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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:05 AM
Original message
We're still not talking to each other.
Edited on Sat Mar-15-08 12:11 AM by CitizenLeft
Something said by David Gergen tonight had me nodding my head. While he can never speak for me, he did strike a cord and hit on the core of the problem of lingering racism in America.

It's amazing that, even at this late date, in 2008, there are millions of white Americans who have absolutely NO idea how black people live, think, feel, eat, worship, socialize, parent, what their dreams are, how they see themselves and society and their country. Not a clue. Sure, there were the Huxtables, and there's Oprah, and there's the hip-hop culture, and there are black sports figures... but the vast majority of African-Americans live in between those more visible lifestyles, and even overlap in a million combinations too varied to even begin to categorize. It should be added, sadly, that a large swath of the white population doesn't CARE what black people think, either.

Conversely, black Americans are awash, in every imaginable way possible, in the whiteness of America. They've grown up knowing intimately all those things about whites that whites haven't a clue about in terms of African-American lifestyles. There's no escaping how things "should" be in America - how blacks SHOULD think, feel, how they SHOULD talk, what they should dream about, how they should live... even what they should be grateful for. Since almost every aspect of life is filtered through the white perspective, is there any wonder we can't talk to each other?

A simple, pleasant, example: a few weeks ago, I expressed to a black colleague that I had a hankering for sweet potato pie - HERS, specifically, because I'd tasted it before. The next day she brought me a pie. We also work with a very kind-hearted church-oriented white woman in her late 40's who had never heard of sweet potato pie in her entire life. She tasted it for the first time and loved it. How can she not have heard of it? You can even buy them, now, in the grocery store (but they taste nothing like homemade!) I'm not knocking her at all, she is not part of the problem... but it illustrates how isolated we are from each other, even when unintentionally. She happens to be from a wealthy suburban family and had rarely interacted before with African-Americans. Conversely, there are very few types of food that are alien to blacks - they may choose not to eat it, but they certainly eat Chinese, Italian, Southwest / Tex-Mex, Japanese, Indian, etc.

Is there any wonder that blacks feel alienated in America? As a whole... not necessarily individually, but as a culture? And this Wright controversy just highlights and underlines how misunderstood African-Americans are. The typical white American has no concept of how many blacks empathize with people of color around the world, see the world through THEIR eyes, understand the exploitation, the imperialism, the insistance on dominance. So when someone like Rev. Wright voices this viewpoint, it's automatically condemned and dismissed as "hate talk" - without taking a single moment to reflect on WHY that point of view is so accepted. When an entire race of people is summarily dismissed in so many insidious ways in everyday life, why not how they see the world as well? Does it really take a white Republican like David Gergen to explain that the world view of some African-Americans, whether you agree with it or not, is still VALID? That, really, is a shocking thought.

I'm GLAD this happened. We will NEVER come together as a people - I mean ALL of us - until America stops DISMISSING everything that comes out of the mouths of African-Americans - like Michelle Obama, for example - as insignificant, radical, or militant without understanding how that viewpoint came about. If we can't get past this, if we can't have an honest dialogue about the most fundamental differences in viewpoint without pointing fingers and screaming "HATE!!! HATE!!!" then we'll never come together; this nation will be doomed to perpetual bigotry and the rest of the world will pass us by and dismiss US as insignificant.

BTW, I kept saying "they" but I am an African-American who happens to be an ardent Anglophile, listens to Celtic music, is very interested in the people of the South Pacific, who sucks at dancing, doesn't like hip-hop (it's generational), and loves Italian food. I fit in no category whatsoever, and neither does any other black person I know. In this post, I'm only speaking for myself, so I didn't want to use "we" and stuck to "they" instead.

And while I would call myself spiritual and a devout Christian, I do not and have never gone to church. :)
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JeffR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:09 AM
Response to Original message
1. Nice to see something thoughtful posted amid the recent crapfest here
Well said.

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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:19 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. thank you.
There is very little about what he said that is not true - at least of what I've seen in the video clips.
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countmyvote4real Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:13 AM
Response to Original message
2. The sooner we learn that we are all in the same boat, the better.
I don't agree with every dynamic that you have suggested, but that's how I walked away from your OP.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:21 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. fair enough.
And I'm not a great advocate of assimilation, either. We can all be a part of our respective cultures, and be proud of them, and still want the best for our country.
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theboss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:13 AM
Response to Original message
3. I wanted to post something similar but am out of posts for the day
I want to know what white Americans thought happened in black churches. Is their preception of it simply large choirs rocking out to gospel music? What did they think was actually preached there?

Did it ever occur to white America that the black church is the single most radical insitution in the history of American society? That it is the only institution in America fully owned and controlled by blacks?

