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Aug./Sept '20 Antiracism > What is Racism

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message 1: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
In Chapter 2 Oluo sets out to help everyone to understand the scope of racism. She also goes into how we as a society perceive and determine how racist an action of a person can be.

Oluo argues that racism doesn't start with lynching. That like an iceberg, there are more actions that are racist than what white people tend to realize.

Discussion Topics

What did you think about this chapter?
How did your perception of racial issues change after reading it?


message 2: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 220 comments Once again I haven't got my hand on the book but I'd like to paraphrase a black woman friend.

She said, "I disagree with you. Black can be racist as well" she told me that accepting and agreeing with the fact that a white western thing is superior is racist because it sets up a hierarchy, a scale of superiority/inferiority based on culture, ethnicity and so on. She added, some black people agree with that scale. They erase physical part of them, or want to be like the Western norm. This is also racism.

I admit I did not think about that. I'm tempted to say she is right. Indeed there are so many actions that are racist.


message 3: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Sameet Zahoor wrote: "I mean Olou"

Hello Sameet!

You can edit your previous post by clicking on the "edit" in the bottom right corner. This way, you don't need to spam the board with your post corrections.

Thank you,
-Pam


message 4: by Abhishek (new)

Abhishek Abraham (lucifer007) | 12 comments Treatment of someone differently or unfairly because of their skin color, caste, etc. is Racism

"People should not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character" - Martin Luther King


message 5: by Abhishek (new)

Abhishek Abraham (lucifer007) | 12 comments Sameet Zahoor wrote: "That's racism"

yaa


message 6: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Hello Sameet, Abhishek,

Thank you for your comments. But we're not looking for a definition of racism, more of a discussion about how our perspectives about being called a racist may change.

Let me ask you this... can someone who is a person of color be racist?


message 7: by Abhishek (new)

Abhishek Abraham (lucifer007) | 12 comments According to me, racism can be of different forms. Even a person of color may go through a stage where he should fight racism.
Its all based on our willpower to move forward with life other than taking a drastic step.


message 8: by Florian (last edited Sep 01, 2020 10:32PM) (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 220 comments Hello Pam,

to the question can someone who is a person of colour be racist? I would have answer No a few months ago, saying racism was a white thing. But but as I said in another topic, a friend of mine, a black woman, told me that everyone could be racist.
To what I understand, racism is a hierarchy of race, so as along as someone agrees with that this person is racist even if she/he is a person of colour.
I was pretty much convinced after I thought about my friend's words. For example, agreeing with the fact that a specific physical/cultural characteristic is inferior to western standards is racist and it seems some people of colour do that.

Let's take the example of slavery by European in US. Some black people were given some power to rules over other black people and to maintain the structures. Some of them did horrible things to other people of colour and I'm pretty sure that in their mind they felt superior due to the power given to them. Another point regarding slavery is Africans who were bought in villages. The chiefs sold their peers to white in exchange of some goods. I cannot tell about the motivation but the behavior looks racist because they accepted that their people would be slaves.

In my opinion, as long as someone maintains its own power (here I mean through any type of discrimination or oppression) over people of colour due to the current system which is basically the Western norm, then this person is being to some degree racist because the game rules are based on, at least, structural racism.

Of course if someone bring consistent arguments I might change my thoughts.


message 9: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 220 comments An analogy would be Patriarchy, misogyny and so on.
Some women also have Patriarchal behavior. A woman who cracks a joke which turns to be misogynistic. She might not be misogyn underneath but at that specific moment, in that specific context, she is being misogyn because of the jokes she made, because the jokes she made assumes women are inferior to men.
I guess the main point is we are many to be conflicted with racism due to norms. The intensity is different of course but its a constant internal war where we fight the prejudices and the wrong standards that we were taught (and therefore agreed with back in the time) as soon as we were born.

