Open Thread: Getting White People to Confront History

Earlier today, I got into an interesting exchange about white people confronting (or not) a history that may make them “feel bad.”  The discussion was prompted by a post over at The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, in which he writes the following:

It is often said that Americans aren’t interested in history, but I think it’s more accurate to say that people–in general–aren’t interested in history that makes them feel bad. We surely are interested in those points of history from which we are able to extract an easy national glory–our achievement of independence from the British, the battle of Gettysburg, our fight against Hitler, and even the campaign of nonviolence waged by Martin Luther King. For different reasons, each of these episodes can be fitted for digestibility. More importantly that can be easily deployed in service our various national uses. Thus it is not so much that we are against history, as we are in favor of a selective history. The fact is that Martin Luther King is useful to us, in a way that Bayard Rustin is not (yet.)

The ongoing dilemma for me, and from the looks of my Twitter timeline – lots of other folks, is how to get white people to confront a history of race and racism that “makes them feel bad” ?

This is something I’ve written about before.  The fact is that whites as a population are implicated in the racist past and present of the U.S. Yet, whites in general, but perhaps especially white liberals and white anti-racists, want to place themselves at the heroic center of any narrative (i.e., The Help) about racism or equate their experiences with those of people of color.  How can we get past this barrier of “feeling bad” about history with white allies in order to move toward racial justice?

Drop a suggestion in the comments thread. Look forward to your ideas.

Comments are now closed on this post.

Comments

  1. cordoba blue

    One of the problems is that whites can’t fix the past. They can affect the present and the future, but not the past.
    African Americans have a right to be bitter, but the people who participated in slavery are gone. Regarding “feeling bad”, slavery was a very dark part of American history and would make anybody “feel bad”. I really don’t think this can be solved in practical terms. How can you examine the horrific details of slavery and not have feelings of guilt or shame or remorse or sympathy?
    The whites of today have different issues to confront regarding black Americans: such as job discrimination and monetary discrimination and housing discrimination and educational discrimination. That’s enough to deal with. If we can fix these, or make a significant dent, we are accomplishing something.
    I think it’s futile for African Americans to feel animosity toward whites for slavery. Feel animosity for today’s issues, because that’s fixable. I very well know the argument “my family never owned slaves” doesn’t hold water with anti-racists. But in point of fact, it does affect the relationship between whites and blacks today. Most whites today would be horrified at the idea of owning another human being. Slavery was a product of greed and ignorance. That ignorance is not nearly as prevalent today as it was 150 years ago. I’d like to say it has entirely vanished, but unfortunately I can’t.
    Educated people hopefully aren’t under any illusion that blacks are genetically inferior, or that any race is inherently superior to another. And they certainly don’t desire to hold any human prisoner, subject to their wishes. This is indeed a different age.
    Science, the field of medicine, technology,the economic structure of the global interactions, all point to a more sophisticated world that views everything in a more sophisticated manner. Applying reason to racial issues instead of medieval ignorance is the key to creating true inter-racial appreciation and empathy. Race issues should be a science, not an emotional volatile issue between quarreling children.
    We still have some miles to walk, but we are far removed from slavery. Additionally, if this bleak episode makes whites “feel bad”, it’s a natural human reaction.

    • Jessie Author

      The challenge, I think @cordoba, is to see that contemporary discrimination (in jobs, housing, welath) as tied to earlier regimes of oppression.
      .
      And, it’s not *only* about slavery. If, for example, you take a look at legacy of lynching and the 1920s-era KKK in the U.S., people my age had grandparents who participated in those acts of racial terrorism. Yet, you rarely here of white people who are going about excavating that personal history. Instead, white people either ignore it or try and do a selective re-reading of history in which they (we) situate whites as the heroes of this history.
      .
      It seems to me that we do ourselves a collective disservice with this kind of myopia about what is, ultimately, all of our history.

  2. cordoba blue

    @ Jessie, I’m not diminishing the horror of slavery, or Jim Crow or lynchings or Neo-Slavery (putting black men in prison for specious crimes and then using them for free labor, peonage ). I’m saying that the past can’t be re-created or re-visited. Knowledge of what happened during all these different eras of repression is vital to understanding our history. I am not disputing this. My point was it can’t be repaired.
    Re-living it and feeling animosity is not the same as remembering it. Animosity toward whites today for what their grandfathers did does not accomplish anything. Any country can do this given its history. It’s like a never-ending cold war. A clan versus clan feud. When does it stop? Reminds me of the vendetta the Sicilians felt in The Godfather movies. “Give me the order! I will kill and avenge for honor.”
    Today should be the issue is all I’m advocating. Fix today. There’s plenty of work to be done today. Again, examining the past and acknowledging it is not the same thing as extending the hatred, which in and of itself accomplishes nothing.

