Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blissfully Ignorant.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it many times in the future; most white folks don't have the foggiest idea what it's like to be black in America.

None. Zero. Nada.

It's weird that two groups could co-exist for so long in the same relatively small country and yet have such a divide when it comes to cultural norms and mindsets. This is not to say that either white people or black people are monoliths, but typically there are certain touchstones in both communities that provide context during interactions.

Without that context relationships are strained and offense is often given. Often, that is unintentional or even accidental. That doesn't make it less painful, but it can place things in a different light.

That's what I took from this article.

This author probably believes she wrote a snappy, humorous article that attempted to discuss a serious concern she and other feminists struggle with. She probably thinks this concern is valid and that the terms she used are understandable given the realities of the world.

She couldn't be more wrong.

The blog attempts to ask whether Obama will be a staunch advocate for feminists and feminist issues. I understand that question; it's a question that lots of individual groups have asked about Obama. Shoot, even though most other ethnic groups assume Obama will automatically be looking out for black folks when he reaches the White House, lots of black people have wondered whether we can depend on him to do right. Consequently, the question isn't a problem for me.

But, in order to make her point, the author traffics in crude stereotypes about black people, drugs and affirmative action and then leaps to the amazing conclusion that black men everywhere, Obama included, need to apologize to all women for OJ Simpson being acquitted.

That was a "Wow" moment for me.

The flippant assumptions about black kids and drugs and "quotas" were bad enough, but when the author decided that her litmus test for Obama, and by extension any black man, was whether or not that would excoriate OJ, well I think we crossed the line into Bizzaro World. Real quick, somebody explain to me when OJ Simpson became my problem?

Do white people feel required to apologize for Thomas Jefferson's and George Washington's slave holding? Or how about for those hicks down in Jasper, Texas who thought Mr. Byrd wanted to be dragged behind their truck? I have yet to get my formal apology from the white people in Louisiana for electing David Duke to political office and I put in my request years ago.

We all know black folks get held to a different standard, but that's taking things to the extreme. I don't remember many black people championing OJ or loudly proclaiming his innocence. I remember us cheering when he got off in court, but that was more about the unfairness of the legal system and the mastery of Johnnie Cochran. To claim that OJ's freedom is something Obama needs to apologize for reinforces the idea that any time one black person effs up we all need to do some penance. And then to juxtapose that belief with a comment about random black men being falsely executed for the deaths of white women(curiously no mention of the white women who falsely accused black men of rape), well it just shows a stunning lack of understanding of what it means to be black. Just an amazing degree of ignorance.

Obama has battled with white feminists throughout this campaign because they see his success as an impediment to the candidate they favor and love. They see the sexism Hillary has faced and blame it on Obama even though he typically has nothing to do with it. That's his cross to bear, and I understand that.

Yet, far too often these white female feminists have exposed themselves as being woefully under informed about black issues in America despite their willingness to consistently co-opt the Civil Rights movement to aid their own endeavors. That is inexcusable and just plain lazy.

Ignorance is only bliss to the unethical.

(P.S. Even when Obama does treat a woman with respect he can't win.)

(P.P.S. Apparently Obama has spoken about OJ and it turns out he things OJ DID it.


Focused said...

Big Man, I haven't even gotten past the third paragraph of this joint and I'm already giving it the gas face. So all the white kids were "lower middle class" and all the blacks and hispanics were on welfare in the projects? Thank goodness she had those brothers and their afros, weed and dancing to entertain her! And of course that kept them too busy to EARN entrance to college. They had to be LUCKY enough to "draw the affirmative action straw."

What does O.J. Simpson have in common with Barack besides being a black man? And I don't listen to much rap music. I agree that most is misogynistic and in addition to that, quite frankly, most of it sucks these days. But WHY does Barack Obama have to stand up and repudiate it? Does she ask the same things of John McCain or John Edwards?

Stuff like this is a prime example of why black women, (and women of color period) have had such a problem getting behind the feminist movement historically. In my OPINION (let me make that clear) it has never been about women who are not white middle class or above. Not mention that these women always want to hold hands and sing Kumbayah until they feel like another minority is getting a leg up on them. Then that latent racism starts to seep out in statements that are supposed to prove they're "down." Womp womp.

kid said...

