Talking about race with white people

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Actually this song says it all about vacationing in the Caribbean.  Not much has changed in peoples attitudes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGxL2uNr7bk

lagatta

Calipsonian Lord Invader's much harsher and more pointed version is far superior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMWUF3LYd88

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2002/jan/26/guardianobituaries

6079_Smith_W

The one time I took one of those flights to Cuba (it was a family gathering) we were advised to bring things like clothes and pencils. I took a box of hand-crank flashlights, and we asked around to find out who could best use them. Maybe it was of some use, maybe not, and if I was wrong I don't mind being a fool for the mistake.I certainly didn't feel like a hero for doing it; it was just some extra room in our bags.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I posted the Andrew Sisters because it represents the sentiments of the white folks going on vacation to gated beaches far more than the various progressive versions.  You are totally right that the version you posted is way better.

lagatta

Oh yes, it is still the same ... even in Cuba. The Andrews Sisters version sugar-coats the story.

Here is another great one by Lord Pretender, "Human Race". Nowadays, we'd call it rather heteronormative, but that wasn't the point:

http://guanaguanaresingsat.blogspot.ca/2011/02/human-race-song.html

 

6079_Smith_W

Yes, SJ mentioned Cuba too, so I didn't think my destination was in any way special. I don't see it as any different than me transporting things to a developed country that are hard to find there. And I know I have asked enough times for people to bring things here that I can't get.

Now if someone is under the impression that they are saving the world with a bar of soap, I'd agree they might be a bit deluded.

 

 

lagatta

In terms of travelling to Cuba, yes, you should be taking toiletteries and parapharmaceuticals, simply because there are severe shortages because of the embargo. But not as an alternative to leaving a tip, if that is the custom there (I don't know, think so?)

6079_Smith_W

@ lagatta

Yes, I agree that would be crass, which is why I mentioned that we asked around, and gave things to people personally outside of the work relationship. Sorry for dancing around that point; it was on my mind too.

And again, if I am a fool for doing that, then I am content to be one.

I guess what I am saying is that if one is doing this in a practical way (and really, many of us do this at home too) rather than a prideful way, I don't see a problem with it. But I agree that a lot of people do it in a shameful and cheap way.

Slumberjack

The Invention of the White Race

Quote:
The key to understanding racial oppression, Allen argues, is in the formation of the intermediate social control buffer stratum, which serves the interests of the ruling class. In the case of racial oppression in Virginia, any persons of discernible non-European ancestry after Bacon’s Rebellion were denied a role in the social control buffer group, the bulk of which was made up of laboring-class “whites.” In the Anglo-Caribbean, by contrast, under a similar Anglo- ruling elite, “mulattos” were included in the social control stratum and were promoted into middle-class status. For Allen, this was the key to understanding the difference between Virginia’s ruling-class policy of  “fixing a perpetual brand” on African-Americans, and the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status “colored” descendant and other Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime. This difference, between racial oppression and national oppression, was rooted in a number of social control-related factors, one of the most important of which was that in the West Indies there were “too few” poor and laboring-class Europeans to embody an adequate petit bourgeoisie, while in the continental colonies there were ‘’too many’’ to be accommodated in the ranks of that class.

Quote:
When he completed Volume II sixteen years ago, the 78-years-old Allen, in words that resonate today, ended by describing “unmistakable signs of maturing social conflict” between “the common people” and “the Titans.”

NorthReport

The first rule of blackface: It’s not hard to understand, everyone...is don't wear blackface.

The end.

Now why is that so hard for some people to remember?

 

MegB

Because, for some people, willful ignorance is a way of life.

shartal@rogers.com

As a white immigrant to Canada racism is a difficult question to talk about. I am by definition from somewhere else. Most people around the world come from historical families that took land way from someone by force.The variance of the misery of the descendents of the dispossessed seems to be a product of a number of factors including how long ago it happened, how miserably the conquered were treated, how many remained alive and the degrees of distain towards the dispossessed by the conquerers. Todays Canada is rooted in colonialism. French and English colonial settlers came to Canada took possession of the land and essentially expelled the peoples they found inhabited the land they took. On top of those levels of privilege or those that arise ;from the overall denigration of individuals by skin colour and nationality that is embedded in many cultures but in this case in European cultures and their derivatives like Canada.

