Fine, Racism against White People Exists…It Just Doesn’t Matter.

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waittheysaidwhat
Fine, Racism against White People Exists…It Just Doesn’t Matter.

For every article written and comment posted about how white people are privileged or how there is no such thing as reverse racism, there are WAY too many comments that vehemently argue the opposite. (see Idle No More on Facebook daring to post a tongue in cheek picture with the caption "White Privilege: 'We'll decide what is racist and what is not racist. We're the deciders of everything," and consequent backlash. www.facebook.com/IdleNoMoreCommunity)

That is why I am deciding to say to all of you who have been making your cause the fight against racism towards white people, you get a sticker. Yes, you can insult a person and include the colour of their skin, whatever it is, and it technically becomes a “racist” comment. Because, race = a made up concept based mostly around skin tone that has become an extremely important factor in the power structures of our world.

But, when I say “important”, do I mean important in the same way for all races? And that all races suffer equally because of their skin colour?

No. Of course not.

And that is why, if you are white, then racism against you for being white does not matter.

Allow me to explain.

You are called a “stupid white privileged person” by someone, anyone. So, you get upset. You know that you are a good person, and you are not racist, and you have worked hard for what you have in your life, and that still isn’t a lot, it's not like you're rich.

This clearly isn’t fair, but will you be ok?

Yes, you will. Our social system is set up to allow you to be ok. When it comes to skin colour, you do not have a single thing holding you back. Other races do. You do not.

Commenters are saying:

Any form of discrimination because of skin colour is racism and therefore matters

This objection is frequently made, and though other people have tried to reason with those who say it, (see: http://callingoutbigotry.tumblr.com/post/51288105158/why-reverse-racism-doesnt-existhttp://everydayfeminism.com/2013/08/racist-against-white-people/http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/http://feminspire.com/why-reverse-racism-isnt-real/), the strongest argument against this is the fact that there is a big difference between the outcome of racism towards white people vs racism towards PoC.

Let’s look at immigration, an issue very much tied up in race and racism.

Firstly, there is immigration by PoC to powerful, wealthy countries like America, Canada, and Britain. The majority of these immigrants arrive with the intention of staying - to avail themselves of the possibilities of jobs that were not available in their countries of origin, to escape from war or civil conflict in their countries, to make money for their families, to get an education in a way that might not be available in their countries.

If these are the reasons, then when these people face racism in their new country – be it from not being able to get a job, to being told to ‘go back where they came from’, to being looked at funny for how they dress, to being dealt with sharply because of their accent or their level of English comprehension – do they have the viable, attractive option of just going back to their country of origin? You could say yes, they have the option, but is it one they would like? Probably not, this is why they undertook the major event of moving their entire lives to a new, different, and sometimes hostile place.

So, they stay, and whatever level of racism they face in their daily lives, they deal with in their own ways individually. Some people develop bitterness, some people become depressed, some people feel trapped, and a few find that they can adapt themselves into what their new country expects from them, and thereby live a life with fairly little racism. There are many different personal reactions, but the overall message here is that these people will stay, and work towards their goals, while dealing in their own way with any racism and oppression they face.

The second type of immigration is what privileged white people refer to with the euphemism of being an “expat”. It is when (mainly) white people - that group so used to traveling to other countries because of colonialism first, and then relative wealth compared to the countries they visit second - technically immigrate to a new country. A major difference with this type of immigration? It is normally not viewed as permanent, but is done with a privileged sense of 'I can come and go as I please.'

Since I have personal experience with this type of immigration, I will share my experiences with racism abroad, and what it meant for me.

I was born white, to parents who, though they both came from poor families, were both able to secure teaching jobs at a young age during a time when PoC would have been much less likely to secure the same jobs. They had many years to work their way up to become first consultants, then principals, with very little standing in their way.

I, therefore, was raised in comfort. So, when I reached a certain age, I wasn’t worried about locking down a job to make sure I could have a stable economic future. No, I had the luxury of wanting to “see the world”, to “try new things”, to “enjoy life”. So, I became an “expat”, and moved to South Korea.

There, because I am a tall, light haired woman of Eastern European background, I was frequently mistaken for a prostitute (many prostitutes there are Russian and Eastern European), and followed home, and harassed, all despite the fact that I was dressed exactly as the South Korean women were dressed, and behaving just as they behaved. This is an unmistakable case of racism against a white person.

So, did I stay there, and endure, because that move was important to me? Of course not. I enjoyed myself with friends, got to know Seoul, made a bit of spending money and got experience through teaching, and then when I felt like it, I went home. Back to my parents’ house to figure out what I would do next.

Was I uncomfortable while I was being followed, and do I wish that it hadn’t happened? Yes. But it in no way affected my life. It in no way brought down my confidence, or made me feel stuck, or made me change who I am to fit in.

This is just one way that the outcomes of racism towards white people are very different from racism towards PoC.

Commenters are also saying:

Racism incites hate. Hate is bad. So, racism against white people matters.

Frequently people point out that any racism is bad, because it is a negative thing and it just makes people hate each other.

Well really, do I have to say it? If, as a white person, you start to feel hatred towards other races who have said mean things to you about how you are white, then you need to rethink what is important in life. How about, instead, you think about why other races feel anger and resentment towards white people. Even if you believe you don’t fit into the category of “bad, racist white people”, you can still begin to educate yourselves about what it is that white people as a group have done over the centuries to create a negative image for themselves. If you understand this, then maybe you can realize that when other races say bad things about your race, it isn’t personal to YOU, it is a comment on an experience in general. White people have the advantages passed down from generation to generation. White people took over many countries. White people still exercise power over many countries. White people have the high up positions in companies. White people control the government (yes, even if the figurehead is a black man).