I was listening to her until after the Bootsy reference. It reminds me of that quote in Malcolm X, Sweet white girls, G D damn niggers.Yes they're trying to give us a compliment, but it's a backhanded one.How can they hear us when they can't hear themselves.

Big Man said...

Fantastically and Kid

I too had to stop reading at first when I read some of the asinine comments she made and random stereotypes she assumed were fact because that's how she remembers things.

The thing is, she probably considers herself a pretty good expert on the lives of black people and what makes us tick. That arrogance comes through loud and clear in her blog. She's totally unaware of her ignorance and that's what makes her dangerous and sad. She's dangerous because she thinks she has enough information and wisdom to make value judgements and spew her opinion. She's sad because ignorance is always sad.

Anonymous said...

Once again this year I am speechless. I could not finish such an ignorant postition on issues that are not analogous. I do agree that ignorance is bliss. I would like to add that same bliss allows survival. We all have a live in separate bubbles inside this strange world and only a chosen few step outside their reality into someone elses. However one could never truly understand EVER. One could possibly take a glimpse but at the end of the day they can just step back into their reality forever.

P.S. Obama needs to be careful if he respects women too much.. he may upset the PAA (Pimps of America Association)My father always says if nobody is talking about you or trying to stop you it is because you are not doing anything. Till next time

Anonymous said...

I'm white and I couldn't get any farther than some of you before I just had to close the window on that column at HuffPo. I'll read her piece in more detail later, but from what I read in the first couple grafs and noticed while skimming, it didn't look like anything that was going to make my heart sing.

It really is chic to compare oneself to the black Civil Rights expereience, it seems. Gays and lesbians have been trying to hitch themselves to that cart for years based on the theory that miscegenation laws of the past are equivalent to their situation. Now it's women. Seems my brothers and sisters of the melanin-deficient persuasion can't resist co-opting everything in the black experience and culture.

Big Man said...

You know I wrote about that, right Deac?

Search the blog for the Ralph Nader and victim if you missed it. Hoping on the black suffering bandwagon is the cool thing to do these days.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Big Man, I addressed this way back in Feb when I wrote my Obligatory Obama Blog post. Like I said back then, it amazes me how vicious white women get when it comes down to a choice between right and kind of right. The thing is I grew up as a feminist (by that I mean when I was in college and began to GROW UP as a woman I identified, and still do, myself as a black feminist). I also learned and understood that black feminism is FAAAAAAAAAAR different than that of our white sisters. I never could quite get it or them, although I read and studied plenty of them. (I was about 8 hours shy of a second degree of Women’s Studies to go with my English degree).

Anyway none of the white feminist reactions have surprised me from this article to Geraldine Ferraro marginalizing race. I think of Gerry as our modern day Susan B. Anthony who basically was screaming the same thing back then about voting as Geraldine is about who we are voting for? Susan B asked how the country could let niggers (men) vote before fine upstanding white women. I guess when the movement is built on that thought it’s no surprise that today’s presidential race brings that right back up to the top. Again we got the white woman and black man at is fight for historical change. So I am not surprised one bit by anything in that piece.

Entitlement, it’s the same entitlement we’ve seen before. As a black woman I am almost always in a position where I must choose my race or my sex, I chose my race. I identify with my race more strongly than I do with being a woman, but for other black women it’s the other way around. I guess because for me NO MATTER what you do you will always be black, ask MJ, and in these transgendered days you can’t say quite the same for being a woman, or a man for that fact.

Anyway white women (in a general term not all white women!!) feel they are entitled to be the next or the first to do something after their male white counterparts. They are still white after all. They feel if there is a pecking order, they should be the next logical step after white men, because they of course are still white. So you get white men then white women and then once that is done we, the minorities, can have “it”. We saw it when voting was the issue; we saw it with affirmative action. It so kills me to have a white woman tells me how she doesn’t like AA. It give me UNSPEAKABLE JOY inform that same white women she is a beneficiary of the AA she hates so much. Anyway, this is just the latest and greatest in the same ol’ story of historical first.

