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Empowerer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 07:29 PM
Original message
The Benefit of the Doubt (or why is it so much worse to be accused of racism than to be a victim of
it?

Why is it problematic, divisive, non-post-racial and completely unacceptable for an African American who hears racist words or spots racist behavior to point it out while it is perfectly fine, justifiable and all post-racial for a white person who thinks they've been called a racist to scream bloody murder?

Here's something to chew on:

African Americans have been the backbone of the Democratic Party for decades. We have swallowed doubts, insults, fears, objections and concerns and election after election after election and supported, fought for and voted for white candidates, almost without fail.

We've been all too often kicked to the curb, marginalized, forgotten and told to just be quiet, just sit tight, don't make any waves, hold our tongue, don't speak up for ourselves because we might make the white folks they're trying appease uncomfortable and they might not voted for them - even though they don't and aren't likely to vote for them anyway.

And here we go again. In the face of obviously vicious and racist attacks against our president, we're being told to button up because talking about race is going to mess everything up.

But even worse, WE'RE being accused of being the problem since if we weren't so insistent on always talking about race and "playing the race card," America would be a post-racial society. And we're, once again, being subjected to the spectacle of white people whining, ringing their hands and playing the victim because THEY'RE BEING CALLED RACIST!!!"

Which makes me ask:

When it's time weigh the two seemingly opposing interests - African Americans' concerns and opinions about the existence of racism, balanced against a white American's objection to being thought of as racist because the existence of racism elsewhere in society is pointed out - when do black folks finally get the benefit of the doubt?

We've certainly earned it by now. Instead, we're once again being told to be quiet, sit tight, don't make any waves, don't speak up, don't try to point out or address racism, no matter to what extent or degree we are victimized by it - because some white people might, as a result, have to endure the unendurable agony of somebody somewhere maybe, possibly thinking that they are a racist, apparently a fate worse than death. At least a fate worse than racism itself.

How bizarre that, in this America, it is considered much worse to be thought of as a racist than to be the victim of one.
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Excellent! nt
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Uzybone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:28 PM
Response to Original message
2. Brilliantly written
thank you.
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Empowerer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Thanks!
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nc4bo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:35 PM
Response to Original message
3. REC'd - yes. nt.
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OhioBlue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
4. good questions.
I've been thinking a lot about this issue lately.

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burning rain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
6. Before talking about racism, make it clear you're sure there are no living racists.
That will set white folks' minds at ease.
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EmilyAnne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:37 PM
Response to Original message
7. Thank you! nt
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:06 AM
Response to Original message
8. K&R n/t
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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:12 AM
Response to Original message
9. K&R
:kick:
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CBR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:13 AM
Response to Original message
10. Exactly! Thanks for this. Wonderful. nt
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Kaylee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 09:37 AM
Response to Original message
11. Just got through listening to a podcast of Talk of the Nation on NPR
where a caller from SC took exception to people calling the fine folks of SC racist. According to the caller, just a tinsy segment of the population is racist.....and they are only racist because the blacks made them racist.

:wtf:
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AspenRose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
12. That needs to be a LTTE.
Seriously.

:applause:
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Solomon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:16 PM
Response to Original message
13. Thank you for expressing what i have been saying in such a succinct
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 03:19 PM by Solomon
way. Frankly, I'm getting sick to death of it. It's so bad that notice how the right wing takes advantage of being called out on it's racism. Only in America could someone hope to score points FOR BEING CALLED OUT on racism. They turn it around on you and make you the bad guy for pointing it out.

Reagan started the crap when he ran for the presidency. I will never ever forget that part of his speech where he chided the idea that America had a race problem. The upshot of what he said was that America didn't have a race problem until black people spoke up about it.
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JimGinPA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:34 PM
Response to Original message
14. Excellent Post!
K&R
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noiretextatique Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
15. my post in a thread yesterday
a lot of people use the term "cry racism" here when discussing beck, and the rw protestors...you know, the obvious racism that has been on display since the campaign. according to a small, but vocal minority, carter was wrong to talk openly about the racism we all know exists because it may piss off the delicate sensibilities of moderate and swing voters. to summarize: talking about actual racism is worse than actual racism
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Writer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 05:03 PM
Response to Original message
16. I agree with you, but I'd like to offer a caveat...
as a white person who is generally well-meaning, it can really, truly hit you in the gut to be called a racist, or to be told that something you said or did was racist. Or homophobic. Or sexist. Or anything else that misconstrues your intentions to be devilish instead of simply racially ignorant.

