going back to africa

Reunifying African diaspora across the Americas with each other, their pride, history, culture, true homes & identity…

Archive for the tag “race relations”

Going the Distance

The old saying, “The end justifies the means” seems to be the most common form of consequentialism used by whites to excuse the behavior of their ancestors. Coupled with the White Saviour Complex, many whites honestly believe that if it hadn’t been for them, the world would be in utter shambles; That almost nothing of significance had taken place among any group of people prior to their so-called myriad of achievements. That their intervention was absolutely necessary & that they made the most contributions to help develop the modern world & that almost every tactic used to do so was vital & that the ‘good’ results far outweighs any perceived ‘bad’ done to reach them.

Those who make these type of claims often will reach beyond the outer ends of the universe to validate them, glossing over, ignoring or oblivious to underlying factors to their ‘truths’. For instance, on the subject of slavery, too often do whites bring up instances of whites being slaves – failing to acknowledge that they still benefit today from the enslavement & following marginalization of blacks vs. no blacks in America having ever received any benefits from the enslavement of whites. Or they’ll try to absolve themselves of any responsibility of trying to help end systemic racism by pointing out that their ancestors had nothing to do with slavery, as if that’s somehow relevant.

Every single white person in America benefits from systemic racism no matter what their ancestors history, or their socioeconomic status. Many whites ancestors came to America for a better life knowing full well what took place to secure these lands & make it a wealthy & powerful country. Yet instead of shaming America & fighting for the people who have been displaced, alienated, dehumanized, exploited & marginalized, they flocked here to take advantage of the freedoms achieved off the genocide & enslavement of those people. They will also mention such in the context of how many other groups of people faced major hardships throughout history who have been able to recover at lightning speeds past what black people have thus far – failing to acknowledge the countless ways in which blacks efforts have been undermined. Quick to remind us that slavery was so long ago, not recognizing that slavery hasn’t really ended in this country, it’s just evolved.

See, for centuries now, whites have had to make these grandiose claims in order to fill their egos & to solidify their false sense of superiority. When most of your entire history, existence & worth has been built up & made powerful off the perceived worthlessness & powerlessness of others, this image of superiority must be upheld by any means necessary to keep those claims valid. One example, to point out that nations all over the globe have had their conflicts & wars, that there are none without a dark past, that still – America is the most just & civilized, yet failing to mention the over 130 wars the US is currently fighting. Quick to point out the warlords & terrorists in other nations, not realizing that we are also the warlords & terrorists occupying & destabilizing others nations. But it’s for the greater good, right? Maybe for white America, not everybody!

America thinks it knows what’s best for everybody, yet only does what’s best for itself at the expense of everybody else. And far too many white Americans believe that they should be praised & that everyone should be thankful for all the freedoms they feel they made possible, instead of acknowledging, praising & being thankful for all the indigenous people robbed & slaughtered, & those who were enslaved & marginalized in order to make modern white American life possible. And far too many like to believe that the worst of what America has done was so long ago, that nobody today should be held accountable, despite the fact they still benefit from those atrocities today. That there are still no limits to the distances whites will reach to maintain their image & validate their privilege.

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Example: This highly disrespectful plaque posted at a Georgia State Park, claiming that white ‘pioneers’ blazed the trail of civilization there, not mentioning the hate, disease, genocide, slavery & other atrocities they blazed to achieve their definition of civil.

One repeatedly used tactic to keep America’s “Good Guy” image is to always claim there’s an entity out to take away or destroy everything that America holds dear, the main thing being freedom. That these entities want to do to America what America has always done & continues to do to others. Over the past nearly two decades, America’s main boogey-men have tended to be Muslim. In the beginning, the focus was mainly regional & mostly on key figures, but lately it’s broadening out to an entire religion & culture whose people make up nearly a quarter of the global population, due to the actions of a few. Now, maybe I am reaching quite a distance myself in pondering the possibilities of some of the great lengths America is going to strengthen the integrity of its image:

I don’t see how the same country who has so many citizens standing behind a person like Donald Trump could have ever elected Obama, let alone twice. I truly believe that Obama was used as a pacifier to shut black people up. To pretend to itself & the rest of the world that we’ve finally transcended race, also using him to shut gays up – to pretend to the rest of the world that we’ve finally transcended our gender & sexuality issues. Now Hillary has be used to try to shut the women up – to make it appear that America is now truly a place where all people are equal & treated as such, despite reality showing us the contrary.

And America still needs its boogey-man to look down upon, to appear holier than thou. Just days after a national broadcast of the funeral of very well-known & respected Muslim man, Muhammad Ali, who sacrificed his freedom to refrain from using violence, a Muslim man attacks America, targeting our gays that America has only very recently started acting like they cared about? The timing is impeccable… America couldn’t let the Muslim community be shed in a positive light for more than a few days. Sorry, but not sorry if I don’t believe that a single gunman, who had just days before purchased the weapons used, was able to become such a skilled gun operator & shooter in such a short time. Or that he was accurate enough to shoot over 100 people without anyone even trying to stop him. That a man under previous investigation by the FBI was not heavily surveilled after making a weapons purchase.

