Tuesday, September 29, 2009

White Supremacy

I was aked via email to respond to the following quote.

"The word racism ceased to be the term which best expressed for me the exploitation of black people and other people of color in society and... I began to understand that the most useful term was white supremacy"

I was not told who said it or what they were talking about. Only told that the original emailer was offended by the statement.

Am I offended? Not at all.
Do I agree? I couldn't say without more context.
I think the key word in the statement, at least to me, is "useful".

We white people, especially white ones with a rightward lean, are far to thin skinned when criticized generally on matters of race. We, who place high value on personal accountability, or agency, and hard working thriftiness, have an Achilles heal with all things racial. We see all accusations of racism or wrongdoing as personal attacks and unknowingly begin defending our self, which leads to blaming minorities for their own problems, or at the very least fostering an attitude of skepticism when accusations are made.

I will not respond with anything I have read or learned academically, but only with my own personal (admittedly anecdotal) experience.

Racism is alive and well from both black and white. I would even say in equal proportions. Till the current President's campaign, I will strongly forward that black people were very accepting of overt racist comments regarding white people. Chris Rock is famous for his barbs, Rev Wright, etc etc... while Trent Lott, Imus, and others get in trouble far far more subtle remarks.
How unfair. White people are growingly upset by the double standard.

Not me. Why?

For starters, I have heard what white people say about black people when we are alone. I have heard the "N word" tossed about casually. I have heard elements of black culture condemned while the negatives in white culture go unmentioned. There are plenty of white racists, a fact which is scary once you realize that white people outnumber black people more than ten to one.
Who has more cause to be worried, black or white?
Which group has been actually injured by racism? Any white person who complains they have been injured by racism in any lasting way is lacking in understanding of the black experience. HUGELY lacking.

The general black populace is so far behind proportionately when compared with whites in general that one would have to ask why.

Here is where I think it could be argued that an attitude of white supremacy prevails.
A conservative white, who thinks racism is now impotent and the system now offers opportunity equally, must find some way to explain why blacks lag. Since it can't be racism or the system, it must be the irresponsibility, laziness, and immorality of the blacks themselves.
The more I look at it this is the root of most conservative arguments when dealing with issues of race.

To think that those who suffer are their own problem, while believing that you yourself are not enjoying any favoritism, that you have what you have simply by your hard work and aptitude, is inherently finding ones self superior.

Simply put, if the system is fair, and blacks lag while whites advance, than whites are simply superior to blacks.
Most would never say it, but most, whether they realize it or not, propogate that idea.

I, from experience, know that man for man (or woman), black and white are the same.
I know from experience, that as a group, life is much, MUCH, harder for black Americans.


I would be interested to know who the author of the quote is and in what context it was written. If the term is most useful I would naturally ask useful toward what ends?
Useful in helping white people understand the inequity in our system and history? No, we aren't ready to hear it.
Useful in mobilizing the left? No, it is no longer the 60's.

Useful in exposing the intellectual inconsistency of arguing that the system is fair, black people continue to fail, and not considering ones self racist?


Amber said...

I'm surprised no one has had anything to say about this yet! Or perhaps, you just haven't been moderating 'cause you're busy blowing that coach's whistle.

Thought provoking post, as usual, thanks.

Corbie said...

I think the term white supremacy absolutely fits. I mean, very rarely do people who take an 'us vs. them' stance, view the 'them' as superior.

uglyblackjohn said...

Au contraire Corbie, Blacks do it all the time whenever they say that someone Black is "Acting White" when they are doing well in something.

Corbie said...

UBJ: But, I would argue that they mean it derogatorily, rather than as a compliment. When I've heard the 'acting white' comments, it seems to be that someone is being derided for falling into line with white societie's notion of what is good, not necessarily that they view the behavior or accomplishment as something to actually envy. A reverse psychology of sorts. It's early, I need caffeine, it all makes sense in my mind if not on the screen.

Corbie said...

I would also like it known that I know how to spell 'society's'...

Anonymous said...

