White people think that ‘racism’ means racial conflict.

For the overwhelming majority of white people, if racism is completely eliminated, the ideal situation is symbolized by the image of people of all colours holding hands in peace. The worst-case outcome of racism, for most white people, is a “race war”. However, unlike institutional and systemic racism against people of colour, only the “race war” scenario would directly hurt white people. That is, when white ‘antiracists’ focus on preventing racial conflict over correcting racial inequity, they are acting selfishly to protect their racial group.

In reality, the image of a racism-free utopia should not be associated with peace. The image of a racism-free utopia should be associated with equity. Peace is better than war, but true antiracist efforts should not give priority to peace over equity. Sometimes conflict and confrontation* are necessary to bring about equity.

White people usually give priority to racial peace over racial equity.

This distinction is important, because white people often give higher priority to maintaining peace between whites and non-whites, over resolving inequity between whites and non-whites. When white people do this, they work towards maintaining social order at the expense of confronting racial inequity, and the current social order privileges whites.

White conservatives

White conservatives often say that talking about racism is itself racist, since talking about racism creates negativity between whites and non-whites, they allege. The assumption behind this line of thought is that racism is racial conflict instead of racial inequity.

White liberals

White liberals generally agree that racial slurs are very racist and are unacceptable, but they may argue that certain types of acts—like cultural appropriation or asking Asians, “Where are you from?”—are not “real racism” and that calling such acts “racist” is an insult to real victims of racism. Again, these white people are more concerned with preserving peace between whites and non-whites than examining and fixing racial inequity. These white people have a lower tolerance of racism than white conservatives, but they tolerate some level of racism because zero tolerance would be unattainable and a constant source of conflict, according to their line of thought. Realistically, if avoiding racial conflict is in the equation of combatting racism, then this equation tolerates some racial inequity.

White antiracists

White ‘antiracists’ may accept that white privilege exists and that racism is not limited to the actions of white conservatives. However, some of these white ‘antiracists’ are more concerned with having controlled conversations about race than confronting the possibility that a white ‘antiracist’ can be racist in more than a ‘trivial’ way.

Recently, some white commenters and fans of the blog Stuff White People Do (authored by white guy Macon D) accused a black man, an Asian woman, and a white woman (Nquest, Restructure, and jw, respectively) of being “trolls”. Restructure (me) replied to one of the white commenters named White Trash Academic with the following:

What makes you think that people in this thread are trolling, other than that we disagree with Macon D? There is some history to our concerns about Macon D. Sometimes white liberals regurgitate textual learning about racism and white privilege, but then later on, act in ways that show non-understanding of white privilege and racism when dealing with people of colour.

Being concerned with how academic knowledge translates to practical application is hardly “trolling”. Acknowledging that racism and white privilege exist is only the first step. Consciously acknowledging this is much easier than realizing what kind of unconscious assumptions one has about people of colour, which are revealed in the way one frames discussions about race.

White Trash Academic told Restructure to look up the definition of “concern troll”. Here is the definition:

  1. In an argument (usually a political debate), a concern troll is someone who is on one side of the discussion, but pretends to be a supporter of the other side with “concerns”. The idea behind this is that your opponents will take your arguments more seriously if they think you’re an ally. Concern trolls who use fake identities are sometimes known as sockpuppets.
  2. A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.

Astonishingly, these white ‘antiracists’ believe that disrupting a white-controlled conversation about anti-racism amounts to disrupting anti-racism itself. According the “concern troll” interpretation of our behaviour, the problems we point out are “not real problems” and we are the ones trying to derail, stifle, and control the white antiracist’s dialogue. This interpretation of reality is seriously flawed, because preserving the white antiracist’s dialogue is not more important than examining how that very dialogue can be racist. When white ‘antiracists’ act as if they have the authority to separate so-called ‘important issues’ from ‘trivial issues’, they are the ones who are controlling the dialogue, stifling the dissent of people of colour, and derailing the antiracist movement that should be led by people of colour. People of colour cannot ‘hijack’ an antiracist thread from white antiracists, because white antiracists should not direct an antiracist conversation in the first place.

This irony was taken to a new level when White Trash Academic left a comment on an excellent post at Womanist Musings about white people dismissing and discounting the ideas of people of colour and derailing the conversations started by people of colour:

On white feminist blogs it’s tone, on non-feminist blogs discussions of race get derailed by focusing on problems with “how the discussion was framed.” WTF?

White Trash Academic’s mentioning of “how the discussion was framed” was an allusion to Restructure’s comment that contained the phrase “in the way one frames discussions about race” (mentioned above). However, Restructure is a person of colour, and White Trash Academic is white . Renee’s post at Womanist Musings is about people with white privilege dismissing and silencing people of colour. Restructure cannot be exercising white privilege over White Trash Academic, because Restructure lacks white privilege while White Trash Academic has it. Only a severe form of self-delusion could make somebody read Renee’s post and then “identify” with the experience because she, as a white person, felt victimized by a person of colour controlling the conversation.

White ‘antiracists’ are still white people. Although they are more racially aware than mainstream white liberals, many of them still value racial peace over racial equity.

Some white ‘antiracists’ may think that they can achieve both racial peace and racial equity, that the two goals are yoked together. For example, when I suggested (for the second time) to Macon D (the white author of the Stuff White People Do blog) that he make the transition from “human relations programming” to “social justice activism”, he replied:

Your two terms, “Human relations programming –> Social justice activism,” are not the only forms of anti-racist work out there, and the two categories are not mutually exclusive either. You’re pretty dictatorial about what people doing anti-racist activism should and shouldn’t be concentrating their efforts on.

Firstly, the imagery that Macon D conjures up is bizarre. I, a person of colour, am a “dictator” that is restricting the individual freedom of the white antiracist activist, Macon D. Although I cannot be a spokesperson for people of colour other than myself, white people should not expect that antiracism should allow for their individual self-expression. Antiracism is not a hobby for people of colour, and hence, it should not be a hobby for white people, either.

