The First Black First Family

 

obamafamily

CNN has a great piece on the Obamas role in breaking stereotypes of what a black family is supposed to be.  Check it out here

This is hilarious:

Jamaal Young was watching Barack Obama and his family greet an ecstatic crowd in Chicago, Illinois, on Election Night when he realized that something seemed wrong.

Obama didn’t shout at his wife, Michelle, to shut up. The first lady didn’t roll her eyes and tell Obama to act like a man. No laugh track kicked in, no one danced, and no police sirens wailed in the background.

Young had tuned in to celebrate the election of the nation’s first African-American president. But he realized that he was witnessing another historic first. A black family was being featured as the first family, not the “problem family” or the “funny family.

“They are not here to entertain us,” says Young, a New York Press columnist. “Michelle Obama is not sitting around with her girlfriends saying, ‘My man ain’t no good.’ You’re not seeing this over -sexualized, crazy black family that, every time a Marvin Gaye song comes on, someone stands up and says, ‘Oh girl, that’s my jam.’ “

It’s true.  They are a normal family(as normal as a First Family can be)  that is trying to achieve something great in the world rather than trying to deal with stereotypical cultural pathologies.  Because they are dealing with regular life issues that concern everyone, it’s easy for people to see themselves within the First Family. 

It’s especially empowering for African Americans because they get to see themselves represented in a positive light, a portrayal which is not as outlandish as some people might believe.  It could have a beneficial effect on black intimacy and family life.  As King from the 44s mentions, intimacy is an even greater problem among Asian Americans (King is African American).  Going back to the Asian American IR discussion that continues to pop up, having a normal, Asian American family with an Asian American man and woman at a high level of prominence would do wonders for Asian Americans, and it could help to fix some of our own cultural pathologies.  I don’t know if people in Washington State saw much of Gary and Mona Locke–outside of official business, we Oregonians don’t see all that much of the Kulongoskis in the media, and we don’t see much of the Pattersons in the NY Times–but it would be great to see this kind of representation for Asian Americans, whether through an open celebrity couple OR through prominent literature.

It’s a goal that we should take up.

 

38 thoughts on “The First Black First Family

  1. “Going back to the Asian American IR discussion that continues to pop up, having a normal, Asian American family with an Asian American man and woman at a high level of prominence would do wonders for Asian Americans, and it could help to fix some of our own cultural pathologies. I don’t know if people in Washington State saw much of Gary and Mona Locke–outside of official business, we Oregonians don’t see all that much of the Kulongoskis in the media, and we don’t see much of the Pattersons in the NY Times–but it would be great to see this kind of representation for Asian Americans, whether through an open celebrity couple OR through prominent literature.

    It’s a goal that we should take up.”

    That is something that Asian Americans have to do for ourselves. We certainly can’t expect anything from Hollywood which has a long and proud tradition of depicting Asian Americans according to White America’s definition of what we should be.

    Speaking of prominent Asian American couples. Here is one couple that is quite a role model:

    http://photos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2009/01/oregon_legislature_effects_1.html

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/01/oregon_legislature.html

  2. I for one am so sick and tired of all the black this and black that.
    For starters, WHO CARES? People are people. Sterotypes came from REALITY to begin with. I am Polish-do you know how many Polish jokes I have heard in my lifetime?
    My Italian friends call me a dumb Polock and I call them dumb ginzos, but it’s all good natured it’s a silly kind of affection that has gone on for generations, but we love each other dearly and we are true friends who would stand by each other no matter what.
    We are different, that’s what makes us unique. But having to define yourself as African first and then American is segregating yourself-PERIOD. I don’t care where people came from, if you’re HERE, and you have taken LEGAL measures to swear allegiance to America, you are AMERICAN-PERIOD!
    The media and those groups trying to collect money by having to start some B.S. and win a frivolous lawsuit have drained this country and screwed up the whole nature of normalcy.
    Now, you can’t even look at someone and you get sued. That is B.S.!!
    IT ALL COMES DOWN TO MONEY AND IT’S SICK, SICK, SICK!!!!

  3. Thanks, Larry! Representing! Haha!

    Lingyai,

    Good marketing, right? 🙂 My son was waking up from his nap, so I was so busy trying to make sure he was awake that I forgot to ask him to get wowo to face the camera!

  4. I think this article is once again drawing division along a racial line. Televised dysfunctionality doesn’t only extend to blacks and black families – Let’s not forget about shows like “The real housewives of …” or their ilk. The article focus’s on the negative stereotype of black families while failing to admit or realize that it’s not just black families that are portrayed poorly on TV. TV portrays ANY family as dysfunctional (unless you’re watching the disney channel!) because dysfunctionality and controversy = ratings and ratings = Advertising Dollars.

    Maybe I’m just naive, but I don’t believe for a minute that the normal family (ignoring any sort of racial line here) in our country is anything like the misfits we see on TV. I’m not trying to downplay the challenges faced by ANY races demographics. While it is true that the statistics tell us that certain races have more issues with single motherhood, crime or any other stat you want to pull up. What they never tell us is “How do these statistics stack up against other races in the SAME CONDITIONS (geographic, economic status etc.).

    The conditions are the important part. Of course the majority has a broader slice of wealthy, middle class and poor citizens – they are the majority, as such, of course there are more in the majority who have wealth or better living conditions or more education – whatever, which can skew or minimize a bad statistic in their segment.

    The notion that just because someone is black that they have a higher chance of their husband/lover “running out” on them is preposterous and I’d dare say “racist”. We’re all people, we are all shaped by the experiences that we have, If someone lives in a certain geographic/demographic, then they are predisposed to the challenges that face others in that same situation regardless of skin color.

    If the black community – no, the american community wants to focus on Obama’s blackness as it pertains to how he leads, or how he relates to his family or how he plays golf for that matter, then we serve only to continue to divide our nation and ourselves along lines of color. It’s time to put away dividing lines. Instead of focusing on how The black community suffers, or how the latinos are having a tough time in public schools, or how asians are being discriminated against, how about we focus on how we as human beings in general are suffering in certain aspects? I seriously doubt that anyone wants to elevate or help a black single mother who is struggling any more than they’d want to help a latina single mother.

    Instead of focusing on the “BLACK” first family, and the message they’re sending to “BLACKS” how about we realize that we’re ALL watching a man who clearly loves and is passionate about his wife, and ALL learning that THIS is what we should all strive for. THIS is how we should relate to the ones we love.

  5. Robert and Christine,

    Thanks for your comments!

    I agree with much of what you said about the different races, and I’m glad we agree that people are people.

    The critical difference is physical. True, Christine, Polish jokes exist, and people have their stereotypes of Polish people. The critical difference is that black people, Asian people, and Hispanic people look different, and the effect of seeing a “normal” black family, even for lots of black people, is jarring.

    Robert, I agree with you when you say that there are dysfunctional people of all races on TV. What the white community has that other races don’t have as much is diversity. True, you have the Married With Children kind of white folk, but you also have the Everybody Loves Raymond normal folk to offset it. With black media folk, there’s more of a reliance on stereotype (the Cosby Show was a rare exception). We’ve had white lead characters on cop shows and big “white epic” shows like Dynasty and Gossip Girl, but shows of that genre don’t exist for racial minorities. That’s what Jamaal Young from the CNN article meant when he said that something seemed wrong–seeing normal black folk on TV is not something he is used to seeing.

    So I agree with you both that we need to treat people more as human beings. At the same time, I think we need to confront race in order to get beyond it.

  6. True, there are a lot of positive roles for white families on tv, but are we really structuring how we treat our families and loved ones based on images we see on TV? If so, then race isn’t the issue here, stupidity is, we all need to either go out and take a big reality pill, or shoot ourselves!

    OK, we don’t REALLY need to shoot ourselves…

    But seriously, I have a hard time believing that if I made a list of things that I want for my family, and how I want to be treated by my family or my community, that it would differ very much from your list, an individual who lives in the projects’ list, or Obama’s list for that matter. Surely we’d all list some things differently, but I’d be willing to bet that we’d all say “Oh yeah! that’s a good one, I’m adding it to my list!” if it wasn’t there already. I honestly believe that race has nothing to do with that list, and as such simply gets in the way as a distraction, or as something that makes others uncomfortable when it’s brought up.

    Years ago, there were a rash of T-shirts that said “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand” that were pretty popular. This thinking is flawed based on the above. We all want the same things I think, and as such, I’d offer:

    “It’s a human thing, we all NEED to understand.”

    *shrug* What disturbs me about Jamaal Young’s comment is that instead of feeling like “something was wrong” when he saw a positive vision of a black family, he didn’t feel that “something was right”.

  7. Robert,

    You wrote: “True, there are a lot of positive roles for white families on tv, but are we really structuring how we treat our families and loved ones based on images we see on TV? If so, then race isn’t the issue here, stupidity is, we all need to either go out and take a big reality pill, or shoot ourselves!”

    Imagine what life for white people would be like without literature or TV. You had it, and then one day, it was gone. All those books by white people, about white people, for white people–all gone. White people would go crazy.

    The truth is everyone frames their point of reference based on art. That’s why you read Maureen Dowd who comments on Bush by quoting Shakespeare. Art is a part of us and shouldn’t be ignored but rather embraced. Seeing oneself represented is a privilege that minorities don’t have, but should. So it’s not about people being stupid but about people being able to understand themselves through art.

    “But seriously, I have a hard time believing that if I made a list of things that I want for my family, and how I want to be treated by my family or my community, that it would differ very much from your list, an individual who lives in the projects’ list, or Obama’s list for that matter. ”

    In general terms, yes. In more specific terms, there’s a difference in priorities and emphasis. For example, this is an Asian American site, so you often see stuff like this:

    http://www.bigwowo.com/2008/09/the-art-of-the-neg/

    I’m guessing that most white people probably wouldn’t get excited over something like this because white people marrying white people is the norm in the Sunday Times. And this is a racial thing because it’s something that tends to affect Asian Americans emotionally, while most white people don’t have experiences that are affected by something like an interracial disparity.

    Seriously, Robert, can you tell me that seeing more Asian men and Asian women together is a priority for the confidence, understanding, and well being of your kids? Even if my blogging convinces you, it probably wouldn’t affect you on the same visceral level. We may all want the same things, but there are issues that tend to affect people of certain races more than people of other races.

  8. Good conversation! I hope that nothing I have said or will say is in any way offensive, Race can be such a touchy subject to discuss! you mentioned:

    “Imagine what life for white people would be like without literature or TV. You had it, and then one day, it was gone. All those books by white people, about white people, for white people–all gone. White people would go crazy.