Ok, so what is the answer to create
equality amongst white and black? You have bigotry on both sides of the line. How do you get rid of that? Are there poor blacks and are there poor whites, how did that come about for either, should whites be treated any different than blacks? Whites came over to America as indentured servants (slaves) Blacks came over and were sold a slaves, and would say, were treated worse for a longer period of time (much longer). So, because of this, they have had a great struggle to become treated as any human should be. You say white supremacy attitude is the problem? You haven't heard the "Black Supremacy" raised fist slogan from a black? Do you get rid of the white supremacy by shooting them, or the other way around? How do you really create the equality that should be in this day and age? If you really have the right answers and can solve it, then, maybe you should be the President.

brohammas said...

I assume you mean the raised fist of black power... power is not the same as supremecy. I'm sure you know I nor anyone here (as far as I know) advocates shooting white or black people. Where did that come from?
Funny, I don't think the current president has the answer to a lot of our problems but in regards to the problems of race relations in America he has better answers than anyone ever has had in his position. I wish more people were open to listening to him on matters of race, but that is not the case.
How did we get poor black and poor white? Good question. That question should be asked more.
Should we all be treated the same?
If it is individually and we are talking the golden rule then of course. If we are talking society, then we can only say yes if society and it's system treat us fairly....
which it has not.
Indentured servitude and slavery were never the same in colonial America, and if you ask me, segregation has had a much more affect on modern society. Rarely do I bring up slavery in anything but a historical context.
So should th egovt. treat black and white the same? I say no. I say no because it didn't treat us all fairly for so long that the govt does in fact owe some sort of debt.

Reparations? No. Help? yes.
I don't have a problem with affirmative action. Extra help to city schools. work and education programs.... that kind of help.
Legal protection etc. etc.

Really though.... where did the shooting people come from?

uglyblackjohn said...

@ Corbie -
- Tiger Woods - Okay... he has a white wife so some people may see that as non-Black.
- Oprah - Since she fails to discuss things from a militant Black perspective, many Blacks consider her a sell-out.
- Obama - Often dismissed as being half-white.
- Cosby - Often thought of as too far distanced from "real" Black culture.

As anyone Black moves up the larger (as in; not limited to Black) social ladder, they are often dismissed as selling-out.

IMO - Many Blacks have low self esteem and place too much authority on what is perceived as being "white".
If one speaks in SAE and not Ebonics - they are said to "talk white".
If one lives in Malibu and not Watts - they are said to be living in a "white neighborhood".
If one goes to BYU, Brown or Stanford - they are said to have gone to a "White School".

This is how the things that are perceived as being the best are also perceived as being "White" by many Blacks.
It is this perception that keeps many Blacks from taking part in the larger American culture. (Not wanting to become the outcast of their own culture.)

Anonymous said...

The shooting comes from reality, not that you mentioned it, but both white and black have shot each other in favor of their cause(White Supremacy groups have, as well as Black Supremacy (Black Power, as you call it)have done so, which of course in anyones sane mind would say that is and was not right.

As you well know, there is the saying give a man a fish and he will starve, teach a man to fish and he will live (not exact quote), the point being here is, if you think that giving the poor blacks something that is owed to them from the ancestral past atrocities, it in the long run really doesn't give a permenant fix. On the other hand, there has to be a way all can work together to help those individuals learn to help themselves, as well as somehow get rid of the predjudices of both black and white that seem to persist.

Listening closely and reading closely to what Obama says is what causes me to be concerned. Mandatory taking from the rich to give to the poor (read the taxation portions of the proposed bill on the floor). Government control of ones medical life is most disconcerting when one travels to foreign countries and sees how inept it really is. Not only that, but they say it is inexpensive and sometimes free, but they do not tell you their taxes are higher than anywhere you live in the States.
I think that there are more people than usual reading the fine print today in what is being done in government, because they are personally involved in the outcome of the decisions being made there.
Ok, so where does this fit into the black white issue, good question, you got me on a tangent here.

