White liberals blame white conservatives for white racism.

White liberals blame white racism on white conservatives, and white urbanites associate whiteness with white suburbanites. However, the type of white people that people of colour know in real life tend to be liberal, urban whites, not conservative whites or suburban whites. After all, people of colour in North America tend to live in urban and liberal cities, not white suburbs or conservative rural areas.

When most white liberals think of white racism, they think of the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and Republicans. When most white urbanites think of whiteness, they think of the suburbs, white picket fences, sweaters, sweater-vests, sandwiches, mayonnaise, green lawns and backyards, and Wal*Mart shoppers.   Basically, most white liberals associate white racism with white conservatives, and most white urbanites associate whiteness with white suburbanites. Since white liberals are not white conservatives, it is difficult for them to accept that they could be racist. Since white urbanites are not white suburbanites, it is difficult for them to view their own behaviour as typical white behaviour.

Many white, urban liberals believe that they are transcending their whiteness by ordering General Tso/Tao’s Chicken, buying “curry” powder, taking yoga, wearing “African” jewellery, eating Thai food, drinking “chai tea”, carrying around Sigg bottles with a Buddha design, toting handbags with Ganesh embroidered on it, and hanging dream catchers on their rearview mirrors. That is, liberal, urban whites believe that participating in these activities makes them cosmopolitan and multicultural. However, for most people of colour living in liberal, North American cities, to engage in these behaviours is to engage in typical white behaviour.  In other words, white, urban liberals are unaware of how white their tastes, lifestyles, and thinking are, yet ironically, they believe that they are racially enlightened and culturally aware, and different from other whites.

If you are a white liberal and you think you have an enlightened idea about race, ask yourself if other white liberals would agree with your idea. If you answered yes, your idea is probably not that enlightening.

If you are a white liberal and other white liberals think like you, and you think like other white liberals, it means that you are a typical white liberal. For most people of colour in North America, this means that you are a typical white person.

18 Responses to “White liberals blame white conservatives for white racism.”

  1. chinesecanuck Says:

    What about “red tory” types? They’re not really NASCAR conservative, since the younger ones are more in line with the pro gay marriage scene, yet they’re fiscally conservative, are “traditional” etc. I think a lot of Hong Kong Canadians fit into the Red Tory category.

  2. macon d Says:

    Many people of colour identify with Stuff White People Like, because the type of white people that people of colour know in real life tend to be white liberals, not white conservatives.

    That’s a very broad statement, and I doubt it’s true. A LOT of people of colo(u)r work and interact in their daily, “real life” with white conservatives, and thus “know” them. And they probably “know” them just as well or better than the “white liberals” in their lives. Also, some POC are politically conservative, and thus have few reservations about working with and befriending white conservatives (who in turn often have no problem working with and befriending POC, be they conservative or not).

    However, when most white liberals think of whiteness, they think of NASCAR, mayonnaise, and rural whites . . .

    Really? Where’s your evidence for this? Why didn’t you quote some white liberals on this, and/or statistics from studies of white people who identify as “liberal,” or who espouse clearly liberal views and values? How can you make this kind of baseless assumption? Seems to me that if you say “What is whiteness?” to white liberals, they’ll think of white picket fences, “Leave It to Beaver,” or other middle-class signifiers, before they’ll think of those associated with the more working-class (or so-called by some, “white trash”) ones that you’ve listed here.

    Many white liberals believe that they are transcending their whiteness by ordering General Tso/Tao’s Chicken, buying “curry” powder, taking yoga, wearing “African” jewellery, eating Thai food, drinking “chai tea”, carrying around Sigg bottles with a Buddha design, toting handbags with Ganesh embroidered on it, and hanging dream catchers on their rearview mirrors.

    Really? Again, how do you know this? Where’s your evidence for this assumption about what’s going on in a white person’s mind when they make these consumer choices, and for what “beliefs” about their own racial “transcendence” are guiding such choices? I really doubt many at all have “beliefs” that lead them to think about such purchasing options, “Wow, here’s another chance to ‘transcend’ my ‘whiteness’!”

    As a white person who knows a lot of these sorts of people and has actually talked them about their purchases (and these sorts of people are both politically “liberal” and “conservative”), I think instead that they almost always have other reasons for buying such “exotic” stuff. Their own whiteness almost never comes to mind as something they explicitly “believe” they’re “transcending” with such purchases.