Secondly, although the categories of “human relations programming” and “social justice activism” are not mutually exclusive, the former frames racism as racial conflict, while the latter acknowledges that racism is about inequity. The categories are not mutually exclusive, but white society is structured in such a way that not only privileges human relations programming over social justice activism, but uses it to suppress social justice activism.

Antiracists should concentrate their efforts on resolving racial inequity over resolving racial conflict, because spending time on resolving racial conflict distracts from, and often adds to, the real problem of racism.


* Here, “conflict” and “confrontation” usually mean anything that could make any white person upset.

Related post:

45 Responses to “White people think that ‘racism’ means racial conflict.”

  1. Nquest Says:

    You’re on a roll. All I can add, at the moment, is how this “racial conflict” scenario — the quest to avoid it even at the expense of foregoing racial justice — is a recurring historical theme.

  2. davitacuttita Says:

    I liked this post a lot.

    I’ve always seen a few of Restructure’s comments around SWPD (and PDDP) and like ‘um. However, in regards to SWPD I’ve been wanting to understand what their disagreements with Mr. D were truly based upon and this post does provide some clarity.

    Anyway, the most interesting part of this writing is the idea that a lot of White “anti-racists” are more concerned with preserving this false peace rather than creating any type of meaningful or substantial equality with PoC and you know what? It’s damn scary because one can only wonder what consequences are boiling beneath the surface and how they will manifest themselves in the future.

  3. jwbe Says:

    With your last two posts I get another point of view about this kind of “anti-racism”, thanks for that.

  4. Restructure! Says:

    Davita,

    Thanks for not jumping to the conclusion that I “must hate Macon D because he is white” even when you didn’t understand what our disagreements were based upon.

    I tried to avoid writing about Macon D on my blog, because I thought that it would enforce the perception that I “hate” him for “unknown personal reasons”. However, lately, I thought, f-that, I know that my problem with him is more than personal, and I will illustrate why.

  5. Nquest Says:

    I “must hate Macon D because he is white”

    Funny how no one can elaborate on just how that is so or why they think it is so past accusation/assertion #1.

    I think this “conflict” or “race war” theory of yours helps explain those reactions primarily because there seems to be these unwritten rules and prescribed set of things POC just can’t do. It’s like folks at Pat Buchanan-ized: they think POC (Buchanan said Black people) should be eternally grateful, thankful for how good we have it.

    That idea seems into people’s concept of the overall picture where they ask: isn’t the fact that a White person is trying enough?

    I think we not only can see that play out — people’s idea that something is wrong with this picture when POC find something “wrong” with a White person who speaks out against racism — and we also see Macon trying to exploit that frame. From expert to novice in 60 seconds… when it suits him.

    Another important thing your idea brings out is precisely the very way most people seem to view so-called race relations: as a human relations, interpersonal relationships issue and we’ve seen how deferential (towards Macon) our detractors are and how quick they are to excuse the very errors and offenses we point out in Macon’s theories and assumptions perhaps for the very fact that it amounted “conflict.”

    Your very “hate Macon because he is white” quote tries to suggest a “race war” to some extent. Suddenly, what we’ve mentioned with respect to Macon’s lack of intellectual integrity, his lack of logical support for the conclusions he makes and the very insulting and unflattering things he’s had to say generalizing or asserting something about POC that, ironically, showed a lack of sensitivity (let alone knowledge) on his part… Well, instead of ever addressing the very substantive, isssue-based disagreements we have had with Macon, instead of making sound arguments against things we’ve claimed we so wrong with Macon’s statement, they go the cheap way out and work backwards, if at all, towards the component reasons why we’re the ones in the wrong when there is “conflict.”

    And it’s just that: the notion that there is “conflict” on a blog that deals with racism and Whiteness is the issue with them.

    Notice how no one even tries to defend Macon’s weird “handshake” theory and other racial assumptions he makes about POC.

  6. Lxy Says:

    “White people usually give priority to racial peace over racial equity.”

    Yes, I haven’t thought about racial issues in these terms, but that’s right!

    Anti-racism has become to a significant degree about “racial harmony” (read: racial pacification) rather than equality and justice.

    In fact, there would be no fear of a dreaded “race war” if racial equity and justice existed.

    If, on the other hand, maintaining White power and privilege are one’s true objectives, I can see where certain people would focus on pacifying conflict (i.e. resistance) created by this system of oppression.

    Anti-racism Activism might be in danger of being domesticated as just another industry dominated and controlled by (surprise, surprise) … White people!

  7. gypsy rose Says:

    Oh, I see you do this weird anti-Macon stuff over here too! You sure know how to hold a grudge. I agree with you that activism at institutional and systemic levels is very important, but as Macon says in what you’re quoting, Human relations programming and Social justice activism are definitely not mutually exclusive==the former helps with the latter! Because institutions are MADE UP OF PEOPLE. Obviously. But yes, too much focus on the former can just leave white people feeling self-satisfied, and still unwilling to do anything about inequality.

    As for you being dictatorial, I think he’s rite about that too–you try to dictate to other people how they should do things. It’s your way or the highway! That has nothing to do with you not having power just because you’re a POC. Look at all the passive voice you use–this “is” that, that “is” this.

    > You wrote: People of colour cannot ‘hijack’ an antiracist thread from white antiracists, because white antiracists should not direct an antiracist conversation in the first place.

    What? Listen, any person, no matter what color, can hijack a comments thread, by writing diversionary or overly long comments. Obviously.

    You know, you’re being ironically racist, or something like it. You seem to think that just because you’re a POC, a white person should stand back and believe everything you have to say!

  8. jwbe Says:

    Gypsy Rose, explain how the Civil Rights Act was a result of “human relations”. Or how was the end of Nazi-Germany the result of “human relations”? Name one event in history where oppressors stopped their oppression and exploitation out of human insight.

    >You seem to think that just because you’re a POC, a white person should stand back and believe everything you have to say!