I'm not excusing the tea party folks, of course. This form of latent racism is white male hegemony's last sigh.
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 06:47 PM
Response to Original message
17. Everybody knows that the teabaggers & freepers are knuckledragging racist assholes
but what I object to here on DU is the broad brush smear that everyone who doesn't support Obamas policies and the way he plays politics is a racist.


So yes, speak out all you want against true racism-but don't lump everyone who is fighting for REAL change in this country in the teabagger/freeper category.


Because that is simply an all out fucking LIE and I for one will continue to speak out against it.



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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Nobody is doing that so the liar in this case would be YOU.
Me thinks someone doth protest too much.
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:32 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. Deny it or LIE about it all you want, but the broad brush smears are real here on DU. nt
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 09:56 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. If you keep repeating the same bullshit lie
(including the same tired ass bullshit "reverse racism" bullshit) then MAYBE somebody weak minded, or you, will believe it.

But despite what Karl Rove says, constantly repeating a lie doesn't make it true.

Stop the lies.
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #24
29. I'm not lying. So Stop your fucking smears.
:puke:

Looks like it's time for the ignore button.
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #29
44. You are lying! So stop your bullshit!
I could care less if you put me on ignore. I'll still call out your bullshit!
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. Can you provide a link to any post in which a DUer
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 08:23 PM by EffieBlack
claims "that everyone who doesn't support Obamas policies and the way he plays politics is a racist?"

Although, even if someone did, it doesn't obviate the OP's point - which, whether or not you realize it, you helped to illustrate beautifully.
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 04:29 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. I guess you weren't here during the primaries or have not seen the smears ever since.
First off, I don't think my post illustrated the OP's point of view at all, though I'm not surprised you would skew it that way.

That's what people on GD-P do. They skew everything; "War is Peace" and all.

FYI-I NEVER said don't cry racism against the teabaggers and freepers. Go for it-those fuckers deserve it.

What I did say was don't cry racism against DUers who have been here on DU for years trying to get elected representatives in Washington DC to do their fucking jobs and work for WE, THE PEOPLE!!!

Obama & Congress work for the people and I could give a damn what color any of them are!
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 12:53 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. So you can't back up your assertion that anyone on DU claims "that everyone who doesn't support
Obamas {sic} policies and the way he plays politics is a racist?"

Thank you.
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 01:54 AM
Response to Reply #32
34. I see it all the time on GD-P. I'm not going to waste my time getting post after post for you.
Edited on Sun Sep-20-09 01:55 AM by earth mom
Do your own research.

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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 08:59 AM
Response to Reply #34
36. As I said, you can't back up your claim.
Demanding that I "do my own research" is a pretty weak comeback for a simple request that you produce proof of an unequivocal statement you made.


But thanks again. You've proven the point.
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earth mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 01:22 PM
Response to Reply #36
43. I can back up my claim-it's that I refuse to jump through hoops for you.
You know I'm right so stop the bullshit.
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #32
45. She can't back it up because she's making it up
Doesn't stop her from being insistent with her bullshit though.
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jonestonesusa Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 11:53 PM
Response to Reply #17
26. I don't know if everybody knows it
given that the President himself says that he doesn't believe his rabid opposition is motivated by racism.

And...the hostility seems way out of proportion to what is being argued in the OP.
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:22 PM
Response to Original message
19. I wish I could recommend this more than once
God knows it needs repeating.
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myrna minx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
20. Excellent essay! K&R
:applause:
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spooky3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:32 PM
Response to Original message
23. what is this uppity bs????!!!
:sarcasm:

great post
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angee_is_mad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
25. Even on DU it happens
When the topic of race comes up, the discomfort level increases even for progressives. I have seen commenters making excuses for or trying to justify racist actions.
For example there can be a poster of Obama as a witch doctor and there will be a few that will try to search for another explanation either than racism. If we don't call people out for racism or at the very least, racial insensitivity shame on us. Hell if progressives can't even do that in our own home, God Help Us ALL!!!!
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fishwax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 12:07 AM
Response to Original message
27. k/r
Edited on Sat Sep-19-09 12:08 AM by fishwax
:kick: :applause:

On edit: dammit! Too late to rec. But a hearty kick just the same :kick:
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Indigent Donating Member (89 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 04:37 PM
Response to Original message
30. Sometimes the race-card is overplayed. See Clinton's statement about Obama's Iraq policy
Edited on Sat Sep-19-09 04:37 PM by Indigent
Mr. Clyburn said it was racist that Bill Clinton called Obama's Iraq policy a "fairy tale." Go figure.
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 01:04 AM
Response to Reply #30
33.  That's flat out not true. You should check your facts before making such a claim.
Rep. Clyburn said nothing of the kind and I defy you to produce a quote proving that he did.

