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comment by TheVenerableCain

I find it quite disturbing that both articles offered up by tla and coffeesp00ns have taken the stance of trying to shame white people and talk about how white people can't ever understand racial struggles. With attitudes like that, they're completely right. They don't take any educational approach to the situation, instead relying on anecdotes and opinion to try and prove a point. I honestly can't see a value in this line of thinking. Both authors intentionally segregate themselves from white people in order to avoid talking about race and then complain that white people don't understand issues involving race.

In Adam Mansbach's piece, he talks about a situation where a bartender refused to serve an obviously drunk patron and somehow skewed it to make the bartender, as well as the girl he was with, racist. He portrays himself as completely superior to her, as if his line of thinking is the absolute right and there's nothing she, or anyone else, can do to convince him otherwise[1]. I don't understand how you can hope to have a discussion on any subject if your mind isn't open to the fact that you could be wrong. I also don't understand why he lists all of these ways he's friendly with black people and culture. It's like he's trying to sell the audience his credibility, but the things he's selling don't actually have that much value. I play a metric fuckton of video games. I could tell you, in intricate detail, all sorts of things about video games. Characters, settings, plots, strategies, et cetera. However, I couldn't tell you how they managed to get they way they are. How are they made? I don't know. I don't have that experience. As far as I can tell, some overworked, underpaid, faceless people slam their hands on the keyboard and birth a triple-A title. I could research it and come up with something about the engines they're using, polygons and some code, but I still couldn't understand it unless I went and got a job as a game developer. In the same way, the author couldn't actually hope to comprehend the struggle of a poor black family, because he hasn't experienced it. He's just a person that decided he wants to act morally superior because he hangs out with black people, read some books on racial injustice, and shuns whites. In my mind, he's just as much a part of the problem as your stereotypical racist redneck. He offers no solutions and readily admits he has none. How about giving it a shot? Maybe write a piece on why it's tough to talk to white people about race and how you think you could win hearts and minds instead of spouting this hateful vitriol from up on a high horse.

The second author, John Metta (I believe), seems to suffer from some of the same issues as Mr. Mansbach. He has an aversion to speaking with white people about race. He writes

    The result of this is an incessantly repeating argument where a Black person says “Racism still exists. It is real,” and a white person argues “You’re wrong, I’m not racist at all. I don’t even see any racism.” My aunt’s immediate response is not “that is wrong, we should do better.”
I don't know anyone who doesn't believe that there is still racism in America. I realize that this is falling right in line with what the author is saying, but bear with me. Where are some places where this mindset exists? Truthfully, what percentage of the population believes that American is racism-free? I can't imagine it's even in the double digits. Secondly, what do you want me to do about it? How can I help you? What is the solution to the problem? I'd love to live forever. I really would. Writing about how it's unfair that the Turritopsis dohrnii gets to be biologically immortal and I don't could certainly bring awareness to the issue, but I don't have and therefore could not offer a solution to the problem. However, that wouldn't stop me from tossing some ideas out there. Hey, let's try some genetic engineering. Maybe a little organ cloning. They don't have to be good ideas, but give me something that shows that you aren't just trying to complain.

The author then goes on to suggest that white people are somehow responsible for thousands of black people being raped and shot. A cursory google search brings me to this set of data from 2013. There are plenty of tables here, but in case you don't care to dive into all of that, I'll throw out some relevant facts. These are from this table, specifically. This table only lists single victim/single offender murder rates for 2013.

Of the 3005 white people that were murdered, 83.4% of the offenders were white, 13.6% were black, and the rest are other/unknown. Of the 2491 black people that were murdered, 7.6% of the offenders were white, 90.0% were black, and the rest were other/unknown. I fail to see how this somehow equates to white people causing blacks to be murdered. Admittedly, I don't see, nor do I care to search for, rape statistics, so I can't speak for those numbers.

    People are dying because we are supporting a racist system that justifies White people killing Black people.
I really don't think so.

On we go.

