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Denial is Not a River: Whites Questioning Existence of Racism

In Opinion on August 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm
Denial (song)

Image via Wikipedia. Stop looking at this picture and read the article and comment on it, already!

Here’s an interesting article on white denial of racism, and it’s especially interesting when taken as an addendum to the little ditty we ran on education pioneer Jane Elliot.

To some extent, it’s relatively easy to see how Caucasians/Whites could deny the existence of racism, certainly when you consider that for the vast majority of them it actually does not exist on a daily basis or as something that must be confronted as a daily obstacle to achievement. So, if you don’t have to see something or deal with something and it does not impact your life in any noticeable way – does it actually exist?

Read this piece from the website LA Progressive, and let us know what you think of it.

Here’s the link:

  1. Thanks for the link, but this is a pretty broad assumption isn’t it? I personally know no one that denies that racism exists, however I do deny that calling out someone on their policies is racist. What I see a lot of lately is people throwing out the word racist and applying in ways that make no sense. And before you accuse me of not knowing what racism is, I went to a mostly black school growing up and have some experience in that area. I am also the parent of a disabled child and if you think that they are not discriminated against, you have no idea what you are talking about. I have seen him spit on. beat up, set on fire and knocked into doors and out windows.

    • I think that it is to your personal credit that you do not deny the existence of racism, but also recognize that just because you do not deny racism, does not mean that all whites/Caucasian behave in the same manner.

      On the topic of disabilities, there is no debating that discrimination exists toward disabled children and disabled adults. Any and all kinds of discrimination are wrong. Period.

      • “Any and all kinds of discrimination are wrong.”

        Sorry to be a whinger, but our society does need some discrimination!

        In this speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXEIYpnlxbw) Martin Luther King talks about bring proud to be maladjusted to various social ills. He could have just as easily said, “I am proud to discriminate against theives, murderers, liars, cheats and racists.”

        Descrimination is a perfectly valid attitude to have against things that harm human flourishing. Hence I discriminate against racism because it harms human flourishing.

        Hmmm… I just checked the definition of “discrimination” and apparently it means something different in American English as opposed to Australian English. Americans tend to use it just when talking about race but for non-Americans the definition is broader. Interesting, that’s going to make some messy misunderstandings!

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how defensive some (not all) white people get when they are challenged in some small way to acknowledge the reality of racism that ethnic minorities of color experience.

    Every time I walk out the door, as a tall, proud, black and college-educated woman, I walk out into this world as a dark-skinned minority. I never get the privilege, as most white people in the US do, to walk into a world where everywhere I go, the majority of the people I see will look like me.

    I don’t have the privilege of belonging to the majority group that holds the majority of economic and political power. It is rare and unlikely that I will ever have a black doctor or dentist, a black landlord, a black professor, a black yoga teacher, a black senator or congressman/woman to turn to because there are so few of them. These are things that many white people have and take for granted: always having other white people in positions of power to turn to or they are in those positions themselves.

    None of this is to say I see myself as a victim because I live my life to the fullest and I do not let racism get in my way. But I will not be shamed into silence by those who would complain I am spreading hate or wallowing in a victim mentality just because I acknowledge the reality of racism and the hurdles we as dark-skinned minorities face.

    It is a complete joke to me to call networks like BET racist and shows like the Black Music Awards racist. When the majority white culture, through the media, keeps us at the back of the bus metaphorically speaking, and historically, rarely acknowledges our accomplishments, why shouldn’t we form our own ways (and mediums) to acknowledge ourselves?

    Because that is what programs like the Black Music Awards represent-us doing it for ourselves. Why should we wait for white culture to celebrate black culture for us, when they clearly will never get around to doing so (and certainly will never do it with equal vigor and authenticity)?

    Do you think Black history month is racist too? Or that LogoTV is anti-heterosexual because they feature programming that prominently features homosexuality? Or that Telemundo television is anti-English speaking? Give me a break. Minority groups have always had to find ways to celebrate themselves because the majority main stream white culture, due to deeply entrenched, institutionalized racism and homophobia, excludes us on many levels.

    Why is it that all the late night, multi-millionaire comedians are white males? Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien-I’m sure there are others I’ve missed. Is there not one single comedian of color that could hold a spot of equality among the other white male comedians? What about Aisha Tyler, Sommore, Carlos Mencia, Steve Harvey, Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes, Lonnie Love, or Academy Award-winning Whoopi Goldberg? Guess they’re just not qualified and nobody thinks they’re funny.

    For those white people who think racism towards dark-skinned people is non-existent, when is the last time you heard white people, as a whole, described as the least attractive, the least desirable, the least intelligent, most obese, the most dependent on welfare with the lowest test scores, most likely to steal and commit crimes with the worst health of all people?