Non-white people have centuries of reasons for feeling bitterness towards white people, reasons that have directly affected them and their families.

You, on the other hand, just “don’t like it” when you are lumped into a racial category, or when people make assumptions about you.

You will be fine. Your racial category will not hold you back from doing anything in your life. Other things might hold you back, but not your race.

So, the next time someone says something racist about white people to you, realize that this must mean that that person still experiences racism FROM white people in their life, and that is why they have animosity towards white people. Therefore, the solution won’t be found in you getting upset for yourself, it will be found in trying to fix the situation for oppressed people, making things equal for all races, and then people will no longer have a reason to think ill of white people.

It is actually the very fact that you will get upset about this justifiable racism against white people that will build hate in the world, not this racism itself. In your desire to pretend that racism against white people exists in a social vacuum and is unfair to you personally, you are allowing yourselves to become distracted from what actually matters in the big picture. It is fair, because even if you have not done anything to directly further the social dominance of white people, you have not done enough to try to stop it, either. How do I know this? Because if you had, you would have by now developed enough of an understanding about racial politics to realize that racism against you doesn’t matter.

Do you really want to be That Guy who points to groups of people with long histories of oppression behind them and says, “You aren’t allowed to feel angry. Hate is bad.”?

If you have a problem for being called out for your inherited racial privilege, take it to some White People Problems discussion board and complain about it to other people who think that it is the biggest issue right now. Please don't bring it to sites that are trying to make a difference for those who need it.

 

Issues Pages: 
Paladin1

I respectfully disagree with your stance on this. 

I am one of the ones who believe any form of racisim is bad.  I don't think implying that racisim against white people is more okay or more acceptable to some degree is going to help educate or gain allies.  In my work place I would consider myslf a hipocrite if I allowed the Asian Canadian working for me make racist jokes while repremanding the white worker for doing the same. (Something I actually had to deal with last week).  

 

I would not point to an oppressed group and say they are not allowed to feel angry. I would be supporting them 100%. I would however say that hate is bad and hate is probably what started racisim in the first place.

Tehanu

My formula (and I think Maysie has pointed this out a bunch of times as well) is that it's X oppression or ism when you add power to the mix along with prejudice:

Racism = racial prejudice + power

Sexism/cissexism = sex/gender prejudice + power

Homophobia = sexual orientation prejudice + power

... and so on.

Respectfully, because I DO like your post, particularly the oh-c'mon-get-over-it approach, I think that being street harassed in South Korea can be attributed just as much, if not more, to sexism. If making the assumption it's okay that women (including women who look a certain way) are sexual targets, then I'd suggest that's the patriarchy at work.

But yes, we white people, we need to shut about "reverse racism" because that just makes us look as though we're completely oblivious to all the privilege that's inherent in being white.

6079_Smith_W

This is kind of a timely thread, since the so-called men's rights group have been at it in our town lately. The posters go up one day, are torn down or defaced the next, then they are up again.

The most common one has at the top : "You don't fear and hate African Americans, do you? " leading up to the inevitable guilt trip of why do you hate men becaue what did they ever do to you.

I just about choked at the irony the first time I saw it, which was in the early days of the George Zimmerman trial.

And of course, this is the town where white people, unlike some, don't have to worry about being driven out of town and freezing to death.

I don't subscribe to the notion that reverse discrimination is a logical impossibility. but as the OP rightly points out, it just doesn't matter, because it's not the major dynamic that is driving all this, and more importantly, it is usually pointed out as a way of denial.

Paladin1

Tehanu wrote:

 makes us look as though we're completely oblivious to all the privilege that's inherent in being white.

Is it safe to say that a very large number of us are? I had no idea what white privilege was before I started reading rabble.ca

Suppose a white person is the object of racisim and they say hey that's racist! (I finds reverse racisim a very silly word, that would technically be the absence of racisim)

Instead of telling them that they are not allowed to call it racisim or they are not allowed to be upset by it etc. would it not be a great platform to educate them (us)?

Instead of making them defensive right off the bat say something like "Yes that's racist, if you think THAT is upsetting let me tell you about what it's like to go into an expensive resturaunt when you're not white or what it's like to have walmart store detectives follow you around."

 

The oh come on get over it post may seem logical to most babblers but I don't think it will reach neutral parties.

arielc

Tehanu wrote:

But yes, we white people, we need to shut about "reverse racism" because that just makes us look as though we're completely oblivious to all the privilege that's inherent in being white.

In my experience, the only people complaining about racism against white people are of the racist sector.

And I'm chuckling now remembering a line from Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse where, unable to tolerate the brutal racism in pro hockey, the character referred to 'Honky Night in Canada'.
I'm sure there are doofus neo-Nazis who would refer to that as racism, but from a protected position ofwhite privilege, it just seems a creative way of expressing a truth.

waittheysaidwhat

arielc wrote:

In my experience, the only people complaining about racism against white people are of the racist sector.

 

But this is exactly why I was frustrated enough to write this - what I have been seeing lately is that people who consider themselves liberal and intelligent have started saying that things like "Honky Night in Canada" ARE racist, and they are very offended and think it is a major issue.

waittheysaidwhat

Tehanu wrote:

Racism = racial prejudice + power

I agree with the equations you posted. You will find that many people think racism is only racial prejudice, and are very quick to say all types are therefore equal.

WillC

AS a white, priviledged person living in Canada, I used to think all racism was the same until an African Canadian person who had married into my family had some trouble with the law. Then I got to see our relative postions a bit better, and realized there was a huge difference. One way to look at it is to recognize two types of racism--systemic and individual.  It's the systemic type which does so much damage.  