I know I'm being pretty direct. Sorry.


message 10: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Monroy | 1 comments Hi, Pam: can someone who is a person of color be racist. According to this part of the book "I laughed off racist jokes" to be accepted. Page 3. When person of color don't accept your reality and they are not happy with this situation, so they have the same behaviour than white people to be accepted. For me, they are racist in this situation.


message 11: by Agnes Szalkowska (new)

Agnes Szalkowska | 386 comments Well the definition says :
“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
Doesn't say which race. But if we think about superior race it always was white so any race which is in minority can't be racist.
That is general thinking. I personal think in the times which we living now everyone can be racist.
But that is just my point of view.


message 12: by Florian (last edited Sep 02, 2020 10:35PM) (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 220 comments In the definitions I've read, there is also the belief of superiority and inferiority.
Right now, and it has been like that for years, the world is western centered due to power and so on. A quick short cut would be "the norm is the western (white) standard". It sets up, sadly, a scale, some type of rank that involves skin colour.
It is seen in privileges since white people have more privileges than other.
Hate of white people is not racism, it's hate because the person does not benefit from its skin colour while a white person who hates someone else based on the skin colour is racist because in the current system the norm is white.

However, accepting this principle of superiority is accepting the belief that there superior races and inferior races. So in a sense it's racism.

So to sum up what I said, racism, in my opinion, depends on the system and how bigger system impact the one considered.

Not sure if my thoughts are clear.


message 13: by Louise (new)

Louise Blocker | 7 comments In response to the question, what is racism, based on the fact that there is no such thing as a biological race, I define racism as a belief in the sociological construct that categorizes human beings based on their physical and emotional features, leading some to consider themselves superior to others. For like in a race--a competition of speed--each runner who wants to win must think him or herself better than the others.


message 14: by Jiya (new)

Jiya | 2 comments I think racism is the idea that people are being set aside because of things that make them, them, and factors that they can not decide. Some examples can be their skin color, race or other things that make them unique and different. I feel like it is not fair for this to happen to anyone, because they should have the ability and rights to choose their own decisions without others bullying or hating them for it. It injustice and unfair, and we should refrain from doing it while understanding why it is wrong. I personally think it is wrong as it does not let others freely choose and share what they believe in and makes them want to hide who they are. Racism is when you judge people solely on certain decisions and judge them about it. It should not be done, and if we see it being done, we should do something to help the victim be themselves without needing to wear a mask to make them feel accepted and loved, and also make the person understand why what they are doing is wrong, so they can refrain from doing it again, spread the message, and make the world a better place for our generation as well as future generations to live in. If everyone makes a tiny contribution to help solve the worlds problems, one day they will go away.


message 15: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 264 comments as a 'white' american woman living in mexico for 16 years, i encountered racism among mexicans (who are considered people of color by europeans), not only toward me, but toward other races and toward other mexicans according to their skin color.

a mexican friend of mine, during a group outing to the beach, told us his parents would be quite upset if they saw how dark his skin was getting by sitting in the sun.

what i don't understand is why people don't know that we humans simply have skins of varying colors on the spectrum! sure, we have different cultural backgrounds, different traditions, different languages, different countries of origin - diversity among humans - but our skin color was derived from how we as people originated around the world.

those of northern climes needed lighter skin tones to let in more sun, while those nearer the equator needed darker skin tones as protection from the sun. cultures originated from needs and necessities to keep a a group, tribe, community viable, spiritual, and surviving.

survival - isn't that what it's all about? aren't we all just trying to get from day to day? beliefs that are hateful, hurtful, demeaning are shameful, to my mind. i grew up with that, worked hard to overcome it. we could all get along with acceptance, tolerance, and kindness. what went wrong? i'm guessing fear, but that's my own theory.


message 16: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 38 comments I felt that Oluo was speaking of the tendency for humans to put some people into an "other" category, to say that they are not like "us" and so should be treated differently. If we say "Bob is always late" then we've judged and labelled Bob. IF we say "Black people are always late" when Bob, who is black, is always late, we've put Bob into that "other" category and now we're going to assume that everyone in that category is like Bob, and maybe not hire the next Black person who applies for a job, thinking they'll likely always be late as well. If those of us who hear that comment say nothing/don't question those assumptions, we are allowing systemic racism to go unchallenged.

Oluo also points out that sometimes those labels are coded-welfare recipients, residents of a certain neighbourhood, gang members-can all be codes for a racial group if there is also a belief that those groups are mostly made up of non-white people.

What I found to work on going forward was listening for and challenging those codes when they come up.


message 17: by Veronica (new)

Veronica  (shephoenyx) | 9 comments Sandra wrote: "as a 'white' american woman living in mexico for 16 years, i encountered racism among mexicans (who are considered people of color by europeans), not only toward me, but toward other races and towa..." I disagree with more people on this thread than I agree with. As a result, my comment is going to be long, but I will be providing quotes from studies, papers, and essays to back up my statements. I am basing my comment(s) on the framework of intersectional feminism, as the intersection of race and gender is a feminist issue.

