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Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. I knew I wanted to eventually write something about it, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. As I sat and stared at the blinking cursor on my screen, uncertain exactly what I wished to say, I decided to voice what was giving me pause: I am afraid to talk about race.

I don’t think I’m unique among white allies. Mind you, I’m not afraid to talk about race because I harbor animus toward people of color. I’m decidedly liberal in my politics and support civil rights. I’m an advocate for expanding opportunities for all.

However, I find I’m afraid to talk about race because I have only experienced the white side of this story. I’m afraid to talk about race because I’m afraid of sticking my foot in my mouth, hurting the cause, and being called a racist.

Yep, I’m afraid of being called a racist. As a white heterosexual male raised in a Christian faith, society has erected few barriers to my pursuit of happiness and prosperity. Whatever the “ism” in our society, my traits let me cut to the front of the line. I know not the yoke of oppression due simply to my race, sexual orientation, gender, or religious affiliation. I have benefited in ways both known and unknown to me because of all these things. When it comes to seeing harm, let’s just say that I’ve got a lot of blind spots.

I think it’s because of the unknown ways I’m privileged that I’ve been afraid to speak out. By never experiencing the sharp end of the stick, I feared, irrationally or not, that speaking from a point of privilege might serve to reaffirm racism rather than reject it. Having never experienced the sharp end of the stick, I can feel anger when epithets get thrown around, but never really feel their sting. One of the only words that can be thrown at me and truly sting, and I know the sting pales in comparison to every epithet, is racist.

But if I am to be a true ally in the pursuit of justice for all, I must do something more than wear the liberal campaign button. I must speak up. I must declare my desire to be a better advocate for justice. This is my start. If these traits let me get closer to power, then I need to use them to our mutual advantage.

I may end up writing something stupid, and if so, please know that my intention was not to offend. But if I do offend, I ask that you call it out to me so that I may learn. I promise to shut up and listen.

If you are a person of color, I’m here to tell you that your struggle is my struggle. I would like to learn from you the best ways you think I can help. Today it’s going to start with me challenging white folks. What I will say isn’t news to you, but if a white voice can reach deeper into a white audience, then I hope this helps.

To the white folks out there, we need to think and talk about the ways we benefit because we are white. It isn’t enough to recognize that society holds back our brothers and sisters of color. The ledger is out of balance if that’s all we see. For every debit against people of color, we should ask ourselves, where does that credit accrue? If being black or brown causes someone harm, I better understand how being white lets me benefit from it? For the more we recognize the ways, both obvious and subtle, that being white benefits us, the better allies for justice we can be.

Slavery is gone, Jim Crow is (mostly) dead. Brown v Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act have reshaped our nation and pushed us closer to the ideal that all people are created equal. While we’ve dismantled the legal structure that supported discrimination based on race, we have left largely untouched the concentration of economic and political power with whites that is the legacy of discrimination. It is in light of this that I must ask you a tough question: If we are to truly be a just society, are equal rules enough?

Let me illustrate this with a thought experiment. Imagine a baseball game between two teams - The Stars and The Stripes. As most know, the goal of the game is to score more runs than your opponent. And at the core of the game is a duel between a pitcher from one team trying to get an out and a batter from the other team trying to score a run. But what if the competitive exchange between pitcher and batter were changed? What is the pitcher and batter played for the same team? What would happen if The Stars were in the field and The Stripes were at bat, but the pitcher, instead of playing for The Stars, played for The Stripes? We would no longer have a competitive duel between two players from opposing teams. In its place we’d have collusion between players from the same team. Instead of competing to get players out, the pitcher would pitch in a manner that made it easier for his team to score runs and win the game. The simplest thing the pitcher could do is walk every batter. This would guarantee that The Stripes scored runs without any risk that The Stars could get any outs. We would all see how monumentally unfair that game was.

If you were a white male land owner at the dawn of American history, you were playing for The Stripes. The laws and institutions were stacked in your favor. Everyone else played for The Stars and was, literally, out in the field.

What if you wanted to correct this unfairness? What if we stopped mid-game with The Stripes leading The Stars 100 to zero. Would you restart the game and make sure each team played by the same rules from the beginning, or would you change the rules mid-game and let The Stripes keep their 100 run lead?

America eventually recognized that its game was unfair and the rules needed to change. However, we didn’t opt to restart the game. Instead, we’ve slowly changed the laws and institutions over time. These changes mostly attempted to make things fairer. But one big fact remains: the original score was never erased.

Let me be clear, I am not arguing whether leaving the score in place was right or wrong, but it is an extremely important fact to note. Because we didn’t restart the game, the lead we (whites) were given was always safe.

Now you might respond by saying you weren’t around when the rules were first made, so what can I do about it. As I hope you will soon see, that’s a pretty loaded response. However, I can say I understand it. I can imagine you going to watch this baseball game, but that you showed up late. You missed the beginning of the game when the rules were unfair, and you haven’t seen the scoreboard. If you only looked pitch-by-pitch, play-by-play, I understand how you’d conclude that the teams were playing with the same rules and competing honestly. In this context, it would be puzzling to you if you heard players for The Stars complaining about how unfair the game was.

That’s the difference looking at the scoreboard makes. No matter how fair the rules of the game seem, if The Stars want to win the game, they will always need to play significantly better than The Stripes. That is their burden. They must play significantly better just to have a shot at winning while carrying the physical and emotional burden of always being behind. Did The Stars get to play with the same rules as The Stripes? Sure, but did that make them any more likely to win the game?

This is why I get angry with people trying to absolve themselves by saying they weren’t around during slavery. You are right. I wasn’t a slave owner. I didn’t live during the time of slavery either. But this much is clear, I was born into a game that counts runs, and I was given a 100 run lead. So even if we play the game with the same rules, it doesn’t change the fact that I start the game 100 runs ahead. My chances of winning are significantly better if I’m white. History matters.

Now perhaps the baseball metaphor isn’t the best fit, for it may serve to reinforce the “picking winners and losers” critique of government policy. The pursuit of justice doesn’t seek to determine the winner, rather it seeks to ensure equal opportunities to succeed. You don’t have to “lose” for me to “win”.

Instead of the baseball game, imagine a person unknown by you robbed a bank, and then gave your mom $10 million. This unknown person was captured, convicted, and put in jail, but the courts said your mom didn’t need to give back to the bank the $10 million she received. A substantial sum of money like that not only allows your mother to live very comfortably, but it also allows her to give you a nice inheritance. And upon inheriting that money, you could set up trust funds for your children. Did your kids rob the bank? No. But you cannot argue that they didn’t benefit from the bank robbery. That money will allow for more opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t get.

(Now before you shoot this down by saying how unrealistic this scenario is, let me remind you we are comparing this to a society that considered black people property, stole their labor, and built industries (and wealth) with that stolen labor.)

Generational success, societal success, they accumulate from the multitude of opportunities provided over long periods of time. Slavery, and then Jim Crow, existed for nearly 350 years and permitted white America numerous opportunities for success – opportunities denied to black America. What we were allowed to own, where we were allowed to live, how we were allowed to work, how we were allowed to vote for our representatives in government (i.e. the rule makers), these things all permitted white equity in society to build up generation by generation.

One of the surest ways to increase generational opportunities for prosperity is a college degree. While we have dismantled a legal structure that discriminated against people because of race in their pursuit of education, we’ve maintained a public education system funded largely by property taxes. So if you’ve historically faced significant legal and societal barriers to property ownership because of race, you might feel like you’re still being penalized for your race in your pursuit of education, even though discrimination is now illegal. We end up codifying racial disparity in generational success with an economic system that isn’t as colorblind as it may originally seem.

That’s what it means to live in a racist society. It doesn’t mean white people must hate black people. Racism doesn’t require the N word. It doesn’t require white hoods and burning crosses. It means perpetuating the institutions in society which deny opportunity because of race. This is why we need to think hard about how we benefit from being white in this society.

History matters. That's why we can't let the Voting Rights Act or affirmative action die on the steps of the Supreme Court. That's why Stand Your Ground and Stop & Frisk are immoral.

There you have it. As you can see, I have lots of questions that I can’t answer. But I know I will never be able to help find answers to them if I remain silent and don’t ask. I’m done talking. I’ll shut and listen now.

Originally posted to D Wreck on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 05:48 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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  •  Tip Jar (195+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, bruh1, OrlWriter, jlms qkw, a2nite, MikePhoenix, One Pissed Off Liberal, Ian S, Vita Brevis, MRA NY, dharmafarmer, leonard145b, alice kleeman, shortgirl, madhaus, Catte Nappe, envwq, catilinus, qm1pooh, jamess, Kevskos, koosah, Denise Oliver Velez, The Dude 415, moviemeister76, Tony Situ, deha, dtruth, urnumbersix, onanyes, cfk, harlinchi, JoanMar, Gardener in PA, hester, Lorikeet, blueoasis, koNko, karmsy, muddy boots, hyperstation, dov12348, undercovercalico, hulibow, allensl, middleagedhousewife, TomP, anonevent, multilee, asilomar, janemas, my2petpeeves, Ripeness Is All, kpardue, FreeWoman19, just another vet, wader, Leftcandid, Mary Mike, bleeding blue, thomask, Oke, bsegel, Mannie, scamperdo, Diogenes2008, Tonedevil, peregrine kate, CoExistNow, earicicle, doroma, mollyd, cotterperson, SueM1121, leftist vegetarian patriot, SnyperKitty, FogCityJohn, fijiancat, postmodernista, Texknight, shesaid, worldlotus, dsb, Dbug, politicalceci, exiledfromTN, Susan from 29, rini, radarlady, DrWhk, tin woodswoman, citisven, Shelley99, riverlover, Actbriniel, KJG52, caul, WI Deadhead, jmrichardson, Marihilda, samddobermann, Progressif, HCKAD, xxdr zombiexx, spooks51, Naniboujou, NYmama, DarlingtonD, Regina in a Sears Kit House, Leslie in KY, daveygodigaditch, tuesdayschilde, Kristina40, Oh Mary Oh, Dark UltraValia, tobendaro, bkamr, howabout, ER Doc, shanesnana, smoothnmellow, Ian Reifowitz, Audri, I teach music, kharma, sidnora, cv lurking gf, c0wfunk, cardinal, arizonablue, bobswern, richardvjohnson, marleycat, kurious, blueyescryinintherain, Torta, legendmn, Caneel, Via Chicago, Empty Vessel, pixxer, Joieau, dmhlt 66, LaFeminista, Nashville fan, filkertom, HouTxLib, jck, slowbutsure, addisnana, mallyroyal, PapaChach, tapestry, AnnieR, MKinTN, Statusquomustgo, GrannyRedBird, NM Ray, NYWheeler, myadestes, Shakludanto, dragonlady, Joealan, David54, appledown, Loudoun County Dem, micsimov, No one gets out alive, TexDem, Avilyn, commonmass, Rolfyboy6, FindingMyVoice, tytalus, clubbing guy, zerelda, JaxDem, vahana, sele, the dogs sockpuppet, CJB, Late Again, cececville, blueoregon, Batya the Toon, EdSF, AaronInSanDiego, CanyonWren, VPofKarma, melo, Larsstephens, AreDeutz, amsterdam, papercut, seashell5
  •  Not so clear. (17+ / 0-)
    Jim Crow is (mostly) dead.
    Read The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander if you haven't already.
  •  How does this diary not have (79+ / 0-)

    any comments?

