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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