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Race. Class. Resentment. Taken together, this cocktail has the potential to do more damage to the progressive cause – the best hope, mind you, of combating the racism and class warfare that drive the resentment – than just about any other. We’ve got (mostly) white anxiety about the demographic changes to our population; we’ve got resentment about racial discrimination, and, in the opposite direction, about active measures taken to counteract its continued existence as well as the lasting effects of past discrimination. In order to win support for progressive solutions, we’re going to have to talk about these issues in ways that feel right – even if not fully satisfying – to members of different ethnic groups. That’s not easy, but it’s doable.

First, let’s talk about the not easy part. I recently found myself hearing two sets of progressives discuss these issues in a fascinating discussion thread here on DailyKos, and although they almost certainly agreed on the reality of racial discrimination, they talked right past each other in terms of how to talk about resentment, specifically to white working class voters. The initial post presented a Public Religion Research Institute survey showing that white Americans working in non-salaried jobs and lacking a college degree were significantly more likely than those with a college degree to “believe that blacks and other minorities have received too many advantages and government attention.” This was especially true in the South.

The person presenting the information rightly highlighted the facts showing that such a belief – one that assumes we’ve left behind bigotry and discrimination – bears no resemblance to reality. Others in the dialogue, while agreeing on that fact, shifted to point out that those white working class people were reacting negatively to what appeared to be a narrowing of their opportunities (aided, I would add, by right-wing demagogues who feed that perception) and were not seeing – or not interested in – the historical and moral justifications for affirmative action and other attempts to rectify injustice. We progressives, I would argue, must work to change that perception in order to win elections and get the opportunity to implement our policy solutions.

Along these lines, one of the responders argued: “It is, bluntly, Pollyannish to expect such a person, struggling for survival in the current economy, to not be receptive to the argument that they are being penalized for being classed as "white."” Another stated that no amount of hectoring from antiracists would “convince someone to plausibly make their life more difficult to give someone they don't know a leg up over things such people might not feel responsible for and that seem rather distant either geographically or chronologically.” Both argued for an approach that focused on expanding the slice of the economic pie available to all working-class Americans.

Here’s where the disconnect occurred: The author of the original post about the survey replied by repeating the truth about why affirmative action exists and then characterized those who expressed resentment over affirmative action as “a group of spoiled brats who got all the toys now complaining that they have to share a little bit.” The responder agreed about the moral and historical justifications for measures such as affirmative action and endorsed their continuation, but then added that people who are themselves working class aren’t likely to recognize themselves as “privileged” or “advantaged” because of where they sit on the economic food chain right now.

The original author then essentially said those people’s concerns were not his and he wasn’t interested in “entertaining their false beliefs in bogeymen and ghosts like "quotas" or "reverse racism."” The author added that he refuses to have any: “sympathy for people, as a class, i.e. working class whites, who have been benefiting from white skin privilege for centuries.” A final counterpoint made by another responder: “loss of privilege –even when the privilege was never deserved – still feels like loss. That's the root of a lot of the "reverse discrimination" stuff.”

This discussion – one in which the two sides agree on much and in which both speak important truths – crystallizes the chasm between the two ways of looking at race, class, and resentment: moralist and realist. To win elections we must bridge that rhetorical gap. It is not impossible. We need a rhetoric that recognizes the realities of racism but which also acknowledges the validity of how working-class whites feel. Fortunately, this is exactly the approach taken by President Barack Obama.

Obama addressed these issues most directly in his Philadelphia race speech. On white privilege, he stated: “most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race.” That doesn’t mean he believes that they haven’t been privileged, but that’s beside the point for the purpose of winning their support for his policies. The President also said “to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns—this too widens the racial divide and blocks the path to understanding.” By this point he has, hopefully, established some credibility with the resentful whites he is trying to reach. He has established that he has empathy for their position.

Having done so, Obama can then deliver some truths: “Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.” He added: “these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle-class squeeze.”  This, I would argue, is a far more effective way to win white support both for universal measures to improve the lives of working-class Americans and for specific measures to counteract the all too real effects of discrimination non-whites still face.

Berating the resentful among the white working class for their bigotry would, without question, lead any of them who were listening to stop, and to dismiss the speaker as someone who just doesn’t get them. Speaking the way Obama did is far less satisfying – as nuance always is initially – but his election suggests that it worked in 2008. We’ll find out more in November.

As progressives, we must not dismiss the perspectives of white working class voters – even those who express racial resentments – any more than we do the perspective of non-white voters, because we need to win their votes. We have to convince these white voters that their interests lie not in allying themselves with the economic elites against minorities, but in coming together and creating a broad, multiethnic coalition of Americans united. This is the truth, and it is what Obama seeks to do. Such a coalition can be the driving force for real change, for policies that benefit members of all ethnic groups while ensuring equal opportunities for all Americans.

PS-For anyone interested, I discuss these themes in greater detail in my new book: Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published last month by Potomac Books. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.

Originally posted to Ian Reifowitz on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, Invisible People, and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (154+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WeNeedKerry, DemInDuluth, Abby Hemani, shortmama, Gale Hollis, MKSinSA, blue jersey mom, Black Kos, Kelly of PA, gloriana, absdoggy, pioneer111, doroma, toys, nomandates, Texdude50, KHKS, jnhobbs, GoGoGoEverton, shanesnana, Matt Z, jfromga, jbob, bluedust, OIL GUY, Gooserock, lineatus, Manny, arizonablue, Yellow Canary, middleagedhousewife, badscience, eve, MaikeH, DRo, Wee Mama, Boston to Salem, OleHippieChick, Flying Goat, 2thanks, Caddis Fly, mamamorgaine, SoCalSal, pamelabrown, Mets102, jiffypop, semiot, spooks51, DanceHallKing, FindingMyVoice, Vita Brevis, PBen, gulfgal98, rexxnyc, sawgrass727, SpecialKinFlag, triplepoint, nickrud, brooklyns finest, elmo, Tonedevil, Kimbeaux, TomP, Brix, Emerson, Odysseus, ferment, hazey, Deep Texan, kate mckinnon, sethtriggs, coppercelt, Involuntary Exile, Chitown Kev, Gorette, palachia, smileycreek, sostos, MKinTN, Jim R, Steveningen, consciousempress, Mary Mike, never forget 2000, DBunn, marabout40, pvlb, Fabienne, congenitalefty, ponderer, kathny, splintersawry, shortgirl, Kombema, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, FiredUpInCA, Wordsinthewind, greengemini, Debby, mikeconwell, joanbrooker, TX Freethinker, shopkeeper, zizi, kestrel9000, Marihilda, JanetT in MD, Renee, Gowrie Gal, tytalus, LNK, Vicky, Mistral Wind, blueoregon, kyril, MooseHB, Sychotic1, Ptown boy in NC, outragedinSF, AuroraDawn, madhaus, vixenflem, Ed in Montana, Catte Nappe, hyperstation, Joieau, Tchrldy, TiaRachel, awesumtenor, ozsea1, Syoho, legendmn, Meteor Blades, Dracowyrm, Catlady62, splashy, mali muso, volleyboy1, cyncynical, uciguy30, WB Reeves, Eric Nelson, Sapere aude, no way lack of brain, caul, kj in missouri, ItsaMathJoke, grollen, Larsstephens, Oh Mary Oh, isabelle hayes, hwy70scientist, kaliope, Out Now
  •  This is going to sound harsh (51+ / 0-)

    But the traditional media is far more comfortable calling out poor and working class blacks and Latinos for having a "victimhood mentality" than they are for poor and working class whites.

    If a black politician went on TV and complained about racial bias in the media as much as conservatives complain about liberal bias in the media he would no longer be invited on TV.

    Could you image a Hispanic politician who was losing in the polls being able to charge that all the major polling firms were conspiring against her because they had an anti-Latina bias? She would be laughed off the the political stage.

    But traditional media has been intimidated by movement conservatism, so ideas like America discriminates more against poor whites than poor minorities are allowed to fester.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:49:53 AM PDT

  •  The Problem Is, If You Want to Reach White Working (24+ / 0-)

    class this way you have to intend to offer them credible improvement in their prospects, which as Howard Dean was pointing out 8 years ago the party has been unwilling to do for many years.

    The right runs a massive race-fear propaganda program around the clock and around the calendar. We're not dealing with the white working class left to form its opinions on its own. Their peers, their employers and their God are drenching them in fear and anger at minorities. A simple corrective message approach from our side is not going to move them, we have to back it up with tangible economic offerings so that the fear of others taking from them becomes incredible to them, in their world.

    I don't see that we yet have a party that will perform on this.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:54:35 AM PDT

  •  I don't disagree, but I'm pessimistic (34+ / 0-)

    Here's my example: company with HQ in a small town in NC, big employer there, 130 stores throughout NC/SC/VA/TN.  

    Now, in the region where this company operates, African-Americans are a good 40% of the population.  Yet, at that HQ, the only African-American employee was the custodian, out of 85 people. At the manufacturing / distribution plants, and the stores, no African-Americans in management, supervisory or administrative positions - only the lowest level, hardest working jobs.