The real thing is this, as my BFF put it, the white women are mad because Obama’s has “taken” Hillary’s historical candidate position and McCain is gonna be mad because Obama has “taken” his reformer position. I am hoping that McCain and the GOP aren’t t learning from ANY of HillBilly’s mistakes, but we shall see.


Big Man said...


I loved your comment about the pecking order and the way deviations from that pecking order create chaos and anger. I hadn't heard it explained in those terms before.

A.F. said...

Though I can never truly understand what it's like to be black in America, I have studied and taught race, gender, and class issues for years, and the false dilemma perpetuated by Clinton and the lunatic fringe of her supporters (and by Nina Burleigh, the author of the outrageous article you link to) that being a racist is somehow a prerequisite for being a feminist is an outrage. Those who are propagating these ideas are setting back the cause they claim to support by about a century. White women who call themselves feminists and at the same time say it's their "turn" or their "time" (via a Clinton presidency) are appealing to the same white patriarchal hierarcy they rail against.

None of the women I know who are truly informed about feminism beyond a very shoddy, watered down, misguided Family Circle version, are buying into any of this, nor are they voting for Clinton.

Among the many other things that upset me tremendously about Burleigh's article: I really know I'm dealing with a bred-in-the-bone racist when I point out any racial inequality or outrage or hate crime and that person says "but what about O.J.?" What about O.J.? The detective in his case admitted to planting evidence on black people. That doesn't constitute reasonable doubt in a court of law?

And by Burleigh's messed up logic, should any white female presidential candidate in the future have to apologize for Hillary, who has tried to politically assassinate her opponent on the basis of his race and gotten away with it? Should that woman have to apologize for Lizzie Bordon and Susan Smith, too?

Gye Greene said...


Those two columnists weren't very good writers: The premises don't lead very strongly to the conclusions.

The "shrinkage factor" article, in particular, annoyed me: So, his lack of indifidelity to his wife means that he's WEAK??? So, masculinity and strength is demonstrated by "sowing your seed"?

Isn't that exactly the OPPOSITE what we're trying to teach are teen boys and young ment?



Anonymous said...

Big Man said:
You know I wrote about that, right Deac?

Search the blog for the Ralph Nader and victim if you missed it. Hoping on the black suffering bandwagon is the cool thing to do these days.

I'm pretty sure that post was just prior to when my son hipped me to your blog and got me hooked. But I just searched for it and that is a mighty fine post, man, right down to your point about only Native Americans having any call to compare themselves to the black experience. The only reason I still put them in a slightly more "upbeat" position is because most of them can still trace their roots back to their tribe or origin, whereas there are vanishingly few blacks who have any clue what tribe or village or culture in Africa they truly came from.

slag said...

About OJ, I really liked how Obama expounded on his thinking: "And I was ashamed for my own community to respond in that way, but I also understood what was taking place, which was that reaction had more to do with a sense that somehow the criminal justice system historically had been biased so profoundly that a defeat of that justice system was somehow a victory."

This is someone who understands the complex nature of things and still revolves his judgments around a moral axis. I hope he becomes our next president.

And those "feminist" articles are a disgrace.

Imhotep said...

Man, To think that she is an example of an intelligent woman, frightening indeed, "Parentless, pot scented, dancing in a subsidized living room". Classic case of diarrhea of the stereotypes.

The bitch is basically saying that Black people are directionless, weed smokers, having a good time on someone else's dime. This is like journalistic genocide.

This is the kind of perception we have to deal with in all our dealings with white america.

I know women have been wronged in this country, but white women have had it better than other women, way better. White women got the right to vote in the 20's.. Blacks were still trying to get some anti-lynch laws on the books. While white women were admitted to some universities, black men/ women were excluded from all.

I would vote for a woman in a heartbeat, but hillary is not the one. We don't need a fighter, we need someone who can bring people together and move forward together. Obama is that person.

Anonymous said...

I co-sign the above. A woman yes. Hillary no. The "feminist" movement built on the backs of their powerful men has never had any use for me or I for it.

Anonymous said...

Nina Burleigh is the same woman who said she would be happy to give Clinton a blowjob for keeping abortion legal. Some feminist. So her questioning of Obama's feminist credentials is beyond ironic. And the racism she shows against Obama is unfortunately all too typical...

Raving Black Lunatic