    The question is why do you and also Macon reject to believe what PoC have to say and why do you feel that this is dictatorial.

  9. Nquest Says:

    Gyspy Rose, the “my way or the highway” idea falls flat trying to apply that to Restructure. Anti-racism has to mean something. It has to have an objective. Restructure said the two are not mutually exclusive, so now let’s see if you can actually bring something to the discussion.

    We’ve pointed out how Macon’s approach is about “Human relations programming” or at least “too much focus” on it. So, either you believe that stuff you wrote:

    too much focus on the former can just leave white people feeling self-satisfied, and still unwilling to do anything about inequality.

    Or you suffer from some weird form of self-hatred or confusion. Here you are complaining about something you don’t like about us while the results of your take on the substantive issue here is in full agreement with what we’ve pointed out.

    When you figure things out, then come back and talk to us.

    Note: This is the second time I’ve witnessed you come off half-cocked, itchin’ to say something against us, trying to say that we are wrong, you end up showing how you are wrong to take issue with what we’ve said.

    Again, either you believe the stuff you say (re: “too much focus”) or you’re simply confused about what you really want to say. With me, on Macon’s blog, you thought you could just say anything when you claimed I accused Macon of something I didn’t. Then you had to retract your ignorant assertion. Now you look even more foolish by agreeing with the fundamental point we/Restructure was making.

    Again, anti-racism means something.

  10. Nquest Says:

    The question is why do you and also Macon reject to believe what PoC have to say and why do you feel that this is dictatorial.

    No, the question is why does Macon rehearse thoughtless platitudes about listening to people of color IN THEORY but has a serious problem putting that into PRACTICE.

    Macon also has a THEORY vs. PRACTICE issue when he says POC understand racism/Whiteness, etc. better than Whites.

    Hmm…. And Gypsy Rose was never inclined to call Macon’s ideas racist or something like it when time after time Macon made wild claims or assumptions strictly based on someone’s race and had an issue with us insist that he be more rigorous in the way he goes about formulating his ideas and conclusions.

  11. Lxy Says:

    At base, it seems that some (cough) White Antiracist activists fear minority militancy. That’s what it boils down to.

    These people want to define antiracist activism in a way that is effectively non-threatening to the status quo and White institutional power.

    Their promotion of “human relations” (of all things) as an integral aspect of antiracism suggests as much.

    What’s next? Holding hands and singing Kumbaya?

  12. Nquest Says:

    At base, it seems that some (cough) White Antiracist activists fear minority militancy.

    That’s exactly it. There has always been an issue with mainstream White liberals — and these are the type of White people we’re talking about — coping with the sharpest critiques from POC.

    And make no mistake about it, the very reason why they have a problem coping with sharp critiques is because no matter what title they claim, they still approach anti-racism with the same underlying assumptions as traditional, mainstream liberals.

    I will, however, have to disagree with one thing you seem to be saying, LXY. Despite the pacification impulse and even the large number of would-be White anti-racist valuing that approach, there is a value to some White anti-racism. I would call it pure White anti-racism which seeks to examine Whiteness and eradicate White Supremacy and give more than just lip service to the idea.

    The type of White anti-racists we’re talking about here, though, have rejected that approach to White anti-racism. They (*cough*) can’t and don’t want to break themselves from the traditional mode White liberals have approached opposing racism complete with all its clueless paternalism.

  13. nquest2xl Says:

    Gypsy Rose, let’s test your theory out:

    Think of the most contentious threads:

    “get used to blackness”
    racism=human-relations or racism=inequity/injustice?

    “believe others consider them trustworthy”
    racism=human-relations or racism=inequity/injustice?

    express amazement when non-white people see them as “white”
    racism=human-relations or racism=inequity/injustice?

    Come up with a sampling of Macon’s thread’s where his commentary is made from a “racism=inequity/injustice” so we can assess whether there is “too much focus” on the “former.”

    I’d venture to say thread’s where he dealt with “inequity/injustice” were also presented in a “human relations” mode. Of course, I’m open to being proved wrong.

  14. White Trash Academic Says:

    Thanks for the shout out!

  15. Lxy Says:

    Nquest,

    No, I wasn’t trying to suggest that there is *categorically* no value to White people engaged in “anti-racist” activism. I’m sure there are many examples of positive work being done by Whites like … um. Or there’s that one person who uh…. ;-)

    All joking aside, that White liberal worldview is sadly pervasive and dominates much Mainstream discussion of racism.

    There’s a few examples of it in the Racialicious thread below, where you see a couple of White guys pushing the “let’s be more racially sensitive” or worse yet, the “minorites are also racist” arguments. And I bet these guys think of themselves as “progressives.”

    White supremacy was never just about the people who wear sheets on their heads. It was first and foremost about the White mainstream who defended their system in more oblique and disguised forms.

    http://www.racialicious.com/2008/10/10/stuff-white-people-do-whisper-the-word-black/

  16. Restructure Says:

    I’m on the road right now. I’ll reply to your comments in a few days.

  17. Restructure! Says:

    @gypsy rose:

    Oh, I see you do this weird anti-Macon stuff over here too! You sure know how to hold a grudge.

    What grudge? I don’t think I have anything personal against Macon D. If Macon D has some messed up views about race, it’s not some kind of interpersonal problem between him and me.

    I agree with you that activism at institutional and systemic levels is very important, but as Macon says in what you’re quoting, Human relations programming and Social justice activism are definitely not mutually exclusive==the former helps with the latter! Because institutions are MADE UP OF PEOPLE. Obviously. But yes, too much focus on the former can just leave white people feeling self-satisfied, and still unwilling to do anything about inequality.

    Yes, I’ve already stated that human relations programming and social justice activism are not mutually exclusive. How does the former help with the latter, if they are two different goals?

    As for you being dictatorial, I think he’s rite about that too–you try to dictate to other people how they should do things. It’s your way or the highway! That has nothing to do with you not having power just because you’re a POC. Look at all the passive voice you use–this “is” that, that “is” this.

