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I am Racist and (If You’re White) You Probably Are, Too


#1

I am Racist and (If You’re White) You Probably Are, Too

Steven Singer

I am a white man.

I am racist.

But that’s kind of redundant.

It’s like saying, “I am a fish, and I am soaking wet.

In some ways, I can’t help it. I don’t even notice it. I live my life immersed in a world of white privilege that most of the time I frankly can’t even see.


#2

This is well-argued:

"Racism is hate plus power. If a black person says, “I hate white people,” he is prejudiced. However, there is no system that then backs up his hatred. The police don’t arrest white people more than black people for the same crimes. The judicial system doesn’t give harsher sentences to white people than it does black people for the same crimes. Public schools serving a majority of white students aren’t chronically underfunded. It isn’t harder to get a loan or a job if you have a white-sounding name. If it did, THAT would be racism!

Get it?

So I’m sorry, white people. This means there is no such thing as reverse racism. Despite what you may see on Fox News, the only racists in America have white skin."

I would add that the same goes for sexism. Since patriarchy allots extra power to males, it's often inverted so that when females point out the problems, they are described as being sexist or male-haters.

It could also be said that frames that demonize individuals fighting for their own homelands--ISIS, Al Qaida, etc.--and terming them terrorists are equally false.

When a group in power consigns others to violent defensive measures, it is disingenuous to term them "terrorists" for defending their own lands.

Yet we are living in an era of mind control, lies told often, a propagandistic machine that runs 24/7, and control of The Narrative (along with numerous Official Stories) along with attacks on truth tellers and whistle blowers. Due to these measures of limiting content, those with power continue to control, direct, and determine the National Conversation. And they lie! Through P.R. and public relations (Edward Bernays and company) they've become inordinately proficient at it, too.

Since lies told often ARE perceived as true, the best form of PR/propaganda is that which goes without being recognized as such.

When media insists that the Black kid gunned down "had it coming," and goes to great pains painting him as a n'er do well, it's psychological manipulation aimed at suggesting that "the kid got what he deserved."

It's precisely this same mentality that insists likewise when women get raped, or when "enemy combatants" doors get knocked in.

ONLY through a return to The Fairness Doctrine and the public's ownership of media/the air waves can these distortions cease and desist from poisoning and prejudicing minds.


#3

I was with you 100% up until your concluding reference to the Fairness Doctrine.

Do you honestly believe that racism and sexism did not exist in the public media when the Fairness Doctrine was in effect?


#5

I am a white person and I am not a racist...but then, I have been homeless and lived on the streets, outside the bounds of white privilege. My brothers and sisters of color have saved my bacon more times than I can count. As a child I was a member of the YMCA which was one of the few integrated organizations in the deep south where I lived. Before my racist step-father could get to me, I had already learned the crap he was selling was crap. He beat me when I was eight because I dared to point out people of different complexions than him were just as human as he. I'm sorry for the author and my fellow Euro-Americans and their sheltered lives but it is possible to grow up white in the US and not be a racist...barely. The thing that amazes me is how white racists usually have more in common with their black brothers and sisters but are unable to see it. The rich sit back and laugh as the poor waste their time fighting each other instead of the real enemy.


#6

P.S. The Confederate flag in the photo is upside down. I went to Robt. E. Lee High School where it was the school flag. The stars are always inverted as a symbol of turning away from the North.


#7

"Second of all, I’m not talking to people of color. None of you are racist. Congratulations!

You might be a hate-filled bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, prejudiced asshole.

Again, I don’t know you. But racist? No. You can’t really be that.

Here’s why. Racism doesn’t mean hating someone because of their race. That’s a kind of prejudice. And anyone can be prejudiced.

Racism is hate plus power."

Sorry but you don't get to make your own meaning for words and then state conclusions based on your new definition.

The piece makes some excellent points but is marred by trying to redefine racism to exclude everyone but those with 'power'.

And even if the definition was accurate, how much power do you think the majority of white people have? Missed that bit about the shrinking middle class? Didn't see the polls that show opinions heading in one direction and politicians in another?

Think the cops who came to get the black kids out of the pool won't come and get the homeowners who called them when those homeowners can't pay their mortgage and refuse to leave the home they've lost?

Yes, there's still white privilege. Yes, we've benefitted from it. Yes, we should work to eliminate inequality.

All good points.

But we're trying to hold onto our homes and jobs. We're not the ones in power.

What we need is solidarity with the oppressed, not further division.


#8

Gosh SR, I never thought I'd see you buying into the WE doctrine. As in "WE'RE THE ONLY RACISTS BECAUSE WE'RE THE ONES IN POWER."

Do you think we're in power?

After all your protestations about using "we" this comes as a real shock.


#9

I can't identify with this at all. I am a 57 year old white gay man. I have had lots of white privilege (inheritance is not one of them, neither was a white father to put me through college, get me job connections, etc.) If this piece is correct, I guess I'd be a self hating homophobe also,
Get with the program, no one can make blanket statements like this and expect to be taken seriously.