    Thank you for listening. I think that's the single most important thing that our white allies can do. Listen,  and of course hear. Hear what those of us who have lived a lifetime of being "not white in America" and, yes, especially black in America are saying. Are we a monolith? Of course not. But thinking you're an equal citizen and being "othered" throughout your life is something we share.  

    I think my biggest challenge when discussing race is when people treat it like a purely academic exercise. If this then that. It doesn't work that way. At all.

    You get it when you acknowledge the experiential factor and that there are things you may never, however well intentioned and committed an ally you may be, ever understand in the pit of your stomach. Don't get me wrong, not at all saying that's impossible.

    Keep doing exactly what you're doing. Keep listening. Keep writing.

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

    by Vita Brevis on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:40:42 PM PDT

  •  White folks like you and me can never... (36+ / 0-)

    truly understand what it's like to be black in this country. But it shouldn't be that hard to figure out how we benefit from white privilege. You seem to be getting there. I hope I'm getting there too. In my case I suppose it helps having a black spouse and living as a couple in what is still pretty much a heterosexist society.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:46:48 PM PDT

    •  It can be hard, because some of us also (30+ / 0-)

      fought through being poor.  To use the author's baseball analogy, some started out with a 10 run deficit.  What we might fail to see is that as long as we made it to third, the catcher would magically drop the ball allowing us to score.  So, it's not always easy to see.

      At the same time, for some people, it's hard to know what you are benefiting from if you don't see anyone who isn't benefiting from it.  Strangely enough, because I work for a government contractor, I don't see the kinds of discrimination that I know exist.  The head of the division I work for is African American; a lot of the people I answer to are women.  What I do see is that both groups are really under represented, so I know that while my company may not be as discriminatory, the system set up to supply the engineers that would work at my company is definitely biased.

      So, while some of us still segregated, the impact of our white privilege will be an abstract concept to us.  So we will definitely need people to write about it.

      "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

      by anonevent on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:23:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Terrific comment, anonevent. (4+ / 0-)

        Wish I could tip 100x

      •  I <3 this comment so much (0+ / 0-)

        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 Jul 19, 2013 at 08:28:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is because poverty is an Institution (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Keone Michaels, vahana, bkamr, VPofKarma, melo is not a "choice" like so many people think it is. Let me explain:

        See, it is not illegal to discriminate against anyone who is poor.  This is supposedly perfectly fine. But it is what poverty encompasses that is the issue here.  Here is a definition of institution from Websters dictionary:

        institution: [in-sti-too-shuhn, -tyoo-]
        a well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships that is accepted as a fundamental part of a culture, as marriage: the institution of the family.

        any established law, custom, etc."

        The Institution of Poverty is based on racism, sexism (including LGBT), ageism, and disabilities. It is far from a burden, it is the very basis for the rest of society who depend on the poor in order to keep their own status/class. However, the way these classes shirk the responsibility they all share in keeping this institution alive is by denying their part and instead hating the poor.  Hatred of the poor is a way to group ALL the "isms" into one big package so they can pretend they hate that person of color because they are poor not because they are of color!

        And by "hatred" here, this is not often something that is all people in sheets. It is benign and submerged in ways that may even seem "charitable" but is in reality is a way of keeping power over others and keeping them "in their place".

        Whites who have experienced poverty are now just grouped in with all those "isms".  For instance, more whites are on welfare than any other race. Yet whenever you see any depictions of anyone on welfare, you will see a black face, you seldom see any white ones. In this way it will subtly impose on the white person that they are now "one of those".  By pretending that poverty is a "choice" instead of the embedded institution it is, this way this person can be deemed as "choosing" to be poor, which includes anyone including those of color, any gender, any person who is disabled, any person who has had the nerve to become elderly.

        While able bodied whites can escape poverty more readily than anyone else, it is still no picnic due to their class, which is the institution ingrained into our society, grouping all those other "isms" within it.  The sad thing is rather than understanding this is an institution, the tiny sliver of the economic pie that is left to ALL poor is all any person in poverty has to obtain. It then becomes a battleground where instead of looking to the rest of the pie, they buy the hype that somehow this is all they deserve. They all fight each other for that tiny sliver instead of standing together. They allow themselves to be blamed for their "choice" when in fact being in poverty is not a choice, it is an institution.  

        I could go on all day about how poverty is institutionalized in this country, that is another conversation. But I will try to break it down to saying that the upper classes depend on the poor in many ways. They depend on the poor for cheap (and sometimes even slave) labor. They use the poor for their mega-nonprofits who give them "tax breaks" for their "charitable giving". It is no small thing that when there is discussion about taxing the upper class that "charitable giving" is usually 2nd on the list for the reason not to impose it. Instead of getting those generous tax breaks, the poor pay the highest rate of taxes than any other class in every single state. Check out your state here:

        The poor are depended upon to do all the heavy lifting in order for the upper classes not to do it such as with care giving. According to the AARP if we were to pay for all the unpaid care giving it would cost over $450 BILLION dollars per year. Women lose on the average of over $400,000 performing unpaid labor over a work life time. The greatest proportion of people in poverty are women. This is because they are not only caring for their children raising the next generation to care for us, they also care for their elders and spouses as well. Each time they have to make the agonizing decisions whether to work for a wage or for the 24/7 care of a loved one.

        It would cost $Trillions to replace this unpaid work yet in Welfare Reform, they codified into law that all this work is "doing nothing".  Indeed most of these caregivers are expected to live off their loved one's income if they cannot work for a wage while caring for that loved one.  Social Security calls all this work "zero years" meaning that the laborer does not merit a single cent for saving the community from footing the bill with subsidizing paid care that is being replaced by the 24/7 unpaid work these workers do. They get no pay, no medical benefits, no sick leave, no vacation not a single dime for saving all this tax money.

        One of the biggest homeless populations I see are with well educated, middle aged white women who have performed this unpaid work only to find themselves on the street. They are too young and have no dependents to qualify for any assistance and yet too old and "inexperienced" for anyone to hire them. There is nothing for them after spending their years raising their children, then caring for their elders and/or spouse who has died using up all the resources, and so there is nothing left for them, not even a Social Security check because they are not disabled enough and they will never qualify for a pension (that has been taken away from their spouse by the rich CEO who decided to take the pension fund for themselves for their 2nd vacation home when their company is on the rocks).

        These women are the ones that the upper classes depend upon while not paying for it ~ and most of this labor paid or unpaid come from the poor.

        So the point I am making is that when the Institution of Poverty is ensconced within a society and yet is unseen and not properly dealt with, poverty can then become the way to be racist, sexist, ageist, and discriminatory against the disabled. Then it can be denied that any one of those "isms" are the reason for the discriminations ~ the person is poor and they "chose" to be that way. By including whites within those "isms" is a way to pretend, "See? I did not hate that person because they are African American, I hate ALL people in poverty!"

        I am not saying that race is not an issue within poverty, it is as is the other "isms". I am saying that by stigmatizing ALL people in poverty is a way to cover ALL of these "isms" into one place. The overweight person who is in actuality overweight because they have been malnourished, is a prime example of what I am talking about.  Call them "fat" and discredit any other quality they have, shoving them into the margins and blame them for being so, while expecting that person to work for nothing, be a laughing stock for others to point and jeer at while refusing to allow them to do anything about it with decent wages, any opportunities to advance so they can eat better is one of the ways to take all these "isms" to the next level (and thank YEW you SOBs with the Farm Bill)!  Whites who are poor are just swept along with it and put in the same categories.

        As an advocate for the poor, one of the most annoying things I hear is the surprise and shock at terrible treatment that is experienced by the middle class who have fallen into poverty. They say, "B-b-b-b-u-t I worked so harrrrd! I did all the right things! I got married, I went to church, I paid my taxes.  I am not a drunk or a drug addict like "those others"!

        Like the poor who have been there haven't done all these things too? Most have worked their asses off no matter what "isms" they are, but are grouped into one slimy ball within the Institution of Poverty and then swept under the rug. There is more alcoholism and drug addictions within the upper classes but you would not think it when the neighborhoods where the poor can afford housing (IF they can afford it at all) are swarming with police patrolling and watching for any infraction, while ignoring the gated communities where this abuse is rampant behind those curtained picture windows.  

        As a white woman myself who had a racially blended family, who experienced a few of these 'isms" that I witnessed, I can say I forgive the white middle class for their ignorance. But those who fall into poverty would never have to go through the trauma as badly if they but understood that they themselves participated and believed myths about the poor that are not the true. That they themselves prepared a situation that could be overcome if they but forgot all those "isms" and realized we are all in this together.

        There are so many good people who are poor struggling to make ends meet depending every day on miracles. I go to meetings with those beautiful people whose roots are from all over the world; white, Hispanic, Asian, African. Arabian, Eastern European. We all know we have something in common besides our poverty ~ we all know that while some of us may be treated differently, we are all in this together with the struggle to simply get enough to eat. This ignorance that pretends we are all being treated equally is WHY a prophet once said, "It is harder for the rich to enter through the gates of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle!"  

        If whites of any class had any sense they would understand and begin the fight against poverty because poverty, which encompasses racism, affects everyone in so many ways. Not only could they become one of those "isms" at any time themselves, even if they don't, they will pay with more sickness, more ignorance, more crime, even affecting the ones who they can pay to care for them when they can no longer care for themselves.

        Cat in Seattle

        First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

        by mntleo2 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 09:01:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  i've used that inheritance metaphor before (23+ / 0-)

    thanks for this diary

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:54:14 PM PDT

  •  The baseball game is a good metaphor (27+ / 0-)

    Another one, that I thought did a great job with white male privilege was the one John Scalzi did with video role-playing games.

