Something Else To Think About

This is worth thinking about and internalizing for those of you with a pale hue (in April I am actually fish belly white):

I know that everyone is having a little fun, laughing and pointing at what we already know about this particular faction of people…and I don’t want to interrupt that, everyone can use a laugh in these times.

However…for anyone that may read this blog and have the slightest thought that racism doesn’t have a profound effect on African-Americans in this country, ponder this…

As an African American, especially a male (which I am), can you imagine how much more stressful your life is, when from the moment you leave your home in the morning, until the moment you return that evening…you never really know who, out of the scores of non-African American people you interact with, think this type of shit about you…just because of the color of your skin?

It permeates your every thought, action, and word that comes out of your mouth…constantly, for the entire day. You are on constant alert as to whom is around you, how people are interacting, or reacting, to you…it’s fucking exhausting.

It’s no wonder our community is at so much a higher risk for heart disease, and hypertension than other races in this country. Sure, some of it may be related to diet, but when you live just about every waking moment of your life at a heightened level of awareness, and just a slightly higher level of stress than your white counterparts, it’s bound to take a physical toll on your body.

Anyway, I don’t want to be a party pooper, and I don’t want to make anyone fell guilty for having a laugh…it’s okay, this guy deserves to be laughed at.

This was just something that was on my heart to share with you guys, and a perspective I don’t think gets shared enough around the friendly confines of Balloon Juice.

I guess the closest I can come to is when I was in the military and driving the CO, and I would find myself at events with a bunch of Majors, Colonels, and the occasional field grade officers and me as a PFC and other drivers, and all I could think about was not fucking up and making sure I didn’t say or do anything inappropriate and saluted smartly and just got out of the situation in tact. My stomach would be in knots the whole time. That’s the closest I can come to this description, and that was once in a rare moon. I can not imagine living like that all day every day. My ulcer’s ulcer would have an ulcer.

In fairness, though, I bet there are a lot of really poor white people who feel the same way. Classism is almost as pernicious in this society as racism, and I know of a lot of people who don’t go out in public because they have bad teeth and don’t want to smile or because they are always afraid their debit card is going to be declined or because people are going to judge them because of the clothes they are wearing. Or because they are fat.

But hey, as long as Cliven Bundy’s cows are eating on the cheap, let freedom ring, right Hannity?






120 replies
  1. 1
    Schlemizel says:

    I think it is important for white guys to be reminded from time to time exactly how lucky they are. Despite all the whining about their individual hardships there is not a one of them that would be better off or had an easier journey had they been born with dark skin. Yet too many of them will deny this very obvious fact.

  2. 2
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for front-paging Rare Sanity’s thoughtful and heartfelt comment. It clearly had a big impact on a lot of us.

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    John, I can’t even imagine that…because I was one of the asshats with brass on his hat. Hanging around Generals didn’t cause knots in my stomach…although I was started a couple of times when a division CG would address me by my first name…I had no idea I merited that level of familiarty

    And my thanks as well for frontpaging RareSanity’s comment. It’s absolutely required reading, IMHO. I can only begin to glimpse what he must go through all the time…and I so want to make it so he doesn’t have to endure that. If I could only wave a wand and make it so…

  4. 4
    Santa Fe says:

    Thanks John. As a white father of three black teenage sons, I struggle all the time to empathize with how different the world is for them than it is for me.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    It’s an attack on the working poor. Think about how much it costs to vote. You are an hourly worker standing in line for hours to vote. .Think about making a dentist appointment because you don’t have a set schedule. Fuck these assholes like Bundy. They have no idea how much it costs to exist our society. Day care costs more than a lot earn a month and Bundy thinks they are moochers. Bundy makes me hope there is a hell so he can burn it.

  6. 6
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    Speaking as a white guy who grew up poor and underprivileged, it took me a long time to recognize that my life would have been even fucking worse if I had not been born with a dick and low melanin content. I certainly get it now but, much of the time, white privilege is transparent to those that have it most, like water to fish, air to birds, or money to a Romney.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    Rachel is doing a great job connecting Bundy, posse comitatus and resistance to the 14th Amendment that allowed Federal Troops to protect African Americans in the south after the Civil War.

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: You mean Mitt who had income over a few hundred million paying less that fifteen percent taxes talking about the moochers.,. That Mitt or the Mitt who refused to show his taxes for ten years.. Oh same Mitt.

  9. 9
    Hal says:

    This whole week seems like a cluster fuck for race issues. Bundy, The Supreme Court AA decision, followed by Sotomayor’s decent, panned by conservatives as either an “emotional” woman throwing a fit, or race a obsessed latina with a persecution complex. Hell, even Michelle Obama can’t be offered a speaking gig at a high school graduation in Kansas to coincide with the SC Brown V Board decision without someone getting upset at their little whipper snapper won’t get the attention he/she deserves with Michelle O. hogging the spotlight.

    I’m sure Ann Romney would have had the same reception.

  10. 10
    lamh36 says:

    Classism is one thing, but even poor whites can “hide” within presentable clothing or appropirate attire. You can be poor and white but you can “mask” it behind clothing or subertfuge. On the other hand, you can’t hide skin tone. So even wearing a nice suit, you still are the Black girl in a suit.

    I have the luxury of having a name that one wouldn’t consider…”ethnic”. So when I go on job interviews, I can always tell when the interviewee is a little surprised by my “appearance”. I also happen to have a very good skill set and years of experience in what I do.