Really, what do you think has been preached in these churches for 200 years? Did you think the Civil Rights movement emerged accidently after a study of Second Peter but before a church social?

Where did you think MLK came from? Jesse Jackson came from? Al Sharpton? Cornel West? James Brown? Ray Charles?

The ignorance is stunning.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:25 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. you are right.
In the worst of times, it was the church that kept the community from falling apart, and lifted most out of despair.

BTW, my grandfather was an A.M.E. Zion minister (African Methodist Episcopal). It's a domination very different from the ministries you mentioned, and used to (and maybe still does) concentrate, in the old days, on missionary work. It's a more "gentle" congregation than Rev. Wright's, though I'm sure there are fiery speakers in that church as well.
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theboss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:36 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. I'm a white guy but I always went to an AME church for Easter Services
It was a little tradition I developed.

Granted, Easter is not your typical Sunday, but the AME services were always very scriptually grounded on those days. However, you could tell by the bulletin that it was a church cocerned with all aspects of its comunnity's well-being. It was not just a place to study the Bible.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:42 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. yep, very community-oriented
Edited on Sat Mar-15-08 12:43 AM by CitizenLeft
My elderly aunt has been a member of her AMEZ church for 50 years. For years, she was heavily involved in all church activities. She recently had a stroke, and now ladies from her church bring her home-cooked meals every single day. That, really, is what church is all about. The preaching is just the WHY of it.
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theboss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:53 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. One of my favorite movies is Hoop Dreams
And Roger Ebert wrote a great review of it when it came out.

Here is the best part:

And as the film follows Agee and Gates through high school and into their first year of college, we understand all of the human dimensions behind the easy media images of life in the "ghetto." We learn, for example, of how their extended families pull together to help give kids a chance. How if one family member is going through a period of trouble (Arthur's father is fighting a drug problem), others seem to rise to periods of strength. How if some family members are unemployed, or if the lights get turned off, there is also somehow an uncle with a big back yard, just right for a family celebration. We see how the strong black church structure provides support and encouragement - how it is rooted in reality, accepts people as they are, and believes in redemption.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:05 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. I'm ashamed to say I have never seen "Hoop Dreams"...
...and I used to have season seats to the Cavs for years. Go figure - duh!

I will add that to my Netflix list!

BTW, yes, while my family members don't all attend church, we have 3 ministers in the family, not counting my grandfather, who has passed on. I pray nothing tragic happens to me (nor my family and friends, nor anyone), but I know with certainty that I will never be homeless and I will never go without - my family will not let me sink, even though I haven't seen some of them in years. I can't help but think that the underlying foundation of faith has something to do with some of that. NOT to say that the same closeness doesn't exist in families that do not have that foundation - spirituality doesn't need a church to exist, as many atheists would add, and I agree - but in some cases, it is the glue that holds a family together.
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theboss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:09 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. It's a tremendous film
And if you are an NBA fan, you will find the Nike basketball camp scene fascinating. I think it's 89 or 90, but it is filled with future NBA players - who are all 16 or 17.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:30 AM
Response to Reply #18
23. I confess, I USED to be an NBA fan...
...though I sure enjoyed watching the Cavs in the finals for the first time last year, even though they were badly outmatched - awesome!

I'm old-schooly... meaning, I grew up admiring Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld... class acts all. I can't stand this trash-talking strutting version of the old game... it hurt my feelings when my excellent goody-two-shoes Cavs led by Lenny Wilkens got beat year after year by teams who were lauded for beating up on people... my heart got broken one two many times! :)
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nomaco-10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:45 AM
Response to Original message
9. Won't happen here....
I would love to have a rational discussion about race relations and religion, but it's never gonna happen with any good outcome on this forum.


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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:53 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. maybe when things calm down?
Hope springs eternal. This is going to be a looooooong summer and fall!
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Voltaire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:49 AM
Response to Original message
10. Wonderful post....spot on
From one atypical african american to another!
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:54 AM
Response to Reply #10
14. thank you!
:hi:

And I love your sigline!
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ClayZ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:49 AM
Response to Original message
11. Thank You!
K and R

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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:55 AM
Response to Reply #11
16. thanks much for the rec!
:)
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:54 AM
Response to Original message
15. k&r
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:14 AM
Response to Original message
19. Thank you for this.
Edited on Sat Mar-15-08 01:15 AM by FrenchieCat
Great writing, wonderful subject matter, and yes, we should talk about our differences and our similarities.

I'm from the World of the Black Church, although I was born in France (I'm 1/2 white/French)- And what Pastor Wright articulates is pretty common in the Black Churches. Rev. Wright is an emotionally passionate preacher, although not all of them are. My hubby attends Seminary and is in his last year. My husband is a licensed Minister and the assistant to the pastor at our Baptist Church (5,000+ in our congregation)which also preaches Social justice as well as the gospel....like many Black ministers do. Barbara Lee is part of our congregation, and I know her fairly well. In fact, my 17 year old may be interning for her this summer.

