Monday, July 22, 2013

Just Some Random Thoughts on Race

I've been reading a lot of material about race and racism in America here lately. A friend suggests that addressing white racism needs a more humane approach to guide white people into confronting their racism and dealing with it. I'm not feeling so generous.

I'm tired of waiting for white people to understand the obvious. I'm tired of reading nasty racists comments on a story about fashion. Almost any topic on the Internet can be used by those who want to spread racist hate to do so. I'm tired of having to coddle white racists and I'm at the point where I don't really give a damn if they go screaming into an insane asylum. I agree with an old friend, a white southerner, who says that white people need to talk to other white people about racism.

How long does it take for white people to recognize that they have participated in and benefited from a monstrous system? When I was a child growing up in a society of "no colored allowed" signs, I thought that we were going to move beyond that. I thought that Dr. King's dream was going to become a reality. But while legalized racism has been dismantled, societal norms and social conventions haven't caught up. Since Obama's elections, racism has become more public. A 17 year old unarmed black male is deemed suspicious by a neighborhood vigilante who follows him, shoots him and then successfully argues that it was self-defense. I can accept that the jury viewed the evidence as insufficient to convict. What pisses me off is all of the white people who assert that Zimmerman's stalking of Martin had nothing to do with race. Are they really so ignorant that they don't know that "looks suspicious" is code for walking while black in Zimmerman's world? There was no reasonable cause for Zimmerman to follow Martin, exactly what is suspicious about a kid walking through a neighborhood?

I just read a comment by a white male in NC who talked about how well his integrated neighborhood gets along. He extolled the image of all the neighbors being friends. I'd love to talk to the black people in his neighborhood and find out how many of them agree with him.

My experience has been that it is always up to the black people to conform to white society in order to be accepted by the more enlightened liberal whites. There is nothing that we can do to be accepted by the sheet wearing crew. Wearing the mask, that is cloaking our connections to black cultural norms, is psychologically harmful and emotionally draining. We've been doing it since the first Africans were carted to these shores in the belly of a ship. There was and is immense pressure from the white culture for black people to assimilate culturally if we wish to be reasonable successful in the larger society. I don't want a colorblind society. I want to be appreciated as a black southern woman. Race is a social construct but my black cultural identity is an essential part of who I am.

President Obama's recent words about the Zimmerman verdict were beautiful and heart felt but they've also been said over and over again and haven't really made much difference. White people are not only still clinging to racist generalizations but when all else fails, they accuse black people of "reverse racism" and with sincere indignation declare that it is black people, led by that irascible duo of Sharpton and Jackson who keep racism alive. 

I have no more patience with the persistence of racism and I certainly don't have the emotional energy to help white people learn how not to be racist. 

White people are not the victims but the perpetrators of a system of racial exclusion that has persisted long past the end of chattel slavery and imposed social and economic consequences on black people that have impeded our ability to successfully and fully compete in the economic infrastructure in this country leaving us disproportionately represented in the underclass and in the nation's prison system. I find this to be unacceptable and I think that it's long overdue for white people who know better to talk to those who don't, about racism in America.


Mark said...

I sure would like a colorblind society if it meant that people approached you waiting to see what your personality was like without assuming anything about it before hand because of your skin tone. And wouldn't it be nice if cultural constructs were available to everybody regardless of race? Cause honey, sometime I FEEL like a black southern woman, just as some days you feel and awful lot like a gay white man.
Colorblind is not the same thing as culturally bland. It means the absence of prejudgement based on skin color, not the absence of appreciation for the richness of all the elements of various cultural personas.

Sheria Reid said...

Mark, I agree with your definition of a colorblind society. Unfortunately, my experience has been that what a lot of people mean is not acting too ethnic. It's like Harry Reid's "compliment" that Obama was well spoken and inoffensive,essentially a good Negro. Reid thought it was a compliment. I wish that I had money for every time I've been told by some smiling white person that I'm well spoken as if I were a performing pet.

Of course you're right. It should just mean that we don't pre-judge people while appreciating the cultural diversity that our differences bring to the table.

I'm laughing as I type this because I'm thinking about you getting in touch with your inner southern black woman. LOL! You can even make me laugh when I'm on my soapbox!

Leslie Parsley said...

"I wish that I had money for every time I've been told by some smiling white person that I'm well spoken . . ."

But, my lovely friend, you are in fact most enviably well spoken.

This article resonates with me on so many levels. Maybe because it is exceptionally well articulated. Maybe because of your passion and yes, your anger. Or, maybe it's because of some recent conversations I've had with liberal whites who aren't racist (of course not) or others who think they know more about the black experience than black people do.

And I absolutely love Mark's comment.

Anonymous said...


Glad to see you are fired up again! :)


Capt. Fogg said...

I think it's important to remember Fogg's rule which states that almost everybody is an idiot and most of the rest are just plain nuts.

I posted a sorta funny piece about cliches and dumb things people say and I guess it seemed "obvious" to several people that I was a vicious, bigoted anti-Semite.

It's a shame that I've come to expect the worst from people, but then, it makes me treasure the good ones more.

Anonymous said...

and i suppose blacks are not racist? black on white crime has gone verticel since obama was selected.

i used to be colorblind until i was in the recieving end of black racial hatred

Leslie Parsley said...

Hmmm, the cowardly speaks. I suspect he's lying though his teeth on two counts: that he used to be "colorblind" and that "black on white crime has gone verticel (sic) since obama (sic) was selected."

If it thinks, talks and spells like a Fox viewer, why it must be a Fox Viewer. If it doesn't provide sources to back up its mythology, you know damn well it's a Fox viewer.

Sheria Reid said...

Leslie, my thoughts exactly. People who make anonymous comments are less significant than a fruit fly in my book. Anonymous made up his statistic as you surmised, or read it on some site warning of the imminent down fall of white people at the hands of Obama! The contribution from Anonymous does give me hope that racism is only perpetrated by the terminally stupid and the rest of us will continue to learn and grow, leaving the stupid to suffocate on their hate..

Flying Junior said...

re: Looks suspicious = walking while black

Dervish recently linked the little girl upspeak call to the Sanford Police by Zimmerman that set the stage for his successful murder of Trayvon Martin. One of the first things that George added to the mix was that Martin was reaching his hand into his waistband. Another common code.