    These negative blanket statements about the innate depraved character of black people, which have their roots in racism, are made about black people daily. . We have to go out into a world where at least some, perhaps many people think of us this way and treat us accordingly.

    I challenge you to enter into the world of blogs and see what is said about black people. It will not take long to find hundreds of racist comments where white people admit to all kinds of vicious, negative attitudes towards black people. And I say, thank you for letting us know what you really think. Because you have just openly revealed the racism that you claim does not exist.

    How would you, reading this now, like to be branded as inferior at birth because of your skin color, and never be given an opportunity to reveal who you are as an individual? How would you like to have your skin color determine your worth and have it mean you are worth-less and defective in your character?

    It is not just the US and England. In many cultures all around the world (for example, Latino, including Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican cultures, Middle Eastern, Asian, Persian, Arab, Indian and African cultures), darker-skinned people are assigned inferior status and lower worth just because they were born with dark skin.

    White people can complain they’ve been victims of racism and discrimination for various valid reasons, but overall in the West at least, white people still dominate in terms of wealth and political and economic power and the myth of white superiority still runs deep. And it is a myth, because I have never seen one shred of evidence to support the idea that white people are superior in any way to people of color. (To say nothing of the fact that , according to the Book of Revelations, the Jesus that so many white people worship had “feet the color of burnt brass,” “hair like wool,” and “toes the color of dark stones”…or that Buddha had corn-rows, a wide nose, and thick lips – until he became Americanized—or that the Sphinx had a wide nose and thick lips across its mighty face, before Napoleon told his soldiers to shoot those features off).

  3. Thanks for linking my article from intentious.com but I just want to clarify, just in case it was missed, I’m not denying that racism exists. It’s real and it’s a noxious weed in our societies. My articles are about the poor quality of debate on the subject, irrational white guilt and trying to separate culturalism from racism.

    Furthermore, the problems with racism we have in Australia are different from those in America. Most racism in Australia concerns conflicts between white Australians and people from the middle east and the treatment of the idigenous peoples. The black versus white people racism that’s so prevalent in America is wholly unfamiliar to Australians and what we have of it could very well be a cultural import because American culture imported into Australia is telling white Australians they’re horribly racist towards blacks.

    I know I spend a lot of time defending white people in my articles, but my goal is not to suggest any racial supremacy but to point out that irrational guilt is what is holding back many black Americans from flourishing and thus the implied solution of guilting white people in the same way will psychologically crimple everyone. While that would create a form of equality with everyone psychologically crimpled, it is the mentality of “the only way to stop people kicking each other is to break everyone’s legs”. Sure, it’s a solution, but it sucks. I don’t know if you have a lot of emos in America, but there is a tendancy for young people in Australia to make the victim out to be a hero and it’s not a helpful attitude to have in life.

    I think people really need to keep statistics and facts in mind at all times when discussing racism and your immigration department has published a fascinating report (http://www.prb.org/pdf07/62.4immigration.pdf) about black Americans born overseas and how they’re far more likely to succeed academically than black Americans born in America. I suspect there is something toxic in American culture that is holding the black population back from flourishing and we need to identify what is different about the black Americans born overseas that makes them more successful to help those who weren’t. I suspect it’s a cultural attitude, but you guys would know far better than me about the specifics.

    • Australia looks like an interesting place, and certainly more Americans I’m sure would benefit from traveling to other countries, if it weren’t so cost-prohibitive to do so. If you are Australian, please tell us what it’s like there compared to the US in terms of race-relations, equality (or lack thereof), education, health care, etcetera.

  4. That’s a very complicated question! We had some “race” riots a couple of years ago that shook the country because the idea of even having a “riot” is bizarre in Australia the country is so socially stable. In fact, after the recent riots in London my friends and I took comfort that our riots were just a drunken brawl in the beach in comparison. I really couldn’t begin to address this topic in a comment but a few things come to mind:

    Our relationship with our indigenous population is pathetic, it’s often too embarrassing to talk about, especially when we get to the part where we stole their children from them and had to have a referendum to give them the vote… only 40 odd years ago. So yes, that’s a seriously messed up problem we have. Then when we finally gave them their own government organisation and billions of dollars annually their own elders were so corrupt they squandered the money and furthered the impoverished of their own people more than the white people who had previously been ‘responsible’ for their well being. So a few years ago the public overwhelming supported taking away all of their political priviledges and to start running many of their communities like they were colonies/missions again. Honestly that problem is so depressing most people just prefer not to think about it much less talk about it.

    But, that said, putting the nightmare I just described aside, racism practically doesn’t exist in Australian society. The so-called “race riots” had far more to do with religion (Islam) than they did with race and the only people calling Australia racist appear to be muslims and we’ve had our own version of September 11 (The Bali Bombings) to make this a burning topic of contention in Australian society.

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