    The truth is everyone frames their point of reference based on art. That’s why you read Maureen Dowd who comments on Bush by quoting Shakespeare. Art is a part of us and shouldn’t be ignored but rather embraced. Seeing oneself represented is a privilege that minorities don’t have, but should. So it’s not about people being stupid but about people being able to understand themselves through art.”

    I’m sorry, but I think that’s a bit of a crutch. Some of the books you reference may be by white people, but they’re certainly not “For white people” a book is a book period. They’re not intended for any race, but if you want to split hairs, then as I recall it – and speaking specifically to the thrust of your forums – Asians have been writing far longer than white people. There is far more Asian literature out there that is absolutely beautiful. I think you’re picking and choosing a bit if you’re willing to say that Shakespeare is relevant to todays “white” society, but the works from any of the Chinese dynasties, or even post war Japan (which has been influential in modern cinema as well) are not. If you want to narrow the choice to relevant literature (meaning lit that resonates more conveniently with todays society) I think you’re still selling short asian literature – whether written in this country or abroad.

    As to most modern literature written by whites being irrellevant to other races, I think that’s an impossible arguement as well, Topics that are “best sellers” and written by white authors rarely call out race. I think it’s interesting to note that because John Grisham writes a book, it is assumed that his characters are white. To my knowledge, race is never mentioned, yet books by minority writers make a point to call out the race of their characters. Granted, that last statement may be unfair as I’ve not researched the entire library available by minority writers, but nonetheless, to say that art singles out any race is inaccurate.

    I am an artist actually, so I’ve given this some thought. I disagree that art impacts society as heavily as you would suggest. While I do agree that overexposure to certain images of graphic horror can indeed de-sensitize people, Violent art has been around since the first cave painting. Images of murder and the hunt are relatively commonplace (good god, look at aztec art sometime – yeesh!) But I don’t think that these images have inspired men to commit these acts any more than if they had never seen them. Therefore, to view entertainment as a yardstick by which a segment of society should or does measure itself seems unrealistic to me. Moreover, if art and TV did actually weigh that heavily upon peoples social comprehension of themselves, then we’d have seen a gradual inclination of Asians to act like Kato from the Green Hornet, or Blacks to act like Fred Sanford, or Whites to act like Archie Bunker, and the truth is contrary to that.

    I believe a bigger issue is our apparent desire to attribute such values to a certain race or ethnicity. Our media in this country certainly doesn’t help – which is why I originally posted on the topic at hand. A good example is the Oakland shooting of late. For reference purposes to someone arriving later – The police officer who shot an unarmed man in the back while handcuffed and prone in a subway station. The focus the media spun was that a WHITE cop Shot a BLACK man. This caused racial outrage. The thing that baffled me is we should be outraged by the event – not the color of the people involved. We should be mortified that a cop – a person assigned to protect us, instead shot an unarmed and restrained man. The color of the skin should be irrellevant, but we focus on race instead of the real horror. That’s a huge flaw in thinking in my mind.

    You mentioned that our lists might be prioritized differently based on our race. Q: Why? A: because we have experienced different things and as such have different needs that we would prioritize. The only reason that race would come into play here is because our society draws that line. I think you could argue equally as effectively that my suburban list’s priorities would differ from a white who lives in the country. However, I still think the general needs /wants and desires would be pretty close to mirrored across the board. Sure the languaging might be different (that’s diffr’nt if you’re from the country 😉 j/k)

    To illustrate the race point,one of your other topics – the perception of asian men as inferior in some way from a relationship standpoint. That’s only a limitation in the mind of the person who believes it or perpetuates it. To use this specific example, if a man is truly of worth – is funny, and charming, confident, cares for his appearance, takes care of his body and environment, and is generally going places in life, then I don’t buy that there is a single woman alive who would turn him away because he’s asian – unless she is a racist in some capacity. If a man communicates his value to a woman, then the stereotype crumbles. To think that Asian men suffer more than say a scrawny white guy with an overbite is inaccruate. Both may be greeted with a negative stereotype – but only if that stereotype has been ingrained into the mind of the woman he’s talking to, and both have the ability to blow that stereotype away and attract the woman. I think there’s proof of this everywhere. I’m sure you’ve seen couples that made you think “How did THAT happen?” the above is how.

    Which leads back to my original point, I think we perpetuate these stereotypes by accenting positive or negative things along the lines of race. Which is why the asian couple getting married is an interesting example. You like seeing that image (I presume) because it’s a very public forum displaying two successful Asians who are getting married – Asians are not seen as frequently in the media because they are a minority group, so seeing them profiled – and in such a positive way – brings you a feeling of pride. As a white male, that image/ story doesn’t cause a big splash for me because quite frankly, I don’t see them as two asians getting married, I see them as two successful people getting married. I might think “Wow, she’s pretty” or “Hey, he looks like he works out” because those are things that interest me, but whether they’re asian or polish (maybe they’re both? lol!), it makes no difference – nor should it. I think it’s pretty cool to see ANYONE finding love and marrying one another, again, race doesn’t matter. You could argue that because I’m white, and I see other whites in similar situations that I am desensitized, and therefore don’t notice these things as much, but if that were the case, then things different than the ‘norm’ should stand out to me, and it doesn’t.

    As I stated in my first post, maybe I’m naive, but it seems that there’s more of an interest to segregate and draw lines among minorities than there is by the majority.

    I understand the desire for people to identify with others like them, and to feel pride in seeing someone they identify with succeed – that’s human nature, but it’s also animalistic nature and it’s time to rise above that thinking. Fish use color to decide who to mate with – haven’t we evolved past that? If not, shouldn’t we be actively pursuing that goal? It’s time that skin color stopped being a point of pride, or an excuse, or any other attribute that you want to give it. I don’t think we can accomplish that goal by constantly calling it out. As MLK said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That very statement – to me – says we need to stop looking at race and start looking at deeds, points of pride or prejudice need to cease to be based on racial lines and start to be based on acts. At that point, the couple in the paper could be green, and still illicit the same response of pride that you felt, or the lack of note that I might feel.

    OK, time to go hold hands and sing Kumbayah! (yeah, I can laugh at my idealistic desires!)

    Again, I will say I hope that none of the preceeding is found offensive – it’s certainly not intended to be! I know we’ve just met, you and I, but I enjoy reading your posts and find this topic very interesting!

    p.s. i HATE the “captcha” feature below! lol!

  9. Robert,

    Thanks! What kind of artist are you? Fine arts or media arts? Do you work with words, sound, or visual media?

    You wrote:
    “I think you’re picking and choosing a bit if you’re willing to say that Shakespeare is relevant to todays “white” society, but the works from any of the Chinese dynasties, or even post war Japan (which has been influential in modern cinema as well) are not.”

    I didn’t say that, nor is it my opinion. I was using Maureen Dowd as an example to show that people rely on art. I was saying that condemning racial minorities for being bothered by media and art portrayals was a bit unfair since the vast majority of people, including white people, rely on art to make sense of the world. I was replying to your statement: “If so, then race isn’t the issue here, stupidity is, we all need to either go out and take a big reality pill, or shoot ourselves!”? The truth is that art influences reality and vice versa, and people rely on art to help them think about themselves.

    As for Asian literature, well, Asian literature is Asian. It’s in another language and concerns another people and (usually) another era, so to expect Asian Americans to find identification of ourselves from a literature so far removed from our real experiences is impractical and not realistic. Again, were the racial power hierarchy reversed, ignoring the mainstream wouldn’t be a good solution for white people either.

    I think you’ll agree that there are not very many representations by and about Asian Americans. In fact, one reason why we talk about Maureen Dowd and not the Asian American columnist or columnists from the NY Times Op-Ed is because…there is no Asian American columnist from the NY Times Op-Ed. There never has been.

    You wrote:
    “As to most modern literature written by whites being irrellevant to other races, I think that’s an impossible arguement as well, Topics that are “best sellers” and written by white authors rarely call out race. I think it’s interesting to note that because John Grisham writes a book, it is assumed that his characters are white. To my knowledge, race is never mentioned, yet books by minority writers make a point to call out the race of their characters. Granted, that last statement may be unfair as I’ve not researched the entire library available by minority writers, but nonetheless, to say that art singles out any race is inaccurate.”

    White literature is not completely irrelevant to other races. I never said that it was. I read White literature myself. But it doesn’t speak to the larger experiences of the Asian American population. Minority writers call out race because it’s relevant to our experiences. It really is this simple. The fact that the NY Times and the Washington Post have never had an Asian American Op-Ed columnist has to say something about how our views are not represented in the media. The fact that the few Asian Americans who get published happen to be of the Kingstonian variety (see here) says something about our how Orientalism is alive and well. When was the last time you saw an Asian American hosting 60 minutes? Our views just aren’t out there.

    With all due respect, I do think you’re missing the point about the IR issue. First, people do discriminate based on race. Amy Tan, the white appointed hostess of Asian American issues, said point blank that she didn’t date Asian men. She didn’t say, “I don’t date men who are not charming,” she said that she doesn’t date Asian men. Comics such as Esther Ku have said the same thing. So yes, you’re correct in saying that it’s only an issue if people discriminate on race, but obviously, people discriminate, and they do so very often! If it were just an isolated case, I’d agree with you that it would be worth ignoring. Unfortunately it’s so big that there’s no way to ignore it.

    That being said, the greater point of my NY Times marriage post was not to condemn those who discriminate on race, but rather to show that Asian Americans just don’t see it represented, and it affects our self image and self-knowledge. It was the same point that Jamaal Young made in the CNN article. It was the same point that one of the interviewees made about black intimacy. We want to see ourselves. We don’t have the privilege of seeing ourselves in the American media.

    You wrote:
    “I don’t think we can accomplish that goal by constantly calling it out. As MLK said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.””

    I agree with that, but as MLK also said, “How then can [the Negro] be absorbed into the mainstream of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.” There has been so much racism perpetuated by white people against minorities that special steps have to be taken to help us catch up. We need to get Asian Americans talking about it, and we need to change institutions that allow us to discuss solutions on a larger scale. That’s all. Many, including white people, have already taken these special steps, but until Asian Americans have similar platforms and forums that white people have for self expression and reflection, you can’t simply tell us to “rise above that thinking,” especially since it’s destroying our communities. We’ll be able to rise above it with dialogue.

