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12 de Febrero, 2007

Speech Rules or Beliefs and Attitudes?

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img UNCLAIMED TERRITORY (a much enjoyed part of my daily reading list) claims an insight on the current race as-it-relates-to-Obama issue.

It is always preferable to have views and sentiments -- even ugly ones -- aired out in the open rather than forcing them into hiding through suppression. And part of the reason people intently run away from discussions of race (just as they stay away from discussions of Middle East political disputes, specifically ones involving Israel) is because it is too easy to unwittingly run afoul of various unwritten speech rules, thereby triggering accusations of bigotry.

—Unclaimed Territory blog

Firstly, I do agree that it is better to speak openly and discuss (especially) those things being avoided due to fear. But the last sentence misses the point. And I wouldn't stoop to nitpick, here. I feel it is actually an important and relevant point.

Mr. Greenwald writes that ("part of the reason") people avoid discussing race is that it is "too easy to unwittingly run afoul of various unwritten speech rules" which, when violated "trigger accusations of bigotry."

This reminds me of those clever car commercials where one falling weight tips a scale, which rolls a bearing toward a lever.... First, I hope we understand right away that "accusations" is a loaded term. Mister Greenwald utilizes his vocabulary with obvious efficacy and purpose. Knowing this, I feel I would be remiss not to assume that he intends that tone. It underlines the notion that the locus of blame is not on the speaker, when so many hidden rules abound, and can hardly be accounted for by a reasonable person.

Nowhere in this explanation of why ("part" of why) people avoid discussing race is the onus on the speaker, who is probably keeping a lid on what s/he fears are unsavory views and beliefs about other people. The onus rests on these "various unwritten Speech Rules." It rests on mysterious, landmine-like rules. I think this implication—that these "Speech Rules" are like tripwires that you cannot train for—is more telling, perhaps, in describing how the writer feels than it is in describing the area we need to focus on if we are to change the underlying views and thoughts that spur the egregious statements and "awkward" moments in the first place.

That practice has the effect of keeping people silent, which in turn has the effect of reinforcing the appearance that nobody thinks about race (which is why nobody discusses it), which in turn prevents a constructive discussions of hidden and unwarranted premises.

—Unclaimed Territory blog

This "practice" has the effect.... and again we slide our speech parts around here to maintain a passive voice. What "practice"? Is the writer claiming that the "Event" of someone triggering "unwritten speech rules" keeps people silent? Or is this a subtle admonishment to those who would call out people who recycle old racist phrasing and imagery by saying "if you keep it up, nobody will talk about race, and then where will you be?"

Mr. Greenwald goes on to write that this "has the effect" of "reinforcing the appearance that nobody thinks about race." Well, okay. The passive voice that runs through the passage is keeping the "speaker" out of the spot, again. Hard to change things when they are not identified as the actor in a problem. But I can agree: People keeping silent about their feelings and views on race does produce a lack of dialogue. People do rely on this lack of dialogue to bolster claims that these same people, often, further about themselves being "colorblind."

In this analysis (or this part of his post at least) the problem is the various unwritten speech rules. But guess what? There really aren't any. There are just poor attitudes we keep about people who look different. Or who we've been taught to think of differently. And there is a "White" attitude of deciding for everyone else how they should live, be, self-identify, and do many other things. There are old slurs and old tropes that hurt people. These are the things that are flushed out when people speak: attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, manners of speaking that hint at lurking attitudes.

People avoid talking about race because they are scared of exposing their thoughts and views on race. They are afraid they are A RACIST. They are not afraid of "unwritten speech rules." They are afraid that what they really think and feel will cause them to be ridiculed or ostracized in public, or that they may see a part of themselves they have to feel bad about. So they keep the potential to themselves.

But if we keep the focus on Speech Rules, we miss the opportunity to change ourselves.

For that reason, scouring people's comments about Obama and race, in search of evidence of even minor deviations from speech mores, is not really constructive. But it is notable just how many implicit assumptions about race lurk beneath these observations.

—Unclaimed Territory blog

At times in his post, we meet ideas that are hard to reconcile. Such as the idea that it is "notable" to think about statements made that reveal racist thought regarding Obama, but it is "not constructive" to talk about them. (Another admonishment?) Yet, Mr. Greenwald just wrote that "It is always preferable to have views and sentiments -- even ugly ones -- aired out in the open". I'm left wondering what he feels is best. Conversation about these things? Or should we just relax and stop "scouring"?

Note: If a writer does not intend to tell People of Color (even indirectly) to "get over it" and "stop being so hypersensitive," s/he ought to avoid such phrases that imply a great deal of work is being expended in noticing hurtful memes, echoes of slurs, or reflections of harmful attitudes.

Because if you are of color, or you think about these things a lot, or have plumbed the depths of your own Speech Rule Violations and thus have begun to see what lies underneath those, it really isn't "scouring" when a person uses an age-old epithet or epithet-appendage, or reveals racist thought. It really sort of jumps out at you. And I think Mr. Greenwald was right the first time: It's good for the country and for the awareness of all those folks you mention—the ones who aren't sure of what's inside of themselves. It's good, all these discussions. Scour away!

And it is even more notable how freely these patronizing sentiments are being expressed in the context of Obama's candidacy, often -- as in Biden's and Simon's case -- expressed as though they are compliments (he is so clean and articulate, he is so non-threatening, he seems like one of the moderate ones, he isn't really "militant"), because the speakers are not even consciously aware of the implications of those assumptions.

—Unclaimed Territory blog

Now we're getting there. The speakers are not aware of the assumptions. That is why it is good to note them, we can talk about them, and who knows. Maybe in a few years, we will actually have moved the dialogue on race—and thus our outlook as a nation—just a bit forward. We've spent enough time acting as if the Civil Rights Movement changed everyone's thinking for good and all at once.

Mr. Greenwald's message has many valuable insights, but is ultimately a contradictory one. On one hand, he understands that there are attitudes inside these foot-in-mouthers that need to be addressed. On the other, he blames the overabundance of Politically Correct pressure ala "unwritten Speech Rules" for the mess.

It can be unpleasant to watch people struggle with these awkward discussions, but, on balance, anything which forces these issues more out into the open is probably a positive development.

—Unclaimed Territory blog

And on that note, we come back together.

I would just end by saying what people have to get over is the shame of admitting they are not perfect as-is; admitting that they soaked up some terrible views and thoughts and ideas while growing up absorbing American culture. We have to get over our idea that the work of becoming a Grownup is over—the work of improving ourselves, of continuing the climb toward being a helpful and healthy human being. We should search out these grains of harmful thoughts in ourselves like joyful detectives. Because when you can find them, you can change them. Just seeing them begins that change. Just wanting to see them is a part of that change. This is my idea of changing the world for the better.

Admitting we almost definitely harbor some of these attitudes that are revealed so awkwardly (not by "unwittingly running afoul" of hidden Speech Rules, but simply by discussing racially-themed topics long enough), and thinking in this way has another positive effect. Because when we can admit that it is impossible for a child to defend against the hypnotizing and harmful effects so integral to our media and advertising, we can begin to protect them better. And then, maybe by the time they grow to be an adult who speaks publicly and is charged with leading and caring for others, they won't have to worry about betraying less-than-honorable attitudes.

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Watcha: the cyberbarrios crackle and hum with palabras de Speech Rules or Beliefs and Attitudes?:

» Structured Racism from ¡Para Justicia y Libertad!
After reading Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez’s analysis, Speech Rules or Beliefs and Attitudes?, of Glen Greenwald’s post, Awkward discussions of race and Obama and reading the post in question myself, I have to agree with Nez.... [Read More]

Tracked on 13 de Febrero 2007 a las 01:36 PM

» White Privilege and the [Knee-Jerk] Woman of Color from The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum
It’s always a hazard to point out the white privilege elephants in the racial discussion room. White privilege is pervasive, self-protecting, and manipulative in discussions where the white person in question has not addressed the level of privilege he... [Read More]

Tracked on 16 de Febrero 2007 a las 10:16 AM

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Comentarios (68)


XP dijo:

GRVTR

The argument Greenwald is making is the argument that was being made to Paris Hilton's use of the n-word. Oh how can we jump on her saying such ugly things like because in reality, well she is just a "bimbo." So know what, every person we deem as a bimbo has a pass. And we can add, every victim of of the PC pressure has a pass. So when does it stop, when do people start taking responsibility? When?

Do they not realize they keep pushing the threshold so far out there that one day, people are going to snap. Or is that the least of their fuckin' concern.


Glenn Greenwald dijo:

GRVTR

interesting post and fair points, and were it not for the time constraints occasioned by my moving blogs today, I'd likely add an update to the post and respond at length (and will probably do that within the next few days).

But my point point (insofar as you are critiquing what I wrote) is this: some people say things that sound awful and racist even though the person is not driven by malignant intentions. Sometimes they have unexamined assumptions. Other times, due to generational or cultural differences, they think they are saying something respectful or at least neutral that sounds to others like it must come from a well of bigotry.

My only point is that some people who say things that sound bigoted might not actually be bigoted, and automatically assuming that they are and attacking the person in each instance will have the effect NOT of combatting bigotry, but simply driving it underground. Clearly, there are instances when what is said is express bigotry or so ugly that it must come from an ugly place (the Salon example probably falls into that category), and of course it should be described as what it is, and the blame placed where it belongs.

But that is not always the case, and I think the benefit of the doubt should be extended where it is possible that it is warranted, in order to foster more open expression on these issues, which can only yield positive results.


