Racism Part 2

My last post about racism in Florida inspired two comments which seemed to be trying to tell me that black people can be racists too.  No way!  You gotta be kidding me!  Gosh, thank God I have people looking out for me, otherwise my intellect would go the way of the Dodo bird. 

Never mind that my post had to do with a white teacher saying in class that CHANGE stands for “Come Help A Nigger Get Elected”.

Let’s look at the definition of “racism”, shall we? 

By this definition, black people in the U.S. only get to use the third meaning, not having been in a postion to legitimize those grandiose illusions of superiority.  I know all the arguments.  It wasn’t me who did it.  My family didn’t own slaves .  It was 150 years ago.  Get over yourselves already. 
Black people who are still mad are charged with an inability to get with the program; with unfairly targeting white people.  White people who have a whisper of a clue about what black people still have to endure are accused of suffering from “white guilt”.  Not me.  If my family had been any poorer, we would have been slaves ourselves.  Except we were white.  Somehow, the notion that you can believe in fairness and equality without tying it to your race has…gone the way of the Dodo bird. 
Let me recount a brief experience I had many years ago.  I went to Paris with a friend whose sister was attending the Sorbonne.  We stayed in the sister’s apartment along with her roommate.  One evening, the roommate came home trembling with fear.  She’d been returning home late, via the subway, and while standing on one of the moving sidewalks she found her way blocked at the end by a group of young male Algerians.  She started walking backwards.  Of course she couldn’t keep up and was inevitably heading into their hands.  They eventually laughed and dispersed.  When she got home she was still terrified, but was also wailing about how this could happen to her.  “I’m on their side!”, she said.  I said, unlike the way we like to look at it in the U.S., oppressed people don’t respond by saying “Thanks a lot for giving us more freedom”, now let us all sing Kumbayah.  Be wary, and take care of yourself. 
I understand her disappointment.  I’ve had some scary moments myself, though not since I left Memphis.  All races and religions have thugs.  That will not change me. 
But food for another post:  The worst thing that happened to black people in the U.S. is Affirmative Action.  It may also have been the best thing.  (“It was the worst of times, it was the best of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”)

10 responses to “Racism Part 2

  1. I’d say that third definition of racism is really better suited for “prejudice”, which may or may not be based on race.

    Some f0lks say that many societies practiced slavery so enslaving Africans was no big deal. What is overlooked is that African slavery was very different, because it was based on the idea that blacks were inferior to whites. Because otherwise it would be difficult to justify slavery.

    Africans s0ld other Africans into slavery but not because they were black and inferior but because they were captured in war. That was true of slavery in the Roman Empire. Anyone could be free today and a slave tomorrow.

    That is why after slavery was abolished, Jim Crow came about. If blacks are inferior to whites, then they should be separated.

    The fact is, what happens often influences thinking. As long as segregation was law, it was easy to assume blacks and whites were different. Once segregation became history, then interaction among younger persons revealed that there was more in common than different.

    This is why I do not buy into the idea that segregation would have disappeared on its own when folks became “enlightened.” No such “enlightenment” occurred over 50 years of Jim Crow. But within twenty years of its end, we saw the children, who never knew Jim Crow, being able to easily interact with blacks if their parents had not attempted to influence their attitudes.

    However, folks who grew up believing blacks are inferior will almost never change their thinking.

  2. “This is why I do not buy into the idea that segregation would have disappeared on its own when folks became ‘enlightened.'”
    It would never have even made headway if we waited for enlightenment. We had to make it against the law.

  3. Ya know…………I just told ya what I heard on the radio. That’s all! Maybe it was true, but its what I heard! I didn’t tell ya what I think, you made up your own mind it seems. Thats OK too.

    What I think is long and complicated and based on years of life experiences as well as extensive study of America.

    But I would boil it all down to Laurence Olivier ‘s line in the Jazz Singer when his son Neil Diamond (Al Jolson) decides to leave the family Jewish tradition of being a Rabbi and put on black face a become a Jazz Singer. “Isn’t it hard enough being a human??? Ya gotta be black now too?”

    Life is a journey and each day we look in the mirror and make it what it is. You want to carry a picket sign ……….ok! You want to violate other peoples civil liberties Not OK!

    Now I will enjoy the weather and go to Fort Desoto.

  4. Did I misunderstand you, pt? Were you not trying to say “racism cuts both ways”? If not, what was the point of your comment?
    I do hope you have a lovely day at Fort Desoto!

  5. The point is there is only one race as Nick says, the human race, but it is a definitely different experience for many of us……we see it as it evolves and there are no absolutes.

    Life is what you make of it.

    Now I have a question for you. Is racial humor appropriate? What is outta bounds? Where does one draw the line? Who makes that decision? What ethnic groups are sacrosanct and why?

    Actually I lied I have another question also. Have you ever given a presentation to an almost totally different ethnic group than you are? And if so how did you feel doing it?

    Fort Desoto was awesome today ty.

  6. Good questions, pt. I’ll bite, as I can be counted on to do reliably. I don’t trust you anymore, and I think these questions are just calculated to pull my chain. As for jokes, I’ll refer you to Freud, who said behind all jokes is aggression. Racial “humor” : never. Not even in the privacy of your own “in group”, because even if there are prohibitions against it in the workplace, what does it say about you that you need to do that? The real question is, What’s funny about it?
    As for presentations to people who are from a different ethnic group, can’t say as I have. I personally work every day with, and supervise people from different ethnic groups and religions and nationalities. I can’t imagine that it would bother me to make a presentation to the same people I work with day in and day out. I look forward to hearing about your experience with it, though.

  7. Now I understand you I think. Sorry you don’t trust me. Trust is very important, it is the foundation of respect.

    Race is a sensitive subject when we write about it. I think it works better face to face. At least I do. If I can talk to you and see your eyes then I commuincate better.

  8. I believe you have it backwards. Respect is the foundation of trust.

  9. No, I am 100% certain that trust preceeds respect.

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