Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DBTWP 7a: Responding to Whatsername

(NOTE: Changing up title because "Ally School" doesn't really match my final goal.  Now called DBTWP or "Don't be THAT White Person.").

In a comment to my earlier post on reverse racism whatsername said...
Well, we want to let people tell their own stories, and let white people say things that are patently ridiculous (like the results of that Tufts survey) so we can debunk it and show how fucked up and wrong it is...right? Cuz I mean, every measure of discrimination shows that white people are still advantaged, and usually puts Black or Native people as the least advantaged. So whatever these people are feeling or thinking, they're factually fucking wrong. And that's really important in the context of ally-ship and racial consciousness, right?
I'm not here to debunk anyone's story, especially not before I've heard it.  I asked for personal anecdotes about white people who have encountered reverse racism.  It's hardly fair to start with the assumption those comments will be patently ridiculous, fucked up and wrong.  Or to show them a bunch of charts and statistics which disprove their lived experience after they have given me an honest reply. I am telling people to listen to POCs when they talk about racism and avoid minimizing or denying their experiences: it behooves me to model good behavior.

A few months back I went round and round with Wade Long, who insisted that there was no such thing as "black culture." The same thing I said then applies now. The term "reverse racism" conveys meaning for pretty much every English-speaking American.  Those poor unenlightened privilege-choked racists who disagree with all those measures of discrimination may be "factually fucking wrong." They still outnumber you by a considerable margin and once outside a dozen or so urban areas they have a great deal more political clout.  And if you don't think their concerns are worth hearing there are plenty of demagogues who will lend them a sympathetic ear.  Here's Pat Buchanan, who was once a fringe figure but is now pretty firmly in the Republican center-right, with some of his thoughts on anti-white racism.
As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time? 
Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse? 
We have all heard ad nauseam from the Rev. Al about Tawana Brawley, the Duke rape case and Jena. And all turned out to be hoaxes. But about the epidemic of black assaults on whites that are real, we hear nothing.
To date the accounts I've seen of reverse racism differ considerably from reports of the way POCs experience racism.  And of course the concept is problematic: the two articles I linked to earlier and the quote from Buchanan should make that abundantly clear. But I am not in charge of the dictionary. And if a majority of white people (who are after all my target audience) believe reverse racism exists, then I might want to hear what they are talking about rather than dismissing their accounts out of hand.

Besides, I'm not so sure I'm in the business of making "allies" anyway.  The people I am aiming for are the well-meaning white people who genuinely want to be nice to people of color.  They don't want to be perceived as racist and they aren't, at least not in the "violent skinhead Nazi" way most Americans use the word.  And so I'm providing pointers on things which POCs are likely to see as racist, along with some historical and social context as to why.  I'd be thrilled if this leads to them becoming more politically conscious.  But if it leads to less moments of awkwardness and miscommunication between them and the POCs they encounter, I still chalk it up as a net gain.