Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Light Bulb Moment

So, I'm reading the blog Stuff White People Do for information purposes when I had an interesting realization.

The blog's author, Macon D, linked to an article where a white voter noted that she was concerned that if Obama was elected he would start showing preferential treatment to black folks. As a white woman, she was not happy at this possibility and felt withholding her vote from Obama was the best course of action.


Now, this is not some new idea. We've all seen it repeated in a bunch of stories about Obama's problem with white voters, particularly those with less education and fewer job opportunities. After all, those folks are more likely to be in competition with black folks, which makes them more worried about us getting a leg up. Of course, you'll rarely hear the news media discuss the issue in that matter; they would rather focus on Rev. Wright and Obama's funny name.

But, that's another topic.

My light bulb moment came shortly after I actually paid attention to what the women was saying instead of ignoring her comment because she sounded like an ignorant cracker. Now, this woman was worried that if a black man became president he would look out for other black people and give us an unfair advantage.

yet, she was comfortable with the idea of a white man or white woman becoming president, even though the logical result of that would be white people getting an unfair advantage. Or, to take it further, she was comfortable with the fact that white people have been getting an unfair advantage since the country began because everybody who has been president has been white.

Everybody cool?

Now, that's not really a novel concept for most black folks, but anybody who has had a discussion about white privilege and Affirmative Action knows that most white people HATE to admit that point. Their self-image is tied to the idea that they succeeded because of their own hard work, not some unfair preference.

While most white people are suspicious of the motives of black folks or other minorities, they never have the same suspicion about themselves. This is a product of the belief by most white folks that they have an innate ability to see issues more objectively than black people because their genetically superior intellect is not clouded by anger and bitterness.

White people believe black people have an irrational tendency to see racism in every situation, while white people are, of course, above that. This is not backed up by history or any sort of research, but that is immaterial.

I know this is a rehash of stuff many of y'all already know, but I'm coming to my light bulb moment.

What I realized was that white people rarely verbalize their belief that they are more fair and just than black people. Can any of you honestly remember a white person saying that? I mean, they may hint at it, (a friend of mine gave me a wonderful example of an interviewer doing that with Malcolm X while asking Malcolm about his fiery comments about white people) but white people rarely come out and say it they are the most objective race.

And that made me curious because clearly, many white people feel this way.

In today's world there is some danger of white people being labeled racists if they verbalize those feelings, and we all know most of them hate that label. (I'm not counting your garden variety Neo-Nazi or Klan member.) However, certain "respectable" white folks revel in being called racists because to them it's a sign that they are speaking truth to liberals and minorities.

But, I've never heard any of those respectable folks actually come out and say "Black people can't be depended on to be as fair when it comes to racial matters as white people." Not even Pat Buchanan has been bold enough to make that leap and he wrote an entire essay about why black people should be grateful for slavery.

So, why don't white people come out and talk about this belief?

I am convinced it's because they know that if they actually verbalize it, they will then have to think about it and they will realize just how stupid it is!

Really, think about it. White people know that their ancestors haven't treated black people fairly. Even hardcore racists admit that. So, on a certain level they understand that there is no real proof that they are more fair. In fact, all the proof points to the exact opposite!

The only thing that supports the idea that white people are more fair, is the belief that white people are just naturally superior to everybody else. But, it's no longer cool that in public anymore. Right?

However, by refusing to verbalize their innate prejudices, white people back themselves into a corner when it comes to discussing racial preferences; a discussion that needs to happen if this country is going to progress.

Simply put, either white people have been looking out for each other all this time because that's what every race does, or white people's innate superiority has allowed them ignore that temptation. Depending on what you believe, you're either a beneficiary of Affirmative Action, or you're a white supremacist.

Coming to this conclusion was a light bulb moment for me. See, I'm the type of nerd who has imaginary arguments in his mind, and I like to I argue both sides of an issue to figure out what's the best way to defend a point. It's just something I do to entertain myself, and I've been doing it since I was a child.

Anybody who argues a lot knows that you're always trying to craft that perfect argument; the type of theory that cannot be refuted using logic. To me, this was a situation where I had crafted one of those arguments.

If I meet someone who says "Well, Obama is going to give everything to the blacks!" then I have a foolproof method of making them sweat. They can either admit that they've benefited from white privilege or they can admit that they are white supremacists.

Or they can shut the fuck up.