First, I believe that the approach that many White people have in taking place within these discussions is fundamentally flawed. We benefit from a system of oppression that is centuries old. When we encounter the side effects of this system being played out – in any way, no matter how minor – against us, we call it racism or, worse, “reverse racism”. This is based on a narrow viewpoint that excludes the big, historical picture. If you live in the continent of North America (Canada, the United States, and Mexico), your life is entrenched in the bloody aftermath of centuries of oppression, including but not limited to: the enslavement of Black and/or African people, the genocide of Native and First Nations people (as a result of a Manifest Destiny philosophy and the unfailing belief in “White Excellence” and Eurocentric exceptionalism), the r*pes (past and ongoing) of Women of Color who are still to this day believed to be “hypersexual” and thus “she wanted it” is still an argument frequently used in courtrooms to free male perpetrators, most of whom are White and/or wealthy, the history of American White women weaponizing their gender and skin color against Black men in order to have them murdered, the historical record of events – many of which were less than 100 years ago – that were swept under the proverbial rug in history educations and deemed “race riots” rather than the violent, murderous, acts of atrocity they were, as we can plainly see in the example of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and, honestly, there are so many more examples that I could fill this first paragraph with pages worth of text, but hopefully you, the reader, gets it by now.

Second, that knee-jerk and childish reactionism, the all-too-common inner monologue of “[person of another race] hurt my feelings and that’s just as bad as centuries of oppression coloring every experience the [person of another race] may have because now I’m sad!”, is completely racist at its core. Even if a White person were to experience “racism” (I’ll get to that, probably), it wouldn’t be equivalent to the racism a Person of Color experiences in a predominantly White society. Why? Look at the historical data. You can’t separate the brutal murders of Black people in the United States today from the history of law enforcement working with the Ku Klux Klan to lynch, abuse, harass, threaten, scare, demean, and terrorize Black Americans. If you attempt to view the two as entirely separate incidents, you are effectively placing blinders over your eyes that block out most of the picture. It’s an ongoing narrative, cutting short the story does no one any favors.

Third, the “color-blind” narrative, in which White people pretend that they “don’t see color” is steeped in centuries of privilege. You may like to think you don’t see color, and maybe you don’t need to; if that’s the case, it’s because of that same system of oppression. It’s because race doesn’t affect you personally on a daily basis that you can conveniently ignore it. It is racist to claim to be “color-blind” in this context.

Finally, for now, and in a similar vein to the “color-blind” argument, is the removal of the historical record when claiming that “skin tones” are merely biological, inherited constructs that are irrelevant to cultural identity. Black Americans (who, by the way, earned that capital B by being considered their own culture that is not only distinct, but has also been cut off from its heritage because people who enslaved their ancestors erased their histories and their legacies, to the point that many of them do not refer to themselves as African-Americans because they have no historical record that states that their ancestors were from Africa, and certainly very little remains citing relations to specific countries within Africa), are considered Black not just for their skin tone, but for what it represents, the baggage it carries, and the repercussions – to this day – of being descended from enslaved people. Most Black people do not believe their skin tone is meaningless or of little consequence, so why do you think you get to decide that? Many of them know that their skin tone literally colors every experience they have in a Eurocentric, White-dominated society such as the one that exists in the United States. They don’t get to feign ignorance, because they’ve seen firsthand the abuse of their family members and friends at the hands of law enforcement or other “well-meaning” White people. If a Black person experiences skin tone in a way that is vastly different from your White experience, don’t you think you should listen to them and find out why that is, rather than enforcing your own racist perceptions?

Racism isn’t just one person judging another for their skin tone and perceived ethnic differences. Sociology has long defined racism as “power + prejudice”, and that’s very important and very relevant. Prejudice alone does not mean that you are living in a racist society, Sandra. History matters. Look at the history – written by Mexican authors – of the wars between Mexico and the United States. Look at how Mexican Americans (whether citizens, naturalized, or migrant) are still treated to this day. Look at how our current president called them “r*pists and criminals” and “bad hombres” (although, to be fair, his accent transformed that statement into “bad ombres”, an entirely different judgment). Read literature and historical works written by those who have that lived cultural experience, the one you are prejudging.