But I'm curious. Do you ever accuse white people of "playing the race card?" Or is that an accusation used only against blacks who express their opinion about race? I ask this not to be accusatory, but because I NEVER hear anyone accuse whites of "playing the race card," regardless what they say or do about race. Yet blacks are frequently so accused whenever the issue of race comes up - even when, as here, it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand (i.e., what does Rep. Clyburn's comments about Bill Clinton, albeit misquoted here, have to do with the fact that many whites often overreact when racism is pointed out?)
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Prism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 05:29 PM
Response to Original message
31. You won't get it for awhile
Not in this country, not with this power structure, not as long as our culture and politics rest upon a totem of privilege and self-interest.

It's less a race thing than a human thing. Humans are self-interested, and once a group acquires power, they're very loathe to give it up. Every advantage can and will be exploited.

Hell, in this very thread, some of the people nodding most firmly to your sentiments are also some of the strongest voices who use any occasion available to tell LGBTers to sit down and hush up. The irony is, of course, utterly lost upon them, and they'll deny that they reflect the evil they presently condemn.

Folks are broken. How to fix? People have to give a lot up, grind against their nature, do the right thing rather than the self-interested one. It takes a long, long time.
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MellowDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 02:30 AM
Response to Original message
35. Who is telling you to be quiet and sit tight?
The only people I've seen doing that is the Obama administration, for obvious political reasons, have been quiet themselves, but they haven't been telling African Americans to shut up. So who has been? I haven't see it on DU. When it is brought up the right wing will deny it, but the right doesn't represent all "whites". I haven't seen the Democratic Party do it, if anything, some in the party have called it out.

But seriously, some examples would help your case. Otherwise, this is just another "division" thread.

The right wing has learned to obfuscate the issue of racism in their midst by simply copying some of the opposition and accusing anyone and everyone of racism, including the president. This has the effect or watering down racism, a word that is already incredibly misused and misunderstood, and make people roll their eyes at it like "socialist" and "nazi". Unfortunately, parts of the left have played right into the right's hand with identity politics, something that just reinforces the identity politics of the right. Indeed, the primarily emotional response to the right is part of the problem. The right feeds off of emotion and transforms it into hatred and ignorance. It's logic that they can't work with.

Part of the problem too is that parts of the left always present racism as a black and white, victim and racist setting. Your post is an example of this. Blacks as a whole should be given the benefit of the doubt when they speak about racism, you say, because, well you don't exactly say why, but the logic is usually that they experience it the most. The truth is, blacks will generally have a different perspective, but to present it as though they are the race "experts" is what leads to its downfall. The truth is, blacks will sometimes have a skewed and biased view of the world because of their perspective that doesn't fit reality, just like any group does, and setting up one group as the "expert" on a subject will always call into question the "expertise" and put them under a microscope. As long as this logic is used, it will be easily and successfully attacked by the right as a system of false accusation. It simplifies racism and makes it easy to confuse and confound the issue. It also racializes all discussions of race and racism and makes them inherently "separate and unequal".
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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #35
38. Wow. Just wow.
Blacks are responsible for "racializing" discussions about race beacuse we set ourselves up as "experts" on the subject and, thus, others are justified in calling into question our "expertise?"

And your argument that the "left always present racism as a black and white, victim and racist setting" is pretty bizarre not only because race and racism usually DOES involve black and white, victim and racist, but because it falls right back into the OP's point that those who point out racism are responsible for the problem, not those who engage in it. Your post, though eloquently framed, is exactly what the OP is referencing - and given the responses, it is clearly not a "division" thread.

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MellowDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:40 AM
Response to Reply #38
40. I never said "blacks"...
I said some of the left, but nice try. Unlike the OP, I don't use such broad brush strokes like "blacks" or "whites".

And the truth is, racism and bigotry is a much more complicated issue than the conversation on it usually gives credit for. The right loves to simplify it and dumb down the discussion for easily delivered packages to their followers, but so do some on the left. The whole Gates/Crowley issue is a pretty good example. As soon as the story broke, it was dumbed down before all the information came out to "white cop/black man" and everything was assumed by quite a lot of people. And the white woman who called it in was obviously racist or bigoted to many on here... do you see what I mean? That type of conversation seems to mirror the whole stupid fight on the bus that recently happened. The far right was pretty much just doing what some on the left did and using it to racialize a story to their advantage and dumb it down. There isn't much of a difference between some of the reactions. And one just gives creedance to the other.

It makes legitimate issues of race and racism harder to discuss, like the tea party rallies and some of those in them, when race and racism is mainly used as a political bludgeon.