    I don’t see any evidence of myself being dictatorial. That I am not using passive language by prefacing every statement with “I think” or “I feel” is not evidence of me being dictatorial or uppity. Do you think my tone is wrong or something?

    What? Listen, any person, no matter what color, can hijack a comments thread, by writing diversionary or overly long comments. Obviously.

    If racism is systemic, and all white people have privilege over all non-white people, then it is not possible for a non-white person to hijack a thread about white privilege and racism from a white person. It is not possible for an oppressed person to hijack a thread from her oppressor, if the thread is about the oppressed person’s own oppression.

    Obviously.

    You know, you’re being ironically racist, or something like it. You seem to think that just because you’re a POC, a white person should stand back and believe everything you have to say!

    I’ve already complained about Macon D accepting everything any POC says, such as POC making generalizations about other POC. I don’t know where you are getting your idea from, other than from your persecution complex as a white person or preoccupations with “reverse racism”.

    @White Trash Academic:

    Thanks for the shout out!

    No problem. I think it’s proper etiquette to link to the person you’re criticizing, since I assume you’ll be somehow notified of any incoming links.

  18. Restructure! Says:

    @Nquest:

    And make no mistake about it, the very reason why they have a problem coping with sharp critiques is because no matter what title they claim, they still approach anti-racism with the same underlying assumptions as traditional, mainstream liberals.

    Yes, exactly!

    @Lxy:

    There’s a few examples of it in the Racialicious thread below, where you see a couple of White guys pushing the “let’s be more racially sensitive” or worse yet, the “minorites are also racist” arguments. And I bet these guys think of themselves as “progressives.”

    Yeah, I was reading that too and thinking the same thing.

    It was funny when a white guy named Dan said:

    In the interest of helping other whites become more sensitive and racially aware, which has undoubtedly been a problem for whites historically, I’ve decided to start a new series called, ‘Things You Shouldn’t Do If You’re White’. It’s a series intended to help whites know what NOT to do, and more importantly, WHY they shouldn’t do them.

    This is so typically white, in that even a white person trying to do antiracist work has the same underlying assumption as a mainstream white person, which is that antiracism is about programming white people to not make non-whites upset.

    Then Macon D said:

    I like your idea, Dan! Actually, listing specific common white behaviors is pretty much the idea of my blog (where this post originally appeared), “stuff white people do,” where I’ve covered “complimenting black people for being ‘articulate’ (instead of listening to what they have to say),” and over 100 other white moves by now.

    It’s quite funny that they don’t realize that they came up with the same idea because they both think like typical white people. Macon D created the blog first, but he’s continuing the tradition of white antiracism as human relations programming, in blog form.

  19. jwbe Says:

    Macon D created the blog first, but he’s continuing the tradition of white antiracism as human relations programming, in blog form.

    and they prove quite often that this programming doesn’t work as it seems.
    From Dan’s blog:

    Things You Shouldn’t Do If You’re White: Part 1:

    Don’t comment on how ‘articulate’ a colored person is.

    http://www.danbouchard.com/?p=38

  20. Restructure! Says:

    Hmm, interesting. I strongly agree with this part:

    When you can teach yourself to question these situations and deconstruct them with logic and rational thought, you will learn to apply that way of thought to OTHER situations and will begin the process of dismantling your own prejudices and ignorance that has been ingrained in you by a white dominated culture.

    but the lesson shouldn’t be “Don’t comment on how ‘articulate’ a colored person is”, but rather about how the assumption that non-white people are inarticulate is racist. (He says it in the post, but he’s still emphasizing the overt actions as the problem instead of the assumption.)

    Sometimes it seems like white people will avoid a certain offensive term and then use a synonym to say the same thing, not understanding what the problem with their thinking is. For example, Macon D referred to himself as the “spokesperson for black people”, but when we criticized that, he then changed it to “summarizer of black observation and opinion”. It’s as if he thinks the problem is that he used the word “spokesperson”, instead of the problem being his thinking that he can speak for black people.

  21. macon d Says:

    Hmm, interesting post. And thanks for the shout out!

    Restructure!, where did I refer to myself as “the spokesperson for black people”? Also, for the record, to “summarize black observation and opinion” is not necessarily the same as attempting to summarize ALL black observation and opinion. The latter is ridiculous, while the former, summarizing an array of collected samples of black opinion, is useful in writing about stuff white people do, but shouldn’t do, to black people. If, for instance, quite a few black people say and write and otherwise demonstrate that they don’t like white people reaching out and touching and petting their hair, then surely it’s worthwhile to make the post convincing by quoting some black people saying so in a blog post that tells white people that they shouldn’t do that.

    It’s not that I see any need to rehash a discussion conducted several months ago in the depths of a comments thread, but since you continue your habit of using malignantly decontextualized bits and pieces from old comment threads, and since you seem to know where all these bits of quoted commentary are from, I’d like to know the source of this one, my supposed claim that I am “the spokesperson for black people.” It’s hard to believe I wrote that, and I’d like to note that I believe nothing of the kind about myself.

  22. nquest2xl Says:

    Macon D referred to himself as the “spokesperson for black people”, but when we criticized that, he then changed it to “summarizer of black observation and opinion”. It’s as if he thinks the problem is that he used the word “spokesperson”…

    That’s a serious pattern of Macon’s. In the ironically named thread “refuse to listen to Black anger”, Macon tried to disavow his own views that made him label Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright or at least Wright’s statements, as “racist.” That was his original choice of words in a previous thread (“overlook barack obama’s whiteness”) until he was challenged on it then he promptly changed the word “racist” to the dubious “racially charged” — an easy substitute to express the same idea minus the 100% shock especially when no definition supplied for contrasting the new term (new in letters alone, apparently) with the old terminology.

