July 28, 2010

Talking about race perpetuates racism?!

The Stuff White People Do blog discusses how white people blame the conversation about race for racism. The starting point is a CNN interview with author Tim Wise:LEMON:  So I want to ask Tim this because I just got someone on Twitter--if we can show the board here--"Tim" said, "Unbelievable, Don Lemon. All three panelists are working from the assumption of racism. Anybody see this nice diversity of opinion." And there are people I've been getting things saying when we do discussions like this, don't talk about race. You're dividing people when you talk about race. And to that, you say?

TIM WISE, AUTHOR "COLORBLIND":  Well, look, to blame the conversation about race for racism is like blaming the speedometer on your car for the ticket that you just got. It doesn't make any sense. When you have mobs of people surrounding John Lewis, one of this nation's preeminent heroes in the civil rights struggle and using the "n" word with him, when you've got folks showing up at rallies with signs that have the president with a bone through his nose dressed like a witch doctor, or pictures of the White House lawn covered in watermelons, you don't get to retreat and go, "Gee, don't talk about that. If you wouldn't talk about it, it would go away.”

We wouldn't say that about any other problem. I mean, think about world hunger. Who would say, world hunger, "Gee, if we just don't talk about it, maybe food will miraculously appear on the plates of the hungry?" I mean, no other problem on earth do we say that. Here's the thing, Don, historically white America has never wanted to talk about race. We didn't want to talk about it in 1963 when two out of three white Americans said the Civil Rights Movement was pushing for too much and was being divisive and in '68, Pat Buchanan told Richard Nixon, not to go to Dr. King's funeral because he was one of the most divisive people in American history. A lot of white folks on the right have always wanted to stop talking about this and they've always been wrong. And they were asking for it.
Comment:  We hear comments similar to the ones Wise is talking about all too frequently. For instance, when Eliza Starbuck wrote:[G]oing on about them [stereotypes] is only going to perpetuate them.This is the same stupid attitude Michael Cooke expressed in Stereotypes Disappear "Organically"? "Savage" stereotypes didn't disappear in America's first 500 years, but if Indians would just stop acting uppity and wait like good little Uncle Tomahawks, they'll disappear any day now.

Yeah, right. You have to be profoundly ignorant of history to believe something like that. Again, problems like this go away by making them go away, not by ignoring them.

It goes without saying that Starbuck, Cooke, Michelle Shining Elk, et al. can't and won't provide a shred of evidence for their thesis. That's because they've dreamed it up out of thin air to stop the racial criticism. They don't like this criticism because it makes them look ignorant and apathetic. They'd rather cover up their ears than hear something uncomfortable to them.

The implicit subtext of their complaints is "racism no longer exists, so why are you bringing it up?" In other words, these people are in denial about racism. Their claim is so demonstrably false that you have wonder about them. Are they so weak-willed and lily-livered that they can't handle a debate about race? What exactly are they afraid of: losing their centuries of white privilege?

Well, boo-hoo. Indians and other minorities survived for centuries at the bottom of the heap. It won't hurt white people to be at the top of a slightly smaller heap. Get over your childish fears, you big white crybabies.

For more on the subject, see Mentioning Racism = Dwelling on Past? and "Color-Blind" People Are More Racist.

Below:  "So what if I stole your land? It's embarrassing to me and I don't want to discuss it!"

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