Maysie Maysie's picture
arielc

waittheysaidwhat wrote:

arielc wrote:

 

In my experience, the only people complaining about racism against white people are of the racist sector.

 

But this is exactly why I was frustrated enough to write this - what I have been seeing lately is that people who consider themselves liberal and intelligent have started saying that things like "Honky Night in Canada" ARE racist, and they are very offended and think it is a major issue.

I haven't seen that. Are you sure they're not just racist propagandists posing as "liberal and intelligent"? I have a theory that 'back in the day', white males had all the good jobs no matter how incompetent they were. Now that there's competition from competent women and people of colour, the incompetents are blaming us for their lack of success. I suppose there might be some 'liberal' blowhards among that group. :D

waittheysaidwhat

arielc, the best example I can give you is the one I mentioned about Idle No More. There have been a lot of comments on their Facebook site by people who have been supporting the Idle No More movement (and are even actively involved in it), but who are now stopping their support because of the "racism" that they believe Idle No More is propagating. And this was all because of the post about how white people have privilege. 

A few examples of those comments.

"I am disgusted and saddened by this page's continued focus on white privilege [...] I reported a very racist post on this page. and you send me a link to an angry blog. good grief. you are replying by sending a link to someone’s rantings. that is just sad.

I am so ashamed to have supported this page now that I can see how this is how it is run."

"im starting to get really irritated by all this negativity towards white people lately. way to be divisive, because that will build popular support for you movement! I don't know if you've noticed, but you are going to need the support of whites to get anything done politically to change things."

"wtf ever. Like being racist back is going to solve everything. And if this movement is about hating white people, then I do not wish to be a part of it."

"The racism here is getting to me. Dividing the world into 'good people' and 'settlers' isn't going to get us where we need to go. I'm out of here."

 

"Well, I have loved this group for a long time but being white I DECIDE to say adios."

 

And there are many many more like this. 

[identifying information removed by moderator]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Hi wtsw! Welcome to babble and thanks for opening this thread. I agree with virtually everything you've written. Just a friendly reminder to avoid using personally identifying info that could open rabble.ca to legal action (even if it was originally posted on an open forum like Facebook). Along those lines, I've removed the names of the authors of the above comments.

Thanks!

6079_Smith_W

@ waittheysaidwhat

Unfortunately some people don't have the choice of just quitting a website and saying adios to discrimination.

You know, I said above that people often bring up reverse racism as a means of denial; I forgot to mention that they also do so as a way of trying to equate the occasions when white people have to deal with something, with what others face every day.

Some white person got offended? Maybe it was a comment that crossed a line in some way. Does that mean there there might not also be something there that the offended person just doesn't want to face? Assuming the comment was out of line - do we also walk away from other responibilities and good causes just because we run into a bit of friction? Do you imagine that non-white people, or women, don't have to put up with that in order to get good work done?

I accept your good intention here, but it is not the same... at all.

(edit)

Sorry.. I got confused there for a sec and thought you were arguing the contrary. My apologies. My only excuse is too much multitasking.

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Ha! I was reading your post Winston and trying to figure out which bone you were trying to pick with WTSW. Your edit makes it all clear to me.

6079_Smith_W

Yes. I'd say failing memory and old age, but I think I have insulted enough people already. Suffice it to say that I now remember I agree with the OP.

waittheysaidwhat

6079_Smith_W wrote:

(edit)

Sorry.. I got confused there for a sec and thought you were arguing the contrary. My apologies. My only excuse is too much multitasking.

 

No problem, I can stop drafting my defensive response now. 

I agree, walking away from responsibilities and causes so easily is a sign of a much bigger problem. One person made the comment that the white privilege post ended up being a good test to weed out the people who weren't actual allies and supporters of Indigneous causes. I don't agree with her that it is necessarily a good thing, but it's true that it is a test to see how dedicated people really are to issues that have the power to just walk away from. 

Paladin1

So people were supporting idlenomore, felt like there was racisim leveled towards them and they withdrew their support.  I don't see how that's anything but a loss.

 

I noticed the same thing in the community idlenomore pages I was a member of, I watched how the support and rallys completely loss steam thanks to infighting and supporters fighting with other supporters.

Paladin1

waittheysaidwhat wrote:

 but it's true that it is a test to see how dedicated people really are to issues that have the power to just walk away from. 

I don't think that's a fair assessment. To a lot of people this was their first real exposure to these issues.  You know, baby steps. You can't expect someone just becoming aware of these issues to have unwavering dedication to it can you?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I don't think people in INM should have to apologize for other peoples ignorance.  If you know nothing about Canada's history and our relationship to the FN's then you were asleep in socials and not paying any attention to the news in real life over the last two decades.  It would be nice if they had learnt something but apparently not.

I can understand why it would be hard to see allies in people who don't understand privilege.

janfromthebruce

I went back on the page to see the whole context of the reference to the original post on FB. And people become involved with social movements, like Idle No More, at various places in their knowledge and understanding.

Thinking about Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Critical pedagogy is a good place to start where the oppressed and the oppressor both need to throw away the internalized oppressor in order to rid one of dichotomies such as the colonizer-colonized.

Freire suggests that populist dialogue is a necessity to revolution; that impeding dialogue dehumanizes and supports the status quo. This is but one example of the dichotomies Freire identifies in the book. Others include the student-teacher dichotomy and the colonizer-colonized dichotomy.

So does one's dialogue dehumanize the other and thus support the status quo. That's suppression of voice and dignity for all.

6079_Smith_W

@ jan

(hoping I understand your argument here)

Models are at best something that illustrates a dynamic. As true as they are, none of them shows the whole picture.