When you really get down to it, of all people that should see what is happening (Since you have earned a degree in Communication)has to do with media that blows things out of proportion to get readers to read and buy their stories. Misquotes, and won interpretations cause great harm to their benefit, for the almighty dollar.
Keep working on your theories and thoughts, you are on the right track for a good cause and sparking interest and concern in what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

What?! "Oprah - Since she fails to discuss things from a militant Black perspective, many Blacks consider her a sell-out."
I have not heard the term sell-out in nearly a decade. Hilarious.
What Black people have you been talking to that think OPRAH is a sellout? Seriously, this to me is ludicrous.
The Black community I know, poor or middle class have nothing but love and admiration for Oprah. She rules the world in most people's minds. And is what many aspire to.And she has done that on her own terms.
Really, I wonder how "militant" are the Black folk you deal with. Are they real or just extremist on blogs?

uglyblackjohn said...

@ Anon 8:11 - No, they are real.
I just listen as they say that she caters to her white audience and that she ignores "Black" issues.
I think a lot of it has to do with me being in a small Southern town.
Many of the residents still have issues with anyone who even speaks to a white person.
Maybe it's the scars from Segregation. (Our schools weren't fully integrated until 1983 and the "No Blacks" drinking fountains at the court house only shortly after.)

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I have to agree with much of what you said. I am not black, but I have lived in places where the majority of the population was either black or hispanic/latino. What amazed me then, and now, is the advantages that seemed to be available for white people.

I'm not saying that the "system" was racist. It wasn't that - it is so much more. Of course, the schools I went to and society I was a part of was completely open and available to all races, but I think that it is more of a problem than what is apparent - face-value.

This upbringing has caused me to look at issues such as affirmative action differently than many other white people I know. I feel like some groups in the U.S. (not only black - but some others, too), have had such a difficult situation for soooo long, it is impossible to just expect them to repair their situation because they are now allowed to participate in various programs.

Anyways. I wish I was full of helpful ideas. The only thing I can think is that we need to have more perspective, be grateful for the advantages we have in our own lives (we ALL have advantages of some type), and willing to extend a hand to our brothers and sisters that may not have been given the same blessings (EVERYONE experiences some kind of difficulty). In other words, It's about time we decided to be our brothers' (and sisters') keepers.

(K. off the soap-box), great post and comments!

Friend-Fan said...

Re: Brohammas' comment:
"Reparations? No. Help? yes."

A person named Coco had this to say on another blog. I think it fits well here too, so I'm pasting it ..

"... although the actions were in the past, the consequences are still with us. that's why there are disproportionate numbers of black people in poverty. the wealth gap emerges from the legacy of having wealth removed from our families.

african americans are only two generations removed from economic oppression -- instead of 4-8 generations into generational wealth transfer.

black folk were around when the nation's industries were established, but by and large were divided from ability to invest capital in it. how wealthy would we be if we'd been in on the ground floor of Amtrack, Johnson & Johnson, American banks, DOW pharmaceuticals, hotels, etc.

how wealthy would we be if there hadn't been laws to prevent black folk like my great-grandparents from buying land in places where the property value might actually go up!

By and large, America made laws to make sure our labor was gained for free or at reduced cost. The wealth we generated is now turning over in someone else's bank account.

Everyone knows this money is missing from the black community, but folks don't care enough to want to put it back.

I think that, since it was US policy that allowed this, it's the federal government that should pay it back. Not being directly responsible doesn't excuse individuals from responsibility in helping pay it back. Every enslaved person in the US was an unwilling participant. A tax burden (or systemic reform) just might be the price to pay for the prosperity born of slavery.

If you like the perks that come with being a US citizen you should want to help the US deal with cleaning up the messes that enabled some of those perks (aka advantages-privileges)." end quote

Paying reparations would in essence be like paying "damages" and "penalties" for the pain and suffering de-facto racism has visited (and still visits) upon the descendants of Africans in America.
I see it akin to a civil suit finally being settled and closed, moving the nation - and the healing process - forward.

There's something insidiously wrong with a society that will reward RICH Wall St. banksters and fraudsters with billions but is insistent against doing the right thing by settling up monetarily with the people harmed and mistreated by racial *white supremest* polices.