Talking about race with white people

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Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
He should have been listening and asking questions instead of insisting on speaking.

The problem with this is that I really don't think it ever implies that, upon listening or asking questions, someone is then free to state their own opinion.

In other words, "Don't TALK, just LISTEN" really means to not talk, listen, and if you still disagree, stuff it.

It sounds almost like it's promoting a dialogue, but it's really just promoting a new monologue.

And of course "listening" also means listening to someone make no sense, listening to someone stereotype you, listening to someone blame you... that's why we need to be scolded to listen. 

If people are making sense and speaking rationally, I don't need anyone to tell me to listen.  I'll listen to that on its own merits. 

Boze

Here is how the administration should have handled it:

"We will never receive demands."

Paladin1

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
He should have been listening and asking questions instead of insisting on speaking.

The problem with this is that I really don't think it ever implies that, upon listening or asking questions, someone is then free to state their own opinion.

In other words, "Don't TALK, just LISTEN" really means to not talk, listen, and if you still disagree, stuff it.

It sounds almost like it's promoting a dialogue, but it's really just promoting a new monologue.

 

 

I don't want to agree with you fo any other reason than it will probably lower your rabble street cred but I think you're observation is very accurate.

It's a monologue with no room for debate.

6079_Smith_W

Evidently what we have here is Schroedinger's white guy,cracking the whip and asserting his authority, while at the same time victim of the POC monologue, silenced and pushed to the sidelines.

Paladin1

Evidently  indeed.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I totally get that if POC staff or students wanted to "absent" themselves then there's really nothing any whitey needs to add to that.

But if the new idea, unilaterally approved by those same POC staff and students, is that all the non-POC staff and students should be the ones to skip work or skip class, I'm having trouble understanding why those non-POC folk need to "listen", and why they shouldn't have an opinion about that.

In a dialogue, BOTH sides should listen.  But BOTH sides can also speak.  That's actually pretty much the definition of a dialogue, isn't it?

When did a dialogue stop being the goal?

6079_Smith_W

I know... why can't we all just get along, and bust their fucking heads?

It's not like they are asking us to call them zhe, after all.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I'm only asking why monologues are better now.

And that includes monologues on why I should call someone "zhe".

6079_Smith_W

I don't know. Maybe we should ask Mr. Oh So Reasonable If You Are Still Here In The Morning You'll Be Hauled Off In Handcuffs.

Paladin1

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I know... why can't we all just get along, and bust their fucking heads?

It's not like they are asking us to call them zhe, after all.

 

Just make sure you call them a nazi before assaulting them.

I'm trying to find a link to a video I seen (cause Quizzical will nab me again ;)  ) of a white transgender woman assaulting a black male and I believe calling him a race traitor. It was either an ANTIFA protest or possibly a protest in the UK.

I'd say white heterosexual males are traditionally the bad guys (for lack of a more articulate way of putting it) but when stories like that pop up, or the Pride vs. BLM we seen recently, it seems to become a bit more muddeled.

Does a white person still need to shut up and listen if they're themselves an oppressed group?

6079_Smith_W

I think the real question is whether there is a point even asking, because you know they aren't going to.

 

Paladin1

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I think the real question is whether there is a point even asking, because you know they aren't going to.

 

 

Maybe we should change the title of the thread. 

6079_Smith_W

That would be kind of amusing. But nah, I think the thread title is just fine.

Paladin1

I  hope your summer is going well Smith. Glad you're still floating around the site.   What did you really think about my post #361 though? About the dynamic of someone from the LGQTB community in opposition to someone whos African American.  It kind of feels like there is a competition among some communities for who is more oppressed, if that makes sense?  I should follow up on what ended up happening with the Pride vs BLM thing, is Pride banning police officers from marching in their parade? Is that too far off topic?

6079_Smith_W

You mean white people have it bad too, but those bad people of colour won't let us talk about it?