As Canadian capitalism developed some individuals, extended families and categories of people became richer and more powerful than others. The 1st nations peoples were de-individualized as specific conquered nations and became marginalized, denigrated and, at best, demoralized and poor while at worst dead. Different groups of immigrants of colour were treated differently at different points in history. Jews and Italians start their lives in Canada as dark people and end up white. Overall Sikh immigrants have been treated better than Jamaican immigrants. White Canadians attitudes and behaviors towards immigrants from Asia vary by historical period, number of immigrants, and location. Moreover the attitude towards all immigrants vary by how much money they bring.

Notwithstanding the basic factual basis of everything written above the real question is what happens today to real people and what, if anything, do White Canadian leftists do about racism in Canada. Racism is about more than what people think. It is about who gets the job, who rents the apartment, who is questioned by police, who was stopped by security etc. In addition most white Canadians ignore that our society is deeply segregated. As a result most of our schools are deeply segregated, our social networks are deeply segregated and access to the riches of Canadian society is also segregated by race; even with in class. For me question becomes what should I do?

shartal@rogers.com

With great respect that isn't what the post says. It says Canada is a colonized country, a racist country and what should we do about it. Recognizing historical fact is not action. Acknowledging historial fact is important but it is not enough. Too often leftist seem to think that acknoledgement of evil leads people to act. The question is what do activists actually do. 

shartal@rogers.com

For the record as to my own family history, I was born in transit in Ann Arbor and grew up in a number of countries. My mother's family come to the United States in 1603.   there are 2 major  historical lines, one that came to Long Island because of religious persecution in Norfolk and the other came because they were poor.  my father's family are Jews who came from Lithuania and everyone outside of North America is dead.  might earliest Canadian family is around 1730 in New Brunswick. When I was 16 I went to join my grandfather in Israel. When I was 17 I was drafted and refused to serve in the territories. I spent  a year in prison until the Army released me. Eventually I joined the Israeli Communist Party. I  came to Canada in 1984/5  after I married someone with Canadian citizenship who wanted to live in Toronto.   Living in Toronto  required me to reevaluate my Israeli  citizenship.  I concluded that regardless of what ever political work I did in Israel, how many times I stood in front of the Army, the police or bull dozers,  I could not remain in Israel because my  existence as an Israeli  objectively buttressed the Zionist enterprise.I still believe this to be true.  I suppose I am best described as a historical accident. I live in Toronto and I try to be useful in the political struggles around me. My primary political  work is focused on trying to oppopse state action in relationship to poor people who live with  mental health and addictions  related impairments.

6079_Smith_W

I winced when I read it too, because isolated from the rest of the post it does sound like the "we're all victims and it's all relative" line.

In reality though, it reminds me that some people have terribly short memories, and should know better.

After all, our dominant culture includes a lot of people who, just 100 years ago, weren't considered white at all, and had the same slurs and attacks thrown at them as we now hear about First Nations and immigrant people.

Now that they are top of the social pile, many seem to have forgotten all that. That's how it is here in the prairies, anyway.

I can't dance around that one though. Most of my family - the early ones anyway - came here as killers.