Sylvia dijo:

GRVTR

Because it's appropriate, I'm going to quote the very first thing I read on Kai's blog and loved. It ties into the theme of Greenwald's play-assertions so well:

Simply put, the great “PC” cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure. All politics deal with power relations, and in the debate over America’s alleged climate of “political correctness”, there’s a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The former feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the latter simply are oppressed.

--"The Sloppy Proposition"

And I'd say Greenwald's misfuddling and bedirecting all over the place here because he's trying to defend the PC power structure and the dominant culture's monopoly on language while appearing egalitarian, and the two don't square with each other.

I'd hate to say he invoked Pam's post because he thinks it's safe for her to bring it up (omg guess why), but from the tone of his article and the dancing around the subject, it's clear that's exactly why he included it.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

I appreciate you taking the time, Glenn. I know you are in a rush here because the logic is a little hard to follow. I think I hear you saying that:

1. Intent of the offender should be considered
2. People can say "bigoted" things yet not "be" bigoted (and that should be considered.)
3. Attacking a person in each instance of the use of bigoted language is not helpful, and does not foster open discussion.
4. Given the consideration given in #s 1 and 2 and assuming a situation does not fall under #3, it would be okay to "describe" the offending statement "as what it is" and the "blame placed where it belongs."

Firstly, I'd say "intent" is always the first word used in defense of racist imagery or language. See here. It's not valid, though. Because the harm that is done through continuing to feed, or allow, these kinds of messages to be present in society's discourse does not rely on the person's intent.

2. I'm not sure how to square this one. Should I not be responsible for what I say? If I help propagate a racist meme, should I not have to answer for that? I'm not sure what good it does to make such distinctions or if they actually exist. Do they?

3. I do not advocate "attacking" anyone. I hope it's clear from my post that I put the blame on our ignorance, and on our constant media messaging. I allow for change. I do not want to attack. Here, I agree: it does no good to make a person feel shame for these things. Or to aim for that. If they are a good person, they will feel whatever they ought to. Regardless of their feeligns, it does no good to let these statements pass by unremarked upon, either. As you said "in order to foster more open expression," and to "force these issues" out into the open, they should be noted.

"It can be unpleasant to watch people struggle with these awkward discussions, but, on balance, anything which forces these issues more out into the open is probably a positive development."

4. I hope you see, Glenn, how difficult a "rule" you lay out yourself, here. You write about "hidden" rules that intimidate by nature of their vagueness. Yet, if you (get some time to) slow down and re-read your comment here, you'll note that it is fraught with tripwire.

So my points are:

a. Why consider the "intent" of the privileged person? Why not consider the harm done or the hurt done by either them saying what they say (as a leader, as a person with power), or by us agreeing to let them go ahead and talk that way?

b. I agree that it is not helpful to target a person's feelings of goodness by laying the focus on their morality. We must lay the blame on the thoughts and language behind what is said.

c. Whenever harmful language is used, it must be discussed. Whenever a leader aligns themselves with ignorance (even unintentionally), they must be prepared to be called on it.

Finally, I know it may feel like people are jumping for jumping's sake...but we are about to have a lot of discussions that have not been had out loud and in the mainstream. Not for a while, if ever. And there is a lot that many people (in the mainstream) have not been seeing or considering. Because they choose not to or do not have to. But now they will hear it. Now they will hear their own voices out loud. They may, themselves, be surprised to find what they reveal. We ought not hammer them for it. But we ought to relentlessly scrape away the ignorance that is littered in so many places in this land. Wherever we find it. With an eye toward improving our dialogue and discourse and rules and laws. Not with an eye toward persecuting the speaker.

Thanks again for the comment. I look forward to your update.



nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

hi sylvia. i actually linked that post in the text of this post! good call.


Glenn Greenwald dijo:

GRVTR
I'd hate to say he invoked Pam's post because he thinks it's safe for her to bring it up (omg guess why), but from the tone of his article and the dancing around the subject, it's clear that's exactly why he included it.

I just need to say something about this, because it's exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. Note all the different race-neutral possiblities as to why I might have linked to Pam's post: (a) I read Pam's blog regularly (which is why she is and always has been in my blogroll), (b) I think she has a unique and interesting take on many topics (which is why I have linked to her posts many times in the past), and/or (c) she e-mailed me and brought the post to my attention because she thought it related to what I wrote.

These are all race-neutral reasons that might explain why I linked to Pam's post. And Sylvia has absolutely no idea whether any of those things are true. She nonetheless disregards them all and pronounces it "clear" -- "clear" -- that I only linked to Pam's post because she brings up points that I was afraid to bring up but felt safe bringing them up through linking to Pam's post because Pam is black.

Sylvia has no basis whatsoever for that speculation. And she does not even offer it as speculation, instead saying that it's "clear" that that was my motive. And that, of course, is the most ignoble explanation for my behavior -- simultaneously attributing to me both cowardice (I was afraid to make these points and so had to hide behind Pam) and a form of racism (I was willing to link to Pam because she's black).

This is exactly the sort of ugliness that makes people not want to address these issues. Why would you pick from a whole menu of motives that might account for someone's behavior and pick the ugliest one without having a shred of proof that you're right? As it turns out, (a), (b) and (c) above are all accurate -- that is why I linked to Pam's post. And I never said I agreed with all or even any of the points Pam made. I just said she had a nuanced and insightful discussion of those issues.

What was so "clear" to Sylvia about my motives was, in fact, total fiction that she invented. Was it possible that Pam's race influenced my linking to her post? Sure. But it was also quite possible that it had no role to play. And the point of my post was to say that in such circumstances, it is counter-productive to attribute to someone the worst possible motives when there are many other possibilities. I appreciate Sylvia's providing such a perfect illustration of what I meant.


Allienne Goddard dijo:

GRVTR

I think part of the point that is being missed here is that calling someone a racist ends the conversation. I think Glenn is saying that it is more useful to engage faulty assumptions by correcting them, rather that playing "gotcha" and refusing to engage in discussion because the other person is racist.

For example, suppose someone says:

  • Blacks make up roughly half of the incarcerated persons in the United States.
  • Blacks are roughly one tenth of the U.S. population.
  • Therefore, blacks commit crime much more frequently than the members any other racial/ethnic group.

This is faulty logic. It assumes that those who commit crimes (or don't commit crimes, for that matter) are equally likely to be investigated, arrested, and convicted. This assumption is false, therefore the conclusion is invalid. There are other problems with the above argument as well.

Now you could say that this person is a racist, and therefore to be shunned, or you could assume an error in thinking which could be corrected through discussion. So, the point is that while it is useful to question a person's statements when they rely on unconsidered stereotypes, it is not useful to simply classify them as racists. All that does is make people stay silent, and avoid discussing the matter at all.

I agree that Glenn's use of the term "intent" makes little sense here, but I think I see what he is getting at. Some people might start from the assumption that a group is inferior and then offer evidence to back it up, while others might believe a stereotype but not realize what that stereotype implies. "Blacks are animals, look at all the crimes they commit." versus "Blacks are more likely to commit crimes." Both statements are racist, but the former comes from conviction, while the latter might come from sloppy thinking.

Just some thoughts.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

hi glenn,

of course you are welcome to comment on any and all things here at any time.

i cannot speak for sylvia, nor get in her head. i agree that it could not be possibly "clear" why you do what you do. people can only speculate. and i guess i would be angry too, to have the least-honorable possible motives of many choices underlined as the sole reason i did something. even if they figured in somewhere, it's not a fair way to frame something. additionally, you are allowed to link to anyone you want, and really, for any reason. i didn't write this post to malign your character or motives, only to examine the language used and the possible implications of it. i won't guess at sylvia's motives. perhaps it was not more than an error of haste, perhaps she knows something i do not.

i'll let sylvia defend the substance of her point if she likes,


i need to point to this: This is exactly the sort of ugliness that makes people not want to address these issues.

i would just note that addressing "these issues" is what we all need to do. for the world. it's not as if people are withholding favors from anyone if they do not address these issues. they lose out, we lose out, we all do. the attitudes that perpetuate racism and Othering of people hurt the world entire. people, if they care about the world, need to deal with all the ugliness they have to. addressing these things is a favor to the children, and to tomorrow's world. not to people of color. i do think it is a good idea for everyone to examine their use of language and the effects it has on others. no matter what their color or use of language. it's always a good view to keep in the mind.

finally,

And the point of my post was to say that in such circumstances, it is counter-productive to attribute to someone the worst possible motives when there are many other possibilities.

Well, this is a nice way to rephrase your original point. but real quick, it's not the same thing. you know, that, right? i mean aside from it not being quite the same point of your post, it's not really a fair parallel as i see it.

when someone calls obama an "uppity" sort, or says he's a storybook case because he's the first clean and articulate etc, or has an anti-harold ford commercial with a lurid blonde "call me" element; or (as you quoted), they say obama is "less threatening" than jesse jackson...we know what they are saying. and we ought to talk about it. what sylvia did was guess at your motives and unflatteringly. these are two different things: ascribing worst possible motives and understanding coded language.

sometimes we know slanted motives are involved in hurtful speech. sometimes they are not. i am not really out to find out about peoples motives. personally, i was more interested in uncovering thinking underneath language, and the implications of using the language without examining what was being said.

not "meant."


Sylvia dijo:

GRVTR

I admit that that assertion was harsh, and when I reread it, I thought about correcting it. But instead, I left it as it stood.

You know why? Because sometimes there aren't race neutral assertions for everything.