    Read it.  It's brilliant, and the straight white males responding either got it immediately... or screamed how unfair it was.

    Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is  by John Scalzi

    What's also good is in a followup piece when many SWMs asked what they could do about this unfairness, Scalzi suggested they... do EXACTLY what you are doing, only one more step: Confront the racists and sexists among you when they indulge in their offensive statements, attitudes, and behavior.

  •  I'm with you on much of what you say here (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck, johnny wurster, jeff in nyc

    But I'm uneasy with this:

    For every debit against people of color, we should ask ourselves, where does that credit accrue? If being black or brown causes someone harm, I better understand how being white lets me benefit from it?
    It suggests there is a finite quantity of "good", and that for every "good" a white person receives, a person of color experiences a loss/debit. Do you really want to pit people against each other in competion for a piece of a limited pie?

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:05:31 PM PDT

  •  Reminds me of the Sinn Fein - (14+ / 0-)

    the fact was, as long as those people who were hurt were alive, they could never have peace.  As they got older and passed away, the organization lost power.  The younger generation could never muster the same level of hatred.

    So basically, all the kids have to do is wait for the old people to die.

    I think that's where we are today.  My generation is a little too old, and has been contaminated by the racism of our parents.  The children of my generation will be even more open-minded.  As I get older I see more mixed-race couples, and it makes me very happy.  I can't wait until there's no need to describe a couple as 'mixed-race.'  We're all just humans.

    The recent decision by the Supreme Court on the VRA was disastrous.  The acquitting of Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case was even more disastrous.  As our children get out from under the prejudices and racism of their ancestors, the ancestors rage more and more against what they see as the attack upon whites.  Ridiculous.  They're just scared uptight white boys that are afraid of losing their way of life.

    We'll get there, eventually.  The bunch of scared white men on the Supreme Court will eventually get old and pass away.  But their actions, and those of the states, are going to slow things down by twenty years or more.  

    I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love / And I'm like / Please proceed, Governor. - Dave Itzkoff

    by Jensequitur on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:08:03 PM PDT

    •  But when I see young people (18+ / 0-)

      with racist tweets -- e.g. college students who tweeted the N-word when Obama won re-election, or more recently, the ones who were complaining about Mark Anthony singing "God Bless America" at the All-Star game this week -- I wonder how long it will take?

    •  Maybe progress happens one funeral at a time.nt (4+ / 0-)

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:01:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you came to my college classes... (12+ / 0-) would not have this hope. I've been spending every fall and spring around mostly white college kids for five and a half years. We still have a loooooong way to go.

      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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:04:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But GZ Is a year older than my oldest nephew (6+ / 0-)

      How many people in that generation are infested with this evil way of thinking?

      How many of them say I have a black friend who is the exception not the "rule" of the  other non-human black person in America, just like in my generation.

      nosotros no somos estúpidos

      by a2nite on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:08:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The thing with Zimmerman - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        moviemeister76, VPofKarma

        I don't believe that Zimmerman considers himself to be a racist. He probably does know and get along with some AAs. It's more subtle than that. He is a frustrated, angry person and has fantasies in which he is empowered to stand up against an enemy. His stereotype of who is a criminal, though, is a black person wearing a hoodie slinking around a neighborhood at night.
           Trayvon Martin fit that stereotype. Zimmerman to the rescue!
           Unfortunately, that stereotype is shared by many people, including police officers and public officials.
           Many, many people share that stereotype and think that it was perfectly reasonable to confront Martin and to kill him. The defense played to that by systematically using the internet to paint Martin as a thug, drug dealer, etc.
           People who consider themselves to be non-racist, even liberals, seem to consider the Zimmerman case overblown because, after all, blacks kill blacks in Chicago, etc. Or some white guy was killed in Atlanta by blacks. Why don't we hear about that?
           The unspoken feeling is that all blacks are the same, and that a black teenager walking home in Central Florida is suspicious because of gang bangers in northern cities.
          What Trayvon Martin did not receive is consideration of his uniqueness...that he was a human being entitled to live, to be free to walk home without being hunted by a Charles Bronson wannabe.
           People in general understand that racist speech is wrong. They know not to discriminate at restaurants and places of business. But African Americans are still considered a menacing collective, with each black person responsible for the worst acts of other black people.

        •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And it's not helped when freaking nationally read newspapers publish editorials after the verdict defending that racist profiling. It tells white folks who think like that that they are right to think that way.

          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 Jul 19, 2013 at 08:24:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  So basically, all the kids have to do is wait (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jensequitur, bkamr

      for the old people to die...

      I used to believe this, but don't any longer. I heard the same line in 1945, 1965, 1985, 2005 and we're still telling ourselves that. My great grandkids are now the age I was in 1945, a couple generations have had time to die off, and we seem to be moving backwards to 1945. Each generation seems to teach their children all about racism. It's gets a little less obvious each go-round, but I think it's likely to take another 100 years, and that assumes we move forward instead of backward.

  •  Thank you. (34+ / 0-)

    Sorry I was late getting to see, and read this.

    I hope you'll join us in Black Kos - to continue this conversation.  Lots of white allies there.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:12:44 PM PDT

  •  Racism (14+ / 0-)

    Jim Crow certainly isn't dead. It's just not as obvious. It's still woven into the fabric of society. in some ways we are still segregated, just in different ways. We are still economically divided, as a rule. States are racing to enact voting rights laws since the Supreme Court's decision. Whites get the best jobs, schools, etc.

    I personally feel that there is not an element anywhere in our society where whites do not have an edge. To an extent it's the same for women. The old white power structure is digging in desperately, trying to maintain the control they see slipping away.

    We must keep pushing, not giving them any slack. We must keep fighting until true equality is a reality.

  •  I must be in need of sleep. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "White folks".....really?
    You put a lot of effort into this dairy, but at several points I was unable to tell if it was some kind of terrible snark.

    There was a user here who was unfortunately banned years ago that wrote a diary on a closely related topic to this one that was actually a brilliant satire.

    Is it 2013? Are we reading a liberal blog?

    I'll re-read.

  •  This is very good (19+ / 0-)

    Once you acknowledge the history and realize, through no fault of your own, that you benefit all the time from it, it gets easier. Especially if you realize that you are so going to say stupid stuff along the way and get smacked down for it.

    As a baseball fan, I love your metaphor.

    I've spent most of my time on Twitter this week rather than DKos. I kind of feel like I just need to sit back and let black folks have the floor as much as possible this week, so I have not been interested in engaging as much here since the verdict. Instead, I've been reading almost nonstop and paying attention to people when they tell me how they feel and offering support where I can. I've also been calling out white liberals on Twitter who have been showing their asses the past few days. It's been an embarrassment to see so many so-called allies show themselves for the selfish people they really are.

    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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:27:40 PM PDT

  •  I had a conversation (32+ / 0-)

    with my teenage daughter this week about talking to people about race.  She is a black girl who attends a predominantly white high school.  Similar to what I suspect is true of many black families, we talk about race in a very natural way - it is a big part of our everyday lives.  In addition, my husband and I are complete news and political junkies so our family is very comfortable talking about and debating news and history, including race.  My daughter gets frustrated occasionally with classmates who choose to interact with her by using stereotypes that they get from pop culture images rather than dealing with her as an individual (more profiling) - and she is sometimes irritated with having to be the "spokesperson for black America" - a role she and we are often thrust into even when we don't want to be.  But you confirmed what I told her last week - which was that I think that your white classmates just aren't as comfortable talking about race as you are and they are afraid that they are going to say something wrong.  As long as you believe that people are being sincere and are giving you the respect you deserve, be patient.  They might be enlightened and you might even be enlightened.  It would nice though if white folks tried a little harder and could deal with being uncomfortable every now and then - and so I commend you for doing just that with this diary.  I enjoyed it and am going to have my daughter read it.

    Most of the folks telling President Obama how to do his job, couldn't be president if their lives depended on it. ...Mrs. Mills, 2013

    by CrissieP on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:29:38 PM PDT

    •  You point out something I think is huge (16+ / 0-)

      I would bet dollars to donuts that way more parents of black children discuss race with their children than parents of white children do just out of pure necessity, and this is what is causing so many problems; especially for white liberals.

      I would imagine a lot of white liberals had parents like my mom who only ever said that all races are equal. But if the conversation stops there, then white kids are left to grow up not understanding the economic distance between white and black people, and just come to the conclusion that black people must be generally lazy and violent. And this is all reinforced by the stereotypes we see perpetuated on television, in movies, books, magazines and video games.

      We need more white parents being way more honest with their kids, and they aren't going to do that if they are too scared to appear racist or are so blind to what being silent is really doing to this country.

      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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:59:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. It doesnt stop with recognizing equality.. (7+ / 0-)

        African American families can only afford to help their children with 5 percent of the assets needed to buy a house or start a business. The figure for European American families is around 60 to 70 percent. Go figure. That is today. That is 150 years AFTER slavery and "reconstruction," and 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement.

        To say that everyone is theoretically equal is fine, but in fact, in American only a portion of our talent is economically equal in opportunity. It is the lasting legacy of our historical racism and our current racism combined.

        What we do from there is a matter of POLICY. We dont even address POLICY. That is far too.. real for most people. Best just to leave the whole discussion in the abstract.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:32:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh how I would love to discuss policy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But I don't think you can honestly discuss that until we are all on the same page.

          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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:46:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I respectfully disagree. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            moviemeister76, HCKAD

            I think a whole slew of policy initiatives need to be proposed, now, if not sooner, to address the imbalance in racially determined assets and inequality of opportunity.  This is the most unfair legacy of America's racist past, and until we start arguing over how much and how, the other side(s) will never have to seriously address the question of why.

            This could be our version of the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa. Its not perfect, but its a LOT better than the skeletons buried in our closets causing psychological harm today. Germany had to do it  starting in 1945, and the process continues. We never have, and most of our toxic politics, toxic personalities, toxic gun attitudes and  policy and toxic war policy has its roots in unresolved psychological trauma of the perpetrators of slavery, lynchings, denial of the vote, denial of jobs, education and "personhood' of anyone who doesnt look like the perpetrators.

            We need to end the Civil War once and for all with a process of sunshine which is an ongoing public process. It starts with telling stories of dad and grandpa and how they viewed their neighbors of color, and what they said about them, and what they did to them in high school. This is not going to be pretty , but its the only way out.

            Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

            by OregonOak on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:03:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I would love that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Personally, I think we are in dire need of white privilege being taught in our schools, at least in high school if nothing else. That way college professors don't have to tip toe around the bruised feelings of white college students angry and confused about rules they don't even understand.