Also, colorism is a very real thing that exists in many different cultures around the world and it’s one that many of you seem to be confusing for racism. The predominant cause of colorism relates to the days of European theft of the lands of other cultures. A good example would be India. In India, it is common practice for dark-skinned Indian women to be encouraged to use skin-bleaching products to lighten their skin. A light skin tone indicates one’s higher social standing and is desirable, especially for women seeking upward mobility through marriage, or who are pushed to seek that by their parents. British domain over India is a direct cause of this. Their stain is still felt on the land and in the people. British rule led to the deaths of millions of Indians. Their living descendants still struggle with the inherited results of malnourishment. They perpetuate ongoing cultural wars (ex. Hindus vs Muslims) as a direct result of Britain’s involvement (read about The Partition that took place less than 100 years ago). When an Indian person demeans another Indian person for the darkness of their skin, that [usually] isn’t racism, it’s colorism. It’s the belief that lighter skin colors denote “better breeding”, are more beautiful and desirable than the varied skin tones that naturally occur in Indian people.

Another thing I want to point out is the internalization of racism and colonialist mentality. Here’s a quote referencing that: “Gloria Anzaldua describes the particular ways that a feminist consciousness is developed by Latina women who many times find themselves struggling to arrive at a positive image of themselves. She explains how an internalization of racism and colonialist mentality has given rise to shame, self-hatred, and abuse of other Latina women in various communities. Self-hatred and the hatred one has towards others like oneself are further ignited by jostling for the limited positions of superiority that are open to women of color. Here is where ethnic and cultural identity begin to be conflated with race and purported biological distinctions. In the early phases of colonialism, European colonizers flexed their powers overtly in order to destroy the fabric, legal codes, cultural systems, mannerisms, language and habits of the colonized under the guise of civilizing the “savage natives.” Slowly, local inhabitants internalized Western values, attitudes, and ways of life, including racialized thinking that resulted in a desire for some Latin Americans to become more white and reject their indigenous cultures. “Like them we try to impose our version of ‘the ways things should be’, we try to impose one’s self on the Other by making her the recipient of one’s negative elements, usually the same elements that the Anglo projected on us” (1995: 143).” This quote was taken from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, from the Feminism and Race in the United States article. I hope that gives you some additional context.

Now, some more historical information and quotes to back up my arguments:
The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred over an 18-hour period, from May 31 to June 1, 1921, in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma (for more information, search for “Black Wall Street”). According to History.com’s main page for the topic, “The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, and one of the least-known: News reports were largely squelched, despite the fact that hundreds of people were killed and thousands left homeless.” Add to that the fact that even children born and raise in Oklahoma, even within Tulsa, had this part of their history purposely removed from their school books, and had been informed - if at all – that what happened was a “race riot” (ie. Black and White people fought equally due to racial conflicts), and that the vast majority of children throughout the United States weren’t taught about the Tulsa Race Massacre at all, and you can begin to see how we have always been fed the “history written by the victors”.


message 18: by Veronica (new)

Veronica  (shephoenyx) | 9 comments Veronica wrote: "Sandra wrote: "as a 'white' american woman living in mexico for 16 years, i encountered racism among mexicans (who are considered people of color by europeans), not only toward me, but toward other..."

This is what really happened: “On May 30, 1921, a young Black teenager named Dick Rowland entered an elevator at the Drexel Building, an office building on South Main Street. At some point after that, the young white elevator operator, Sarah Page, screamed; Rowland fled the scene. The police were called, and the next morning they arrested Rowland. By that time, rumors of what supposedly happened on that elevator had circulated through the city’s white community. A front-page story in the Tulsa Tribune that afternoon reported that police had arrested Rowland for sexually assaulting Page.

As evening fell, an angry white mob was gathering outside the courthouse, demanding the sheriff hand over Rowland. Sheriff Willard McCullough refused, and his men barricaded the top floor to protect the Black teenager. Around 9 p.m., a group of about 25 armed Black men—including many World War I veterans—went to the courthouse to offer help guarding Rowland. After the sheriff turned them away, some of the white mob tried unsuccessfully to break into the National Guard armory nearby.