    We see this in the way that one Muslim killer is a sign of Islamic terror; in the way one Mexican thief is a pointer to the importance of border security; in one innocent, unarmed Black man is shot in the back by a cop, then sullied in the media as a thug and criminal.
I take issue with this statement solely because he chooses a guilty party, another guilty party and then plays the victim card for the black guy. It's a clear sign of skewing the issue to take the situation that most represents your cause and shoving it in everyone's face. I find it very off-putting. Just play the facts.

    A white person smoking pot is a “Hippie” and a Black person doing it is a “criminal.” It’s evident in the school to prison pipeline and the fact that there are close to 20 people of color in prison for every white person.
I don't see how these two sentences are related, and again, the author is a bit hazy on actual facts. Here's the current wikipedia page on incarceration. Again, for those of you who don't care to click on links, here are the stats. These are for 2010, the only chart provided on the page. 769 whites (678 men/91 women) per 100,000 US residents were incarcerated. 4607 blacks (4347 men/260 women) per 100,000 US residents were incarcerated. 769 * 20 (20:1 black:white ratio claimed by author) = 15380. The real number is more like 6:1 black:white. "But the author said people of color! Alright, so, including Hispanic men and women, the total number jumps up to 6515. That brings us up to 8.5:1 ratio of whites/non-whites. A more powerful statistic would be to say that a black male born in 1991 has a 29% chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life. The only problem with that is that it doesn't demonize white people.

There are a number of additional points in each article that I could type another 1000 words on, but I think this is a good representation of my argument against pieces like this. I don't fault for look down on either tla or coffeesp00ns for linking them. Conversely, I appreciate the opportunity to be challenged to search for some facts and (hopefully) the rational discussion that will follow.

1 - "Mostly, I just want to sit white people down and say “Okay, so what WOULD convince you that racism is real, then?” But not really, because then I’d have to hear their answers."

Nerd_doe  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

As far as understanding racial struggle I think this is where systemic comes in. For example, the prison pipeline. Why do black people go to jail more? Profiling is one factor, but there are others. For instance, housing and education. Poverty increases the likelihood of criminal activity. A black person in the US is more likely to be poor than a white person, and that greater likelihood of poverty is a consequence of the history of white control over black people. Black people were barred from better housing by law, were segregated into lower quality schools, etc. At no point was separate but equal truly equal. Black people were denied higher paying jobs. Black people patronized white businesses, but the reverse wasn't true. When white people move into a neighborhood, it's gentrifying, whereas when POC started moving into a neighborhood after house prices drop, white folks started moving out.

A lot of the white people I knew when told any of this, took it as a guilt trip, or ask why black people don't pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Being the 'default race', they don't see themselves in terms of the actions of their race, but continue to categorize other races by the actions of people of the same race.

A non racially charged example of this knock on effect idea might be the increased prevalence of prescription drug abuse in Appalachian Virginia, which is a consequence of the history of absentee land owner landlords, lower education, and orientation around back breaking mine work which then collapsed.

I'm coming at this as a mixed race immigrant turned American expat,which is probably relevant to what I have to say about American race relations.

The point I get from 'people are dying' is that specifically police violence against black and hispanic people is being justified as statistically supported profiling, when its not clear the statistics actually bear that out.

I disagree with them segregating themselves from white people to talk about race because although the best teacher would be talking to people of other races, as someone of another race I get emotionally exhausted sometimes, having to argue about things I have a personal stake in with white people who don't believe me, don't want to believe me, and are less likely to even care what I have to say because I'm not white. It's probably easier for a white person who has tried to inform themselves about these issues to have that discussion than it is for me.

What would I like you to do about it? Educate your fellow white folks? Challenge your knee jerk reactions? Consider whether anti-white attitudes are really as prevalent as you might think and/or where they might come from? Personally, I just lost faith that America is a good place for a person like me to live and stopped believing that would change, so I suppose I have given up, same as the author.

TheVenerableCain  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

First off, sorry if my post came off as a knee jerk reaction. I intended only to point out the fallacies perpetrated by both authors and some of the things I felt were either unfair, untrue, or worked to undo what both authors (probably) want - an equal ground to stand on for all races. As an aside, I don't understand why we call ourselves "the human race" but segregate ourselves into additional "races." It seems stupid.