Would America really go that far to push its agendas, to stabilize its image, to keep its ego inflated? Hasn’t it before? And gone even further? To what ends will America go to prove its better than the rest while simultaneously acting as bad as the worst??

White Fragility

by

Robin DiAngelo [a white woman]

(with minor editing by me)

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects & insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort, while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility.

White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear & guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence & leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This document explicates the dynamics of White Fragility.

I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman. We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race. The room is filled with tension and charged with hostility. I have just presented a definition of racism that includes the acknowledgment that whites hold social & institutional power over people of color [PoC]. A white man is pounding his fist on the table. His face is red and he is furious. As he pounds he yells, “White people have been discriminated against for 25 years! A white person can’t get a job anymore!” I look around the room & see 40 employed people, all white. There are no PoC in this workplace. Something is happening here, and it isn’t based in the racial reality of the workplace. I am feeling unnerved by this man’s disconnection with that reality & his lack of sensitivity to the impact this is having on my co-facilitator, the only person of color in the room. Why is this white man so angry? Why is he being so careless about the impact of his anger? Why are all the other white people either sitting in silent agreement with him or tuning out? We have, after all, only articulated a definition of racism.

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects & insulates them from race-based stress. Fine identifies this insulation when she observes “… how Whiteness accrues privilege & status; gets itself surrounded by protective pillows of resources and/or benefits of the doubt; how Whiteness repels gossip & voyeurism and instead demands dignity…” [Although white racial insulation is somewhat mediated by social class (with poor & working class urban whites being generally less racially insulated than suburban or rural whites), the larger social environment insulates & protects whites as a group through institutions, cultural representations, media, school textbooks, movies, advertising, dominant discourses, etc] Whites are rarely without these “protective pillows,” and when they are, it is usually temporary & by choice. This insulated environment of racial privilege builds white expectations for racial comfort, while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress.

For many white people, a single required multicultural education course taken in college, or required “cultural competency training” in their workplace, is the only time they may encounter a direct & sustained challenge to their racial understandings. But even in this arena, not all multicultural courses or training programs talk directly about racism, much less address white privilege. It is far more the norm for these courses & programs to use racially coded language such as “urban,” “inner city,” & “disadvantaged” but to rarely use “white” or “over-advantaged” or “privileged.” This racially coded language reproduces racist images & perspectives while it simultaneously reproduces the comfortable illusion that race & its problems are what “they” have, not us.

Reasons why the facilitators of these courses & trainings may not directly name the dynamics & beneficiaries of racism range from the lack of a valid analysis of racism by white facilitators, personal & economic survival strategies for facilitators of color, and the overall pressure from management to keep the content comfortable & palatable for whites. However, if & when an educational program does directly address racism & the privileging of whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation & cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism).

So-called progressive whites may not respond with anger, but may still insulate themselves via claims that they are beyond the need for engaging with the content because they “already had a class on this” or “already know this.” These reactions are often seen in anti-racist education endeavors as forms of resistance to the challenge of internalized dominance. These reactions do indeed function as resistance, but it may be useful to also conceptualize them as the result of the reduced psychosocial stamina that racial insulation inculcates. I call this lack of racial stamina White Fragility.

Although mainstream definitions of racism are typically some variation of individual “race prejudice”, which anyone of any race can have, Whiteness scholars define racism as encompassing economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources and power between white people and PoC. This unequal distribution benefits whites and disadvantages PoC overall and as a group. Racism is not fluid in the U.S.; it does not flow back & forth, one day benefiting whites & another day (or even era) benefiting PoC. The direction of power between whites & PoC is historic, traditional, normalized & deeply embedded in the fabric of U.S. society.

Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over PoC. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviors that some individuals may or may not demonstrate & goes beyond naming specific privileges. Whites are theorized as actively shaped, affected, defined & elevated through their racialization & the individual & collective consciousness’ formed within it. Recognizing that the terms I am using are not “theory-neutral ‘descriptors’” but theory-laden constructs inseparable from systems of injustice”, I use the terms white & Whiteness to describe a social process. Frankenberg defines Whiteness as multi-dimensional:

Whiteness is a location of structural advantage, of race privilege. Second, it is a ‘standpoint,’ a place from which White people look at ourselves, at others, and at society. Third, ‘Whiteness’ refers to a set of cultural practices that are usually unmarked and unnamed.

Frankenberg & other theorists use Whiteness to signify a set of locations that are historically, socially, politically & culturally produced, and which are intrinsically linked to dynamic relations of domination. Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes & practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin color alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times & on myriad levels. These processes & practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives & experiences purported to be commonly shared by all, but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people. Whiteness Studies begin with the premise that racism & white privilege exist in both traditional & modern forms, and rather than work to prove its existence, work to reveal it. This document explores the dynamics of one aspect of Whiteness & its effects, White Fragility.