I guess that was one option for changing the title of the thread. On the other hand, it is kind of a good illustration of the existing one. Making it all about us is usually how it goes, after all.

If I really need to explain it, neither the actions of individuals, nor the fact that some of the people oppressed for their sexuality, sex, gender or beliefs happen to be white, makes white people an oppressed group. We are not an oppressed group.

Even the fact some might take you for the enemy because of the colour of your skin does not make you oppressed.

But we do seem to be the ones who whine most about how hard done by we are and that no one listens to us. Usually when others are trying to challenge those systemic biases and abuses.

No surprise when for some it comes to this:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-t...

“They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong.

“The journey towards understanding structural racism still requires people of colour to prioritise white feelings.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Paladin1 wrote:

Does a white person still need to shut up and listen if they're themselves an oppressed group?

It depends on the conversation, doesn't it?

If we're talking about feminism, I'd appreciate the males in the room to pay attention to what I have to say. If we're talking about race, as a white person, I'm going to have to pay attention myself. Intersectionality is important, and where the conversation goes - and whether it's productive - will depend on people understanding where they have privilege and respecting where they don't.

It's complicated and sometimes messy, but what we need to acknowledge is that there are differing constellations of privilege or lack thereof. What I see over and over again are people asserting what privilege they have and looking for ways to justify it. That's what most of this discussion boils down to.

And let's face it, if you're a white, middle-class male, you have a shit ton of privilege and should probably listen more than you speak, because we've been hearing all about you for forever. We know exactly where you're coming from.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Timebandit wrote:

And let's face it, if you're a white, middle-class male, you have a shit ton of privilege and should probably listen more than you speak, because we've been hearing all about you for forever. We know exactly where you're coming from.

Wow that is quite the sterotypical view of all men. I agree it would be usless to speak anyway since I could not have a single coherent thought that was not shared by the Borg collective.

I agree with the the fact that men dominate conversations when they shouldn't as do white women in situations involving WOC however to leap to making all members of those groups a single entity is a disservice to all those white women of privilage who would not dominate conversations in those situtations. Sterotyping any group is IMO just sloppy thinking.

6079_Smith_W

Of course it isn't all men, kropotkin.

But as with any dominant group, there are those who just aren't. Then there are those who start a big NOT ALL MEN campaign as if we are the victims here.

Case in point, how is it we have come around to white people being oppressed and misunderstood in a thread which is supposed do be about white people not getting systemic racism?

Again, if it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious.

As for so-called male stereotyping, if they aren't talking about you, then they probably aren't talking about you, and it really doesn't help to act as if they are and run defense for those who it is really about.

 

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

krop, if you're a straight, white, middle-class male who generally spends more time listening than speaking when the subject ranges from matters of race, women's rights, and LGBTQ matters, then I wasn't addressing you. As you seem to understand in the following paragraph.

Look, I'm a straight, white, middle-class woman. I try very hard to listen more when the feminist conversation turns to issues where women of colour or queer women are concerned. I recognize that many women like me don't. I'm okay with someone pointing out that this is the norm. #NOTALLMEN responses mean that, to keep the "good ones" gruntled, we must verbally acknowledge a laundry list of possible exceptions. Just as #NOTALLWHITEPEOPLE would - I don't think it's reasonable to ask that. In fact, the insistance that this be acknowledged at every turn smacks of the very privilege that is being denied.

Funny thing about privilege - you have it whether you're actively using it or not. And you may not be 100% aware that you're using it at any given time.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I agree with everything you just wrote Timebandit but I still think it is counterproductive to use general sterotyping of any group. To me the behaviour is what should be condemned. The statement, "We know exactly where you're coming from." is ludicrous no matter what group you are talking about or in what context and distracted from the message not enhanced it.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I don't think it's ludicrous to say that we don't know where the most socially dominant group in our culture is coming from. They're the default, of course we do! Maybe not as specific individuals, but you can't say "Well, except for Gary. He's okay." every time you have to look at an issue where oppression of one group by another frequently occurs.