    Then the clandestine semantic gymnastics went into overdriveabout the when I questioned him about what was “so outlandish” about what Rev. Wright said in the day(s) prior to Sen. Obama essentially severing ties with Wright. Macon’s thesaurus clocked major overtime hours as “outlandish” turned into even more dubious terms — “highly unconventional” and “strikingly unfamiliar.” Dubious because they are essentially the definition of “outlandish” which obviously is not and was not an answer to my question.

    So Macon word games seem habitual.

    (***“Clandestine” because I wasn’t aware of the cosmetic, racist-to-racially~charged word change at the time and Macon claimed what he wrote was not his views but those of others.)

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/05/refuse-to-listen-to-black-anger.html
    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/05/overlook-barack-obamas-whiteness.html
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/outlandish

  23. nquest2xl Says:

    “summarize black observation and opinion” is not necessarily the same as attempting to summarize ALL black observation and opinion.

    A complete non-issue.

  24. Restructure! Says:

    @macon d:

    You said, “Nquest sees me as inconsistent and as a faulty spokesperson for black people”.

    Also, for the record, to “summarize black observation and opinion” is not necessarily the same as attempting to summarize ALL black observation and opinion.

    ‘All’ versus ‘some’ black people isn’t the entire issue, but you still want to ‘summarize’ so that you can generalize about the racial experiences people of colour, are you not?

    The other problem is that you see yourself as a racial interpreter who translates non-white experience for white consumption.

  25. nquest2xl Says:

    As quoted on SWPS, you said:

    “Nquest sees me as inconsistent and as a faulty spokesperson for black people.”

    The original comment appeared on your blog in the “ask for suggestions” thread where you first tried to dismiss the contradictions of yours I pointed out as unimportant because you wanted to claim you were evolving as you, ironically, decontextualized/misquoted Emerson in the process. Which was all rather funny because before you tried the “changed opinion/mind” frame, you tried to pretend like there was no contradiction “it depends on the context.”

    You typical botched face-saving attempts aside, the obvious implication from your claim that I see you as a “faulty spokesperson for black people” is that you both see yourself as a “spokesperson for black people” and an effective or good one. You also said this after I questioned why it was so important for you to be a “good spokesperson” for Black people when Black people can speak and summarize things about their experiences quite well without an interpreter or a middle-man:

    So yes, the question of why I need to be a good summarizer of black opinion certainly does occur to me, contrary to what you just wrote… It’s sometimes effective to do that within an explanation to white people about why they should stop doing this or that to black people.

    Of course you’re known for conveniently feigning ignorance of your own words. That, or you really do have a problem with loose lips saying anything in careless disregard… well, because you don’t care whether you contradict yourself or not. As long as you can save face…

    http://stuffwhitepeoplesay.wordpress.com/2008/07/18/im-a-good-summarizer-of-black-opinion/
    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/07/ask-for-suggestions.html?showComment=1216213200000#c1809982632621832274
    http://stuffwhitepeoplesay.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/im-a-spokesperson-for-black-people/#comment-82

  26. nquest2xl Says:

    you see yourself as a racial interpreter who translates non-white experience for white consumption.

    Yet he fancies himself as an anti-racist trying to understand Whiteness but, like the typical and traditional White liberal, he relishes the self-appointed role he gives himself as racial interpreter. At best, that’s a very indirect, perhaps the most indirect, way to look at, examine, understand and/or interrogate Whiteness.

  27. jwbe Says:

    If, for instance, quite a few black people say and write and otherwise demonstrate that they don’t like white people reaching out and touching and petting their hair, then surely it’s worthwhile to make the post convincing by quoting some black people saying so in a blog post that tells white people that they shouldn’t do that.

    Your point of view is ridiculous. Somebody with at least the slightest ability of social competence doesn’t need a single Black voice to let him/her know that touching somebody else violates the personality of another person, something which is fyi ingrained in every human being and is called individual distance. The real question is why some or many white people believe that they have any right to violate somebody else’s personality by touching, the mind-set behind is the issue you should explore and not just a “PC-rules” you can tell your white friends who seem to have trouble using common sense.

  28. jwbe Says:

    but the lesson shouldn’t be “Don’t comment on how ‘articulate’ a colored person is”, but rather about how the assumption that non-white people are inarticulate is racist. (He says it in the post, but he’s still emphasizing the overt actions as the problem instead of the assumption.)

    I think it is important to understand the context and the whole picture of white supremacy and its ‘tools’, then one doesn’t have to know “rules” how to interact with people. For me as a German talking with Americans is some cultural difference, nonetheless I trust my common sense.
    I probably had some ‘naivity’ when I first had access to internet and joined Black American message boards, because back that time I didn’t have that understanding of racism in America, I had knowledge, but not to that extend.
    My learning was based on embarrassement what I felt when I said something wrong or stupid or thought my white opinion would be of any interest in a certain situation. Such mistakes I won’t do a second time.
    And I don’t know much about Asian American or Asian Canadian history and American stereotypes towards Asian Americans, but I trust my common sense again and don’t feel the necessity to get rules how to communicate with Asian Americans or Asian Canadians.

  29. macon d Says:

    Okaaaay, so it appears that I never did declare myself “the spokesperson for black people.” So it should be noted, for anyone who’s still reading this, that when Restructure! (and perhaps her cohorts as well) quotes decontextualized bits and pieces of someone’s writing, what she says about it should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt, as well as checked against the original, for both accuracy and explanatory context.

    Nquest, I don’t “relish” the role of “racial interpreter.” I also don’t relish rehashing all of this here, as we’ve discussed it at enormous length elsewhere. I’ll just say that my quoting or paraphrasing of non-white observations, opinions, commentary and so on is no less legitimate than the exhaustive quoting and paraphrasing you three do of my writings, IF you do it accurately, and along with accurately summarized context. Whiteness exists in a relational context with other races–that was the whole point of its rise to prominence and salience in the first place–so effectively analyzing its current manifestations and continuing egregious effects necessitates talking about its influence on both white and non-white people. Thus, to make that anti-racist analysis convincing to those white people who should try to examine what whiteness leads them to do–who should, that is, untrain themselves racially–calls for quoting and/or summarizing reported non-white experience suffered at the hands, as it were, of whiteness. And as far as I know, I never claim that something some non-white people say they don’t like about what a lot white people do is something that ALL non-white (nor all black, nor all Asian American people) don’t like.

    jw(be) wrote, “The real question is why some or many white people believe that they have any right to violate somebody else’s personality by touching, the mind-set behind is the issue you should explore and not just a ‘PC-rules’ you can tell your white friends who seem to have trouble using common sense.”

