Category Archives: Racism
What Jane Elliot Has To Say About Systematic White Supremacy Is A Near Flawless Assessment That All People Should Understand.
If the first words out of your mouth are to cry ‘political correctness!’, … chances are very, very high that you are in fact part of the problem. N.K. Jemisin
White people don’t like to believe that they practice identity politics. The defining part of being white in America is the assumption that, as a white person, you are a regular, individual human being. Other demographic groups set themselves apart, to pursue their distinctive identities and interests and agendas. Whiteness, to white people, is the American default.
> Tom Scocca
they do not see color.
you are invisible.
> Nayyirah Waheed
People know about the Klan and the overt racism, but the killing of one’s soul little by little, day after day, is a lot worse than someone coming in your house and lynching you.
> Samuel L. Jackson
The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.
> Scott Woods
In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.
People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse. Teju Cole
Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third Elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they [white people] think we’re taking over.
> Junot Díaz
Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal.
> Benjamin Spock
We cannot educate white women and take them by the hand. Most of us are willing to help but we can’t do the white woman’s homework for her. That’s an energy drain. More times than she cares to remember, Nellie Wong, Asian American feminist writer, has been called by white women wanting a list of Asian American women who can give readings or workshops. We are in danger of being reduced to purveyors of resource lists.
We have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. Where we seem to have dropped the ball… is in teaching people what racism actually IS. Jon Stewart
Richard exhaled. It was like somebody sprinkling pepper on his wound: Thousands of Biafrans were dead, and this man wanted to know if there was anything new about one dead white man. Richard would write about this, the rule of Western journalism: One hundred dead black people equal to one dead white person.
>Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
…being Latino means being from everywhere, and that is exactly what America is supposed to be about.
> Raquel Cepeda
You and I both know, deep in your heart, you agree with me. And I will prove it with one hypothetical scenario: you are alone in a closet of your home. There`s a bright red button. You can push that button and presto all Negroes and Jews and all other colored people are instantly removed from the North American continent and returned to their native countries. You`d push it, wouldn`t you whitey? See? See? See? in the final analysis, you agree with me. But of course, you wouldn`t do antything to bring that scenario about, or any other scenario favorable to your Race.
> Frazier Glenn Miller
Things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like “well I don’t hate black people so I’m not a racist,” but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change.
> Dave Chappelle
Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.
> Audre Lorde
The police can go to downtown Harlem and pick up a kid with a joint in the streets. But they can’t go into the elegant apartments and get a stockbroker who’s sniffing cocaine.
Often white people hear blame whenever the issue of racism is brought up, whether or not blame has been placed on whites. As beneficiaries of racism and white privilege, you sometimes take a defensive posture even when you are not being individually blamed. You may personalize the remarks, not directed personally at you. It is the arrogance of your privilege that drags the focus back to whites. When whites are being blamed or personally accused of racist behavior, this defensiveness and denial further alienate you and may preclude you from examining your possible racist behavior.
The new racism: Racism without ‘racists.’ Today, racial segregation and division often result from habits, policies, and institutions that are not explicitly designed to discriminate. Contrary to popular belief, discrimination or segregation do not require animus. They thrive even in the absence of prejudice or ill will. It’s common to have racism without racists.
> Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
There are a lot of readers who pride themselves on not paying attention to the identities of their favorite writers. Some of them think this means they’re not prejudiced. I don’t know anyone who isn’t, myself included. But let’s say for argument’s sake that those particular readers in fact are not prejudiced. How many books by writers of color do you think you’ll find on their bookshelves? I’d lay odds that if there are any at all, they will be far outnumbered by the books by white authors. Not necessarily because those readers are deliberately choosing mostly white/male authors. They don’t have to. The status quo does it for them. So those readers’ self-satisfied “I don’t know” is really an “I don’t care enough to look beyond my nose.” And that’s cool. So many causes, so little time. But don’t pretend that indifference and an unwillingness to make positive change constitute enlightenment.
> Nalo Hopkinson
I get how it can be news to some of you that people are victimized by systems legitimated by your nation, countrymen, and god. But I’m black and female and southern. I call that Tuesday.
> Tressie McMillan Cottom
More than 2 million people found themselves behind bars at the turn of the twenty-first century, and millions more were relegated to the margins of mainstream society, banished to a political and social space not unlike Jim Crow, where discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education was perfectly legal, and where they could be denied the right to vote. The system functioned relatively automatically, and the prevailing system of racial meanings, identities, and ideologies already seemed natural. Ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black or Latino, yet the mass incarceration of communities of color was explained in race-neutral terms, an adaptation to the needs and demands of the current political climate.
> Michelle Alexander
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
> Desmond Tutu
Teachers, consider the possibility that you may unconsciously commit racial microaggressions in the classroom? Watch this short video, titled ‘The Invisible Discriminator’ – Stop. Think. Respect. This Public Service Announcement provides clear examples of microaggressions in everyday life. Racial microaggressions such as these may occur across all types of interracial communications; however, those that have the potential for the greatest harm are those perpetrated by majority culture individuals toward persons in disempowered racial groups.