Maybe there's a way for the guys who are trying to not take things so personally? (And yes, apply that to us white gals, too, happy to lump in with this.) I think that's part of what stalls the conversations - and it's not always avoidable to eschew all generalities.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Sorry Timebandit I sometimes forget the futility of disagreeing with you, even just a little bit. I usually don't bother. Your moral superiority is apparent so I will bow out and leave you to it.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I don't think that's what I'm trying to be, here. I'm more interested in practicality. If there's a way to acknowledge exceptions that doesn't get in the way of how to talk about the issues, I'd love to hear it.

6079_Smith_W

Careful what you ask for. You know some guy is going to take you up on that.

And never mind just getting in the way; usually it becomes the whole conversation.  Because doncha know we all know what it is like to suffer.

This thread is all about a general group. Our dominant, white society. We should start listing all the nice guy exceptions up there in the title too? 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

You damn ____ we know exactly where you're coming from. Fill in the blanks have a good time. You damn lefties we know exactly where your coming from so just shut the fuck up. You damn environmentalists we know exactly where you're coming from so just shut the fuck up and let me tell you why we need the pipelines build.  You damn feminists we know exactly where you're coming from. You damn Francophones we know exactly where you're coming from. You damn Anglones we know exactly where you're coming from. You damn Irish we know exactly where you're coming from.

quizzical

oh my.

kropotkin proving Timebandit's point is difficult for me to process.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Plus she never said shut the fuck up, and generally that isn't how it is unless someone really won't stop railroading the conversation.

Or telling protesters they better pack up or they will be arrested.

But it is also a fact (and she also said this) that even the nicest and most supportive members of the dominant group benefit from privilege whether they support it or not. And there is stuff about it that we never see, that those outside do.

That poor persecuted white guy in the example upthread (who I am guessing was called a Nazi or something)? Bet he wasn't worried at all that a cop might show up and doubt his version of events. Because in encounters that involve other groups, we aren't the ones who need to worry about that.

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Timebandit wrote:

And let's face it, if you're a white, middle-class male, you have a shit ton of privilege and should probably listen more than you speak, because we've been hearing all about you for forever. We know exactly where you're coming from.

Wow that is quite the sterotypical view of all men.

middle-class and upper-class heterosexual white men...not "all men".

And while we don't have a gender/class hivemind, we do tend to be strongly encouraged by leading figures in our demographic to see everybody else-i.e., the prohibitive majority of the human race-as either a nuisance, an inferior or an enemy.  This encouragement is a major part of being raised white, middle-class or higher, and heterosexual.  Both of us were exposed to it on a frequent basis, krop.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I understand the analysis and don't disagree with it. I just find that sterotyping anyone is counter productive to building alliances and movements. I am not saying that I or any other cis white male should dominate a discussion about race because I think I have something awesome to share I am saying that I should be allowed to be in the room without being defined by someone elses perceived view of me based on my gender, race, class etc. Building walls is not building movements.

6079_Smith_W

But it isn't about you. It is about how a vast majority of white guys tend to act. And sorry, but that is a real thing.

And again, if it is not about you (aside from the privilege and non-experience we can do nothing about, and what we soak up from that culture) there is no need to make it about you. No one is judging you for who you are.

The article I posted at #366. It really is a good one, and has a podcast if you'd rather listen . And the author says right off the bat it isn't directed at ALL white people.

But there is also the valid point that the first priority here is not white people's feelings. The first priority is overcoming systemic racism. If it hurts us to deal with these ugly things, I am sure it hurts the victims even more.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I understand the analysis and don't disagree with it. I just find that sterotyping anyone is counter productive to building alliances and movements. I am not saying that I or any other cis white male should dominate a discussion about race because I think I have something awesome to share I am saying that I should be allowed to be in the room without being defined by someone elses perceived view of me based on my gender, race, class etc. Building walls is not building movements.