    I don’t think things have to be totally equal. As I mentioned in another post, I think King’s dream has been achieved. But I do think we still have to work to make sure that the national dialogue and media includes voices of all colors, not just white people. Minorities want to segregate only because mainstream society does not do a good job of getting our views heard.

    Think about this–I’ll bet I’m one of the few Asian American “opinion writers” that you’ve read. And I’m just an amateur blogging on his own little website–people of my color usually don’t get our opinions printed in mainstream American publications. I guarantee you that if more minorities were depicted normally in the media and more Asian American opinions were heard, we wouldn’t need to segregate and draw lines. This is why we need to do “something special” for minorities in many areas of the arts and media and education. This is the “something special” to help fix past wrongs in order that we can fully integrate.

    I’m still interested in your role as an artist. Even though you’re white, depending on your medium, maybe you could use ideas of diversity and recognition in your art.

  10. you wrote:
    …”condemning racial minorities for being bothered by media and art portrayals.”

    Certainly wasn’t my intent! my “go shoot ourselves comment was meant in jest.

    You mentioned “But it doesn’t speak to the larger experiences of the Asian American population.”

    This could get hairy, but can you site experiences that you feel are specific to you based on your race and not on your socio-economic demographic? I’m not trying to be combative in any way, just curious what you feel are issues that would tend to single you out along a racial divide that are not generated by society and our apparent need to “single out” along the race dividing line.

    I’m curious because of your desire to see expressed an Asian American point of view, and how that view might be different from a white, black or latin point of view. Regarding your point about an asian not hosting 60 minutes, I’d offer that again, that seems a little narrowcasted. There are a lot of asian journalists in the media, Connie Chung comes to mind as a national voice, and a plethora of local identites I’ve seen across the country and at home. Shoot, there’s even an Asian American Journalistic association covering this very topic (http://www.aaja.org/). But I digress from my real topic, that of racial interests and viewpoints vs. socio economic.

    Regarding peoples discrimination in an IR capacity. I still hold that what someone says – Like Amy Tan – are only a handful of words. If Amy Tan were single and met the most amazing man in her experiences and he happened to be asian, I doubt she’d say “Well, you’re perfect, BUT, you’re asian, so have a nice day.” People stereotype as a method of shorthand. We do it as a survival and timesaving mechanism and while it sucks, I think that Amy Tan would probably also tell you that she wouldn’t necessarily date a handful of other types of men. I think that assuming that just because someone says they wont do XXX only means they haven’t personally experienced XXX that might change their minds.

    I agree that asians in particular, but also Latinos are not seen as often in American media as they could be or should be, but I think that’s part of the basis of my comment. Why do people feel the need to identify with someone based on their racial similarities but their lifestyle similarities aren’t good enough? Case in point, you identified with the asian couple (and by the way, I didn’t take your comment as condemnation of anyone) you saw in the paper because of their race, do you ever see in the paper that someone of the same profession you’re in is getting married and feel a similar pride? If not, why not? That’s not meant to be an attack on you, or anyone else, I just think it’s interesting that race plays such a powerful role as an identifier. I guess because it’s so readily apparent to a viewer?

    About the MLK quote: “How then can [the Negro] be absorbed into the mainstream of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.” That is flawed to the core. Explain to me this, if I treat someone with preference over someone else (do something special for him) then how is that creating an equal playing field? It’s like having a basketball game and telling one team, “hey look, Each of your baskets will be worth 4 points, but the other team will only receive 2 points per shot.” That’s not an equal playing field.

    Can you delve a little deeper on “until Asian Americans have similar platforms and forums that white people have for self expression and reflection” I’m not sure what specifically you’re referring to. On the surface, it would seem that you do indeed have the same opportunities – including the one we’re using now – for self expression and reflection? Last I looked it was illegal to bar someone from using the news media, newspaper or magazines to express themselves or their ideas based on their race and as mentioned above, there are organizations that exist to further the asian american voice in such media. Blacks certainly have the same options.

    You continue that sentence to say “you can’t simply tell us to “rise above that thinking,” especially since it’s destroying our communities. We’ll be able to rise above it with dialogue.” Can you expand on that as well? How are communities being destroyed in your opinion?

    “Minorities want to segregate only because mainstream society does not do a good job of getting our views heard.” how does segregation help voices to be heard? It seems to me that segregation only serves to have your voices heard by the same like-minded people who already know what you have to say. Bruce Lee used to say something along the lines of people not understanding his culture because China was so closed, he advocated opening up and showing the Chinese culture to the world so that they would understand it better and fear it less. Segregation is a closing of those doors to the masses. The very concept of a segregated anything alienates the outsiders from even wanting to learn about the segregated material.

    “I’ll bet I’m one of the few Asian American “opinion writers” that you’ve read. And I’m just an amateur blogging on his own little website–people of my color usually don’t get our opinions printed in mainstream American publications.” The term here that interests me is “opinion writers” you speak specifically (I think) to the fact that your blog speaks about issues concerning the Asian American Community (stereotypes, victories etc) but I think that’s unfair, there are no white “Opinion writers” in the mainstream media that discuss issues that pertain only to whites – unless it is simply a matter of course – wedding announcements for example are pretty race independent – you send them in, you pay for them, and they get printed. But I see no section in the newspaper (nor have I ever) titled “White Voices” or something that would imply that the news herein is meant for whites only. I do however see a section on the netscape homepage titled “Black Voices” and a section titled “Latino” (interestingly nothing titled “asian” – naughty Netscape! If you’re going to reverse discriminate, then do so for all!) Which is what bothers me. I’m not saying that there should be no attention paid to blacks, latinos or asians, but put it on the front page, don’t hide it in a segregated portion of the newspaper or a website. You and I don’t have a separate area of your blog that says “White and Asian racial discussions!” We’re doing it right here, for all to see, read and learn from. The same should hold true elsewhere – if at all, but my point is that the whole race element should be played down. it’s naturally self alienating. If there was a section in the newspaper tomorrow titled “White voices – for whites, by whites!” would it piss you off? Would you read it – other than to be able to discuss how wrong it is? It would piss me off. For the very reason I just gave.

    “I’m still interested in your role as an artist. Even though you’re white,” HEY! lol! actually, I am a Graphic Designer/Illustrator, and I have painted and drawn asians many times in my artwork. Sadly, my art at this point is more commercial in nature (used in local advertising mediums), and not something you’d see in galleries. That said, I do make a conscious effort to try to be racially diverse in photography and artwork I use to communicate my clients goals.

  11. (Disclaimer: Far too behind in LOTS of things to read through all the comments so I apologize for picking at snippets!)

    Regarding the Asian and Asian coupling in media. I was just wondering about that – I watch maybe 3 TV shows on a regular basis. Chuck. Grey’s Anatomy. And Lost (but behind a season on the time since I do the netflix thing).

    Chuck – They have an Asian girl, Anna, who has the “exotic” Asian femme fatale type thing going on, who dresses like one of those Harajuku girl providing background for Gwen Stefani. (Yeah, thanks, Gwen.)

    On GA – Yes, it’s a chick show… I absolutely love Sandra Oh and her character. Yet… why aren’t there other Asian doctors? I don’t know about Seattle but even in Minnesota, we have so many Asian doctors that, when we report to NIH on our minority trainee recruitment, we are not allowed to count Asians as minority. And the white people hook up with the white people. The black people hook up with the black people. And yet, Christina (Sandra Oh’s character) hooks up first with a black doctor and now she’s with a white doctor. And if they decided to fill in the lack of Asian male characters in that show by bringing in Daniel Dae Kim from LOST, I think I’ll even write them a letter of scoff. Yes, scoff. I’m so hardass. 🙂

    We are marginalized and underrepresented in the media and entertainment industry.

    Also – once one of the Kimchi Mamas did a post on how she doesn’t date Asian men – and I was surprised to see SO many other Asian female readers pipe up to say that they purposely choose NOT to date Asian men. Hell, even my mother put her foot down and told me that I couldn’t be with a Korean man. So it’s not an imaginary phenomenon.

    As a parent to a biracial daughter, one of the things that mostly concerned me was that, where I live (MN), the mainstream culture is VERY white. VERY. And so I have to actively seek out diversity as part of her upbringing. And as a parent, I don’t mind that I have to do that. However, when a person who is unaware of the concept “white privilege” asks me why it would be so hard for me to expose my daughter to my culture and suggests that by virtue of being Korean I should somehow be able to pass on my heritage to my daughter via osmosis, I don’t know whether I should laugh or try to explain something that may not translate well to that person.

    And since I’m starting to ramble a little and digressing, I will stop here. Just wanted to add a couple of thoughts, B.

  12. Welcome to the discussion mama! 🙂

    I only have one question, and please do forgive me if it is in any way offensive.

    Why the need to teach your daughter about Korean culture? As I see it, my heritage is Scottish, but I feel no such need to delve into, or pass down scottish traditions and/or history to my daughter. As I see it, we are Americans, not Scotsmen or Koreans, so the desire for me to pass that on doesn’t even enter my mind. That’s the source of my question – I in no way mean to be inflammatory, I really would like to understand the drive to share another country’s culture other than as it relates to where we came from and our personal histories. I know this is a relatively common desire for some minorities, and I’d like to understand it better.

    As to it being difficult, well, I think that boils back to the fact that Korea is another country – so is Scotland for that matter, I’m not sure I could even begin to locate any resources about Scotland to be able to attempt to pass this on to my family were I so inclined.

    Should that be society’s burden? or our own – should we so choose it? When you start breaking things down on that level, I don’t think society could even begin to accommodate all the various needs that could arise.

    p.s. Very cute kid in the pic – yours?

  13. I just had a thought. I think we’re getting pretty mired down in specifics – which is fine, but to the point of our ongoing dialogue, how would you fix it? What version of the asian/black/latino community should be portrayed as the norm? and just how many shows should there be to accommodate each group?

    From some of your (I think it was your blog – I’ve been threading a lot!) bloggers, part of the problem is there are so many versions of Asian americans (Chinese Americans, Korean Americans, Vietnamese americans….) which should be considered the “norm”? I recall Margaret Cho attempting to do a sitcom portraying her korean family, and I for one liked the show, but it was cancelled due to low viewership.

    What version of Blacks should be portrayed? African American? (true african american) Haitiaan americans, black americans? What about the Latino population and their various subcultures? Carlos Mencia does a wonderful job I think of pointing out how fractioned these groups are even to themselves. (The Hondurans are like the poor blacks, the mexicans are like the wealthy blacks etc… (I paraphrase poorly here!))