It would be nice if we we all able to walk through life with someone holding our hand and supporting us when we run into flak. But that is not reality. And while it is a drag (really, it is) that some white guys get their feelings hurt, focusing on that is a bit ironic, considering the motivation for these movements - the far greater flak faced by women and non-white people.

Yes, in a perfect world these resistance movements would be, by definition, perfect, and all of its supporters would know to be inclusive to the Nth degree. Since we are not in that perfect world, perhaps the main focus should be on getting society to move just a little bit, while recognizing our own shortcomings.

 

comeon

waittheysaidwhat wrote:

So, the next time someone says something racist about white people to you, realize that this must mean that that person still experiences racism FROM white people in their life, and that is why they have animosity towards white people. Therefore, the solution won’t be found in you getting upset for yourself, it will be found in trying to fix the situation for oppressed people, making things equal for all races, and then people will no longer have a reason to think ill of white people.

 

So what you're saying is there are NO racist none white people in the world who are just plain racist, like some white people? I'm just saying....And i am not white, btw

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I like the definition others have offered.  Racism = Racial prejudice + power.  There is undoubtedly racism in most societies but that does not change the fact that systemic racism is rampant in our own society and the main beneficiaries are white people, whether we like it or not.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Hi comeon! I'll let WTSW answer your question, but I don't see him/her as saying that at all. My take on it is more along the lines of the equation Tehanu shared upthread. That of course it is possible for persons of colour to harbour prejudice or even bigotry against white people, but because systemic power still resides in whiteness, and racism only functions within this system, racism can only function from sites of power to sites of less power. So, even if a POC were to say "I hate all white people," it has no teeth in the context of institutionalized racism because white people retain the privilege of whiteness and all the advantages held therein.

comeon

All i'm saying is racism is ALOT about stereotyping, and the 1st post stereotypes ALOT. My mother is black and my father is white, and I can tell you i definately see both sides of the story. What I will say is if some of my black friends were making fun of white people, I would take offense just as I would if some of my white friends were to do the same. Racism is racism, and 2 wrongs don't make a right (to say white people should just take it based on past digressions). That's like saying the jews have a right to always hate germans.

There  no doubt is systemic racism, however, there are also some advantages to being a POC. For instance (and this is just hypothetical), I have several white friends who are applying to the police force. I could get a job much easier than them, and is that right? You can say 'eployment equality is necessary to stop racism'. I say this : what if there is no racism, and mostly whites were hired as they were the best applicants? We all know that isn't true, but my point is you can't technically prove racism based on numbers of whites vs blacks employed. What can be proven as racist IS hiring POC over whites simply because they are POC. YOu are purposely not hiring the white applicants because of skin colour. Racism. I also find it offensive as a POC that there are certain olive branches extended, like I'm not good enough to compete with white applicants. Obviously this is a very basic example, but it touches close to home.

OVerall, racism, whether directed at whites, blacks, asians, etc. is wrong on any and all level and I will not tolerate it ever. If you are white and think you should tolerate it - you simply suffer from white guilt (yes that also exists). Don't try to tell POC how they feel, and believe me there are several POC who are very rich and privellaged that I know who are just as racist with no cause.

Maysie Maysie's picture

waittheysaidwhat

comeon wrote:

What can be proven as racist IS hiring POC over whites simply because they are POC. YOu are purposely not hiring the white applicants because of skin colour. Racism. I also find it offensive as a POC that there are certain olive branches extended, like I'm not good enough to compete with white applicants.

 

Programs like Affirmative Action and Employment Equity are not put in place to say that each individual PoC candidate is not otherwise good enough but will be hired because of their skin colour. They attempt to recognize disadvantages that certain groups of people face, both historically and in the present, and to therefore somewhat even out the playing field. It may not be a perfect system, but without it then someone disadvantaged may end up staying disadvantaged. You personally do not need to like these programs, but I think understanding the concepts behind them is important. 

Also, it is a bit simplistic to say that white guilt is the only reason I have said what I did in my post. What is actually going on is that I choose not to simply accept all different types of racism as equal, but rather to look at each in its specific context. I don't believe it is possible to say that making the comment that white people are privileged (the example I used in my post that some people found racist) will have an effect on white people the way racism against PoC may affect their lives. 

eastnoireast

of course racism and other isms flow many ways. 

it is racist of whites to suggest that racism flows only one way, thus implying that white has _all the power and is universally seen as the center of the human universe.  ha! i don't think so. 

two key points mentioned in this thread:

1) where the power lies is the critical element.

2) the difference between individual and systemic racism.

people are people and will rise to whatever level of hatred and love their situation and inner compass allows.

-

 

Rykoshet

eastnoireast wrote:

of course racism and other isms flow many ways. 

it is racist of whites to suggest that racism flows only one way, thus implying that white has _all the power and is universally seen as the center of the human universe.  ha! i don't think so.

What? Racism does flow one way. At least in practice, in our society. There is a clear hierarchy of power (ie, take a look at any of the Parliament of any country that we are discussing here), with the privileged white people at the top. The racism flows downstream from that. 

Anything directed back in this direction is spite for their racism -- but until it can actually oppress the people at the top, it is far from enacting racist against them.

Quote:
two key points mentioned in this thread:

2) the difference between individual and systemic racism.

This is not a key point. There is no such thing as individual racism, as some have stated. Racism is just that (as the Venn diagram above so wonderfully points out) -- the structural oppression of non-whites through numerous channels. Does it matter who is taking part in it? No. There is no way to be "racist as/to an individual". Nobody who is racist is being racist in some way or for some purpose that could be labeled individual. Just try to imagine how a conversation about that could go:

A: Hey man. I'm racist against all minorities because it gives me power over them. The more power I get, the less human I see them as, and then more racist against them I become!!