Like a lot of things, I think we agree far more than we disagree, krop. And please remember, other than being female, I'm not that different from you as part of a privileged social class.

The one question I have is: How is this significantly different to the idea of colourblindness, except that it's focused on removing whiteness from contention rather than colour?

(I ask this not as a confrontation, but as a sincere question - I really would like to hear your thoughts on that, k.)

I don't think we can avoid being perceived as white. In a lot of ways, I wish it wasn't an issue. But we are defined by our race whether we act on the privilege we have or not. We are what we are in addition to who we choose to be. We can work to mitigate it through our actions, but it's not within our power to change it as individuals.

I have a close friend who is of middle eastern descent. We're very similar in many ways - we work in the same field, have kids about the same age, similar education and income levels. There are experiences, though, that she has that I don't. We've traveled together. And some conversations that we have, I think it's necessary for me to be aware of that - it doesn't mean that I'm being judged harshly or held to account, I'm just acknowledging that there's stuff I don't deal with because of our differing skin tones. That acknowledgement is part of me "getting it".

Anyway, that's just my opinion and way of approaching it. YMMV.

Paladin1

6079_Smith_W wrote:

But it isn't about you. It is about how a vast majority of white guys tend to act. And sorry, but that is a real thing.

What would you call me if I made an observation about how the majority of black guys act? Or gay men? Or most women?

6079_Smith_W wrote:

But there is also the valid point that the first priority here is not white people's feelings. The first priority is overcoming systemic racism. If it hurts us to deal with these ugly things, I am sure it hurts the victims even more.

It may be neither here nor there but I find it interesting watching white celebrities attempt to apologize and still get attacked and torn up over it. I was reading a thing Katy Perry was trying to apologize for cultural appropriation in the form of wearing cornrows* in a video in one case and dressing like a Japanese Geisa in another. She seemed genuine and like she was really trying to learn and listen but a lot of responders weren't having any of it.  I can imagine how confusing it must be for white people genuinely trying to understand.  Of course any form of questions can be turned around into white people trying to play the victim and making it about that.

 

*I've been called racist elsewhere  while pointing out in a debate about hair that cornrows have been found throughout history as far back as the stoneage. I'm not sure how that qualifies as the definition of racist.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

However, for every frivolous example, there are hundreds if not thousands of instances of unfrivolous examples.

Maybe the sensitivity is at the pitch it is because we're still positioning ourselves as the arbiters of what is frivolous or not?

6079_Smith_W

I don't feel confused at all about it, Paladin. I don't feel guilty about being a white guy, or anything I haven't personally done, and if anyone is unfairly judging me or taking a really unfair swipe it doesn't change the overriding system of discrimination, and my position of privilege.

Margaret Atwood's comment: 'Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them. " is a good bit of perspective.

I was at a friend's birthday this weekend. Fifty. She said she was really grateful for still being alive. That's not something a regular white guy not in an high risk job, and not with a life threatening illness would even think about. But it is reality for a lot of people who are not.

I didn't feel bad, or guilty. Nor should I, because it wasn't about me. But it was a really good reminder.

And really, it depends on what the generalization is, because there are some that can be made. A lot of them to do with their experience which we do not share, or that ingrained discrimination, which in many cases is directed negatively at one's self or others.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I've always thought it interesting that even as we add hundreds of new words, like "selfie" or "lol" to the dictionary each year, we still use the word "racist" to refer to both someone who drags a black man to death behind a pickup truck, and someone who sort of assumes that Asians are good at math.  Then, when someone who sort of assumes Asians are good at math objects to being called a racist we say it's him who needs to lighten up.  How is that conversation not designed to fail??

And these days it seems like even that doesn't raise the stakes high enough.  Now leaving a meeting is "an act of violence and miosgynoir", and a campaign t-shirt can instantly nullify a "safe space", and I'm just waiting for the next new step in that race to the bottom.

 

 

Paladin1

Timebandit wrote:

Paladin1 wrote:

Does a white person still need to shut up and listen if they're themselves an oppressed group?