    So what is the answer to the media issue – realistically? The media operates based on cashflow, and cashflow is controlled by advertising dollars, Ad dollars are generally determined by ratings, and ratings are determined by the majority who watch a show and therefore control it’s sustainability.

  14. Mama Nabi,

    Good points. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s easier for an Asian man to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine than to get a leading role on a prime time hospital drama. Over time, this influences us. We begin to think of ourselves as invisible. With Asian women, it’s not so much invisibility, but rather stereotypes. We need to free ourselves.

    Robert wrote:
    “This could get hairy, but can you site experiences that you feel are specific to you based on your race and not on your socio-economic demographic?”

    Sure!

    Asian American stereotypes and self-hate in the media: Racist Love by Frank Chin

    Cultural Issues surrounding interracial dating
    written by me
    Rice Chasers: also written by me

    These are just some of the issues we deal with that are determined by race and not socio-economic demographic. To find more, you can check out the Fighting 44s or this blog (I think you’ve already been doing this). Or check out Frank Chin’s blog.

    You wrote:
    “There are a lot of asian journalists in the media, Connie Chung comes to mind as a national voice, and a plethora of local identites Iíve seen across the country and at home.”

    Connie Chung just told the news. While it’s good to see Asian faces on the news, she wasn’t responsible for sharing opinions or creating them. Simply having anchors doesn’t have the same force as a Maureen Dowd or David Brooks or Andy Rooney or Tucker Carlson or George Stephanopolous. She doesn’t sway opinion. The AAJA that you mention exists because Asian Americans in the media are marginalized.

    You wrote:
    “If Amy Tan were single and met the most amazing man in her experiences and he happened to be asian, I doubt sheíd say ìWell, youíre perfect, BUT, youíre asian, so have a nice day.î”

    In some people’s definition, Asian implies non-perfection. I don’t think Amy would ever say, “you’re perfect” to an Asian man unless she were grading his math test (hope that’s not a stereotype). See Mama Nabi’s post above. I don’t condemn people who have these preferences, but it’s silly to ignore something that affects our culture to the extent that it does.

    “About the MLK quote: ìHow then can [the Negro] be absorbed into the mainstream of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.î That is flawed to the core. Explain to me this, if I treat someone with preference over someone else (do something special for him) then how is that creating an equal playing field? Itís like having a basketball game and telling one team, ìhey look, Each of your baskets will be worth 4 points, but the other team will only receive 2 points per shot.î Thatís not an equal playing field.”

    Out of curiosity, Robert, where do you live? Do you live in an area with lots of racial minorities?

    Martin Luther King was saying that sometimes we need to give people an advantage so that they can join on equal footing. Just as you can’t free the slaves and expect them to become doctors and lawyers overnight, you can’t raise Asian Americans on Aunty Tan and then expect them to master self-expression in one bound. If you want to read more about King’s ideas, read “Why We Can’t Wait.” That’s where I got this quote. It’ll explain a lot of Dr. King’s philosophy. Affirmative action, of course, was never intended to be a permanent thing, but sometimes people need a leg up in order to normalize things. Plus, let’s not let the white folk off the hook. Some white people still have a colonialist attitude when it comes to people of color, and they need help too. They’re not going to get this help unless we take an active role.

    As for your question about “which version” should be portrayed, I think we need all kinds. It’s fine to watch the sit-coms, but let’s diversify.

    “Why We Can’t Wait” is a pretty short book. If you have a moment, check it out. I know we’re talking about Asian American issues, but some of the African American issues apply to our situation as well.

  15. I for one am so sick and tired of all the black this and black that.
    For starters, WHO CARES? People are people. Sterotypes came from REALITY to begin with. I am Polish-do you know how many Polish jokes I have heard in my lifetime?
    My Italian friends call me a dumb Polock and I call them dumb ginzos, but it’s all good natured it’s a silly kind of affection that has gone on for generations, but we love each other dearly and we are true friends who would stand by each other no matter what.
    We are different, that’s what makes us unique. But having to define yourself as African first and then American is segregating yourself-PERIOD. I don’t care where people came from, if you’re HERE, and you have taken LEGAL measures to swear allegiance to America, you are AMERICAN-PERIOD!
    The media and those groups trying to collect money by having to start some B.S. and win a frivolous lawsuit have drained this country and screwed up the whole nature of normalcy.
    Now, you can’t even look at someone and you get sued. That is B.S.!!
    IT ALL COMES DOWN TO MONEY AND IT’S SICK, SICK, SICK!!!!

    You know what is really sick? Whites like yourself who have the arrogance to tell minorities that they should deny their heritage and assimilate into the White mainstream, because that is what you are really advocating.

    When White people start demanding that minorities call themselves “Americans first” what does this really mean? What is their true agenda? Whose *particular definition* of “American” are they pushing?

    The answers should be self-evident.

    Their agenda is to compel minorities to stop identifying with their specific cultures and heritages and embrace some putative “Mainstream American norm.”

    What they carefully avoid mentioning, however, is that this Mainstream American Norm is a de facto White Anglo norm in everything but name.

    American national identity is a White dominated (though not White-only)identity. So of course, it’s in the narrow self-interest of Whites to dictate that minorities deny their cultural specificity and identify as White … sorry just an American.

    In other words, these people are demanding that minorities whitewash themselves. I call this a form of Compulsory Whiteness, or better Racial Cleansing Lite, American-style.

    Swear allegiance to the American Fatherland, assimilate into the (White) Mainstream … or else!

    That’s the Audacity of Whiteness.

  16. Its late, so ill be very brief, more later maybe?! 😀

    Byron,
    I grew up about an hour south of washington DC, and had an early exposure to many different races. My high school was probably about 30% minority students. I went from there to an inner city college where I had a similar experience of exposure to many races, had 2 asian american roomates actually over the course of 4 years (both “first generation AA’s” with parents from the phillipines and vietnam respectively) I now live in hte midwest which has a noticably smaller asian populace, but a fair share of latinos and blacks – suburb boy out here.

    Larry,
    I will agree I disliked the harshness of the post you referenced, but in defense of myself, I feel compelled to defend POV. I’m not talking about “assimillation into white culture” I’m talking about an end to distinctions of ones success or failure based on a notion of race. I’m talking about the realization of the fact that continuing to define oneself or marginalize ones accomplishments based on a racial dividing line, should be relegated to the realm of chastity belts. If we use race as any sort of definition for anything, we will NEVER be able to topple its influence. Quite frankly, we’re all too different when we use race. As Prince says “The term black and white is a falacy, its simply another way of saying ‘this or that’ or this which is the truth or that which is resistant to it.” when Race is used to elevate a certain segment, it has the effect of repressing other segments. When Race is used to repress a segment, it is reprehensible. Based on the original Obama post, as well as the discussion over Kings dream being realized, we can see that race is no longer being used to repress by the masses or “white America” would not have voted Obama into the white house. Therefore, my question becomes isn’t it time that we as Americans started trying to look past race as an issue? When I as a white man read the article about Obama, or the fact that in some way, his race assisted in getting him elected, it ticked me off. Race is a horrible reason to elect someone, and I don’t believe for a minute that that’s what got Obama elected. If it was, then there is a serious flaw in our system where the best candidate isnt the elected one. As I said though, I don’t believe that’s the case. but moving forward now, I think it bears merit to say “It’s time to move forward” and that means abandoning race – not heritage – as a characteritic to define someone, or to elevate them.

    If that’s a ramble, I apologize… sooo sleepy… conking now…

  17. just reread my post, some poorly worded areas…specifically “look past race as an issue” sorry! I hope my point can still be inferred… sleeping now.

  18. Robert:

    Have you ever heard of the concept of Colorblind racism?

    Though not understood by many, Colorblind Racism is the cutting edge of American racism and White supremacy today.

    Most people like yourself, when they talk about racism, only focus on an OLDER form of racism: America’s Jim Crow system.

    Today, however, it is the NEWER colorblind racism that is increasingly dominant and more of a threat, precisely because it is subtle, sophisticated, and unrecognized.

    Unlike the older form of racism, colorblind racism involves the use of colorblindness as a principle to implicitly minimize (White) racism, dominance, and power–though it is often couched in disingenuous rhetoric like “looking past race” or “getting past the racial divide.”

    In practice–though of course never in word–this rhetoric means minimizing/denying the reality of (White) racism and power. It means continuing a White racial caste system that is a founding principle of America–but with an updated colorblind mask. And yes, it means pressuring minorities to assimilate into a normative White culture or Compulsory Whiteness in everything but name. The comments by Christine above suggest as much.

    Modern White supremacy is not just the KKK. It’s Main Street, USA. And it comes disguised behind feel good abstractions about how “we are all just humans,” or “we are all just Americans,” or “we are all just individuals.”

    At first blush, this sounds great. However, the political catch, as I stated earlier, is WHOSE specific definitions of humanness, individuality, or Americanness are being expressed behind these sugar-coated generalities? And WHOSE INTERESTS are actually served by these definitions?

    The answer is not so benign.

    -For colorblind racists, they define the “problem” as race itself and seek to deny racial difference and diversity as their proposed solution. This is why they always focus on “moving past the racial divide” or rejecting any kind of racial distinction whatsoever. In the process, notice what they (surprise surprise) AVOID talking much about: White racism, privilege, and dominance.

    In fact, it’s revealing that, with respect to the Obama phenomenon, you hear all this talk about a “post-racial” society, but you rarely hear talk about a post-RACISM society. Why? Because the agenda is not ending racism. It’s sweeping issues of racism under the rug with some myth about how we’re all just colorless individuals.

    For the colorblind racist, the end political goal is a kind of de facto racial and ethnic homogeneity in which minorities are effectively compelled to adopt Honorary White status.

    That’s how the new colorblind racism works.

    -For me, the problem is not race. The problem is *racism* and, in particular, White supremacy. The solution is NOT to deny racial difference and diversity, but to end the system where certain categories of people (aka White people) possess privilege and power as a result of being at the top of America’s racial caste system.

    Put simply, the solution is to end racism–not race.

    But to be blunt, for some White people, this is their worst nightmare come true, as it would involve admitting they are the beneficiaries of undeserved and unearned (racial) status and power, and thus they will be compelled to relinquish them.

