calculations are complicated. I need to consider the possibility that the harasser is going to perceive a non-response from me as a show of weakness, and escalate the incident because of it. And I know that if the incident becomes seriously violent, it’s quite possible that I, not my friend, will be the target of that violence.
    So even if I don’t take the harassment of my partner as an insult to my masculinity, it’s still an act that’s implicitly directed at me as well as her, and still one that has the clear potential to end in violence to me as well as, or instead of, her.
    I mean, think about those words: calling the MAN out. Why does the rape of a woman have ANYTHING to do with the man she happens to have consensual sex with, other than the unremarkable fact that we all hurt when our loved ones hurt?
    So far I’ve been assuming that the threat of rape is an empty one. But if it’s not, it’s more obvious that it’s a threat to me as well as her.
    Unless the plan is to follow us home and then lurk until the opportunity to rape her in my absence presents itself, the implication is that I will be rendered unable to defend my wife or get help in advance of the rape. That would have to involve physical violence against me, or at the very least an imminent, plausible threat of grave bodily harm.

  21. Jane Minty
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Us…us…us…white womens priviledge has always tried to skirt the issues that face individuals and women, by using the deceptively all inclusive and militant “Us,” as in
    ‘you are owned by us, and are one of us,’ which is dangling a carrot before theeyes of those who never had such priviledge, and then acting shocked, and offended when they discover you are not ‘one of them’.

    I wasn’t being all-inclusive, just referring to those who share my sentiments (mainly white women who have always made an effort to live a righteous path). “Militant” is a little over-the-top. No carrots were involved in the development of this thought. I would never, ever pretend I know what it’s like to be you, but that frustration on your is NO excuse for hostility.
    I appreciated the fact that subsequent posts were actually answering my questions and acknowledging sincerity, but I see we’re back to square one in terms of prefacing with the “white P” remark. oh well…I’m glad at least some of you were educational.

  22. Posted May 31, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Sailorman, to the extent that’s all anyone is saying, your point is uncontroversial. But I don’t believe that’s what people are saying. Rather, what I am reading here is that there is some particular relationship between a man and his wife that makes the dynamic DIFFERENT, and I do expect an explanation why.
    For instance, if my mom or my sister and I are walking down the street, and a harasser threatens to rape my sister or mom, does that mean that he (to use Angus’ words) is *calling me out*? Because I can damn well promise you I care one hell of a lot more about my mom and sister than any boyfriend has ever cared about me (and quite possibly, ever will. Not because I’m unlovable or men can’t love or whatever other negative spin you could put on that but because I fucking love my mom and sister to death).

  23. Raging Moderate
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I suppose that you have to convince them that everyone is as equally deserving of opportunity as they are.

    Realizing that all people should have the opportunity to get their own candy isn’t the same as giving them your candy. I can see why that’s such a hard sell.

  24. Posted May 31, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Great point, LF. There is also the point that the harasser does not know that you love the woman you’re with. It could be a second date for all he knows. The fact is that he sees a man with a woman, interprets that woman to be his property and attacks him “appropriately.”
    I also think (though I have no real evidence, so feel free to shoot me down) that man is much more likely to actually get into an altercation when “his” woman is threatened even if they don’t know each other well, than he is to get into an altercation if it is a man (like in your example, Sailorman) that he does not know very well. Which again backs up the argument that this is in fact misogyny and not just protectiveness over the people you love.

  25. Posted May 31, 2007 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    LF, if you’re walking down the street with your mom, and a guy threatens to rape her, it’s not likely that he’s making the threat in order to provoke you. If I’m walking down the street with my wife, and a guy threatens to rape her, I have to consider the possibility that he’s making the threat at least in part to provoke me.
    When guys are behaving in a macho, obnoxious way around other guys, you always have to consider the possibility that they’re looking for a fight. If a guy insults a woman in front of “her man,” I’d say the possibility that he’s using the insult to get under the man’s skin is very real.