    Their stores were generally a meeting place for white locals who would come, sit around in front of the store, and talk about the weather, how business was, etc. All the while, the black workers would be loading, hauling, cleaning, etc. in the 90 degree heat.

    Yet, to a man, those white working class people would talk about how blacks had it easy, about how they lived off the gov't, got all the good jobs because of quotas, or got into college ahead of their (shit for brains, lazy, incompetent) sons and daughters because of affirmative action. It was, to them, as true as the sky is blue.

    I don't know how you form a coalition with people who think like that. I don't know how you reach them. The evidence against what they were saying was staring them right in the face. The one time I tried, truly respectfully and gently, to point this out, I was dismissed out of hand.

    I guess the difficulty is that people believe what they want to believe. It's hard to find open minds. I don't dismiss their perspectives (although it's hard not to when the facts seem to speak for themselves), but nor do I see any way to convince them that their interest lies in joining with people not of their skin color.

    They just aren't open to facts, which is something I think we progressives have a hard time with, and don't understand.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:02:47 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for a well thought out discussion (14+ / 0-)

    of these issues. The long-term future of the Democratic Party depends on uniting all working and middle-class Americans around the principles of economic equality. Doing this entails getting folks to look at their own prejudices.

    That is a difficult process, but a very worthwhile one. We need to bring more people to understand that it is true that "the people united can never be defeated." That is the power of our democracy. We must work together to harness that power to create a more just society for every American.

    Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

    by OIL GUY on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:03:05 AM PDT

  •  I think there is almost no message (13+ / 0-)

    that will reach older working class whites who harbor deep racial resentment that Obama or any liberal can offer.

    To the extent we are seeing some amazing changes in the polling, especially among women, independents and some men, it is driven by messages from the right.   Those messages are unrelated to discussions of race by and large.  They are messages and statements of such pervasive hate and contempt for women, average working people, important social programs that are looked up as life savers.   It is the existential threat posed by the right wing which will transform older voters to concentrate less on an ephemeral threat and see that all working people, all women, all attempts at raising a family with hope for a better life for their kids are threatened so that rich people can have more money.

    Romney may well be the transformative figure on the political scene. Naked self interest, naked greed, naked contempt for everyone who isn't as rich as he is.   Average people are waking up.  There is still a significant number though who would rather ignore these brutal facts about the GOP and cling to racial hate, misogyny, and religious intolerance.  Lots of those people are in the south.  I don't think anything would change their minds.

  •  Double bonus for the oligarchs: By causing the (23+ / 0-)

    working class whites to resent minorities, it makes it easier for the oligarchs to suppress wages for minority workers.  Paying brown-skinned construction workers and meat packers less doesn't mean that the white workers make more.  It means that wages for everyone in the industry will drop, so the white guys have allowed their resentments to lower their pay or take away their job entirely.  And the guys at the top just pocket some additional profit.

  •  Thanks, Ian. I always admire someone... (5+ / 0-)

    ...who can deconstruct, and discuss, race in ways that are not already beaten to death or cliched.  

    I also did this in Aldus Shrugged, tho from a decidedly less-intellectual/professorial approach, and more of a conversational style (in a novel form, after all).  I have my white and black protagonists take up a chapter with a mostly-race-based discussion of our country, our president, and our media.  (One of my "favorite" canards has always been that a black celeb can say anything racist he/she wants with no repercussions; but a white celeb saying one thing against black folks will lose his job.  This used to be true, and its transformation (hear RW radio) in the time of Obama is a stark and ugly reality).  
    I almost cannot help but heap on sarcasm and satire when I deal with so many of these issues, and what I label as others' true closed-minded ignorance in many racial discussions.

    The problem with that approach is that I too tend to dismiss - possibly too quickly, and with too broad of a brush - those whites who grumble.  I am very quick to assign one of those grumbling folks' motives, rather than look at any tangible reasons for his feelings (anything tangible besides sheer racism).

    I myself am Jewish and am classified as caucasian.  I didn't grow up anything more than middle class, and not even too comfortable; but being Jewish, everywhere I went, people assumed I had big money!  I never truly felt that I grew up with any privilege or advantage, but I always recognized that I DID NOT GROW UP WITH ANY DECIDED DISADVANTAGE, and this is a very important realization, I think.

    Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand. Buy ALDUS SHRUGGED on amazon, and ALL royalties will be donated directly to barackobama.com HELP ME TO HELP THE BIG O!!! And follow the fun: @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:10:59 AM PDT

    •  You're welcome, Floyd. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm very much looking forward to finishing your book Aldus Shrugged. What I've read so far is terrific. Thanks for sharing your own perspective. It's not easy to put yourself in someone else's shoes. And I'm not willing or able, I guess, to do that with someone who gets violent. What I am is practical, so I want to try and change people's minds to the degree that's possible, and then I go from there.

      •  THANK YOU SO MUCH, Ian!! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz, jaysunb

        My wife is kind of sick of me discussing my book.  I so want other people to discuss it!!!  Seriously, coming from an author and a prof to boot, that is especially good to hear.  I am just starting yours, and I will follow through with that review at some point in the near future.  (It may take a little time, but I won't forget).

        It's funny, my dad for example, was very kind, and in his own way, open-minded.  He was extremely intelligent, and I think, very complex. (I would say probably 70% of the stuff in Aldus Shrugged about Seth's dad is truly my dad!).  He used to call black folks "Schwartzes", with the Yiddish "shvaltsuhh" pronunciation, but in his heart he meant nothing by it.  He lost his job (and a helluva lot more) in the 1950s because he dared to speak up to a guy at Bell Labs in Baltimore, and asked him to stop using the n-word.  (I never once heard my dad use that word).  The guy replied that "in philly you can call em what you want, but south of the mason-dixon line we call 'em n's."  And then the guy did the rest of his responding behind my father's back.

        Meanwhile, my dad supported nixon because of some missile project to protect Israel, and that issue must've trumped everything for him.  (He met my mom at an adlai stevenson volunteer event).

        So, after all this rambling, I guess my point is that folks that are rational and non-violent can be very complex, and certainly worthy of at least some degree of closer inspection.

        Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand. Buy ALDUS SHRUGGED on amazon, and ALL royalties will be donated directly to barackobama.com HELP ME TO HELP THE BIG O!!! And follow the fun: @floydbluealdus1

        by Floyd Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:41:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  When I am having these conversations... (10+ / 0-)

    I think there is a way to appeal to (white) people's self respect.

    And I also think that much of the dynamic described here is:

    1. People have barely acknowledged racism.
    2. They are afraid of being judged for this.
    3. They construct defenses around that fear of being judged that involves blaming others.

    So, if you remove the threat of judgment from the equation, there may be an opportunity to move the ball further down the field -- as Obama does.

    In a paragraph

    There is a history of racism in this country. I am not responsible for it and I can't apologize for it or offer reparations. But there are still advantages to being white in this country. I would like those advantages to be shared by everybody. And I have one responsibility which is I can't, as a white person, see myself as a victim of racism.  The cycle has to end with me.

  •  Thanks for your diary. (3+ / 0-)

    In college I took an into Psych course late into the proceedings to fill in hours needed.
    There was one thing from that course that took root more deeply than anything else I managed to learn.
    It was about the Stickleback fish. The Stickleback fish was/is(if this understanding has not yet changed - I'll have to get over to wiki to see) - very strange. The male kept to himself and was an anti-social curmudgeon until it was time to mate and then he overcame his solitary ways for the female Stickleback with whom he mated.
    I think of this every now and again with respect to human behavior. How people - Mitt Romney's a good example - is stuck within his own group and apparently not comfortable with a stranger whose circumstances are different than his.

    This may be true of all of us to some extent.

    But since we all share the life of this country, we cannot afford to see people we don't know or socialize with as the "other".

    It's a recipe for disaster.
    This is nothing new, I recognize :)

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:15:54 AM PDT

  •  I think there is a simplification here (5+ / 0-)

    I agree with something Jim Webb wrote a few years ago...that extremely poor whites in West Virginia and Kentucky are not "advantaged" compared to many immigrant asian/hispanic families from middle class backgrounds

    Yet, if somehow this white person breaks out of the trailer community, the much wealthier non-black minority family will get diversity points

    Another way of saying this, is that poor blacks virtually always have it worse than poor whites, and this is due to past and current racism...but once you include all minorities the issue is more complicated but I believe many liberals refuse to believe such, and thus working class whites see the logical breakdown and are open to racist Republicans conning them into voting for them

    •  Webb was right (5+ / 0-)

      He didn't say that blacks who have money have it "easy" or even that they are "advantaged" in some way, certainly not compared to whites who are in a similar economic situation. But poverty is, without question, a significant disadvantage for anyone to overcome.

      And Obama himself has written (see The Audacity of Hope) that kids (like his) of wealthy backgrounds shouldn't necessarily benefit from affirmative action. He also spoke of exactly the situation you described and, in the way I talked about above, empathizes with the perspective of that white person looking at affirmative action benefiting the child of a black lawyer or doctor.

      You're right that some liberals refuse to recognize this, which is the disconnect I wrote about in my post. We'll see if we can come to a more productive consensus.