              However, policy is made by those in charge, and right now, that's still mostly white men. I don't think how we can make policy that would effect the change we need unless that changes radically.

              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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:14:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Why? What do white parents have to say? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tobendaro, moviemeister76, CrissieP

        Most white people 80% think there is no problem at all with race. They are right; they can live a life free from fear of the racist laws & LE & judges.  all of the criminal injustice system is more on their side. Their view is the view of the oppressor.

        Like the oppressor cares about what the oppressed thinks.

        What do we do?

        Stop paying our oppressors.

        Stop lying about race in America.

        nosotros no somos estúpidos

        by a2nite on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:14:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can't argue with that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Though I do wonder about the remaining 20% Do they not talk to their kids either? I see a lot of white feminists who are young mothers who do wonderful work for women's rights, but write next to nothing about race, except for when they want to tie their issue to it. I wonder if they are also perpetuating that silence.

          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 Jul 19, 2013 at 08:46:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  white feminists (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            There are conversations going on in some parts of feminism about how to fix this -- you're right, white feminists often completely dismiss issues of racism.  Or they only give them lip service, in the sense of "well, this affects all women, so if it's better for us it will be better for them", which doesn't acknowledge that there are issues particular to being in multiple minorities at once.  (And they're often equally awful about trans* folk and other gender/sexual minorities.  Etc.)  

            But there need to be a lot more discussions.

  •  I have a question (0+ / 0-)

    What is your opinion on killing brown people around the world?

    There are no sacred cows.

    by LaEscapee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:32:09 PM PDT

  •  Thank you. (12+ / 0-)

    THIS is the "elephant in the room" that holds America back.

    The repeal of Reconstruction was one of the worst mistakes ever made.  I understand "why" it happened, but its repeal enshrined Supremacy into America's fabric, even deeper than before the Civil War....  Absent any Equalizing mechanism, the slaves were legally "free," but still "inferior," "defective," barely human....

    It has resulted in vast majority of white people to never, ever, ever, even think about the points you have bravely raised.  And THAT is the problem....

  •  Good thoughts. (3+ / 0-)

    I would put in a caveat - I hope no one feels any guilt or shame over anything they haven't personally done.  Plus it becomes just a secular version of Original Sin.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:34:48 PM PDT

  •  I don't like the word racist either. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alice kleeman

    I prefer to think in terms of respect, and that white people simply get more respect. That sicken me as a white person - I feel I lose power if I am given unearned respect.

    And I also bristle when I think that some well deserving person got less respect because they happen to not be white.

    And I think disrespect covers more ground than just skin color or race.

    We are all human. We are not black and white in terms of behavior - we are all shades of grey. By focusing on respect instead of race I think we get further down the road.

    It is like fighting war to get peace. Ain't never going to happen. You have to practice peace to have peace. You can't fight racism by labeling things as racist. I think it is better to work on respect and let race be an irrelevance.

    •  I agree that respect should matter... (8+ / 0-)

      ... more than race. But just because it should doesn't mean it does. I think the only way we get there is to talk about race and how it impacts our views on respect.

      •  What is the difference? (0+ / 0-)

        Race is a distraction. Sure, there is a huge cultural habit and knee jerk reaction to skin color. Sure, it is evil as hell. But in the end it is a distraction. Who gives a fuck about skin color? It is getting stopped all the damn time, getting assumed dangerous, getting no damn respect. Some people are not very smart so they think in shorthand. Yes, they are racist. Labels, like epithets, are pretty pointless. What matters is process, and what we must do is give more respect for actual behavior, for actual deeds.

        Yes, I am white. I get the free pass. No, I don't always notice it.

        What needs to be done is to speak out against disrespect. As white people whose words get extra powers because of our skin color I think we should speak up more often against disrespect. Staying silent is to be complicit.

        •  Seriously? (9+ / 0-)

          I would say that George Zimmerman gave a fuck about skin color. And so did John Henry Spooner. And so did Johannes Mehserle. Black children are dying for that skin color. You tell me that's not relevant.

          As white people, what we do not get to do is say that race is fucking irrelevant while black children are being gunned down like animals for nothing BUT their skin color.

          And further, skin color is part of a person's identity. Why should we seek to erase that?

          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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:31:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not erasing in the slightest (0+ / 0-)

            Zuckerman's issue with color was a deep cultural habit developed through constantly tracking peoples skin color.

            If you keep making an issue of skin color you will keep reinforcing those sick ways of thinking.

            We can't change peoples skin color, nor should we, as skin color (or rather race) is not the issue.

            I am pissed at Zuckerman getting free not because of race - race is irrelevant. I am pissed because he killed an innocent kid. It is behavior that needs to change, not skin color.

            Yes, Zuckerman got there because he assumed the black kid was dangerous. Worse, he did not think to just talk to the black kid. If it had been a white kid acting suspicious I expect he would have had an easier time talking to him and that would have resolved the confusion in a couple words, instead of a wordless bullet.

            Yes, we need to talk about this. But we need to talk about the tragedy of these false assumptions. But I like to put the focus on what needs to change - the assumptions we make instead of the race we observe.

            •  Zimmerman (10+ / 0-)

              George Zimmerman.

              And he killed Trayvon Martin - a young Black man. He killed Trayvon BECAUSE he was Black. If it had been a young White man walking through the neighborhood, Zimmerman would probably have ignored him.

              You can't take race out of the equation because it is an essential piece of the Zimmerman-Martin equation.

              Zimmerman went after Martin because "Those (Black) assholes always get away".  He had already mentioned something about house thieves, and that he thought they were Black.

              The trial ended the way it did because Trayvon was Black. Stand Your Ground laws favor Whites over Blacks in verdicts at a rate of 11 to 1, if I recall correctly. If I'm wrong, it's not by much.

              My next statement will probably be seen as provocative and some will be upset by it, but so be it - I stand by it.

              I think one reason so many Whites stood by Zimmerman and rejoiced at his verdict was because it felt like a blow for White Supremacy - and a slap at the Black man in the White House. So much anger, hatred and racism have come to the fore since President Obama was elected, and this was a chance for racist Whites to "get some of their own back" as they might say.

              Sick and twisted as that is, that's how it feels to me - that racist Whites are terrified that they are losing their power over everyone else, and their privilege. I say "It's about time they DID."

              Your mileage may vary, as they say.

              "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

              by Diogenes2008 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:35:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I won't disagree, but I repeat... (0+ / 0-)

                you can't change skin color. Zuckerman carries a bunch of bullshit in his head, that was why he killed Trayvon.

                Fortunately we don't convict people for the bullshit in their heads. We convict them for their bullshit actions.

                Sadly, the law is sometimes bullshit, and I think that is why Zimmerman got off - the jury focused on the final seconds of a centuries long encounter, ignoring the vast history that created Zimmermans actions and said they would only consider the final seconds of history that motivated Zimmermans actions. That was a complete travesty of justice.

                In the end I can't get passed the fact Zimmerman made a shitload of assumptions and never thought to simply ask Trayvon who he was. So simple. Simple respect is all that is.

                But Zimmerman never respected Trayvon, just made the assumption he was a suspect and never hesitated, not even after the trial, as far as I know. The bullshit runs deep in that one.

                And the law never called him on it.

                •  The law worked exactly right for an evil (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  vmm918, Mikey

                  Racist white man because  they (racist white men) are the ones who write these laws.

                  TM deserved to die because he was a nigger. That's what I heard that evil B37 monster saying. That's what I heard the evil defense saying.

                  nosotros no somos estúpidos

                  by a2nite on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:24:31 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I know you would like to disown race (8+ / 0-)

          but it's a real part of American culture.  And it impacts what happens here.  The most obvious example is how it us used to control poor whites.  Rather than poor whites realizing that both they and poor blacks should be united against things like under funding schools and food assistance, they have allowed their racism to believe that "the mexicans are taking your job" or "the blacks are taking your taxes and spending it on gold teeth".  And some of them hear this standing in line for their benefits, meaning they aren't paying any taxes.

          So, no, you can't just brush off race just because it makes you uncomfortable.  It still there.  See it, and be disgusted that it still exists.

          "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

          by anonevent on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:17:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rewrite of the third sentence (4+ / 0-)

            It should read something like:  An example, even to those of us who aren't always around minorities, is how it is used to control poor whites.

            "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

            by anonevent on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:26:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand that doublethink exists (0+ / 0-)

              I think the cure is to push people into contact. They have to talk to each other, even better be forced to depend on each other. It is only through friction that erosion occurs.

              We can't stop people thinking whatever pops into their head. Maybe we can outlaw hate speech from politicians to try and restrict that. But politics is stuffed with degrading advertising currently. Of course that will aggravate things like racism. It is a great distraction from the real issues.

              So call it out. As a distraction.

        •  When you say race is a distraction (5+ / 0-)

          it kinda gets framed as some minor irritant rather than an actual day to day life experience that you and I can only attempt to imagine. Saying "race is a distraction" is directly related to being privileged. We don't really get to decide that.

          •  Just because I call it a distraction (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            undercovercalico, worldlotus

            does not mean I am blind to it. The exact opposite. I have to see past it to the bad manners that people feel are thereby OK. Being white means I have a different challenge, and this is what my challenge is - to see past it to the simple bullshit and call it for what it is. To see people not race.

    •  How can race be an irrelevance? (15+ / 0-)

      How? Do you think black people are allowed to forget that they are black? Ever? But because it makes you uncomfortable we should just let "race be an irrelevance?" Well....HOW?

      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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:53:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because it SHOULD be irrelevant. (0+ / 0-)

        See my comment above.

        By focusing on the skin color, which cannot be changed we stop paying attention the the bad behavior which can.

        •  There's an old saying in business: (0+ / 0-)
          You can't manage what you can't measure.
          Race is only a distraction for people who have the privilege of not facing racial discrimination. To me, it feels like an easy cop out to talk about how race should be irrelevant when it is currently quite relevant to those who's lives are directly impacted by racism.

          So I think it's the exact opposite of what you state. By not focusing on race, we cannot deal with issues of racism as they exist. In many ways your commentary serves as an example of the pervasive hold white privilege has on our personal and societal thinking, and how that stands in the way of addressing racism in an open and direct way.

          We can't address racism without talking about race.

          "Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel." -Sepp Herberger

          by surfbird007 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:26:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I understand where you are coming from (7+ / 0-)

      Yes, there is a lot of disrespect in our society and we need to continue to work on fixing that.