Triggers

White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, & guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence & leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar. These interruptions can take a variety of forms and come from a range of sources, including:

• Suggesting that a white person’s viewpoint comes from a racialized frame of reference (challenge to objectivity)
• PoC talking directly about their racial perspectives (challenge to white racial codes)
• PoC choosing not to protect the racial feelings of white people in regards to race (challenge to white racial expectations and need/entitlement to racial comfort)
• PoC not being willing to tell their stories or answer questions about their racial experiences (challenge to colonialist relations)
• A fellow white not providing agreement with one’s interpretations (challenge to white solidarity)
• Receiving feedback that one’s behavior had a racist impact (challenge to white liberalism)
• Suggesting that group membership is significant (challenge to individualism)
• An acknowledgment that access is unequal between racial groups (challenge to meritocracy)
• Being presented with a person of color in a position of leadership (challenge to white authority);
• Being presented with information about other racial groups through, for example, movies in which PoC drive the action but are not in stereotypical roles, or multicultural education (challenge to white centrality).

In a white dominant environment, each of these challenges becomes exceptional. In turn, whites are often at a loss for how to respond in constructive ways. Whites have not had to build the cognitive or affective skills, or develop the stamina that would allow for constructive engagement across racial divides. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus may be useful here. According to Bourdieu, habitus is a socialized subjectivity; a set of dispositions which generate practices & perceptions. As such, habitus only exists in, through, and because of the practices of agents & their interaction with each other & with the rest of their environment. Based on the previous conditions & experiences that produce it, habitus produces & reproduces thoughts, perceptions, expressions & actions. Strategies of response to “disequilibrium” in the habitus are not based on conscious intentionality, but rather result from unconscious dispositions towards practice, and depend on the power position the agent occupies in the social structure.

White Fragility may be conceptualized as a product of the habitus, a response or “condition” produced & reproduced by the continual social & material advantages of the white structural position. Omi & Winant posit the U.S. racial order as an “unstable equilibrium,” kept equilibrated by the State, but still unstable due to continual conflicts of interests & challenges to the racial order. Using Omi & Winant’s concept of unstable racial equilibrium, white privilege can be thought of as unstable racial equilibrium at the level of habitus. When any of the above triggers (challenges in the habitus) occur, the resulting disequilibrium becomes intolerable. Because White Fragility finds its support in & is a function of white privilege, fragility & privilege result in responses that function to restore equilibrium & return the resources “lost” via the challenge – resistance towards the trigger, shutting down and/or tuning out, indulgence in emotional incapacitation such as guilt or “hurt feelings”, exiting, or a combination of these responses.

whiteContinued below: See White Fragility 2

White Fragility 2

Factors that inculcate White Fragility
Segregation
The first factor leading to White Fragility is the segregated lives which most white people live. Even if whites live in physical proximity to PoC (& this would be exceptional outside of an urban or temporarily mixed class neighborhood), segregation occurs on multiple levels, including representational & informational. Because whites live primarily segregated lives in a white-dominated society, they receive little or no authentic information about racism & are thus unprepared to think about it critically or with complexity. Growing up in segregated environments (schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, media images & historical perspectives), white interests & perspectives are almost always central, resulting in an inability to see or consider significance in the perspectives of PoC.

Further, white people are taught not to feel any loss over the absence of PoC in their lives & in fact, this absence is what defines their schools & neighborhoods as “good;” whites come to understand that a “good school” or “good neighborhood” is coded language for “white”. The quality of white space being in large part measured via the absence of PoC (Blacks in particular) is a profound message indeed, one that is deeply internalized & reinforced daily through normalized discourses about good schools & neighborhoods. This dynamic of gain rather than loss via racial segregation may be the most profound aspect of white racial socialization of all. Yet, while discourses about what makes a space good are tacitly understood as racially coded, this coding is explicitly denied by whites.


Universalism & Individualism
Whites are taught to see their perspectives as objective & representative of reality. The belief in objectivity, coupled with positioning white people as outside of culture (& thus the norm for humanity), allows whites to view themselves as universal humans who can represent all of human experience. This is evidenced through an unracialized identity or location, which functions as a kind of blindness; an inability to think about Whiteness as an identity or as a “state” of being that would or could have an impact on one’s life. In this position, Whiteness is not recognized or named by white people & a universal reference point is assumed. White people are just people. Within this construction, whites can represent humanity, while PoC, who are never just people but always most particularly black people, Asian people, etc., can only represent their own racialized experiences.