    So even when I ace an interview, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking “I wonder if they were surprised I’m Black”…

  11. 11
    patrick II says:

    My best friend during a period of my life was a black man who is a lawyer. I am of Irish descent. We hung out quite a bit, and were golfing partners in a league. The crap he took just amazed me. After golf one day we went to a local bar for a beer, and I almost got in a bar fight because of some ignorant redneck with too many beers in him making veiled racist comments about who should be in that bar. Melvin (my friends name) wisely dragged me out of there. I was 56 years old at the time and way too old for bar fights.
    Anyhow, Melvin is a lawyer and fought his battles with words, he would just smile as he sliced them up. By time he was through with some rednecks they probably wished he would have just beaten them up. I am not as clever with words nor was I as calm as Melvin on these occasions and have no doubt that I would have landed in jail at some point if I had put up with the crap he did.
    Melvin is a very accomplished man, a lawyer, a married with two children and a great friend, but some racist assholes only saw color when they looked at him.
    I cannot experience first hand what I saw Melvin go through, but I am trying to say that just being on the periphery of the attitudes he put up with every day and watching him handle them taught me an awful lot about America and race and the grace of many people who live with attitudes they shouldn’t have to.

  12. 12
    Pen says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: I’ve often thought that one of the worst arguments a person can make to a poor person, of any sex or race, is that their life would be even harder if they were a member of a more persecuted minority. When your life sucks, when you’re having trouble keeping gas in the car or trying to figure out how to feed your child, you really don’t give a rats ass about how much harder other people have it. Being told you’re “privileged”, no matter how true it may be, by people who are (usually) better off economically than you just pisses you off.

    Or maybe that’s just me. I’m as liberal as they come but I’ll admit, I tune out the moment some jackass tells me my skin color makes up for being raised in a home so poor we were borderline starving most of the time, with no opportunity for extracurriculars or ability to save for college. I might, but I still had to fight like hell for every rung up the socioeconomic ladder, and deeply resent being dismissed for starting a couple rungs higher than dead-bottom.

  13. 13
    WaterGirl says:

    @Hal: I had been feeling really discouraged about the seemingly unending racism swirling around lately, but I hadn’t come at in in a logical way, putting put all those events together in a list. No wonder it feels so awful.

  14. 14
    mai naem says:

    @JPL: More than Mittman, the Romney that drives me batty is Mizz Ann. Ann completely does not get it. She really thinks her family got where they got solely because of hard work and that there is no reason somebody else can’t do it. If Mizz Ann had been born into Oprah or Michelle Obama’s life, she would be living in a rental mobile home in a ghetto area with her front teeth missing doing tricks to buy herself her next meth fix.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @lamh36: I definitely agree but the attack is on the working poor. Bundy’s of the world are trying to separate the groups, in order to keep cheap labor. The good poors and the bad poors. They might earn the same but they feel differently. Bundy likes the immigrants, not because he hires them, but because they have picnics or something. I’d be willing to bet, that is code for paying below a minimum wage, to these folk cause they are good folk who deserve five dollars a hour

  16. 16
    Chris says:

    Quoting Schlemiezel from a few posts lower:

    Despite being raise to be tolerant and open minded it has really only been in the lat 20years that I have really grasped the extent of white privilege. For a blogger today to try to write about it brings out the really ugly from the mouth-breathing morans and nasty unpleasantness for people I would otherwise think of as reasonable fair minded people. I doubt a fish thinks much about the water it lives in and white people do not have to think about the society we live in. Reminding us sets off a lot of unhappy emotions that usually lead immediately to defensiveness.

    Yep. (Make that “the last couple years” for me, though in my defense, 20 years ago I was in, like, first or second grade). But man, oh man, do I hope the next paragraph –

    My sense is that the groundwork has been laid that will eventually fracture this white dynamic in a generation or two (sorry we can’t make it faster as far as I can tell) but the death rattle is very unpleasant.

    Is true.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Honus says:

    John does have a point. Lower middle-class working white guys in places like West Virginia and Eastern Ohio have always had an inferiority complex embedded by society. I remember growing up being puzzled by references to empowered white males, since most of the white males I knew were trying to survive not being worked to death in the mills or killed by cancer and heart disease before they reached 50. People didn’t resent universities, they aspired to something better for their children through higher education.

    Of course the last 30 years has become a great celebration of redneck ignorance and stupidity, courtesy of guys like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. When they talk about ignorant racist attitudes in the white working class I think “yeah, we heard people say that stuff, but at least we knew enough to be ashamed of it.” Now they celebrate you and put you on Duck Dynasty.

  19. 19
    J.Ty says:

    Thanks for posting that. Although I have to point out that stress doesn’t cause ulcers. This has been proven rather amusingly.

  20. 20
    raven says:

    @Pen: So it doesn’t matter if what the “jackass” says is true or not huh?

  21. 21
    J.Ty says:

    @Honus: the first half is basically the raison d’être of the “men’s rights movement”, though they manage to couch it in that obviously being women’s fault. And not, I dunno, patriarchal capitalism.

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    Deep question… If the repubs couldn’t blame the blacks, who would they blame? BTW I would love to know if Cliven gets farm subsides.

  23. 23
    RareSanity says:

    Well, that was unexpected…it was just a thought that just kind of came over me and I felt compelled to type it.

    Then, of course, work got busy as hell and I couldn’t participate more in the thread….but I wanted to say thank you to everyone that commented so positively in the earlier thread. I’m not sure when my wife had been cutting onions when I got home, but she must have, because when I went back to the thread…my eyes started getting a little watery.