Is the current education system still actively or passively trying to push black people into poverty and/or prison?

    A lot of the white people I knew when told any of this, took it as a guilt trip, or ask why black people don't pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Being the 'default race', they don't see themselves in terms of the actions of their race, but continue to categorize other races by the actions of people of the same race.

I believe this is the same point that Mansbach was making. I actually do agree with this, though I didn't notice it until he and you pointed it out. I'll have to think on how to remedy that.

I don't think anyone is happy with the police right now. Maybe it could be a bonding force between everyone. minimum_wage posted this about gathering data on police union contracts and hopefully getting something positive done on that front. I don't know specifics, but it looks like they want to revise the contracts to force a higher level of accountability in police. I think that it's a concrete example "we're tired of this and are working to fix it."

As a white person, I don't feel any more power to change how people view each other than you do. I don't know if the answer relies on a personal change, a national law or laws, or some combination of both. I also don't want to be perceived as patronizing if/when I try to help someone who's black. For example: I feel like I could pay for the little old white lady's groceries, but if I did it to a little old black lady, I'd be a smug white asshole who thinks he can throw his money at the poor black folks. So, I don't help anyone. Maybe other white people have a similar feeling of uncertainty when dealing with these kinds of issues and therefore choose inaction over possible offense.

The one thing I will say that's really not helping black people is that the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore showed them burning, looting, and generally destroying everything. That can't be the best way to resolve your problems. I'm not sure where that mindset stems from, or if it's exclusively a black mindset, but nobody that I know who watched those events unfold could support the rioters.

With that all said, I don't think that there is a prevalence of anti-white attitudes, but I can see how they could possibly stem from those who suffered in the times pre-civil rights and passed down their experiences to their children and so on. Being profiled by cops and regular people certainly doesn't help. It's all a foreign world to me, so thanks for shedding a bit more light on your viewpoint.

Nerd_doe  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I wish I had mentioned the riots in Ferguson.

First of all, I'm offended by your suggestion it's a black mindset. The largest race riot in US history was the Tulsa Race Riot in which a group of white people attacked the richest black community in the US and burned it to the ground. It's no more black, than lynching is a white mindset.

I support the rioters in the sense that I know that they suffered injustice and those riots weren't born in a vacuum. The Department of Justice Ferguson report found that there was unconstitutional policing which included discriminatory intent against African Americans.

The pressure in both Ferguson and Baltimore was building for a long time before riots ever happened and nothing was done. The people rioted out of frustration and anger and desperation, and to reduce it to 'a mindset' really trivializes the issues involved.

Please, take the time to look at the resources that are out there.

There are some ridiculous cases. For instance peaceful protestors taking milk from a McDonalds after they were tear gassed was reported by the media as looting. Fox news took a chant against police violence and distorted the sound so the protestors appeared to be saying "kill all cops". CNN Photoshopped people's signs. I'm not saying we should get our tinfoil hats, just that the media has made distortions for clicks before, and its worth it to try to look for more than one perspective.

In particular I'd urge you to look at some of the things locals in these areas, and other black people in the US have written about what's going on now. They express things with more clarity and insight than I can certainly.

Ultimately 266 years just isn't as long of a time as Americans think. The effects of the actions of the very first colonists are still being felt today in other areas, its almost farcical to think that wouldn't apply to racism.

TheVenerableCain  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I apologize. I don't mean to offend with my words or implications thereof.

I don't mean to say that the riots themselves were a mindset, only that the seemingly wanton destruction of their own neighborhoods was. I can't understand the logic of destroying your own businesses, homes, or any other property. I do understand that police were extremely discriminatory in both situations and I do understand that the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray served as catalysts for the riots. However, I don't think that the behavior displayed by the people in either situation should be condoned, regardless of why it happened. What more did they gain by violently rioting instead of peacefully protesting? (Legitimate question, not trying to bait you into an argument.)