    • Sal Baje

      people of color in the US do not have to “re-live” historical oppression; we deal with it daily, in its myriad contemporary forms. furthermore, there is a huge difference between people of color wanting acknowledgment of the racism that is an integral part of US history, from the beginnings of the genocide of indigenous people, and the “animosity toward white” that you refer to. what might sound like “animosity” to your ears may very well be POC shouting to be heard and crying out for our histories, which *are* a part of the history of the US, to be valued.

      at a time when states like tennessee want to re-write the history books so that US history portrays white people in a more “favorable” light and ethnic studies is being eviscerated in arizona, “animosity toward whites” seems to be less salient than getting whites to acknowledge the legacy of racist policies that have been enacted since this country’s inception.

      what i find especially troubling about your reframing the issue as one of POC animosity toward whites is that it sounds an awful lot like, “get over it” — a statement that we POC hear all too often, often accompanied by, “you’re overreacting/being oversensitive”. such statements really don’t advance the discourse, IMHO, and effectively serve to further silence us.

  3. Joe

    Yes, African Americans face oppression and inequality today because of slavery, “slavery unwilling to die” in effect. Slavery was the basis and foundation of this country for over half its history, which created enormous wealth and privilege for whites — and that extreme inequality has been socially reproduced through Jim Crow to the present day. A clear understanding of that reproduction of privilege leads to the clear conclusion that massive reparations are due. That is why real history is so ‘bad’ for whites to ponder and act on. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said a page of history is worth a volume of ‘logic’….

  4. cordoba blue

    Jessie wrote in the post: How can we get past this barrier of “feeling bad” about history with white allies in order to move toward racial justice?

    Therefore I was under the impression you wanted to “get past” a psychological barrier. That’s why I responded the way I did. I did not know this was really about financial reparations for African Americans. I stand corrected. If that was the point of the post, I am sorry I misinterpreted. The post should have been entitled : “Whites Must Pay for the Past: African Americans are Entitled to Monetary Compensation for the Injustices done to Them.” Again, I apologize.

    • Jessie Author

      You know, @cordoba, your sarcasm is not helping move the discussion forward and in fact, is part of the problem that I identified in the original post.

  5. Blaque Swan

    Interestingly enough, children who are taught the whole historical truth, ie what really happened and who really did it, are more likely to challenge the racial status quo. As for getting people to actually face the whole truth, maybe we can insist that they’re not as “good” as they like to think if they can’t face the truth. Reverse psychology.

    Other than that, I got nothing. Not only are white “anti-racists” unwilling to face the facts, white conservatives are passing laws (ie, Tim Horne in Arizona) and education standards (ie, the Texas State Board of Ed) to do the exact opposite. I mean really, we can’t even manage to do away with the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparities. We can’t even get people of the “war on drugs,” despite the dividends taxpayers would reap. We’re talking about people who, with a straight face, declare the African Americans should demand jobs not food stamps and at the same time give a job to a white convict over a black man with not criminal history at all.

    So, getting white America to face historical fact? Well, maybe REDTAILS will do extraordinarily well, and we can start from there. Anything beyond that and reverse psychology – your guess is a good, if not better, than mine. Maybe it’s because I just finished reading this essay by MW Simpson, but my hopes for white America having a collective race epiphany ain’t too high. It was Jack Nicholson’s character who said, “You can’t handle the truth!” yes? That’s about where it is.