I apologize for my error. But I admit that I'm unsympathetic to the argument that people won't talk about race because they're afraid to be called racist. It plays into this myth that racists are ugly hateful bigots with violent tendencies and no capabilities of self-reflection. And if there's no dialogue about how people are socialized into a racist system, there won't be any room to debunk that myth.

And there could be millions and billions of race neutral reasons you linked to her post. But that doesn't mean you couldn't have had additional reasons that weren't as race neutral for including it, does it? Perhaps my language was too limiting, but I don't necessarily back down from my assertion. The dynamic of race oriented discussions where people make arguments and then find people of color's perspectives to corroborate that argument has happened. It's a dynamic. And I pointed it out because intentional or unintentional, it creates a narrative of its own that perhaps needs to be discussed without kneejerk defensiveness.

I'm sorry to have been the example, but sometimes honesty in perspective is what's needed to clear the air...

It is always preferable to have views and sentiments -- even ugly ones -- aired out in the open rather than forcing them into hiding through suppression. And part of the reason people intently run away from discussions of race (just as they stay away from discussions of Middle East political disputes, specifically ones involving Israel) is because it is too easy to unwittingly run afoul of various unwritten speech rules, thereby triggering accusations of bigotry.

...right?

Oh, by the way, thanks for finding time to write that bit; I appreciate the effort.


Sylvia dijo:

GRVTR

I think that's one of my favorite things Kai's written. I became an unofficial fangirl after reading it. lol

And I responded on my own behalf, but please warn me if I detract things because I really don't want to do so. I recognize the importance of this discussion, and I did post rashly (in that I didn't pay very careful attention to my wording) and off the cuff from my first reading.

And I wasn't ascribing worst possible motives. I noticed a dynamic, I pointed out how clearly it fit into that dynamic (in a regrettably unclear way), and I pointed it out because I found it ironic. And that's why I prefaced it with "I hate to say this, but..." -- because I wanted to point out the dynamic happening there. Not name call. Not defame.

And ironically, although it was particularly ugly how I said it and I apologize, it plays into the discussion because it gives an example of the type of accusation and the kneejerk defensiveness to it. I got no such gratuitous read of intent for my error.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

Hi Alliene, I didn't really hear Glenn making that point. But okay, let me think on it a sec.

I think Glenn is saying that it is more useful to engage faulty assumptions by correcting them, rather that playing "gotcha" and refusing to engage in discussion because the other person is racist.

I agree. Calling someone a name is no way to get them to hear you!

Well, I guess I sort of hit this when I commented to Glenn above, but you commented first, so you didn't see it.

I wrote that I don't find it helpful to make someone "feel bad" to have these discussions, but you know what? On thinking about it, I think people are going to feel bad. And I think we have to get used to that. I don't think People of Color ought to have to tiptoe if White folks don't like discovering they have racist thought patterns, or have absorbed racist thought. I do think a way to enjoin the conversation must be found, a way that sacrifices nobody's self-respect, and also that addresses these issues honestly. But just maybe White folks are going to have to work a little harder than everyone else at it. Would that be unfair, given the world and nation's history?

... Now you could say that this person is a racist, and therefore to be shunned, or you could assume an error in thinking which could be corrected through discussion. So, the point is that while it is useful to question a person's statements when they rely on unconsidered stereotypes, it is not useful to simply classify them as racists. All that does is make people stay silent, and avoid discussing the matter at all.

If people stay silent, they lose out. White people talking about their race hangups is not a favor to People of Color. It is a favor to themselves. And yes, it is very useful to question those statements. I see no conflict. We hear racist thought, or harmful memes, then we call them out! We shouldn't jump on a person's face for it, or declare them persona nongrata. But their feelings are their own business. It hurts to grow. This I know.

I really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.


XP dijo:

GRVTR

Umm....please tell me your "intent" was not to insult our intelligence in assuming that we are unable to tell the difference between the example you used which were stats and what someone like Biden describing Sen. Barack Obama with coded language "the first mainstream African American" "articulate," "bright" and "clean."

Just some thoughts, vato.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

hi sylvia. i accept your denial that you were not ascribing worst motives but pointing out a dynamic. i'll have to table my response, as i'm shaking from hunger and need to read it all again and think before i comment on that.

you do not detract. none of us do. let's say what we feel and respect the other people as we do it. these are the kinds of discussions we need to have.


Richard dijo:

GRVTR

Having once got metaphorically jumped while wandering in the dark alleys of linguistic subtilty on this, of course I can understand why folks are scared shitless to talk about "race." I've said it's essentially meaningless, but unless I go into a six hour riff on Immanuel Kant and colonialism and the difference between segregation and "mestiaje", (and everything else), it ain't gonna sound right coming from a "white guy." It's not rocket science to figure out that "clean and articulate" means "he looks and sounds kinda white", but "deep readings" outside of poetry classes don't really move any progessive causes foreward.

Hell, it must be the phase of the moon, or something. I had to cover a local group trying to get community gardens and other right-on stuff. But, what I noticed was that all 60 or 70 people were "anglo"... something you won't even find in a Baptist Church or the Republican Party meeting around here(assuming they could find that many "out" Republicans down here in the Big Bend). Is the good proposal outweighed by the "racial" overtone? I don't think it's intentional, though I did consider a headline like: Gaggle of Gringo Gardeners Meet" or...?


Professor Zero dijo:

GRVTR

The thing is that it is not really that difficult not to say mean things. What unwritten speech rules? It just does not seem to be all that hard to figure out, if you look about you.

It seems to me that white people complain too much about those ultra-sensitive non-whites, and also about people 'playing the race card'. (I think I've only had that played on me about once in my whole life, some sentence to the tune of 'Go out with me or I'll say you're racist,' pretty easy to see where it's coming from and disregard . . . usually, POC's who point out racism, actually are pointing out racism.)


Richard dijo:

GRVTR
The thing is that it is not really that difficult not to say mean things.

Ah, if only every professor could simplify the complex so elegantly :-)

I've honestly never heard "politically correct" used except as a joke or in the negative... usually in the sense of "I know this isn't politically correct, BUT..." Meaning, natch, "It's my political right to act like a jerk." Yeah, but the person using the "politically incorrect" term is still a jerk.

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but poor whites -- who sometimes use the hateful terms -- are not necessarily acting out of malice, but out of plain ignorance. ... a lot of the bubbas around here will use words like "mescan" for example, but they're hanging out with Julio and José and Hector... and -- what's really noticable -- show respect for everyone. It was just the way they was brung up, and they're pretty good fellers.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR
It was just the way they was brung up, and they're pretty good fellers.

we need to not think of a person as morally deficient if they have been hypnotized. i did make that specific point, i think. calling these patterns out should not be a moral attack, i don't think. we need to discuss the language and what brought the language about, what it perpetuates, who it harms, why.

i do not stand above. i am shedding myself of language and harmful thought patterns, too. i think a person is less likely to have as much motivation for plumbing their own depths or seeing everything and changing it—it does take pain and effort—if they are white...but i don't think they are somehow the only ones who have accidentally subscribed to racist memes. they just stand to benefit if they ignore them, is all.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

hi sylvia. reading over, i think i understand the dynamic you claim is happening. i don't know the linked post, the person, or really anything about the relationship between her and glenn, although i can easily put together a hypothesis based on what you claim. but...the truth of it is, it's really outside of the point i was making. or maybe it's just too late and my brain has had it for the day.

on the other hand, i do understand what you are saying about getting no consideration for your intent. i actually thought of that when i was replying to glenn and i originally typed something about it. but i went back and forth about how much to "speak up for" you, you know? i opted to let you do your own show. i figured you could handle yourself and might even see things i would miss.

i could guess at why glenn gave you no consideration of your possible intent, the kind such as he writes ought to be given (and he wanted that consideration from you), but i'd be only guessing. and i'd rather avoid that because i'm likely to just project my own junk. in the end you are right in implying that it's much harder to give the things we feel we deserve than it is to get them.

i guess i'd say i can understand both sides. not trying to be wishy washy or have it both ways. but i can see how it's easy to be sensitive on both sides. there's a lot going on. that's why i think it's important to try and shape our words sometimes for other people's ears. especially if we care about communicating. it's what we ask from others. we ought to do the same when we can.

if we care about healing rifts between brown and black and white, then we should consider every argument a misunderstanding between a friend we don't have yet. if we think the person we are talking to Just Doesn't Get It, then we ought to be kind enough to our own cause to teach them—and with respect. i would hope that out of every headbanging comment thread we have, everyone can walk away with at least a notion of something they hadn't had before, seen something they have missed. but that means we all have to be patient with each other. and ourselves.

not saying i always do this. but i always know its true.

i guess what frustrates me is that he feels you proved his point, and you feel he proved yours. so we walk away all feeling we were right, and the other is wrong? if that's the case, then i did not facilitate and aid any growing with my post, did i? i end up feeling like i just started shit for no gain. but as i said. maybe i'm just overtired. time for bed.


Kai dijo:

GRVTR

Great post, Nezua. And thanks to you and Sylvia for the linkage to my PC hit-piece. ;-)

But let me get this straight: according to Glenn Greenwald, comments such as Sylvia's (which notes a pretty common racial dynamic, possibly knee-jerk but no big deal) are the reason that we're not making more progress in America's racial dialogue...?

Like so many other writers, the subject of race escapes Greenwald's normally capable grasp, the subject's wild and crafty memes too much for him to handle. Look closely, Greenwald is applying prescriptive standards to two separate things: (1) white folks talking about people of color; and (2) people of color talking about white folks.