The discourse of universalism functions similarly to the discourse of individualism but instead of declaring that we all need to see each other as individuals (everyone is different), the person declares that we all need to see each other as human beings (everyone is the same). Of course we are all humans & I do not critique universalism in general, but when applied to racism, universalism functions to deny the significance of race & the advantages of being white. Further, universalism assumes that whites & PoC have the same realities, the same experiences in the same contexts (i.e. I feel comfortable in this majority white classroom, so you must too), the same responses from others & assumes that the same doors are open to all. Acknowledging racism as a system of privilege conferred on whites challenges claims to universalism.


At the same time that whites are taught to see their interests & perspectives as universal, they are also taught to value the individual & to see themselves as individuals rather than as part of a racially socialized group. Individualism erases history & hides the ways in which wealth has been distributed & accumulated over generations to benefit whites today. It allows whites to view themselves as unique & original, outside of socialization & unaffected by the relentless racial messages in the culture. Individualism also allows whites to distance themselves from the actions of their racial group & demand to be granted the benefit of the doubt, as individuals, in all cases.

 A corollary to this unracialized identity is the ability to recognize Whiteness as something that is significant & that operates in society, but to not see how it relates to one’s own life. In this form, a white person recognizes Whiteness as real, but as the individual problem of other “bad” white people. Given the ideology of individualism, whites often respond defensively when linked to other whites as a group or “accused” of collectively benefiting from racism, because as individuals, each white person is “different” from any other white person & expects to be seen as such. This narcissism is not necessarily the result of a consciously held belief that whites are superior to others (although that may play a role), but a result of the white racial insulation ubiquitous in dominant culture; a general white inability to see non-white perspectives as significant, except in sporadic & impotent reflexes, which have little or no long-term momentum or political usefulness.
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Whites invoke these seemingly contradictory discourses—we are either all unique or we are all the same—interchangeably. Both discourses work to deny white privilege & the significance of race. Further, on the cultural level, being an individual or being a human outside of a racial group is a privilege only afforded to white people. In other words, PoC are almost always seen as “having a race” & described in racial terms (“the black man”) but whites rarely are (“the man”), allowing whites to see themselves as objective & non-racialized. In turn, being seen (& seeing ourselves) as individuals outside of race frees whites from the psychic burden of race in a wholly racialized society. Race & racism become their problems, not ours. Challenging these frameworks becomes a kind of unwelcome shock to the system.


The disavowal of race as an organizing factor, both of individual white consciousness & the institutions of society at large, is necessary to support current structures of capitalism & domination, for without it, the correlation between the distribution of social resources & unearned white privilege would be evident. The existence of structural inequality undermines the claim that privilege is simply a reflection of hard work & virtue. Therefore, inequality must be hidden or justified as resulting from lack of effort. Individualism accomplishes both of these tasks. At the same time, the individual presented as outside these relations cannot exist without its disavowed other. Thus, an essential dichotomy is formed between specifically raced others & the unracialized individual. Whites have deep investments in race, for the abstract depends on the particular; they need raced others as the backdrop against which they may rise. Exposing this dichotomy destabilizes white identity.


Entitlement to racial comfort
In the dominant position, whites are almost always racially comfortable & thus have developed unchallenged expectations to remain so. Whites have not had to build tolerance for racial discomfort & thus when racial discomfort arises, whites typically respond as if something is “wrong,” & blame the person or event that triggered the discomfort (usually a person of color). This blame results in a socially-sanctioned array of counter-moves against the perceived source of the discomfort, including: penalization; retaliation; isolation; ostracization & refusal to continue engagement. Whites insistence on racial comfort ensures that racism will not be faced. This insistence also functions to punish those who break white codes of comfort. Whites often confuse comfort with safety & state that we don’t feel safe when what we really mean is that we don’t feel comfortable. This trivializes our history of brutality towards PoC & perverts the reality of that history. Because we don’t think complexly about racism, we don’t ask ourselves what safety means from a position of societal dominance, or the impact on PoC, given our history, for whites to complain about our safety when we are merely talking about racism.
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Racial Arrogance
Ideological racism includes strongly positive images of the white self as well as strongly negative images of racial “others”. This self-image engenders a self-perpetuating sense of entitlement because many whites believe their financial & professional successes are the result of their own efforts while ignoring the fact of white privilege. Because most whites have not been trained to think complexly about racism in schools or mainstream discourse & because it benefits white dominance not to do so, we have a very limited understanding of racism. Yet dominance leads to racial arrogance & in this racial arrogance, whites have no compunction about debating the knowledge of people who have thought complexly about race. Whites generally feel free to dismiss these informed perspectives rather than have the humility to acknowledge that they are unfamiliar, reflect on them further, or seek more information. This intelligence & expertise are often trivialized & countered with simplistic platitudes (i.e. “People just need to…”).
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Because of white social, economic & political power within a white dominant culture, whites are positioned to legitimize PoC’s assertions of racism. Yet whites are the least likely to see, understand, or be invested in validating those assertions & being honest about their consequences, which leads whites to claim that they disagree with perspectives that challenge their worldview, when in fact, they don’t understand the perspective.Thus, they confuse not understanding with not agreeing. This racial arrogance, coupled with the need for racial comfort, also has whites insisting that PoC explain white racism in the “right” way. The right way is generally politely & rationally, without any show of emotional upset. When explained in a way that white people can see & understand, racism’s validity may be granted (references to dynamics of racism that white people do not understand are usually rejected out of hand). However, whites are usually more receptive to validating white racism if that racism is constructed as residing in individual white people other than themselves.