With rumors still flying of a possible lynching, a group of around 75 armed Black men returned to the courthouse shortly after 10 pm, where they were met by some 1,500 white men, some of whom also carried weapons. After shots were fired and chaos broke out, the outnumbered group of Black men retreated to Greenwood. Over the next several hours, groups of white Tulsans—some of whom were deputized and given weapons by city officials—committed numerous acts of violence against Black people, including shooting an unarmed man in a movie theater.
The false belief that a large-scale insurrection among Black Tulsans was underway, including reinforcements from nearby towns and cities with large African American populations, fueled the growing hysteria. As dawn broke on June 1, thousands of white citizens poured into the Greenwood District, looting and burning homes and businesses over an area of 35 city blocks. Firefighters who arrived to help put out fires later testified that rioters had threatened them with guns and forced them to leave.
According to a later Red Cross estimate, some 1,256 houses were burned; 215 others were looted but not torched. Two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels, stores and many other Black-owned businesses were among the buildings destroyed or damaged by fire. By the time the National Guard arrived and Governor J. B. A. Robertson had declared martial law shortly before noon, the riot had effectively ended. Though guardsmen helped put out fires, they also imprisoned many Black Tulsans, and by June 2 some 6,000 people were under armed guard at the local fairgrounds.”

Now, the aftermath: “In the hours after the Tulsa Race Massacre, all charges against Dick Rowland were dropped. The police concluded that Rowland had most likely stumbled into Page, or stepped on her foot. Kept safely under guard in the jail during the riot, he left Tulsa the next morning and reportedly never returned.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 36 dead. A 2001 state commission examination of events was able to confirm 36 dead, 26 Black and 10 white. However, historians estimate the death toll may have been as high as 300.
Even by low estimates, the Tulsa Race Massacre stood as one of the deadliest riots in U.S. history, behind only the New York Draft Riots of 1863, which killed at least 119 people.

In the years to come, as Black Tulsans worked to rebuild their ruined homes and businesses, segregation in the city only increased, and Oklahoma’s newly established branch of the KKK grew in strength.

For decades, there were no public ceremonies, memorials for the dead or any efforts to commemorate the events of May 31-June 1, 1921. Instead, there was a deliberate effort to cover them up. The Tulsa Tribune removed the front-page story of May 31 that sparked the chaos from its bound volumes, and scholars later discovered that police and state militia archives about the riot were missing as well. As a result, until recently the Tulsa Race Massacre was rarely mentioned in history books, taught in schools or even talked about.

Scholars began to delve deeper into the story of the riot in the 1970s, after its 50th anniversary had passed. In 1996, on the riot’s 75th anniversary, a service was held at the Mount Zion Baptist Church, which rioters had burned to the ground, and a memorial was placed in front of Greenwood Cultural Center. In 2001, the report of the Race Riot Commission concluded that between 100 and 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 people made homeless over those 18 hours in 1921.”

It wasn’t until 2018 that the 1921 Race Riot Commission was officially (and properly) renamed the 1921 Race Massacre Commission. How anyone can say this isn’t relevant today, right now, when it is still so impactful, when until 2018, they were referring to a wide-scale massacre as a “riot”, when the survivors and descendants were swept under the rug and forgotten, intentionally, is beyond me, beyond rational analysis. There is no excuse or motivation beyond systemic racism.

And, I have a lot more to say on this. History has a lot more to say about this. Black authors have a lot more to say about this. But, for now, I have to take a break and deal with real-life tasks.


message 19: by Ana (new)

Ana (anaciremavi) | 3 comments I'm a white woman, and my perception of racial issues has been shaped mostly through the framework of power and identity I learned from gender studies and feminism. I find it frustrating when I hear other white people talking about racism as if it's just a matter of personal prejudice. Oluo's definition of racism as "racial prejudice backed by systems of power," helps explain systemic racism to people who would try to give equal weight to the prejudice a white person might experience from a person of color, which might hurt the white person's feelings but doesn't significantly impact their life since it's not supported by a larger system that threatens their health and safety.

I'm doubtful though about how well this explanation will work for some white people who are convinced that systems of power are actually oppressing them rather than people of color. It doesn't matter how much history you teach them; they will acknowledge that other races have been mistreated in the past but then assert that the actions society has taken to address this have gone too far and are now harming white people. We live in a society where evidence of continued racial inequities is routinely dismissed or attributed to personal choices rather than racism, and white men claim they are actually the ones being oppressed now because of things like affirmative action and cancel culture. How do we discuss systemic racism if we can't agree on which group is benefiting or being harmed by the system?


message 20: by Veronica (new)

Veronica  (shephoenyx) | 9 comments Ana wrote: "I'm a white woman, and my perception of racial issues has been shaped mostly through the framework of power and identity I learned from gender studies and feminism. I find it frustrating when I hea..."