1. When it comes to white folks talking about POC, Greenwald thinks POC should loosen up their demands on white folks. He says racial dialogue is hindered by "unwritten rules" imposed on white folks by POC, thus characterizing being educated about respectful language as an unfair and arbitrary imposition on white folks.

2. When it comes to POC talking about white folks, the rules shift toward increased sensitivity and an (I believe unconscious) assertion of actual unwritten rules ("assume pure intent", "assume race-neutral interpretation", "don't imply I said or did anything racist"). And if a POC says something hurtful to a white person (say, his racial motives were "clear"), based on the POC's lived experience observing the patterns of racial dynamics, this explains why we're not making more social progress.

Pretty neat.

No, I'm not saying Greenwald is some closet Nazi or horrible person, I doubt he realized someone like me would come along and frame his argument this way. But this is why Nez is saying that talking about racism openly and honestly is going to be painful; and why it's important for all of us to do our homework and try to learn one another's histories and learn how to speak respectfully before we pick up megaphones, so that we treat a painful subject with the respect that it deserves.

It's not about unwritten rules; it's about genuinely seeing one another as fully equal human beings.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

nice and clear, Kai. i think even a lawyer could understand it put that way. (KIDDING glenn) :)

thanks for adding your perspective. you are right. we are so used to assuming certain privileges in certain places, they seem downright invisible at times.


Rafael dijo:

GRVTR

Very interesting...will have to go through the comments with a fine tooth comb, but in the meantime, point your browsers here and see what "colorless" language sounds like. Is the speaker really colorblind, or merely blind?

http://mediamatters.org/items/200702130003


Saul dijo:

GRVTR

Every white person I've had a conversation with has revealed hidden racism through his use of language. I'm not surprised that Mr. Greenwald is a closeted racist. I am shocked that you deem it useful to discuss. It's evident that white people mistreat those who are different from themselves because white people are cursed with that unfortunate gene.


Rafael dijo:

GRVTR

Why are you shocked that it is discussed. It needs to be discussed and confronted and no it is not genetic, that in its self would be a racist remark, don't you think?


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

I didn't say he was a closeted racist. I don't think he's a "closeted racist." I don't think it helps to say as much.

I find it useful to discuss because I want to affect the dialogue out here. And I did. We can't know how it will all play out, and I don't need to. I just keep saying what I feel the need to say. The rest will play out.

You, my friend, are rather easily shocked! But I like that. Stick around. You'll love my hand buzzer.

Ps...what gene?


L.G. Fucktard dijo:

GRVTR

Yea Saul, what gene????


L.G. Fucktard dijo:

GRVTR

Looks like Saul ain't answering. Too bad. I wanted to thank him/her.

See, my ancestry is German, English and Welsh. But - until I clicked Saul's wiki link (Murkin version) - I had no idea that:


"Genetically, in terms of Y-chromosomes and Mt-DNA, inhabitants of the British Isles (especially the Irish and the Welsh, but also to a considerable extent the English and Scottish) are closely related to the Basques…"

And guess what? Che Guevara had Basque blood!

So thanks Saul. If it weren't for you, I might never have known that Che and I are related. Of course, I shouldn't be too proud. According to VDARE, Guevara was a racist. But what could the unfortunate bastard do? He was a natural born moby.


XP dijo:

GRVTR

LG - that is the problem with distractors, like Saul, there is no intent at having a discussion but to divide people even further.


Sylvia dijo:

GRVTR

No, Nez! Not at all!

I walked away feeling pretty badly about how I said what I did. I don't really know if I'm "right," but I wanted to apologize and to find where things turned on its head. And I hope Greenwald returns and continues the discussion.

There's a difference between paying attention to how words may wound people and not speaking at all, as Cero points out. I think Greenwald's piece may confuse the sentiments. It's only when we disregard the former that we think it's best to start the latter. There's a difference between saying, "I won't put it this way because it's not very clear and counterproductive; I can find another way," and "I won't put it this way because I'm right, but you won't listen; oh well, there's no other way to do it." If you engage with honesty and engage fully instead of like you're performing a ballet on a minefield, there's more opportunity to work through these assumptions that cloud discussion. There's no real mastery of a perfect way to do it, as I think you're saying, Nez.

(Maybe I need to stay away from the word "clear," for example. What's "clear" to me from my perspective may not be so clear to another person.)


Kai dijo:

GRVTR

Sylvia, I didn't find your comment particularly inflammatory. Sure, you may have jumped to conclusions, but please, they weren't unreasonable ones. Seriously, no big deal.

What's noteworthy is that once again we see this stark difference between the way whites respond to "accusations of racism" (grim! rare! severe! cause to walk away!) and how POC discuss racism (the shape of the world, none of us escapes its influence, we gotta chip away at it every day in ourselves and in others).

I will say this about Greenwald's behavior in this thread: I think it's absurd and unbecoming for a white man to haughtily proclaim, as if from the heights of Mount Olympos, that a woman of color should necessarily make race-neutral assumptions about the way the world works and how people behave. Because the fact is, our world is not race-neutral and assuming so is safe for whites only. The rest of us simply cannot afford such delusions.

When you've seen and experienced and been the brunt of certain racist dynamics your entire life, you'd be irresponsible and self-destructive to assume "race-neutral" behavior. That's a good way to get yourself trapped at the end of an alley surrounded by a bunch of white dudes with pipes. Not something that the Glenn Greenwalds of the world worry about, I suspect, but some of us gotta watch our backs more carefully. Sorry, amig@s, I live in the real world, where "race-neutral" is another word for "colorblind racism":

1. increasingly covert racial discourses and practices,
2. avoidance of racial terminology and claims by whites that they experience “reverse discrimination,”
3. a racial agenda in the discussion of political matters that avoids direct racial references,
4. invisibility of the mechanisms of racial inequality

This is not a "game of gotcha", my white friends; this is not a parlor trick. This is about our actual lives. This is about the virulently racist everyday world that people of color must confront every time we walk out the door. Sorry, the unwritten rules of white middle-class politesse and faux-bonhomie do not apply here.

Glenn Greenwald professes a desire for open, honest, progressive inter-racial dialogue. I would welcome such an opening between the two sides of the brightly-delineated blogospheric color line, but it will take more than subtly-phrased decrees from white folks on how POC are to speak to them. It will take patient listening and learning. And it will take a genuine desire to change.

(Sylvia, okay I got a little carried away with my reply to your comment... ;P )


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

Wow, what a great discussion!

I think there are further considerations to how race is discussed [and I know I'm right, because I'm white ;-)*].

White people will discuss race issues among other white people in a different manner than among more colorful friends. I can only assume that POC talk differently about race/racism when they are not among us whiteys. These are the times I hear assertions that there is no more racism, or that some POCs cry 'racist' at the drop of a hat. I certainly hear the faulty logic (10% population black + 50+% inmates black = blacks are inherently criminals) and "Oh I had no advantages growing up white, 'cause it wasn't easy" arguments. Around POC, I think most palefaces avoid the topic, out of that fear of boundaries.

I try to be open and clear with my associates. I think Glenn does make a good point, that some (many?) avoid the topic as they fear it is a landmine. I know for sure that talking Israel will show polarity among folks, with the immediate response of going to opposite corners. Some blogs I follow will veer off to accues Israel of controlling this, that, and the other. Then you have name calling and casting of aspersions.

Personally, I do struggle with becoming a better person. I was not raised particularly racist, but I threw the words around, and looking back, acted racist. And at the time, I would have thought I was relatively "clean", because certainly there were much more racist folks than I and I was not overt. At this point, if I were to say something racist, I'd want to know - it would tell me I have more attic-cleaning to do.


*Is this offensive or heavily ironic, as I intended?


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

Hi Sylvia. I think a number of things happened. Thank you for being thoughtful and humble enough to try and work it out without slamming a gavel to shut down the whole thing and take your sense of rightness and be done. I know it's easy to get riled on these very touchy issues, and I appreciate everyone trying. I do very much appreciate Glenn trying, because he came into the saloon by himself, you see. This is where you and I hang out, here it's safe for us. He took a risk, and I think that is good. I especially appreciate you—as a woman of color—trying so much harder than him by coming back and letting your guard down.

First we have to understand that I called Glenn out and implied things about his language that might make him feel bad. You'll note how much of an effort I made, while doing such a thing, to respect Glenn Greenwald the Person, while I talked about his language. Because I knew being written about in such a way would feel uncomfortable. Even if Glenn—"Or person X," cuz it's not really about him per se—were the sort to enjoy honest and respectful confrontation.

Whether Kai is right that it was a pretty common move that Glenn made by using a person of color's argument to bolster his own, or whether you are right by saying it was his true motivation, we have to agree that it was not a careful move. It really is a move to make if you want to fight someone. Especially when you leave them no way out by saying it is "obvious" or "clear." I agree that you used emotional language. You have to remember that Glenn is a logic person. It doesn't mean he doesn't have feelings though. Now I said it's not personal, but I am talking about the people in this incident because I think it's very important to always size up the language of those you wish to convince. And if we don't want to convince anyone at all, then what are we doing here? Building a coalition of brown/other non-white people who can war against white people online? Building a page where we can always be "right"? That is not my goal. I do want to build solidarity, I do want to feel it, I do want to give us a "mainstream" area to be The Ones. But I am not out to bully anyone or make things worse. I admit its a line that troubles me a times, like now.