I agree on the distortion of events by the mainstream media. Reading through a few different sources cited the riots as mostly peaceful with pockets of violence that were magnified by media attention specifically focused on violence. Since I read it after typing the above paragraph, I'll leave it there and say that I learned something new, thanks to you.

I appreciate your insight.

Urbscholar  ·  1856 days ago  ·  link  ·  

A riot is the voice of the unheard. You're looking for rationality among the oppressed in the face of the irrationality of the oppressor. Why do the oppressed have the obligation to be somehow more rational? Why is it any less logical to destroy an area in which you live (and to be honest, a CVS in Baltimore and a convenience store in Ferguson aren't really the high water mark of community pillars) but why is it less logical to destroy those places than to allow cops to kill black people and get away with it?

You're asking the wrong questions I think.

More importantly, and this is a bit more daring, but the uprisings should be condoned because violent uprising is the only route to actual changes. The feds came into Ferguson and Baltimore for oversight of police actions after the uprisings. The Civil Rights Act didn't get signed because of people sitting in neat little rows making clever arguments and begging for power to be given to them. It may be an uncomfortable truth, but power isn't given willingly to the oppressed.

TheVenerableCain  ·  1856 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I try to approach situations through the path of logic and reason. That's just how my brain works and it's hard for me to see a different view. All of this is an attempt at doing that. In my mind, I would see the oppressed taking a more rational approach than the oppressor as an extra mark in favor of the oppressed. They're having to live through unreasonable conditions born out of hate and yet they rise above it in spectacular fashion, refusing to bend to the call of violence.

However, I do understand that this approach wouldn't garner as much media attention. Unfortunately, the media only cares about how much stuff got blown up because ratings, so I can understand how resorting to violence may the the only option to get your cause onto the national stage.

Not everyone who fought for civil rights in the 50s and 60s used violence to achieve their goals. I can't imagine that the violent protesters would have succeeded without those refusing to take part in violent acts. Maybe nonviolence wouldn't have been a success either. I don't truly know enough about all of it to make a solid statement.

What are the right questions?

tla  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Are you kidding me?

TheVenerableCain  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  


DC-3  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I only read the first half of that comment about the OP, but I do agree a bit that the author should make more of an attempt to educate people.

tla  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

He could write essays and put them on the internet for people to disagree with, I guess.

Trying to convince people of something that they're dead set against is exhausting. He describes spending 2.5hrs one night educating her. That was just that one night, and he implies many many more hours personally educating her.

How many people should he have to personalize an education on racism for before he's done enough?

TheVenerableCain  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Clearly, his method of "education" isn't working, or his target audience is the wrong one. I never asked for a personalized education. If he was trying to lobby Congress or make a YouTube video or hell, run around the sidewalk and hand out pamphlets, I could see his viewpoint and point to a concrete solution that he's trying. The problem seems to be that he doesn't actually want to find a solution, evidenced by his lack of communication with white people. How can you claim to want peace when you don't even want to talk to your enemy?

tla  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

His entire point is that the method of educating isn't working. It's not working because the audience is often actively opposed to being educated.

They like thinking that racism is a non-issue and they enjoy that their willful inability to learn can be misrepresented as him unable to "prove" to them otherwise. They enjoy this as a license for them to continue the status quo.

In asking them "what would it take" he would be given insight in to exactly how badly they refuse to learn. Their answer to his question is a lede and then the goalposts never stop moving. He'll never convince them because they are subconsciously resisting fact and reason. They like the world with the wind at their back.

If the question was "what would it cost to convince you" their answer would essentially be "you don't have enough".

thewoodenaisle  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    In Adam Mansbach's piece, he talks about a situation where a bartender refused to serve an obviously drunk patron and somehow skewed it to make the bartender, as well as the girl he was with, racist. He portrays himself as completely superior to her, as if his line of thinking is the absolute right and there's nothing she, or anyone else, can do to convince him otherwise[1].

I think this part of the piece is pretty telling:

    Fast forward to three in the morning, the two of us lying in a hotel bed, half-drunk, Jessie railing against New York for trying to make it about race when it clearly was not, when there was no way her race had anything to do with that bartender doing his job and it is unforgiveable that she pulled that bullshit and you didn’t take my side.