B: Oh, OK. I'm just racist against one group of people. Actually, just against one person in that group. I'm totally not racist against anybody else, and I get nothing out the racism, so I'll stop doing it soon.

Firstly, in order "join in the racism", your actions would have to oppress the people you direct your racism towards. So in the case of the OP's example where she faced "an unmistakable case of racism against a white person", she is simply combining some very different issues:

1. Racism against women (Sexism) -- applies because that is a male-centric country

2. Classism against eastern europeans -- kind of applies

3. Stereotyping of eastern european women (with clear undertones of power-dominance, of course)

I am sure that such a situation is very serious for many women, but if we were to build a matrix of similar situations and compare the "level of privilege" and "severity of outcome", we would probably find a very sad inverse correlation.

My point is not that bad acts do not happen to white people, that are race-related. It is simply that this is not "racism", or "reverse-racism", or anything of the sort. It is just what happens when one groups oppresses another -- backlash. Whether it's a wife finally striking out at an abusive husband, or black people calling white people 'cracker', it's what happens when one person/group puts down another person/group for 20/200 years.

Just like affirmative action is not racism against whites, it is the attempted correction of unfathomable exploitation of minorities, at the "expense" of whites. [PLEASE NOTE --> If you really think about it, affirmative action could also be viewed as racism by wealthy white (the types of people (ie, politicians) who will never need to apply for jobs because they have more connections than a game of connect-four) on less privileged whites (the ones who will actually need to apply for these jobs). There is NO WAY to view it as racism of minorities against whites]

Quote:
people are people and will rise to whatever level of hatred and love their situation and inner compass allows.

This is just absurd, and I'm not buying it. Sorry. You're trying to excuse what is happening, which is that people with privilege do not want to give it up, and through their actions or inactions, conscious or unconscious, are systemically oppressing those less privileged. There is no inner compass or hatred or love, or at the very least, these things have no impact on whether people are racist or not.

So, next time that white person says "I am so totally not racist" ask them when the last time they turned down a job/date/favour because the same wasn't offered to an equally qualified person of colour. I am "so totally not racist" but I will be the first to admit that what I have in this world was given to me or came easily to me, in a very large part, because I'm white. And the fact that I didn't turn it down and demand that what I have (or at least an equal share of it) be given to minorities instead, MAKES ME A RACIST WHITE PERSON!!!

comeon

Rykoshet wrote:

eastnoireast wrote:

of course racism and other isms flow many ways. 

it is racist of whites to suggest that racism flows only one way, thus implying that white has _all the power and is universally seen as the center of the human universe.  ha! i don't think so.

What? Racism does flow one way. At least in practice, in our society. There is a clear hierarchy of power (ie, take a look at any of the Parliament of any country that we are discussing here), with the privileged white people at the top. The racism flows downstream from that. 

Anything directed back in this direction is spite for their racism -- but until it can actually oppress the people at the top, it is far from enacting racist against them.

Quote:
two key points mentioned in this thread:

2) the difference between individual and systemic racism.

This is not a key point. There is no such thing as individual racism, as some have stated. Racism is just that (as the Venn diagram above so wonderfully points out) -- the structural oppression of non-whites through numerous channels. Does it matter who is taking part in it? No. There is no way to be "racist as/to an individual". Nobody who is racist is being racist in some way or for some purpose that could be labeled individual. Just try to imagine how a conversation about that could go:

A: Hey man. I'm racist against all minorities because it gives me power over them. The more power I get, the less human I see them as, and then more racist against them I become!!

B: Oh, OK. I'm just racist against one group of people. Actually, just against one person in that group. I'm totally not racist against anybody else, and I get nothing out the racism, so I'll stop doing it soon.

Firstly, in order "join in the racism", your actions would have to oppress the people you direct your racism towards. So in the case of the OP's example where she faced "an unmistakable case of racism against a white person", she is simply combining some very different issues:

1. Racism against women (Sexism) -- applies because that is a male-centric country

2. Classism against eastern europeans -- kind of applies

3. Stereotyping of eastern european women (with clear undertones of power-dominance, of course)

I am sure that such a situation is very serious for many women, but if we were to build a matrix of similar situations and compare the "level of privilege" and "severity of outcome", we would probably find a very sad inverse correlation.

My point is not that bad acts do not happen to white people, that are race-related. It is simply that this is not "racism", or "reverse-racism", or anything of the sort. It is just what happens when one groups oppresses another -- backlash. Whether it's a wife finally striking out at an abusive husband, or black people calling white people 'cracker', it's what happens when one person/group puts down another person/group for 20/200 years.

Just like affirmative action is not racism against whites, it is the attempted correction of unfathomable exploitation of minorities, at the "expense" of whites. [PLEASE NOTE --> If you really think about it, affirmative action could also be viewed as racism by wealthy white (the types of people (ie, politicians) who will never need to apply for jobs because they have more connections than a game of connect-four) on less privileged whites (the ones who will actually need to apply for these jobs). There is NO WAY to view it as racism of minorities against whites]

Quote:
people are people and will rise to whatever level of hatred and love their situation and inner compass allows.

This is just absurd, and I'm not buying it. Sorry. You're trying to excuse what is happening, which is that people with privilege do not want to give it up, and through their actions or inactions, conscious or unconscious, are systemically oppressing those less privileged. There is no inner compass or hatred or love, or at the very least, these things have no impact on whether people are racist or not.

So, next time that white person says "I am so totally not racist" ask them when the last time they turned down a job/date/favour because the same wasn't offered to an equally qualified person of colour. I am "so totally not racist" but I will be the first to admit that what I have in this world was given to me or came easily to me, in a very large part, because I'm white. And the fact that I didn't turn it down and demand that what I have (or at least an equal share of it) be given to minorities instead, MAKES ME A RACIST WHITE PERSON!!!