 

 

 

shartal@rogers.com

I posted this piece because specifically because I was fed up with  the lack of discussion of what  activists do.  In my humble opinion many white activists seem to find it easier to argue about whether Canada is a colonial or postcolonial society than it is for them to acknowledge that Toronto is a racially segregated city. Further I often find that it is easier to mobilize people on the issues of international solidarity than it is to mobilize people on racism in Toronto.  it's like the elephant in the room, rarely talked about, rarely focus for political action. We have racially segregated schools in Toronto in which in poor  residential neighborhoods in which nearly 100% of residents are people of colour we have over 60% dropout rates. I am poor people's lawyer. When I go into every court in Toronto the overwhelming majority of people in custody are young black men. Immigration is often very hard to do. Immigrants are often the among the most  assertive of a poor population because leaving home and going to any strange place is often difficult.  Canada's racism becomes reflected in the profoundly differential experience of white versus  everyone else's post immigration experience.  The observation that  a significant proportion of the children and grandchildren  of immigrants of colour are disproportunatly  incarcerated and marginalized  is a profound expression of Canadian racism. Overall many activist don't seem to be able to talk to coworkers or neighbors about racism nor do most of us ever acknowledge deeply racist our lives are. 

onlinediscountanvils

quizzical wrote:
anyway i'm done with this thread.

That's probably for the best if you're not interested in what people are actually saying.

MegB

I'm struggling to see what is objectionable about what Shantal has posted. Seeking enlightenment.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

shartal@rogers.com wrote:

 Canada's racism becomes reflected in the profoundly differential experience of white versus  everyone else's post immigration experience.  The observation that  a significant proportion of the children and grandchildren  of immigrants of colour are disproportunatly  incarcerated and marginalized  is a profound expression of Canadian racism.

This struck me as problematic. In fact in Canada our FN's are far more over represented in jails and are far more marginalized than any of us settlers. Perspective is everything and I can see why this would rub a FN's person the wrong way.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Quote:

The correctional investigator pointed to what he called "alarming" statistics.

"There are just over 3,400 aboriginal men and women making up 23 per cent of the country's federal prison inmate population," Sapers said.

"In other words, while aboriginal people in Canada comprise just four per cent of the population, in federal prisons nearly one in four is Métis, Inuit, or First Nations."

Sapers found almost 40 per cent increase in the aboriginal incarcerated population between 2001-02 and 2010-11.

Additionally, aboriginal inmates are sentenced to longer terms, and spend more time in segregation and maximum security. They are less likely to be granted parole and are more likely to have parole revoked for minor problems.

"If I were releasing a report card on aboriginal corrections today, it would be filled with failing grades," Sapers said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/aboriginal-corrections-report-finds-syst...

shartal@rogers.com

This is another aspect of Canadian racism. However that does not diminish the staggeringly different post immigration experience we also see in places like Toronto. Most post wwII immigrants came to Toronto with comparable levels of poverty but second and third generation Torontonian residents of colour are overwhelming more policed, incarcerated and marginalized. The majority of Torontonians are immigrants and at least half are people of colour. In this city poverty is not colour blind. Close to 15% of the City's population of 3 plus million residents are African Canadians. This thread is not a discussion about who is more oppressed.It is about how white activists talk about racism.

The systemic misery inflicted on 1st nation peoples is unique in Canadian history assize land theft, attempts at forced assimilation, stolen children etc. This also makes the experience of 21st century 1st nations unique in Canada. At the same time the unwillingness of activists in Canada's largest city to acknowledge the debth of our systemic segregation is enraging.

6079_Smith_W

kropotkin1951 wrote:

This struck me as problematic. In fact in Canada our FN's are far more over represented in jails and are far more marginalized than any of us settlers. Perspective is everything and I can see why this would rub a FN's person the wrong way.

Though it's hardly incorrect to say that a person of colour - any colour - is going to attract more negative attention than white folk. If this reference to immigrants errs because it doesn't include the greater discrimination against Native people (or for that matter, any non immigrant POC), it is certainly correct in pointing out how we white people have an inordinately easy ride.

Intent, k. Intent.

 

 

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

shartal@rogers.com wrote:

At the same time the unwillingness of activists in Canada's largest city to acknowledge the debth of our systemic segregation is enraging.

Maybe you need to read more and get to know different activists and then you could help them instead of disparaging all with that wide brush you are holdding.

Here is a piece from ten years ago.

http://www.ccsd.ca/perception/244/racism.htm

Here is something from 5 years ago.

http://www.hcci.ca/hcci1/images/hamilton/geg_section_15_implications_of_...