      Overweight people in our society are confronted with disrespect all of the time. People who society deems as ugly are also disrespected. Beautiful people, skinny people, have an easier time getting jobs, promotions etc...

      But if an overweight white kid had walked through Zimmerman's neighborhood he would have ignored him. If an ugly white kid had walked through his neighborhood he would have ignored him.

      I work hard on a regular basis to teach my kids to respect others, regardless of their differences. But the simple truth is Trayvon is dead because he was black. That's a whole different level of disrespect.

      •  I agree with you here 100% (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus, vmm918

        That trial was a disaster. It empowers more killing by failing to get it right.

        Sorry - that Zuckerman trial has hit me hard. I will be even more pissed if the feds fail to successfully get a manslaughter on him. Because that is what I think it was, at a minimum.

        And yes, it is a bigger issue because of the death toll, the imprisonment toll (fuck, 20 years for a warning shot!?), the arrest toll, the stopping and questioning.

        But my bottom line is we can't change a black kid to a safer fat white kid, nor should we. So talking about them here is not really useful.

        The issue is disrespect. In the case of black people it is utter hard core every fucking day in your face disrespect.

        So we ought to have plenty of fodder to call it out, no?

        Why isn't it called out by white people? That silence is damning...

        But heaven help us if we call it out on the basis of race.

  •  In exchange for your diary, (19+ / 0-)

    where you pointed out

    We end up codifying racial disparity in generational success with an economic system that isn’t as colorblind as it my originally seem.
    this blast from the past:

    I think this is your Stars & Stripes baseball game:

    I remember back in the late '90s when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture to an economic philosophy class I was taking. It was a great lecture, made more so by the fact that the class was only about ten or twelve students and we got got ask all kinds of questions and got a lot of great, provocative answers. Anyhow, Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol back either during the first Bush administration. The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon's domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at The White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at UPenn and the Kennedy School of Government. With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. "I oppose it", Irving replied. "It subverts meritocracy."
  •  One of the things we as whites need to do is (33+ / 0-)

    to speak up when we see/hear racist behavior or language, no matter where.

    At my local grocery store a while back (maybe 2 years ago) I was at the self check-out, where one person mans 2 check out lines: Two lines with 2 scanners each with the cashier at the head of the aisle between the 2 lines. The cashier that day was a young black woman. All 4 registers/scanners were in use. All customers at the scanners were white. And there were lines in back of them.

    I was at a front register and another white woman was in back of me using the rear scanner. This customer behind me was having trouble with an item and rather than ask politely for the cashier to come over, she basically ordered her over, "Get over here, will u?"

    I waited. Since she was just behind me, I heard everything. After the young woman showed the customer what to do, she turned to leave to return to her 'station' so she could watch and help all 4 customers.

    Rather than let the woman leave, the customer got really irate and abusive and said, "you stay right here! I didn't say you could leave" like she was her personal maid.

    That was it: I turned to the customer and said, "What the hell are you doing? How dare you talk to her that way. She's not your personal attendant, she's here for everyone. And she needs to go back to her station".

    Well, the woman guffawed but shut up and the employee returned to her station.

    It is our responsibility to speak out. All the time, whenever we can.

    (p.s. I retained a lot of street cred in that store among the employees for quite a while after that... word got out :-))

    "Say little, do much" (Pirkei Avot 1:15)

    by hester on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:52:14 PM PDT

  •  Racism pervades this culture (15+ / 0-)

    in ways that would amaze you, if you just scratched the surface.

    In the 1990s, we had a bigot write a fat best-seller--I don't know how many weeks on the best-seller list--about the supposed "genetic inferiority" of dark-skinned races to whites. Evidence of this "inferiority," according to the author, was blacks' consistently lower academic and educational achievement, relative to whites' average achievement. And "those people" lived in crime-ridden, blighted areas. Everyone could see that.

    It kills me that we'd had all kinds of serious, scholarly work that examined racism, which was basically ignored. And here this crackpot got to be all the rage. He was on TV all the time. He did all this speaking. He got all these royalties. He was touted as "mainstream."

    Yes, we DO need to have a discussion, a real one.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:54:16 PM PDT

  •  Interesting and great diary (12+ / 0-)

    I was just thinking about this as I was on Twitter & noticed that "Chris Matthews" was trending. I read through trying really hard not to look at who was tweeting as to not bias my thoughts.
    As it seems, Chris apologized to Michael Steele & the VP of NBC (also African American) for "all Americans" for the rampant the racism is in this country right now. I saw it live, didn't think much of it - but Chris is getting hammered with STFU and you don't speak for me tweets. I put my phone down and really thought about it - does Chris speak for me? I guess he does in a way - because as a white person I hate what people of my race are doing. I hated that verdict. I hate the stories of hearing car door locks and people crossing streets and being followed by the police for no reason. I feel bad for what people with my skin color are doing.
    It's not white guilt making me feel this way - I am who I am - but it is embarrassment. No, it's way beyond that, it's shame.
    Thank you for this timely and brave diary, for putting it out there. I look forward to delving into the comments.

    Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

    by hulibow on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:57:37 PM PDT

  •  Watch Tim Wise on You tube (8+ / 0-)

    I regularly go to You tube and put "racism tim wise" in the search bar and then I watch his videos on race relations. I love them and enjoy watching his new ones as well as watching old one again about once a year to keep society's racism from getting into my head.

  •  So I am going to ask a potenially dumb question... (4+ / 0-)

    And it may be that I am presenting it, framing it, incorrectly or with an element that lacks delicacy.

    Let's say I ask a question or offer a comment and person X informs me that it is racist, either overtly or unconsciously, because I think there are probably several layers or nuances of racism are some white folks using the fear of doing that as an excuse not to engage in dialogue or actively support others? Is that really a legitimate stance for white people who actually want to be part, even if it is fairly peripheral, of the solution end?
    Is it fair to say "I am afraid of saying something stupid or racist and therefore I will remain silent even though I disagree with such and such and want to support others" Do we are the perpetrators of racism, as the people with the privilege, not have some obligation to take the risk to look stupid/foolish even racist in an attempt to have conversations however uncomfortable, take actions even if we look silly or draw unwanted attention to ourselves? Because it is not about us. And those who have to ceasely educate and tolerate both our fear and hestation might be getting a little weary of it. We gotta stretch a little.

    •  Part of the reason... (7+ / 0-)

      ... I wrote this is to recognize that not risking to ask those questions is a greater harm than fear of offending. It's also why I stated up front that if I said something dumb, please point it out to me so that we don't short-circuit the discussion.

      •  I guess I am (14+ / 0-)

        frustruated not by conversation here but elsewhere in the MSN coming form white people moaning about being called racist. People need to get over that defensive butthurt. Being called racist is not the worst thing that will ever happen to anybody. I am not suggesting that means people should just go ahead and be offensive because it does not matter, I am suggesting my people, the white people, need to get over hurt feelings and quit using it as an excuse not to engage. They are making it seem like being offended over the suggestion they might be racist is somehow worse or the same as being subjected to racism itself which is ridiculous.

        •  Please say this over and over and over (9+ / 0-)

          every opportunity you get.

          Thank you for having the insight to understand it.

          - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

          by FreeWoman19 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:57:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have attemped (4+ / 0-)

            at times and it doesn't go over well, that won't stop me. The one thing I struggle with is that I am an ordinary person with an ordinary level of intellect, I don't get why more people don't get it. I am sure somebody else could certainly articulate it more effectively, but the idea is not complicated. And I am not saying because I understand this one idea, that I am some ideal white progressive, I am not. I am not more "enlightened" than the very white liberals I am complaining about, but hey I am 49, I have had a few moments to think about it and what I do to hurt or help. Some days I contribute to the hurt even when I want to deny I am doing it.

        •  Exactly! (8+ / 0-)

          It derails all conversation and makes us, white people, the victim. So sick of it, and it especially drives me up the wall when white liberals do it. Being liberal usually means you are willing to listen and grow when you realize you are wrong. But white people have been pulling this crap for decades now. It's been around at least since I was a kid.

          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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:59:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I almost get more mad (8+ / 0-)

            at white liberals for doing it. Maybe I am not being fair, I recognize that but I just want to tell them get-the-fuck-over-yourselves. You do not have the right to even call yourself a white liberal or a white progressive if you are going to pull this "ooooooh my delicate feelings crap" as an excuse to evade conversations about racism and demonstrations and whatever else is required.  If I want change I have to risk being called out on my inherent assumptions about people including being told I am racist because that risk is much lower than the ones being taken by people of color to assert their right to equality of justice and opportunity in this country.

        •  but maybe... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          another way to think about this is:
          Is name calling and feeling hurting really the way to accomplish the fastest change?  Are "slightly" or "mildly" racist people really going to change for the better faster after being called racist?

          •  I am not sure (0+ / 0-)

            informing somebody a comment or commentaries they have made is racist can be catagorized as "name calling" in the sense that it is addressing a behaviour that is based on a sense of hatred and superiority and fear.

            My question is this: has sparing the feelings of people who are slighlty or mildly racist advanced any evidence of unity, has sparing the feeling of mildy racist people helped to decrease the level of racism in this country? I think not. Now, that is simply my perception, my own opinion. We have had several years even a generation or two of appeasing the feelings of people who do not want to be called racist and I am not sure it has accomplished all that much except to create a class of grouchy, defensive, white liberals who go around penning useless opinion columns about how their feelings are relevant and how it is the people of color who must "fix" the issues in their communities. I cannot even recall the last time I read one original thought about the impact of racism from this segment of the MSN.  The slightly racist and mildly racist people do not want change.They want things to remain as they are. They want to be absolved from any blame surrounding the economic, personal, and psychological injuries racism causes.

            Am I suggesting the "correct" path is to think about this as I do? Nope. Do I expect others to agree with me? Nope. I just think what I think about this and I am angry.

  •  Congratulations on a thoughtful (7+ / 0-)

    and thought-provoking diary.

    Your baseball analogy is directly on point.  It is similar to imagery I once described:  Imagine two boxers.  For 10 rounds, one has complete freedom of movement.  The other has both hands completely encumbered.

    Suppose, an additional 10 rounds of fighting is added to the card.  This time, both fighters are restricted - they both can use only one hand.

    After an additional 10 rounds, who would be the eventual victor of such a contest?

    I have never been a huge proponent of reparations - it's just impossible in the most practical of terms.

      . . . . Still . . .

    For almost all of American history, wealth - real wealth - has been measured by the amount and/or quality of real property owned.  (It is only in the very recent history, that wealth has come to be judged by the relativities of the market place.)