    Tim Wise on White Privilege
    http://www.africaspeaks.com/blog/?p=2650

    White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
    http://mmcisaac.faculty.asu.edu/emc598ge/Unpacking.html

    Barack Obama and the “End” of Racism,
    http://www.blackcommentator.com/266/266_barack_end_racism_santos_guest.html

  19. “Why the need to teach your daughter about Korean culture? As I see it, my heritage is Scottish, but I feel no such need to delve into, or pass down scottish traditions and/or history to my daughter. As I see it, we are Americans, not Scotsmen or Koreans, so the desire for me to pass that on doesn’t even enter my mind. That’s the source of my question – I in no way mean to be inflammatory, I really would like to understand the drive to share another country’s culture other than as it relates to where we came from and our personal histories. I know this is a relatively common desire for some minorities, and I’d like to understand it better.”

    1. Well, one. I am Korean. As in my passport is from Korea. As in I cannot vote in the U.S.

    2. I wouldn’t say the it’s a minority desire. The majority don’t realize it because they have the privilege of having it readily available. I went to a small Luther liberal arts college where we were served Scandinavian meals, we could buy “I am Norwegian, kiss me” T-shirts or coffee mugs, Norwegian and Swedish flags were flown, we sang Norwegian songs as sporting event cheers. No one accused them of trying too hard to instill their heritage. Funerals with Scottish kilts and bagpipes? St. Patty’s day? You don’t have to go to an “ethnic” restaurant to find spaghetti or fish and chips or whatever. Sure, you go to a specialty restaurant for, say, blood sausages… but for ALL our food, we have to go to these “ethnic” restaurants.

    3. How do you define America? That argument is always a foot in the mouth since, face it, the only “Americans” who aren’t imposing or seeking to perpetuate THEIR imported culture/heritage are the Native Americans. To lump all anglocentric culture to be “American” and only true “American” does dismiss the non Anglo cultures. Unfortunately that is the popular trend. Therefore us “minorities” have a desire to actively seek out our heritage and our culture since we’re being forcefed the cultures and heritages of others. In fact, this sentiment that “American” culture isn’t any specific culture or heritage when it truly reflects a collection of European cultures is quite a powerful statement of white privilege.

  20. Interesting responses!

    Larry, I’m sorry, but the notion of colorblind racism boggles my mind. It seems to me simply another arguement to promote division amongst the races. I’m not saying we should focus on a “White American” version of equaltiy. I am saying that we would benefit from focusing on our similarities as many different races rather than focusing on our differences. As initially mentioned, and aggreed with in principal by Byron, If we made lists, we would share MANY similarities, why not focus on those instead of our differences? The only answer I can find in the case of the media is focusing on race creates controversy, and controversy sells papers/raises ratings.

    The Obama article above bothered me because it implied that the vision that we see of Obama and his family is somehow exclusive to a plight faced by blacks only. That because we see a black family that is functional and loving, that there is something “wrong” with the picture

    Jamaal Young was watching Barack Obama and his family greet an ecstatic crowd in Chicago, Illinois, on Election Night when he realized that something seemed wrong.

    The languaging is implicative that having a family with a healthy relationship is only an issue that blacks face. Which illustrates my point – Do not Latinos face family value issues? Don’t asians struggle with how to rear children in todays society, to avoid having children that rebel and talk back. Dont whites face these same issues?

    I am not saying that we should cease to teach our children of our pasts, or in some way “cover up” our individualism. I AM saying that when given the opportunity to discuss a healthy family, a member of the media should NOT imply – as was done above – that these issues are somehow faced only by one segment of our country.

    Mama, I think that last paragraph kind of answers your comments as well. My questions to you certainly weren’t meant in any sort of combative way, so I hope you didn’t take them as such – based on your responses, I don’t think you did though.:)

    The one thing I will make note of is the perception that the majority – I’ll ignore the fact that that equates to whites because you can see this in any culture across the globe – is trying to force it’s views of the country on minorities. It’s sad that this is the perception. I think what you are seeing is only the fact that since there is a larger white majority, their businesses (which includes retail sources like clothing and restaurants – and the media) have a bigger market, and stand a better chance of succeeding – not because there is an undercurrent to want to see minority institutions fail, but because there is simply a bigger market to help them succeed. To illustrate the point, my Brother in law is Malasian, he and his Malasian wife go out of their way to support the asian community by dining in local asian restaurants, and shopping in businesses that are owned by asian proprietors. Using that same logic, businesses owned by the majority of a country stand a larger chance of success not because of who owns the business, but because they appeal to a larger market – the majority frequents them because there is something that appeals to them there.

    That’s not racism, that’s just business 101 – to equate it on a different level, if you need a hammer, then it doesn’t matter how wonderful or well marketed or appreciated by any social group as screwdriver is, you still need a hammer and probably won’t buy a screwdriver regardless of how the market for screwdrivers is sufferring or prospering. As such, the fact that there are less Asian oriented businesses doesn’t imply to me that there’s a racist undercurrent, there just aren’t as many Asians to start-up and ASians and people who appreciats Asian culture to support these businesses. Which again speaks to my desire to focus on our similarities, if the majority realizes that they can identify with Asian culture for example, then there should logically stand a better chance that asian businesses will thrive.

    It boils down to supply and demand. You can see that in any country, if I move to Germany, the opportunity to experience German culture is going to far outperform my ability to experience American culture. As that is the case, yes, I’m sure it’s more difficult to find Korean cultural opportunities in America – just as I’m sure it would be difficult for me to find American cultural opportunities outside of a military base in Korea. Do Koreans Celebrate the Fourth of July in Korea? Do they celebrate Black history month? Both are american traditions, but other than as they might pertain to business opportunities, I feel the answer is probably “no”.

    Your references to St. Pats day, spaghetti or fish and chips doesn’t speak to my Scottish Heritage as they are Irish customs, and Bagpipes and Kilts at funerals are not a custom that is desired by most people either. From my experiences with funerals, things like that are things that the family requests, just as you would have the opportunity to incorporate Asian customs into one of your family members funerals.

    More on St. Pats. I liken that holiday to Cinco De Mayo. They are merely commercialized holidays that retailers can exploit to make more money. In short they are business opportunities. I’d be willing to bet that if you asked 50 random whites in mainstream America what the meaning was behind st. Patricks day, none of them could tell you that it’s a celebration of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of ireland. To be honest, I’ve seen more attention paid to Chinese new year as of late for the same reason – anything that gives restaurants and bars a reason to encourage people to drink more – and hence spend more money with them – will be latched onto.

  21. Robert:

    We are focusing on both similarities and differences. Wasn’t that Jamaal Young’s point? He was saying “I’m just like you, but this is the first time I’ve seen myself portrayed like that in the media.” He’s just like you, but the media portrays him differently.

    Also, when he said that something was “wrong,” he was being ironic. I do the same thing all the time.

    “The languaging is implicative that having a family with a healthy relationship is only an issue that blacks face. Which illustrates my point – Do not Latinos face family value issues? Don’t asians struggle with how to rear children in todays society, to avoid having children that rebel and talk back. Dont whites face these same issues?”

    Everyone faces it, but certain communities face certain problems more than others, especially when it comes to minority issues. That’s my point, Larry’s point, Mama Nabi’s point, Tim Wise’s point, Dr. Martin Luther King’s point, was a point that Bill Clinton made, etc.

    I think you should give “Why We Can’t Wait” a shot. Read it front to back. You brought Dr. King into the conversation, so it probably would be good to give him a read and to understand the practical lessons that he taught. “Everyone just be equal” is nice in theory, but it doesn’t work that way.

  22. It seems to me simply another arguement to promote division amongst the races. I’m not saying we should focus on a “White American” version of equaltiy. I am saying that we would benefit from focusing on our similarities as many different races rather than focusing on our differences. As initially mentioned, and aggreed with in principal by Byron, If we made lists, we would share MANY similarities, why not focus on those instead of our differences? The only answer I can find in the case of the media is focusing on race creates controversy, and controversy sells papers/raises ratings.

    Robert:

    Your response doesn’t surprise me at all. I hear it all the time ad nauseum from those people who wish to downplay the reality of (White) racism and power in America.

    Indeed, the first step towards maintaining White privilege is to pretend that it doesn’t exist. That’s what Colorblind Racism is about.

    The colorblind racist often frames the debate in terms of empty banalities about how “we are all just the same” or “let’s just focus on our similarities” … in order to sweep under the rug or deny uncomfortable issues of White racial privilege, dominance, and racism.

    The colorblind racist always whines about “racial division” instead of focusing on White racism, injustice, inequality.

    The reason for this is evident. S/he would rather not admit that White oppression and privilege even exist. Instead, the colorblind racist is more interested in diverting attention from these issues with sugar-coated “let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya” rhetoric.

    And to repeat again, White definitions of equality, individuality, and Americanness are NORMALIZED.

    That means they do NOT officially announce themselves as reflecting White interests or values. Instead, they masquerade as universal truths and reflecting the common good.

    That is, a White special interest always fronts itself as some kind of colorblind, objective perspective–when in fact, it is anything but. Moreover, it’s White people as a class who have the power to IMPOSE their particular political viewpoints as universal.

    Go and watch the video by Tim Wise. He explains all these issues in clear detail and gives concrete examples illustrating all these points.

    Pay particular attention to the parts about how Colorbind rhetoric is used to silence conversations about racism and White racial privilege.

    Tim Wise on White Privilege
    http://www.africaspeaks.com/blog/?p=2650

  23. Larry,

    I think you’re missing my point. The issue is NOT whites. Its THE MAJORITY vs. any minority. Hence my comment about going to Korea, or Gemany and not being “empowered” What you are conveniently labeling as “White Racism” under the definition of colorblindedness is absurd. Colorblindedness takes away ANY issue of race and instead focuses on helping the Majority see the issues faced by minorities and because there is common ground shared, it is easier for all to come to conclusions on how to deal with issues that are no longer about race, but are instead about human nature. The issue is not skin color, it’s being accepted for who you are regardless of skin. And this idea is not only limited to whites, as you would imply it to be. here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/machosauceproduction

    granted hes speaking from a decidedly republican point of view, and he derails into political topics, but this is a black mans perspective on his own community.

    And for the record, I am not a racist, and I reent your implications that I am in some way trying to silence discussions about racism. If you’ll note, it was my discourse that began this discussion in earnest, and my willingness to discuss and learn that has kept it going. I ignored your implications in your first post, while you on the other hand seem all to ready to dismiss it with a desire to call someone who is open to discussing the topic a racist, especially if they have a viewpoint that oposes yours.