Some activists have been talking about the problem and trying to find solutions for a very long time. Of course as in all problens the activists from the affected communities must take the lead.

Quote:

We are a coalition that includes community and non-profit groups, faith groups, health organizations, First Nations and Aboriginal organizations, businesses, labour organizations, and social policy groups. We have come together around a campaign aimed at seeing the introduction of a bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan from the government of British Columbia that would include legislated targets and timelines to significantly reduce poverty and homelessness. We seek to improve the health and wellbeing of all British Columbians. We have 35 Coalition Members and over 375 supporting organizations that have joined the call for a poverty reduction plan.

http://bcpovertyreduction.ca/

 

shartal@rogers.com

Read the posts...your posts are from BC... My post refered to Toronto. Our nearly complete silence in what we see in Toronto is astonishing. In Canada's largest city means Toronto. Toronto is Canada's largest city.

onlinediscountanvils

quizzical wrote:
tks for dropping in and telling me i'm not behaving or thinking the way i should be!!!!!

No, just speaking up in defence of a rock-solid ally whose real-world work for social justice I'm sure vastly outweighs most keyboard warriors on here, yet for some reason, many babblers seem to take great sport in twisting her words and treating her as a human piñata.

But, hey, you don't like being called on it. I get it. Pile on to your heart's content.

MegB

quizzical wrote:

Rebecca West wrote:
I'm struggling to see what is objectionable about what Shantal has posted. Seeking enlightenment.

did i stutter in post #63 or something? guess so.....will repeat.

if 'allies' understood or at least tried to understand how many times white people in Canada say variations of "everyone on earth has been overrun and colonized throughout history what makes you Indians think your so special...get over it and assimulate?" to FN's and stopped doing it yourselves you'd be a better ally.

we're supposed to be good little Indians or we get smacked down. this thread's a gr8 poster for how it works with some of our 'allies'.

kropotkin made some other good observations too!

>

No, I read both posts carefully, and am looking for a perspective I'm missing.

quizzical

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6079_Smith_W

ffwd blog: Calgary gig cancelled then moved over musician's plan to perform in blackface.

http://www.ffwdweekly.com/calgary-blogs/culture/2013/11/20/dont-go-see-t...

 

onlinediscountanvils

shartal@rogers.com wrote:
I often find that it is easier to mobilize people on the issues of international solidarity than it is to mobilize people on racism in Toronto.  it's like the elephant in the room, rarely talked about, rarely focus for political action. We have racially segregated schools in Toronto in which in poor  residential neighborhoods in which nearly 100% of residents are people of colour we have over 60% dropout rates.

shartal@rogers.com wrote:
For me question becomes what should I do?

 

Chris Ramsaroop answers this question brilliantly.

NOW: [url=http://nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=195574]Ford on his own turf[/url]

Chris Ramsaroop wrote:
We can be armchair critics of the Fordist influence at City Hall or we can get to the tough and thankless work of organizing cross-racial and -neighbourhood alliances to transform our city.

A recent report by Access Alliance, Working Rough, Living Poor, highlights the employment and income insecurities experienced by racialized neighbourhoods in the Black Creek area (an apparent Ford Nation stronghold).

It found that locals lack adequate resources and programming and experience place-based racism. There are no resources available to counter their lived experience of discrimination, and participants expressed frustration at the lack of accreditation hindering their access to dignified work. The report notes that poverty and precariousness have adverse impacts on health.

Chris Ramsaroop wrote:
If we’re to succeed in bringing about change, we need to end our preoccupation with Ford, build strength within impoverished communities and forge multiracial understandings. Downtowners need to stop denigrating the suburbs and show up at community meetings there. And they need to apply an equity lens to all their grassroots campaigns.

This is not about winning an election or throwing the Fords out of office. Most people don’t vote. It’s not that they don’t care about improving their well-being. They want to see concrete next steps.