  6. cordoba blue

    I did not equate acknowledging the manner in which black Americans have been historically treated with reparations (that being monetary) for slavery. In this regard, I made an error because it is against the feelings and sensibilities of the majority of commentators here. (Obviously.)
    I also was absolutely not trying to say to African Americans to “get over it”. My comment was (again) let’s face the problems that are sitting right in front of us: disparity in employment, education, financial situations, housing. If we bring slavery into the mix, how do you suggest we fix this? We can’t go back in a time machine to undo the horrors of slavery. To interpret that as “get over it” is to totally misunderstand what I wrote.
    My awareness was that over the last 40 years, looking at textbooks, there has been a substantial increase of acknowledging the wrongs done Native Americans and African Americans. There have been many more studies on American history from the point of view of oppressed groups. I’ve seen literally dozens of children’s books written about Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, Marin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement, the rape of the Native American lands..many more.
    When white book publishers buckle under to demands there is more acknowledgment in favor of whites, I don’t know what this agenda means. It very well could be (I’m guessing) a push-back because we have a black president. If I’ve seen one push-back about Obama, I’ve seen a million. It’s in different forms, but still it comes from the same fear.
    In conclusion, I answered the post according to my own observations. Again, I didn’t know that reparations for blacks because of slavery was part and parcel of what I was supposed to say. I thought this was about whites acknowledging atrocities toward blacks and I said let’s do this, but then focus on what’s solvable.
    Slavery 150 years ago isn’t fixable. The logistics of deciding who gets how much money would be a fiasco. Plus, giving money to one minority group and taking money from another minority (citizens of Mexican descent would be taxed also for these reparations, right? Also, Asians would be taxed. It would come from ALL our tax dollars.) won’t sit well with other immigrants. Am I wrong? It’s a great idea, but totally impossible to implement. And the push-back likely won’t come from whites, it’ll come from other non-white immigrants. Why should some man from Cambodia who’s been in America 14 years pay African Americans for the cruelty they suffered under slavery? That’s the question that will be asked.
    My suggestion is to focus on what’s fixable. And I got my butt kicked. Oh well. Dreaming is nice, but reality works better. :)

    • Jessie Author

      I hear this all the time in my world, especially from white liberals: “My suggestion is to focus on what’s fixable,” from @cordoba. And, I think there’s something to that.
      .
      However, as @BlaqueSwan points out: “children who are taught the whole historical truth, ie what really happened and who really did it, are more likely to challenge the racial status quo.”
      .
      So, my point is: what is facing the ‘difficult history’ in which white people are villains and not heroes, is part of what works to fix racism?

  7. cordoba blue

    In answer to Jessie, I believe I understand what you’re saying. And yes, sometimes it’s difficult to communicate abstract ideas via the internet, so if people misunderstand, it’s not because they’re necessarily being belligerant.
    Anyway, why are whites so many times the heroes of (let’s say) social studies books? Because, you are correct, white people wrote the texts. Even though there is more acknowledgement than in the past of what minority groups felt and experienced, the texts are Mostly from a white perspective.
    The main idea is that America is a great country, despite all its faults. If I had to choose and interpret One Conclusion from the average history book. But within these books, you see constant quarreling between whites also. One political group fighting to control the country against another white political group. It’s not as clear-cut as “All whites are heroes”. The quarreling, bickering, greedy side to whites is definitely shown (the Robber Barons, Sherman’s Anti-Trust Act to break up monopolies, Engish versus Americans in the War of 1812 and the American Revolution).
    Also, in answer again to Jessie’s question, I do believe whites want to call America “their” country in the final analysis. And that’s why whites are loathe to give up their heroes such as “the Founding Fathers” meme. Yes, these texts were written, in the last analysis by whites for whites. Time is given to minority groups, but as “asides”, not the crux of the story. Too true.
    What can be done about this? Well, it’s like chipping away at a mountain. More diversity within the texts. More emphasis on the multi-cultural nature of America. And stop with the “Whites built this country” meme. No one race is responsible for building this country. 2 million Native Americans were here even before all the political white bickering started. So it doesn’t make any sense to claim one group “built” this country. Whites wrote the Constitution only because they were in power at the time (and still are). This is the document we follow. But it doesn’t mean whites literally made the country what it is. Without free slave labor and pushing the Indians into obscurity, these white laws and institutions would not exist.
    In conclusion, more diversity. Again, I think the white push-back is really about Obama. White people got a case of the jitters and decided to re-create the hero myths.

  8. Glenn

    The klan and slavery are not exactly obscure topics; if the US state acted like the Turkish government you would have a point, besides who doesn’t interpret history to compliment their identity? You guys here do it, the victim status certainly isn’t applied to white ethnic groups like Armenians, Greeks and countless other ethnic groups. As we can see from the comments they spin a narrative of ‘whites’ preying on ‘non-whites’ if anyone needs to confront history its people who are part of the leftist who makes arguments like the original post which is steeped in the evil of collective guilt.

  9. Glenn

    The term white covers so many peoples that its almost meaningless; slave owners were a minority, consisting of the elites of Whites, Blacks and Indians, even in the heyday of slavery. Besides due to waves of immigrants starting in the 19th century from various countries that fall under the ‘white’ label such immigration hasn’t stopped; thus by sheer millions ‘whites’ with no ancestral connection to slavery dwarf those that do. So have fun confronting second generation Romanian-Americans about slavery, perhaps you’ll get bored with that and go onto whine to Thai-americans about Genghi Khan’s atrocities.