Pic of my pastor and Bono and Barbara Lee last year:



Church and the Black community go back to the days of slavery. It was the only place that Slaves were allowed to congregate on Sundays. It is where many learned how to read, socialized, organized, etc....which is why the Black churches have always been quite political....to this day. Now the church focus is to help the community in which it resides.

I would say that probably 70% if not more of Blacks go to church, at least quite a few times a year. Growing up with a church home is deemed very important...and it doesn't really have much to do with class, as our church attracts the affluent as well as the downtrotten.

Because I am involved with the church, I visit a lot of other churches with the pastor and my husband, and we get a lot of visiting pastors from throughout the Nation, some who we host and take out to lunch and dinner, etc.....

The Black churches, are in fact the network that links communities together, no matter the denomination.....as we also have White pastors that visit and speak at our church, and visa versa...which is why this demonizing of a Black Pastor, and holding a politician accountable for what his pastor says is not going to go down very well in the progressive religious community at all.


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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:24 AM
Response to Reply #19
21. the church is very influential to many African-Americans
...even if they don't attend, like myself. I was explaining in a post up-thread about my elderly aunt, who is currently getting her meals from her church - she recently had a stroke.

I didn't know that the UCC actually has more white members than black - I read that on another thread. The church has already come to his defense - your last paragraph is right on.

And how cool is that about Barbara Lee! And for your son - I hope he gets to intern for her! What a great experience!

(and thank you for the kind words! :hi:)
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:57 AM
Response to Reply #21
28. In fact, our pastor has spoken at Oxford, and flew to DC to do opening prayer for
congress a few times. He has also spoken at the UN, and did the dedication prayer at Schwarzenegger's last ignaugural.

I was at Harvard University (to visit my daughter), and I met The Reverend Peter Gomes (also a professor there and a Black man) who heads the Harvard Memorial Church while I was there. It just happened that he knew my pastor quite well!

This should give some pause to those Democrats who are lashing out at Rev. Wright, because although very loyal to the Democratic party, these folks might just flip if they are dogged out enough; evidenced by my pastor's tie in to the current Republican Governor of California.

I'm just saying that Democrats might not want to push that envelope. African-Americans were Republicans starting with Lincoln and ending with FDR. Since many have always had to fight to survive, they may not care so much if push comes to shove. I think that Hillary supporters, in particular, don't get that.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 11:22 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. I think that what someone said about Wright's delivery...
...was right on the money. Had he said the same things in a less dynamic way, there wouldn't be the same "outrage." Yes, the Republicans were going to bring it up anyway, but there would be less angst from the left. Actually, we'll see how much angst there really is... after this weekend, when it comes up again, we'll be able to measure what damage - if any - this did to Obama's campaign.
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HCE SuiGeneris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:16 AM
Response to Original message
20. Thanks for your efforts in writing and posting this.
Very well said.

K N R
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:39 AM
Response to Reply #20
25. thank you!
:hi:
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Eric Condon Donating Member (761 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:27 AM
Response to Original message
22. *Applause*
This is spot-on. Any time I talk to anyone about the Michelle Obama comments, I point out that while she clearly didn't mean what the morons thought she meant, she'd have every right to feel that way even if she did.

As recently as 150 years ago, in parts of AMERICA, the so-called (or at least self-appointed) "moral leader" of the world, it was legal to keep black people as property for no reason other than the color of their skin. They wouldn't be treated much better for AT LEAST 100 years after that, and to this day, we're still forced to contend with the inane statements of people like Geraldine Ferraro, who practically ooze resentment at the advances (however small and ridiculously overdue they may be) that African-Americans have made in this country.

Knowing all this, I think that on the whole, African-Americans can be forgiven if they don't exactly swell up with pride when they hear Lee Greenwood songs.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:48 AM
Response to Reply #22
27. it's been a long haul since slavery...
...admittedly, we've come a long way - just look at Obama's candidacy - something our parents never dreamt they'd see in their lifetimes! Still, the lingering effects of slavery - and more significantly, the destructive Jim Crow laws and continuing voter disenfranchisement - cannot be underestimated. I know there are many whites who say "get over it!" but how can anyone "get over it" when states still try to pass laws, like the photo ID, to suppress the black vote? How can we ever overcome racism if not everyone can even agree that it still exists?

I'd like to think that the media will take a responsible stance and keep at least the topic of racism in the spotlight, though... it can be argued that the more we talk about this, the more it hurts Obama. The jury's out on that...

BTW, CNN has a special series coming up in April: "Black in America." I'm anxious to see that, and how they address it.
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boppers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:31 AM
Response to Original message
24. This desrves a kick...
...and a serious read by anybody who was either called a racist, or called somebody else a racist, in the recent kerfluffles.