    Weird… :-)

    But seriously, I want all of us to endeavor to do something…however small…to try to make this country a little bit better place to live. Maybe it’s letting that person in front of you in traffic, or saying “hi” as you pass someone at the store.

    You just don’t know what kind of bullshit someone may be dealing with at that particular time, and you gesture (just like your kind comments did for me), may cause them a few joyful tears of release when they have a chance to sit down for a second.

    Thank you John for posting my comment on the front page. I really didn’t expect for it to get much attention, but I think it’s important for everyone to be reminded that racism is a real, tangible thing, that has real repercussions, on real people.

    While people can generally put on their poker face, and go on about their day like everything is alright…that feeling that there will always be something…something that they’re going to have to deal with, that their members of the “majority” don’t is just around the corner.

    That shit is altogether infuriating, frustrating, and saddening…some days are better than others. I personally was just having one of the bad days today.

    Thank you all, my day has improved immensely because of you!

  24. 24
    Culture of Truth says:

    @patrick II: I have been in similar situations and fully understand that white guys can get away with threatening to fight another white slob in a way an AA man simply could not. Also I’m not so sure the redneck guy is really so humilitated by an african american’s verbal slicing and dicing, and but it is better than fighting and can provide a certain measure of satisfaction.

  25. 25
    lamh36 says:

    @Pen: that attitude I think is why alot of poor whites vote GOP. the idea the yeah they are poor and it’s because those “more persecuted minorities” are taking all the jobs and living on the gov’t teat.

    And yet, poor Black folk aren’t flocking to the GOP, even though their situation parallel that of the poor whites.

  26. 26
    J.Ty says:

    @JPL: 1) Other minorities ranked by severity of melanin content. 2) probably!

  27. 27
    Marmot says:

    Thanks for that Rare Sanity comment.

  28. 28
    Culture of Truth says:

    @JPL: Does not paying subsidized grazing fees count?

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JPL: His grazing rights are essentially a subsidy, and he’s not even paying for those.

    He’s a parasite. Deal with him appropriately…along with any who defend him.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Pen:

    I tune out the moment some jackass tells me my skin color makes up for being raised in a home so poor we were borderline starving most of the time, with no opportunity for extracurriculars or ability to save for college. I might, but I still had to fight like hell for every rung up the socioeconomic ladder, and deeply resent being dismissed for starting a couple rungs higher than dead-bottom.

    I don’t think anyone is trying to make the argument that skin color makes up for poverty, but rather that at any SES level being white puts one at a comparative advantage vis a vis non-white people at the same level.

  31. 31
    RareSanity says:

    I have a comment thanking everyone, that’s in the mod filter right now. Don’t know what magic word I used, but I’m sure John will release it as soon as he can.

    But thank you all for your kind words in the earlier thread, work got in the way of me participating further, but just know that I read your comments, and they really made me feel better than when I was feeling when I wrote my comment initially.

  32. 32
    Eric U. says:

    I have often had the thought that a black man that makes it through the day without killing some racist motherfucker is a hero. I am a pretty sensitive person, someone being disagreeable can ruin my whole day. Can barely imagine what it would be like to have so many people arrayed against me for no reason. I am often glad that I was born a white American male.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    Hey, laugh break. Sprint’s current commercial uses Gigantic By the Pixies.

    The joke is that it’s about a man’s large equipment.

  34. 34
    J.Ty says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I’m honestly on board with the “a million bucks isn’t worth it, just let the guy talk” strategy that the BLM seems to be doing. He’s discrediting his cause far more than engagement would.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @RareSanity: You said something that needs saying on occasion and you said it very well.

  36. 36
    raven says:

    @J.Ty: The feds need to pick off everyone of those motherfuckers that drew a bead on the BLM dudes quietly, one-at-a-time.

  37. 37
    Ash Can says:

    @RareSanity: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s the sort of thing that we white folks need to hear, early and often. We grow up steeped in white privilege to the point where we can’t recognize it ourselves, we just don’t see it. We need help seeing and recognizing it.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    @lamh36: Yea and they love to drone on with that “I never owned a slave” bullshit too.

  39. 39
    Marmot says:

    @JPL: The poor. The brown. Gays. Catholics in the old days, Muslims now. Keynesians. Europeans, especially the French. Atheists. Democrats. Socialists. People who don’t have kids. Teachers. Government workers.

    The Republican enemies list is enormous, and it’s flexible enough to include more non-persons as circumstances require. It’s surprising that anyone could imagine otherwise.

  40. 40
    Culture of Truth says:

    Imagine living in a world that constantly says, we destroyed your ancestors to make them do work we should be doing instead of us — why are you all so lazy, and such failures… and why so angry, bro?

  41. 41
    JPL says:

    uhoh double post

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I still think that he is or has received money from the farm bill. Do I have proof, no but I’m not spouting my non information on the back of a truck either.

    @RareSanity: Your comment touched me. Although I understand the plight of the working poor, I don’t understand the plight of the black man. (because I can’t)

  43. 43
    RareSanity says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    When I wrote the comment, I had just finished putting on my, “it’s no big deal” reaction, to one of the many “jokes” that I have to listen to during the course of the day.

    Ones that people, for the most part, don’t mean to be negative…and by themselves, are pretty harmless. But, when you have to hear them, several times a day, every single day, it’s the proverbial 1000 pin pricks. On prick 1000, it just pushes you past your limit, and you have to go into your office, close the door, breath deeply, and compose yourself…because if you kick this dude’s ass like you want to, how the hell are you going to explain getting fired (and probably arrested) to your wife and kid?

    So you collect yourself, put on your “it’s no big deal” face again, and get back to work.