      •  Yes, I saw this dynamic (8+ / 0-)

        as far back as high school.

        I went to a magnet high school in Detroit where many of the black kids were middle and upper middle class (complete with BMW's in the parking lot) and I  would say that almost all of the white kids seemed to be from working class backgrounds (i.e. smart kids but their parents couldn't afford to send them to private schools).

        It's a very interesting dynamic, to say the least...(and I hung out more with the white kids because we shared the same class backgrounds...the preppy kids were a bit more insular)

        •  Interesting. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chitown Kev

          Thanks for sharing that, Kev.

          •  Let me add this (6+ / 0-)

            That's not to say that the parents of those middle and upper middle class black kids didn't (and don't) go through  stuff because of racism and white privilege..indeed there have been books written on what black middle and upper middle class folks go through in that regard...

            But the simple fact of whiteness doesn't mean that some...a lot of poor and working class white folks don't suffer and struggle....they do...

            I should also add that I live in Evanston, IL right now so I see this dynamic quite a bit. Again, granted that there is racism in this wealthy north of Chicago suburb, I notice that the kids of all races get along quite well with each other (for the most part).

            •  "But the simple fact of whiteness doesn't mean (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Noisy Democrat, Ian Reifowitz

              that some...a lot of poor and working class white folks don't suffer and struggle....they do..."

              Historically, the class of people even more vilified than poor blacks -- by both blacks and whites -- has been those demonized as "poor white trash."

              From the quote earlier:

              The author added that he refuses to have any: “sympathy for people, as a class, i.e. working class whites, who have been benefiting from white skin privilege for centuries.”

              White trash  (emphasis mine)

              White trash is an American English pejorative term referring to poor white people in the United States, especially in the rural South, suggesting lower social class and degraded living standards. The term suggests outcasts from respectable society living on the fringes of the social order who are seen as dangerous because they may be criminal, unpredictable, and without respect for authority whether it be political, legal, or moral. The term is usually a slur, but may also be used self-referentially by whites to jokingly describe their origins.

              The term white trash first came into common use in the 1830s as a pejorative used by house slaves against poor whites. In 1833 Fanny Kemble, an English actress visiting Georgia, noted in her journal: "The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash'".

              In 1854, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the chapter "Poor White Trash" in her book A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe tells the reader that slavery not only produces "degraded, miserable slaves", but also poor whites who are even more degraded and miserable. The plantation system forced those whites to struggle for subsistence. Beyond economic factors, Stowe traces this class to the shortage of schools and churches in their community, and says that both blacks and whites in the area look down on these "poor white trash".

              This form of discrimination still operates today.  I know because I've been the victim of it.

              •  please, that is a nice fiction (7+ / 0-)

                poor whites are poor but they still have white skin privilege.

                also, there is data on inter-generational wealth and income mobility that consistently demonstrates that poor whites have a much higher chance of moving up than blacks and latinos. also, poor whites, those from the very bottom of the income distribution scale are more likely to reach the very top of the scale in a generation than are blacks born at the top to remain there.

                stated differently, the cosby kids and their people are more likely to fall all the way down the scale than to remain there; while a poor white kid is much more likely to climb all the way up to the top.

                whiteness is a type of property that works even for the white poor.

                •  that is a nice fiction -- Bullsh*t (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ian Reifowitz

                  I've had both rich white and rich black folks call me "poor white trash", and had to swallow the insult because they were my landlords and I didn't want to be evicted.

                  BTW, they were conservative Republicans.

                  I've been homeless six times in a Republican state.  Have you ever had a cop tell you you were a "traitor to your race"?  Have you ever had business owners tell you you have the right to be homeless?

                  •  you need to seperate individual experiences (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ian Reifowitz

                    from macro level claims. no one ever said being poor and white was easy. but, the data is what the data is.

                    take a step back.

                    •  Chauncey, if I may. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      MKSinSA

                      Can I focus on Midgebaker's reaction for a second? I know you didn't say being poor and white was easy. But what you did say came across to her as you saying that being poor and white was easy. Your tone -- to midgebaker -- suggested that being poor and white was easy. It suggested that being poor and white was easier than being rich and black, and maybe even easier than being "middle class" and black.

                      Now you didn't say any of those things or even get that specific, but that's what your words suggested or implied or whatever to her. I know you said your concern isn't in convincing whites, etc., but you are here dialoguing with her and replying to her. She isn't someone who has been, in an overall sense "privileged" compared to the average American, even though she does benefit from white privilege. We can talk about white privilege, but to be successful, we always have to remember that individuals don't live "macro level claims" but live their own lives. You talk to individuals. Telling someone who is poor that they are "privileged", rather than taking a nuanced approach to their white privilege that first acknowledges how they are disadvantaged in the ways that they see every day (like, they can't afford much of anything) is just going to mean they dismiss any truth you want to deliver. You can't be a truth-spreader if people can't hear your truth.

                      My point in this diary and this comment is that everyone can make their points more effectively, can move people more effectively (and isn't that the goal of public dialogue?) by delivering the facts and the truth with some empathy. Now maybe I'm wrong about the purpose of public dialogue for you or for anyone else. That's fine. My diary is aimed at those for whom public dialogue is about convincing people. But I'm really glad to have the opportunity to talk this through with you. Because I think your truths are very valuable, and I'd like to see you be able to spread them more widely. You've influenced me and I hopeful to be able to influence you as well. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant, but, as I said, to me that's the whole point of publishing one's words. To influence people and spread one's ideas. Vice versa, the point of me reading other's words is to get myself better educated and motivated. It's a two way street.

                      •  My criticism is simple (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Ian Reifowitz, MKSinSA

                        When you deny and dismiss the personal life experience of an individual as "fiction", you essentially deny and negate their dignity and humanity. No good can come of this.

                        Nothing human is alien to me.

                        by WB Reeves on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:14:36 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  i wish that folks would take so much care and (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          WB Reeves, Ian Reifowitz

                          concern when they talk about the experiences of people of color and the black and brown poor. funny dynamic that they are not so empathized with and defended, is it not?

                          white privilege and the white racial frame colors many things, does it not?

                          •  Some people do (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MKSinSA, Ian Reifowitz

                            it's a shame that you've apparently never met any of them. Or perhaps you just didn't recognize them when you did.

                             

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:35:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Do you really think (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            life can be lived by statistics? Do you really want standards set by the lowest common denominator?

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:56:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i live in the world as it is nice as we dream (0+ / 0-)

                            it to be. i ain't that lucky to have luxury and privilege to live a lie.

                          •  That's not really an answer, is it? (0+ / 0-)

                            It's an assertion that your version of reality trumps everyone else's. That doesn't leave much room for discussion, does it?

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:17:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  there is much evidence about the lack of (0+ / 0-)

                            empathy by whites/"Americans" towards people of color who happen to be poor. Check out Why Americans Hate Welfare or even the recent survey data where white respondents, especially conservatives, are much more likely to believe that black people are subsidized by the state, are moochers, and vote for the democrats because they "get welfare and other goodies" from that party.

                            The Southern Strategy and Romney's more recent use of symbolic racism is both a reflection of this anti-black animus while also encouraging it.

                            Remember WB I am an empiricist, we have a great deal of data about racial attitudes and poverty policy. As a student of politics, surveying the national scene, I would hope you see the obvious about the intersections between race/class and other types of animus and stereotypes.

                            Don't be so naive.

                            I would also check out a foundational book in American political development called Protecting Soldiers and Mothers which tracks the idea of the "deserving poor" and the "undeserving poor" and how race is part of this narrative.

                            Don't fall into the right-wing dream world where a thing is true simply because you will it to be.

                          •  Excuse me (0+ / 0-)

                            but the issue between us is the treatment of individuals, not macro social trends. I'm not so "naive" as to ignore the distinction between the two. Neither am I so "naive" as to be ignorant of where doing so is likely to lead.

                            This is what you actually objected to:

                            When you deny and dismiss the personal life experience of an individual as "fiction", you essentially deny and negate their dignity and humanity. No good can come of this.
                            To be fair, you didn't really disagree. In fact, you indicated that you would like to have such solicitude shown for your own dignity and humanity as well as that of all black folks.

                            What I find odd is your apparent belief that you can demand such treatment for yourself without committing to treat others in a like fashion. Only the Mitt Romney's of the world can managed that trick.

                            In the real world, to borrow your phrase, demanding that others observe a higher standard towards yourself than you are willing to observe towards them only works if you're rich or otherwise immune to social consequences.

                            I'm in no such position and I very much doubt that you are either. Apparently, neither is Midgebaker.  

                               

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:19:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  what i said was (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz, WB Reeves

                            that I have no use for white fictions and deflections that try to ignore macro level realities through appeals to individual storytelling.

                            i have no interest in such games. sorry. those are common deflections when white privilege is discussed--i am white, poor, and not privileged! acknowledge my pain before we can start talking about other issues!

                            no interest. old con game that enables white skin privilege and white supremacy (again). as i said, poc have been imminently patient on such matters to what end?