  24. I think you’re missing my point. The issue is NOT whites. Its THE MAJORITY vs. any minority. Hence my comment about going to Korea, or Gemany and not being “empowered” What you are conveniently labeling as “White Racism” under the definition of colorblindedness is absurd. Colorblindedness takes away ANY issue of race and instead focuses on helping the Majority see the issues faced by minorities and because there is common ground shared, it is easier for all to come to conclusions on how to deal with issues that are no longer about race, but are instead about human nature. The issue is not skin color, it’s being accepted for who you are regardless of skin. And this idea is not only limited to whites, as you would imply it to be.

    No, I understand your point. And the problem is exactly about (White) racism.

    Colorblindedness “takes away any issue of race” alright–in order to deny the reality of White privilege, racism, and power in America.

    Colorblindness invokes some formal colorblind condition that exists only as an abstraction (i.e. it’s not about skin color) and IGNORES actual ground reality.

    You claim the question is not about race (or better yet racism)–yet don’t recognize that White racism and supremacy have been foundational values of the USA since it was spawned.

    -After all, America itself was founded upon a little thing called Black chattel slavery and Native Indian genocide involving the murder of millions of non-white people. Ever heard of the Middle Passage? Or the Trail of Tears?

    That’s not about race, and better yet, White racism?

    -Today, minorities like African Americans, for example, have a median household income that is only 60% that of Whites. And they are imprisoned by America at far higher numbers in absolute terms and as a percentage of population than Whites.

    That’s not about race, and better yet White racism?

    -Take a look at the police murders or torture of minorities like Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Adolph Grimes; the phenomena of Driving While Black or Flying While Arab; the intimidation, deportation, and even murders of predominantly Latino and Asian immigrants by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

    That’s not about race, or better yet White racism?

    And for the record, I am not a racist, and I reent your implications that I am in some way trying to silence discussions about racism. If you’ll note, it was my discourse that began this discussion in earnest, and my willingness to discuss and learn that has kept it going. I ignored your implications in your first post, while you on the other hand seem all to ready to dismiss it with a desire to call someone who is open to discussing the topic a racist, especially if they have a viewpoint that oposes yours.

    Go and check your own comments. You have openly said that the issue should not be about race (i.e. White racism) but some abstract problem with “human nature.”

    That is not an example of trying to silence or minimize discussions of racism?

    Let me ask you: Do you believe that White privilege and structural racism even exist?

    You seem to have a hard time even admitting this basic point. Indeed, the so-called common ground that you claim to support is one that *refuses* to fully address the issue of race, let alone White racism.

    That’s not dialogue. That’s not “willingness to learn.” That’s sounds a lot like political denial.

    And to repeat, Colorblind Racism is NOT the older form of racism that most people like yourself think of when the term racism is used (e.g. the KKK, Jim Crow apartheid, or calling people “nigger,” “spic,” or “chink”).

    Colorblind racism is much more subtle. It is the manipulation of a formal, abstracted notion of Colorblindness to deny and thus perpetuate actual White racism, privilege, and dominance in all but name.

    It involves invoking some feel-good generalities that APPEAR to be positive at face value (i.e. “The issue is not skin color”) in order to minimize how racism powerfully impacts socio-economic and political life in America–in employment, housing, or educational opportunities; in income, health, or property ownership; and in who is harassed, murdered, and imprisoned by America at numbers far disproportionate to their population.

    To paraphrase Julian Bond, colorblindness means being “blind to the consequences of being the wrong color in America today.”

    This new form of racism is increasingly dominant in America, though it is largely unrecognized by most people. Angry defensive denials will not make it go away.

    Colorblind Racism
    http://www.alternet.org/story/16792?page=entire

    “Racism Without Racists- an analysis”
    http://whitestudiesblackstudies.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/racism-without-racists-an-analysis/

    Regarding your video, you must have been scraping the barrel long and hard to find a person of color to support your position. Who exactly is “MachoSauceProduction”? Has he studied the issue of Colorblind racism?

    According to his website, he is part of the “Conservative Christian” movement–you know, the same movement that opposes Gay marriage, Affirmative Action, and is generally hostile to minorities in the USA.

    In fact, Mr. MachoSauceProduction boasts that he has “gained positive feedback” from the likes of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin! That’s … not exactly a positive thing.

    http://www.machosauceproductions.com/founder_bio.html

    In case you haven’t realized, you don’t have to be White to support and defend political positions that serve White privilege and power. See Clarence Thomas, Dinesh D’Souza, or … Michelle Malkin.

    Indeed, that video misrepresents the very legacy of Martin Luther King in a way that is pervasive in America society: that of his stance on Colorblindness. In general, MLK’s legacy has largely been sanitized, whitewashed, and politically domesticated by mainstream America.

    Misreading the Dream
    http://www.alternet.org/story/14984/misreading_the_dream/

    Video: Dr. MLK Jr: Struggling not to lose him
    http://www.creative-i.info/?p=4090

    My links to the video of Tim Wise and articles about Peggy McIntosh, Juan Santos, or Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (who helped develop the concept of Colorblind Racism) are the perspectives of people that are leading anti-racist activists who have devoted decades to the study of this topic and more importantly political organizing.

    Somehow, I think they have a bit more credibility than Mr. MachoSauceProduction.

  25. I’m not Larry, but so I may not get this right.
    But I do not think the entire purpose is to call you racist,
    But to bring something new to your attention.
    In my honest opinion, the only way to not be racist, is to recognize where your flaws may be, and what to do to counter them.
    Point in being: We may not be able to change how a machine is made, but we can use the machine to do something other than intended.

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned how close cultural lines, and “race” lines line up with each other.
    The one big thing that ties the two together is that when we forget to look in the mirror in the morning to check what our skin color is, someone else out there is going to remind us.
    If by means you take away our race by a colorblind state, you take away our identities. For the White, it will not change much – most white folk do not ascribe to their race as an important aspect of their identity.
    My recent “Diversity Training” course asked us to select the top 5 aspects that are most important to your identity. With selections where you have a choice, such as career, hobbies, interests, to things you cannot change, race, age, gender. (Mind you, I work in an industry where there is a stereotype that no-one is short of a strong opinion – for good reason. It is also, EXTREMELY white dominated.) The three colored folk, and an Irish friend of mine were the only people of the 30 or so people to select Race/Ethnicity. Just as the three women, selected gender as a very important part of their identity.

    My some number cents on Colorblind Racism (of which I was introduced to as Modern Racism)

    1.) Asking someone from the minority perspective to treat race colorblindedly, is like ask a Woman to… well not be a woman.

    2.) A race-blind world can exist if and only if, we are not able to recognize our difference.
    Many of people of color have the pleasurable experience of meeting children in public places. Here is a personal experience of mine, possibly a blunt story, as I consider myself the worst storyteller.
    One day me and my friend were riding out bikes along for one of our daily rides around the town. So we turn down a street – same as any other day – to a child, of no more than 4, and his father unloading their Subaru Forester of the daily groceries. Now the child see’s us biking along down the street, minding our own business, but to him, he sees something different. He sees something that’s neigh a discovery to his eyes, and out of his own excitement he excitedly reports to his father “Look Daddy! Japanese people!” His father immediately takes efforts to quiet his child as the two of us, riding along, look around for actual Japanese people in the area. The two of us always look back at this in jest, with statements such as “What a racist little boy” but are mostly curious about two things: Why he thought we were Japanese? and Why his parent took the effort to keep him quiet – imagine what it teaches.

    3.) Similarities vs. Differences.
    I’m not sure how much focusing on similarities would work. It’s on par with saying Democrats and Republicans should get a long because their elected, and [if not corrupted] working for the good of the entire nation! When the reason that there are Reds and Blues is because their different.
    If the problem is the “Racial Divide” which stems from the differences of the two people, logic would induce that somewhere in between “differences” and “racial divide” the problem would need to be addressed. Similarities, appears to me, a different tree to work with. Playing on the Similarity tree will not stop the seeds from the Difference tree from dispersal.

    4.) Identity and Culture are tied, for people of color are tied intrinsically in the US. I covered this earlier. But a particular note to add, would be the US influence on the rest of the world. There are plenty of places that people will tell you that being white there is a hell of a lot better than being anything else.

    5.) The dominant culture creates the bubble of what is acceptable and what is not. The easiest, most talked about, and least offensive example is Food. More particularly a favorite “ethnic” food, Chinese Food – you know Orange Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Broccoli Beef, General Tso’s Chicken, Fortune Cookies. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I do believe that there was a girl who wrote a book, “Chinese Fortune Cookies” (Which I very much so wish I had a copy of) The big thing you’ll hear about though, is that those foods, are not even close to being Chinese. Point being, these similarities, may be superficial.

    Just one thing, no offense to you Robert, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.
    “Colorblindedness takes away ANY issue of race and instead focuses on helping the Majority see the issues faced by minorities and because there is common ground shared, it is easier for all to come to conclusions on how to deal with issues that are no longer about race, but are instead about human nature.”
    There is a hole here: Once colorblind, how do we know the issues of the minority?
    Might I put forth the notion: Human nature sees the difference between an apple and an orange, the same way it sees the difference of skin color.

    I, personally, think the path to be taken is a path of Respect, and not the path of colorblindness.
    I believe that everyone has racist nature and tendencies, it is just a matter of recognizing those and acting against them.

    and on a sidenote, before anyone grills you on this. A lot of writings on Colorblind/Modern racism, will start with portions that include how many people will say “I’m not racist, because *insert any reason here, because at this point no one is listening anyways*” Reason being that you these problems get sorted out when people act humble when warned of a fault, and take the time to understand the perspective, instead of what may been seen as chauvinism or arrogance.

    A lot of these papers contain many reasons as to why the Colorblind method doesn’t work. I agree with them, but this is my beliefs.

    Please, please take the time to take the effort to look into what people see as “White Privilige” or the Colorblind or Modern Racism. I think you may find it insightful as to our perspective.

  26. Wow. Such opposition. Maybe you’re right. We can’t ever find a commonality to hold to that would allow us to in some way come together – In some way to find a mutual respect for one another based on our commonalities rather than our differences.

    As mentioned by myself MULTIPLE times, I hope I didn’t offend anyone. Clearly my perspective – which seems to be ignored in favor of – in some cases an outright attack of my desire to find a solution to the race issue, seems to be incomprehensible. Larry, I would have thought that seeing anyone who is not of a minority even considering the race issue (why – after all would I even care about doing anything that might jeopordize my “White Privilege” that you think sets me apart from you?) you would find some way of communicating with that person, recognizing that “Hey! here is an opportunity to try to convince someone from “the other side” to see my viewpoint.” Instead you display your own racism by attacking me for even considering a notion like “colorblindedness” without ever considering that my viewpoint might actually come from some other place than racism or a need to erase your identity.