    “Slavery was the basis and foundation of this country for over half its history, which created enormous wealth and privilege for whites — and that extreme inequality has been socially reproduced through Jim Crow to the present day.”

    Slaves in the US accounted for five percent of slaves transported to the Americas, slave owners formed an elite of Indians, Blacks and Whites; you might as well bash Arabs for the depravity of Saudi princes. Slavery was far from universal, for example, as a republic prior to statehood Vermont abolished slavery, why the dickens should anyone with ancestors in that be subject to abuse under the guise of ‘confronting history’? Slavery certainly was the pillar of antebellum society but it was far from beneficial for the non-slave owning majority since it created massive poverty and other problems even the odious and repugnant Tim Wise makes this point he said that “try getting a job when they’re all being done for free.” The transcontinental railroad was a key start in the dawn of American power; a project built by immigrants and veterans. If we accept the quote above then that means that pretty much anyone who wasn’t Black benefited from it, including non-Whites like Asians.

  10. Blaque Swan

    The truth of the matter is that white Americans continue to accrue benefits from past and present racist policies.

    This point can’t be overstated: the more people know of the US’s total history, and not the Tom Horne revised version, the less likely they are to support and maintain racist policies and ideas. Like, for example, they’d reject the claim that “black culture” is what’s holding African Americans back. Or that we don’t hold education in sufficient esteem.

    Besides, there’s been research on what white Americans say when no minorities are around and research on what is said avoid responsibility and redress. In fact, I’m reading a paper now by Teun A van Dijk titled DISCOURSE AND THE DENIAL OF RACISM. There’s no question that the vast and overwhelming majority of white Americans maintain racist ideas. Complaints about white guilt don’t hold water.

    • Glenn

      “The truth of the matter is that white Americans continue to accrue benefits from past and present racist policies.”

      Once again if we accept this reasoning then that means non-Whites have also benefited; the GI bill largely created the American middle class, while Blacks were discriminated against Asians, Hispanics and Native-Americans were able to use it.

      http://books.google.com/books?id=evL7fchzir4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=GI+Bill+asians&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xDspT42YBNHJiQLpnrDKCg&ved=0CEUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=asian&f=false

      “This point can’t be overstated: the more people know of the US’s total history, and not the Tom Horne revised version, the less likely they are to support and maintain racist policies and ideas.”

      Once again it isn’t obscure history, compared to Japan’s amnesiac handling of its axis past (putting aside the millions killed they enslaved about 10 million people) or Russia’s stance on its past the US has done an admirable job of handling its dark side. Certain people in this leftist racialist subculture act as if the US has a uniquely evil history which is an absurdly false fantasy (slaves in Brazil account for 35% of slaves shipped to the americas while slaves in the US made up 5%) and an example of how the left mythologizes history just as much as certain conservative ideologues. Please cite an example of country with this utopian past you seem to expect.

      “Like, for example, they’d reject the claim that “black culture” is what’s holding African Americans back. Or that we don’t hold education in sufficient esteem.”

      Such claims are imbecilic and vile.

      “Besides, there’s been research on what white Americans say when no minorities are around and research on what is said avoid responsibility and redress”

      What would you prefer for “responsibility and redress”?

      “There’s no question that the vast and overwhelming majority of white Americans maintain racist ideas.”

      Except your entire premise is centered around collective guilt; a racist concept.

      • Blaque Swan

        How is collective guilt a racist concept? Guilt is only useful in making people feel good while they avoid doing or not doing whatever it is they feel guilty about. As in, “I know I shouldn’t smoke, but at least I feel guilty about it,” or, “I sure feel bad about cheating on my spouse. I’m not going to end the affair, but at least I feel bad about it.” So I despise the concept of white guilt. Don’t feel guilty, make things right.

        I have no idea how other countries teach history in their schools. I don’t see how it matters, though. It’s not about having some utopian past. Even pre-16th century sub-Saharan Africa wasn’t peaches and cream. What I care about is the US teaching history accurately as experienced by everyone involved. I’m not saying that we teach all white Americans at all times in US history are evil racists. That’s just not true.

        Joe can correct me if I’m wrong, but African Americans are owed billions, perhaps even trillions, in reparations from the late 1600s to the 1970s. If other minorities received all the benefits the GI Bill afforded them, I’m glad to hear it! Now, let’s pay African Americans what we’re owed. Even Brazil’s trying to set it’s racial affairs in order.

        • Glenn

          Collective guilt holds that people should feel guilty for past atrocities due to their ethnicity, skin color or religion.