    If you are a white liberal and other white liberals think like you, and you think like other white liberals, it means that you are a typical white liberal. [Isn’t that a tautology?] For most people of colour in North America, this means that you are a typical white person.

    Really? Doesn’t it mean instead that the person is a typical white liberal? And that someone who thinks, on the other hand, like white conservatives is a typical white conservative? I suspect that a lot of people of colo(u)r avoid falsely homogenizing the varieties of “white people” they encounter into one category, “white liberal.” Surely they usually conceive of various categories of white people? If you don’t think so, aren’t you accusing people of colo(u)r of using the same “they’re all the same” kind of thinking about white people that white racists commonly use for groups of non-white people?

  3. jwbe Says:

    That’s a very broad statement, and I doubt it’s true. A LOT of people of colo(u)r work and interact in their daily, “real life” with white conservatives, and thus “know” them. And they probably “know” them just as well or better than the “white liberals” in their lives. Also, some POC are politically conservative, and thus have few reservations about working with and befriending white conservatives (who in turn often have no problem working with and befriending POC, be they conservative or not).

    funny how that works, macon you are boring and stupid like hell. You accuse Restructure of making broad statements and to make your “point” or so you make broad statements.
    So where is YOUR evidence for YOUR statements, also still waiting for an answer on SWPD as well as on STWS.
    Why did you never quote many African Americans who feel oppressed by the “white hand-shake”?

  4. jwbe Says:

    and thus have few reservations about working with and befriending white conservatives (who in turn often have no problem working with and befriending POC, be they conservative or not).

    Macon, on your blog you claim, that Republicans have to overcome their fear to vote for somebody who is Black, even if they don’t say this, you know this, because you are the assumption-expert…
    But know you claim, that white conservatives have no problem with making friendship with POC. And the fear? How does this work? Help me out. Or are they only afraid or not if it fits your assumptions?

  5. jwbe Says:

    >I think instead that they almost always have other reasons for buying such “exotic” stuff.

    tell me their reasons

  6. Restructure! Says:

    @macon d:
    I have rewritten the post. Here is the old version for reference:

    Many people of colour identify with Stuff White People Like, because the type of white people that people of colour know in real life tend to be white liberals, not white conservatives. However, when most white liberals think of whiteness, they think of NASCAR, mayonnaise, and rural whites; when most white liberals think of white racism, they think of the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and Republicans. Basically, most white liberals associate white racism with white conservatives, and since they are not white conservatives, it is difficult for them to accept that they themselves are participating in a culture of white racism.

    Many white liberals believe that they are transcending their whiteness by ordering General Tso/Tao’s Chicken, buying “curry” powder, taking yoga, wearing “African” jewellery, eating Thai food, drinking “chai tea”, carrying around Sigg bottles with a Buddha design, toting handbags with Ganesh embroidered on it, and hanging dream catchers on their rearview mirrors. However, for most people of colour living in liberal, North American cities, to engage in these behaviours is to engage in typical white behaviour. In other words, white liberals are unaware of how white their tastes, lifestyles, and thinking are, yet ironically, they believe that they are racially enlightened and culturally aware, and different from other whites.

    If you are a white liberal and you think you have an enlightened idea about race, ask yourself if other white liberals would agree with your idea. If you answered yes, your idea is probably not that enlightening.

    If you are a white liberal and other white liberals think like you, and you think like other white liberals, it means that you are a typical white liberal. For most people of colour in North America, this means that you are a typical white person.

    The old post oversimplified the issue and I’ve corrected it (hopefully). The new version hopefully clarifies what I meant by transcendence. Obviously, white liberals don’t explicitly think anything about their whiteness, because they are not conscious of it. However, by engaging in those activities, they believe they are more similar to PoC, whereas they are actually engaging in a type of stereotypical white behaviour.

    Yes, that’s a tautology, but I want to make it the tautology more explicit, just in case some white liberals missed the logical extension. Both typical white liberals and typical white conservatives are typical white people, but typical white liberals are the ones that are more relevant and common in day-to-day life.

    Saying that a typical white liberal is a typical white person is not denying that a typical white conservative is also a typical white person. An apple is a typical fruit, but so is a banana.

    Let me know if I’ve missed addressing some of your points within my comment or within the updated post. Let me know if you still disagree with the updated post.

  7. Restructure! Says:

    @chinesecanuck:

    I don’t know about that, but I think the Chinese Canadians that you associate with, i.e., upper class Chinese Canadians, are probably more like what you describe. (No, you are not upper middle class if you attended private school and were a debutante.) Ridings in Markham and Scarborough that have many Chinese people tend to vote for the Liberal Party. I don’t know about the historical data when the PCs were around.