Many thoughts are being written on this page. Here are mine. I may be wrong in some of my own focus, or in need of further enlightment, but we speak imperfectly or not at all. So feel free to disagree. Just because this is my blog does not mean I am the final word and always right by any means.

For one thing, you may be right with your assumption, but I feel that by acting in such a accusatory way, you make Glenn appear right by playing right into his complaint. This gives him the opportunity to feel that everything he said originally was right and to disregard what we are saying here. I'm not saying brown people should cater to white people's hurt feelings, note. I am not saying it is a favor we beg of them to pleeeeze consider us. Fuck all that. As I said in comments above, it ain't no favor to act Right.

But what I am saying is that we should do what is best for the cause, the long haul, whatever it is that we see it to be. Is it the momentary unwavering stand, iron-clad and bolstered by fury? Or is it affecting the dialogue and minds who make dialogue? (I am not saying these are necessarily mutually exclusive or that there is not a third or tenth option even more sensible. Hey, perhaps one of these Other options is exactly what is happening as we follow this thread!)

In the end, I'm not toooo worried. Fate has a way of giving everyone the chance to be better. If we don't take it, we lose out. It's up to each and everyone of us here to use this in the way that's best for all. Nobody can check up on anyone, it's in all our hands. I think you are doing well with it, for what my opinion matters.

Neither am I really worried about Glenn. I think he is a smart cat. I don't want to stomp on a dialogue just as it begins, but I don't think that's a worry. He's not going to run with a commenter on my site and use that to build an argument against a larger faction of people. I think once he cools down he will use that facile mind of his and suss out what he needs to from this. Just like I have. Just like you are, Sylvia. I agree with Kai that Glenn sort of lost it here, and I think it's because he was feeling attacked and couldn't find purchase. Yet, it is at the point where someone I am arguing is vulnerable that I want to consider them, though. Not smite them.

Why do I give him the consideration I do, here? Not because he's well-known, not because he's male, not because he's White. But because he is a voice that speaks to a lot of people. And my goal is not simply to make a corner of the 'Net where brown gente can feel safe and find pride; it is to interject myself into the dialogue out here and affect it. I won't compromise on the way, but I want people to hear what I am saying.

When I comment on Orcinus's blog, or Greenwald's, and they come here to discuss my comments, that means we are a part of the larger, mainstream conversation and we can affect it. I, and you, and any commenter here (and with your own blogs, of course, as well) can be part of that conversation. We can affect the dialogue out there, and here. No, the 'Net is not the WORLD, but it also affects the dialogue of the world.

How do we want to use that ability? I don't think it helps us to set ourselves against everyone else as a matter of course. I don't do that. I want us to have a dialogue where we both can be respected and can even, maybe, see things we did not. (Granted, I was angry when I read Mrs Robinson's piece, and I reacted with less subtlety but I'm getting to that in a second, intent). With that in mind, I speak to these people.

In all of this, I have to watch myself. We all do, but what I mean is that I must guard against non-productive patterns. Am I missing any of a "white" person's points because I want to band together with the brown? Am I just making the White Lens happy? Am I Not Making Waves so that I can be accepted by the dominant culture, as I did for years? Am I banding with men against women because it's easy to do? That's why I needed a day (and sleep) to even think any more on this. It's not stuff we ought to rush into, especially when one is trying to weave new patterns, create new synapse clefts, rewrite old tapes. It takes care. And I really appreciate all the comments and discussion.

Sometimes people mention "intent" as a way to judge whether or not a speaker should be called out on their use of "bigoted" speech. I disagree. Because most people do NOT intend to be bigoted. However, I feel intent is something to consider when you shape your response. If you are speaking to a person who has no idea that they have old, rotten shapes in their mind, you must consider how to speak to them. Do we run to them and scream "GET THE ROTTEN SHAPES OUT THEY ARE STINKING UP ALL YOUR WORDS!!" or do we say "I've noticed a few odd shadows when you lean your head on the window. Have you noticed that?" or do we say "How do you feel about the headaches you are getting lately" or do we say "Some people say that the growing pressure in a skull can be due to fermentation of the Shape within"? Or is there some other way?

Forgive my metaphorical examples. And forgive how dangerously close this sounds to "bowing to the master." It is a difficult position I am in here. But my point is that each person's awareness of their own junk as well as their own makeup as well as their own intention should be considered when speaking to them. That is where intent should be considered. And if we care about changing their mind, we ought to shape our words so that they can hear. Not so that their feelings are intact, that is not the goal. But so that our point in speaking at all is not lost in the same old background sound.

Why am I talking to Sylvia here, as if she is the only one who should mind her words? After all, I do agree with most of Kai's points. But then again, he already made them. I speak to US and to Sylvia mostly because this is OUR place. Not because the Woman Needs to Get In Line. I do agree that PoC have many reasons to flinch and be careful; Glenn and people like him would have a hard time understanding this in their bones. I do not mean to invalidate our experiences. I realize how much this could sound like the wrong thing. Of course it would be better if White people could just understand what the fuck it's like to live here and not be White. How that affects our self-esteem, how it affects our fears, our perceptions, how time and time and time again we have to bear the brunt of assumptions that come with their privilege. But they don't, often. And they won't, very often. So we have to keep that in mind.

There were other things happening in all of this, too. I don't know that your comment was much more than you relaxing in my kitchen and not thinking that there were other people in the room. As Ill Do Chay says above:

"White people will discuss race issues among other white people in a different manner than among more colorful friends. I can only assume that POC talk differently about race/racism when they are not among us whiteys."

And that too, is what is happening here. We are not used to having mainstream White voices in here, and we are normally speaking as if it's just the Brown chillin'. In that scenario, we can get a little shorthand, a little loose, because we know what we mean. We do enough qualifying out in the world, here we relax. But sometimes there is that conflict, because more than a few white folks read. I am not commenting to tell the Brown to heed the White way of speaking. Please your own heart. I am only saying in these instances perhaps (unfortunately) the burden is on us to take care with how we help destroy fragile illusions, if we feel that we are all better off not living in them. I do want to shatter the illusions. But I want people to have a safe seat to settle into, not a nest of glass. Then, they will be more likely to take a place in the circle.

*PS, Ill Do Chay, that was funny shit.:)


Saul dijo:

GRVTR

I knew this discussion could not continue. White people commonly refuse to prove they're not racist after they've used words that offend us. They simply won't accept the responsibility for their role as oppressor. When a white person of some stature can see my color and apologize for the system he helps sustain, perhaps then I'll be willing to hear the complaints ("unfair accusation!") of the white person.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

I understand your points and the feelings behind them, Saul. And I thank you for your experience. But I hope you read through all the comments. Because you know what? I think the conversation did quite well at "continuing." And some points were made about how to (possibly) address these differences, or moments of disagreement that may help you in the future. I know I find much of it helpful.

PS, your comment above got some answers if you care to reply to those. To help "the conversation continue."


Saul dijo:

GRVTR

I'm sorry for the "gene" comment. That was an exaggeration in a moment of passion. I agree completely with Kai. A sermonizing white person is unfit to debate these important topics.


Kai dijo:

GRVTR

Nicely said, Nezua, I'm down with chillin with white folks. ;-) I applaud your slick hosting of a delicate affair. You know how it is, I just had to drop some funk after a couple of disingenuous flips over there, but hey I've said my piece and I'm ready to party on. I'm open to admitting errors in my thinking and writing. So I too hope Greenwald returns and responds to some of the substantive issues that you and others have raised. Peace.


Sylvia dijo:

GRVTR

I understand, and I'm glad you wrote that because it makes a lot of sense. And I know you're not calling me out or anything like that. I have a lot of respect for you, your blog, and your opinions, Nez. And I enjoy being in your kitchen 'cause it puts me *that* much closer to all the food... ;)

And thanks, Kai, I appreciate the comments you've made because you've contributed to the nature of this discussion very well. Much obliged. :) The course is taking a more proactive approach than the reactive one I prompted.

Incidentally, I think Salon included Greenwald's discussion in today's edition.

And now, some more relevant contributions on the subject of considering intent: sometimes racist language or language that evokes racist narratives can be more dangerous because it seems innocent and neutral. No big deal. It's kind of like if I shaved routinely, no big problems associated with the practice itself, but I'm doing so with a rusted, dull razor. How effective is that razor if by using it so often I'm leaving myself vulnerable to remnants of what I'm trying to eliminate (in my example, hair, of course) and infection? And in handling the matter, should I replace the razor or stop shaving? The point isn't whether or not I intended to make my shaving job harder, or if I wanted to do something that would make me severely ill. It's recognizing the danger exists in the first place before it's too late and I've exacerbated the infection.

In less metaphorical terms, that's what has to happen with these racist narratives. Some language constructions wound, and we need more dialogue about what these language constructions resemble and how these constructions wound. We have to look at the circumstances that caused such a structure and discuss what remnants of those circumstances linger in that particular narrative. But we can't do that if we shut the conversation down after assessing how people feel about what they say. The popular opinion really isn't great at evaluation; a lot of reflection and perspectives can get lost in consensus.


XP dijo:

GRVTR
I live in the real world, where "race-neutral" is another word for "colorblind racism":
Thank you! That is the first thing that came to my mind, which I just finished posting.

PC and Color-blindness go hand in hand, when somebody complains about the PC police, the argument about being color-blind is soon to follow.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

Saul, I hope we are all fit to discuss these things. The world has seen so much violence and nonempathy and hate over time because one person or another declared others "unfit" for conversations, neighborhoods, homes, rights.... I agree that the Brown has a right to be angry, to stop taking shit, and to stand up for ourselves. And I agree that the comment Kai is responding to (Glenn's) was colored (no pun intended) by emotion—like your earlier statement. But let's not shut anyone down.

