Racism

I recently came across this little gem on Myspace.com, the repository of wisdom that it is:

You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you, so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?

You have the United Negro College Fund.

You have Martin Luther King Day.

You have Black History Month.

You have Cesar Chavez Day.

You have Yom Hashoah

You have Ma’uled AlNabi

You have the NAACP.

You have BET.

If we had WET(white entertainment television) …we’d be racist.

If we had a White Pride Day… you would call us racist.

If we had white history month… we’d be racist.

If we had an organization for only whites to “advance” our lives… we’d be racist.

If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships…you know we’d be racist.

In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights…you would call us racist.

Did you know that some high school students decided to make a club for only the white students because the other ethnicities had them… they all got sent to court for being racist but the African American, Latino, and Asian clubs were not even questioned.

You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you’re not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.

I am white.

I am proud.

But, we get called racist for it…

Why is it that only whites can be racists?

Now watch, I’ll be a racist for posting this…

So what?

I am anything but racist.

People just get mad because they know it’s the truth…

I would think that most reasonable people could very easily see this ignorance for what it is, but the scary truth of the matter is that there are far too many people in the US these days who buy into this sort of thinking. There are two different issues at hand in this statement or declaration: the issue of culture and ethnicity, and the issue of power and privilege.

Where culture and ethnicity are concerned, it seems that the fatal mistake the author has made is that of equating race with ethnicity/cultural heritage. As a white male who grew up in the rural Midwest, I certainly understand what it’s like to have no concept of cultural heritage. I once held this same view, that if the Asian Americans and the Mexican Americans (etc) could have groups at school, then why couldn’t we have a club for White kids? The fact is that White people do have various groups to celebrate their heritage; as a matter of fact, my hometown still celebrates Swedish Heritage Days. But in my experience, whenever my White friends have expressed pride about being White, it had nothing to do with culture and everything to do with not being racially “other”. As far as I can tell, it’s been fairly rare that any of my White friends have much or any sense of connection to their ethnic roots. Of course, most of them have been quick to claim either their Italian or Irish blood, but wouldn’t be able to tell you much/anything about those cultures that isn’t common knowledge. I would think that one of the reasons for having clubs that celebrate ethnic backgrounds would be to help preserve and show appreciation for cultural traditions and background. Many White Americans probably have grown up with very little cultural heritage or tradition that is not a part of the larger dominant American culture. People whose cultural roots aren’t as well-represented (or represented at all) by mainstream culture are forced to make special efforts to preserve their traditions and find others who share their culture. The message in this statement above seems to come from a place of fearing or feeling threatened by efforts to cherish or preserve culture that is not yet a part of the mainstream, as well as an underlying suspicion that White Americans don’t have much culture to celebrate. I’m sure that’s much truer for some White Americans than for others. As for myself, I feel that I have a wealth of cultural heritage that was bestowed on me by my family of origin, my upbringing, and the place where I was raised. However, unlike many groups who have heritage clubs, my ethnic background hasn’t really had a whole lot to do with my cultural heritage, and my cultural heritage is very well-represented in mainstream culture. Why would I need a club?

The issue of power and privilege is a little different. Like I said before, it would seem that most reasonable people would have no problem recognizing that our system affords many advantages to both those who are economically privileged and to people whose own cultural background is best aligned with mainstream culture. I still find it surprising when I meet young White upper-middle class males who are very resentful at the idea that any privileges or opportunities could be given to those who have been underprivileged in some way. The part that baffles me most is that these young men can be so blind to just how much they have had available to them that is simply not available to so many other people, or would require a tremendous deal of effort for other people to attain. I grew up in a single-parent home below the poverty line with five siblings, and I believe that the fact that I grew up in a middle-class community with a decent public school system has had a very serious impact on my ability to complete a bachelor’s degree and begin work on a master’s degree. Many people do not have that privilege, and I firmly believe that efforts should be made to remove barriers that prevent many underprivileged students from pursuing an education, be those barriers economic or cultural.

Finally, the post included an interesting selection of religious holidays. The author seems to have forgotten that “we” have Christmas and Easter, among other things. California may have Cesar Chavez day, but in my native Illinois we had Casimir Pulaski day, to honor a Polish-American figure from the Revolutionary War. The author also seems to ignore the fact that the vast majority of television already caters specifically to White middle class viewers. It wouldn’t make much sense to create a “WET” when most channels already constitute White entertainment television. All told, it is the author’s inability or unwillingness to grasp the differences between race, ethnicity, and culture that are at issue here. While it may not constitute blatant racism, it certainly does indicate a very unfortunate lack of sensitivity to and understanding of the issues at hand.

Kill whitey! 😉

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One Response to Racism

  1. The Irish Madman says:

    your point about BET failed to acknowledge that the mainline entertainment industry aims at the audience with the money — typically, the White one.

    more importantly, both of you sidestep the details of the historical view. take a black kid, an asian kid, a latino, and the author of the tirade [the first tirade]. what were all four of each of your grandfathers doing a lifetime ago? the asians immigrated to escape a variety of dictatorships, the blacks were being raised by people who might personally remember slavery, the latinos were probably scratching it out in the dirt of central america (if they weren’t being fucked by Dole or Chiquita, or some other American-owned company), while the sires of the original author were enjoying the privileges of their skin color. even if they were thugs, they were better off than black thugs … and maybe better off than black businessmen.

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