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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #40
41. I understand your point, but the problem with it is that ANY discussion of race leads
many whites to claim that race is being used as a "political bludgeon" - ANY discussion. And the response is usually the one you gave, blaming blacks or the left or whoever for "racializing" the discusion (which, as I noted, is a pretty bizarre claim).

The bottom line of such a charge is, whether it is acknowledged or not, that it subtly tells blacks to be quiet because WHENEVER we bring up race - or even respond to it when other bring it up - we are somehow "making legitimate issues of race and acism harder to discuss."

Race is an uncomfortable topic. Discussions of it are naturally going to make people uneasy. But if the ground rule for the discussion is that it first not cause any discomfort, there WILL be no discussion. Unfortunately, when balancing the discomfort that some white people will feel engaging in such a discussion against the frustration and pain that blacks feel as a result of having to deal with this crap day after day, we usually err so far on the side of making sure that white folks don't feel any sense of discomfort that it IS tantamount to telling black folks to just shut up already.

Until we get to a point that white people are willing to feel a little uncomfortable in order to help ease this situation, we are going to continue to have these problems. And blaming them on blacks or others on the left who are trying to discuss these issues rationally and openly is the real problem here, not the attempt to engage in the discussion.
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #41
46. +1
You do say it more eloquently and with a hell of a lot more patience than I would. I've gotten tired of trying to be honest.
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MellowDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #41
49. I agree with you generally...
but I never claimed that "blacks" or the "left" were the only ones using it as a political bludgeon. The problem is that a lot of people on both sides do of all colors. And in all honesty, whites are encouraged just as much if not more so than blacks to be quiet about bringing up race by what they see in the media.

I think that anyone, no matter their color, who brings up legitimate discussions of race is a freakin' couragous hero for doing so. All that I am saying is that the conversations that DO occur in the public square (the media) almost ALWAYS devolve into a political racquet. Personally, I blame the media for wanting to create a circus atmosphere for more viewership and those on either side who use race and racial discussions as nothing more than an opportunity to advance identity politics and feed red meat to extremists.

I don't believe that there should be a ground rule for discomfort or anything. But I don't understand why you keep referring to white people as if they are one monolithic group. That is my main objection to the OP. The solution is just around the corner if only "white" people would be willing to feel uncomfortable is the opinion I'm seeing, and it just seems a little too lazy and simple of logic to me. I think the vast majority of white people would be willing to discuss race legitimately, but the only thing everyone sees is the circus on the media. I get the idea that you look at the media and think that whites and the media are one and the same, which couldn't be further from the truth. A lot of the problems we have is because the media does NOT represent the views or regular Americans of any color. Watch enough tea party coverage, and I could see how some people might get the idea that most whites are somehow uncomfortable with discussing race.

As long as the main forum for the issue of racism is the mainstream media, you won't see much in the way of legitimate discussions of anything, much less race.
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JoePhilly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
37. The right is doing this as a defense mechanism.
Its a preventive strike.

If you claim racism, YOU become the racist.

It is a game they are playing. It's main intent is to give their racists more space to went their racism ... keep they excited ... active .... screaming and foaming at the mouth.

That's what's going on.

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EffieBlack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:17 AM
Response to Reply #37
39. You're right. But it's also something deeper than that, imo
Some - certainly not all or even most - white people take great comfort in their sense of racial entitlement privilege and resent it when it appears that another group may get an advantage over them or even just begin to catch up.

In recent years, there's been a notion in some quarters - stoked by demagogues - that, in trying to overcome oppression, blacks are capitalizing and benefiting from "victimhood" even though that just isn't the case. As a result, there's been a proliferation of the notion of "white victimhood" - i.e., "YOU'RE not the victim. WE'RE the victim. We're much bigger victims that you. In fact, your attempts to stop being victims of a system and people who have oppressed you for centuries oppresses US!!!"

It's a twisted and counterintuitive argument that turns the whole situation on its head, but it has become some common and acceptable in some quarters that it's treated as perfectly normal.

I think that's what we're seeing here.
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JoePhilly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #39
48. No disagreement ... its the evolution of the Southern Strategy ...
From the beginning, the GOP's Southern Strategy tried to claim that "welfare queens" were benefiting and that "white, God fearing, rural folks" were paying for it.

My larger point in the initial post was more that the GOP had a problem regarding how to leverage the Southern Strategy in 2009 and not be called Racist. Their old tactics are just too well known.

So they followed another Rove tactic ... take your weakness, and pretend it is your strength.