Of course I forgive your moment of heat, and applaud the passion. I just don't want to start giving back what we get, you know? I don't want to get into a "fuck white people because they are genetically inferior" type of thing. I don't think that helps us, not even in our own hearts, not even if nobody hears it or reads it.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

jeje...kai. i'm just after a truth i can feel good about going both ways. diggin in the sand to find it. i don't really care if i chill with glenn or any other mainstream writer out there. but if they go away mad, i want it to be because they are jealous of my charm and dashing good looks. that being said, peoples feelings are not my business, and i won't go out of my way to appease them. just my own sense of fairness.

i must add that your "funk" was needed, welcome, and i wouldn't have this thread existing without it. you brought a lot of truth, and i always appreciate your thinking on these matters, i find it invaluable. and yeah. "slick" hosting. damn. i feel like i need to sleep for two days after this thread! touchy stuff. and i still am not sure i'm seeing all i should on it....

I somehow doubt that Glenn will be back here. But he is always welcome. In my opinion, the greatest thing he could do for his own points would be to do so.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR
Incidentally, I think Salon included Greenwald's discussion in today's edition.

Hey, I checked. It seems that while his post has been brought over, he has not brought over the second "UPDATE," which references this post and discussion. There is only the update that links to Pam's post.

Now, if I were to "ascribe the worst motives" I would say that he does not want to link to a thread that casts his thinking or speech into a negative light on a post so new at his new joint, even though the post certainly holds a lot of benefit for people interested in reading on race and race discussions. But I won't do that. In fact, I am betting he has not brought over the link to my post because he is busy writing, or has forgotten or didn't realize that he only updated one of the blogs, when two were in existence. That weird "overlap" time period he is probably in.

But as this thread does a lot to "force these issues more out into the open" (although, there is no doubt that it is at moments "unpleasant to watch people struggle with these awkward discussions"), I am sure he wants to link it, and expect he will by the end of the day.

After all, if another day or so goes by, that post will probably be off the front page of his Salon blog. And then much less people will follow the link to benefit from this discussion. Which I know we both want.


petitpoussin dijo:

GRVTR

Coming to this a little late... and while the post itself pulled me in, I've got to say I think this comment thread is a great example of something I have trouble articulating to other white friends of mine - the ways in which we might need to examine how our opinions/judgments are not just influenced by, but will also be interpreted according to, our white privilege - particularly when talking about problems surrounding racial dialogue. And that we need to be aware of this, particularly when having these discussions online and with relative strangers. So the different standards Kai outlined --

1. When it comes to white folks talking about POC, Greenwald thinks POC should loosen up their demands on white folks. He says racial dialogue is hindered by "unwritten rules" imposed on white folks by POC, thus characterizing being educated about respectful language as an unfair and arbitrary imposition on white folks.

2. When it comes to POC talking about white folks, the rules shift toward increased sensitivity and an (I believe unconscious) assertion of actual unwritten rules ("assume pure intent", "assume race-neutral interpretation", "don't imply I said or did anything racist"). And if a POC says something hurtful to a white person (say, his racial motives were "clear"), based on the POC's lived experience observing the patterns of racial dynamics, this explains why we're not making more social progress.

-- they ring true to me as the general expectation of white people commenting on issues of race, because hey, we're here and we really do want to talk about it! And so white folks' feelings get hurt when we realize our well-intentioned (and of course intent came up here!) statements read a certain way to someone coming from a different perspective, as Greenwald's comments read, at least initially, to Sylvia in this thread. But the way I figure it, the luxury of speaking from a 'universal' experience, in which I assume 'everybody knows what I mean', is one I'm willing to give up to foster real conversation. Putting the burden of 'increased sensitivity' towards a speaker's intent on people of color; well, that's not any different from the status quo, is it? What good is 'the benefit of the doubt' if it means that all we get, as white people who supposedly want to deal with racism as honestly as possible, are polite smiles and 'great try! I see what you mean', along with the sacrifice of the honesty we're supposedly here to foster?

Thanks for letting me think out loud here.


Professor Zero dijo:

GRVTR

Rafael - so I looked at that Media Matters thing. They are saying this stuff with straight faces?!


Rafael dijo:

GRVTR

Well..Glen Beck has this way of saying things, between hysteria and mirth that would let you believe that he is not serious about anything. Enough hehe and hahas to leave you guessing, but no he is saying that...for real.


Clams Casino dijo:

GRVTR

Over at Unclaimed Territory, I attempted to address the same Greenwald quote that later began this discussion, but my post to his blog never garnered a single response. Now that I see that Glenn has linked to this discussion I'll take this opportunity repost what I had written earlier.

If someone "unwittingly" says something bigoted, they are still--by definition--a bigot. An ignorant bigot, but a bigot just the same. These unwritten speech rules, as Greenwald calls them, aren't secret traps designed by black people to trick unwitting white people into saying something racist. People don't use words like "uppity" and "articulate" in reference to a black man by accident. They may not consciously set out to say something offensive, but these word choices aren't an accident. To suggest that race is a conversational landmine because of unwritten speech rules that may be innocently stepped on provides a convenient excuse for bigotry by blaming the words themselves. Bigots are afraid to discuss race because they know they'll eventually slip and say something offensive. People who aren't bigots or racists do not have this fear. And if they do, then they simply need to educate themselves a little more before entering the discussion.


nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez | dijo:

GRVTR

Yes, Clams Casino: a lot of this echoes the points I made in my post. Thanks for bringing over your comment.

I would only add to this: People who aren't bigots or racists do not have this fear.

I think that it's a tiny bit absolute for my liking. Putting such a definite label on someone "bigot" or "racist" and then a condition "if you are afraid of these things then you are one" is a bit too inflexible. If only because to the timid ear, it seems to indicate a permanent state they cannot escape from. Of course you then augment it with And if they do, then they simply need to educate themselves a little more before entering the discussion, which is good and I think the main point. People who carry racist/bigoted thought generally need three things to change it, and lose that fear completely: 1) willingness to change and feel pain on the way; 2) education; 3) effort. Perhaps I should add "humility" there, because a lack of it is almost the same as "flouting privilege," but I lump that in with "willingness."

There was certainly a lot of emotion on this page, and I was glad that Glenn showed up to make an effort at engaging this very touchy but important subject. I felt there was a real opportunity to move the dialogue forward in visible online areas, like his blog, or this one. Yet, when things did not go the way he expected, he got angry and split. I do not see this as a true willingness to engage the subject, nor any kind of demonstration of humility or willingness, but we are all human. I am still hoping he comes back to discuss some of the substance in this discussion. If he does not, I am going to post an update to the conversation with my thoughts in the meanwhile, and some pieces of other posts on this very thread from other blogs who have linked to it.


truth machine dijo:

GRVTR

On intent: I've spoken to a woman in her nineties who used the word "colored" and, when I pointed out that this term is considered offensive, she apologized, noted that she grew up with this word and, being not quite as sharp in the mind as she once was, sometimes slips into old habits, and asked what the preferred term is. Her attitudes were no more racist or bigoted than the average person who doesn't say "colored", and in fact were less so. OTOH, that she had "unwittingly run afoul of various unwritten speech rules" did not shut her up in the least; she felt guilty about using an offensive word, but not about her views, so why should she? In my experience, those who do shut up are those who don't want to expose what they believe.


truth machine dijo:

GRVTR

"I live in the real world, where "race-neutral" is another word for "colorblind racism""

Just because "race-neutral" can be code for "colorblind racism" doesn't mean that it always is. Perhaps you can explain exactly how "I read Pam's blog regularly (which is why she is and always has been in my blogroll)", "I think she has a unique and interesting take on many topics (which is why I have linked to her posts many times in the past)", and "she e-mailed me and brought the post to my attention because she thought it related to what I wrote", which Greenwald described as "race-neutral", are actually examples of colorblind racism.


truth machine dijo:

GRVTR

What's noteworthy is that once again we see this stark difference between the way whites respond to "accusations of racism" (grim! rare! severe! cause to walk away!) and how POC discuss racism (the shape of the world, none of us escapes its influence, we gotta chip away at it every day in ourselves and in others).

That's odd, because when I, a progressive white person, discuss racism with other progressives, we almost always talk in the latter terms, not the former.

I will say this about Greenwald's behavior in this thread: I think it's absurd and unbecoming for a white man to haughtily proclaim, as if from the heights of Mount Olympos, that a woman of color should necessarily make race-neutral assumptions about the way the world works and how people behave.

Yes, that would be a haughty proclamation, but that's not what Greenwald did. Rather, he complained about proclaiming that his motives for a specific act were indisputable. That's a bad thing to do, regardless of what the claim about his motives is. And your mischaracterization is also a bad thing. As is your broad and absolute assertion about "whites" above.

I will make note, though, that Greenwald is prone to haughty proclamations, over defensiveness, nationalism and American chauvinism, and numerous other sins. But that doesn't excuse any of yours.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

In my experience, those who do shut up are those who don't want to expose what they believe.

Well, most of us are still talking this out here. Greenwald's glaring absence notwithstanding.


truth machine dijo:

GRVTR

Having talked of sins, I also want to say that Kai's paragraph about the great "PC" cliché is brilliantly put. And while I object to simplistic "whites bad, POC good" talk, I don't want my objection to be misinterpreted as a color-blind rejection of a more nuanced version: awareness of racism and bigotry is a luxury for progressive whites; it's a necessity for POC, as the society they live in imposes it upon them constantly. Most whites actively maintain their ignorance of this through selective filtering and denial of facts that acknowledging would force them to face some of their unearned privilege and advantage. But, as it's desirable to break down this denial, it doesn't help to declare all whites as incorrigible.