    Are you voting for the Conservatives or something?

  8. chinesecanuck Says:

    Restructure:

    I haven’t decided which party I’m voting for yet. However , I’ve never, ever voted Liberal.

  9. Restructure! Says:

    You mean you’ve always voted Conservative in the past, right? (NDP is out of the question, I take it?)

  10. jwbe Says:

    I think that most white people connect racism with the KKK or Neo-Nazis. Those from the right are the “real racists”, while all others aren’t. I don’t think that this is just a problem of white liberals but also a problem among white leftists.
    As I see it, one problem is when a Eurocentric mind-set feels enlightend but remains Eurocentric. How can one then combat racism/white supremacy without using the same mind-set/style of othering.

  11. nquest2xl Says:

    JW, good point about Macon’s self-assigned special White powers. He clearly suggested that white Republicans, in particular, have to overcome racial prejudice in order to vote for Obama. Notice how there is no thread suggesting that white Democrats who have volunteered, voted or otherwise voiced their preference for Obama have had to overcome such prejudice. No. No thread that talked about the kind of racism Obama’s white campaign managers and staff have “undergone much if any sort of the untraining that it would take to overcome such (often unconscious) racist fears.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but Macon never talked about his own racial prejudice towards Obama that he had to get over and what kind of untraining he went through that had him asking me what I thought about Obama’s being the first Black presidential candidate.

  12. jwbe Says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but Macon never talked about his own racial prejudice towards Obama that he had to get over and what kind of untraining he went through that had him asking me what I thought about Obama’s being the first Black presidential candidate.

    I somewhere asked him what this untraining (in general) should be and he mentioned his blog as one example, so, I don’t know what kind of untraining he is talking about.
    But he is the progressive one, you know, because he claims that he already has undergone such an untraining (with a very poor result I have to say) and sometimes he is a racist as he says, because all whites are racist, and it is great for a white to admit that he is racist, and sometimes he isn’t racist because he wants to point fingers on other whites who are racist, like his friends or the “real racists” like the one white woman with her “Jim Crow attitude” about multiracial dating. I mean, he wants to congratulate his friend who was able ‘to overcome’ HIS fears.
    Then he is the “racism-detector”. Macon believes so, so it is true. Btw, his logic is without any flaws and there is exactly no contradiction in any of his statements. We just don’t get it.

  13. nquest2xl Says:

    aren’t you accusing people of colo(u)r of using the same “they’re all the same” kind of thinking about white people that white racists commonly use for groups of non-white people?

    There goes a display of those special White powers. Macon can accuse POC of pre-judging Whites and withholding trust from Whites which is a “they’re all the same” kind of mentality no matter how you cut it.

    And it’s funny how hard Macon tries to miss the point. Seems to me, Restructure’s closing statements are conditional and its the condition, not POC, that suggests that “they are all the same.” POC observing like behavior in White liberals (i.e. White liberals who judge how multicultural they are based on what other White liberals do) is just that: an observation.

  14. nquest2xl Says:

    Also, Macon’s posts here appear to be devoid of the realization of how uncritical posters on his board enforce this notion. Macon never raised any objections to White Trash Academic and several other posters before/after her as they try to promote the notion that White conservatives/Republicans are the real racists and, more importantly, the idea that Macon is enlightened or has ‘positive’ things to say about race/racism because every last White one of them thinks so.

    Simply, the idea Macon likes to pay lip service to that POC tend to know more about race, racism and Whiteness than Whites and this idea of Macon’s white approval and consensus white thought that Macon is “enlightened” (and shouldn’t have his ideas critiqued because he “is”) don’t mesh.

    The idea that Whites can determine who is and who isn’t “enlightened” (and, who is “clueless” when the White guy is critiqued) is nothing but Whiteness at work. It’s an attempt to create White Privilege. It’s evidence of the classic soul music racism — i.e. talk about racism, even the racism POC have talked about for decades, only becomes a “positive” thing or something that gets Whites to think about things in ways they hadn’t done before when it comes from someone White the way songs by Black artists used to be stolen, repackaged and sung by White artists for White profit.

  15. jwbe Says:

    There goes a display of those special White powers. Macon can accuse POC of pre-judging Whites and withholding trust from Whites which is a “they’re all the same” kind of mentality no matter how you cut it.

    but no really, I am so disappointed by Macon. You know he comes up with promising us stupid racist whites how we can untrain our white behavior. An now you know I am so confused because he still doesn’t tell us uninformed whites how long the “testing-phase” will be. He can’t do this to us!