#10

Singer's alcoholic analogy is apt. I certainly know that I'm a recovering racist, and that's all that I ever can be.

Just as a recovering alcoholic knows they can never take another drink, I know that I must be constantly on guard for my own latent racism.

And that doesn't have a goddamn thing to do with "white guilt", or being "politically correct".

It's a commitment to my humanity, to my ability to empathize, without which any sense of purpose in this life is illusory.

I grew up in apartheid Miss'ssippi in the '60s. One telling anecdote of the insanity of that time -- not that we're very far removed from it -- is a recollection of asking my uncle if it was okay to draw a picture of a black football player (John Mackey, a Hall of Fame tight end for the Colts -- of course, there were no black players on any college sports team in the state at the time).

I remember doing so, so he must have given his assent, but just to feel compelled to pose the question demonstrates the utter disconnect between black and white in that society.

So I know whereof I speak.

This is only about blame if we refuse to accept reality

Or, to echo Singer's admonition

If we refuse to do something to change it.


#11

I am free of all prejudices. I hate every one equally.
W. C. Fields


#12

Part of changing it is not passing it on.

It's one of those case where inaction can also be a positive thing.

I grew up in S. Florida and as a child saw more Seminole Indians than any other minority group.

Or maybe they, in their colorful garb, just made a greater impression..

South Florida wasn't nearly as racist as the rest of the state but I still heard racist comments and jokes. For some reason the jokes still sit in my memory like little isolated bits of poison.

I don't repeat them.


#13

Actually the "racism is hate plus power" is pretty close to the standard definition sociologists use for racism. They define it a "skin-defined privilege plus power."

And assuming you are white, you me and all whites were given a far easier path - unfairly so - to holding a job. I myself am ashamed at the way job interviewers always gave me the benefit of the doubt and a slick ride to career success in civil engineering - even though I was a pretty mediocre student - and generally not that all bright.

If you are white USAn, you live in a position of privilege and power - period.


#14

It's interesting to read an essay assuming tons of stuff about people based on their ethnicity. I would argue that while the dictionary definition is accurate, the history of the US if replete with Euro-Americans who not only have not been oblivious to the genocide of Native Americans or exploitation of African citizens, but have instead fought courageously to defend their rights and often died doing so. I do agree with the invisible yet omni present white privilege, though...it is difficult to discern a good deal of the time. The sacrifices made by the indigenous peoples of the American continent, together with the suffering of those kidnapped from their homelands in Africa and brutalized into forced labor, are the bloody foundations upon which our nation was built. We do well to not forget this legacy.


#15

What a huge pile of steaming crap!!
Poor white has zero power, try it some time idiot.
Poor white male has less than zero, because when you are screwed you can't even yell racism, or sexual discrimination.

Keep up the drivel, I'm sure the idiots will lap it up with their daily dose of Kooky Aid.


#16

You neatly side step the fact that more whites were slaves than blacks ever were.
Try reading some history, just because you are called a indentured servant doesn't mean you aren't a slave.

Check into who supplied the slave traders in Africa.... hint!! it wasn't white guys.


#17

Thanks Mr. Singer. Your article tells it like it is and the alcoholism analogy is very apt.


#18

My gay brother, who as a Catholic Worker, he and his partner started a communal hospitality house for the (mostly black) destitute of Baton Rouge. He would agree with Mr. Singer's article 100%.

And can you elaborate on how this piece implies that you should be a homophobe? That makes no sense at all! Can you tell an apple from an orange?


#19

I remember the very moment I saw my own way of reacting as prejudice and how subtle it can be. I was in my early 20s, in my car, stopped at an intersection waiting for the light to change. To my left, was a traffic median, and standing on it, was an older African-American woman who was trying to cross. There were cars turning, traffic lights changing; and I sensed her anxiety, but then the light changed and I was on my way. In the rearview mirror, I saw her still standing there and something about her, it just hit me, that she had been nearly invisible to me as I sat there. She was older, poor, black, female, and these qualities evoked in me a comfortable indifference; her opinion of me hadn't mattered. This observation both shamed and shocked me into awareness. I am a different person for the experience, but I still feel sad when I think of her braving the traffic alone, and me in my car, ignoring her. That, to me, is racism at its most casually unconscious.


#20

Yunzer, I'm not disputing white privilege or that it's unfair and should be rectified. What I'm disputing is A) The inclusion of Power, which isn't part of any dictionary definition of racism I could find and B) the use of that definition to say only whites can be racist. From a sociological perspective there are structures that promulgate social stratification based on racist assumptions but I doubt you'd be able to find any sociologist leaping from that to only those in power can be racists.


#22

Some other responded said it better than I can but with singer saying that all these people of color could be homophobic why not a gay white boy like me? Do you see the craziness of creating a broad stroke like this? There are no syllogisms at work, just statements. Did not say I could not be a homophobe so I guess I could be in his system. This is really a waste of people's time.