Continued below: See White Fragility 3

White Fragility 4

What does White Fragility look like?
A large body of research about children & race demonstrates that children start to construct ideas about race very early; a sense of white superiority & knowledge of racial power codes appears to develop as early as pre-school states:

As in other Western nations, white children born in the United States inherit the moral predicament of living in a white supremacist society. Raised to experience their racially based advantages as fair & normal, white children receive little if any instruction regarding the predicament they face, let alone any guidance in how to resolve it. Therefore, they experience or learn about racial tension without understanding Euro-Americans’ historical responsibility for it & knowing virtually nothing about their contemporary roles in perpetuating it.

At the same time that it is ubiquitous, white superiority also remains unnamed & explicitly denied by most whites. If white children become adults who explicitly oppose racism, as do many, they often organize their identity around a denial of the racially based privileges they hold that reinforce racist disadvantage for others. What is particularly problematic about this contradiction is that white moral objection to racism increases white resistance to acknowledging complicity with it. In a white supremacist context, white identity in large part rests upon a foundation of (superficial) racial toleration & acceptance.

Whites who position themselves as liberal often opt to protect what they perceive as their moral reputations, rather than recognize or change their participation in systems of inequity & domination. In so responding, whites invoke the power to choose when, how & how much to address or challenge racism. Thus, pointing out white advantages will often trigger patterns of confusion, defensiveness & righteous indignation. When confronted with a challenge to white racial codes, many white liberals use the speech of self-defense. This discourse enables defenders to protect their moral character against what they perceive as accusation & attack while deflecting any recognition of culpability or need of accountability. Focusing on restoring their moral standing through these tactics, whites are able to avoid the question of white privilege. Those who lead whites in discussions of race may find the discourse of self-defense familiar. Via this discourse, whites position themselves as victimized, slammed, blamed & attacked.
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These self-defense claims work on multiple levels to: position the speakers as morally superior while obscuring the true power of their social advantages; blame others with less social power for their discomfort; falsely position that discomfort as dangerous & re-inscribe racist imagery. This discourse of victimization also enables whites to avoid responsibility for the racial power & privilege they wield. By positioning themselves as victims of anti-racist efforts, they cannot be the beneficiaries of white privilege. Claiming that they have been treated unfairly via a challenge to their position or an expectation that they listen to the perspectives & experiences of PoC, they are able to demand that more social resources (such as time & attention) be channeled in their direction to help them cope with this mistreatment.
A cogent example of White Fragility occurred recently during a workplace anti-racism training I co-facilitated with an inter-racial team. One of the white participants left the session & went back to her desk, upset at receiving (what appeared to the training team as) sensitive & diplomatic feedback on how some of her statements had impacted several PoC in the room. At break, several other white participants approached us (the trainers) & reported that they had talked to the woman at her desk & she was very upset that her statements had been challenged. They wanted to alert us to the fact that she literally “might be having a heart-attack.” Upon questioning from us, they clarified that they meant this literally. These co-workers were sincere in their fear that the young woman might actually physically die as a result of the feedback. Of course, when news of the woman’s potentially fatal condition reached the rest of the participant group, all attention was immediately focused back onto her & away from the impact she had had on the PoC. As Vodde states, “If privilege is defined as a legitimization of one’s entitlement to resources, it can also be defined as permission to escape or avoid any challenges to this entitlement”.
The language of violence that many whites use to describe anti-racist endeavors is not without significance, as it is another example of the way that White Fragility distorts & perverts reality. By employing terms that connote physical abuse, whites tap into the classic discourse of PoC (particularly blacks) as dangerous & violent. This discourse perverts the actual direction of danger that exists between whites & others. The history of brutal, extensive, institutionalized & ongoing violence perpetrated by whites against PoC—slavery, genocide, lynching, whipping, forced sterilization & medical experimentation to mention a few—becomes profoundly trivialized when whites claim they don’t feel safe or are under attack when in the rare situation of merely talking about race with PoC. The use of this discourse illustrates how fragile & ill-equipped most white people are to confront racial tensions & their subsequent projection of this tension onto PoC. Goldberg argues that the questions surrounding racial discourse should not focus so much on how true stereotypes are, but how the truth claims they offer are a part of a larger worldview that authorizes & normalizes forms of domination & control. Further, it is relevant to ask: Under what conditions are those truth-claims clung to most tenaciously?
Lynching_of_Laura_Nelson_and_her_son_2
 Bonilla-Silva documents a manifestation of White Fragility in his study of color-blind white racism. He states, “Because the new racial climate in America forbids the open expression of racially based feelings, views & positions, when whites discuss issues that make them uncomfortable, they become almost incomprehensible – I, I, I, I don’t mean, you know, but…- ”. Probing forbidden racial issues results in verbal incoherence – digressions, long pauses, repetition & self-corrections. He suggests that this incoherent talk is a function of talking about race in a world that insists race does not matter.