That's why they now regularly PREEMPTIVELY call specific folks on the left RACISTS ... Obama, Michelle, Holder, Colin Powell, Sotomayer ... and on and on ...

By screaming RACIST first, they intend to put the left on the defensive in an area where we should be on the offense. And once they've called the person on the left the racist ... they then "feel free" to unleash any racist rhetoric they want.
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Chakab Donating Member (102 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
42. Awesome post.
I've teetered between amusement and outright anger for years because of the way that the debate about racism has come to be framed. The fact that we will still be attacked for simply point to a pattern of overtly racist behavior really unnerves me, and has pushed me to believe that a large percentage of white people will never engage in any honest discussion about these issues.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
47. It's not worse and probably no one says it is
but it is unpleasant, and can be overused, or used on people who don't deserve it.

Sorry but it is illogical to just say "a black person can call a white person racist and always be right" without stepping into that area where people are being judged on the color of their skin, which was never the intent behind any movement for equality.

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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-21-09 03:58 AM
Response to Original message
50. I'm way too late to rec but I can kick. Glad to see that the usual DU assholes
who work overtime denying racism or trying desperately to turn every topic regarding racism to something else were either COMPLETELY ignored or called out on their shit. Good stuff.
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LatteLibertine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-21-09 05:43 AM
Response to Original message
51. Good post
and I will repeat myself. Remember, dividing poor and middle class people along racial lines is a tried and proven technique some of the most wealthy use to keep us squabbling among ourselves.

We do need to have a ongoing open honest civil dialogue about race in the United States. We still have a lot of work to do. On the other hand, we need to be mindful of those that have a vested interested in sowing racial discord among us.

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rebel with a cause Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-21-09 05:19 PM
Response to Original message
52. Honest as I can be.
Edited on Mon Sep-21-09 05:23 PM by rebel with a cause
I am prejudice but I am not a racist. I grew up in an all white county where the people were not ashamed of their racist ways. My parents were not racist but they were prejudice. My mother, who was not pure white but part American Indian, was ashamed of her own small prejudices and tried to raise her children not to be such. She taught us never to call anyone bad names or treat anyone in a manner that we didn't want to be treated.

I listened to her and took in her ideas. I was more open to others than my siblings because I put myself in my mother's place when as a child she had been called racist names. But it was not until (as a teenager) I went to the South in the early sixties that my eyes were open to the way African Americans were treated. I had lived with the 'sundown laws' and the 'refusal to serve' signs but had not understood them until that trip. Why, because I was very naive and I had been told that the police escorted people out of the county for their own safety, and I always took the refusal to serve personally since some of the store cashiers and personal at other businesses were less than friendly to me.

For the first time I saw the 'back of the bus' and the 'whites only' practiced. When I got home, my father had to explain it all to me because I was in shock about these things. I learned the difference between non-diverse community racism and diverse community racism. One was more hidden or denied/excused while the other was openly practiced. Neither was good and neither should be accepted.

When I got older I left my white community and went out into the diverse world. I ended up marrying a man from the Dominican Republic, and had two children by him. I thought that people who were not white would not be prejudice. I told you I was naive. Well, my husband was more prejudice than I had ever even been tempted to be, if I was ever tempted to be more so. Anyway, though his family and friends I discovered that my husband had a strong heritage of European ancestors of which he was very proud. A heritage of Caribbean Indian ancestors, of which he was proud. A heritage of African ancestors, of which he denied. It was I who taught my children to be proud of their heritage, all of it and to acknowledge it. My husband and I divorced eventually, my choice, and he married a white woman who already had blond white daughters, something I could not give him.

I started this out by saying that I am prejudice, and I am. Does this mean that my prejudice is directed at African Americans? Not really. I am non-selective in my prejudice. I don't dislike all of any group but really can't tolerate some people in all groups. If you feel superior, if you belittle others, if you dislike others because of the way they look then I am prejudice against you. My prejudices are based on behaviors and trust me when I say that I am not proud of the fact that I have many. Do I also have hidden prejudices that are based on race and other markers? I have to admit that I do have things in my brain planted there in my childhood and I fight them constantly to keep them from becoming a part of me.

I heard of a woman who was wonderful throughout her lifetime and worked hard in the civil rights movement. In her old age she became senile and all the words that she had heard as a child came pouring out of her mouth. Her family was in shock because this was not the woman that they had known. I live in fear that something like that might happen to me. I don't want my last days being spent as a mean spirited, evil old woman.

So when anyone speaks of white people or any other group, just remember that we are all diverse in our own way. We have all had lives that make us who we are, and it does not just depend on the color of our skin. Just look at Clarence Thomas. :shrug:

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