Because when I see Chris, I don’t make a big deal about it, but if I were to just pop off with “Hey, I can I have a cookie?”, he might get that I’m extending his joke, but the current atmosphere, being what it is, he’d probably wonder what the fuck is with me, speaking up now and saying that, of all things. And he’d probably wish to put some distance between us.
“White people do X” on the surface offends the sensibility that many [white? I honestly don’t know, where I grew up everyone was white…] people had driven into our heads by well-meaning elementary-school teachers, guidance counselors and the nicer subset of Sunday school teachers that all people are unique and equal and that the worst thing you can do is generalize. Of course, this is bullshit, there are a lot worse things you can do than generalize, such as prop up a system of racial inequality using racial generalizations as a justification. (see also, the watered-down definition of racism that ignores power structures)
But instilling a knee-jerk, Pavlovian response to generalization and stereotyping is/was the best they could do, given their level of acceptance of history, their knowledge, the amount of flexibility they in curriculum design, or the amount they thought they could get away with without setting off white backlash. I mean, they aren’t exactly equipped to give a lecture on Aime Cesaire and colonialism. To me, this [white] optimism that generic, safe lessons about basic human decency could solve brutal, painful, historical divides while not actually talking about that history peaked in the 90s (see the opening monologue of Portlandia for more on the naive hopefulness of that era, or the caricature dichotomy of MLK and Malcom X) specifically with Bill Clinton’s (in hindsight super fucking cynical) “Can’t we all just get along?” We’re now dealing with a generation, a large slice of whom cling to this non-solution as the One True Path. Basically the seeds of the Civility Liberal.
Of course, this is a popular political strategy conversation now. We’re dealing daily with politically motivated trolls aggressively using the civility liberal’s own hand-wringing self doubt about whether they are being fair an nice against them. In this context, is it backsliding, disempowering and humiliating to try to coddle the large portion of the indifferent/undecided voters who are not sure if they’re ready to believe that black people don’t deserve to be shot in the street? To me the only even semi-legitimate conversation around the wisdom of saying “White people do X” is a strategic one, along the lines of the argument that black/brown/queer people should temper their fight for equality in order to build a coalition with the racist/racism-fence-sitter wing of the white working class. But even that feels like a deadly compromise to me, AND insulting to the non-racist white working class who are already on board with a bold, progressive political platform.
*cough * weak sauce reply * cough *
Not that I believe you actually need all this to be explained to out you, like you’re a five-year-old kid, BUT…
Chris Rock himself isn’t actually relevant, as it didn’t seem like you wanted a cookie specifically from him, but from the community at large on this forum.
Let me oblige you; have a whole bunch of them, in lieu of a pat on the head…
I really appreciate your post, HMSGoose—it’s a lot of words to digest but makes so much sense. (As do so many others here—I don’t mean to imply that other posts here aren’t valuable and helpful!)
So…how did you get on board? I have trouble imagining that you got on board as a result of people being insulting and uncivil to you…??? Serious question. How did you learn, how did you make the switch?
Unfortunately, college. I’m not sure what would’ve happened to me had I stayed in Maine, though there are many with-it folks there my sisters and their kids are pretty irredeemably horrible on Facebook (so I hear…I’m out of that scene). My mom is a smart, caring and educated person and went through a heavy new-age phase, but has slipped into the “calling out my racist tendencies is worse than racism” state of whiteness.
Confession time, *gulp* as late as freshman year of college, I gave an impassioned argument to a fellow student about why it’s reverse racism that white people aren’t “allowed to say” n***a since it’s in the pop culture lexicon.
That was before I took Welfare States in Comparison, Black Thought: Beyond a Boundary, Immigration Perspectives, Latin American Relations (United Fruit, et al…) etc, etc… and marrying a mixed Chinese/Jewish girl from the hard streets of the 80s lower east side who never let an opportunity go by to shake her head at my arrogance/ignorance. I wish I had a formula, but I feel like I just got lucky.
Those look like a lot of work!
A lot of them may know what is going on around them, but feel powerless or do not know how to do more (apart from donating to the DNC). For those out there, this is a good starting point:
Not only that, it’s a problem created by people who have, by a vast margin, the most power in this country. Power to project bigotry and racism and — because they have the power – get away with it. That’s what amplifies my fears.
Gonna leave this here…
If a person of color trash talks white people and you find yourself hurt and upset by it, bare the following in mind:
The way that made you feel is an emotion that most people of color experience every single day. They have to carefully bottle that emotion up and hide it away from public view.
If you see a glimpse of that anger, don’t try to police it. Instead try to quietly empathize with where it comes from.
If you do, it won’t be about you.
(OneBox is honoring Mastodon’s content warning, so I had to copy the post.)
A lot of white people will miss the point, but not all white people will
Thanks for that
This is the America that White bigots wished for, whether they actually realize that they are bigots or not.
when i moved to colorado from texas in 1990 the thing that freaked me out the most (as opposed to living in the mountains which impressed me the most) was the nearly total absence of blacks. after i had been there 6 months i found a convenience store that was run by a black man and his family. even though it was way over on the other side of town from where i lived i would frequent that place to buy gas and incidentals because it felt at least a little bit like home. over time i got to know him and his wife and his mom. i found out that there were only two other black families in a town with a year-round population of 7500. having grown up in a rural community that was around 50% black, the unbearable whiteness of estes park was one of the chief things i had against the place.
You must not have been in Austin or Houston; I hear we’re quite populous in those cities, at least now.
I can’t imagine living without at least some diversity, and I grew up in NW Ohio. (“Why-o, Why-o.”)
the absence of diversity was in colorado, my hometown in texas was close to half black, thus my culture shock.
Oh, my bad; I misread your comment.
A lack of Black folks or other POC in Colorado absolutely makes sense to me as well.
Hell, as a teenager riding BART from my home base in Richmond to Concord freaked me out with it’s lack of diversity. After transferring in Oakland it was like a gradient effect of whiteness the further east I went.
Similarly when moving to the Seattle area in 2003 it was a similar, discomforting lack of diversity. Like, it was white people working at 7-11 and as landscapers. Thankfully it’s much more diverse here now.