It depends on the conversation, doesn't it?

Yes I think so. And sorry for missing this response earlier.

Quote:
If we're talking about feminism, I'd appreciate the males in the room to pay attention to what I have to say. If we're talking about race, as a white person, I'm going to have to pay attention myself. Intersectionality is important, and where the conversation goes - and whether it's productive - will depend on people understanding where they have privilege and respecting where they don't.

I think the quality and context of what is being said is important. Some people make some stupid and outlandish comments. In other cases I agree males should listen even if they don't agree or like what's being said. The same goes with race. But at the end of the day, as Magoo highlights, a monologue isn't talking (in the context of a discussion).

Quote:
It's complicated and sometimes messy, but what we need to acknowledge is that there are differing constellations of privilege or lack thereof. What I see over and over again are people asserting what privilege they have and looking for ways to justify it. That's what most of this discussion boils down to.

Where do you go with someone like me that recognizes privilage? I'm a white straight healthy and fit male who is financially well off with a job that's 4th highest trusted in Canada. I need to routinely turn down free coffee or even restraunt meals.  I'm blessed with a modicum of enlightenment, I think, from tempoairily losing stuff most people over look (warm food, roof over their head, bed, cell phone, toilet, freedom of movement) but recognize I still retain privilage of race gender and sexuality.  But whats next?

Quote:

And let's face it, if you're a white, middle-class male, you have a shit ton of privilege and should probably listen more than you speak, because we've been hearing all about you for forever. We know exactly where you're coming from.

Listening more than I would makes sense but active listening involves a lot of things, among them responding, asking questions and repeating things back. It's not a one way action only, agreed?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

"Some people make some stupid and outlandish comments."

Ok, so what's next could be considered by looking at your comment above, Paladin.

A comment might seem stupid or outlandish to you on the face of it - however, if you really take the time to listen and ask questions, even where it feels uncomfortable or where you might be inclined to push back, you might understand why that statement is being made, or why that line in the sand is being drawn. (ETA: How you frame your questions is also incredibly important! It's so easy to put a question in a way that protects our finer feelings without even realizing it.)

That's where we well-intentioned PWPs (People With Privilege) tend to fall down. We'll listen *to a point* and then decide what we consider important and unimportant. Being in the position to do that is another manifestation of privilege, and that's what provokes people to tell us to sit down and shut up. And we may just have to shut up a little more than we think we should to make up for all the not sitting and not shutting up that we are preceded by.

And you know, we may not be the ones to say what's next. We've been driving the bus so long, we figure it's up to us to direct it. I think it'll be easier to get a consensus in the end by doing some hard listening now.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
That's where we well-intentioned PWPs (People With Privilege) tend to fall down. We'll listen *to a point* and then decide what we consider important and unimportant.

Yes, we do.  We also do it with, say, MRAs.  We'll give them the benefit of the doubt once or twice, but when they start losing the plot, we stop listening.  And yes, I know that as men, they're priveleged, but in the specific context they're most concerned with, I'm not really convinced that they are.  But that's not the point anyway.  It's that rather than saying "here's why we feel that the implementation of some aspects of family law unreasonably disadvantages us" they go off on loopy-ass silliness that none of us should ever feel coerced to "just shush and listen" to.

I'm not trying to tell POC (or women, or trans-women, or the chrono-gendered) what they are or are not permitted to say, want, expect or demand.  But if you want my participation then it's a negotiation, not a decree, and if I'm not allowed to say "OK, this is silly and here's why I think that" without being made an enemy for speaking rather than for what I say then seriously just count me out altogether.  Not interested in attending a lecture about "misogynoir", nor my role in it.  But maybe there could be some other common ground?

6079_Smith_W

It is a two edged-sword actually.

Remember it is sometimes better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I'm not sure what you mean.  Can you flesh it out a little?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Right, Magoo, but it's best to be aware that for genuinely oppressed groups (and MRAs are not a genuinely oppressed group, being their own worst enemies*) that negotiation happens from a place of power for the privileged.

