Friday, February 12, 2010

Black People Are More Racist; Part 1 of Many

My wife and I were once asked to describe ourselves in five words or less. Mine went something like Mormon, husband, artist, blah, blah, blah, hers went black, woman, something, something, something.
If this would have been a few years earlier her answer would have worried me. It may have even upset me.

Race was not just on her list but at the top. Race? Black? Really? I had not even thought to list my color. In my own mind color had absolutely nothing to do with who I was as a person. Race shouldn't’t even matter right? Listing that as the top thing on your list is a problem right? Was it wrong?

I should back up a bit.

Growing up I felt I had absolutely no culture. I looked at my Hawaiian friend with envy as his family performed traditional dances and sang songs in another language. I spent considerable time with a group of American Indian dancers and always secretly, or not so secretly, wished I would one day be adopted into one of their tribes. My family name is Scottish and with little to no real knowledge of the foggy isle, I developed an appreciation for bagpipes that I maintain to the present day. I loved and appreciated everyone’s culture mostly because I felt I didn’t have one of my own.

Then I left Utah.

I went to a place where I looked like everyone else, but I was nothing like them. We spoke the same language but the accent was new. The people were every bit as religious as I, we even worshiped using the same words, but the meanings were no where near the same. I knew songs these new people did not. I even celebrated a holiday in July they knew nothing about. I discovered something. I discovered I had a culture all along, I simply did not recognize it when I was in that culture’s cradle. I hadn’t recognized my culture because it helped me blend in with everyone else rather than making me stand out.

As I spent more time outside my native place I became more comfortable. I learned my way and place with new groups, still I found myself more comfortable more quickly, with those who came from the same place I did. I found I could relate quicker to those who went snowboarding not out of some X Games adrenaline quest, but simply because it was what we always did. It was what everyone did. I am very in tune with my own mortality, so much so that while I snowboard, I avoid the half pipe at all costs. Those who only know of snowboarding from the movies or ESPN2 have trouble understanding this, or even believing it. I related to people who went camping for fun, because it was what we all did for fun. I was, and still am to some point, comfortable around others with this shared culture because they are more likely to understand little things about me. They are more likely to get past what I am to understand who I am.

At work I quickly became “the Mormon guy”, and rarely became anything more than that. I paint, read, write, travel, love to talk politics, love football, and love movies, but if my work associates ever tried to talk with me one on one, they never got much past “so you don’t drink at all? How many wives do you really have?”

Sometimes my culture brings me in direct conflict with the culture I live in. I will not eat at Hooters, I will not go to your bachelor party if it includes certain activities or locations, and sports or parties are not part of my Sunday. I find most people are respectful of who I am and what I believe, but they don’t understand it.

I have a deep and all encompassing culture and all throughout my youth I didn’t know it. I never saw it because it blended with everyone else. No one had to point out my culture because it was theirs as well.

That’s why it did not, nor does it upset me, that my wife wrote black on her list.

We white people don’t think our whiteness is part of who we are.

It is.

We don’t see it because largely, every one else we see is white too. Try going somewhere whites don’t go. A club, a neighborhood, an island, or even continent and see how long your whiteness remains a non-factor. It’s O.K., its part of who you are. Do it your whole life and see if it doesn’t begin to shape you.
See if you don’t begin to feel comfortable with those who also relate to being white when no one else is. See if you don’t enjoy the comfort of being with those who don’t need you to explain yourself. See if your color makes it’s way onto your list.

I know this now. Because I know this I am not upset or offended, nor am I afraid of or alienated by, a black person declaring they are black. I do not mind black kids sitting together at lunch, or mind that there is a channel or a caucus where race matters. I do not mind it and it is not inherently racist.

It’s O.K. To some point, I get it.


Amber said...

Provocative title... but I don't get how it relates to your post. I think you may need to very clearly explain what your definition of racist is.

Anonymous said...

Nice fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you seeking your information.

uglyblackjohn said...

The title is true but this post doesn't really reflect that.

*J*E*N* said...

I understand the title. He's giving a reason why Black people tend to stick together, not because they are Racist against Whites but because they feel more comfortable with people who they have the most in common with.... with whom they share a heritage.

FreeMan said...

I think the title is true but only in context of always having to defend oneself. You get tired very fast of trying to prove to others nothing is wrong with you and sometimes it manifests in anger. Well you are unique in your travels and experiences to see what others see.

brohammas said...

Jen is right, as is FreeMan. I hear people talk, more accurately I hear people, white ones, complain about what they see as evidence. What it realy is, is a lack of perspective or attempt to understand. Accusing is much easier.
I have no problem with actual critique or critisim, but only when justified. Call a spade a spade, but in this case the spade is Jack of clubs.... or something.

By the way, big welcome to both Jenn and FreeMan. Quite the odd couple to apear at the same time... kinda what I hoped would happen in here.

(yeah, yeah, yeah, I know FreeMAn... kumbaya and whatnot).

Key to the Science of Theology said...

Nice piece Dalyn. Jermaine here. I don't have a problem with stating race as a primary aspect of identity. My problem is when people over-identify themselves racially . . . when race colors all things perceived. In stating one's hierarchy of identity there must be balance or there will be distortion of reality.

Amber said...

I still need your definition, Bro. I don't see how defining oneself as Black, or grouping together puts down or oppresses other races... so I still don't see how you are calling Black people more racist. Sorry - I guess I need a stronger foundation to get how your post and title relate, or what you're really getting at.

Perhaps a preface for the series?

brohammas said...