Thank you, Ana, for a very thoughtful response.

I found an article a few years ago titled Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person (I believe it can only be found on The Huffington Post now). I don't know if anyone who would have most benefited from it ever read it, but it helped me conceptualize the other side's perspective a bit more. I mean, I grew up poor and often feeling like I needed to steal, lie, or cheat my way into things to get what I wanted. But racism was never a topic of which I was uninformed. My first "boyfriend" (if Kindergarten counts) was a gentle, sweet, and adorable Black child. (He grew into a gentle, sweet, and gorgeous Black man + he speaks on these topics way more coherently than I think I can.) My father was ridiculously racist and it always hurt me to the core, but I don't think I realized how serious it was until my mom convinced me to not see B to protect him from my father's [white] fury. I knew he was angry, bitter, and controlling. I just didn't know yet how murderous his wrath was. No matter how broke I was, I always knew there was more than one lived experience in the US, and that many people who were different from me lived much harder lives than me, on account of what they looked like.

It's a great deal more nuanced than all that, and honestly, I don't even know how much sense I'm making right now, but I know that envisioning the US in terms of a kyriarchy helps me tremendously. Lots of people are oppressed in different, often intersecting ways. It is important that we recognize the burden our oligarchy places on all people of lower- to middle-class. It's important to recognize racial disparity. It's important to recognize sexism and gender discrimination. It's important to recognize ableism, and colorism, and bigotry.

I think that could be a way in with some of these folks; an empathetic, "I know you suffer, too. Tell me about your burdens. Then let me tell you how you share similarities - and differences - with people of color throughout these not-so-united states." Something like that. I still haven't really figured out how to put bridging that gap into practice, but then again, I've never been very extroverted and COVID-19 has certainly reduced any desire I had to be social. I need to practice more on my hubby's family, but I also need a lot more patience before I can tackle that whole mess responsibly.

I may be prone to fits of unearned optimism, but I believe there is a [at least one!] path we can take to heal as a nation. Yes, I know, idealistic, childish, even. But what if we took a second to try to uplift each other instead of jumping to anger first? (No, I don't think POC should be responsible for White folx's feelings. I don't think they should feel like they're walking on eggshells around them and I don't think they should unfairly carry this burden alone. So, when I say this, I'm primarily talking to White folx who can talk to other White folx about this, especially in situations where we might be accustomed to rushing to anger.) What if we could use our privilege for good? Carry some of that burden?
What if we ground our teeth and listened to our racist old neighbor complain about the Latinx service workers, before coming up with a thoughtful response? What if we listened, gave them space to expose the why behind their racism/prejudices, and that space gave us the time we needed to formulate a thoughtful answer that might, just maybe, change somebody's mind, or, at the very least, make them see things from a slightly different perspective? At least then we can save ourselves from the toxicity of anger, see the humanity in other people, and if they're not worth it at all, then at least we know that now, too.

I'm definitely not in the "Biden is our savior" camp, but I honestly think we each have a chance here to do the right thing, for our souls and the soul of our Nation. I think he will 'do the right thing' much more frequently and for much better reasons than the other option. I'm not a fan of fellow progressives who bemoan "choosing the lesser of two evils". One of those choices is actual evil. One is just "meh". It's a false equivalency and an unfair comparison. There are decent criticisms to be made of both Biden and Kamala's past decisions. But they won't improve unless we give them a chance to, unless we fill out those annoying surveys and tell them what we think they can do better. And we could all do better. And we need to.

I've thought a lot today about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing. I've cried a lot today, too. I read that she didn't want to retire during Obama's term, saying that she planned to stay "as long as I can do the job full steam," sometimes adding, "There will be a president after this one, and I'm hopeful that president will be a fine president." She may not have been right about that one, but I'm hopeful that the next president after this one will be a fine president, and a decent, humble, person. I'm always torn between wanting to abandon hope and grasp it even tighter. I hope that hope will win. I hope I'm right. I hope we can put aside our differences to elect the right person for the job. And if we can't? Will her work have been worth it if she's replaced by someone who reverses her decisions? I don't want to find out.