                            once more, clean up your house and you can deal with such people who want their "pain" acknowledged in a society that is structured around maintaining white privilege and subsidizing white mediocrity. until you realize why many people of color would not rush out to hand hold and coddle white folks you are not going to get one of the basic issues of the color line.

                            we have chatted a few times. i believe your heart is in the right place. however, i do think you are not getting how such a request is a bridge too far for black and brown folks in this country and to ask for such empathy and generosity is really insulting and exhausting in many ways.

                          •  Be a realist then (0+ / 0-)

                            MLK showed empathy and delivered truth. And got results. And that was at a time of far worse racism. If we want to win the fight against racism, we'll be much more successful by showing empathy toward those -- in particular those who have little themselves -- we're trying to convince to give up something--privilege.

                          •  where did mlk show "empathy" for white (0+ / 0-)

                            supremacy and white racism?

                          •  This is itself a diversion (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            We aren't talking about ideological structures. We aren't even talking about those who occupy the commanding heights of the social edifice that maintains those structures. We are talking about those who live under such structures and are confronted with the choice of acquiescence or moving into active opposition.

                            MLK's entire strategy was predicated on the efficacy of a moral,social and economic appeal across the color line. His final great initiative, The Poor People's Campaign, was a  testament to this.

                            One can agree or disagree with his judgement. However, it cannot be written out of his legacy and it certainly doesn't deserve comparison to "empathizing" with white supremacy or white racism.    

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:26:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  king was a master provocateur who understood how (0+ / 0-)

                            to shame white america and push white elites in the context of the cold war to act in their own interest by confronting jim and jane crow.

                            even during the height of the movement white public opinion was very split, the plurality (from memory of some gallup data) were either indifferent to black civil rights or actively opposed king. hell, most white people thought that blacks in america had "equal opportunities."

                            what a joke.

                            he was, as you know, at the time of his murder one of the most unpopular people in the united states.

                            you asked me to be 'empathetic" to the racial paranoia, white racial resentment, and investment in the psychic wages of whiteness as paid to poor white people. in this context that is empathy for white racism. king would have had little of those sorts of feelings.

                            pity and sadness for those lost souls, and certainly king had discussed how white racism hurts white people, but empathy? doubtful. but he was complicated and unless we have full access to his archives and thoughts we would have to do some work to get a definitive answer.

                          •  Chauncy (0+ / 0-)

                            I've never said anything remotely like this:

                            you asked me to be 'empathetic" to the racial paranoia, white racial resentment, and investment in the psychic wages of whiteness as paid to poor white people. in this context that is empathy for white racism. king would have had little of those sorts of feelings.
                            I don't I think I've ever actually asked you to "empathize" with anyone. If I'm wrong about this, just point out where I did so.

                            In any case, this is obviously your take. My repeated efforts to clarify my position to you don't appear to have done any good so I guess we  will just have to let it lie.

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:07:12 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You know that's not what I said. Come on. (0+ / 0-)

                            You talk about this monolith of white racism. I'm talking about how to deal with people who are in a particular economic situation and who are resentful but yet reachable. If you view whites as a monolith, you miss the opportunity of reaching the reachable, and of advancing the goal of fighting racism.

                          •  Chauncey (0+ / 0-)

                            I appreciate you giving me the benefit of a doubt. I recognize that's a tough thing for you to do. Given the social reality we inhabit, it could hardly be otherwise.

                            Let me try to be as clear as I can. I'm not asking you or any person of color to do anything "for" whites as a class. If I didn't think it served your interest, I wouldn't bother to bring such points forward.

                            If you'll allow me a military analogy, it isn't enough to know the location of the enemy army. One needs a thorough understanding of the intervening ground and the disposition of their forces. In particular, any disaffection that would tend towards desertion.

                            It's fundamental to my viewpoint that appeals to altruistic principles that ignore the actual material interests at play are next to useless. I have no delusion that patience, forbearance or charity on the part of the oppressed will lead to anything other than greater oppression. I agree with Frederick Douglass that "Power has never conceded anything without a demand. It never has and it never will."

                            I suspect the difference in our perspectives, putting aside the obvious differences in our life experiences, is rooted in differing views of where the wellspring of oppressive power is located. It seems to me that you locate it in the realm of culture. I don't.

                            I think history is clear on this point. Economic interest, rather than cultural bias, was the motor that drove the construction of white racism and white supremacy. Likewise economic interest, both real and perceived, maintains these structures in the present. I don't think that any strategy that ignores this central reality has a prayer of deconstructing white supremacy.

                            Not everyone agrees with this analysis. I have no illusion that I alone am competent to pronounce the final word on these questions. I only present it for consideration and for what usefulness others may find in it.

                                 

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 01:31:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  crude economic materialism that does (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil

                            not understand the relationship between material realities and the cultural, psychic, and ideological artifices that create and sustain it is ultimately very, very, very short sighted.

                            you speak of economic interest, but you ignore how whites from the birth of white supremacy to the present are deeply moored and grounded in more than how whiteness is a type of material property, but also how it is cultural and psychological.

                            if "culture" was not important then why do those whites you are trying to reach with your class analysis consistently choose racial identification and loyalty with white elites over alliances of shared class interest across the color line?

                            history is anything but "clear" on your crude materialism on these matters.

                            check out some of goldberg's work or even folks like stuart hall, judith butler, and others on this cultural part of the story. the essays in the 1993 book on rodney king and issues of culture and visual representation would be helpful. if you want to go "old school" check out Jordan's classic White Over Black.

                          •  Calling the analysis "crude" (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kj in missouri

                            doesn't make it so.

                            Also, I do not dismiss the importance of the cultural matrix but it is an effect, not a cause. We disagree about the history as well. Slavery gave rise to both white racism and white supremacy and slavery was an economic institution. It's purpose was profit. If it hadn't been profitable, we most likely wouldn't be having this conversation.

                            I'm not asserting that racism and white supremacy will simply disappear if you liquidate their economic basis. I am saying that they will never disappear if you don't.

                            Thanks for the reading suggestions.

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:55:28 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  economics and culture comingled at a certain (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kj in missouri, Tonedevil, WB Reeves

                            point to sustain the institution and the society it created.

                            racism is both economic and psychic/attitudinal.

                          •  Nothing to disagree with here. (0+ / 0-)

                            If you'd like a glimpse of my very personal view of the impact of culture you can find it here. A caution, you may find it disturbing or upsetting but as you know, attempting to tell the truth often is.

                            Nothing human is alien to me.

                            by WB Reeves on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:50:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I do too. And people do, even if not everyone. (0+ / 0-)

                            But remember, I'm talking about political strategy. People of color already are on board with fighting racism and supporting necessary measures to rectify injustice. I'm talking about how to win converts to that cause.

                      •  common deflection--xyz social reality (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Tonedevil

                        and documented phenomenon does not exist because i cannot reconcile it with my personal experiences. that mess is tiresome.

                        "My point in this diary and this comment is that everyone can make their points more effectively, can move people more effectively (and isn't that the goal of public dialogue?) by delivering the facts and the truth with some empathy. "

                        Empathy? Again, who is empathetic towards black and brown folks in America? This occurs often when we are asked to talk about systems of oppression and privilege. I have no interesting in being "empathetic" to those invested in whiteness and who benefit from white privilege. To ask black Americans, and others with like experiences in this country to do that, is more than absurd, it is a type of myopic arrogance.

                        in my teaching and other work i always acknowledge how it sucks to be poor in america. i also spend alot of time talking about the invisible white poor in america. now, this does not mean that all of the life chances data, and other metrics about race are meaningless.

                        i love it when white students often deflect with, "well xyz doesn't describe me or my friends so it can't be true."

                        that is silly and facile.

                        i say okay, you and your friends are magical outliers, what does that tell us about the many many other cases and data points that we have?

                        colorblind racism works by flattening and making equivalent the experiences of racism and other forms of domination experienced by people of color with other types of inequalities...especially as lived by white people in America.

                        as i said before, there is no area in life where being a person of color, a black person especially, is an advantage in this society. as such, i cut that meme short whenever it is used, especially by the "i am poor and white defense."

                        funny thing, "poor" white people have more assets and income than "middle" and "working class" people of color in America.

      •  When I was in college... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz, Kombema, MaikeH

        I met a nice guy, his family had recently immigrated from Argentina and was extremely wealthy. He had grown up with other wealthy hispanic immigrants in California. He had told me (I'm assuming he was telling the truth) he never experienced a single issue with racism in his life, and obviously as recent immigrants his family had never experienced racism from the US Government or American citizens.

        Yet he freely admitted that he would stress his minority status in any application he could. Nice guy and I would probably do the same thing.

        But still...when you have an unemployed extremely poor white from West Virgina complain about ethnic diversity points, it is basically impossible to win their vote if I support examples like above.

  •  Very well laid out diary Ian (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, Kombema

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book. @PortiaMcGonagal on Twitter

    by Vita Brevis on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:32:51 AM PDT

  •  Well said (5+ / 0-)

    Someone who's already living on the crap end of our current economy isn't going to be particularly receptive to the message that they are over-privileged. Understanding the situation of working class white people, who are being constantly fed a diet of race resentment by right-wing hate media, is the first step toward connecting with them.