    Your narrowminded viewpoint is exactly why your (Larry’s) discourses will fail. I’ve experience people who are like you before, I have been called a racist by a man who doesn’t even know my name, who hasn’t even heard my voice or opinions before, and I know factually that there is no point in speaking to a closed mind who has the ability to feed their closedmindedness via the internet. Instead of your comments inspiring me to learn more, as some of Mama Nabi, or Byrons comments have your comments have inspired me to pretty much encourage you to “go to hell” and have made me rethink why I would even want to try to reach out and understand anyones opposing viewpoint on this issue. It’s clear that if their opinions don’t agree with you, then this is the treatment they can expect. So I will leave you now, to your forum where you talk about issues that are largely already known to other people who hold the same views. To talk “amongst yourselves” and accomplish whatever it is you think you can change by refusing to constructively open your opininons to anyone who doesnt agree with you.

  27. Robert:

    With all due respect, please drop the White martyr complex. You are essentially adopting a rhetorical pose instead of an argument here: The benevolent White man attempting to establish “common ground” with an angry minority. In fact, most of your “dialogue” on this thread has not bothered to address the specific points or articles that I referenced.

    To repeat my point, how you can assert it is better to address racism in the USA as a problem of some colorblind “human nature” instead of that of … racism or White supremacy in particular?

    Your belief is analogous to asserting that, when talking about gender oppression, one should frame the topic as a problem of general human nature instead of patriarchy, male dominance, and sexism!

    Put another way, would you advocate having a Genderblind society akin to a Colorblind society as well?

    Do you believe that a Genderblind society would bring an end to sexism, or male dominance, or patriarchal society in concrete practice?

    If you want to learn more about the issues of colorblindness and race as you assert, I would go and watch the video by Tim Wise and read the articles linked above.

    Wise in particular rebuts many of your assertions about colorblindness and explains in plain concrete language how this principle implicitly operates to deny and continue White privilege and racism. And he argues why the Colorblindness model of race relations should thus be rejected. Start at about 15:00 minutes in the video for this particular discussion.

    Tim Wise on White Privilege
    http://www.africaspeaks.com/blog/?p=2650

    The article by Peggy McIntosh specifically explains how White privilege is manifest in the USA.

    The others explain the concept of Colorblind Racism.

    Yet other links explain how Martin Luther King’s legacy and his alleged support of Colorblindness have been deliberately misrepresented by America.

  28. LAryr,

    I’ve actuially watched the Tim Wise video, and the notion of White Privelige is I would say and angle he’s using to sell his lecture circuit and books. I’ll entertain the notion for a moment to make my point.

    If the privileges that i face as a white man are based on the color of my skin, then I should be able to adopt the philosophy to any location on the planet. Which is wherethe concept breaks down. What he labels as “White” should be replaced wiith “Majority Privilege” If I as a white man move to Saudi Arabia, do you think I still hold a privilege? How about Korea? What about if I immerse myself in a black Society in the US even? If I went to howard university for example, would I be given privilege over a black student? What if I were to move to Germany? Ahh, you’d answer yes, because the color of the people with privilege there are likely white, but I would argue that as an American, I would lose any privilege. Therefore, the axe you seek to grind is not with whites, it is with the majority. Unless you don’t really care about race issues unless it’s only as it applies in America?

    Here’s a notion for you, as IR’s continue to occur, it is ineveitable that over time, we will all blend into a mix of races anyway, at that point, what will be the label of privilege then? I think the idea of colorblindness just desires to attain what may be inevitable anyway. So while I can certainly see how it would be easy to assume that “whites” have privilege – because they are the majority, please don’t confuse the truth with skin color. As I have said all along, the issue is not with the color of one’s skin, it is with majority vs minority. By putting a skin color to the label, you alienate the person to whom you are speaking. When you accuse me of being a racist, it pisses me off and makes me think “You know what? screw this, why do I want to learn? I am coming into this with an open mind – because you don’t perceive that is not my fault. But feeling that I have to defend myself? the hell with that. If you ever want to honestly open someones mind, at the minimum, you need to change your languaging. I would however suggest that you consider the validity of the notion that it is whites that are somehow trying to manipulate you into empowering them, because, frankly, it is not true.

  29. Robert wrote:

    “If I as a white man move to Saudi Arabia, do you think I still hold a privilege? How about Korea? What about if I immerse myself in a black Society in the US even? If I went to howard university for example, would I be given privilege over a black student?”

    Actually, the answer to those questions would probably be yes, yes, yes, and yes. I’ve not been to any of those places, but I’ve read firsthand accounts of people who have been. I can tell you from personal experience that whiteness bestows the greatest of privileges on white people in Japan and China. The Japanese have a term called “akogare” which they often use to describe this behavior (it literally means “admiration,” but it’s a bit more than that.) I’ve seen this sad phenomenon myself, but if you’d rather hear it from a white person, read “The Asian Mystique” by the blonde haired, blue eyed, white Sheridan Prasso.

    Why does this white privilege exist all over the world? I suggest you read “Orientalism” by Edward Said to learn about the effects of colonization on the entire world. It’s not a majority/minority thing; it’s a who-colonized-butchered-enslaved-and-raped-whom thing.

    But…first start with “Why We Can’t Wait” by Martin Luther King. You really should read this book. As Larry mentions, people take that poor guy’s words out of context far too often, and we all need to set the record straight.

    I’d be interested in learning your views on the practical aspects of improving race relations after reading King’s book.

    Will you at least check out this book?

  30. Byron, I’ll check out the book, but I can tell you from secondhand experience that My mother was openly spat at as she walked the streets of Paris while pregnant with me, not because she was white, but because she was married to a member of the american military and as such was easily identified as an american.

    I have friends who were stationed in Korea who were turned away from bars and clubs that were off base, and I have similar accounts from friends who were advised not to leave post when stationed abroad due to anti-american sentiment. Again, if White Privilege existed – based on skin color, this would not be the case.

    Again, my point is not to see who can out do the other in experiences or stories, nor to deny that there isn’t privilege in this country or any other country to one group or another. My point is that to limit the thinking that this privilege is only based on skin color is inaccurate. I won’t for a minute suggest that anyone reading this hasn’t experienced some sort of bigotry or racism, nor would I downplay it, but I don’t think the way to solve the problem is to focus on diferences.

    A great example is Larry and I’s “discussions”. Honestly, I’d be very happy to never hear from him again. His accusatory tone and great desire to point out what’s wrong with me in his opinion – a person who he doesn’t know in any way other than 6 posts on a forum (whatever the count, I’m not going to factcheck). However, he has formed an opinion of me as a racist, and would rather throw that label at me, and insinuate that because I think about race issues (something most in the majority could care less about) that that somehow makes me a racist. Do you realize how that makes me feel? It’s pretty clear he doesn’t care, and that makes me think “Well, screw it, why should I care?” Does that help solve anything? or is it counterproductive?

    Like I said in a past post, if larry would rather pump his fist in the air over calling “yet another white guy” a racist, then so be it, I’ll happily leave him to his delusions, leave the blog and let him continue to post his feelings to like minded people, in essense masturbating intellectually. Whatever, I don’t need to waste my energy trying to convince someone of something they don’t want to hear in the first place, and something that they clearly think they hold all the answers to.

    Interestingly, even though I asked larry several posts back “What’s the answer then?” I have yet to hear anything other than a continuance to punch holes in anything I’ve said. It’s easy to pick apart someone else’s ideas, especially when you either don’t have any of your own, or refuse to post them.

    When I first began really discussing this topic, I had no intention of defending myself to anyone, I was hoping – and was encouraged by the dialogue that you and I shared Byron, that this could be a very interesting “swap of ideas” from one perspective to the other – quid pro quo. Instead, I feel attacked and have grown tired of the conversation. Not because I’m right or wrong, but because there’s little point in talking to a closed mind.

  31. “I have friends who were stationed in Korea who were turned away from bars and clubs that were off base, and I have similar accounts from friends who were advised not to leave post when stationed abroad due to anti-american sentiment. Again, if White Privilege existed – based on skin color, this would not be the case.”

    People in that area are upset with U.S. military crimes in the area. You can do a Google search to learn more about this. Just because people are upset at crime committed by members of a certain sector doesn’t mean white privilege doesn’t exist. And just because the French don’t like Americans doesn’t mean that there doesn’t exist a racial hierarchy in that culture.

    Thanks for checking out the book. I think you’ll find it interesting. If after reading it you don’t agree with Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy, at the very least you’ll see his historical reasons for thinking as he did.

    Robert, I’ll say this, and don’t be offended by it or think that I’m taking sides: I think you should listen to Larry. He’s got a PhD in English with a concentration on minority issues, so he knows a lot about the history of race relations in this country and beyond. He’s read Dr. King and beyond. Even if he doesn’t say things exactly as you might like him to say things, he is sending you some valuable resources. Think of his words as free knowledge. As Jason said above:
    “But I do not think the entire purpose is to call you racist,
    But to bring something new to your attention.”

    By the way, if you’ve got beef with Larry, we also do podcasts where you can literally make your voice heard. Some people find it easier to speak in real time. If you’re one of those people, let me know, and I’ll try to make it happen.

    (My reCAPTCHA words are “luck declining.”)

  32. It doesn’t matter why they were turned away, it still argues against white privilege. If the privilege were there, then the turning away would not happen. By your logic of using crime as an argument, then it would be acceptable for me to turn blacks away from a nightclub that I own because “They come from a crime ridden neighborhood, and it’s just safer for my patrons if they’re not allowed in the facility” by the way, my friends were off duty and hence out of uniform when they were turned away, as such, there was no identifier that they were from the military, they could have just as easily been tourists.

    this will be my last post, as I have grown past weary of this. I’m sorry this couldn’t be a topic about how to put a stop to racism and instead has turned into an argument about how whites are – aparrently – inherently racist due to their skin color.

  33. Just because they were turned away doesn’t automatically mean that there is no advantages of being white. One could still be advantaged but not have an advantage 100% of the time.
    This being said I don’t disagree with you that some of it is a majority vs minority not just skin color.