    Thanks for the, um, advice, but I already do that. On the other hand, doing only that, or too much of that, wouldn’t interest many of the non-white readers who should be reading it. (And as for “common sense,” surely you know that it’s “socially constructed,” and that in terms of race, much of what seems like plain old common sense for most white Americans is not at all what’s common sense for many non-white Americans?) My blog is not generally about providing “PC-rules” for obliviously unself-conscious white people; it’s about getting them to realize and then understand (as I’ve written many, many times) that being “white” means having been trained in innumerable ways to act white, and that learning about those various instilled propensities is a way of unlearning them, of no longer enacting them.

    My blog is also about, as many of my posts also say, understanding how pervasive white supremacy is, in America’s white supremacist history, and in the continuing influence of that racist history on present institutions and culture. In other words, the focus I’m seeing here on so-called “human relations programming,” and on “PC-rules,” and on my supposedly relished efforts to be “the spokesperson for black people” is not only inaccurate in various ways; it also overlooks how my blog does contain a lot of what detractors here are saying it doesn’t, but should, contain.

    A consensus seems to be emerging among you three energetic detractors that my blog’s approach is a rather ironically “liberal” one. There is much to say in response to that, but I’ll just say where all of it would probably lead me–when it comes to race, white liberals tend to 1) believe (falsely) that they’re colorblind; 2) ignore the fact and significance of their own racial status; 3) rest content and self-satisfied with limited, superficial knowledge of other races and “cultures”; and 4) fail to actually do much of anything to combat racism at various levels, in their own lives and in society at large. Any open-minded, even cursory reading of my blog would reveal that it consistently works against all of these “white liberal” tendencies, and others.

    Nevertheless, thanks again for the shout outs! Hopefully, some white people will read them, find their way to my blog, and then stick around long enough to begin working their way toward untraining what the fiction of whiteness has done to them and what it causes them to do to others, as well as understanding and working against white supremacy at systemic and institutional levels.

  30. Lxy Says:

    Macon’s “human relations” version of activism sounds like a glorified form of social etiquette training.

    Ms. Manners does antiracism!

  31. Anonymous Says:

    it is your whiteness which makes it impossible for you to see any other reality than your own. Your own reality leads to wrong assumptions and leads to wrong conclusions and also leads to any rejection of any criticism. Because your whiteness gets in your way. You can’t be honest to your own goal: “I’m a white guy, trying to find out what that means. Especially the “white” part.” When your whiteness comes through and is shining like a light-bulb at night, you deny this. Your whiteness comes up eg in the hand-shake thread and there is no slightest sign that you want to discover your own whiteness.

    On the other hand, doing only that, or too much of that, wouldn’t interest many of the non-white readers who should be reading it.

    Why should PoC read your blog? I thought you want to “educate” whites how to overcome their racism?

    it’s about getting them to realize and then understand (as I’ve written many, many times) that being “white” means having been trained in innumerable ways to act white, and that learning about those various instilled propensities is a way of unlearning them, of no longer enacting them.

    acting the “white way” does not only include racism. The “white way” is Eurocentrism with ALL the problematic attitudes. What you are doing is being addicted to “the Black other”. You “study” the Black “other” the same way Europeans have always done it: With their European interpretations and definitions. You don’t understand what some PoC tell you when it isn’t that what you want to hear because your white mind-set doesn’t allow any different opinion than yours.

    (And as for “common sense,” surely you know that it’s “socially constructed,” and that in terms of race, much of what seems like plain old common sense for most white Americans is not at all what’s common sense for many non-white Americans?)

    Common sense is common sense and has nothing to do with race. Common sense is “Sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge; native good judgment”, “The ability to make sensible decisions” http://www.answers.com/topic/common-sense

  32. jwbe Says:

    the above post is by jw

  33. jwbe Says:

    in addition Macon you display your lack of understanding of a white supremacist nation and power with statements like on racismreview for example.
    http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2008/10/17/american-racism/#comment-5478
    You seem to have no idea of the political power of white supremacists/Neo-Nazis and how they organize. Go to their meetings and try to reach their hearts and minds and tell me what came out of it.
    Tell me if you understand how quickly somebody like Hitler could rise to power and why your stupid arrogance is not only stupid but also dangerous.
    And while you wonder about the PC-handshake, right-wing extremists go mainstream and the more the economic situation will suck the more they will get support. This is a historical fact. But I think you have no idea what this would mean.

  34. macon d Says:

    jw(be) wrote:On the other hand, doing only that, or too much of that, wouldn’t interest many of the non-white readers who should be reading it.

    Why should PoC read your blog? I thought you want to “educate” whites how to overcome their racism?

    OOPS! Sorry for the typo–“non-white” should be “white”

    You used “stupid” twice in one sentence that time–impressive! As usual, your dismissals of me and of what I write with that and similar words remind of the futility of trying to communicate with you.

  35. jwbe Says:

    You used “stupid” twice in one sentence that time–impressive! As usual, your dismissals of me and of what I write with that and similar words remind of the futility of trying to communicate with you.

    As long as you can only see yourself and not the goal – the end of white supremacy – yes indeed your little white heart will be hurt and is on the other hand not interested how often YOU insult other people with some of your writing.
    But there just the next thing pops up in my mind: How will you ever lead your mind-changing discussions with racists, who are a lot but in almost all cases neither rational nor calm.