  44. 44
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @RareSanity:

    I have a comment thanking everyone, that’s in the mod filter right now. Don’t know what magic word I used, but I’m sure John will release it as soon as he can.

    Yeah, it was probably sociaIist çäšîñø ińčëśt phārmåćŷ. That’s the one that usually gets me.

  45. 45
    jl says:

    Thanks for pointing out Rare Sanity’s good comment. I think what he says is true.

    But, at least I, was not exactly laughing at Mr. Bundy as if he were a joke. I do not think he is a joke, or that his followers or (at least until they had an excuse to dump him) media enablers are a joke. If I felt any laughter it was very bitter and grim indeed.

    As I said in a thread earlier today, defending the blog’s frequent focus on racism and bigotry, that garbage hurts us all, not only the direct targets. It has twisted the politics of the country so that a large minority, sometimes a small majority, of whites will vote against their own, as well as everyone else’s, interests. Racist and bigot dog whistles have infected discussion of so many issues on so many topics, it infects everything. Reactionary white men are elected who mess up the country’s economy, energy and climate policy (which if not addressed will kill millions of the kinds of people they try to oppress now), threaten voting rights for many groups, youth, elderly, women, the disabled, the poor, in ways that cut across racial and ethnic lines.

    Racism, and its cousins prejudice and bigotry are a poison in this country, and do great evil beyond the great evil their sponsors do every day to their direct targets. And racism, bigotry, and prejudice set up an political climate that allows people who believe it, and who do not really believe it but are happy to exploit it, to prepare immense damage in the future to racial and ethnic, and every other kind of minority you can think of, and to their white dupes as well.

  46. 46
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @RareSanity:

    So you collect yourself, put on your “it’s no big deal” face again, and get back to work.

    Except, it is a big deal.

  47. 47
    rk says:

    Yipee! Bundy is now taking all non white minorities to task asking where are they.

    “Where is our colored brother? Where is our Mexican brother? Where is our Chinese — where are they?” Bundy said. “They’re just as much American as we are, and they’re not with us. If they’re not with us, they’re going to be against us.”

    As a non-white woman I cannot imagine even in my dreams ever going near that ranch. Are there any chinese ranchers in Nevada. I am trying to imagine a “chinese” armed militia man. Is Bundy bonkers?

  48. 48
    ruemara says:

    In one of the prior day’s racist of the day threads, someone claimed to understand because of the misogyny she’s faced. And it is close, I admit it. But it’s like walking through a crowd of the type of murderous misogynists that prey on women when they can get away with it and you completely understand that you’re only free now, because they can’t touch you at this moment. That’s what being black is like. A white-knuckle (no pun intended) walk where you’re not sure how many people-even ones smiling in your face-would shoot you to death in a heartbeat because you’re a low bit of scum taking from them.

    To say it’s disheartening would be understating. But I persist in the belief that it’s such a small number based on the total population that you should really consider it a statistical error, except for the heavy arms.

    @lamh36: They always are surprised. I’d like to lose the ability to read people so well, some days.

  49. 49
    RandomMonster says:

    I wish class was discussed more in American society. It’s almost a taboo, because the right has successfully waged a decades-long propaganda war that villifies anyone who brings it up as a socialist or commie.

    Saying that you’re a socialist in this country is almost as dirty as saying you’re an atheist. Since I admit to both, I suppose I’m going out of my way to earn the distrust of my neighbors…

  50. 50
    Citizen Alan says:

    I am a 45-year-old white male in Mississippi. My father was a truck driver. My grandfather was a farmer. My greatgrandfather was a sharecropper in a common law marriage with a Choctaw indian wife in the 1920’s. And I’m still man enough to admit that I’ve had advantages in my life unimaginable to nearly every African-american I’ve ever known

  51. 51
    JPL says:

    @Marmot: See even if you are poor, you are better than the others. There will always be others and you came up with a fine list.

  52. 52
    RareSanity says:

    @JPL:

    Although I wouldn’t want it to be used as an excuse, I also want things like this, just to be taken into consideration.

    The stereotype of the “angry black man” exists, but when you have to deal with some of the stuff a we have to deal with on a daily basis, that shit makes you angry.

    My Dad used to always tell me when I was growing up, “Remember, as a black man, you have to run twice as fast just to stay even”, and as I’ve gotten older, that statement rings true as ever. Just look at President Obama…just look at what he would need to accomplish, just to be seen as a “good” President, by more 55% of the country…it’s unbelievable.

    He has to run twice as fast, just to stay even…

    Let’s all just keep fighting the good fight. I truly believe MLK’s quote about the arc of moral history bending toward justice. We just have to make sure we are still pulling on that bar and not letting it straighten back out. :-)

  53. 53
    Hill Dweller says:

    In other news, both the First Lady and Attorney General had to cancel their scheduled commencement speeches in red states after the wingnuts threw tantrums.

  54. 54
    jl says:

    @rk: I’m not going to wast time looking for context to that. I suppose he is asking where his little colored friends are to back him up.

    Well, I would suppose, like the vast vast majority of Mr. Bundy’s white friends in this country, they are not supporting a con man who tries to rile up violence to avoid paying for what he takes from the public.

    Another reminder that, as described in TPM blog two days ago, this Bundy has been grazing on that land, and owned any land at all in Nevada, since the mid 1950s and 1040s, respectively. He is just a lying con man. His family farmed and grazed in Arizona back around 1910.

    The racist reactionary teabaggers and their corporate media promoters got themselves a jerk, not hero, once again, to bear their standard in front of the whole country. What a coincidence! Funny how that keeps happening.