Amber, I am not calling black people racist. I am dealing with a common accusation made by many whites and the examples they point to, to justify the accusation.
There is a common idea among whites that to see race, or claim it matters, is racist. They carry this idea, this PC gone wrong, and observe black people acknowledging race, talking about race, identifying by race, and acting as if race matters, and become upset. These actions go against what they understand the ideal, or even the rule, to be, and come to think that the racial double standard has shifted to the point that they (the white people) are now the victims of racism.
Jermaine, of course, as always anything carried to an extreme will be wrong. i.e. Afrocentrism is fine, shifting the views and standards of history and culture to an African perspective, but to argue that all great discoveries... even small discoveries, in science, culture, everything was all done by black people and all whites have only made any advances upon the backs of blacks is just not true and undermines your whole foundation.
As I'm sure you are saying, some things just don't really have anything to do with race, and need not be viewed through racial lenses. Sure. I have not carried things out that far. I was simply dealing with those at the other end of the spectrum who can't handle race being involved at all and don't understand it's real life importance to those who are not the majority.

brohammas said...

P.S. Jermain, if that is the title of your blog why have you not invited or allowed me to see it?

(writer goes off to the corner and pouts)

uglyblackjohn said...

@ brohammas - I'm not even drunk but I just imagined that FreeMan and brohammas agreed on something.

@ KST - Most people identify with whatever puts them in the minority in any given situation.
Whites do it when they say that they are Italian, French, Irish, whatever.
Blacks do it when they say someone is a "Yellowbone", red, or Wesley Snipes.
The Irish do it when they fought during The Troubles.
People just identify as whatever is their minority.

Anonymous said...

It's not. When I posted earlier that was my default identification for whatever reason. I have PP Pratt's book with that title in my google book collection. Yea . . . in response to your previous post. I imagine that on one level, the white person who thinks that race does not matter cannot comprehend why a physical characteristic (skin color) seems to always be at the forefront of black people's identity while social characteristics (religion, class etc) have perhaps been more consciously significant to them. People will define themselves by whatever component of identity is more consciously significant to them at any given time. Generally speaking, race is the characteristic that blacks are perpetually most aware of about themselves. Extensive periods of contentious contrast will do that.


Amber said...

Thank you for clarifying, Bro., I appreciate it. Perhaps such explanations as a preface to this series of posts would be worthwhile.

Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.

Jake said...

Brohamms...... I think this is one of the best "essays" you have written on the subject. I don't know if everyone will agree, but having come from a similar culture(especially that of living in the woods without a porcelain throne and catching my dinner because it is fun) this really made sense to me. I feel like a better and wiser person for having read it. PS. My wife was just complaining of living in a place with little diversity where everyone looks dresses and acts the same. Thanks for infusing me with a small dose of diversity and a large dose of perspective.

Jenna said...

Great post - I get it.

FreeMan said...

I guess I can't come to your blog and agree with you otherwise UBJ might have a heart attack.

OneBrownSnowPea said...

I like this essay. Very thoughtful. Many American white people think they have no culture because that is the price they have paid for "becoming white". Before colonialism/imperialism no one described themselves as white or black. Basically, "whiteness" and "blackness" are pseudo-terms; created as socio-economic constructs.

The Irish, Germans, Scots, Italians, Polish, Russians had to leave the "old country" behind in order to order to assimilate into American society. With that came a loss of culture.

yasmin sabur said...

Racism implies power. The word you are looking for is prejudice.
What an interesting marriage you have.
I think the most telling comment was not minding black kids sitting together at lunch. What race do you think your children are (will be)?
Good for all of to participate in dialogues concerning social and economic issues.

brohammas said...

Yasmin, glad to have you here.
I am aware of the intellectual difference between racism and prejudice but our average Joe on the street does not seperate the two. I am writing in a language that your average white person who knows little of black culture could easily understand... the "vernacular" if you will.

As to my two daughters, I am familiar withe one drop rule and a bunch of other ways to identify who is who. The challenge my wife and I face is to raise kids who are aware of, appreciate, and have expeience with ALL of their family and the entirety of who they are.

Siditty said...

I like the title. I'm so late on this. I've been a bit busy lately. Sorry. The title and entry indicates why black people do appear to be more racist than whites.

I don't think blacks are more racist in general, but I know black people like anyone else can be prejudiced.

Siditty said...

I think a lot of the racism that black people have tends to be reactionary. If you grow up near a sun down town, with a bunch of white people who don't like black people based upon race alone, you're going to look at white people with suspicion. If you grow up under segregation, the same thing will happen.

smitty18 said...

excellent writing. i would contend that accepting a races separation from anothers based on comfortability or culture does create a double-standard. i have no problem with a group of black kids eating lunch together, but on that same note there should be no problem with a group of white kids eating lunch together at the next table. my biggest contention is that somehow only white people are capable of racism. this blog is definitely helping soften my opinion though. where can i find Part 2!?!

Phil4Real said...'ve described the mindset of a lot of blacks in the south.

I'm a Wesley Snipe 39yr old living in Atlanta most of my life, and I hate making excuses about why things happen to me at the hands of a white person. I try to move past race and look for other facts. It becomes difficult to look at a white face with instant trust of benefit of doubt. I'd really like to get past my bigoted mindset, but there's always an incident or situation that pushes me back to my bigotted conclusions.

Short example. Out on a date with my beautiful nubian sister, when we were not allowed in a Buckhead establishment. The excuse was my very$$nice Ralph Lauren Polo was not dressy enough for this establishment. I waited around just to see if this was true. Well I counted 4 white men dress in T-shirts,holey jeans, polos, and thermals enter with no hesitation. I kept saying to myself, this is Buckhead they must be more progressive than to not allow me in a club solely on my race? Well I went to speak to the manager and I was rudely whisked away by the bouncer and doorman.

Maybe one of you could provide a reasonable explanation.