 

Rykoshet. You seem very angry. Again, I am a POC and I grew up in a 'privelaged' neighborhood, went to college etc. and have never felt racism any more than the next person (asian, white, POC, etc.). Again, racism is about stereotypes, and you are stereotyping all POC as being victims. THat is truly not the case, and again you thinking this may make you feel righteous, but it is simply white guilt. If you wish to keep thinking that way, fine. I'm just telling you not to paint every POC as a victim, it's insulting, and patronzing. Not all POC or people in general need your sympathy. That in a sense is you using your power over us, like you feel bad for us because you are better. When in fact for all you know I could be stinking rich and have less troubles in society than the average white person. I'm strictly talking in Canada, by the way. In this country i feel it is absured to think there is still EXTENSIVE systematic racism. Sorry but i don't buy it.

Rykoshet

comeon wrote:

Rykoshet wrote:
quote

Rykoshet. You seem very angry. Again, I am a POC and I grew up in a 'privelaged' neighborhood, went to college etc. and have never felt racism any more than the next person (asian, white, POC, etc.). Again, racism is about stereotypes, and you are stereotyping all POC as being victims. THat is truly not the case, and again you thinking this may make you feel righteous, but it is simply white guilt. If you wish to keep thinking that way, fine. I'm just telling you not to paint every POC as a victim, it's insulting, and patronzing. Not all POC or people in general need your sympathy. That in a sense is you using your power over us, like you feel bad for us because you are better. When in fact for all you know I could be stinking rich and have less troubles in society than the average white person. I'm strictly talking in Canada, by the way. In this country i feel it is absured to think there is still EXTENSIVE systematic racism. Sorry but i don't buy it.

So, you were hurt by my comments because they seemd to be "insulting, and patronizing" to yourself, as a person of colour.

And yet in your next sentence you say that the case may very well be that you, as said person of colour, may "have less troubles in society than the average white person".

You claim to "have never felt racism any more than the next person", but then your very comments prove that you felt I was racist against you. "Racism is about stereotypes, and you are stereotyping all POC as being victims." So I have, basically, stereotyped you as a victim, which is racist against you. And you felt upset enough (reasonably) about that to accuse me of white guilt. 

Maybe it's just too subtle to see very clearly, but this is what I'm talking about. Racism lives on, even when white people like me believe they are acting with good intensions.

6079_Smith_W

@ Rykoshet

I don't want to get away from the main point, which is that focusing on discrimination against those in power is counterproductive, and sometimes a tactic to deny that power and the degree to which those in power are oblivious to it.

And I agree with a lot of what you say, but I think it is a semantic argument. Me, I call all of it racism, because it is not just the oppression that hurts, it is the hatred. And it hurts everyone, including the person who holds that attitude, and including those who are TAUGHT that attitude.

To say that without that combination of power there is nothing there sets up all kinds of absurdities. How can it be a backlash if it is directed against someone who is oblivious to it, and has done no harm? What about if it happens in a school or small community - at what point are we talking about REAL power? What about hatred between communities which are fairly evenly matched, or where a historic imbalance has reversed? Is there nothing there?

And really, I don't think all racists see themselves exercising power to oppress. I'd say many have this fucked up notion that they have to do it to defend themselves, and see themselves as the victims. And when it gets down to misconceptions about certain people being filthy, morally depraved, alcoholic, only interested in power or money, unemotional, unintelligent, or childlike, it doesn't come down to a power dynamic at all.

But again, as it says at the top, it exists, but in terms of changing things it doesn't matter.

 

comeon

Rykoshet wrote:

comeon wrote:

Rykoshet wrote:
quote

Rykoshet. You seem very angry. Again, I am a POC and I grew up in a 'privelaged' neighborhood, went to college etc. and have never felt racism any more than the next person (asian, white, POC, etc.). Again, racism is about stereotypes, and you are stereotyping all POC as being victims. THat is truly not the case, and again you thinking this may make you feel righteous, but it is simply white guilt. If you wish to keep thinking that way, fine. I'm just telling you not to paint every POC as a victim, it's insulting, and patronzing. Not all POC or people in general need your sympathy. That in a sense is you using your power over us, like you feel bad for us because you are better. When in fact for all you know I could be stinking rich and have less troubles in society than the average white person. I'm strictly talking in Canada, by the way. In this country i feel it is absured to think there is still EXTENSIVE systematic racism. Sorry but i don't buy it.

So, you were hurt by my comments because they seemd to be "insulting, and patronizing" to yourself, as a person of colour.

And yet in your next sentence you say that the case may very well be that you, as said person of colour, may "have less troubles in society than the average white person".

You claim to "have never felt racism any more than the next person", but then your very comments prove that you felt I was racist against you. "Racism is about stereotypes, and you are stereotyping all POC as being victims." So I have, basically, stereotyped you as a victim, which is racist against you. And you felt upset enough (reasonably) about that to accuse me of white guilt. 

Maybe it's just too subtle to see very clearly, but this is what I'm talking about. Racism lives on, even when white people like me believe they are acting with good intensions.

 

How about you treat everyone as equal is my point? we live in Canada, not in a 3rd world country. No offense, and some people on here feel so politically correct that racism is rampant in their minds when it doesn't actually exist. Please explain to me, how I, as a POC living in the Greater Toronto Area faces more limitations than you as a white person. Compare us as equals - so in your example either we are both from poverty, both middle class, or both born wealthy. Please explain how I suffer more hardship than you. Because I can tell you that in my life, I don't .

waittheysaidwhat

comeon wrote:

How about you treat everyone as equal is my point? we live in Canada, not in a 3rd world country. No offense, and some people on here feel so politically correct that racism is rampant in their minds when it doesn't actually exist. Please explain to me, how I, as a POC living in the Greater Toronto Area faces more limitations than you as a white person. Compare us as equals - so in your example either we are both from poverty, both middle class, or both born wealthy. Please explain how I suffer more hardship than you. Because I can tell you that in my life, I don't .