According to Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology and Education in TC’s Counseling Psychology program in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, racial microaggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults that potentially have harmful psychological impact on the target person or group”
Let’s switch the scene to your classroom. Now, reflect on your physical, verbal and non-verbal behaviors towards students of color.
Ask yourself three tough questions.
1. How do I behave and act around students of color?
2. How do students of color perceive my behaviors and actions toward them?
3. Do I commit racial microaggressions toward students of color?
Consider the possibility that you may commit racial microaggressions. Stop and think about how those comments or actions may cause real distress and harm to them.
Four strategies that may reduce racial microaggressions
1. Acknowledge – acknowledge you may unconsciously commit racial microaggressions. Only then can then change your subconscious attitudes and ultimately your behavior towards students of color. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.
2. Counter – counter your hidden bias with positive images of people of color. Distribute stories and pictures that portray stereotype-busting images – posters, newsletters, annual reports, speaker series, and podcasts throughout your classroom.
3. Engage – engage with students of color by focusing on your similarities, yet appreciating your differences. You can achieve this by engaging with students of color in situations that involve meaningful activity.
4. Accept – accept their racial reality by looking at situations or experiences from their vantage. Do not minimize their racial identity, or avoid the discomfort of discussing racial issues with them.
All of these strategies require work and I encourage you to keep doing them. As long as racial microaggressions remain hidden, invisible, unspoken and excused as innocent slights with minimal harm, individuals will continue to insult, demean, alienate, and oppress marginalized groups. It is incumbent upon educators to make every effort to recognize and address racial microaggressions in our schools.
White Privilege Explained In 3 Easy (ish) Steps
Though people dumped on Bill O’Reilly for not understanding white privilege, the truth is most white people don’t understand it. I know I didn’t — until it was thoroughly explained to me in a full semester graduate school course. Here’s a short, info-packed explanation.
1) Examine The Word Privilege
common misperception: privilege = rich
actual meaning in this context: material, psychological, and convenience advantages
Refocus the conversation by examining a few other ‘privileged’ American social statuses, such as…
Able-bodied privilege. Able-bodied people have the privilege of:
- getting around pretty easily by walking, driving, or taking public transportation
- not always having to call ahead to find out if the location has ramps and/or elevators
- not having to worry about being pitied, not hired, not invited because of their body
Sexual-orientation privilege. Straight people have the privilege of:
- being open about who they love, date, or marry with out fear of harassment
- marrying who they love
- sharing tax breaks, health insurance, and other job benefits as a family
- not worrying about being ridiculed, not hired, not invited because of who they love
Class privilege. Middle and upper-middle class people have the privilege of:
- living in a neighborhood with access to adequate public education and other resources
- leveraging income and assets to produce more income and assets
- participating in clubs and activities that build social networks that increase access to goods, services, and more social networks
2) Examine The Word White
common misperception: white is a natural, biological term
actual meaning in this context: a legal term created in 1681 to describe a group of people from assorted European countries
Provide a quick education on the term’s history.
- White is a legal term first inserted into Maryland Law in 1681 and still recognized today.
- The term white was invented in the years after the 1676 Bacon’s Rebellion as wealthy plantation owners feared impending demands for rights from the racially mixed and politically united masses.
- In an effort to retain control, the colonial elite first attempted the term Christian (whoops, people can convert) and sufficiently British-like(whoops, a little vague) before settling on the term white.
- Over the years, decades, and centuries the construction of racial categories and inherent human value came to feel like a natural order.
- Over the years, decades, and centuries white achievement came to be understood as evidence of superior morals, intelligence, and work ethic as opposed to white-favored laws, policies, and practices.
- Since the term white became attached to rights and resources, every group new to America has fought to be white. The winners? Irish, Italian, Jewish, Russian, German, and other ‘white ethnics’ who now fall into the racial assignment: white. Who were the deciders? The Christian, British-like, white folks already in power.