    African-Americans were denied the primary source of wealth and stability - the ability to own property - for the better part of the first 1/3 of our history as a nation.   In short, we have about 150 years of catch-up ball to play.  

    Talking of reparations - I realize that we would need to de-commission the whole of the Pacific Fleet to come up with the coin - such a ridiculous invoice would bankrupt the nation.  

    But you know?  I got a mule.  Where's my 40 acres?

    Don't practice. Train.--Brian Harvey

    by luvsathoroughbred on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:42:02 PM PDT

  •  Bravo for this diary , as Dr King used to say (10+ / 0-)

    something to the effect of that discrimination and segregation have flourished for so long because good white people stayed silent.

    That is why we can never stay silent. The fight for equality is a fight we should all be engaged in and never stay silent.

    We must continue to strive for the rights of others because we are all part of the human race.

    We can all educate ourselves on white privilege no matter our race . The more we educate ourselves, the more we listen to each other, the more we learn, the more united we will become to stand up for ourselves and for our fellow Americans.

    Join PA Liberals at

    by wishingwell on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:50:06 PM PDT

  •  Excellent post. (9+ / 0-)

    I completely understand. So this evening I went to a Trayvon Martin protest at the university down the road. I went to listen, to hear what the people there had to say, to learn their perspective. It was a powerful experience.

    Listening to the speakers, talking with people there, it gave me courage. See, apparently because I am white other white people seem to think its completely OK to say racist stuff around me. Sometimes I have the courage to say something, and sometimes I don't. But going to the protest tonight, hearing what was said, seeing the courage it took for those speakers to get up there and say what they really think and feel, well it gave me courage to find my voice. To speak up, speak out and not be afraid.

    I don't want white privilege. I want everyone to be able to live their lives, to be free of fear. Living that way should not be a privilege, it should be a right.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:51:48 PM PDT

  •  White boys always get the benefit of the doubt (8+ / 0-)

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:56:31 PM PDT

    •  As do white women (7+ / 0-)

      I always get the benefit of the doubt, especially when I was in school.

      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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:03:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we always do (8+ / 0-)

        and being a good looking white male or female opens even more doors and erases even more doubts. It's like keys to a kingdom.

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:05:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For real (4+ / 0-)

          Do you know how many times my husband and I have said semi-jokingly, "Oh thank God I'm a white person" in the past few years? From the service we get, to the deals we get, to the way the police treat us when they pull us over, to the treatment from some of my professors. It's sickening when you realize how easy so many little and big things are like that.

          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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:16:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Always do? (0+ / 0-)

          I think most pieces on race here bug me a bit.  Many imply there is no such thing as racism against white people or that white people ALWAYS benefit and also apparently have no right to be offended by any term used to refer to themselves.  I happened to attend Jr. high and high school at schools where whites were in the minority.  I was kicked, hit, and had rocks thrown at me simply because I was white (ironically, often immediately following nonviolence lectures in the main auditorium).  I had people make comments to me on rainy days about how wet white people smell like wet dogs. Racism goes both ways.  People are victimized both ways. I'm not saying this happens in anything close to equal proportions, but it happens and should be recognized here.

          •  can't argue with you there (0+ / 0-)

            I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

            by jbou on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:01:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  And? (8+ / 0-)

            I also attended several schools in which I was the minority. I was teased mercilessly. My sister was assaulted.  I try not to think of it because it was a scary experience, but a group of black kids terrorized us in our house once, to the point where my sister pulled a knife just to make them go away. Because we were white. But you know what? Your argument that that means that black people can be racist against whites is flawed.

            The reason why my sister and I both experienced problems from black students is multitude. We were oblivious to the pain a lot of our black classmates were experiencing. Imagine a black student going to school this week, and encountering white students who never even heard of Trayvon Martin. Well, that was my sister and I in the 80s and 90s. We were oblivious. We were oblivious to the way teachers punished black students for ridiculous bullshit that white students rarely get punished for. We were oblivious to the fact that the police officers who had beaten up Rodney King were acquitted. We were oblivious to the problems going on throughout the ghettos in this country. We were oblivious to the fact that black people were getting arrested and convicted exponentially more than white people for doing the same damn thing.

            I have white friends who didn't even know what the verdict was against George Zimmerman on Monday. And didn't really care when I told them. I was fucking outraged. But I'm a grown woman. I've learned how to control myself. If I had been a kid, still trying to learn to control strong emotions in public? I'm not so sure I could have dealt with that bullshit so well. And I've only really been dealing with this for a few years. Lord known where my stress will be in a fucking decade.

            I got over the fact that I was terrorized at times for being white by black kids when I realized that their lives were far more fucked up than mine could ever be. That doesn't excuse the violence at all, but I remember how hard it was to control emotion at that age. It was difficult as hell.

            Just because you got beat up by black kids doesn't mean those black kids were racist. It just means they didn't like you because you were white and oblivious. It's completely different. Racism implies a power structure that those black kids could never experience. Racism implies that those kids thought white people are inferior than black people, which black people don't think primarily because white people hold most of the power. Racism implies that those black kids thought they were better than you, and I can just about guarantee you that they did not.

            I know how much it sucked being terrified, it took me a long time before I felt safe around black people, but your views on racism are wrong. Black people are capable of hating white people (who can fucking blame them sometimes?), black people can be bigots, but saying "black people can be racists against whites" is just another derailing of the conversation. It makes white people the victim once again. As usual. Because, for some reason, some white people have a real tough time even allowing black people to be the victim. Which is largely why George Zimmerman was acquitted.

            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 Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:18:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  based on your life experience and (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              depth of understanding, you could teach a course.

              Most of the folks telling President Obama how to do his job, couldn't be president if their lives depended on it. ...Mrs. Mills, 2013

              by CrissieP on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:50:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  lol (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I'm not sure I have the temperament for it. My husband is the one who remains calm and reasonable in the face of people being thickheaded, and rages in private. I can control myself to the point where I don't get violent, but I am still working on being able to remain clearheaded in an argument in public. My brain just shuts down when I get angry or outraged. I'm a far better writer than a speaker, as writing allows me to communicate when I'm ready and feel safe.

                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 Jul 19, 2013 at 07:33:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I am constantly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              moviemeister76, CrissieP

              sticking up for the kids who saunter across the street with their pants below their butts, looking to slow cars down just because they can.  I liken it to the middle finger.  Instead of giving us the finger they meander across the street.  Because when they were a two year old in a stroller a white person called them a ni--er.  When they were in kindergarten a teacher punished them for nothing but being dark skinned. And all through their lives they live the inequity and the shame put on them by white power.  I want to get out and hug them when they saunter. I have come to love the saunter and I respect it.

              Everyone! Arms akimbo!

              by tobendaro on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:29:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  This (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              moviemeister76, Lorikeet, CrissieP

              As a white male, I grew up going to inner city schools where I was in the minority. I remember the first time someone picked a fight with me, because I was white, male, tall, happy and clueless.

              We had a peer mediation program at the school, and we got slotted into it, and there wasn't a specific reason, he was just angry at me. Not angry with ME, but AT me.

              It took until I was in my twenties to get why he was so angry with me. He wasn't angry with me, but I was a symbol to him of a society that in a million different ways hurt him in ways that I would never be hurt.

              I grew up in a liberal multi-racial setting, where african american culture and heroes were placed at the front of our education, but it didn't register, because it couldn't register until I'd developed the critical thinking skills to ask my friends why they wanted me to make the run to the store at 8pm for beer. Because I was white, and the store was close to the burbs, and driving while black stopped being a joke, and started being something I noticed. I've been pulled over near there two or three times for doing 5-10 over. Never got a ticket. Never thought about it until then.

              Steven Colbert has a joke that he doesn't see race, just people. I work hard to make sure I do see race, because it's the only way to understand how far we have to go as a country.

              It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

              by Solarian on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 07:53:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  er, what? (0+ / 0-)

              "Just because you got beat up by black kids doesn't mean those black kids were racist. It just means they didn't like you because you were white"

              I'm pretty sure you've changed the definition of racism here.
              Definition #3 from
              "hatred or intolerance of another race"

              Maybe this is why so many posts on race here irk me.  We are using the word racist and racism differently.  In my, and the dictionary's opinion, you are using it wrong or at least aren't aware of all correct uses of the term.

          •  I wish you had been able to learn (0+ / 0-)

            from your experience. Empathy goes a long way. I've always felt that every white adult should have the experience of being a minority. Go to an event at an historically Black college campus, take the family to a Black swimming pool, go to a Black club and get up and dance, or to a soul-food restaurant. Being uncomfortable sometimes is good for us! And you might be surprised by the way you're treated.

            At the same time, I've always objected to the way we made our kids (and mostly Black kids) be the ones to suffer through integrating via the schools. We were too afraid of being uncomfortable to make it happen by integrating our housing, which would have avoided the re-segregation we have today and the problem of good mostly white middle class schools and bad mostly Black poor schools.

  •  Melissa Harris-Perry (11+ / 0-)

    talked about the Implicit Project at Harvard.  It's a test you can take to see if you have implicit preferences - white over black, straight over gay, etc.

    This may be a good place for people to start, learning if they possibly have prejudices that are unconscious.  Then work to turn them.

    I hope I live long enough to see people treat each other as human beings first.  What I like about younger people is that they are much more accepting of people who are different from them.  It is a beautiful thing to see.  

    Thank you for posting this.  Tipped and rec'd.


    Thank you, President Obama and Vice President Biden!

    by SueM1121 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:15:00 PM PDT

  •  Sorry I got here so late. (12+ / 0-)

    But thanks for this diary.  

    We white people do need to talk, and we need to start now.  POC can't do this job alone.  As the group with the power, we're the ones who need to change.  That starts with the topic of this diary -- admitting that we enjoy advantages in this society because of historical racism.  

    Beyond that (and there's a hell of a lot beyond that) we also need to stop pretending as if we don't react based on the racist indoctrination every last one of us has received.  White people need to understand and admit that racism can operate at a subconscious level.  It's not just a matter of having an active, conscious intent to treat someone differently based on race.

    If the Trayvon Martin case has shown us anything, it's that most white people -- including a good number of the self-proclaimed white liberals here -- don't have a clue about what racism really is.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:20:06 PM PDT

  •  D Wreck, you've put your heart into this (8+ / 0-)

    diary- with eloquence & passion you have given much to think about.  

    Well done.  And thank you.

  •  Good diary. Tipped and rec'd. (5+ / 0-)

    There are all sorts of leftovers of previous racism. I pretty much got into the college I wanted because both of my parents and two of my grandparents were alumni. So I had white privilege working for me.