  36. jwbe Says:

    and communication:
    There is a sender and a receiver of a message. The problem starts if the receiver has problems with “de-coding” a message because his whiteness is only able to understand non-complex, simple words, like “stupid”.
    In cases like this, communication is not possible.

  37. macon d Says:

    jw(be), get a clue–it’s not the case that your derisive dismissals “hurt” me (they don’t), nor that I expect your or anyone else to be “rational” and “calm.” It’s also not the case that I have any trouble understanding what you’re trying to say. It is the case that your repeatedly dismissive (and ironically arrogant) characterization of me and my remarks makes it clear that you don’t take anything I have to say seriously–so, there’s no point in trying to communicate with someone who regards me and my words that way. You just did it again–my ‘whiteness is only able to understand simple words”? wtf?

  38. Restructure! Says:

    Macon D,

    Okaaaay, so it appears that I never did declare myself “the spokesperson for black people.” So it should be noted, for anyone who’s still reading this, that when Restructure! (and perhaps her cohorts as well) quotes decontextualized bits and pieces of someone’s writing, what she says about it should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt, as well as checked against the original, for both accuracy and explanatory context.

    Yes, you did refer to yourself as the “spokesperson for black people”. Merely alleging that your quote was decontextualized doesn’t prove that your quote was taken out of context. Michael Richards could say that his racist remarks were decontextualized because he was performing at a comedy club. Rosie O’Donnell can say that her “ching chong” remarks were decontextualized because she was making a joke about Danny DeVito. However, these contexts are irrelevant to the fact that they are racist remarks. How does your reference to yourself as the “spokesperson for black people” within the sentence, “Nquest sees me as inconsistent and as a faulty spokesperson for black people” absolve you from responsibility? It doesn’t.

    If we remove the adjective from the claim, “Nquest sees me as a faulty spokesperson for black people”, the claim becomes “Nquest sees me as a spokesperson for black people.” However, this is obviously false and nonsensical, as Nquest has never said anything about you being a spokesperson for black people. What you were doing, then, was assuming that you were the spokesperson for black people, and saying that Nquest thought you were a faulty one.

    The claim, “Nquest sees me as a faulty spokesperson for black people” has several possible meanings:
    a) Nquest sees you as faulty with respect to something;
    b) Nquest sees you as a spokesperson for black people; and
    c) Nquest sees you as both a spokesperson for black people and as faulty with respect to being a spokesperson for black people.

    Options ‘b’ and ‘c’ are impossible, as Nquest has never considered you a spokesperson for black people or said anything like that. The “faulty” then, is referring to what Nquest thinks, and the “spokesperson for black people” is referring to yourself.

    I’ll just say that my quoting or paraphrasing of non-white observations, opinions, commentary and so on is no less legitimate than the exhaustive quoting and paraphrasing you three do of my writings, IF you do it accurately, and along with accurately summarized context.

    This is incorrect. Quoting and paraphrasing the words of an individual is not equivalent to quoting and paraphrasing the words of most of the world’s population. If you quote and paraphrase my words and present them as an individual’s thoughts and experiences, that’s one thing. If you quote and paraphrase my words and present it to white people as the thoughts and experiences of non-white people, it’s ignorant, unintelligent, and oppressive.

    Thus, to make that anti-racist analysis convincing to those white people who should try to examine what whiteness leads them to do–who should, that is, untrain themselves racially–calls for quoting and/or summarizing reported non-white experience suffered at the hands, as it were, of whiteness.

    I have no problem with you quoting non-white people. Summarizing, however, means that you are reinterpreting what non-white people are saying, and you are assuming that you understand as much as (or more than) the non-white people you are paraphrasing about their own oppression.

    Furthermore, if by ‘summarize’ you mean ‘generalize the racial experiences of people of colour’—which you stated was your project—then your project is inherently flawed and failed. Generalization means making a claim about all or most people; it’s about losing detail and resolution to make a simplistic claim; it’s about perceiving a whole group of people as a monolith to simplify things for a specific purpose. If you are trying to ‘generalize the racial experiences of people of colour’, then not only is your project impossible, but you are just continuing what white people have already been doing to non-white people for centuries, i.e., generalization. That you have good intentions does not absolve you, just as saying that “Asians are good at math” is still racist even if it’s a “positive stereotype” and a “positive generalization”.

    And as far as I know, I never claim that something some non-white people say they don’t like about what a lot white people do is something that ALL non-white (nor all black, nor all Asian American people) don’t like.

    But if you present these racial experiences as somehow representative of non-white racial experiences “in general”, then you are still assuming that you have the authority to categorize and determine which non-white racial experiences are representative of, typical of, illustrative of, and relevant to non-whiteness. These are pretty high-level abstraction skills, yet you believe you are in the position to see the big picture across millions of non-white experiences that non-white individuals themselves cannot see or articulate. Why do you feel that you are the most qualified person to undertake this task?

    Any open-minded, even cursory reading of my blog would reveal that it consistently works against all of these “white liberal” tendencies, and others.

    That you did something antiracist in situation X does not grant you immunity from doing something that is racist in context Y. If a man who calls himself a feminist volunteers at a women’s organization but then comes home and disrespects his wife and calls her a ‘bitch’, the argument, “What I did isn’t sexist, because I am not a sexist person, since I volunteer at women’s organization,” isn’t a valid defense.

    When Nquest criticized your “get used to blackness” post for “Reducing “blackness” down to mere cultural aesthetics”, you rejected Nquest’s evaluation of what you did and responded:

    As I would think any regular reader of this blog could see, a long, long list of African American intellectuals inform my perspective. Of course I hope also that Americans will see in Obama’s example a shining example of brilliant (if compromised) intellectual prowess, and I’ve said so before.

    Once again, that you have a black friend or that you read the writings of African American intellectuals does not mean that you didn’t just reduce blackness to superficial cultural aesthetics. That a long, long list of African American intellectuals inform your perspective does not grant you immunity from reducing blackness to something superficial at a given situation.