I hope you find my comments to be of some value, but I'm aware that I'm talking from the vantage point of abstract intellectualizing rather than a lived life of oppression, and that therefore I carry no authority. I dropped in via Greenwald's link, and probably won't be back. Best wishes, all.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

Is this "say what i want to say and run" a White Progressive thing, or just you and Glenn Greenwald? I mean, I don't want to generalize.


truth machine dijo:

GRVTR

Having talked of sins, I also want to say that Kai's paragraph about the great "PC" cliché is brilliantly put. And while I object to simplistic "whites bad, POC good" talk, I don't want my objection to be misinterpreted as a color-blind rejection of a more nuanced version: awareness of racism and bigotry is luxury for progressive whites; it's a necessity for POC, as the society they live in imposes it upon them constantly. Most whites actively maintain their ignorance of this through selective filtering and denial of facts that acknowledging would force them to face some of their unearned privilege and advantage. But, as its desirable to break down this denial, it doesn't help to declare all whites as incorrigible.

I hope you find my comments to be of some value, but I'm aware that I'm talking from the vantage point of abstract intellectualizing rather than a lived life of oppression, and that therefore I carry no authority. I dropped in via Greenwald's link, and probably won't be back. Best wishes, all.


truth machine dijo:

GRVTR

My apologies for the double posts; I was being told that your blog's CPU quoate was exceeded, so I didn't think the previous post went through.

"In my experience, those who do shut up are those who don't want to expose what they believe."

Well, most of us are still talking this out here. Greenwald's glaring absence notwithstanding.

In case it wasn't clear, I was referring to racists and bigots not wanting to expose what they believe. As for Greenwald's absence. I think you laid out some pragmatic reasons why he's not here. He also disappears from his own blog comments after a while, as he goes on to other things.

As for throwing up a silly and baseless generalization and then saying you don't want to generalize, that seems beneath the thoughtful quality of your other posts. This is your blog, and it's a focus for you -- you will stay, as will your regulars, but neither Greenwald nor I are regulars. And, as I said, dwelling on this subject is a necessity for you, while it's a luxury for us. Hopefully it will some day no longer be a necessity for anyone.

Ok, this time I'm really gone. Try not to hold it against me, or against other progressive whites who have no responsibility for my actions.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

Oh, you're back for just one more Last Word, eh? I smile.

If you think I am going to pick through such a confused and contradictory collection of words and the slapdashery of some hit and run artist as yaself, you must think I'm a fool! I am interested in dialogue, not sly bullshit.

And, as I said, dwelling on this subject is a necessity for you, while it's a luxury for us.

That's all it takes to get the ignorance to shine through, my friend. A little anger and the condescension and racist thought starts revealing itself.

If you really think understanding how others think who have a different experience than you is a "luxury"; if you really honestly believe that having an equal and respectful dialogue on race is a "luxury" for White Progressives while it remains a "necessity" for people of color, I need add nothing else. Nothing else I could say could be stronger in showing how far you have to go in this conversation, and how far you have to go in actually being "progressive."


Nanette dijo:

GRVTR

Between this thread and Sylvia's, I have too many thoughts, but what an interesting and informative conversation this has been. And will continue to be, no doubt, even if some are a tad reluctant to participate.

I had to laugh at truth machine's self-revelation tho, and applaud your response...

If you really think understanding how others think who have a different experience than you is a "luxury"; if you really honestly believe that having an equal and respectful dialogue on race is a "luxury" for White Progressives while it remains a "necessity" for people of color, I need add nothing else. Nothing else I could say could be stronger in showing how far you have to go in this conversation, and how far you have to go in actually being "progressive."

No kidding. Jeeze. A luxury. I suppose that one day people will realize that, no matter how they try, they simply cannot wall themselves off into their own little (and getting smaller every day), well controlled worlds (literally, behind "gated communities", or figuratively) forever. Not being a part of the discussions and solutions sought for many of the things happening in our world, particularly the ones occurring right within our own cities and communities, is not so much a "luxury" as it is a very short-sighted stupidity.


Ill Do Chay dijo:

GRVTR

"Luxury" -my pale white hiney! Not being able to recognize that the lovely clean white world is an illusion, that's a luxury.


OT PS how do you guys get the cool quote with graphics thingy?


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

I guess some of us prefer the "luxury" of pretending the gruel is steak, even if it means holing up in a vat of cables and dark syrup to sustain our world of enchantment. oh, but to continue to call yourself a Vegetarian after all that? I suppose if you knew you were speaking from an illusory world. Otherwise, it's a misnomer...just another remnant of chosen illusion.

and you get the blockquote effect just by using typical blockquote tags. the rest is done by the stylesheet and grafix i made for the blog.


L.G. Fucktard dijo:

GRVTR

Great analogy. It brought to mind another scene from the Matrix, "There is no steak", in reference to this:


People who carry racist/bigoted thought generally need three things to change it, and lose that fear completely: 1) willingness to change and feel pain on the way; 2) education; 3) effort. Perhaps I should add "humility" there, because a lack of it is almost the same as "flouting privilege," but I lump that in with "willingness."



Clams Casino dijo:

GRVTR

..."a lot of this echoes the points I made in my post.

Oh, I realize I was just piling on at this stage, but part of my reason for posting was to point out that my (nearly identical, though far less eloquently expressed) comments made on Greenwald's blog stood alone and without comment or response from Greenwald...or anyone else for that matter. And yes, I acknowledge that I was flirting with absolutes there, but I certainly didn't mean to imply that bigotry and racism were necessarily permanent states. Of course everyone goes through their own educational process in one form or another, and as you pointed out, education is perhaps the primary key to solving these problems.

That said, I still find myself leaning toward labels like "bigot" and "racist" because the education of others isn't my responsibility. It's their own personal responsibility. As a practical example, my girlfriend (who is Kenyan) has a job that places her in the public eye (an almost entirely white public, I should add), and she experiences a steady stream of ignorant, bigoted and plain old racist remarks. These comments usually fall along the lines of a comment about hair to being called "colored" by some old lady who doesn't know any better. That may sound innocent enough, but at a certain point she naturally gets fed up with teaching Black People 101 to a white population that somehow doesn't know that you don't walk up to a black woman and start touching her braids like she's some sort of exotic sideshow attraction. It's probably safe to assume that most white people can't imagine the amount of garden-variety racism that minorities experience on a daily basis.

So a person may be open, interested, and willing to make the effort, but if they say something racist then they are a racist...until they wise up. Not knowing any better isn't an excuse that you can get away with your entire life.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

hola clams,

just so it is clear, i was pointing out the echoes in our thoughts not to say you were piling on, only to easily and quickly point to a sign that i agree with your gist.

it is a good point that nobody touched your words at gg's. i think most of that crowd is very...mainstream. they really don't want to wade into this type of awareness. some do, for sure. some come from there and stay here for a while. and i suppose that is why i try to be careful with labels that point to a person's essence rather than ones that point out behavior. these judgments that remain on my page. although it's true that i keep changing, these pages pile up and remain the same, the labels and judgements dont fall to the ground when the "racist" walks away. they remain a signpost for all to see, a garment for all to try on. you know what? maybe that's good. i don't have a definite stance. i'm feeling my way. but believe me when i say i am not here to excuse anyone for life or even for a day. i am for honest accounting.

that said, i respect your view, even if it does not always mesh with mine. and i understand that for su ruca, things are different, feel different. i consider her experience valuable. thank you for sharing it here.


Stacy dijo:

GRVTR

I came here via Brownfemipower who quoted truth machine's completely weird comments. I just thought there was something so off about them (such a strangely polite way to say "f*ck you") that I had to come and see what it was all about.

And after reading all of the comments, I wanted to say that I really appreciate the incredibly care, kindness, and thought that you have put into this entire comment thread, Nezua. As you say, inter-racial conversations about race are hard, they're usually painful and difficult and uncomfortable and because of that, people rarely take the time to try and foster them. But you're absolutely right that they are necessary (and as you point out in your critique of Greenwald's piece, the difficulties associated with these conversations are often vitally important aspects of them and shouldn't be tip-toed around).

I really appreciate all the emotional and intellectual work that you've done on this thread to try and get that conversation started.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

thank you, stacy. i appreciate that.


Bob King dijo:

GRVTR

There's something that should be said here that both sides are missing; for most white persons, in this nation that are not themselves racists - racism is a foreign concept - an experience that they have to take on faith, from second and third hand accounts.

Being aware that racism exists - somehow, over there somewhere - is quite different than running right into it. And let's be clear, what we are talking about is not just skin color; in general, our nation has a huge problem with xenophobia - a problem that we often ignore because, well, those people aren't Black, or Jewish or Asian or Latino or Native American - and therefore it's not the same thing.

A seductive premise, unless you've had the experience of being discriminated against for being inherently different in some way that people do not understand and do not wish to have to understand. If you have not had that experience - go and seek it out. It will open your eyes in a way no amount of "dialog" can.

Case in point:

And I'd say Greenwald's misfuddling and bedirecting all over the place here because he's trying to defend the PC power structure and the dominant culture's monopoly on language while appearing egalitarian, and the two don't square with each other.

