Monday, October 4, 2010

Seeking information

Had a convo with a friend the other day.

He was noting that many white people don't enjoy talking about race with black folks because they have to accept the role of evil abuser, or sit through a lengthy lecture. Plus, he said white folks don't appreciate the fact that many black people set themselves up as the final arbiters of racial truth.

This didn't surprise me since I've seen the same attitude many times myself. White folks reject information that I assumed was common knowledge, and refuse to concede even the most obvious points. Not all white people, but quite a few.

My friend chalked this up to human nature, and he's right. There's also an element of white supremacy. Most folks think their opinions and thoughts are valuable, few of us accurately estimate our intelligence and many of us equate feelings with facts. In addition, it appears that white folks tend to see black people as overly emotional, which means they don't trust our opinions on anything outside of music and sports. And then only sometimes in sports.

I say all of this because it seems like an untenable position. Shouldn't it be obvious that due to their position in society, the average black person likely has more experience and knowledge of the way race affects life than the average white person? Do white people have a responsibility to accept that their opinions do not hold the same weight as a comparable black opinion? Is that just? I don't think white people have to bow down to black folks just because we're black, but if you readily admit that you don't think about, notice or study race, shouldn't that be a sign you need to shut up and listen? And, what is the best way to get this point across?

Let me hear from y'all.

I haven't been writing as much in this space because of two things. One, I feel like I've expressed all the original thoughts I have to express at this point, and two, I'm tired of the idiocy of the world. I'm looking for new information and inspiration. I'll still try to post somewhat regularly, but I wanted to let y'all know why things have slowed down so much.



Anonymous said...

Never posted here before, but at least for my generation, speaking about race, noticing race, or thinking about race was taboo. Like in you would get harshly punished or ostracized for saying someone was black. So the fact that you're having the conversation at all (to a lot of people) is very uncomfortable. Black folks don't have the corner on multi-generational trauma.

And I don't know how to get past that. I think you need to have a certain amount of trust to speak about such things, and many of us who were thrown into the "forced integration" buzzsaw completely unprepared as small children now have bitter bad memories of their treatment at the hands of blacks.

And parents passing on their racism didn't help matters any.

The lack of any kind of real education in history has led to most whites being at a serious disadvantage in this kind of conversation to begin with, but then add on all the experiential baggage and you might see why people get so defensive and aggressive.

uglyblackjohn said...

IMOHO - It just shows a lack of respect.
I have a lot of friends who are not Black.
We talk about race all the time.
We even tell racist jokes about each other.
But this is only possible because they KNOW that I'm at least their equal in most things.

Deacon Blue said...

As for the secondary point, lack of posting, I feel you. I've gone through those phases too, and have come to accept the my blogging will likely go through peaks and valleys as I wait for inspiration or for world events to propel me to post.

As for the main point, it is a common human failing, amplified by the power of white privilege.

The fact that it's a common human failing can be seen in many things. For example, my wife has gotten caught up in the brouhaha around the "No Wedding No Womb" campaign and has become increasingly fascinated with and/or horrified by the attitudes of its organizer and many of its most fervent supporters. No matter how much intelligent people try to help along the discussions, and to point out important issues that must be addressed...or who point out insensitive or unrealistic tenets of the movement...the core people stick to their guns and refuse to consider discussions that are counterproductive to fueling their own momentum and reinforcing their own positions.

And those are black people duking it out for the most part.

So, yeah...anyone with a vested position tends to dig in, and often ignore reality as a result. Which really drives me nuts.

But speaking as a white person, I can say that were I not relatively savvy about racial issues and implications of black-white relations in U.S. history and present day, I could totally see how, powered by the unseen but powerful energy of white privilege, I would tune out the helpful information and ask myself, "Who made you the expert?" even though that person is likely to be...if not an expert per se...MORE expert than I and able to help impart knowledge.

But accepting knowledge often means we need to adjust our views and position and roles, and many people dread that so much they'd rather not reduce their ignorance level.

Big Man said...


Thanks for posting. Question, was busing that bad for white people? I'm a young buck, so I've heard some stories, but I'd like to hear you discuss it if you're willing. Particulalry given your view of how the world worked back then.

Black John

That's a good setup. I don't think racist humor should be taboo among true friends.


Why the dread to recognize you're ignorant or wrong? I understand it and I don't understand it. I've often been called arrogant, but I know and poeple know that I never have a problem admitting I'm wrong even if I almost always think I'm right.

I can't understand why people would rather appear ridiculously wrong then understandably ignorant.

Deacon Blue said...

I can't answer that, Big Man, because it's not something that bothers me personally (to be wrong or be shown that I'm wrong). Just saying that I can understand how easy it is to tune people out when your a member of the race that gets the benefit of the doubt on almost everything. Plus, I've seen how many people have a terrible fear of being "wrong" and would rather be ignorant to convince themselves they're still "right"

I just put that personal understanding together with that personal observation.

But in the end, I don't understand the whole package personally...I just understand it intellectually.

Mammyman said...

Its not called white supremacy, its called white privilege. When you can tell another race that is being discriminated against what is and isnt racism, thats what privilege.

Raving Black Lunatic