    It is entirely possible for a white person who reads the writings of black intellectuals to reduce blackness to daps and hip-hop culture in a given post. That you read black intellectuals is irrelevant to whether or not you just reduced blackness to superficiality. What you did in a separate event X is not relevant to what you did in event Y. The only connection between these two events is that they are both performed by you, and you somehow find it inconceivable that you reading the works of black intellectuals does not grant you immunity from reducing blackness to superficiality in other, unrelated situations.

    Again, your constant protests that you are different from other white liberals because your blog does x,y,z to fight systemic racism is a ridiculous defense. It’s like you’re arguing that because you’re doing something positive, it’s impossible for you to be doing something else negative. It doesn’t work like that. That you did something antiracist in situation X does not mean that you were not being racist and oppressive in situation Y when you told a non-white person, “You just stereotyped yourself.”

    I don’t know what your problem is. Most people pass through the splitting stage during childhood development. It is not a logical contradiction for an antiracist to be doing something racist.

  39. nquest2xl Says:

    Excellent post, Restructure.

    Macon is good for obfuscating, using the smoke and mirrors of “positive stereotyping” (his excuse for his unfounded assumptions in “believe others consider them trustworthy” et al) or, as you noted, positive event X to vouch for his problematic concepts regarding event Y to feign innocence.

    It’s really rather simple: either Macon can demonstrate how our critiques of threads like “get used to blackness”, “believe others consider them trustworthy”,
    “express amazement when non-white people see them as white” and “shake hands our way” are wrong for what we said about the specific issues we had with those specific, individual threads or we can take his pattern obfuscation as a concession that he can’t logically dispute (outside of faint protest) our arguments against things he said in those specific threads.

    Frankly, Macon only makes it worst by showing his lack of intellectual integrity and ability.

    He once said that part of the reason he writes his blog is to “unmake” or unlearn his own personal Whiteness training. It’s pretty hard to do that when he rejects criticism from PoC who see his Whiteness at work and not just because we’re making general statement about him, personally, but because we’ve constantly pointed out how he is wrong in his assumptions about PoC and always questioned the logical construction of things he wanted to generalize about that we found problematic whether they had something to do with PoC or not.

    But proof that his mentality is akin to old school White liberals… when I spoke from the strength of my own intimate knowledge and the strength of the logic behind my conception of things Black people do/think and my objection to what he said Black people do/think… for Macon to insist that he was right with little more than his assertion that he was right as support for his idea (like the idiotic idea of in the handshake debate)… Well, the stubbornness of his Whiteness (or just his stubborn personality) just wouldn’t allow him to admit that he had no basis in logic or experience to make the claims he did.

  40. nquest2xl Says:

    Again, Restructure, excellent post.

    I said more than I wanted to in the last post but failed to make one important point: the fact that Macon has illustrated a profound ignorance when it comes to “positive stereotyping” shows how he is ill-equipped to even debate with us. It’s clear that he is one of those Whites who PoC know way more than he does about racism.

    [additional comments withheld]

  41. nquest2xl Says:

    Looking back at the “Shake Hands Our Way” thread, a commenter there (on 8-11-08) said the same thing I did (at a later date). But Macon’s foolish and, perhaps, racist pride compelled him to tell me that he has more knowledge into what Blacks think about handshakes than I do (or that August 11 commenter), simply because he has witnessed a lot of handshakes vs. my active participation in handshakes of both the interracial variety and the Black intra-racial variety countless number of times.

    Yes, it’s that old school White liberal paternalism (or presumed sense of White Supremacy) at work.

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/04/shake-hands-their-way_09.html?showComment=1218515100000#c8806592887506295902

  42. jwbe Says:

    It’s also not the case that I have any trouble understanding what you’re trying to say.

    your reactions indicate that you don’t understand. Otherwise you would think about the problematic posts we three point out. But you don’t.
    There is a term, ethnocide, destroying/trying to destroy a people by destroying their culture. Something that happens to Black Americans. Language, culture, religion etc. was prohibited by the white dominant culture to controll Black people. Within this system Black people developed a new culture.
    Also copying somebody else’s culture and therefore stealing it is European tradition. As an alleged anti-racist you should be able to realize the difference of an supposed suppression via handshake or calling for copying a tradition and therefore disrespecting somebody’s culture.

    You also wrote:
    “if a white and a non-white person encounter each other in a casual setting and decide to clasp hands, there may be uncertainty about which handshaking method to use–the one that’s become the standard, “white” one, or a common non-white one. ”
    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/04/shake-hands-their-way_09.html

    what is a “common non-white handshake”?
    Why do you still insist that your post is correct?

  43. lynnette Says:

    im white an i dont think people should be judged for thier color but as a white person living today im tired of being treated like i have no rights as a white women i come from a very poor family an no one in my family history owned slaves an was against the whole thing but yet in my small town of south carolina the black comunity here make it hard to be pleasant to them cause they are so hatefull my husband cant get a job cause hes not a black man im called a racist cause my sexual preferance happens to be white men i mean some of these people u cant even speak to i am not racist but i refuse to be walked on by any race an im not a white women that will let somebody walk all over me cause of thier color i have just as much right as black people do an i will not apoligise for bein white an i dont think a black person owes me either i think most white women are affraid to stand up for themselves but i am not im writing this cause i do believe in the rev martin luther king an what he tryed to do an it wasnt for people to treat each other bad but to live an work an play together regardless of color!

  44. Lxy Says:

    Dear Lynette:

    Punctuation and capitalization are your friends. Use them if you want people to take you seriously.

  45. Nquest Says:

    @ Lynette…

    Ramble, young woman, ramble… lol

    (I really got to find a name for this phenomenon. I mean, did she miss any of the standard memes??)

    PS: Don’t ever mention Dr. King around me unless you know what the hell you’re talking about. Unless you can talk about, refer to and discuss the man, his philosophies and ideas in depth… in depth… it’s best to keep his name out your cyber-mouth.


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