Sean in Ottawa

People used to tell me that racism was based on fear. I used to accept that because I heard it so much. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it isn't that at all. Seems to me the most racist people have the most power and the least reason to feel afraid. We just humanize racists in a way to feel sorry for them give them the chance to have some cover, some excuse. Maybe there should be no excuse. I think it is about greed not fear. This has been underlined to me constantly as I have what seems to be a daily argument with a racist on twitter (I write a lot about my desire for justice for Aboriginal people as I think injustice for Aboriginal peoples is the greatest crisis facing Canada today).

So if we presume that it is not based on fear but on greed we get a better idea of what the stakes actually are. The fear part is simply that if we acknowledge equality there will not be enough going around to have all that we have now.

And greed is a big deal. White people individually want to believe they have worked for and earned what ever they have. (For Christians it is the central myth) Who doesn't want to feel deserving? It is disturbing to realize that that others have worked as hard or harder and have less. It means some of what we have ought to be shared better. If you have an unearned benefit that someone else does not have, there is no moral argument to keep the advantage. It becomes easier to presume that the people who have less or have disadvantages are less deserving. This is the defence (excuse) for controlling more of the national or world resources than is your share. Racism is a crafted excuse to have more than you should at the cost of someone else.

The sad truth for most white North Americans is that for the work they do and the value they bring and the number they are they have far more of the world's resources and wealth than they should. The deck is stacked. But everybody seems hooked on what they have and can't imagine having less. General social economic inequality coupled with out-of-control consumerism only makes it worse. Middle income people know they have more than their fair share but can't imagine having less and concoct reasons to justify it. We are driven to consume so much that we feel poor even when we are wealthier than most others in the world. When white people see successful people of colour it often doesn't make it any better. They feel that the perosn has only made it because they took something that white person felt was theirs (they articulate that as "our jobs" at times). I have had the cicrular argument with racists that don't want people of colour to take "their jobs" or to not take their jobs and take the wealth through some other means. These racists are objecting to the existence of the person becuase either way their is an obligation to share even if that is not met.

One good question: is racism directed at people because they have less and we object to equality which would mean sharing, or do they have less because of the effects of racism? I wondered about this and found I could make arguments for both sides of it. I have come to think it is a vicious circle.

The greed argument also explains the usual memes you get from the most strident racists: they want something the racist presumes to be his or hers. Invariably they talk about being cheated out of whatever resources would be required to great greater equality and fairness. The (false) argument that Aboriginal people get more than others from government or immigrants get more than Canadians is based on this. It is the reason for that great lie. In theory they are not racist, so they think, everybody should have freedom they say. A fair shake. But then when it comes to specific programs needing to be supported by taxes, resource sharing (which is at the heart of so much injustice in Canada) then they get angry and make up some reason - racist reason - why equality or justice should not apply. Or they simply pretend that justice has been provided and the person is poorer only due to their own fault.

I say all this to put out there that if the foundation of racism is greed not fear then it comes down to asking for fairness from someone who has more than you and is trying to come up with a narrative to excuse the injustice and support the unfairness. No wonder it is so hard. There is limited wealth, limited resources and the people who have the most need to realize that for everybody to be treated fairly many need to have less. But they hide within a racially defined hierarchy of advantage. The advantage becomes all consuming as they try to defend it. Once this racially defined hierarchy of advantage is present those who have the advantage benefit (even if they don't accept the idea that it is fair). While hardly comparable in effects, denial of environmental degradation comes from the same place – greed.

It is true the response sounds like guilt by association but in that there is actually some fairness. The reason is that if you cannot opt out of the advantages the socially constructed racial definition gives you, then it is unreasonable to have those advantages without wearing at least some of the resentment coming from the injustice. There is no answer to this except to say it is a small price to pay to have advantage all life long just because of a social construct. There is no need to feel sorry for white advantaged people having to face the fact that we have not earned all that we enjoy and that in a world of limits fairness would mean we would have less.