New York claimed that the bartender was being racist. There are, roughly speaking, three ways of evaluating New York's claim: (1) New York's claim was reasonable, (2) New York's claim was unreasonable, and (3) New York's claim cannot be reasonably evaluated because there is an insufficient amount of information to determine where it is (1) or (2).

(3) is largely an agnostic, there-are-two-sides-of-every-story, you-don't-know-the-backstory-of-New-York-or-the-bartender sort of claim and one that I would personally take. There really isn't a whole lot to work with as far as determining whether New York's claim is reasonable or not. So, a bartender refused to give New York a drink. There are plenty of possible reasons why. Maybe the bartender thought New York was too drunk. Maybe the bartender was a racist. Maybe New York was being a colossal bitch. Maybe the bartender had a long day. Maybe the bartender misheard her. Who knows.

(1) is taking New York's claim as face value and supporting her. I'm not as big of a fan of (1) in comparison with (3), but I still think it's a pretty reasonable position to take as long as you are willing to change your opinion of the bartender with further information.

(2), which was how the girlfriend evaluated New York's claim, is the least reasonable in my point of view. It's not so much raising the possibility that the bartender may, in fact, not be a racist shithead, which (3) does as well, but the insistence that the bartender was not being racist. How could the girlfriend possibly know? She is neither a mindreader who can read the bartender's thoughts nor a Puerto Rican woman who has to put up with racist assholes who hate Puerto Rican women because of reasons. You can make the same exact argument to knock against (1) (which is why I believe (3) is the most reasonable claim), but by denying the possibility of the bartender being racist, the girlfriend was pretty saying that New York was, at best, being super sensitive who gets easily butthurt by the most inconsequential things like a 5 year old, or at worst, a lying bitch who liked to provoke people and play the race card to stir up real life drama.

Given the girlfriend's history of someone who doesn't get American race relations and her half-drunk incoherent rant afterwards in bed about how New York was full of shit, I don't think it's unreasonable to disapprove of the girlfriend's actions. Obviously, all of this is assuming the author isn't just making shit up for his article or portraying the girlfriend in an incredibly shitty light because he still isn't over her. We all have our biases and see the world through our own personalized filters.

TheVenerableCain  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This makes a lot more sense to me than the original reading. Thank you for taking the time. I'd have to agree with you, (3) is the best option to take in accordance with the reading. Now, could you do the rest of the article so that I could understand what's going on? (Don't, really, but your way of breaking it apart is quite helpful.)

albinofrenchy  ·  1857 days ago  ·  link  ·  

To be fair, the author is white. I think the point of this piece is less about white people not understanding, and more about people from some cultural backgrounds not understanding.

With regard to the police shootings, there is certainly a distrust of the police in minority communities and there are good reasons for that to be true. Race relations is a large lumbering ship, it takes time to change course. Trust doesn't come back overnight, and the DOJ investigation into Ferguson came back with ample reason for black people in that community to have no trust in their local government.

I've certainly met people who went on and on about privilege and not being able to understand what its like being x minority. None of that seems particularly useful in terms of having a dialogue about race, and often times it almost seems like I'm expected to feel bad because of my gender or my ethnicity. I don't think that this group of people realize that they are probably doing more harm than good.

This isn't to say that racism is dead. It isn't. Being white doesn't get you followed around stores for no good reason, but it does tend to make racist people think you are just as racist as they are. I went to school in Atlanta, and I was shocked by how many people -- that I'd know for a little while, and seemed like reasonable people -- would just drop the most racist comments. These weren't elderly people, or even stupid people, but they grew up in environments that were apologetically racist, and reflected that environment.

Again, there is a social momentum at work here, and it is going to take generations to rectify. Even the people who were just being awful and racist from my perspective harbored far fewer ignorant viewpoints than their parents. Frankly, in some situations that is the best we can hope for as a society -- that in all things, the next generation is a little better than the last in all respects.