    It's frustratingly easy for Fox News and other propaganda outlets to channel financial inequality issues back into a white vs minority conflict. And they're making a continuous and well-financed effort to keep the anger of struggling families misdirected toward one another.

    That's why it's such an uphill battle to get so many Americans to vote in their own interests. But it's also why angrily dismissing the concerns of poor southern whites just because it looks like (and frequently is) racism isn't going to get us where we want to be.

    I don't know what the right answer is. Bigotry makes me angry and dismissive too. But it does seem like some level of empathy for their issues, and the real hardships they're facing, is a necessary step toward finding the common ground that will allow us to tackle the economic inequality and political corruption that we're all drowning in.

    If an asteroid was hurtling toward Earth, Republicans would refuse to consider any plan that didn't start with tax breaks for the rich.

    by Brix on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:34:29 AM PDT

  •  You have to (4+ / 0-)

    Develop class conciousness as opposed to race consciousness . One of the trends of the early 1800s was rising awareness of equally disadvantageous circumstances among black slaves essentially treated as lower class workers (low income, moderate geographic  mobility, moderate degree of awareness of revolutionary motifs and philosophy) was an awareness of themselves as united by class even when separated by race. This led to informalized unions that had the potential of becoming political movements. You see this take place almost a century later in racially open labor unions. Appeal to their pockets, and show how they're not being robbed by people of different skin tone, but people wearing suits worth thousands.

    http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/

    by DAISHI on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:36:29 AM PDT

  •  Good post Ian. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure people who are racially resentful are very reachable, but Obama's approach is a good one overall, as you so eloquently argue in your book.    

    Increasing equality for blacks did not make poor whites poorer; globalization and exploitation by the wealthy prevented white working class advancement.  The very same people with racial resentments (many in the South, but of course racism is broder than one geographic location) helped kill unions that could have helped them advance.  

    Just as Nazis convinced Germans to scapegpoat Jews for their problems, wealthy Republicans have convinced some poor whites to hate people of color.  Rush Limbaugh made 100s of millions pushing this.

    The way to combat this over time is to increase economic equality for all.  

    I'm glad Barack Obama is our President.

    by TomP on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:52:32 AM PDT

  •  Well said. (6+ / 0-)

    There's a fact that I think doesn't get recognized by a lot of people who talk about privilege: it's perfectly possible to be privileged in one way and massively disadvantaged in another.  You can reap all the benefits of your race and AT THE SAME TIME suffer the drawbacks of your economic class (and/or your gender, and/or your religion or lack thereof, and/or your sexual orientation, and/or any number of other possibilities).

    And because a lot of the benefits of being white are invisible -- you consider them the default state of being, and may well not recognize that not everybody has them -- if you're in that circumstance, dealing with a lot of other drawbacks, it's very hard not to resent being told that you're privileged.

  •  i like his approach (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Ian Reifowitz

    it's the right one for a politician wanting to build consensus.

    we're not politicians and certainly not looking to build consensus. sure we could learn something from Obama.

    i think we mostly like to discuss, debate and argue everything.  which doesn't equate to a consensus but a fight.

    we love to fight.

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:55:37 AM PDT

  •  As an affirmative action baby (6+ / 0-)

    I admit that I have, until lately, been rather minority-centric about issues of racism. My own personal story, rather that of my parents who were denied college admission to white institutions because of their race (Univ of Maryland was willing to pay for my mother to go to graduate school in Georgia), made me particularly hard when I hear the complaint of working class whites. My senator, Barbara Milkuski, won her first election by giving voice to the resentment of ethnic working class whites. And as you pointed out, then Senator Obama's speech was eye opening also. More than many acknowledge, Obama is culturally white as opposed to being assimilated. Indeed, his assimilation was to being black. So his take on white resentment brings with it credibility.

    What I wish is that we could indeed move away from the color thing. As much as working class whites resent blacks for being lazy and advantaged, believe me, there are a lot of middle income, working class blacks who have never taken a dime of welfare or been a criminal that resent being lumped in with the ne'r do wells that grab the public's attention. And if you think about it, this is where there is commonality. None of us wants to be held accountable for actions we have not taken as individuals. Maybe that is where the conversation should start.

    "I feel like I'm still waiting to meet my true self. I'm assuming it's gonna be in a dark alley and there's gonna be a fight." ---Rachel Maddow

    by never forget 2000 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:06:07 AM PDT

    •  So true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, Tonedevil
      More than many acknowledge, Obama is culturally white as opposed to being assimilated. Indeed, his assimilation was to being black. So his take on white resentment brings with it credibility.
      Being raised by a white mother and white grandparents, Obama knows that not all white people "have it easy" and "whine because their mediocrity is no longer rewarded" (quotes from comments in race-related blogs).

      And thank you for this:

      None of us wants to be held accountable for actions we have not taken as individuals. Maybe that is where the conversation should start.
      More than once, I have been told, "I wish I could hire you, but... well... you're too white. Don't quote me on that though." My spontaneous gut reaction was, I must confess, not "Oh well, the minority applicants deserve the job more than I do" but "Two wrongs don't make a right."

      261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

      by MaikeH on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:44:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for sharing your perspective. (0+ / 0-)

      And your insights on Obama and his assimilation. Very interesting stuff.

  •  The President is pretty good at expressing himself (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snowcity

    It's quite brave to nominate yourself to explain what he 'really meant'.

    When extra-terrestrial beings make their first appearance on our planet, and ask for representatives of our species to best exemplify humanity, I'm sending a nurse, a librarian, and a firefighter.

    by Wayward Son on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:54:07 AM PDT

  •  Give em an inch, they take a mile (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, starfu

    His race speech didn't stop whites in America from embarrassing us as a country over the last 4 years. They only got worse once they felt legitimized and more entitled to hate.

    I'm not sure that letting their bigotry go by unnoticed is a winning strategy. Not convinced at all really.

    I think it's better to embarrass them, to make them feel guilty about what they know is wrong, as is happening with hatred for gays.

    Once we speak out, the bigots do sometimes change, simply because they're embarrassed to be seen as such ugly people by their children and various friends/relatives.

    It may not help for a hippie to call these people racists to their faces, but I would propose it may help for otherwise "normal" looking white Americans more towards the middle to do so. Or even better, their own children or spouses or parents or brothers/sisters, etc.

    Nah, I'm not for coddling bigots. I'm for shaming them into behaving like human beings. If I look at the contrast in how Obama's race speech didn't seem to change anything in terms of behavior, and the way Obama being nudged into speaking out for gay marriage rights seems to have shifted the playing field... I have to lean towards shaming them publicly.

    More middle of the road whites need to start sacking up and speaking out to their friends and family.

    •  Obama didn't coddle anyone (2+ / 0-)

      Take a look at the quotations from the speech, and the surrounding paragraphs. His point is that there is a difference between out and out bigots and people who feel resentful -- a resentment fed by demagogues -- about measures like affirmative action. It's far more effective to reach out and empathize with people in the latter category than to condemn them as no different from out and out bigots. I think Obama's approach is the right one.

      •  Obama coddles racist whites (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, jaysunb

        like any black person who would want to be president would have to. He's done it throughout his campaigns and his presidency. He had a beer with one to get it started.

        It's a necessity and there's nothing particularly wrong with embracing a necessity in order to get done what he can get done.

        But denial about that coming from a white person like yourself just sounds ignorant. And quite frankly, it sounds dismissive of the unpleasant and unfair things Obama (and many black people) must do in order to get ahead.

        •  Maybe we have a different definition of (2+ / 0-)

          coddling. And a different definition of racist whites. In the remarks I've written about, Obama addressed people who were resentful, but who themselves rejected discrimination and who rejected prejudice. If you want to characterize those people as racist whites, then that's fine, but you are talking about something different than I am.

          He addressed their resentment not by coddling them--which to me would mean saying: "Yeah, you're right, you should be resentful of minorities. Affirmative action is reverse racism and is unfair."

          Instead, he said (paraphrasing): I know it's not easy for you because you don't have a lot yourself and don't feel privileged, but you've been fed a lot of bs by talk show hosts and some right-wing politicians who tell you reverse racism is real and discrimination is gone, but they are lying to you. They want to keep you divided from your natural allies, middle and working-class minorities (end of paraphrase). To me, that's not coddling, it's trying to empathize and understand why they are resentful, and then giving the truth.

          On a final note, I'd ask that you not make that difference personal and that you not insult me.

          •  I'm talking about the entirety of Obama's (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jaysunb, Plantsmantx

            approach, not just the events mentioned in your diary. I don't think that's really a debate.

            And even still, in the speech you mention, IMO he coddled racist and racially ignorant whites by legitimizing the idea that their resentment isn't a form of racism and/or racial ignorance (at this point in our history, a softcore form of racism, at best).

            Coddling a racist doesn't just mean giving in and saying their racism is correct. It also means not standing up to that racism but rather finding ways to ignore it and connect with whites in ways that aren't entirely sincere.

