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Reply #98: of course I did -- that was pretty much my point [View All]

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fishwax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-11-10 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #90
98. of course I did -- that was pretty much my point
"likely" and "probably" when talking about a person of color, because the reality is that just from their ethnicity you can't know. It's an assumption. I think the analogy works well in that it is based off of someone's ethnicity. The assumption is that someone's color means they have certainly had a certain set of experiences, which isn't necessarily true.

Of course its an assumption, but its an assumption based on the history and continuing reality of racism in the United States. And of course I used words like likely and probably because its likely and probable. :shrug:

Personally, Im not going to make sweeping claims about all African Americans or all Hispanics or all Asian Americans. I use modifiers out of respect for the diversity of opinion and experience within those communities, and also to counter the assumptions of uniformity that are often made by voices from the dominant culture. Also (and this is a related point) I use these modifiers to counter the assumptions of absolutism with which you distorted Number23s original point, such as suggesting that her assertion that minorities know more about racism necessarily means that all minorities should agree about any given issue. Finally, I generally try to avoid absolute statements in discussions like this, because Im familiar with the tendency to point to some exception and pretend that this defeats the general rule, as you have done thus far.


Racism is an ideology. Experiencing it doesn't necessarily increase one's understanding of it.

Experiencing (or even participating in) systemic racism doesnt necessarily require any knowledge or understanding of the ideology of racism. But experiencing a lifetime of systemic racism likely gives you an understanding of what racism looks like and feels like that those with a purely intellectual relationship to racism simply dont have. Their opinion on whether or not a given situation is offensive or fits that pattern of racism is therefore an *informed* opinion in a way that the opinion of the typical white person simply can never be.

To disagree with the general assumption that minorities, who have experience dealing with racism, are more capable of identifying racism than the average white person, you would either have to believe that (a) all things being equal, experience carries no weight; or (b) people of color have some deficiency such that all things are not equal. The first is ridiculousthe second, obviously, profoundly offensive.

Of course its true that someone without *experience* can develop a deep understanding of the ideology (Tim Wise, for example). But when the intellectual relationship to racism as ideology is used to dismiss the experience of someone who has lived a relationship to racism as underlying social structure well, thats a problem.

As for your analogy to communism, the ideology of communism is a different animal from its institutionalization. The issue of communism as ideology is different from communism as practiced and experienced in the Soviet Regime, which is different from communism as practiced and experienced in Cambodia, and so on. Growing up under communism in Romania gives you a knowledge of communism as practiced and experienced in Romania. Studying Marx in college cant really provide the same understanding. Of course, that doesnt make the formers opinion on politics or the free market in the United States inherently more valuable. Why would it?


What about loud and proud racists? Does being racist make one more able to discuss racism?

Why would it? :shrug:

Simply using a hammer doesn't give you any sense of what it is to be a nail.
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