  55. 55
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @RareSanity:

    On a much more serious note, I suspect (obviously cannot prove) that whichever of your colleagues told the “joke” did so in part, at least, to prove to you (and himself) that he was completely not racist because if he were racist, he wouldn’t be telling a racially-tinged joke to an African-American, right?

    Are you in a position that you could call your co-worker(s) on their misguided attempts at humour? Could you explain to them what you explained so well to us earlier today, that bracing for jokes, comments, sideways looks, and subtle body language — never mind aggressive behaviour — takes an emotional and ultimately a physical toll? I realise that may not be possible for you, but if it is, it might help a bit.

  56. 56
    RareSanity says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    It is.

    But as someone said in the earlier thread, you have to decide just how much time and effort you want to invest in trying to “explain the water to the fish”, and then assess if the is any hope of progress with the individual.

    More often times than not, especially in work environments, it’s just not worth the additional stress of going through it.

  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @RareSanity: It’s more than that though, if you are driving in the south, in a nice car, expect to get stopped. Even though I’m white, I told my sons if they get stopped, there are good cops and bad cops. Both deserve a yes sir. I can’t imagine what would happen if black.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @RareSanity:

    Let’s all just keep fighting the good fight. I truly believe MLK’s quote about the arc of moral history bending toward justice. We just have to make sure we are still pulling on that bar and not letting it straighten back out. :-)

    You are on fire today.

  59. 59
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    I can’t begin to tell you how purely angry that makes me.

  60. 60
    gogol's wife says:

    @RareSanity:

    Thank you. I’m so glad I read this thread, and your comment.

    The Supreme Court has gotten me down.

  61. 61
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @RareSanity:

    Thanks. That does make sense. But it also makes me very sad.

  62. 62
    RandomMonster says:

    @Citizen Alan: Absolutely well-said. My family were all working-class: carpenters and the like. All of my grandparents were immigrants. But being white gave me huge advantages in this society.

  63. 63
    gogol's wife says:

    @jl:

    Very well said.

  64. 64
    Tim F. says:

    As bad as that sounds just imagine how hard the super-rich have it. You never know who does not appreciate you as much as they should. One might even suspect the toadies of faking it.

    The mind reels.

  65. 65
    muddy says:

    @J.Ty: Stress causes every damn thing.

  66. 66
    Chris says:

    @RareSanity:

    The stereotype of the “angry black man” exists, but when you have to deal with some of the stuff a we have to deal with on a daily basis, that shit makes you angry.

    Actually, reading your comment made me go right to that sterotype. It occurred to me that while I can totally see how people who grow up with that would have to grow some thick skin to survive society… obviously, there are quite a few who aren’t going to be able to, because, well, people aren’t robots.

    Naturally, “society” sees people like that, wonders what the hell is wrong with them and ascribes it to something deficient about black “culture,” never pausing to wonder if maybe it’s doing something to them that would piss anybody off.

  67. 67
    JPL says:

    @gogol’s wife: I’m sure the Supreme’s will continue to bring you down. Of course, there is the possibility that Cheney will take the conservative members hunting. Praise the Lord.

  68. 68
    gogol's wife says:

    @Tim F.:

    You never know which bartender is filming you for Mother Jones.

  69. 69
    RareSanity says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Well, I wish it were that simple.

    The problem is that one can just never know how that co-worker will respond, so it becomes a risk/reward assessment. If this person reacts negatively, and then starts to plant negative seeds about me around the office, what would happen?

    I’m one of only two black people in my office, if it gets too bad, it’ll my word against the white guy…to a bunch of other white guys. What do you think is going to be the easier way out for them? Not saying they would make the decision consciously, or even with malice, it’s just human nature. It would be the path of least resistance to just go along with what the other white guy was saying.

    Then again, that may not happen, and the person may react positively, and there may not be any issue at all. But can I afford to risk the financial stability of my family on that?

    These are the kinds of decisions that African Americans contend with all the time, it’s become so part of our daily life, that it’s not even a conscious process anymore.

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    @ruemara:
    I typed up a long comment that I had hoped would capture the gist of what you said, but no matter how I say it, to me it sounds like whitesplaining or mansplaining or poorsplaining.
    I’m going to leave it to those who know, to explain it.

  71. 71
    Chris says:

    @RandomMonster:

    I wish class was discussed more in American society. It’s almost a taboo, because the right has successfully waged a decades-long propaganda war that villifies anyone who brings it up as a socialist or commie.

    + 1.

  72. 72
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @RareSanity:

    I wish you would write a book.

  73. 73
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I’ll second that.

  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RandomMonster:

    I wish class was discussed more in American society. It’s almost a taboo, because the right has successfully waged a decades-long propaganda war that villifies anyone who brings it up as a socialist or commie.

    The reason class can’t be discussed is that our class system is race-based. Black people are the lowest class, always. So when you tell a white guy that he’s lower-class, just like his neighbor Darrell, he hears, You’re no better than a black guy. And that makes him mad.

    The entire point of the Jim Crow system was to make sure that the poorest, most broken-down white guy always had someone lower on the social scale to look down on, because then he wouldn’t start wanting things like unions or a 40-hour week — he didn’t need them because, hey, he was better off than the black family living in the shotgun shack across the tracks, amirite?

    In the US, race is class. We’re not going to be able to have discussions purely about class until we can take racism out of our class system.

  75. 75
    RareSanity says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    The Supreme Court has gotten me down.

    Clarence Thomas is one black guy that I would love the opportunity to have a very frank…”discussion” with.