    And this happened all over, in all sorts of situations. If your father was a firefighter (white, of course), he'd talk to a guy and get his son a job in the fire department.

    I once had a discussion with my father (a college professor who was mostly a liberal Democrat -- he supported Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972). He was favored quotas as a way of leveling the playing field. He thought it was only fair.

    My dad died a year before Obama was elected. I think he would have liked to see Obama's victory. My mom died a few years before my dad did. She was a feminist. I think she might have supported Hillary.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:05:31 PM PDT

  •  All I know is that I want to hug (9+ / 0-)

    every young black male I see these days. For whatever reason I've been running into a lot of them since the Zimmerman verdict (or maybe just noticing more.) Today it was a handsome 16 year old volunteer at the rehab facility where my Dad is a patient. With him I came pretty close but settled for shaking hands. Good kid.

    I told him that I started out as a Candy Striper at the age of 14. He loves volunteering but seemed pretty relieved that he doesn't have to wear and red and white striped pinafore. ~:)

    "The answer to violence is even more democracy. Even more humanity." Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

    by poe on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:14:00 PM PDT

  •  Premise of the diary also applies to colonialism. (4+ / 0-)

    When the curtain closed on white European empires, non-white people in the newly independent "Third World" or "less developed" countries were still left on the losing end of a score like 100 to zero, or even 10,000 to zero.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ☮ ♥ ☺

    by lotlizard on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:49:38 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, D Wreck, Caneel, Lorikeet

    I hope it opens the dialogue to all of us, regardless of race, gender, etc.   For the record, I am a white heterosexual female.   Other than being unmarried, I am pretty run of the mill.  Being a single, heterosexual female in a paired world, does indeed subject one to some lightly veiled prejudices of society.   But none of it hurt me financially, or in my ability to live a decent life.  

    I am a retired teacher.   A few decades ago (in the 80s), I did an experiment I read about in a post grad class with my sixth grade class.   At the time sixth grade was in elementary school, so I taught my students all subjects; there was no NCLB so I was trusted as a professional and, of course, I belonged to my union to protect my rights to be a professional.

    Anyway, when I read this diary, it triggered my memory of that lesson.

    When my class was out to recess, I took a lot of pennies and distributed them randomly around the room.  My instructions for the students was when we got in they were to line up at the back wall and face me.  Then I told them  that there were pennies all over the floor (some had already noticed) and when I gave the go signal, they could gather as many pennies as possible.   They did so.  Some got a lot, some just a few.  I then gave them these instructions:   those with the least amount of pennies had to move their desks to the corner of the room. I then put tape around their area and told them they could only leave that area with my permission.  There were four of them.  Then I took the next amount of least, about eight of them, and gave them a different corner, a little more roomy, etc etc.   I took the top four coin gatherers, and gave them the center of the room.....lots of room.  Oh yea, I made sure all the materials they needed, paper, pencils, snacks, etc were readily accessible to them.   The tape around their area was not to keep them in but to keep others out.  And their area included access to outside for recess, to the sink and water fountain, etc. They could ask me questions whenever.   All other students needed to pay up one coin to get to recess, to lunch.   However, the COIN winners, could choose to give someone a coin to get outside, etc.  

    Anyway, we did it for much of the day.   I never explained why, just that it was a game.  As the day wore on , the chants of unfair arose, the frustrations arose...behavior toward each other changed.

    At the end of the day we talked about the experiment.  The insight was amazing, on my part and on the part of the students.   Sixth grade students tend to be very open, trusting and honest.   We had a discussion about how some got their "wealth (coins)" and the fact that it was perhaps luck, perhaps better visions, perhaps better speed, more aggressions.    We discussed both the anger and the guilt.    
    In the end, I had hoped they learned something about fair and unfair (the kids with their desks packed in a small area spoke out about their sense of frustration of so little room, so little access to the things they needed, even talked about if they could just "steal some paper and pencils" instead of having to spend their coins on what they needed so they could save for recess.

    I learned a lot too.  My class was predominantly middle class and white (one African American female, a few Hispanic children, and a handful of very privileged, from wealthy families, children.   But in the experiment they all started equal but by mostly luck ended up where they were.  And their luck determined a lot.  I wanted them to see what privilege determined.  Hopefully as they got older some of them remembered, or at least could extrapolate to what white privilege is.   It is hard to have a dialogue about white privilege when one lives in an area that has little or no diversity.    So I think sometimes we have to start with just understanding what privilege is.   The notion that the Koch brothers or the children of the powerful and rich earned their right to screw everyone is predominant in this meritocracy.     To me the coin experiment was a metaphor for winning the DNA lottery.     And statistically white folks are more likely to win the DNA lottery.     We need to acknowledge that and understand and get back to making GOOD public education available to ALL children, K thru college.   We need to undo the "might makes right" mentality that makes guns the "equalizer, and instead makes  good (public) education the equalizer.    

    As long as money and power can take away/limit the commons (public education, public utilities/service, public health provisions for all), there will be privilege.......most likely white privilege.

    Often in discussions I use the metaphor of footraces (instead of baseball).   In the history of our country, white males got to start the race, say one hundred yards ahead of all competitors.   Half way thru the race, black males were allowed to run (however they were never given instructions of where the starting line was, never allowed to have running shoes, or water, or whatever was needed to make one an efficient runner).   After that all women were allowed to enter the race, white ones first, then women of color.    However no one told the men of color there were obstacles on the race course hidden and only put there when they approached.  Ditto with the women.  

    Yet, still, men of color and women are still being deemed by some today has having an unfair advantage (affirmative action).   It still stuns me when that is said and yet it is.

    Anyway, thanks for the diary and allowing me to ramble on.

    “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

    by Jjc2006 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:19:47 AM PDT

  •  You're spoken admirably for many of us (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck, moviemeister76, Vita Brevis

    and I love the baseball metaphor, which applies equally to women as well as people of color.

  •  On interracial relationship and angering someone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck, moviemeister76, Lorikeet

    I can really relate to the part of your diary where you talk about fear of making a mistake that triggers anger in someone else.

    This seems to me an inevitable part of many white/non-white relationships in America today - be they close friendships or romantic/intimate relationships.  Exception granted for white people who grew up with diversity in their families/close friendships from the get-go, or have really gone through experiences of diversity in relationship.  Many of us have not.

    Sooner or later, if both parties are really going to let their proverbial hair down -- get truly honest with one another -- they will have to encounter some moments where the white person expresses a viewpoint that angers the non-white person.  Because (as diarist noted), privilege often has no awareness of itself, in the way that others see it more clearly for what it is.  

    So - a bump is hit.  Suddenly.  Anger arises.  Real anger.  The question becomes: then what?  Do you throw in the towel, back away, self-protect?  Or do you continue to engage in good faith, try to move through it.  

    I have gone through this three times - I am white, grew up in a white suburb.  I messed up with some of my interracial relationships - there was a phase in my college years where it seemed to keep happening.  One was with a Dominican/latino boyfriend, one was with an Indian (India) social friend, one was with a black friend/work colleague.  Common denominator in triggering a bad reaction, I had to come to admit after it had happened a 3rd time in 3 years, was not that those other people are so touchy and difficult; common denominator was my whiteness and the way it afforded me a perspective that really disrespected other people at times, without realizing I was doing so.  I'm mortified at some of the things I said/did back then, blithely unaware in the moment of how differently it would be taken by a person of color.  To give an embarrassing example - I had a corner cubicle at the office of my four-month summer job, and as a 20 year old I was excited to have my very own space at work for the first time.  I put up some fun postcards I'd collected, images from favorite movies and TV shows.  One postcard was Buckwheat from Little Rascals, munching happily on a huge piece of watermelon that was like 3 times bigger than his head.  I thought it was a cute/funny image, that it stood alone as cute/funny, didn't have a larger cultural context of insult/humiliation in the ways some racist white people caricature-ize black people in America.  I was freaking clueless, a sheltered, stratified "white kid" in the body of a 20 year old.  And it was uncomfortable - for both of us, I now fully realize - to go through the process of her expressing offense and me getting clued in.  But we did it.

  •  Your analogies are great - thanks - (4+ / 0-)

    at least from where I sit, they ring true, but I inherited the box seat, like you.

    To me one central aspect of white privilege really came home when I realized, upon hearing about the Boston bombing, that I was hoping the perp was white, b/c if s/he were, no group would be demonized. If s/he was anything but white, that group would immediately become prey again.

  •  This black woman thanks you very much (4+ / 0-)

    for posting this . . . sometimes I wonder why this concept seems so hard to understand.

  •  It is a lifelong challenge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, Nashville fan, D Wreck

    to make a conscious effort to remove the blinders of white privilege and see the world in a new way. I've tried to listen, and while I may not always agree with who is speaking or writing, the goal for me is to try to put myself in their shoes and try to learn something new. I've learned a lot from dkos and Black Kos especially, and tried to challenge racism when I see it.

    This past week has been frustrating after the Zimmeman verdict brought out ignorant comments on Facebook. I'm afraid I will have to unfriend some people there as others have done, since some people just don't get it.

    “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” - Anais Nin

    by legendmn on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 08:26:55 AM PDT

  •  Good analogy. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nashville fan, D Wreck

    This will be useful the next time I see my family members who are proudly racist.

  •  May I lead us to ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nashville fan, D Wreck

    bell hooks, 2001

    White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor. Viewers are encouraged to feel sympathy for the white male home owner who made a mistake. The fact that this mistake led to the violent death of an innocent young man does not register; the narrative is worded in a manner that encourages viewers to identify with the one who made the mistake by doing what we are led to feel we might all do to "protect our property at all costs from any sense of perceived threat.

    In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot." ~ Czeslaw Milosz

    by Caneel on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 08:47:42 AM PDT

  •  I lived in Oakland in the 80's and part of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i saw an old tree today, D Wreck

    I lived through the Reagan Recession and ate Reagan Cheese and butter. That was a time of many grilled cheese sandwiches.
    It was beyond obvious to me that there were not enough jobs to go around. There was work, but you had to hustle for it independently. However, I knew my ability to find work as a carpenter/remodeler/plumber/painter/handyman was significantly a function of "white privilege".

    Since then the draining of the middle class and the elimination of job opportunities for the poor and middle classes has hit the white population as hard as it hit the black population in the 80's. Wall Street and the 1% have effectively turned working white against working black.

    It's obvious to most of us how and why this has happened and the characteristics of the New Jim Crow are functions or symptoms of this larger economic trajectory. This has happened before in American history, as the diarist notes.