            I've dealt with this many times in my own life. You give someone "an out," you give them a chance to lie about their true feelings so that they can look at other issues where you might agree and in the end get along.

            I know why he does it, and it's necessary for him to do it.

            But it's not necessary for moderate whites to do it. And they shouldn't.

            It's cowardice. It's irresponsible. And it doesn't work.

            Blacks coddling white racists is the only way they can get ahead. Whites coddling white racists only legitimizes the racism and makes it worse.

            As for your request, if you find the truth of your behavior to be insulting, then you should look inward, not at those who point it out.

            •  I found your insulting words to be insulting (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Free Jazz at High Noon

              You could have criticized what I wrote without the personal insults in the final sentences. I'd have been more inclined to take your criticism seriously. And that's the whole point of my diary. I guess you didn't want to coddle me.

              •  It doesn't work on a blog (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jaysunb

                To stand up to someone and take them on wrt race, you have to be face to face, and it helps if it's someone in your family or one of your friends.

                And that's why I wrote it that way.

                Often on issues of race, the hard truth is taken as an insult. Ask Eric Holder. But when it comes from a family member or a friend, they have to accept it in ways that you don't need to on a blog.

                It's easy for you to be dismissive here in the safety of an online blog, and you're taking full advantage of it in order to back your argument. It's not at all surprising to me. It's common behavior.

        •  Interesting... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ian Reifowitz

          It's a necessity and there's nothing particularly wrong with embracing a necessity in order to get done what he can get done.

          Is Ian Reifowitz doing the same thing in order to get the Democratic party ahead, and "get done what heeds to get done"?

      •  he does, the fact he threw rev. wright (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jaysunb, Plantsmantx

        under the bus for saying something that any adult with a passing understanding of american history would understand is proof enough.

        obama smiles and validates white racial resentment. tragic. necessary. the white racial frame wins again.

  •  Brief Abstract? Quick Summary? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    Alas, I'm frantic with deadlines. . . .

  •  thanks for mentioning my piece, some concerns (6+ / 0-)

    though.

    I will reread what you wrote and write something more substantial later if need be. On first-second read.

    1. I am not a progressive. That is an important point when working through my priors. I am a black pragmatist. As such, I believe that whites on the Left and the Right are deeply invested in white privilege and systems of white supremacy. They simply pursue their agenda in different ways.

    2. One of the biggest problems and challenges in interracial discourse, especially on these matters, is that the feelings of white people are always made central. I could care less. Also, that the feelings, sentiments, concerns, and worries of how the white working class--and white folks more generally--should be made central and coddled is tiresome. If we spent 1 percent of the energy used to protect whiteness and white people from having to critically engage the changing same of white racism in this society, and how whites as a group have been subsidized as a group from day one, we as a country would be much farther along. White privilege and white racism hurts white people morally, ethically, and politically. Sadly, most are blind to this fact.

    3. On Obama's much heralded speech on race. "Obama addressed these issues most directly in his Philadelphia race speech. On white privilege, he stated: “most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race.” That doesn’t mean he believes that they haven’t been privileged, but that’s beside the point for the purpose of winning their support for his policies. The President also said “to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns—this too widens the racial divide and blocks the path to understanding.” By this point he has, hopefully, established some credibility with the resentful whites he is trying to reach. He has established that he has empathy for their position."

    Obama's race speech was a masterful work of political cowardice that does a great amount of service to advancing and legitimating white angst and racial resentment.

    That he would elevate white grievances and identity politics to the same level--morally, philosophically, and substantively--as the centuries of struggle against the evil that is white racism in this country is a joke. It is a akin to the person benefiting from a crime, and in many cases participating in it, complaining about their hurt feelings when being punished. I did wrong and the victim is important, but let's process my hurt feelings. Absurd.

    4. I appreciate your time and working this out. In all, worrying about the white working class vote as so defined is a fool's errand. That is a class of voters who are deeply invested in the idea of America as a white republic and a herrenvolk society.

    Du Bois called it many decades ago, the psychic wages of whiteness are real, deep, and permanent. Even if they have to choose race over class--which whites, and the white working class have consistently done they will continue on that path. The Racial State involved the de facto subsidization of white mediocrity to create the white middle class. Those voters know that to be true--even if they cannot articulate it.

    Many whites will fight tooth and nail to protect their gains against the "undeserving" black and brown folks, many of whom are far more talented than they are.

    White racial resentment and white identity politics can be crystallized down into that basic calculus--as well as a deep hostility to the idea of a black man as president...the anti-citizen cannot lead this country. This causes cognitive, spiritual, and emotion upset to those whose basic claim to identity is being "white" and "American."

    Much of the hostility by conservatives, white right wing populists, and others is based on the idea that Obama, a black man is smarter than they are, more accomplished, articulate, cool, upwardly mobile and successful than they could ever be. In their personal lives this class of white person would be angry and resentful towards their boss if they were a person of color (or a woman I would gamble). White racial resentment towards Obama (and blacks as a group) is a demonstration of that phenomenon on a national scale.

    •  A lot here to unpack (3+ / 0-)

      1) Obviously in terms of white racial resentments against blacks, there are quite a few whites that consider President Obama to be an exception to whatever it is that they actually feel about people. Otherwise, he never would have been elected.

      Indeed, some working class whites have made that exception to me (at least to my face, what they say behind my back...I don't know)

      2) Geography has a very big part to play not only in the extent of these feeling but the forms on which they take.

    •  I missed this, and think you should reconsider how (5+ / 0-)

      you frame my thesis/claims.

      "The author of the original post about the survey replied by repeating the truth about why affirmative action exists and then characterized those who expressed resentment over affirmative action as “a group of spoiled brats who got all the toys now complaining that they have to share a little bit.”

      Minor quibble and style point. When mentioning "the author" please insert their name. I take ownership over everything that I say--as I am sure you do--plus it makes accountability easier (and is a sign of collegiality and respect).

      1. I didn't expend much time debating the chimera that is affirmative action. My claim is not necessarily about morality and realism as you frame it elsewhere. I am for the truth and plain facts.

      2. There is no area in american life or society where being a person of color is a net gain. There is no data on life chances where this is the case. We need to stop entertaining such reverse racism fictions. Yes, even when talking to white working class and other voters who believe this crap.

      3. The largest beneficiaries of what can be called unearned privilege as captured by the "undeserving" minority meme used by the Right and Democrats too, is white people. In particular, white men have/are the largest and most subsidized group in this country's history. The history is not kind here; however, it is the truth. In considering, "affirmative action" as a set of policies for broadening "workplace diversity" and for making sure that there is a broader net for promotion and training opportunities it would be white women who have been the biggest winners.

      4. I am just a fan of the truth and not playing with it to make some folks feel more comfortable and agreeable.

      •  I don't think Ian is saying (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz

        that there is an area of society where being a person of color is a net gain...I think he is saying that white working class people perceive it to be that way and why.

        And a politician had better be concerned about that (and remember, we are talking about a politician as far as Barack Obama and not the average man on the street).

        Also simply because a person is black doesn't mean that they don't have any sort of privilege whatever. In fact, I believe that those that occupy both spaces (i.e. a gay white man, a black straight man, a poor Christian of any race, etc.) utilize the privilege that they do have to pushback

      •  I'm sorry about not mentioning names (0+ / 0-)

        And at this point few are going to see this. I didn't think we were supposed to "call out" other diarists. It was a tricky decision for me.

        As for point 4, my highest priority is to move people to embrace solutions. Telling the truth is very important. But so is getting people to be able to hear the truths that need telling. That's where I think Obama takes the right approach.

    •  I'm curious (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz

      How do you see the whites on the Left pursuing the goals of white supremacy? And how does that fit with white support for Obama?

      Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

      by Noisy Democrat on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:44:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're very welcome, Chauncey (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for clarifying your position about being a progressive, and I'm glad you had a chance to read what I've written here. Obviously we disagree on some things here, particularly about Obama, but I respect your take on these matters. The focus on white resentment results from the fact that no one needs to convince black people about the need to fight racism. But we do need to convince some whites about that need. Hence the focus on their "concerns." That's it, it's just a matter of pragmatism. The progress over the past decades tells me that whites have changed and that we can continue to move forward. The key is to isolate the moderates from the radicals and demagogues.

  •  Here's the problem with the "privilege" argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    To most folks, saying someone is "privileged" means that they are getting MORE than everyone is supposed to.

    I am a white male- I get what everyone is supposed to get.  I freely acknowledge that there are people who get less than everyone is supposed to get, and will do my best to try and correct that.

    But them getting less than what everyone deserves in no way makes me- "privileged", and that's just not gonna change unless and until I start getting MORE then what everyone is supposed to.

    tl;dr-I agree with the argument, but the "privilege" meme is a horrible, divisive way to put it, and needs to be changed immediately.

    "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

    by Whimsical on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 11:02:39 AM PDT

    •  lol, it's not divisive at all (4+ / 0-)

      white folks have privilege in this society...they are the default "normal."

      Anything non-white (whatever that is) is what Dr. Dubois identified as a "problem" and is treated as such (and I am only talking about race and ethnicity here).