*There's also the fact that they don't argue for equality, but a return to unchallenged supremacy and the de facto oppression of the opposite sex. This makes the MRA a very bad analogy - I challenge you to find any group fighting oppression that uniformly makes the kinds of demands MRAs do.

6079_Smith_W

Well, just good advice generally. But to take this conversation as an example, I'm not sure how an observation (at #350) that someone in a specific situation should be listening and asking questions, gets turned into outrage over people daring to tell us to shut up and not speak.

And kind of funny that instead of demolishing false stereotypes we're actually offering numerous examples of things white guys say. Like you can't tell me to shut up, when no one has.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
and MRAs are not a genuinely oppressed group, being their own worst enemies*

How are they their own worst enemies?  I ask because we might agree here.

But *spoiler alert*, I might also ask whether BLM is their own worst enemy, or whether "Gays Against Gentrification" are also their own worst enemies, and what we should all do to fix that.

Quote:
This makes the MRA a very bad analogy - I challenge you to find any group fighting oppression that uniformly makes the kinds of demands MRAs do.

What kinds of demands?  Like, that someone should be fired for leaving a meeting early?  Or much, much worse things?  Which demands shall we just dismiss, seeing as that's kind of my point?

And why are you evaluating their demands instead of just listening??  More to the point, why can't we evaluate ALL such demands instead of just listening?

6079_Smith_W

Nobody is saying that, Magoo. There are policies and things about some of these movements I disagree with. And just because someone someone says something doesn't mean I have to automatically agree, or that I can't hold my own opinion. No one has said that either.

Indeed, they aren't the boss of us, in case there was any doubt about that.

And speaking of which, consider how many white men contribute to the reputation we have, then set that up against the handful, or in many cases single incidents that apparently tell us all about how others are.

Don't know about you, but I am kind of thankful I don't have to live my life acting and speaking on behalf of all men, and having my actions held up as an example, unlike the standard we hold women, people of colour, and LGBT people to.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
And just because someone someone says something doesn't mean I have to automatically agree, or that I can't hold my own opinion.

OK.  But how is that "listening"?

Aren't you basically just saying that at some point you stop listening and start thinking for yourself??

Quote:
Indeed, they aren't the boss of us, in case there was any doubt about that.

Here's the "doubt".

At what point am I using my own faculties -- because "they aren't the boss of us" -- and at what point am I fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with "the enemy"?

If I'm acting in good faith then why should using my own brain ever be the same as being a turncoat?   That's where this falls apart -- the assumption that if I'm not with 'em then I must be ag'in' 'em.

And for the record, I don't expect anyone to make my question the new rock on which they make their stand.  But if I am, in fact, allowed to get up on my hind legs and speak, what's the answer to my question supposed to mean?

 

6079_Smith_W

Um. Yeah, you're allowed to get up on your hind legs and speak. No one is stopping you.

And no, disagreeing with something which someone does  or believes does not mean not listening to what they are saying or recognizing their concerns.

And why are you putting all the focus on the few who might think that makes you the enemy, rather than  the many more reasonable people who are not? Near as I can tell that just makes you an objective ally with them, in that you just want battle lines rather than a solution. 

I mean, this can't be about concern about you being forced to shut up, since that's unlikely to happen.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Um. Yeah, you're allowed to get up on your hind legs and speak. No one is stopping you.

I get that, and I'm certainly not going to pretend I've been "silenced" (unlike others who are as free as I am to speak). 

Quote:
And no, disagreeing with something which someone does  or believes does not mean not listening to what they are saying or recognizing their concerns.

Are you sure we're still allowed?

Are you sure it can't ever be a case of "misogynoir"?? 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Timebandit wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I understand the analysis and don't disagree with it. I just find that sterotyping anyone is counter productive to building alliances and movements. I am not saying that I or any other cis white male should dominate a discussion about race because I think I have something awesome to share I am saying that I should be allowed to be in the room without being defined by someone elses perceived view of me based on my gender, race, class etc. Building walls is not building movements.