    It’s evidence of the classic soul music racism — i.e. talk about racism, even the racism POC have talked about for decades, only becomes a “positive” thing or something that gets Whites to think about things in ways they hadn’t done before when it comes from someone White

    wouldn’t it be just common sense to understand that those affected are always those who know best?

  16. siditty Says:

    It is a Macon bashing party in these comments. Wow. I will say I like Macon’s blog, and I also like this one, I think both make valuable points. No need to bash one over the other.

    In terms of the post in itself, I definitely understand the mindset. There are some who think because they support certain ideals that embrace antiracism, that they are no longer racist, and that racism is some big obvious act such as cross burning or using the n-word, and since in the real world racism isn’t that obvious, they just don’t see it, liberal or conservative. I will say I fell into believing the hype that all “liberals” are anti-racist, open, and culturally aware. Then I look at the Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferraro, and the feminist movement during this presidential campaign and realize, not everyone who is liberal is for seeking out equal rights, and that sometimes their agenda trumps whatever feelings they had in regards to race and race relations. Now I fully understand the need for the womanist movement. Heck I’ve even had to bust my husband on saying racist things, and he is as liberal as they come, at least in Texas.

    I will say this, it is white privilege is always at play, in these situations, no matter what side of the political spectrum it falls on, and most white people (at least from my perspective and experience) aren’t fully cognizant to that concept.

  17. marcg Says:

    The original post is spot on. I’m tempted to take the time refuting the comments in this thread that seek to undermine the force of the initial argument with Bill Cosby red herrings. I’m not sure how much good that would actually do, though. The point about the site StuffWhitePeopleLike was spot on. I’m a Black male in Atlanta and I know lots of Black folks that identify with that site because of the kinds of whites they encounter. Something pretty basic to understand is that most Black people live in urban centers. While most self-identifying conservative whites are either White Flighters or the offspring of White Flighters and they live in the suburbs. So many Blacks do have the experience of dealing with self-identifying white liberals moreso than conservatives. Census information viewed in combination with voting demography pretty much lock up this point.

    To the main point of the original post, white liberals do identify racism with conservative whites, Bush voters. And don’t even mention the word white supremacy. They think neo-Nazi or Klansmen. The reality, of course is that the most common forms of white supremacy (which is not cross-burnings or vigilante race murders), the most common forms come from liberal whites.

    This is why anti-racist writers like Tim Wise tend to be so popular amongst liberal whites. He, too, paints racism and white supremacy as the domains of Bubbas when in reality, in 2008 it is a phenomenon as at home in Starbucks as it is in some saloon or whatever.

    Tomorrow, here in Atlanta, there is a rally for a man on death row by the name of Troy Davis. He is scheduled to be executed on October 27th for a murder the evidence (or lack thereof) suggests he did not commit. At the rally there will probably be more whites than Blacks. There are several reasons for this (in my opinion, there should be more people of color on the spot) but my point is that the white liberals that will be at the rally and that tend to show at all these kinds of rallies, come out for these types of events to use them as symbols. Most (certainly not all) don’t have substantive connections and relationships to people of color outside these kinds of symbolic gatherings.

    I don’t say this so that whites who engage in these kinds of things can feel guilty about your lives. While guilt can be a healthy emotion, as an initial and usually isolated response, it is not helpful. Whites, liberal whites I mean, need to reflect on the reality of the racially segregated existences. This is where truths can be found regarding how white supremacy has damaged the white psyche. And in understanding that damage, the cost to your own psyche, in doing that, you can then reclaim your humanity.

    At that point, your guilt and sadness will be of use in realizing my humanity. But not before or until. Until you’ve understood what white supremacy has done to you, you will continue to fetishize and make a show of the oppression of the existence of people of color. White liberals will continue to appear at rallies supporting high profile examples of our existence instead of living with us as full partners in the struggle for self determination and freedom for us all.

    See. You guys are in a cage too. You just don’t know it.

  18. Kathy Says:

    After reading this post, I am in fits of laughter, I am sorry, but the Macon Special Powers of Whiteness deserves a post by me, and as soon as I get back to blogging, oh, maybe I will just make a cartoon about it. I don’t know who you are Restructure, but I will be reading your archives for a while, with pleasure, thank you.


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