To learn more about the legal history of the term white, read Birth of a White Nation, by Jacqueline Battalora
To learn more about the conceptual ideas about whiteness, read The History of White People, by Dr. Nell Irwin Painter
3) Now …. Examine White Privilege
common misperception: white privilege is limited to slavery and Jim Crow Laws
how it actually works: white privilege is the ongoing pattern of material, psychological, and convenience advantages conferred to individuals able to be perceived, both legally and practically, as white
In America, white people are more likely to:
- have had parents and/or grandparents who were able to live in white-designated towns and neighborhoods that provided access to social networks and adequate public education later used for gainful employment
- have lived and continue to live in white-dominated towns and neighborhoods that provide access to social networks and adequate public education later used for gainful employment
- have had parents and/or grandparents whose retirements were funded by the social security program, a program that advantaged white people by excluding domestic and agricultural workers, disproportionately people of color
- be free of financially supporting their family elders
- have had parents and/or grandparents who received mid 20th century GI Bill benefits – low-interest mortgages and free Higher Ed tuition. (96% of black GIs were unable to access the bill’s benefits)
- have ancestors who came to America and, despite initial discrimination, were ultimately able to become labeled white
- have a sense that government institutions and agencies provide fair and equal treatment and will protect their rights and safety
- be enjoying the compounded material, psycological, and convenience advantages of all of the above
- be able to get through each day without being followed or questioned or worse by security or police
- be able to live, work, and study in communities where their race is the race of the people in power
- be able to study the history of their racial group in schools throughout the school year
- be perceived by their teachers (majority white) as capable of high academic achievement and good behavior
- be able to watch films and TV shows that depict members of their racial group in a positive light
- be believed
- be hired
- be promoted
- suffer fewer stress diseases
- live longer
- believe that achievement is based mostly on individual merit
I have stumbled and struggled to understand white privilege. You can read all about my cringeworthy journey in Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race.
OMG – I Get It! Now What?
Great! You get it. That’s huge. There’s lots to learn once the paradigm shift occurs. Unfortunately, there’s nothing white people can do to get rid of their privilege until America’s institutions use their power to dismantle our old inequitable systems and structures. But hey, people run those, right? So, educate yourself, learn to talk about it – which can be shockingly tongue-tying at first — then, use your accumulating wisdom and skill to engage other white people who may also appreciate some clarity on the issue.
Take The Challenge
If you’re really fired up, take the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge!
– See more at: http://debbyirving.com/how-to-explain-white-privilege-in-three-easy-ish-steps/#sthash.FguLJYZJ.dpuf
“Wow, you’re so articulate.”
“Are you the cleaning lady?”
“Do you have a Ph.D.?”
“James? What’s your real Asian name?”
You’ve heard (or heard of) statements like these. Students and scholars call them “microaggressions”—casual, everyday comments and questions that might not rise to the level of a verbal altercation or a physical beatdown, but are rooted in stereotyping and racially-biased assumptions nevertheless.
Some microaggressions are obvious. But it can take a well-tuned ear to perceive the subtleties and nuances in others. The people delivering coded comments might actually intend them as compliments, not realizing that they are holding on to stereotypes that are invisible to them.
Added over time, these slights and jabs—at scholars of color’s appearance, intelligence, scholarly work, and their mere presence on campus—can take an emotional and physical toll. Some underrepresented scholars have told me they’re exhausted from being battle-rammed in interactions with hiring committees, with students in the classroom, and in department meetings with fellow faculty members.
The greatest microaggression, some say, is that they feel unable to express their displeasure. That’s because they don’t want to be perceived as “angry” people of color who constantly play “the race card.” A few others say they’ve learned not to get angry or paranoid: Microaggressions, they say, reflect the flaws of the people dishing them out. Better to invest their time and energy on working on things they can change.
These issues are explored in a new film called Dear White People, out in wide release today, which takes a satirical look at how four black students at a fictitious Ivy League college navigate stereotypes and racial slights. The film comes with a companion book, Dear White People: A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in ‘Post-Racial’ America—a tongue-in-cheek guide designed to help white people learn what is and isn’t appropriate to say or do when interacting with black peers. For example: Don’t touch a black person’s hair without permission. Don’t dress up in blackface for a Halloween party. Don’t date a black person just to satisfy a racial fetish. Things like that.
Inspired by the film and the book, I was curious about what other microaggressions real graduate students and professors from different ethnic and racial backgrounds experience. So I reached out to a few dozen folks who were eager to share examples of comments they’ve heard in academic settings.
Here they are. Consider this our own manual to academic microaggressions—a half-funny, half-helpful guide to how some comments might unintentionally come across. And remember: These came from the scholars themselves, so don’t kill the messenger.
The Microaggression Translation Chart for Academics
– See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/775-dear-white-academics#sthash.VuC5ICXl.dpuf
Whiteness Project: Inside the White Caucasian Box is the first installment of a multiplatform investigation into how Americans who identify as “white” experience their ethnicity. Director and Producer Whitney Dow discusses the making of this collection of 24 interviews filmed in Buffalo, NY in July 2014.
I am a white, middle class male professor at a big, public university, and every year I get up in front of a hundred and fifty to two hundred undergraduates in a class on the history of race in America and I ask them to shout white racial slurs at me.
Published on Apr 15, 2014
This Excerpt from 1992 episode with teacher Jane Elliott’s showed “The Oprah Winfrey Show” at its best. The Iowa schoolteacher speaks after applied her famous blue-eyes-vs.-brown-eyes experiment to the show’s studio audience, separating the people on the basis of eye pigment and giving one group preferential treatment over the other; by the time the show started, the resentment fostered by this brief period of inequality spilled over into visible, simmering hostility. As a statement about the roots of racism, Elliott’s exercise was powerful stuff — the fact that it was initially designed to impart the lesson for grade-school children didn’t dim its impact on the show’s adult viewers.