Fighting racism, speaking truth (as each of us sees it) is an obligation – it is not all consuming – we get to enjoy the fruits that are disproportionately given us even as we proclaim that it is wrong (no wonder there is so much resentment against white guilt. All we need to do is whatever we can not to endorse, support or tolerate the unjust construction even though we know that our fight against it – individual as it is – won't succeed to the point where we don't have advantage. But it might make a difference and we might be able to participate in being human through rejecting as much of it as possible. And when we are fighting some particularly racist person, in part with the strengths helped by the benefits of racism that we have scored for ourselves we don't get hurt the way the target of the racism does. Important to remember that. The stuff that gets me so mad is not directed at me most of the time and has less effect on me. I can only imagine what it could be to be the target. Since I am not a person of colour, I am not female and am not gay. I have never had to personally face any of this. All I can do is imagine in whatever inadequate way what that must be like.

As for the whole idea of talking to white people about racism. I am just glad that those who suffer from racism are willing to talk to me at all about that. Nobody owes me that conversation and so I am grateful to be allowed to be a part of it in a place like this. I am writing my response appreciating all the efforts from those who endure racism to engage and educate.

Anyway – sorry if this is too long. Hope at least some of it is interesting enough

6079_Smith_W

I don't know what to say about this. I don't do yoga. Maybe she should have welcomed her, asked her how she was doing and gone for tea instead of going home bawling.

http://gawker.com/black-person-in-yoga-class-causes-profound-moral-crisi...

Having the lint picked out of my laundry by the entire world like this is why I don't blog.

"Happened to Me" is an appropriately telling title, though.

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yeah, that yoga piece was off the hook.

6079_Smith_W

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26134784

"Berates" is rather strong. it was good-natured, considering how well-deserved it was.

Bacchus

Catchfire wrote:

Yeah, that yoga piece was off the hook.

 

"I made up something in my head because I'm too fucking self-absorbed to ever speak to anyone who is not exactly like me and now I can't be all skinny and white and privileged in my yoga because in some deep, barely rippling layer of my soul, I know something is terribly wrong with me."

6079_Smith_W

Anyone else catch that review in The Economist?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/07/economist-review-my...

Quote:

But the Economist didn’t apologize for dismissing what slaves said about slavery. That kind of arrogance remains part of a wider, more subtle pattern in how black testimony often gets treated – sometimes unknowingly – as less reliable than white. The Economist reviewer was saying that the key sources of my book, African Americans – black people – cannot be believed.

It has been withdrawn, with an apology, though they have left the text available in the interests of transparency. There is a link from the Guardian editorial.

 

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

Let's Look at These Slavery-Inspired #EconomistBookReviews, Shall We?

Quote:

Nowhere in Mr. Dickens' account does he acknowledge the proprietor's generosity in providing orphans with factory work

Quote:
 Criminally, we continue to neglect Hannibal Lecter's fine contributions to the culinary arts and sciences.

I bet babblers can do better.

 

 

wage zombie
6079_Smith_W

Maysie wrote:

I bet babblers can do better.

Oh that is funny, and I am sure some will be up to the Swiftian challenge.

Not sure if any of us have it down to an art like SUN News clearly does, but then we're not the pros.

 

onlinediscountanvils

[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtmOxVjzPUc]Four white Sun TV panelists explain white privilege to guy who isn't white[/url]

Sean in Ottawa

Just saw that video.

Wow. No words.

onlinediscountanvils

onlinediscountanvils wrote:
[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtmOxVjzPUc]Four white Sun TV panelists explain white privilege to guy who isn't white[/url]

[url=http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/3837379083001]And the much better (although far from perfect) follow-up program featuring Desmond Cole.[/url]

6079_Smith_W

That NYC harrassment video making the rounds on facebook? Turns out they edited out all the white guys:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/29/catcalling_video_hollaba...

Bacchus

Edited out all the asians as well I guess to

6079_Smith_W
NS NS's picture

White people ironically talking about race in a real PBS POV film documentary.

"The Whiteness Project"

Youtubevid

Lawd, where is Tim Wise when you need him?

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