One thing I found that's really helped me in my travels is to learn, and get comfortable with, the vernaculars of the people I meet. Whether it's a regional AAVE, Spanglish, whatever, talking to people in their language, meeting them in a place you're both verbally comfortable in, can have tremendous effects on the quality of communication.

Talking over, and sharing, the best cultural foods helps, too..... Never heard of sweet potato pie? A Tragedy. At least it's been remedied.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:58 AM
Response to Reply #24
29. totally agree.
I'd like to think that I can see things clearly and fairly because I have developed close friendships over the years with 4 women who are white - I say it that way because it's one thing to say "whites in America" when posting a general comment, and another to just say "I have white friends." I don't think of them in that way, so I don't want to "im"-personalize them.

I think that my friendships with them have been integral in removing some of the stereotypes they may have held before we became friends. I'm in my late 40's, and, oddly, 3 of them are older than I, so we're talking about people who were children in the late 50's and early 60's... there was a lot to overcome before we could trust each other. And seriously, there are still places we haven't gone... it's hard, even when you know the other person has your best interest at heart. Significantly, the youngest friend, who is only in her early 30's, is liberal-born, completely lacking in any stereotypes to overcome, and so, we have gone everywhere on this topic.

Nothing beats interacting for tearing down walls and barriers.





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Frank Booth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:42 AM
Response to Original message
26. Very refreshing post.
:kick:
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #26
34. thank you...
...and everyone - for the recs!

:hi:
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virgdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:58 AM
Response to Original message
30. Thank you..
for a wonderfully illuminating post. If one good thing comes out of all of this, it would be that we all start talking to one another about the racial divide in this country. It is way past time to have this discussion, and I believe we can have this discussion on DU if we make the effort.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #30
33. I agree.
Though we've still got a long way to go, every time we have this conversation, it brings us a little closer - after all the dust settles.
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Window Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 06:05 AM
Response to Original message
31. K/R.
:kick:
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busymom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
35. But there are a lot of cultural differences in America
that have nothing to do with race.

Sweet potato pie? Never had it...does that mean I'm racially insensitive?

I have frinds up here in the frozen north that had never heard of grits and had certainly never tasted them. Are they anti-texas? Should Texans be offended that the lines of culinary communication aren't open enough...that we aren't 'talking' enough?

We will also never come together as long as african americans continue to assume that every word that comes out of the mouth of white americans is racist, race baiting or meant to put down the black culture in America. It isn't just white America that is the problem.

I was a part of a discussion forum for awhile and I posted the url address for the monk-e-mail last year that you could send out....basically, it was a monkey (a real one) that you could dress up in any kind of an outfit, assign a voice to, and then send a message to a friend via email. After I posted about it, I was called a racist....I was completely side-lined and attacked. The assumption was made that somehow I was promoting some sort of racist agenda instead of thinking that it was a funny website offered by a big company to advertise for them. This oversensitivity and angry, rude, response completely turned me off and I left the group. They alienated me by assuming that anything I said had rational undertones...when it would have NEVER occurred to me...To me, as someone who doesn't look at a person and see black, white, asian etc...it was just....a funny monkey that you could dress up in a tiara.
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CitizenLeft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:54 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. nowhere in my post did I say that anyone who never heard of...
Edited on Sat Mar-15-08 03:13 PM by CitizenLeft
...sweet potato pie is a racist. Did I? Please read it again, where I said "I'm not knocking her, she's not a part of the problem." And your analogy for Texans was... off the mark, and not really analogous, since a box of Quaker Oats Grits - Original or Butter Flavor - probably sits on the shelf of every grocery store in America. The point is, most white people have very little knowledge of African-Americans beyond what they see on television. I clearly said, it's not always intentional.

You don't have to agree with everything I said... I also said that, sadly, there are whites in America who don't care what blacks think or feel, and never will. Part of my point was, blacks are forced, by never-ending saturation, to care what YOU think 24/7/365, and if they don't like it, they're considered unpatriotic / hate-filled / racist themselves. Do you deny this? I think your post underlines that point. I've never met a black person who thought that "every word that comes out of the mouth of white americans is racist, race baiting or meant to put down the black culture in America." But apparently, that's your assumption. Astounding that you would think that, considering that blacks dubbed Bill Clinton "the first black President." Clearly, they didn't think that about him, nor about the Kennedys, nor John Kerry, nor Al Gore... shall I continue?

Finally, "It isn't just white America that is the problem." The fact that you sincerely believe that unequivocably is disturbing. Please elaborate on how blacks in America discriminate against whites, economically, politically, and socially.

Thank you for so eloquently and honestly proving my point for me.
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