    It would be one of conflict resolution…after the conflict, he would be laying on the ground with a black eye, and I would feel like it was resolved.

  76. 76
    DougJ says:

    I don’t think it needs to (or should) be about people feeling lucky or grateful for advantages. It should be about empathy.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: @RareSanity:

    The Supreme Court has gotten me down.

    It’ll do that. Sometimes, I just go read shit from the Warren Court to remind myself that a Court like that is possible too.

  78. 78
    RareSanity says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    You are too kind… :-)

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    @Ruckus:

    I like to think that most of us are capable of stepping out of our snark slinging default, to speak thoughtfully on subjects we are passionate about.

    I know I’ve seen both of you do it too.

    Nerds…LOL

  79. 79
    beltane says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Without a doubt. I am white and grew up in a low-income home in NYC. I might have owned only one pair of jeans, and wore sneakers that were falling apart, and often had to bathe in water that was heated on the stove because the landlord was always cutting off the heat and hot water, but I was always very aware of how lucky I was. Being young and white in NYC meant being able to get away with all kinds of things that black kids, including my friends, never got away with. I might not have had the opportunities that middle and upper class kids had, but at least my apprentice didn’t make people freak out and call the police, or worse.

  80. 80
    beltane says:

    @DougJ: Feeling lucky often leads to empathy because it indicates an awareness of basic inequalities. The opposite of feeling lucky is feeling entitled.

  81. 81
    RandomMonster says:

    The reason class can’t be discussed is that our class system is race-based.

    I hear what you’re saying, but I disagree that we can’t talk about class until racism is somehow eliminated. We would be effectively saying that we can’t talk about the .01% oligarchy until we’re entirely color-blind from a social policy standpoint. That just plays into the oligarchy’s strategy of pitting one social tier (say, the working poor) against another (any ethnicity, take your pick).

  82. 82
    jl says:

    @beltane:

    ” The opposite of feeling lucky is feeling entitled. ”

    And feeling resentful that they did not get more.

  83. 83
    RareSanity says:

    @DougJ:

    I would say empathy and/or humility…two mental capacities that the present day right is completely devoid of.

    But I would say that someone feeling lucky or grateful, is inherently bad, if it comes from empathy or humility. It’s when they come from arrogance and hubris, that they become negative feelings/emotions.

    I can feel empathy for a homeless person, while feeling lucky/grateful that I am not homeless…and while also trying to think of a way to help them. The flip side would be the, “Look, a homeless guy…glad I’m not that dude!” as I splash water on him from the puddle I drive through.

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @RareSanity: Hey!

    @beltane: I was utterly unaware of money issues growing up (this may well be its own form of privilege); looking back, my parents didn’t have much money but dad was in school for a number of those years and they hung out with an academic/artistic/boho crowd. Always lots of books, music, and art around. It was also one of the most diverse groups I have ever been around. Makes for a nice childhood.

  85. 85
    kc says:

    Thanks, RareSanity, for sharing that. I’m so sorry you have to endure that.

  86. 86
    SatanicPanic says:

    That was an important comment and deserved to be frontpaged.

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @RareSanity:

    I can feel empathy for a homeless person, while feeling lucky/grateful that I am not homeless…and while also trying to think of a way to help them. The flip side would be the, “Look, a homeless guy…glad I’m not that dude!” as I splash water on him from the puddle I drive through.

    Because I can’t do anything without relating it to music, this came to my mind.

  88. 88
    different-church-lady says:

    …can you imagine how much more stressful your life is…

    I have done this particular intellectual exercise in the past, and I am painfully aware that no matter how hard I try I am going to come up miserably short against the reality of it.

    There is no way to truly comprehend what that must be like day in, day out, year in, year out. There’s only two things decent people can do: try our best to be sympathetic, and continue to battle those who are indecent.

  89. 89
    MomSense says:

    @RareSanity:

    I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you shared with us here. Growing up, I watched my grandmother live it and felt so helpless.

  90. 90
    beltane says:

    @RandomMonster: Talking about class is the single most powerful weapon against racism there is. Talk about class long enough and loud enough and the not-completely-brainwashed part of white America will realize that the Mitt Romneys of this country are the real “other”. The reason the media loves to have the “conversation about race” is that it deflects attention away from the conversation about class. Just the thought of having that conversation scares the crap out of them. Any mention of class in a mainstream media outlet is likely to get you branded as a not-serious person at best, or a Marxist at worst. Even the most liberal of politicians speak of the needs of the middle class, never of the much larger working class, a term that is hardly even used in this country.

  91. 91

    We’re not going to be able to have discussions purely about class until we can take racism out of our class system.

    And “race” as we know it, including the invention of ‘white’, was fabricated to reinforce and give structure to a class system.

    The problem, at the nub, is not so much that white people are crazy–it’s that most of us don’t know our own history enough to realize that ‘white’ is a thing that planters who needed cheap labor that could survive the Carolinas *made up*. Because they needed it to exist to create wealth in a malarial, feverish land.

    My sister, who is white, is a researcher in the health effects of stress on racial minorities. The facts are quite disturbing, really.

  92. 92
    RareSanity says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Love that song…

    @different-church-lady:

    continue to battle those who are indecent

    If you do this, you are doing your part. :-)

  93. 93
    Redshift says:

    I just wanted to chime in and add my thanks for your eloquence.

    I am privileged enough that I don’t even have anything on the level of John’s experience. I like to think I have become more enlightened over the years, at least.

  94. 94
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RandomMonster:

    I hear what you’re saying, but I disagree that we can’t talk about class until racism is somehow eliminated.