Anyway, thanks again for your reply. I hope I didn't completely bore you with my rambling. <3


message 21: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 220 comments Ana wrote: "We live in a society where evidence of continued racial inequities is routinely dismissed or attributed to personal choices rather than racism, and white men claim they are actually the ones being oppressed now because of things like affirmative action and cancel culture"

I might be wrong, this seems to describe what we call white fragility . Whites, men or women, who feel "oppressed" and don't want to hear about racism and privileges because it makes them uncomfortable and ashamed.


message 22: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 264 comments wow! i'm sorry if i offended anyone or spoke out of turn.

i was raised to be racist, worked very hard to get rid of it, altho it's in my genes, so parts can't be erased. still, i live my life as un-racist as possible. for example, it wasn't until i met and interacted with Mexican people that i discovered they weren't all 'dirty and lazy', which is what i'd learned. Some of the best people i've ever met.

i agree racism is about beliefs about and power over one race by another. i believe in BLM, have raised my fist in solidarity. i only cited my experience in Mexico as a pale comparison as to what people of color go thru every day all their lives. and, if i felt angry at being categorized because of my skin color there, i can't imagine the anger people of color must be feeling after generations of racism.

i know about white privilege, just as i know that as a woman i feel fear of being attacked/raped when i step outside my house in ways that men just don't think about. POC feel similar fear that we whites don't for a different reason..

as a trauma therapist, i just read a huge discussion on a forum i belong to about providing trauma relief to police because of what's been going on across the U.S. w/ protests, demonstrations, etc. the discussion got heated, several therapists of color weighed in w/ their own racist-experience stories, several quit the forum as being unsafe now.

somehow the message got twisted that, as clinicians, we pledge to provide help to whomever may be traumatized. i learned about generational slave trauma during this discussion, something i was ignorant about, but now that i've heard of it, it makes total sense to me.

i think it was an important discussion, awareness raising, and an opportunity to share thoughts and beliefs. i can never know what people of color experience in this country, but i can understand their trauma is in their DNA, and probably can never be resolved. it breaks my heart that i can't do anything to help with that.


message 23: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 220 comments @Sandra, I don't think you offended someone. Veronica disagrees with you and tried to explain why she was not in agreement.
I'm thinking we are loosing a lot of non verbal information. 😉

I admit that I tend to agree with Veronica regarding color-blindness. Same, I don' t think someone who is not white could be racist to a white person. Veronica explained why.

We are here to listen to each other to evolve and reassess ourselves, right?


message 24: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 264 comments thanks for the clarity, florian. much appreciated.

and, i agree, self-assessment and evolution are 2 very good things we can get from these discussions. i appreciate them.


message 25: by Veronica (new)

Veronica  (shephoenyx) | 9 comments Sandra wrote: "wow! i'm sorry if i offended anyone or spoke out of turn.

i was raised to be racist, worked very hard to get rid of it, altho it's in my genes, so parts can't be erased. still, i live my life as ..."


I wasn't offended Sandra, and thank you for going deeper and providing more personal context, I really appreciate that. I also appreciate your point of view and experiences. And I definitely think it can be hard for White folx to conceptualize the experiences of Black folx in the United States, and even if I thought your comparison of life in Mexico was misguided, I appreciate that you made that leap and tried to understand the struggles of POC.

And thank you @Florian for your contributions and everything. Reassessing ourselves - called "self-crit" in some communities - is so incredibly important. I think it's the mark of a more 'evolved' intellect, and that it's a crucial piece of humanity that's absent in most conservative individuals. If we don't learn, accept change, listen to other people's experiences and grow based on those and new data, what are we even doing here [here used to connote both this online space as well as life in general].

I think there's an interesting question that arises when it comes to a White person being/feeling like they are oppressed in a country or geographic region in which they are the minority. I don't think I've read anything that really addresses that, so I'll have to look it up later, but I believe there might be situations where - if, for example, the entire police force, elected officials, and general populace are of a different, non-white race - a White person might feel some form of oppression, but I would not categorize it as racism, at least not the kind of racism we see directed towards people who are not white in western countries, especially in the US. In fact, when you compare the two different types, that pre-supposed prejudice towards White people and the insidious racism that people of color face in the US, one might even find it possible to empathize with those who are prejudiced against White people, because our heritage proceeds us. What I mean by that is that most White people can trace our lineages back to European countries, like, for example Great Britain/England. English imperialism, colonization, and violent dominance over other countries on every inhabited continent has taken a real, lasting toll on those other cultures. Many have just recently gained independence. In the case of India, look no farther than the oft-glossed over Partition to see how even when England left a place, they tore rifts that were nearly impossible to heal. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... Millions of people died as a direct result of the chasm England created in India, and most schools in the US don't even teach it, as though it's somehow not relevant. If I were raised in India, as my father-in-law was, there's no doubt in my mind that I'd be prejudiced against White people, because they look like and are indirect descendants of the people who invaded and nearly destroyed my home. I believe that is an entirely logical progression of prejudice. (Now, I do not believe that's applicable in the "Black men scare me" centuries-old rhetoric of White women, and I believe that has a very different root cause than the example of India.)