I'd hate to say he invoked Pam's post because he thinks it's safe for her to bring it up (omg guess why), but from the tone of his article and the dancing around the subject, it's clear that's exactly why he included it.

This is a classic example of - among other things - racism. IE, Greenwald is (presumably) a White Male Protestant Authority, he must therefore have meant this. Mote, beam, eye. And welcome to the human race, in case you think I was singling you out.

Racism and all it's kin in this xenophobic culture is a problem we all share and to some extent, all tend to contribute to. The most fallacious is "I'm ____, I can't be a ___ist; I don't have the power to oppress anyone."

Bullshit.

First, most ___ists don't have any more power than you do. Second - what a horrible thing to say and believe about yourself - that you have no power. Moreover, shame on you for equating conscious, systemic oppression with merely thoughtless behavior - as if you couldn't possibly hurt anyone's feelings.

In point of fact those who speak up DO have more power than those who don't, so if something chaps your ass, say so. Of course, you do take the risk of being called on your own shit, but that's what I call a "personal growth experience."

Oh, btw; I think it absurd that anyone took the "clean and articulate" remark about Obama in a racist sense, because he DOES seem remarkably clean and articulate as politicians go. He's certainly cleaner and more articulate than, say, George Bush or Harry Reid, so I don't see why anyone would leap to the conclusion that it was meant in comparison to other Black politicians.

BUT: Huge Caveat. I am on the Autistic spectrum with Asperger's syndrome. That means that generally have NO accurate idea of what anyone "means" by what they say unless it's expressed in actual words. I do not "get" (nor do I usually want) to know what is "really" meant by that.

I also have some form of joint and connective tissue auto-immune disorder that, quite aside from my autism, has put me on the disabled list. Put the two together and I'm unable to work - with no external indications of disability.

My, the assumptions people make about me!

But it is my perception from the Autistic Spectrum that is relevant here. It's my experience that, while neurotypicals are better at understanding what's "really" meant, they are not nearly so good at it as they think they are - and this becomes truer the farther they are outside of a shared context with shared emotional subtexts.

This is not charity or "tolerance of diversity" - it respect for the fact that when the people affected by racism and xenophobia speak with those who are unwittingly OR unwittingly on the other side of the issue, it's not what is spoken that is the problem - it is that which is unspoken and assumed to have been communicated accurately. I assure you; that is almost certainly not the case.

I will close with a paraphrased quotation from one of my favorite authors, Harlan Ellison. "What did the writer mean? Perhaps exactly what the writer said."


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR
There's something that should be said here that both sides are missing; for most white persons, in this nation that are not themselves racists - racism is a foreign concept - an experience that they have to take on faith, from second and third hand accounts.

Racism is not a foreign concept. It is welded into our very social discourse, literature, laws, and speech norms. People without a personal reason to see that often choose not to understand or see that. In other words, they benefit from not seeing it. That does not mean it is a "foreign concept" to them, just that they operate without needed awareness.

And let's be clear, what we are talking about is not just skin color; in general, our nation has a huge problem with xenophobia - a problem that we often ignore because, well, those people aren't Black, or Jewish or Asian or Latino or Native American - and therefore it's not the same thing.

Yes. Let's be clear. If it were not "racism" we were talking about, the Irish would still be as hated and violently assaulted for their Irishness as Blacks are for their Blackness. If it were "xenophobia," than we'd be carting out not just Mexican "Illegal Aliens" but also Irish ones, etc.

It's called "Racism." I find it clear already.

A seductive premise, unless you've had the experience of being discriminated against for being inherently different in some way that people do not understand and do not wish to have to understand. If you have not had that experience - go and seek it out. It will open your eyes in a way no amount of "dialog" can.

Have you seen the blog called The Unapologetic Mexican? I think that's a little of what the man and his readers touch on. Here and there, you know.

Case in point:

And I'd say Greenwald's misfuddling and bedirecting all over the place here because he's trying to defend the PC power structure and the dominant culture's monopoly on language while appearing egalitarian, and the two don't square with each other.

I'd hate to say he invoked Pam's post because he thinks it's safe for her to bring it up (omg guess why), but from the tone of his article and the dancing around the subject, it's clear that's exactly why he included it.

This is a classic example of - among other things - racism. IE, Greenwald is (presumably) a White Male Protestant Authority, he must therefore have meant this. Mote, beam, eye. And welcome to the human race, in case you think I was singling you out.

You really read this page? And you are still left in the presumptory stage of knowing Greenwald's White Maleness? Interesting. I would read closer if I were you.

Sylvia's use of "clear," was perhaps, hasty. But it is a time-worn practice she refers to. So I would personally offer you "it's a good bet that's why he included it." Or how about "it mirrors a very common racist dynamic used by people in identical situations." Do you enjoy that phrase?

You seize on the same minor word choice GG flipped on. You give her no leeway for this, yet you want GG to get leeway. You do not see this hypocrisy and so you dance a bit, thinking you have found some unassailable crime that the woman made, an irrefutable factoid that points the way to the Black Woman's audicious racism against the White Man. But you are ignoring her crucial points regarding the PC power structure, the dominant culture's monopoly on language, and the irreconciliable nature of GG's wrestling these two into one entity—the meat of her point. You shy away from. This is telling. And it's clear why you do it.

Racism and all it's kin in this xenophobic culture is a problem we all share and to some extent, all tend to contribute to. The most fallacious is "I'm ____, I can't be a ___ist; I don't have the power to oppress anyone."

Bullshit.

Cursing is good. I can see your heart is in this. And I agree. If you actually read this blog, you'd know my views on this, and Sylvia's views, and pretty much the entire blog community I run with and their views on it. They are the same. As yours, here. Minus the "bullshit." We know that White Supremacist thinking can infect our thinking, and has. Those who have been colonized are poisoned very often by the entire dynamic, and oppressed becomes oppressor very easily. Look at all the strife between Brown and Black which is lately getting extremely exacerbated by many journalists with a White® agenda. And we also know we can become extremely biased and bitter. But that is not "Racism."

First, most ___ists don't have any more power than you do.

First, this is what we call, in Miami, a "crock of shit." A White Male may have no more soul power than a black woman. No more heart power. No more emotional power. He may have no more mental power than her. But you better believe that with the perceptions of people and the media and the cops (ring ring Sean Bell at home?) and the accepted hate toward women in this culture that there is a vast and disgusting amount of power that wriggles round the frame and in the wake of that White Man in this particular ejemplo. I could provide other, more nuanced examples, but this will serve as it demonstrates adequately the ludicrousness of your claim.

Second - what a horrible thing to say and believe about yourself - that you have no power.

I don't remember saying that.

Moreover, shame on you for equating conscious, systemic oppression with merely thoughtless behavior - as if you couldn't possibly hurt anyone's feelings.

Listen, mom. Shame on you for thinking you can remake reality by shaping a wordy phrase. As if "thoughtless behavior" is a label that nullifies all other contributors to or consequences of an action.

In point of fact those who speak up DO have more power than those who don't, so if something chaps your ass, say so.

See: This post.

Of course, you do take the risk of being called on your own shit, but that's what I call a "personal growth experience."

I hope you're enjoying it.

Oh, btw; I think it absurd that anyone took the "clean and articulate" remark about Obama in a racist sense,

Color me surprised.

—because he DOES seem remarkably clean and articulate as politicians go.

This little logically fallacious trick would work if Biden had said "politician" instead of "African American" when speaking that now infamous phrase. But he did not. So you are being dishonest and your argument falls apart here.

He's certainly cleaner and more articulate than, say, George Bush or Harry Reid, so I don't see why anyone would leap to the conclusion that it was meant in comparison to other Black politicians.

I hate to rub it in your face, but I'm going to. Because your smugness is irritating. Us thinking folk "leap to the conclusion" based on Biden's actual words. Neat trick, eh?

[...W]hen the people affected by racism and xenophobia speak with those who are unwittingly OR unwittingly on the other side of the issue, it's not what is spoken that is the problem - it is that which is unspoken and assumed to have been communicated accurately.

HTML is fun, I know. But I'm going to leave this one unbolded. Because the truth is inherently bolded and really in no need of augmentation, just presentation and here it is:

It is not what is unspoken that is the problem. It is not what is assumed that is the problem. It is an attitude of superiority and an unwillingness to be humble and listen and/or deal with the pain of change on only one side of an equation that is a huge part of the problem.

THE problem? That this nation was forged and made on the backs of so many who are still hated and feared and denigrated and yet we all put nice sweet alum under our arms and learn to utter complex phrases that perpetuate the status quo all the while telling ourselves how everything is so groovy nowadays.

I will close with a paraphrased quotation from one of my favorite authors, Harlan Ellison. "What did the writer mean? Perhaps exactly what the writer said."

I will refer you to the content of my comment as you have just experienced it, as I find an appeal to an outside authority unnecessary to highlight what I have just told you.

Oh, and welcome to the House of Nezua. :)


Kai dijo:

GRVTR

Nez, I liked your whole thing but "Cursing is good" really craked me up for some reason. ;-D

I think it may have reminded me of a similar line of yours, about that Google search "yo i want to know the history of mexico" to which you responded that this person addressed Google in a very familiar manner, "And that's good."

See, your readers memorize your shit! Pretty soon your oeuvre will have to be indexed by opus number.

Cheers.


nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:

GRVTR

jaja! COOL. first...i'll have to look up "oeuvre." then i shall try to pronounce it. then, i will loathe myself because i will succesfully french up the room. all the while, i thank you.

opus out, Nez


Sylvia dijo:

GRVTR

*standing ovation* :D