    I wouldn’t say it has to be totally eliminated, but you literally can’t talk about class without talking about race, because our class system is race-based. The whole reason the Southern Strategy worked is because it allowed (and still allows) poor and working-class whites to maintain the illusion that they’re automatically better than non-whites who are in the same economic class. Why should they help a bunch of black and brown people who will end up benefiting from the working-class white guy’s hard work?

    You can’t have class solidarity without racial solidarity. Until you can convince white people that it’s okay for black people to get the same societal benefits white people do, any attempts at class solidarity are dead in the water, because as we have already seen, quite a few white people are willing to sabotage the whole system rather than allow other races to benefit from it equally, even if it means hurting themselves.

  95. 95
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: The other reason we can’t talk about class is because it means talking about how much money you make (or don’t), and how much education you have (or don’t). Part of the reason that there’s been such a rise in the amount of branded items consumed by the middle and upper-middle class is because it’s a way of communicating your status to other people who are clued in to the cost of your handbag or your sunglasses or whatever. About fifteen years ago or so, Americans started consuming visually branded items that were previously only consumed by the niche of the very rich to an extent that hadn’t really been seen before. The advantage of wearing a giant logo on your face is that you found a way to tell other people how much money you make without telling anybody how much money you make.

    I’ve said before that in my personal experience, I hear a lot more outright classism than racism from people my age (late Gen X/early Millennial). That is, of course, not to say that racism is not alive and thriving. But while most of the people I come across know to hold their tongues most of the time if they want to say something racist, the shaming of the poor/rural/uneducated is not really seen as something about which to be embarrassed. And I see a lot of sorting of friend groups based on class.

    @RareSanity: You’ve been awesome on this thread. This is why I read this blog. Thanks.

  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne:

    And I see a lot of sorting of friend groups based on class.

    Of course you do. People who have been to the same types of schools and who have had similar experiences are more likely to have things in common with one another than with others. Bowling leagues and yacht clubs. And hipster bars.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    @beltane:

    Even the most liberal of politicians speak of the needs of the middle class, never of the much larger working class, a term that is hardly even used in this country.

    Right, because “working class” means “black and brown people.” You’ll hear a few politicians and pundits talk about the white working class, but white working class people are few and far between these days, and many of them vote, yes, Republican, especially in the South.

    Romney won the white vote by 59 percent. He even won the white vote here in California — 53 percent. Whoever was horrified to his “47 percent” tirade, it wasn’t a majority of white voters.

  98. 98
    Violet says:

    @RareSanity: Thanks for your original comment and your additional comments. Living that way has to be incredibly stressful. I hope what we’re seeing now is sort of the “death rattle” of the worst of that element in our society. Time will tell, I guess.

  99. 99
    Chris says:

    @Suzanne:

    I’ve said before that in my personal experience, I hear a lot more outright classism than racism from people my age (late Gen X/early Millennial)

    I agree. And I don’t think I’m being sheltered from the racism, because I hear it from older people (and from some my age, yes) fairly often. But yes, in my generation, classism is very much a thing – along with the denial that it exists or would in any way be a problem if it did, of course.

  100. 100
    satanicpanic says:

    Also thanks raresanity for sticking around and chatting. I come from mixed parents and the subject is always on my mind but frankly it’s awkward for a white looking dude to bring it up IRL too often. I hate to sound like a tourist in other peoples issues or burden friends with stuff they may not feel like talking about.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suzanne:

    I’ve said before that in my personal experience, I hear a lot more outright classism than racism from people my age (late Gen X/early Millennial).

    I rarely hear classism, but that’s probably in part because my best friend fought her way into the middle class. She and her husband have a nice house in south Orange County, but she has no problem telling people that she was born and raised in Detroit (no, not Bloomfield Hills or Grosse Pointe — in Eminem’s Detroit).

  102. 102
    RandomMonster says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You can’t have class solidarity without racial solidarity. Until you can convince white people that it’s okay for black people to get the same societal benefits white people do, any attempts at class solidarity are dead in the water, because as we have already seen, quite a few white people are willing to sabotage the whole system rather than allow other races to benefit from it equally, even if it means hurting themselves.

    Okay, we’re saying similar things. I don’t want to see one stratification played against another, and neither do you.

    Note that my original comment wasn’t about a solution to either problem, it was about what could be discussed in polite society or the media. And my point was that class is fairly taboo in our society, thanks to a large, focused, well-funded, and intentional campaign to villify people who talk about it as inherently “un-American”, socialist, etc.

  103. 103
    ruemara says:

    @RareSanity: I’d go for a nutkick, because then it would be resolved for me.

  104. 104
    RandomMonster says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Right, because “working class” means “black and brown people.”

    Well, this is where I think we would all benefit from some statistics. It’s certainly largely true here in Silicon Valley, but I want to understand the dynamics in different parts of the country, and nationally as a whole.

  105. 105
    TS says:

    “In fairness, though, I bet there are a lot of really poor white people who feel the same way. Classism is almost as pernicious in this society as racism, and I know of a lot of people who don’t go out in public because they have bad teeth and don’t want to smile or because they are always afraid their debit card is going to be declined or because people are going to judge them because of the clothes they are wearing. Or because they are fat.”