Sorry, I'm rambling now. I think I have one more thing to share, though.

I'd like to point out that I'm trying to train myself to capitalize the 'W' in 'white' after watching a video by Nell Irvin Painter, author, expert, and Black woman. It's available here https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio... I think she makes a very good argument for why everyone's race should be capitalized, (ex: Black, Brown, and White [which I realize does not encompass all people, as it completely leaves out East Asian identities and I can't think of a workaround for that]), as she discusses why many White people possess an aversion to claiming a "white identity" (racist past, not wanting to be perceived as racist, white fragility, and because they want to sound more unique ("Irish" vs white). She dives into that and I think everyone - especially White people - should watch it.

Thank you everyone for this enlightening conversation.


message 26: by Ana (new)

Ana (anaciremavi) | 3 comments Veronica wrote: "I'd like to point out that I'm trying to train myself to capitalize the 'W' in 'white' after watching a video by Nell Irvin Painter, author, expert, and Black woman. It's available here https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio..."

Thanks for sharing this and making me aware of the capital W. That video is very enlightening as it hits on why I used to assume it would be disrespectful for me as a White person to claim I had a racial identity, and it clarifies why it's actually harmful to avoid that identity. The first time I even thought about this was when I read Robin DiAngelo's book White FragilityWhite Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism and learned about Whiteness Studies, which I was very skeptical of at first since the attempt to draw attention to White identity is something I previously only saw White supremacists doing. But we need to examine this identity in order to examine White privilege.


message 27: by Veronica (new)

Veronica  (shephoenyx) | 9 comments Ana wrote: "Veronica wrote: "I'd like to point out that I'm trying to train myself to capitalize the 'W' in 'white' after watching a video by Nell Irvin Painter, author, expert, and Black woman. It's available..."

I totally get that, Ana. I used to cringe when I saw W capitalized, too. Heck, I often do still. I saw an article today on (I think) CNN that capitalized White and I was impressed, but simultaneously off-put because my knee-jerk reaction to seeing that is to think "ugh, they think white is 'better' ". I really need to work on that whole knee-jerk thing. Preventing that kind of response - even if it's a struggle, maybe especially then - is part of what makes those of us so-called liberals superior. (Not in the supremacist sense, but in the 'we actually try to improve our weaknesses through learning and being compassionate, empathetic, and by listening, therefore we are innately 'better than' the opposition.) I always get SO frustrated when I see, in "liberal" spaces on FB and such, members/fans resorting to one-liners and memes, without any knowledge and without listening to any criticism, no matter who directs it or how thoughtful it is. I think Biden's ability to listen and learn, knowing that he's a flawed individual, is one of his best qualities. He knows that he doesn't know everything, and he (generally) listens when called out on that. That simple trait is so refreshing to see in Trump-era America. I also only accept the capitalization of W when B is also capitalized (otherwise, ew). I haven't read that book by DiAngelo, but I will add it to my 'want to read' list if it's not on there, yet. I definitely recognize white fragility and try to call it out when I see it, but it's especially challenging with those whom I have the best chance to influence (family).

I've been studying (self-guided) racism, feminism, and most other sociological issues for almost 10 years. It's a journey. I don't think White people can ever fully divest themselves of racism, if only because we will continue to benefit from it as long as it's an issue, but I think it's incredibly important to try.

Just a note: I, personally, wouldn't capitalize the W in "white supremacists". I think that's because the two words constitute the identity, not the one. In other words, the 'white' in the term isn't used to connote racial identity, so much as a perspective that "whiteness reigns supreme" (etc etc etc) and all that nonsense. I think it should definitely be capitalized when it's regarding a person or a group of people, and used as an adjective to describe their identity, but not when used in this context, as one half of a descriptive term/identity (ie. white supremacy and white fragility). I hope that makes sense.

Thanks again for another thoughtful comment.


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