      You don't like being aware of it, that's the problem.

      •  And if other people being less than normal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz

        made me more than normal then I wouldn't have a problem with you calling me "privileged". But it doesn't.

        And its an insult to me to lump me in with ACTUAL privileged twits like Romney.

        And I keep getting told that it's not a good idea to insult someone you're trying to convince.

        "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

        by Whimsical on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:21:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  textbook white privilege 101 (5+ / 0-)

          could be republished in a book. you have lots of work to do. i wish you luck on your journey.

          •  Rather insult me than have an ally. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz

            Shame, really.  Your loss.

            But if you want to stick to a hateful, divisive meme that will turn off the very people you're trying to convince, I can't stop you.

            "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

            by Whimsical on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:29:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  One more general though on white privilege (0+ / 0-)

            I made this point below, but not in a comment to you, chauncey, so I wanted to share it here in hopes you'll see it:

            In common parlance, "privileged" means wealthy. Period. That's what that word evokes. Think "a privileged upbringing." It means pipes and smoking jackets and prep schools.

            This is why poor whites react against being called "privileged." That reaction isn't, by itself, evidence of their privliege. It results from the fact that those who talk about white privilege the way scholars of white privilege do are using the word privilege in a way that differs from common parlance.

            From Merriam-Webster's online, here are the only five examples listed of the word "privileged":

                He comes from a very privileged background.
                The town attracts people who are wealthy and privileged.
                The President's adviser has a privileged position of trust.
                She had privileged access to the files.
                Only the privileged few can become members of the club.

            Nothing about racial privilege. That doesn't mean racial privilege doesn't exist. The point is about how people hear that word when used without context.

        •  well...both you and Romney have (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ian Reifowitz

          and utilize white privilege.

          Romney has class privilege. relative to romney, I assume that you do not.

          Most me (of any race) have straight privilege...I don't...so cry me a river.

    •  The privilege meme may be horrible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, Tonedevil

      but it is accurate.

      •  I said it was accurate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz

        but its a horribly divisive name for the problem.

        You want to make progress on the actual issue?  Come up with a way to phrase it that doesn't immediately and irrevocably turn off the people who need to hear the argument most.

        You want to talk about how minorities don't get what everyone should get, and how to fix that problem-"I'm all ears".

        Insult me by lumping me in the same class as ACTUAL privileged twits like Romney- I'm not going to be open to anything you have to say.  

        Other peoples losses are most emphatically NOT my gain.

        You're cutting off a ton of potential allies by insisting on such hateful, divisive nomenclature.

        "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

        by Whimsical on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:11:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even when you name it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ian Reifowitz, Tonedevil, jaysunb

          no matter how pretty the name is, you have to define it...

          and the definition/explanation will strike many as ugly no matter how pretty you name it.

          If it has an ugly name and an ugly explanation, maybe it's some ugly shit.

          •  Or you can present your argument (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz

            in a way that doesnt insult me by lumping me in with ACTUAL privileged twits like Romney.

            I got this in my email a couple of hours ago:http://whatever.scalzi.com/...

            This is a much better, more respectful way to make the argument, and I nominate that the hateful, divisive "privilege" meme be replaced by it immediately.

            "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

            by Whimsical on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:28:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You seem to have serious issues (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              starfu, Tonedevil

              I, for one, am tired of pussyfooting around white people who can't deal with the fact that they do, in fact, lead a privileged life. Even the poorest of the poor.

              All you have done is ignore the points I and others have made which point out how even poor whites are privileged compared to poor folks of color in the same class.

              To give an example, I grew up in an extremely poor family. There was a lot of abuse, which eventually affected my schoolwork by the time I hit 8th grade. Now, because I was white, the only thing that happened to me was that the teachers just ignored me, writing me off as just another lazy teenager. Yet I saw black students of the same class behaving exactly the same way I was, but they got treated completely different. Many of them kept getting detentions, and eventually getting expelled.

              So you see, my life was shit, my family was dirt poor, but I was privileged by the color of my skin to get better treatment from the teachers.

              I am sick and tired of white liberals whining that they aren't privileged. We are. We all are. Because privileged is based on folks within your own class when it comes to racial privilege. So don't use the sorry excuse that you aren't as rich and lucky as Mitt Romney to avoid the fact that your skin color gives you some privileges, specifically the ones I listed up thread, which you chose to ignore for obvious reasons.

              And another thing: if you weren't so uncomfortable with the fact that you are privileged, and the anxiety is pouring out of your comments, you wouldn't give a shit about the word.

              The very fact that you are demanding that the vocabulary be changed is literally you trying to hold on to and propagate your white privilege. You feel you have the right to change the very meaning of words, and that we should cater to you. Only a white person who doesn't want to lose his privilege thinks like that. And I am done catering.

              Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

              by moviemeister76 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 12:02:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you're done catering (0+ / 0-)

                You can't convince anyone. Catering, or, more accurately, showing empathy, is how you convince people to change. That's the whole point. Throwing up your hands means you aren't interesting in changing people's minds. That's fine, but you have to realize and accept that that's what you're doing.

                Poor white people ARE privileged because of their skin color. But that doesn't mean they are "privileged" if you just leave that word out there without explanation or context. Because their reaction -- a grammatically correct reaction by the way -- is to ask: privileged compared to WHOM? Just saying "you're privileged" is not going to be effective, it's going to provoke a defensive reaction. Poor people aren't "privileged" even though a poor white person does receive a privilege from being white. Privilege is a comparative word. In common parlance (since you talked about wanting to change the definition of words), "privileged" means wealthy. Period. That's what that word evokes. Think "a privileged upbringing." It means pipes and smoking jackets and prep schools. The scholars of white privilege are trying to change the definition of the word. Those scholars are right on the facts, but their rhetoric lacks empathy. That's my point.

                Since the poor white person predominantly feels their poverty, compared to how much they feel their privilege, you have to "cater" or show some empathy to that fact in order to be able to reach them on privilege.

                •  PS (0+ / 0-)

                  This is why poor whites react against being called "privileged." That reaction isn't, by itself, evidence of their privliege. It results from the fact that those who talk about white privilege the way scholars of white privilege do are using the word privilege in a way that differs from common parlance.

                  From Merriam-Webster's online, here are the only five examples listed of the word "privileged":

                      He comes from a very privileged background.
                      The town attracts people who are wealthy and privileged.
                      The President's adviser has a privileged position of trust.
                      She had privileged access to the files.
                      Only the privileged few can become members of the club.

                  Nothing about racial privilege. Doesn't mean racial privilege isn't real. The point is about how people who are poor will react when called "privileged."

                  •  PPS (0+ / 0-)

                    Asking someone who is poor to give up anything at all is a losing strategy. Period.

                    That doesn't mean that we don't tell a bigot who expresses bigotry that their bigotry is wrong just because that person is poor. A person expressing (or acting on) bigotry is different.

                    But why focus on what feels -- to the poor white -- like taking from the have-a-(very)-littles to give to the have-nots (and not every black person is a have-not)? Doesn't it make more sense, politically, to focus on broader inequalities when trying to win allies among poor whites? This last thought isn't as honed as I'd like, b/c I've gotta run now, but I think you see my point.

                    •  Of course you try diplomatically (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Tonedevil

                      But the folks I am ticked off with are not the poor whites. The folks I see resisting the most are actually the middle and upper class liberals. And there is also a big difference between arguing here at DailyKos and arguing in the real world when it comes to how I argue with folks. I have seen people here who know very well that people are using "white privilege" in an academic sense, and refuse to acknowledge it as reality.

                      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

                      by moviemeister76 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:13:09 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Words have meaning beyond what we intend (0+ / 0-)

        We really mean to say that racism disadvantages people of color. We should say that. That's what we mean when we talk about white privilege. White privilege obviously didn't do much for someone who is white and yet remains below the national median, let along poor. That person will not be able to hear you once you tell them they are privileged. That's the point.

    •  It's basic math (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, Tonedevil, jaysunb

      Your argument is literally the definition of an argument based on privilege. You freely admit that others get less than you. Using the basic theories of math, that means that you get MORE than them. It is your skin color that gets you more. It is a privilege. It's not your fault, of course, but it is the truth.

      The very fact that you do not want to acknowledge it is the very reason why the Democratic Party has had so many problems for decades. White people on the left do not want to actually admit that their skin color makes their lives easier. They just want to admit that folks of color have it harder.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 11:28:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, I disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz

        And frankly, I find it insulting to be lumped in with twits who are ACTUALLY privileged, like Romney.

        I am not, and will never be privileged merely because other people get less than they should.

        If the default is 0, the fact that some people are at -2 does not automatically jump me up to +2, which is what would be necessary for me to be privileged.

        Now, you can either keep insulting and turning off people like me- people who you need on your side- or you can find a better, less insulting meme to present your argument with.

        Your call.

        "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

        by Whimsical on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:17:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We have Tim Wise coming to our (6+ / 0-)

    west-central Wisconsin university in two weeks to speak on "They Want Their Country Back: Racial Nostalgia and White Anxiety in an Era of Change."