    As for Larry’s educational background, Since he’s got a PhD in English with a concentration on minority issues, I would listen to what he has to say…but being a PhD doesn’t make you always correct. There are rabid rightwing crazies with PhDs that still spew facts out of contexts and half truths. Some academics can be condescending (at times unknowingly) and actually make people more alienated instead of more informed.

  34. Robert:

    In areas near a base, you can tell the military guys from the tourists with fair accuracy.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re done here. If I’m in any way responsible, I apologize. I am trying to give you a platform to share your views. If you change your mind, feel free to come back.

    I think this is part of what Larry was trying to describe. As a white person, you have the ability to turn away at any time, but minorities will still deal with racism. Racism becomes our problem because not enough people from the majority want to take steps to fix it. As you mention in your early posts, many white writers don’t talk about race. That’s part of the privilege. Larry didn’t say you were inherently racist because of your skin color; in fact, he I think he just wanted you to hear what he was saying about privilege.

    As I mentioned before, the podcasting option is open to you. If you wanted to write a post on how to stop racism, I’ll even put it on the front page. I’ll give you every opportunity to share your views if you so choose, but implied in that opportunity is that we all have to be committed to educating ourselves and hearing the other side.

  35. Hahaha! *sighs* I’m sorry to make light of a serious discussion, but this whole thing turned into such a predictable outcome that it’s practically becoming cliche: condescending white person jumps on discussion of race, tells the minority community to transcend their oh-so-bitter racist obsessions, then leaves all ass-hurt when nobody buys into his flawed colorblind utopia and instead calls out his ignorance of the minority experience. So a few American soldiers can’t seem to get a drink in Korea. Boo fucking hoo. How about the fact that these soldiers commit numerous crimes and the S. Korean gov’t have practically no say in these matters? Am I supposed to think that with colorblindness, an entire history of white colonialism will also be rendered irrelevant?

    Before we all try to “transcend” race and become this big happy homogenous blob (ick), the first step requires us to actually UNDERSTAND race and the critical role it plays in our lives. The fact that most white people refuse to see this, or even entertain the ideal of its relevancy simply betray their immaturity in race politics and their unwillingness to listen to minority viewpoints. This whole “ignore race, and racism will disappear!” solution is so asinine because us colored folk live with race and racism every day of our lives. To deny race is to deny our very existence.

    To Jaehwan, Larry, and others, I tip my hat to you guys for bringing these critical topics to light and approaching them in an intelligent manner, and most importantly for discussing the minority viewpoint. I don’t know how you guys do it; you have the patience of saints. Myself, I’ve given up on trying to make white folks understand a long time ago (with the exception of pretty white women, and that’s for different reasons).

  36. Larry,

    I don’t think you used very good examples.
    I feel that a lot of those examples you listed are toned with the “Old Fashioned Type of Racism” [Whats the technical term? I typically use ‘Outright’] we hear all the time. And not the more subtle systematic (not that it’s structured’ but is the structure) Modern Racism.

    I also think that you used “White Racism” a few too many times, as to the defensive response. As I read it, you never called him (Robert) racist, but you sure did hit him pretty hard.

    ——–

    All,

    From my knowledge, the reason that it is called Colorblind racism, is because many experts believe that the “Colorblind” system has been in practice for years now. You may even hear some say the idea that Race is a hush-hush topic. By this I mean, that when someone brings up race – the other concedes. (Which is why so many people love “The Race Card”. Make it about race, and they back off! Lol.) This is one example in what people call

    This colorblind system that is often talked about, isn’t one that makes people racist, but is a structure that can prevent access to certain privileges. [Note, certain] One resulting effect is the Bamboo/Glass ceiling. The current idea of the Formula for Corporate success is based on personality traits that aren’t taught in many Asian American Households. Now, this can lead to a very highly qualified (and talented) individual being overlooked in a promotion. It overlooks any differences in culture that may be acknowledged, and prevents this individual having the privilege.

    The most CLASSIC example for Asian Americans is the “So, where are you from?” question. I’m an honest person, so I always tell people I’m from Alaska first. Mind you, its apparently no good to ask someone what their ethnicity is? (under limited context) But it is ok to ask the question that – by the nature of it being asked – implies that I’m from somewhere other than America? The one that subtly says, I’m NOT an American.
    Even bigger issue, is that many of us grow with this question being asked so many times that they do start to think that they are not American.
    I’ve had the experience of being able talk with many of the Asian American students as they were settling into my Alma Matter, many freshmen, when I asked, “Where are you from?” would reply with a foreign country. (Which, most of the time, tells me little about them) I would then have to either clarify my question by listing nearby cities/towns, or I could ask (knowingly, but to play naive) what it was like going to highschool in that country or comment on how much they pay for school. (It’s fun, I get the opportunity to play around and call them I liar. Lol)

    I would like to say that Dahlak Brathwaite actually Emcee’s about it in his song Black Genius. (Warning: Explicit Lyrics. Search for it on YouTube, or imeem) It may be hard to see my connection. I won’t say more, I’d rather not speak for Dahlak – he has his own voice.

    When we speak of this system of Modern/Colorblind Racism, we are not talking about blatant discrimination, but how subtle aspects of American Societal Culture today can prevent any certain privileges from being established for certain groups of people.

    Someone correct me if I’m incorrect, but weren’t most of the rights movements from back in the 60’s/70’s focused on correcting it here? They are specifically focused on the hierarchical structure that is found in the US, that puts certain people over others. The hierarchical structure may not be quite the same in another nation – I believe that we should be working on a model here in the US, that could then be adapted and spread.

  37. “A great example is Larry and I’s “discussions”. Honestly, I’d be very happy to never hear from him again. His accusatory tone and great desire to point out what’s wrong with me in his opinion – a person who he doesn’t know in any way other than 6 posts on a forum (whatever the count, I’m not going to factcheck). However, he has formed an opinion of me as a racist, and would rather throw that label at me, and insinuate that because I think about race issues (something most in the majority could care less about) that that somehow makes me a racist. Do you realize how that makes me feel? It’s pretty clear he doesn’t care, and that makes me think “Well, screw it, why should I care?” Does that help solve anything? or is it counterproductive?

    Like I said in a past post, if larry would rather pump his fist in the air over calling “yet another white guy” a racist, then so be it, I’ll happily leave him to his delusions, leave the blog and let him continue to post his feelings to like minded people, in essense masturbating intellectually. Whatever, I don’t need to waste my energy trying to convince someone of something they don’t want to hear in the first place, and something that they clearly think they hold all the answers to.”

    Robert: For someone who is always whining about being accused, you do a lot of accusing yourself. Like I said, playing the White martyr role may score you some sympathy points, but it’s not a convincing argument for the issues involved.

    It’s appears that the type of “dialogue” that you want is one that is premised upon minimizing or denying the reality of White privilege and power in America.

    That ain’t dialogue. That’s political denial–one that serves to perpetuate this privilege and power by obscuring them with handholding “Can’t We All Just Get Along” rhetoric.

    But just so there is no confusion, are you saying that White *institutional* racism (whether the older or newer form) and privilege don’t exist in America?

    If you believe that, I’d say that you are the one suffering from delusion.

    * How do you explain that Blacks in the USA, for example, have only 60% of Whites’ median household income in the USA?

    * How do you explain that Blacks and Latinos comprise a super majority of all those incarcerated for drug use even though Whites are at least equally if not more prone to using drugs?

    * How do you explain phenomena like Driving While Black? Are you suggesting that this does not exist?

    * According to recent Human Rights Watch studies, there are striking racial disparities in American imprisonment rates. Here are some of their findings:

    -Blacks and Hispanics make up 62 percent of the incarcerated population, though comprising only 25 percent of the national population.

    -Black women are incarcerated at rates between ten and thirty-five times greater than the rates of white women in fifteen states (Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).

    -Hispanic youth are incarcerated at rates seven to seventeen times greater than those of whites in Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, while the incarceration rate for black youth is between twelve and twenty-five times greater than those of whites in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, and New Jersey.

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2002/02/26/us-incarceration-rates-reveal-striking-racial-disparities

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2000/06/07/united-states-stark-race-disparities-drug-incarceration

    It appears to me that your “explanation” is premised on 2 points 1). Changing the topic from America to other countries like Saudi Arabia, Germany, or Korea. 2). Claiming it’s just a question of Majority vs. Minority.

    -Regarding your first point, as suggested by others, White Americans in particular do enjoy race privilege in other countries.

    For example, do you believe that African Americans will receive the same treatment and deference that White Americans receive in other nations like Germany or Saudi Arabia or South Korea? Honestly now.

    -Regarding your second point, how do you explain the case of Apartheid South Africa, where a tiny White *minority* was able to rule over a Black *majority* that vastly outnumbered them?

    Better yet, how can you explain gender inequality in the USA in terms of your majority-minority explanation? Women in the USA are actually a numerical majority, yet they are not equal to men in terms of power or wealth.

    According to your argument, women should be dominant or at least equal to men since they are the numerical majority. This is not the case. Why? Because of a thing called patriarchy and sexism.

    In terms of race, the problem is not just some abstract and meaningless question of majority-minority or “human nature” as you have suggested, it’s about living in a world (particularly America), where White racism and privilege prevail.

    “Interestingly, even though I asked larry several posts back “What’s the answer then?” I have yet to hear anything other than a continuance to punch holes in anything I’ve said. It’s easy to pick apart someone else’s ideas, especially when you either don’t have any of your own, or refuse to post them.”

    I stated the answer all along, though you are hostile to it. The answer is to expose how White privilege works and bring this system to an end. But for many White people, this is their worst nightmare–actually having to admit and thus give up their unearned and undeserved power or status.

    As I’ve said before, the first “line of defense” in maintaining and perpetuating White domination and privilege is to pretend that it doesn’t exist with vapid catchphrases about “we’re all just the same” or “colorblind society.”

    And in general, a better model than the American Colorblind or Melting Pot system is the Canadian Multicultural model. In the Canadian system, visible minorities are not compelled to give up their culture and assimilate into some Colorblind (i.e. White) Mainstream but are allowed to retain their heritage and specifity.

    Since you had a predictably smug dismissal of Tim Wise’s lecture, here is another article for you to read. He provides specific examples of White privilege in America.

    EXPLAINING WHITE PRIVILEGE TO THE DENIERS AND THE HATERS
    http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/explaining-white-privilege-deniers-and-haters

    Peggy McIntosh explains how White privilege works with concrete examples from everyday life:

    White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
    http://mmcisaac.faculty.asu.edu/emc598ge/Unpacking.html

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