This incoherence is one demonstration that many white people are unprepared to engage, even on a preliminary level, in an exploration of their racial perspectives that could lead to a shift in their understanding of racism. This lack of preparedness results in the maintenance of white power, because the ability to determine which narrative are authorized & which are suppressed is the foundation of cultural domination. Further, this lack of preparedness has further implications, for if whites cannot engage with an exploration of alternate racial perspectives, they can only reinscribe white perspectives as universal.

 However, an assertion that whites do not engage with dynamics of racial discourse is somewhat misleading. White people do notice the racial locations of racial others & discuss this freely among themselves, albeit often in coded ways. Their refusal to directly acknowledge this race talk results in a kind of split consciousness that leads to the incoherence Bonilla-Silva documents above. This denial also guarantees that the racial misinformation that circulates in the culture & frames their perspectives will be left unexamined. The continual retreat from the discomfort of authentic racial engagement in a culture infused with racial disparity limits the ability to form authentic connections across racial lines & results in a perpetual cycle that works to hold racism in place.

Continued below: See White Fragility in Conclusion

White Fragility in conclusion

Conclusion
White people often believe that multicultural / anti-racist education is only necessary for those who interact with “minorities” or in “diverse” environments. However, the dynamics discussed here suggest that it is critical that all white people build the stamina to sustain conscious & explicit engagement with race. When whites posit race as non-operative because there are few, if any, PoC in their immediate environments, Whiteness is reinscribed ever more deeply. When whites only notice “raced others,” we reinscribe Whiteness by continuing to posit Whiteness as universal & non-Whiteness as other. Further, if we can’t listen to or comprehend the perspectives of PoC, we cannot bridge cross-racial divides. A continual retreat from the discomfort of authentic racial engagement results in a perpetual cycle that works to hold racism in place. While anti-racist efforts ultimately seek to transform institutionalized racism, anti-racist education may be most effective by starting at the micro level.

 The goal is to generate the development of perspectives & skills that enable all people, regardless of racial location, to be active initiators of change. Since all individuals who live within a racist system are enmeshed in its relations, this means that all are responsible for either perpetuating or transforming that system. However, although all individuals play a role in keeping the system active, the responsibility for change is not equally shared. White racism is ultimately a white problem & the burden for interrupting it belongs to white people. Conversations about Whiteness might best happen within the context of a larger conversation about racism. It is useful to start at the micro level of analysis & move to the macro, from the individual out to the interpersonal, societal & institutional. Starting with the individual & moving outward to the ultimate framework for racism – Whiteness – allows for the pacing that is necessary for many white people for approaching the challenging study of race. In this way, a discourse on Whiteness becomes part of a process rather than an event.

 Many white people have never been given direct or complex information about racism before & often cannot explicitly see, feel, or understand it. PoC are generally much more aware of racism on a personal level, but due to the wider society’s silence & denial of it, often do not have a macro-level framework from which to analyze their experiences. Further, dominant society “assigns” different roles to different groups of color & a critical consciousness about racism varies not only between individuals within groups, but also between groups. For example, many African Americans relate having been “prepared” by parents to live in a racist society, while many Asian heritage people say that racism was never directly discussed in their homes. A macro-level analysis may offer a framework to understand different interpretations & performances across & between racial groups. In this way, all parties benefit & efforts are not solely focused on whites (which works to re-center Whiteness).

 Talking directly about white supremacy & privilege, in addition to providing much needed information & shared definitions, is also in itself a powerful interruption of common (& oppressive) discursive patterns around race. At the same time, white people often need to reflect upon racial information & be allowed to make connections between the information & their own lives. Educators can encourage & support white participants in making their engagement a point of analysis. White Fragility doesn’t always manifest in overt ways; silence & withdrawal are also functions of fragility. Who speaks, who doesn’t speak, when, for how long & with what emotional valence are all keys to understanding the relational patterns that hold oppression in place. Viewing white anger, defensiveness, silence & withdrawal in response to issues of race through the framework of White Fragility may help frame the problem as an issue of stamina-building & thereby guide our interventions accordingly.
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Albert Einstein: The Negro Question

Albert Einstein addressed what was called, in 1946, “The Negro Question” in another document belonging to the so-called ‘Dead Sea Scrolls of physics’.

“I am writing seriously and warningly,” he began, before noting that as a newcomer to America, he might not have the right to speak “about things which concern Americans alone, and which no newcomer should touch.”