    There is pretty much one answer to the problem, a new field of growth for the economy including a revolution in transportation, green energy, a 21st century infrastructure, etc. This includes investments in education and perennial re-education.
    There is one basic direction for us to move toward "Jobs and Justice" and white and black folks, poor and middle class, all share a common cause in that respect.
    This fact will ultimately unify us.
    That is our challenge here at DKos, to enlighten the rest of America.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 09:28:07 AM PDT

    •  oh yea, the cheese, waiting in line too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      forgotten all about that, thoughtful comment, thanks

    •  Oh God that cheese (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I still can't stand American cheese to this day because of those old blocks of cheese.

      And I'm not sure about the jobs thing. Every time organizations have tried to unite people to focus on jobs, the lack of attention paid to racial issues has always led to its collapse.

      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 Jul 20, 2013 at 10:31:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I believe the jobs thing and the racial thing are (0+ / 0-)

        just one thing.
        Wall Street and the powerful pitted southern white against southern black, which led to Jim Crow and the great migration.
        Racial animus nearly doomed the labor movement.

        This country needs a new space for economic growth, just as the development of the interstate highway system revolutionized our economy and led to millions of middle class jobs, working class jobs, and opportunities for entrepeneurs and venture capitalists.
        Ditto "the space race, cold war" and the technological boom that resulted there.

        Now this must be clean energy, a 21st century infrastructure, etc.

        When you have an economy with a growing middle class (instead of a shrinking middle class), you have people rising out of poverty because there's room for them on the next rung of the ladder up. You invest in education, you take the strain off the social safety net, etc. All of that means progress for minorities and reduced racial tensions.
        The current obstruction of this economic growth and the simultaneous race baiting and wedge-issuing of the gop are not happening coincidentally.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 07:49:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Personally i'm nauseated (0+ / 0-)

    By the sheer volume and level of self importance white people have assumed writing & lecturing us about racial equality and how ashamed all other white people should be. It's funny how middle/upper class whites assume all other white people feel the same guilts that they do. We don't.
    Many of us don't fight racism by constantly self righteously posturing how anti racist we are, we just are, or try to be anyway.

    Now can we finally start passing the mic to people who are actually affected by racism &/or economic injustice?

    •  If I may ask ... (0+ / 0-)

      why do you assume it is "guilt" and "shame"

      instead of empathy?

      Racial Bias in Perceptions of Others’ Pain

      The present work provides evidence that people assume a priori that Blacks feel less pain than do Whites. It also demonstrates that this bias is rooted in perceptions of status and the privilege (or hardship) status confers, not race per se.

      In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot." ~ Czeslaw Milosz

      by Caneel on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:11:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And it's funny that you assume... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that everyone in this thread is middle/upper class.

      And no one in this thread, to my knowledge, has said white people should be ashamed. No one. It was about having a discussion, which we so clearly need to have. If you don't think white people actually need to talk about this, especially considering the shit that gets posted at this liberal site, then I don't know what more I can say.

      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 Jul 20, 2013 at 10:28:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What if we were all on the same team? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, D Wreck

    Well, no "what if". We are all on the same team: The human race. It's just that many don't realize it.

    It is undoubtedly true that some people are born with certain advantages based on traits that we don't think should accrue advantages. In this country, groups include Whites, Protestants, heterosexuals, males, rich people, people whose parents love them, people whose parents have the wherewithal to provide for them and so on.

    If we, the privileged, view these as our "rights" (often, our "God given rights") then we are bigots of one sort or another.

    But if we view them as "runs" in a "game" we are, perhaps, making a different error: One that hurts us as well as those without privilege.

    Studies have shown that happiness is more related to how much you help than to how much you have.  Studies of people who win the big Lotto prizes find that they are no happier than others.

    As a privileged person (well, by many of those categories) I give money away. And the people to whom I give it say thank you.

    And I say

    "It is a privilege to be able to give".

    Of course, not all the privileges involve wealth. But they all involve power of one sort or another:

    It is a privilege to be able to help.

  •  I congratulate you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, D Wreck

    and thank you. I learned a lot and am inspired to put it into practice.

  •  Great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck
  •  It has occured to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck

    that we may all be racist to the extent that deep seated in our genetics, as a survival technique, what we see as different, we fear. Acknowledging that fact puts us on the path to dealing with it.

  •  The most segregated hour in America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck still 11 o'clock on Sunday morning.

    And you know exactly who is inclusive and who goes to an exclusive church.

    Because an exclusive church is in an exclusive neighborhood with exclusive schools and exclusive health care facilities and sometimes even a gate and a watchman to prove they are exclusive.

    Yet in white America, "exclusive" continues to be conflated with "excellent".  Isn't that interesting.

    Our institutions shape our thinking and too many American institutions actively promote racial discrimination and the racist thinking that comes with it.  For example, Rush Limbaugh is paid millions of dollars to keep the racist thinking going.  And preachers are paid by their congregations and schools funded by parents just to ensure that their youth continue to be able to practice racial discrimination and rehearse their racist rhetoric.

    With so much money going to prop up racial discrimination, segregation, and racist stinking thinking among white people, we know the fear that an honest assessment of real traditional American ideas and real Biblical Christianity would hold them up to judgement and ridicule.  And call them to repentance.  And thus it was in the 1960s and 1970s.  And if that happened there would be unity in the 99% and a focus on what relly matters.

    Guess who is paying all that money to keep racist institutions alive.

    And guess who wants us to continually think in terms of isolated individual racism and individual responsibility.

    What we saw in the 1970s is that if you change the institutions, you change the mindsets.  And so in the 1980s, the racist institution battle cries were "political correctness" (coined likely at Dartmouth, an elite school) and the fight against "multiculturalism" (led by Ronald Reagan's BFF Linda Chavez).

    This is an excellent call to reflection, D Wreck, but white folks who are still constantly-repenting racists need to focus on the big fish, the institutions.  That is what will liberate our white brothers and sisters from the continual tyranny of racism, whose means of social control is shunning as an n-l.  Or as they put it these days, as a liberal.  Conservative = not a liberal = not an n-l.  There is not elaborate philosophy involved, although the elites like to trot out Burke and Sumner and in desperation Calhoun to provide  a veneer of philosophy.  But the basic equation above is at the core of the Republican Party today.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:00:21 AM PDT

    •  Yup (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It goes deep in these institutions, too. I've seen the way a lot of white academics in certain fields talk about issues like history and literature. Any history or literature dealing with women, people of color, Native Americans, etc told from the perspective of the respective groups rather than from the white male perspective is referred to as "cultural history" or "ethnic/gender literature." It's the same code words racists today use when they say that the race issue is due to a "cultural problem" with black people. Buckley traded in that nonsense big time.

      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 Jul 19, 2013 at 01:14:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a privleged white heterosexual male, but... (4+ / 0-)

    when I was about 14 I was at a two-week long tennis camp.  For some reason, several of the other boys decided that my roommate and I were gay.  They made our lives absolute hell for the entire time.  I'm not going to go into the details, but their brutal wrath for us did not waver the entire time.  It was two weeks of physical and mental assault that none of the faculty did anything to stop.  I remember them taunting us as we got into my mother's car as we finally got to leave.  It was a horrible horrible experience.

    BUT, for a very very brief moment, I experienced just a taste of what it's like to be treated like something other than a heterosexual white male.  It taught me a very valuable life lesson and I think I'm a more empathetic person for it.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:12:52 AM PDT

  •  Excellent, though painful post.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck

    Dave Marsh on his show Live from the Land of Hope and Dreams has been talking about this alot.
    Racism is a problem for so called "white" people.Until we get our heads wrapped around "white" privelege and the new Jim Crow and Jane Crow, we will flounder as a society.

    What do we want? Universal health care! When do we want it? Now!

    by cagernant on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:40:58 AM PDT

  •  I'm working on a poem...n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck
  •  Rec'd, but with caveat . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moviemeister76, CanyonWren
    Slavery is gone . . . .
    Nope.  We've got more slaves in our economy than at any time in our history, but they're (mostly) beyond our borders.
    So, all of us are complicit.  Sets quite a personal agenda, eh?
  •  Slavery is not dead (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck, CanyonWren
  •  Good analogies. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck, CanyonWren

    I'll remember them next time I'm trying to explain privilege to some Confederate-loving fool.

    "We need institutions and cultural norms that make us better than we tend to be. It seems to me that the greatest challenge we now face is to build them." -Sam Harris, neuroscientist

    by MarthaPeregrine on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:20:24 PM PDT

  •  I'm sending your diary to my racist in-law's. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck

    I'll let you know how it turns out.  Excellent diary, which I can relate to on many levels.  You should join Black Kos or drop by "the porch" (diaries generated by that group).  They are all very welcoming, and love to discuss race issues.  

    "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowden -6.62, -6.92

    by CanyonWren on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 07:54:09 PM PDT

  •  If we're going to speak up, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D Wreck

    if we're going to "afflict the comfortable" (which also includes ourselves, to varying degrees), we must expect pushback. It may distress and frustrate us, but it must not discourage and deter us. We must be persistent in challenging the denial, rationalizations, and outright bigotry. It must be made clear that sharing the same skin color does not mean we condone the abhorrent views and behavior.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 09:16:31 PM PDT

  •  I come from a mixed race family. (0+ / 0-)

    All the black people in my family got free college. All their white siblings had to pay for college. Same family, same economic background, but those with dark skin got a free ride through college.

    Two of my AA siblings got hired into great jobs with Affirmative Action payments to their bosses for hiring people of color. They both have received promotions under the same Affirmative Action programs.

    This is all good for them, and I'm glad because they're my relatives and I love them, but as a white member of this family, with no Affirmative Action job opportunities and huge bills from college, I have to say that you are assuming that all white people have advantages or they somehow got money from their slave owning ancestors (or others who profited from slavery). You are forgetting that there are plenty of white people who are poor and do not have advantages simply because they're white.

    So if you think your inheritance came from family wealth derived from people who owned slaves, feel free to give your money to African Americans. But don't assume that every white person has advantages over those with darker skin. It's just not true.  

    •  You are making... (0+ / 0-)

      ... a giant assumption that "affirmative action" means "unqualified". That is simply not the case. Affirmative action means that among a pool of qualified applicants, an employer/school may into consideration the overall diversity of the institution with regard to things like race, gender, disability or veteran status when making its final selection.

      I'm not claiming that white folks don't have a tough time and don't have their own obstacles to overcome. But given two people who have exactly the same qualifications but different skin color, society still has a bias toward white people. It is in this sense that your skin color is your inheritance.

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