25
   

RACISM IN "WHITE" AMERICA

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:23 pm
@maxdancona,
That member has displayed an obvious and virulent racism. I intended not to respond, but i thought you should know.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:23 pm
@Setanta,
Well then, yes it's true. Can't say how wide spreat the tactic is, but I have encountered it.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:26 pm
@roger,
One problem we have here is that anyone responding is just providing anecdotal information. I can't think of any way this could reliably be measured. I will say that in the 1950s, -60s and -70s it was far more casually accepted (in my anecdotal experience). However, the question arises then of whether or not racism has lessened, or if, in fact, people just keep it to themselves now.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:35 pm
@Setanta,
I don't think we are keeping it to ourselves. Overt racism against African -Americans has been suppressed to a large extent. However, anti-muslim and anti-hispanic racism is quite prevalent and easy to find. Anti-muslim utterances are quite socially acceptable in many places in the US.

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:41 pm
Yeah . . . where i live right now, there is a huge Muslim population, so you don't get much of that. But i've seen it elsewhere. My boss of a few years ago told me about waiting in line in a convenience store, and the clerk and the manager (?) were talking to one another in a foreign language. Apparently, someone in line said: "This is America, speak English!" My boss spoke approvingly, and i was hardly in a position to object. But i know the place he was talking about, those people are Pakistanis. They were here long before 2001, and they're decent friendly people. But to the bigots, they're all "towel heads." Of course, being Pakistani, they're not Arabs.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:43 pm
Best guess is that we are doing a better job of keeping it to ourselves. I also think there is actually less of it, but I'm kind of in a sheltered environment. We're about equally divided between Anglo, American Indian, and Latino. Blacks and Asians are more or less a novelty.

I do see definate racial attitudes towards Indians, and I mean people from India. Even here, I've noticed several members from India have been missing for months. No really specific insults tendered, but they don't seem to get the same sympathetic hearing as people from other groups.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:48 pm
@roger,
You know, that's interesting to me because the other large immigrant group in Hilliard when i lived there were South Asians, Indians or Pakistanis. Spidergal has not been around for awhile, and she had a pretty rough row to hoe the last time she was here. But she was complaining about how women are treated in India, and i think the joker who was browbeating her was an Indian male.

In Hilliard, there was a large South Asian community very near my apartment in a pricey housing development. Obviously, the owners were professionals with good incomes. Their children were completely assimilated. If you heard them taling without seeing them, you'd have thought "white kids." They were among the large group of teenagers who wouldn't take fast food jobs--although you did see them in the department stores and other "up-scale" shops around there. I lived, actually, on the outskirts of town, and between there and the interstate there were several large shopping centers. The employees of the fast food places seemed to be, invariably, Hispanic. Store clerks in the department stores and in the shops were ordinary white kids or the South Asian kids.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 07:00 pm
My daughter had a friend in high school, of mixed Iranian-"white" (the mother looks kind of Irish). The father told her things, like, "No matter what you do, you will never be as much as him (her brother)." I never did even see her brother, but this girl grew up assimilated. She has a very nice husband and she is a mother of two boys. I think matters of race and politics, and her father, have not spoiled her life at all. I wish it were the same for us all.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 07:05 pm
@edgarblythe,
Persians can often "pass." Some have an "olive" complexion, but many, perhaps most, are indistinguishable from other flavors of white folks. My hairdresser for years and years was a Persian woman. I only found it out because about the third time i went there she asked why i had suddenly showed up there and returned regularly. I told her that it's hard to find someone who can cut curly hair properly. She just laughed and then told me that people in Iran who don't have curly hair are pretty rare. I learned a lot about Iran and the Persians from talking to her. She was a very attractive woman in her 40s, and if you had seen her on the street, whatever else you had thought, you wouldn't have thought of her as a foreigner.
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 07:25 pm
Many times in my life, people have whispered disparaging remarks or made jokes in my presence about immigrants. When I tell them I'm a kid of "those" people, I often get, well, you're not one of them... Them who? Either people are or they're not. I generally tell them to **** off. I've made a point of standing up to this bullshit for years. I don't laugh at the jokes and have made a few enemies over the years. C'est la vie. I don't need that garbage in my life.
Happily, this attitude doesn't seem to be a part of my kids life. They have brown, black, asian friends and all these kids seem mystified by the older folks who spout this crap.
Mind you, we live in a pretty diverse city and multi-culturism is part of our lives.
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 07:26 pm
@Ceili,
By the by, my hairdresser is a Lebanese muslim Brazilian guy. We get along just fine..
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 08:52 pm
@Ceili,
He's Lebanese Brazilian? So, parents are one of each?
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 08:55 pm
@snood,
Nope, he was born and raised. Just like I'm an Irish Canadian.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 08:56 pm
@Ceili,
Oh...... got it.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 09:17 pm
Thanks for posting this, Setanta. Like edgarblythe said, I think you are speaking some pretty unassailable truth.

And I am heartened to see a white person giving light to something that someone like me often can only suspect, but not prove. I heard someone recently describe racism in America today as sort of like fog. That is, you can't grab it in your hands and show it to someone to definitively uncover its existence, but when you see it there's no question about whether its there or not. It's no longer socially acceptable to be openly racist, except in circles of likeminded peers.