  26. Mel
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    As a white woman, who has had a hard time recognizing, admitting, understanding, and trying to handle her white privaledge, I’d like to butt in.
    I would like to restate how important it is that the distinction between “racist” and “racism” as it it normally perceived (as someone mentioned, the belief that one/other race(s) are inferior to yous, as in, lazy, dirty, etc.) and racism as an institution…a “system” if you will, which requires CONCIOUS EFFORT to recognize and overcome. This distinction explains why white people who do not have that belief of inferiority get offendid and defensive when their racism is pointed out: because they have a different, less expanded definition of the word, something they associate with negative, insensitive, cruelty. (Which it is, and which is an association we want to ENCOURAGE. I’m GLAD people get offended when they’re called racist; it means they don’t want to BE racist. Good thing.) I noticed many, maybe even all of the defensive self-identifying white posters, once they understood this, became far less defensive. That’s very important to point out, early on (though I can understand why a POC would get tired of repeating that over and over).
    To get even more detailed: Think of Racism as a machine, and every person as a cog in that machine. Merely recognizing, and paying lip service to your place as a cog in that system DOES NOT DISMANTLE THE SYSTEM. It requires constant, and concious effort to work AGAINST that system, that machine, and if you stop exherting that exhausting effort, you default become a part of that system again, however unwillingly. Think of the difficulty of a cog trying to turn in the wrong direction.
    That is what is going on here. In this system in place in the United States and sometimes beyond, which IS a racist system (I didn’t see anyone argue to the contrary), white people, as “cogs”, have a good “well greased” default position…their work is not hard, or not as hard, as POC who as cogs have a bad default position, which is notwell greased and a lot more straining. POC who perform their cogly duties the way the system tells them to work hard, and get little to no reward for it; they experience more stress, and they “break”. POC who try to get some grease for themselves and others, so they can work easier, are screwed (pun not intended, though I amused myself) because their cogs aren’t supposed to get grease. And POC who want to dismantlethe whole system and remake it so everyone has the same amount of grease, or candy, are opposed by those who have grease, as well as by the system itself because it’s been in place for so long. There’s really only so much one cog can do to stop the machine, to break the system…they can really only affect the cogs around them.
    White people who are trying to help POCs get into a good position, which on occasion (though I by no means think this is a requirement) involves giving up their grease, or sharing their grease, are also working against the machine, and it is exhausting. Merely recognizing your good position, while a step forward, does not alter your position in the system or your place in it…in fact, you are still reinforcing the system by continuing to turn in the direction you’re supposed to.
    It is hard to try so hard to get some grease, or break the machine. It is also hard to give up your grease and take on more work. I understand that, as a POC, it IS sort of a “boo-freaking-hoo” situation, because you have worked hard for so long it’s not easy to work up sympathy for people who are whining about sharing their grease, when you have had little or none. But the fact that white people are TRYING to give it up, and TRYING to share, are even considering it, puts them ahead of the people who are intentionally denying and mocking you and actively blocking you from getting any grease. Credit and kudos, small as they may be, go a long way to accomplishing your ends.
    Personally, I am willing to share much more of my privaledge grease, even all of it, with someone who will say “thanks” than someone who will yell at me for not giving it up more willingly and sooner.
    I’m not trying to be snarky, here. I’m just saying that while I think that what most every POC who posted in here has said is CORRECT, it was the DELIVERY which got people up in arms. White people (or at least I) didn’t listen to Law Fairy more than Malaika because LF is white; they/I listened to her because she was not being snippy and sarcastic and belittling…and because, as a white person who has made that decision to work against the machine herself, she recognizes the dificulty and can couch it in terms us whiney white people can understand.
    I think there’s a situation when both of the kids could not be crying about the candy: the kid with one convinces the kid with two that it’s not fair, and the kid with two shares. Everyone’s happy.

  27. penelope traintrax
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    women will protect themselves, and seperately. It is as logical as it is to presume that women should ‘educate’ men or any other thing on womens issues.
    So whether or not that man felt the ‘pain’ of that woman is merely indicative of his lack of insight into his own pain, that insight clouded in the false and dual expectations of the ‘male role’ itself; or even a lack of awarenes( as someone noted, he is not yet awakened)
    In an entitled and white Ken and Barbie world, maybe this role play works, but in the street ( and I might add that as nice as it is here to discuss race and avoid talking about class and priviledge here, in the streets there are definite roles, and definite provocations to those roles, and until women stand up as warriors, and men get in touch with their inner woman or whatever, these conflicts occur, which are as old as time). So really, we live in a world of men who have no idea that it is not indeed their role to protect women, and we live in a world full of women who easily manipulate that protective factor in men, and train it into their boys for whatever reason, and the men assume that role ( man up and all of that other crap) and then get railed on for it here and elsewhere.
    About giving up the candy: Let me watch you give yours up first, and then we can talk, right?

  28. penelope traintrax
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    OOPs…I cut off the first part of the comment:
    “it is not uncommon to insult attack the woman in a partnership, as a way of making the man upset. It is an incredibly obnoxious tactic, which I believe is practiced almost entirely by men**.”
    No: bring your favorite female to a dyke bar,build a few relationships, and just watch, and listen ;-) Better yet ask the unhappy mother in laws of the world who pester their daughters to ditch their ‘bad husbands’ and you will see the same divisive tactic.
    “I wasn’t being all-inclusive, just referring to those who share my sentiments…no carrots …were involved in this thought.”
    Yeah: the subconscious and ingrained carrot of white female priviledge; the presumption of an “us”.
    I wasn’t just talking to you Jane, and I don’t want to offend you to feel as tho it is just you saying “us” all the time. It happens everywhere, but, really, I think the constant “us” is a huge presumption white people, and politicians make, and that presumption does rub off on others. It is militant as it presumes only two sides, an Us versus a Them.
    Getting under a mans skin is as easy as expecting him to be more of a protector than a woman is willing to be for herself, and it is so disingenuous , and misandrist to presume that men should protect women more than

  29. JonesingforaDem
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I think part of the solution to the candy problem is helping people realize that they don’t actually need as much of the candy as they think they do, and that it can actually be more beneficial, both on an individual and a community level, to spread around the goods.
    m & m’s, anyone?

