Friday, August 14, 2009

talking racism

Every morning (and evening, most days) I open my 30-tab blogroll and read NPR, Salon, NYTimes, Jezebel, and then all of my favorite blogs. Chrome gets mad at me every time, popping up an "are you sure you want to open 30 tabs?!?" warning.

Of course I do, Chrome. Because I often find gems like this. Click through; it's an "interview" posted by the folks at We Are Respectable Negroes, and it talks about white racism and privilege from a slightly different perspective than usual.

I've heard it come up more often recently, just how much of the anger over healthcare and everything is based on race. Most of the punditry is quick to dismiss the idea, reflecting on the failure of healthcare reform during the Clinton administration, when there were White People in the office. Clearly there can't be a race issue at hand if the same idea failed when white people had it (not that the comparison as justification idea has ANY racist tendencies, of course).

Frankly, though, I don't remember this kind of rage happening when Hillarycare was on the table. And that's also not the only issue where it's coming up, just the loudest. The Birthers (intent on othering), the Tea Baggers (worst name for a dissent group I've ever heard), and the people toting guns to town hall meetings--all of that reeks of white privilege.

As I've said before: go take a bath.

Via stuff white people do: think that racism is dead, and from Respectable Negroes:

WARNNN: ...what exactly do you mean when you say that you’ve been “flattened” and “dumbed down?”

Racism: I really just mean that the criteria for what qualifies as racism has been changed to benefit white people: the bar has been raised impossibly high for whites, lowered for everyone else.

WARNNN: In what way? Can you elaborate?

Racism: Nowadays, only biological white supremacy, racial slurs (especially the “N’ word”), and explicit racial violence will get a white person labeled a racist. Therefore, many whites respond to charges of racism by saying things like, “I’m not a racist…Some of my best friends are black…I’ve never enslaved any black people or terrorized them with dogs and firehoses…I’ve never burned a cross on a black family’s lawn or called anyone ‘Nigger.’” You see? Nazis and Klansmen are the only racist whites from this perspective. This isn’t the only view, but it’s been the default for decades.

On the other hand, look at how conservatives have co-opted Civil Rights language to depict members of the black left as “racists.” I mean, in just the last week, these people have charged Obama, Sotomayor, and Skip Gates with racism. In some formulations, merely mentioning race and racial injustice gets you slapped with the racist label. Think about how, in the eyes of most whites, the Panthers, Malcolm, Reverend Wright—indeed, all blacks who offer savage critiques of white supremacy—are racists on par with David Duke.

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