    Everything here can be changed
    bad teeth – can be fixed – hey Obamacare
    bad debt – can be paid off – or removed via bankruptcy
    Clothes – can be changed
    fat – can be dieted off

    Skin color – is there forever – the few who have tried to change it have been unsuccessful

  106. 106
    HRA says:

    My grammar school had one Black student. Robert sat across from me in class. He barely spoke. When I would say good morning, he would nod his head. I thought he was shy.
    My much older sister took me to a baseball game at our local stadium. I noticed Robert playing across the street before we walked into the stadium. I yelled “Hi Robert”. A lady came out of the house behind him and called him to come in. I remember looking at the houses and seeing other Black people. I wanted to know more about the street. My sister said the Blacks were not allowed to live anywhere else.
    When my Dad came home, I talked to him about Robert, the street and asked him if Robert’s mother was like my Mom.
    It was the weekend when Dad and Mom took me to the Emancipation Day celebration at our local park. One of the men at the gate told Dad he had made a mistake and this was a private event. Dad asked him to walk over to the side to talk. Then we were let in. Families were sitting at picnic tables as we walked on the path. A man from one of those tables came up to us and invited us to join him to share the food with his family. Then I played with the children, danced to the music and watched the crowning of Miss Emancipation Day. We had an invitation to go every year and we did go until we moved to the US.
    I am very grateful for having parents who taught me all life is to be celebrated and precious.

  107. 107
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TS: To be honest, the people who fixed their teeth, bought new clothes, and dieted will still be noticed. The people who grew up with those issues are going to tend to be more socially hesitant than those who didn’t. It can be seen. I don’t think it is the same as racism but it is always there.

  108. 108
    beltane says:

    @RandomMonster: Silicon Valley might not be very representative of the rest of the country. In raw numbers, the majority of working class Americans are probably white and I have never understood there to be a racial component to the term (the rest of the world uses the term quite freely). After all, hasn’t the right wing expended much of their energy in persuading white people that blacks and browns are the “non-working class”?

  109. 109
    TS says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    White privilege gives out the view that poor whites have the same issues as people with black skins – they don’t and for the foreseeable future they never will.

    A poor white with rotting teeth can walk down a street without thinking they will be arrested or shot because of who they are or what they do. If Trayvon Martin had been a poor white teenager with rotten teeth and baggy pants he would be alive today.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TS: I agree with that. I was just say that poor whiteness is not as easy to shed as the comment to which I was replaying suggested.

  111. 111
    RandomMonster says:

    @beltane:

    Silicon Valley might not be very representative of the rest of the country. In raw numbers, the majority of working class Americans are probably white and I have never understood there to be a racial component to the term (the rest of the world uses the term quite freely). After all, hasn’t the right wing expended much of their energy in persuading white people that blacks and browns are the “non-working class”?

    I’m not arguing with any of that at all. I mentioned Silicon Valley because I know my viewpoint is limited. But I read and travel enough to know that the rest of the nation (and rest of world) is different. Hence my question about good statistics.

  112. 112
    RandomMonster says:

    @beltane:

    Silicon Valley might not be very representative of the rest of the country. In raw numbers, the majority of working class Americans are probably white and I have never understood there to be a racial component to the term (the rest of the world uses the term quite freely). After all, hasn’t the right wing expended much of their energy in persuading white people that blacks and browns are the “non-working class”?

    I’m not arguing with any of that at all. I mentioned Silicon Valley because I know my viewpoint is limited. But I read and travel enough to know that the rest of the nation (and rest of world) is different. Hence my question about good statistics.

  113. 113

    I am scrolling past all the 100+ comments here because I have a link! and it’s relevant and germane to the main post! So I ziplined down to the bottom of the page and here we are:

    http://feministhivemind.com/?p=949

    Type2 Diabetes, and factors among populations that make it more probable. Including prejudice. Dr. Anonymous notes some things, and proposes a theory to explain them. Dr. A noticed this while studying for boards (medicine):

    “Type II diabetes is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians” the first thought that went through my head was, “How is that different from ‘Non-Hispanic whites are relatively protected from diabetes’?” I knew already that people of minority racial and ethnic backgrounds tended to have higher rates of type II (also known as “adult onset”) diabetes, but hadn’t really thought about the fact that _every_ minority had a higher rate before.

    Dr. Anonymous continues: Of 2 possible explanations for why white northern european descendant types don’t get Type2Diabetes as much as other groups, there’s genetic mututation, and Stress. Or Lack of Stress.

    And something else:

    Papers from the 1930s suggest that diabetes is more common in the Jewish population, particularly in Germany. This correlation has completely disappeared in the early 21st century. Hmm…what’s changed between then and now(1)?

    This supports and reinforces what RareSanity said (which John Cole frontpaged).

  114. 114
    Ruckus says:

    @RareSanity:
    @ruemara:

    Why settle?
    Both of you are correct in your approach and there is enough stupid there for all. I’m envisioning a scene from Airplane.

  115. 115
    Ruckus says:

    @RareSanity:
    Thanks.
    I do try on occasion to not be a dick. At least partially successful. Some of the time.

  116. 116
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus:

    I do try on occasion to not be a dick. At least partially successful. Some of the time.

    I call shenanigans.

  117. 117

    And now that I’ve read the thread, thank you, RareSanity, for your candor. I do appreciate it.

    I have slowly and partially been learning not to take for granted those things I’ve never had to think about or deal with.

  118. 118
    TS says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I accept that – but my premise was always that poor white CAN be changed – black skin is forever.

  119. 119
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Why do you think I chose the moniker that I did?

    I’ve been shenaniganing for a long time.

  120. 120
    KS in MA says:

    RareSanity is absolutely right. There’s nothing funny about these racist SOB’s. Nothing.

    (Just a bit late to the party… I’m sure others upthread have said it much better.)

Comments are closed.