(I know that some folks would counter this argument by saying that black people can't be trusted in racial matters not because they are genetically inferior, but because they've been trained to see the world as victims and are bitter. First, I would tell those people "Fuck you." Second, I would ask those people to explain why black people are bound by their cultural upbringing and white people are not? After all, most white adults, particularly baby boomers, were raised in households by parents who believed in stereotypes and lies about black people. These white parents trained their children to see the world like them. Yet, most white people will tell you that they are not racist because they were able to overcome the outdated mindsets of their parents. So, if white people were able to overcome their training, it would make sense that black people have done the same. Unless you think white people are better than black people... I win again.)


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Yes I'd say you got a pretty solid argument there.

You also could make the argument, that while Obama may be the first president who self identifies as black man, we have actually had 5 Presidents that had black lineage. And other than Lincoln freeing the slaves, no other real preference was given by any of those presidents.

You being from New Orleans know the one drop rule ALL to WELL, so if you apply that good ol' Jim Crow measure to our 43 presidents, that would make Obama our 6th Black POTUS if he is elected.

I won't even talk about the black guy who was the president before we became the USA. I'm still researching that one.

I shared this with WNG last week, so you probably already went here, but just in case here's the link


Imhotep said...

Big Man, Your logical conclusions are pretty solid for the most part. To place someone in a conversational checkmate is a good thing. But...

Your argument depends upon white people accepting LOGICAL connectons in a race related discussions. When have white people ever relied on logic in a race equity conversation?

White folks (most) have long relied upon superstitions, myths and stereotypes to guide their understanding on race equity, or in their case non-equity. So for them to now use logic, they would be venturing on unfamiliar territory

Logic became a casualty in race relations when the Dutch decided to sail into west africa and create some human cargo.

So, asking the vast majority of white folks to bring logic to the conversation of race is simply asking too much of them.

Brotha, if you can get an illogical person to accept logical arguments, then we'll all be on to something.

Truthiz said...

"See, I'm the type of nerd who has imaginary arguments in his mind, and I like to I argue both sides of an issue to figure out what's the best way to defend a point. It's just something I do to entertain myself, and I've been doing it since I was a child."

LOL!...join the club Big Man.

@Imhotep- Well Said on ALL points!

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

aint white folk been doing that all time
least since

Gye Greene said...

Love it.


Anonymous said...

I wanna take OG to task on the historical veracity of "Lincoln freed the slaves."

First of all, Lincoln "freed" slaves in only those states that were part of the Confederacy, not those slaves in the border states, and actually enumerated the various parishes in Louisiana that were exempt from freeing the slaves (and yes, Orleans parish was included as a parish not forced to free slaves) and also the counties that later became West Virginia and some others in the Tidewater area of VA.

There's also a direct quote from the EP that this was really "warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity."

I'm not convinced Lincoln woulda given a damn about my black ass.

@Big Man

You know I like this kind of carrying on in this post.


Anonymous said...

While I applaud your attempts to craft a logically inescapable position, I must remind you that we white are superhuman in all our capabilities and most of us possess the power of "hyperlogic" which enables us to completely trump any ironclad argument you can come up with. This power is usually activated by covering our ears and saying "Neener, neener, neener...I can't HEAR you!" or by looking at our watches and saying "Whoa! I'm late for that thing...gotta go!"

Unknown said...

Well, DUH.

Well argued, and completely true. BTW people have been saying some blatantly racst things to pollsters and reporters and no one has said a damn thing about them... except for Stephen Colbert. Maybe you an Deac should go on the show. You could do a little 'defying logic' routine :-)

Anonymous said...

Big Man is probably more photogenic than I am, but if Mr. Colbert would like to invite us on as the logic defiance duo, I'm game. I'll blow my cover (aka real identity) to be on The Daily Show or Colbert Report.

Of course, I'd probably also suck on camera and embarrass myself, but ya never know. ;-)

Big Man said...

Thanks for all the comments y'all.

And I understand that logic goes out the window in racial discussions. But, I like to use it anyway just to see the look on folk's face when they realize they're stuck.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

@ uppity I was only trying to make a point of racial preference. If you say Lincoln was black which is not a new thought, then the argument would be SEE that's what I mean he immediately freed the slaves as an example of black POTUS, helping black folks. That is what my illustration was about not at all to discuss in detail If Abe did indeed free the slaves. We all know slavery was just an after thought of the civil war and not the primamry reason for it, although many confederate flag wearing red necks will swear to it.


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