Someone mentioned Farrakhan, and I agree that his racism (or any black person's racism) has the same stench as when racism is expressed by a white person. And I'll give an example of a parallel in "black America" to what Setanta is talking about in "white America". In black webmagazines, blogs and gossip sites today, I'm finding that there is a level of acceptable bigotry against white people. For instance, white women are referred to (especially in the context of talking about someone a black male celebrity is dating) as "beckies". As in, "Fiddy Cent got him a new gf - and she's a Becky!!". There are other examples. I think this is very similar to what Setanta is describing, because the liklihood is that outside of the social conclave of the website; in a forum more open to general public, these same people would probably not feel as free to speak as derisively about whites.

It's good that seemingly everyone who has stopped to answer here professes not to stand for any of that kind of talk when they see it. That takes courage - sometimes a lot of it, depending on the amount of tacit pressure brought to bear by the group on an individual to conform.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 09:21 pm
Thanks, Boss, for the kind words, and thanks for the candor. The American social landscape is radically different than it was 50 years ago when i was a boy--but in many ways, a lot of things have not changed.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  3  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 09:40 pm
@Setanta,
I've known and worked with a number of Iranians and Egyptians as well. To me, a white European male, none of them looked like 'persons of color.' They looked vaguely Mediteranean, like some Greeks or Italians or, perhaps, Turks. (I've known some naturally blonde Turkish women as well.)

Interesting anecdote: quite a number of years ago, when I was still drinking, I happened into a bar room in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, a very ethnically mixed neighborhood. There were some other white people there but most of the clientele at the bar were Hispanic, with a small admixture of African-Americans. I got to talking to a black man, downing a few beers, who was seated next to me, the way one does in a friendly pub. We hit it off fairly well as long as the topic was the Red Sox or the rainy weather. But then, emboldened by our growing friendship, he aked me, "Say, if I was to ask you to take me into an Irish neighborhood bar in, say, South Boston, could you guarantee I'd get respect just because I'm with you, a white man?"

I had to think about that for a minute. This was a time when there was quite a bit of racial tension in the largely white Irish-Catholic and Polish-Catholic neighborhood of South Boston. I had to admit that I couldn't guarantee it. He said, "See, there's the difference. There are any number of bars I could take you into where you'd be the only white person there. And as long as you were with me, there'd be no trouble at all."

That conversation has stayed with me for the past maybe 20 years or so.

There seems to be a difference between the types of racism one encounters.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 09:43 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Wow. That's a great story, and it speaks to me and my experience. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 11:52 pm
I had a cool, educational experience recently - and just remembered something that may be pertinent.

First, I remember when we were initially discussing Obama's possible candidacy. I believed that America was ready to elect a black President. Several members disagreed. While I know we can't equate a black American president with the absence of white/black racism - we can definitely equate it with a huge shift in racial relationships in America. I remember a few members expressing near anger in the assertion that a black guy was in fact a viable candidate for the presidency.

The cool story: I teach in a severely economically disadvantaged community,and have students from several so-called minority ethnicities. We read a short-story, "Names, Nombres" by Sandra Cisneros one day. It was so lovely - about a girl, born in the US to Mexican parents who gave her a Mexican name. She grew up in America hearing her name and the names of her family constantly mispronounced. Her ownership of her identity in her own country was challenged by the simple, innocent or careless, mispronunciation of her name.

Well, since five or so of my students are Samoan - I was stricken in the moment of the reading that I was one of those well-meaning but mistaken Americans... I stopped reading and addressed my students about it. There was a sweet, forgiving line in Cisnero's text about "American tongues" not having the experience to move around some of those interesting vowel combinations. I apologized, and asked my students to write a note about their names, if I mispronounced them, and how they felt if I had. Wow, did I get some unexpected, heartfelt notes. Several students admitted to adopting Americanized nicknames to avoid the anger or disrespect they felt when their names were tortured.

One mountain of a young man - silent mostly to that day - called me to his desk. On the roll, his name was listed as "Mace." I didn't even attempt the confounding combination of vowels that spelled his surname. He looked up at me and said, "My name is Malaetele. It means 'gathering of kings on the old island of Samoa'." I was immediately covered in chillbumps. He now signs his given name on all papers, and I call him by his authentic name. I can't tell you what this means to me - that he trusted me to tell me - and how I feel each time I say his name. I wrote a story about it when I needed to show my students how to write a narrative. Malaetele allowed me to read it to the class. After I was done, he quietly took the paper from my desk and put it in his bookbag.

I guess I say this to acknowledge that many of us are well-meaning, but faulted. I think it is clear that we have a long path to improvement - but I also believe that much has improved.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 13 Nov, 2011 03:47 am
Sofia's post highlights the issue of intent. If i offend a black man or woman by what they might characterize as my insensitivity, whether or not i intended to do so is very pertinent. So is ignorance. So, for example, when i was at university, if i had been making some sammiches, and a black roommate (yes, i had black roommates even in the dark ages of the late 1960s) had asked what i was doing, and i had said "I'm making ham salad sammiches, you want one?", if he were a Muslim, there are a few responses he could make. He could get his back up that i'd offered him a ham salad sammich, and rant at me. He could just coldly decline and decide to despise me. He could also say, "No thanks, i don't eat pork." He could also explain why he didn't eat pork.

Understanding, consideration and compassion are all two way streets.
 

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