  30. Mina
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    “I think part of the solution to the candy problem is helping people realize that they don’t actually need as much of the candy as they think they do, and that it can actually be more beneficial, both on an individual and a community level, to spread around the goods.”
    …and that sometimes the “candy” is bouillion cubes (“it’s wrapped in gold foil, it must be candy!!!”)?

  31. Posted May 31, 2007 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    This is a quote from the old thread. Comments were closed before I could respond.

    And as for the idea that nobody is appropriating white trash trailer park culture (this was mentioned quite a few comments ago)…BULL FUCKING SHIT. Two words: Trucker Caps (which I believe quite a few black people wore as well). Have you ever been to Southern California? Social Distortion pretty much made it a requirement that EVERYONE looks like they stepped out of their double-wide.

    Using the term “white trash” is out of line. We said we grew up in trailer parks and no one tried to gentrify our parks. We never said we were white trash and I’m offended at being called that name.
    Moreover, “trucker hats” are called trucker hats because truckers wear them. They are not called “trailer park hats.”
    Re. SoCal: yeah, been there. Grew up in Central California.
    Social Distortion is
    a) Mainstream. Last Social D concert I saw was a July the 4th benefit concert in the middle of the day in a city park with 8 year olds.
    b) Evokes punk/emo wear, not Springer Style.
    c) Not fucking relevant to the conversation.
    Trailer park discussion came up because areas that become gentrified are in parts of the country that people who grew up in trailer parks would kill to live in. So those of us who “got the hell out of Dodge” and moved to the big city and then get called ‘gentrifiers’ because we’re white and don’t know how to dress and want to live in a cool neighborhood, we get a little miffed. Well, I do, anyway.
    I think this thread got so heated because of all the intersections of race, class, culture, geography, fashion and more. It really turned into a huge culture war.

  32. rabbit_fiasco
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    The author of “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?” made a similar analogy to the above machine analogy.
    Suppose racism is a moving walkway. People who are willfully racist are walking in the same direction as the moving walkway. People who accept racism but choose to do nothing are standing still on the moving walkway – they’re not helping things along but they’ll end up in the same place as the people who are willfully racist. People who are actively against racism are walking in the opposite direction of the moving walkway but they have to walk at the same speed or faster than the moving walkway to avoid ending up at the same place.
    I’ve asked before in different ways but I’ll ask again now – what actions constitute walking in the opposite direction of the moving walkway?

  33. Posted May 31, 2007 at 11:35 pm | Permalink


    LF, if you’re walking down the street with your mom, and a guy threatens to rape her, it’s not likely that he’s making the threat in order to provoke you. If I’m walking down the street with my wife, and a guy threatens to rape her, I have to consider the possibility that he’s making the threat at least in part to provoke me.
    When guys are behaving in a macho, obnoxious way around other guys, you always have to consider the possibility that they’re looking for a fight. If a guy insults a woman in front of “her man,” I’d say the possibility that he’s using the insult to get under the man’s skin is very real.

    Angus, that’s pretty much the point that I thought LF was making. Of course, she can correct me if I’m wrong :)

  34. Jane Minty
    Posted May 31, 2007 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t just talking to you Jane, and I don’t want to offend you to feel as tho it is just you saying “us” all the time. It happens everywhere, but, really, I think the constant “us” is a huge presumption white people, and politicians make, and that presumption does rub off on others.
    Fair enough. Regardless of how the women I’ve described are classified, how would you address them in answering Rabbit’s question below?
    I’ve asked before in different ways but I’ll ask again now – what actions constitute walking in the opposite direction of the moving walkway?
    Also, how would this ideally be implemented within school systems? What would you tell white, black, spanish/latino, asian, and every kid in between about his or her identity and what it represents in the world? What do you tell mixed race kids? Most importantly, how do you do this in a manner that unifies rather than creating tension?

  35. Jessica
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Okay, so I feel like this thread is veering from the conversation that the thread wanted to have. Plus, it’s late, and I can’t moderate comments all night. So I’m shutting comments down for now, Jen can turn them back on if she wants (and when she’s out of her back-pain induced haze).

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