I know that you directed this to Rykochet, but I just wanted to say that if you believe racism doesn't exist at all (or only in 3rd world countries?...), maybe you are in the wrong conversation. If I talk about racism it does not mean that I think every PoC suffers from racism. If you would like to excuse yourself and other privileged PoC from being included in the discussion about racial politics because you don't see racism in your lives, I think that is fine. We are discussing PoC who are not privileged, and though there are also many white people who are not privileged, they do not also have the racial element of discrimination to contend with.

6079_Smith_W

waittheysaidwhat wrote:

I know that you directed this to Rykochet, but I just wanted to say that if you believe racism doesn't exist at all (or only in 3rd world countries?...), maybe you are in the wrong conversation.

Actually I agree with you about all of us coming from perspectives which are coloured by discrimination. But I think it is important to hear all voices; certainly everything I have read so far seems significant, and in an open forum I don't think there is anyone who does not belong.

waittheysaidwhat

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I don't think there is anyone who does not belong.

You are right, there is not anyone who doesn't belong. What I said was that it is a different conversation. Of course you or anyone else can feel free to field that whole issue of whether racism exists at all in the "first world." I'm not trying to stifle any voices.

comeon

waittheysaidwhat wrote:

comeon wrote:

How about you treat everyone as equal is my point? we live in Canada, not in a 3rd world country. No offense, and some people on here feel so politically correct that racism is rampant in their minds when it doesn't actually exist. Please explain to me, how I, as a POC living in the Greater Toronto Area faces more limitations than you as a white person. Compare us as equals - so in your example either we are both from poverty, both middle class, or both born wealthy. Please explain how I suffer more hardship than you. Because I can tell you that in my life, I don't .

I know that you directed this to Rykochet, but I just wanted to say that if you believe racism doesn't exist at all (or only in 3rd world countries?...), maybe you are in the wrong conversation. If I talk about racism it does not mean that I think every PoC suffers from racism. If you would like to excuse yourself and other privileged PoC from being included in the discussion about racial politics because you don't see racism in your lives, I think that is fine. We are discussing PoC who are not privileged, and though there are also many white people who are not privileged, they do not also have the racial element of discrimination to contend with.

 

i do think racism exists. It exists in MANY different ways - from whites to POC, from POC to whites, and from POC to POC. Yes believe it or not, there may be some small business POC who are racist and will only hire POC. All i'm saying is, please give an example of a POC with no privellage living in the exact same area as a white person with no privellage. You can't just say 'systematic racism is rampant' without giving proof or some examples.

comeon

6079_Smith_W wrote:

waittheysaidwhat wrote:

I know that you directed this to Rykochet, but I just wanted to say that if you believe racism doesn't exist at all (or only in 3rd world countries?...), maybe you are in the wrong conversation.

Actually I agree with you about all of us coming from perspectives which are coloured by discrimination. But I think it is important to hear all voices; certainly everything I have read so far seems significant, and in an open forum I don't think there is anyone who does not belong.

 

couldn't agree more with you. The fact that some want to dismiss certain comments because they don't agree with them seems just plain wrong. Everyone has a voice, their OWN voice.

waittheysaidwhat

Ok, seriously? The irony. I make a comment that points out how dismissive it is of the whole discussion we were having to say that the problems are just invented by people with my opinions:

 

comeon wrote:

some people on here feel so politically correct that racism is rampant in their minds when it doesn't actually exist.

 

... and suddenly I am silencing people who have other opinions?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Systemic racism is alive and well in Canada. I didn't think that a persons race ethnicity or religion gives them the right to argue against its existence on babble.  This is an anti-racism board. 

Quote:

Poverty rates among visible minority persons in Canada, particularly recent visible minority immigrants, are unacceptably high - greater than 50% for some groups, such as recent black immigrants. The major causes of poverty include barriers to equal participation in the job market and lack of access to permanent, skilled, and reasonably well-paying jobs. Racism also seems to be a significant cause of poverty among these groups.

The growth in the number of precarious jobs and the cuts to Canada's social programs have resulted in higher poverty rates and deeper, longer-term poverty for many vulnerable groups of Canadians over the 1990s. However, recent visible minority immigrants have faced some specific barriers that are attributable, in part, to racism.

This problem must be addressed as a separate and distinct policy issue. If Canadians fail to confront the reality of poverty that is linked to racism, there is a clear danger of producing a U.S.-style urban underclass that is marginalized and racially defined.

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

Quote:

RACIALIZED CANADIANS HAVE A GREATER RISK OF LIVING IN POVERTY

Racialized communities face high levels of poverty. The 2006 Census showed that the overall poverty rate in Canada was 11%. But for racialized persons it was 22%, compared to 9% for non-racialized persons. Within the racialized community, poverty rates varied widely, from a high of 40% for those who identified as Korean to a low of 11% for those who identified as Filipino.

...

Poverty in racialized communities is a growing problem. For example, in Toronto, the number of racialized families living in poverty increased 362% between 1980 and 2000, far greater than their population growth of 219%.

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/cnb-ncw/HS51-2-201...

 

6079_Smith_W

Look. If the issue of so-called reverse racism isn't all that relevant to fighting the systemic problem, a little squabble like this is even less relevant.

Fact is, I have also run into several people - certainly people who have no more privilege than me - who have opinions about racism and assimilation that are completely contrary to mine. I may not agree, but as people who, as nonwhite, ESL immigrants, who are in a position to know, I pay attention to, and acknowledge that perspective.