But “I do not think such a standpoint is justified,” Einstein wrote. “One who has grown up in an environment takes much for granted. On the other hand, one who has come to this country as a mature person may have a keen eye for everything peculiar and characteristic.”

One characteristic Einstein observed as that the American “sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins.”

“Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious,” he continued, “but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the ‘Whites’ toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”

Einstein then addressed the complaints of those who have had “unfavorable experiences…living side by side with Negroes” which have led them to believe “they are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, or reliability.”

“I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception,” he wrote. “Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.”

Einstein maintained that this position was, in part, a conditioned response that Americans had “unconsciously absorb[ed] as children from [their] environment.” But he implored them to not only be better — but to be better than the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

“The ancient Greeks also had slaves,” he wrote. “They were not Negroes but white men who had been taken captive in war. There could be no talk of racial differences. And yet Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, declared slaves inferior beings who were justly subdued and deprived of their liberty. It is clear that he was enmeshed in a traditional prejudice from which, despite his extraordinary intellect, he could not free himself.”

“We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity,” Einstein concluded, “and shape our lives accordingly. I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy and even fatal is the traditional bias against Negroes.”

By

Einstein sitting on the front steps of his home in Princeton c. 1950

Einstein sitting on the front steps of his home in Princeton c. 1950

The Negro Project

Michael Brown is all over social media & the news… Yet another unarmed African-American teen shot down dead by the police, an organization whose supposed intent is to protect the public. This is nothing new, it’s no longer shocking, yet it is still hurtful.

A serious lack of empathy, respect & value for human life has always loomed in America, especially for those of African descent…

The Ku Klux Klan at it’s peak was 4 million members deep, some of them governors, mayors & senators. Today they only claim to have only a few thousand members, yet that does not mean their ideals do not still reside in the mindsets of far more. It was recently discovered that a couple of Florida police were members. Most police officers, mayors, governors & senators probably aren’t members either, but that doesn’t mean they don’t share their sentiments!

The police departments in America were originally formed to protect Caucasian people & their neighborhoods, not African people & theirs. Jim Crow laws were formed & implemented & still being exercised today. Planned Parenthood was originally called The Negro Project, formed to attempt to rid society of their undesireables. When an entire race of people is deemed to not be fully human, of course their lives will matter less & be dismissed as expendable.

abortionWhen cases like Mike Browns come about, a great sadness befalls the African American community & many of it’s parents become fearful for their own sons & daughters lives. Some even become afraid to reproduce. Some have been convinced that the tiny persons developing in their wombs are not human either, just like many of their oppressors believe about them. Only a few years ago, abortion ended the lives of more African American people than their top seven leading causes combined. So in some ways, The Negro Project has been a success.

Side Note: I am not trying to spark a debate about abortion rights, or if it’s murder. Technically, it’s not because murder is the illegal ending of a human life & abortion is the legal ending of a human life. I do not argue the aspect of morality regarding abortion either; that is based on personal beliefs & my perspective is not based on that. Mine are based on facts, and the Universe proves to us when human life begins, which is at conception. The laws of nature are not debatable.

Black on black violence is a major issue in America, and is often brought up when incidents like Mike Brown’s generate outrage. They wonder where the outrage is when we kill each other. Trust me, it’s there, but it doesn’t garner the same level of backlash from the community, because it’s not based in the same ideals; It’s not racially motivated. Logically, there is no reason to even compare the two. Most violent crime happens within racial lines, not across them.

Today in America, you will find people of all backgrounds struggling. However, even within that struggle, there are privileges to not being of African descent. Most Asians & whites do not have to live in fear of being harassed or killed by the police in their own neighborhoods just because of their appearance. Monsanto buried toxic sludge in predominantly African American neighborhoods that have caused serious health problems throughout those communities, including death; There are no predominantly white neighborhoods that this would ever happen in. When African Americans gather for peaceful protests & vigils for their fallen, they are greeted with a heavy police presence, dogs & tanks. You will not find such things at gatherings held for people of any other color.

Marching & protesting doesn’t help the situation or change anything. The justice system in America does not typically work in the favor of African people, so it’s pointless for us to trust & believe in it. Awareness alone does nothing; Action is the only solution. It seems like tragedy is the only thing that brings the African American community together. We need to continue this unity at all times. We’re so busy fighting & competing with each other, we’re not able to stand up against our common enemies to better our situations.

No matter what we do, we’re still living under their system & must live by their rules, even when those rules do not benefit us in any way. In America, we have no power. We own nothing & run nothing in comparison to all that our oppressors own & operate, such as land, shelter, utilities, media outlets, clothing companies, banks, court systems, law enforcement, etc. We rely on all these industries that they control. That’s why we need an infrastructure of our own, because we’re not faring well under theirs & it’s modeled in such a way to make sure that we never will. We could be thriving instead of just surviving, but we first must learn to value ourselves & each other!