    We need these discussions. I have about 260 students this semester. Overwhelmingly white from Wisconsin and Minnesota. No African-Americans in my classes this semester. The largest minority group is Hmong Americans. Some Native Americans. About ten students from China. We've got a LONG way to go on diversity issues. These students need the perspective Wise is able to provide for them. Many of them are from smaller rural communities. And quite a sizeable proportion are religious.

    We have to start somewhere.....wherever we are.

  •  Great diary and discussion, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 11:29:52 AM PDT

  •  Disconnect (6+ / 0-)

    I agree with much chaunceydevega states in the comment above and in the article, though not all.  But, having read through the comments I seem to have missed a critical aspect in the discussion (though chaunceydevega did briefly touch on it when mentioning "that the feelings of white people are always made central").

    We are remiss if we do not consider the speaker/actor in these discussions.  As I understand it, this debate is about "the perspectives of white working class voters ... because we need to win their votes."  Now, from the perspective of a white participant on this site, this makes sense:  How do we elect better Democrats in the South?  We have to connect with southern whites.  Excellent points were made regarding the necessity of doing that to further this end, and an excellent debate is being had regarding how to do so.

    But what is absolutely lost in that discussion is the racial identity of the speaker, or at least consideration for the racial identity of the speaker.  In short, it is a hell of a lot to ask a person of color in this country to repeatedly empathize with the poor white electorate and their perspective.  This has been used as a justification for the continued racism and denigration of blacks, from slavery to Jim Crow to resistance to the Civil Rights movement.  "Just keep waiting for these white folks to come around, you know how they are..."

    That is what you are asking a person of color to do in these arguments:  Put themselves in the shoes of whites (of whatever social means).  Now, some superlative people of color have been able to do this:  Nelson Mandela and Frederick Douglas to name two.  

    But myself, as a person of color, my first reaction to that suggestion is abhorrence.  I intellectually understand that the only way forward is to empathize with the oppressor (such as in South Africa).  But that is a hell of a thing to ask of blacks in this country, and rings hollow when we see the mainstream media validate racists such as teabaggers.

    So if whites want to have an intellectual discussion about how to reach out to southern whites, by all means go ahead.  And while there may be some superlative people of color that empathize with the plight of "poor whites", understand that the mere mention of asking a person of color to do so may cause an extreme reaction.  At the end of the day, the facts are the facts, as chaunceydevega excellently laid out.

    If even a small sliver of the energy and discourse that we spend on convincing "poor whites" to vote for their interests was instead spent on ensuring all people of color could vote, I don't think we'd have to worry about the "poor white" voter problem nearly as much.  

    My own two cents:  these people have been with us throughout history.  They are the same people who lynched blacks, the same that joined the Klu Klux Klan, the same that blocked the entrance of blacks from universities, the same that fought integration tooth and nail.  They will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a future where anyone regardless of sexual orientation can marry and where literally anyone can become president.  In light of that, I have much better things to spend my time on.

    •  I can't speak for anyone but myself but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chitown Kev, Ian Reifowitz

      I don't think it's a question of empathy so much as clarity. I think it's just good sense to try and comprehend the subjective and objective factors that drive your opponents. Doing so provides both strategic and tactical advantages. Among these is the ability to recognize and exploit divisions in their ranks.

      Doing this is easier said than done. Particularly if one is on the receiving end of their attacks. If someone is kicking the shit out of you, it's hardly the time to analyze their motivations. Of course, that's why boxers spend time studying their opponents game in advance of a match.

      That said, I don't think the responsibility for doing this kind of work lies with people of color. It wasn't African Americans who constructed and embraced the ideology and system of white supremacy. Neither are they the ones who have maintained it since it's inception. They can hardly be expected to shoulder the responsibility for its deconstruction within the "white" class. That is the responsibility of those who have been classed as "white."

       

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:36:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I hear you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chitown Kev

      This was a discussion of political strategy for progressives. If people don't want to go into politics then they don't need to spend their time going and seeking out resentful whites to empathize with them. It's not about asking people in general to do what Obama does.

  •  I'm a white Southern liberal. (4+ / 0-)

    Been liberal all my life and now I'm even old.

    If trolling for votes makes people move to more nuanced thinking, good on ya.

    As for me, I just don't listen to moneyed liberals about race anymore.  I guess all well-heeled people who are clueless about the hardships of middling- to low-income people stopped mattering to me ages ago.

    I'll tell you this though - if I ever try to bring a union onto my jobsite again, as I did when I was a newspaper proofreader in college, I know my black colleagues will be the first ones to stand with me.

    Beyond that, for most of my life I identified with all you well-off liberals from other parts of the country.  Over a lifetime I've learned that I am just as much a token, just as much a tool in your minds as my black neighbors.

    Feel free to preach to me about how me and other poor white Southerners just need to get over our bad attitudes about losing our homes, jobs, lives because our black friends have it worse.  It's not coming out of your hide is it now?

    Two decades ago I walked off of a horrible job because the white manager was so abusive to the black woman who was my immediate supervisor.  When I came back to get my check EVERYBODY, black and white, treated me like a returning hero.  ALL of us were sick of the racist shit from management, and I was overwhelmed by the joyous greetings I got from everyone when I went back for that last check.

    Then, a week later, the two liberal women who had hired me away from that job decided they had to change their business plan and didn't need me anymore.  But, as they chirped reassuringly, it wasn't personal.

    Looking back on that, I see that it was those poor, working people at my first job who hated the racism, and rejoiced at the chance for black and white colleagues on that job site to show their support for each other.  The people who were sheltered from it all, who flippantly cared nothing for the humanity of their employees were those two liberal women.

    I'm more committed to justice for my people than ever, but I'm not waiting for any of the rest of you to do it for us.  

  •  Here is where I have some disagreements. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    If we are talking about race we are not tlaking about class. Working white people have more in common with working minorities than they have with wealthier white people. And affrimative action has a bigger impact on bidding opportunities, professional (white collar) advancement and college admissions. So in many ways affirmative action is a red herring. Perventing class problems by perpetuating race problems goes back to Bacon's Rebellion in the Jamestown Colony.

    Another example is the animosity between Catholic and Protestant workers in Northern Ireland. Belfast was a manufactoring powerhouse in steel and shipbuilding. And to get a job in a factory you had to be a member of the Orange Order. And you could only be a member of the Orange Order if you were Protestant. So Catholics turned to education and now the factory jobs are gone and there is great resentment towards educated Catholics who were able to get educated with the help of a certain type of affirmative action. My father was a great critic of arfirmative action in America but never saw the help his family in Northern Ireland got from a simular program.

    President Obama has not talked about class. We have not had a serious discussion about class since the 60s. Working people are getting screwed by the ownership class, not some young black guy going to college. It is important to talk about race, but in the context of race baeing used as a wedge to keep working people apart. The economic collaspe of 08 was the perfect opportunity to face the class issue. But we failed to do that.

    Early in my working life I learned about other races through my working life. And I have warm memories of people taking me under their wing and showing me the ropes. And I learned that we are all working people.

    •  more affirmative action bogeyman mess... (3+ / 0-)

      "And affrimative action has a bigger impact on bidding opportunities, professional (white collar) advancement and college admissions."

      That bogeyman shows up again.

      Re: college admissions the biggest determinant for admissions is if you family is a donor (race and class meet again and privileges whites as a group here).

      At other schools being an athlete is the shoe-in. For example, in the much discussed Michigan case the white woman, the very textbook example of white complaining and belly aching privilege, was suing because a "unqualified" minority "took her place."

      When confronted with the fact that more whites got into the school, with far lower SAT and GPA's than her (to the degree the former even matter), and that white athletes, the children of alumni, and rich donors we

      re let in at far higher rates, she simply looked annoyed. She returned to her boo boo privilege script that it "wasn't fair" that those minorities took "her place." Laughable, but part of the national psychosis that is white identity politics.

      Re: professional advancement, white men are the de facto gold standard for hiring and promotions. Even when they are sub par they still benefit from the old boy network of assumed competence. Nevermind the documented and rampant hiring and promotions disadvantages and discrimination faced by people of color and women.

      Municipal contracts? Those "unfair" aa policies are 1) either in place after a lawsuit that documented discriminatory bidding and hiring processes or 2) reflect the reality that the public's money ought to be spread around to "the public" i.e. more than the few white and male owned companies that have long benefited from Jim and Jane Crow, colorblind racism, and other institutional white advantages from lending at banks, to contracts, and other opportunities.

  •  Just wanted to say thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    As one of those who participated in the previous thread cited, I'm pleased to see that it stimulated you to continue and broaden the discussion. We need more of this at DKos.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:21:07 PM PDT

  •  I'm stepping away for the evening now (0+ / 0-)

    Family time. But I will check back later or tomorrow for any last replies/comments. Thanks for this great discussion!

  •  United we stand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    Very good post, this does warn of our dangers and pitfalls.  We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Remember the age old saying, "United we stand, divided we fall".  We must not let our enemies divide us, that is how they win and we lose.
    Also, remember not to destroy progress in the pursuit of perfection.  Changes occur in small steps.  We must be persistent to see our vision come true.

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