Now I agree with you, but I wouldnt' say that someone who feels differently belongs in a different conversation. It is simply a contrary position, but the issue is the same.Unless it dissolves into obstructionism, what's the problem?

And speaking of which,  that's about all I want to say about that.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

We might wind up hoist by our own petard there, k.

I'll leave it to the mods to decide if that is trumped by the principle of not silencing marginal voices. For me, if there's no damage being done, I'm prepared to allow a little leeway.

I do know that in the real world situation, I didn't feel I had any call telling my colleague from the Phillippines his opinions were wrong - only that I saw things differently.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Frankly I don't have much time to debate whether there is racism in Canada. That's why I took 5 minutes and found two quick cites to disprove the notion that there is no racism in this country. If you want to debate it fill your boots. 

waittheysaidwhat

6079_Smith_W wrote:

the principle of not silencing marginal voices.

Again, it is a pretty extreme statement to say I was doing this. I appreciate that you are trying to play the calm voice of reason, but if I disagree that a post was relevant to the discussion, I in no way have the power to stop that person from talking, nor do I want to. I believe I can point out how it doesn't connect, and go on to talk about why that is a problem?

And I have to say I agree with Kropotkin1951. The comment by Comeon did seem to be saying that racism was only a problem in the third world. They clarified afterwards somewhat, but Kropotkin's post did seem to be relevant to where 6079_Smith_W and comeon were taking the conversation.

I am also quite willing to move on. But having my contribution to the discussion misconstrued and turned into silencing marginal voices is a bit much for me. 

6079_Smith_W

I'm not debating anyone, k. And I don't think we should debate that point here, as that would be contrary to the principles of this site.

I'm just saying I wasn't about to tell my friend, who knew way more than I do about the minority experience in a discriminatory culture, that his opinion is not valid. And that doesn't mean I didn't tell him that I disagreed.

And speaking of white people declining to take offense in situations in which it isn't all that important to the big picture, how about we step back and observe that principle here?

waittheysaidwhat

6079_Smith_W wrote:

And speaking of white people declining to take offense in situations in which it isn't all that important to the big picture, how about we step back and observe that principle here?

Sounds good. So, back to the main topic of discussion, a question for everyone: Is it ok for a white person to debate with a PoC about race, or will it necessarily turn into a racial clash itself? Take me for example. If I am arguing that racism is a serious problem, and that it takes away from trying to solve the problem if white people make it about how they suffer, can I then go on to say that it also takes away from trying to solve the problem if a PoC claims that racism is not a problem? Or am I then being racist and/or making it about myself as a white person because I wished to challenge that claim? Confusing! But a real question.

6079_Smith_W

Why the debate? Why not just take the person's position for what it is?

I don't think anything negative about you, and for the most part I agree with you, and I think this is a great topic for discussion. And you have seen me fuck up once already in this thread.

But I have to tell you that the few times (three or four I remember clearly) I have heard a strong contrary position on this from a non-white person I took it very seriously, even if it didn't entirely make sense to me.

I don't just put it down to people's internalized racism, or living in a bubble  (which is no different than assuming that I know better). I just take it as a message that what we assume are absolutes aren't quite so. And that at least in a couple of the cases I experienced some people are way more optimistic about human nature than I am, which is not necessarily a bad thing. And is something to be nutrured, not crushed.

 

 

janfromthebruce

I thought this would be helpful and also maybe helpful in other topic threads where discussions get derailed. H/T to Dawg's Blawg.

Annals of racism: what's in a name?

http://wileywitch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/232001_original.jpg

6079_Smith_W

I guess the little guy in the middle must be "you're just a sock puppet", right?

Cause yeah, this is a complete train wreck.We should be wearing Hazmat suits.

 

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

This seems a propos to this conversation: Top 10 list: How not to respond to Indigenous experiences of racism in Canada

Earlier this week, Ian Campeau of the band A Tribe Called Red made headlineswhen he argued that the Nepean Redskins, a youth football league in Ottawa, should change their name because "redskin" is a slur used against First Nations people. Predictably, non-Native people flocked to the internet comment threads to voice their objections to his opinion. Below, a summary of these knee-jerk responses that are always trotted out by the masses when indigenous Canadians describe their experiences of racism, and why you should not use them. 

1. Don't bring up your own experiences of discrimination.

 My favourite comment on the Nepean Redskins name debate comes from a man who proclaims that "my ancestors came right off the boat to Canada from Scotland however, they were badly discriminated against for many years," and then goes on to suggest that it's really the Indigenous people who are racist. Classy! Listen, we all know thateveryone's ancestors were invaded by the British and so you too can lay claim to historic oppression! And everyone has at one point or another been insulted for some intrinsic quality, and it made them feel bad. But someone calling you an "evil ginger" on the playground is not the same as living in a society that tramples your human rights and dignity. And even if you think your experience is equally bad -- or even worse! -- the fact is that this particular conversation is not about you. You know that person who interrupts someone else's story to say, "Oh man, I have an even WORSE story about flying with Air Canada"? Everyone hates that person. Don't be that person.

2. Don't claim you have more important things to worry about than racism.

 Someone is always eager to point out that there are "real things to worry about," like radiation or Syria or child poverty. This is a really cool way to say, "I don't care about you or your experience, but I'll mask my indifference by pretending I am fully preoccupied by a more important cause." Did you know it's possible for different awful things to be happening, and that there is not a finite amount of consideration for the awfulness of the world? That you caring about Syria does not preclude you acknowledging that racism is a damaging force in the lives of many, and that other people might want to pay attention to that too? It's true!

The whole thing is amazing.

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