Like a lot of things, I think we agree far more than we disagree, krop. And please remember, other than being female, I'm not that different from you as part of a privileged social class.

The one question I have is: How is this significantly different to the idea of colourblindness, except that it's focused on removing whiteness from contention rather than colour?

(I ask this not as a confrontation, but as a sincere question - I really would like to hear your thoughts on that, k.)

I don't think we can avoid being perceived as white. In a lot of ways, I wish it wasn't an issue. But we are defined by our race whether we act on the privilege we have or not. We are what we are in addition to who we choose to be. We can work to mitigate it through our actions, but it's not within our power to change it as individuals.

I have a close friend who is of middle eastern descent. We're very similar in many ways - we work in the same field, have kids about the same age, similar education and income levels. There are experiences, though, that she has that I don't. We've traveled together. And some conversations that we have, I think it's necessary for me to be aware of that - it doesn't mean that I'm being judged harshly or held to account, I'm just acknowledging that there's stuff I don't deal with because of our differing skin tones. That acknowledgement is part of me "getting it".

Anyway, that's just my opinion and way of approaching it. YMMV.

I have mixed feelings about that colour blindness thing. I have a black brother-in-law and many nieces and nephews who are mixed race. My son-in-law is aboriginal in a mixed family so some of my grandkids are First Nations and their brother and sister are white. My son dates an Asian woman and I am Acadian and in the late summer have been mistaken for a "brother." 

I truly don't know what to make of the concept because it seems to me you are asking whether I think in terms of race and colour when I deal with my family and whether I should always highlight those things or just ignore them until they fade into the background where they belong. All my family belong to the same human race no matter the hue of their skin.  I try to see them all for the people they are not for which side ot the family they inherited their skin pigment from.

voice of the damned

Magoo wrote:

I've always thought it interesting that even as we add hundreds of new words, like "selfie" or "lol" to the dictionary each year, we still use the word "racist" to refer to both someone who drags a black man to death behind a pickup truck, and someone who sort of assumes that Asians are good at math. 

Well, 1f someone believes that the Sun revolves around the Earth, and furthermore that anyone who disagrees should be burned at the stake, I'd call him an anti-copernican quack. And I'd also use the term "amti-copernican quack" to mean someone who thinks that the Sun revolves around the Earth, but is content to just promote that view non-violently on the internet.

Back to your example, if the second person believes that Asians are good at their math because of their race, I would call that racist, even if he's not dragging anyone behind trucks. Because that belief fits, as far as I know, the textbook defintion of racist.

Where I do think it becomes tricky is when we call someone racist who makes statements about groups that are NOT based on racial ideas. For example, some leftists consider anti-Islamic opinions to be racist, even though that's criticizing the followers of a religion, not a race. I'm sure that there are white supremacists(for example) who use anti-Islamic rhetoric as a cover for his racism, but on the other hand, I know that there are also quite a few non-white people who have negative views of Islam as well. (Not that I think that makes it okay, especially if we're talking about groups like the BJP in India, just that I doub that they are racist in the way we understand the idea.)

6079_Smith_W

The notion that one can oppose Islam and not be racist is true.

But it is also a foil for the fact that anti-Islamic hatred in western nations is so linked with culture and race that it is de facto racism. Not much different than the fact we use the excuse of religion to gloss over the role our imperialism and paternalist thinking plays in that oppression and hatred.

(as with any other white blind spot)

One simple example is the Sikh man who was shot and killed shortly after 9-11 (one of many cases where that sort of attack has happened). People don't just go and randomly shoot white people because they are angry over political attacks, yet it happens all the time in response to terror attacks, immigration, and even election campaigns that there are attacks on mosques, and individuals (to the point of just picking some random non-white person).

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/hate-crimes-muslims-statscan-1.4158042 

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