My Sister’s Keeper

No other woman is my competition! My hope is that we ALL make it!!

yemaya20y20ochunIn the Chakra chart below, the right side shows the physical consequences of when women do not have their spiritual (left side of chart) lives in balance. Yoga, meditation, healing stones & a pH balanced diet will all work to counter those consequences, but it’s still equally important to try keeping our emotional states in check. We are what we eat & that includes emotions & thoughts…

woman-in-lotus-positionMany of these factors are outside of ourselves, out of our control & at the helm of others, so it’s also equally important that we take care of each other, so as not to throw our fellow Kings & Queens off their spiritual balance, nor our little Princes & Princesses.

As you see, when our partnerships &/or relationships are nonexistent, weak, broken, or abusive, our self esteem is damaged; if we hate our jobs, have overwhelming responsibilities or financial troubles; feel unwanted or under-appreciated, those issues can trigger us to make poor lifestyle choices, including our diets, which leads to high blood pressure, various cancers (an epidemic in this country), weight gain/loss, drug & alcohol addictions, lowered fertility, uterine fibroid tumors, depression, back pain, breakouts & a weakened immune system, amongst other health problems.

When men abuse (eliminating our sense of safety), disrespect or degrade (altering our perception & morality), cheat on (damaging our self esteem & sense of security), ignore or withhold affection (ruining our sense of belonging & feelings of appreciation), it can literally kill us ladies over time. It works the same in reverse or when we do it to ourselves, or to other women.

POOPSide-chicks have no place in the healing & uplifting of our Queens. I’d like to believe that the above meme is not true. I believe that most women who choose to assume a #2 position are very damaged themselves & that through personal growth & healing, they can change their destructive ways. A woman of substance that truly loves herself would never accept such a position, and if a man truly loved a woman, he would never allow or expect her to.

Some women are sociopaths & lack the empathy necessary to care about the damage they are participating in causing when getting involved with a man already in a relationship. Some are too hurt themselves to consider the feelings of others &/or afraid to get a man of their own, so being a mere side-chick will prevent them from getting hurt again. They may believe they are in a safe & even superior position by being the side-chick, because they may get a satisfying enough amount time, attention, affection & money/gifts – all without the responsibilities & stress the girlfriend/wife has at home.

In some instances, it may not be a self-esteem issue, but actually one of an inflated ego. They may just enjoy the excitement of having the attention of another woman’s man. A woman without any real substance will take so much pride in her looks & sex appeal that it blinds her to see that’s all she is worth to that man, not [yet] realizing her true value. My hope is that ALL women of such levels of mediocrity will discover or develop their self worth, leaving men without the option to betray their wives & girlfriends.

Of course, it is ultimately the responsibility of the persons within the relationship to keep up their side of the deal & to protect each other from hurt. I am not in any way relieving the cheating partner of their obligations by placing more of the blame on the sidepiece; I believe they are equally wrong in their actions & therefore equally responsible for the pain that they cause. I find both their actions deplorable, especially when there are children involved.

Us Queens have to support each other, uplift each other, take care of ourselves & stop hating on each other, stop fucking each others men (or women), competing with each other & fighting each other because no real positive changes or true unity will ever happen if we don’t! It begins with US!

Disney is remaking The Jungle Book

In the 1967 rendition of Disney’s movie classic, The Jungle Book (based on a 1894 collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling), it has a scene featuring an ape by the name of “King Louie” (to be voiced by actor Christopher Walken in the remake), who was undeniably emulating the late, great Louis Armstrong…

louisLouis Armstrong & wife, Giza, Egypt, Africa 1961

Armstrong was an American jazz trumpeter & singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was well known for his distinct, gritty voice & scat-style of singing, of which both were mimicked by the King Louis of the Apes character, whose lyrics included wishes to be a real man.

louieAfrican people have for a very long time been called & compared to monkeys, apes, gorillas & the likes [see Vogue’s take here on a previous post of mine]. I doubt that Mr. Walken will be able to do Armstrong’s voice the justice Louis Prima did anyways, but out of respect, i hope that they do not again use Armstrong’s styles of music for the character.

Now some may say, it’s just a kids movie, no harm was meant, but it must be taken into consideration, the impression that imagery & association has on young minds. There was intent here & it was not good. Also, take into account how long this movie has been around & how many generations have seen it, passing it down. This is just one amongst many ways that Africans have been portrayed as less than human over the years in the media.

One of the most recent ways, is in the major motion picture film, Lucy, in which the Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) is featured as representing humankind as our supposed inferior, old selves – sub-human Africans – along with humankind’s currently supposed most evolved & now superior selves, the blue-eyed blonde. Yes, Morgan Freeman plays the role of an uber-smart scientist, yet it is still the main character whose mental capacity (albeit due to drugs) far surpasses his own.

lucy-2014-movie-screenshot-blue-eyesIt’s not just entertainment!!! It’s a sick mindset that’s been embedded deep into society for hundreds of years & it’s things like this – slick, subliminal racism – which are keeping white supremacy alive & well all over the globe….

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