          “Guilt is only useful in making people feel good while they avoid doing or not doing whatever it is they feel guilty about. As in, “I know I shouldn’t smoke, but at least I feel guilty about it,” or, “I sure feel bad about cheating on my spouse. I’m not going to end the affair, but at least I feel bad about it.””

          Thats a foolish argument since you’re talking actions a hypothetical smoker actually did.

          “What I care about is the US teaching history accurately as experienced by everyone involved.”

          Which it already does if we had a curriculum which airbrushes our national dark side like Japan you would have a point but we don’t.

          “Joe can correct me if I’m wrong, but African Americans are owed billions, perhaps even trillions, in reparations from the late 1600s to the 1970s. ”

          First you claim that you “despise” white guilt now you’re supporting the vile racist claim of reparations, logic: you’re doing it wrong.

          “Even Brazil’s trying to set it’s racial affairs in order.”

          Except the vast majority of Brazilians are multiracial; maybe they can claim victimhood one day over their Black ancestry and feel guilty the next over any Portuguese heritage, or they could do the smart thing and realize that such past crimes are examples of what any person’s capable of, not an indictment of any specific ethnic group.

  11. Pat Schenck

    I’ve heard it all: Why are we still talking about this? I’m not racist so this has nothing to do with me. We have a black President, so we’re in a postracial age. Or people quickly change the subject.

    I recently wrote an essay published in pamphlet form (available at Pendle Hill Bookstore) in which I talked about my own history as a white person, what I was taught as a child (often contradictory), my caring about race bacause I taught black children, the many times I stuck my foot in my mouth, the things it took me a long time to understand about race, etc. I am now leading workshops in which I invite participants in small groups to share those memories, especially what they were taught as children. People seem to be receiving my essay without defensiveness because I am not talking about them, just about myself, and I am demonstsrating that I have often stumbled. It seems to cut through the defensiveness. I tell them that I believe they all believe in equality, and yet we all carry those tapes in our heads, and if we know that, we can speak and act based on our real beliefs, not on the old tapes. If people can get to the point of talking a little about race, I think they will be more open to thinking about the history, which I agree is very important for all of us to understand.

  12. cordoba blue

    Pat Schenck said: If people can get to the point of talking a little about race, I think they will be more open to thinking about the history, which I agree is very important for all of us to understand.
    I don’t think anybody can dispute this. It’s reasonable, not based on anger, and level-headed. What I don’t think is viable is Glenn’s anger. Who is he angry with? But in all honesty, there are extremes on both sides of this issue. I would not write an American history book featuring “whites as villains”. To me this is “hating all white people” which is just as absurd as white people hating all blacks.
    I would like to see history books explain how the Native Americans were mis-treated and why. The “why” is very important. Native Americans were considered “savages” merely because they didn’t dress or speak or live in houses or practice Christianity. This is ethno-centrism. Everybody different from you is a “savage”? This thinking, this psychology was very prevalent at the time. Like Pat stated, those tapes ran through everybody’s head and nobody told you different.
    The literacy rate at that time was also very small compared to today. What your parents told you through word of mouth was what you believed. You did not have access to large libraries full of information about other cultures and their value. If you parents told you “A good Indian is a dead Indian” that’s what you carried with you forever.
    Same holds true regarding slavery. The French writer de Tocqueville visited America in the late 1700’s. He said when he crossed the Ohio River, the entire sociology changed. The white southerners were indolent and irresponsible. They thought menial labor was beneath them. They never even looked at their slaves when they entered rooms. They thought black people serving whites was “the natural order of things”. All ignorance in a dark age.
    He said the northerners had a completely different mind-set ( I know northerners were racists too but I’m making a point). They were Proud to work. They were composed largely of newer immigrants from all over the world and they didn’t think any work was menial. White men from all over the world worked in factories, shops, railroad stations, drove carriages, worked in hotels, cleaned city streets, owned small businesses, worked as maids and cooks, worked in restaurants, worked as servants, worked on the docks, everything! There were a few slaves in the north, but the north was Not Dependent as a society on slavery at all.
    They did not have this fantasy aristocratic philosophy that the southerners had. The North was filled with middle-class citizens. They wanted to escape the aristocratic mind-set they knew in Europe, not recreate it.
    Another observer said to visit the south was like visiting medieval Europe. There was the aristocracy and there were the serfs. There was “poor white trash” (as labeled by the aristocracy) small farmers, and there was a very tiny middle class structure. Most people made their living through agriculture because of the longer growing season, as opposed to the middle and northern colonies which had shorter growing seasons, so they did not have the option of farming most of the year. That’s why factories began in the north, Lowell Massachusetts to be specific.
    The point of all this is that writing a history book with “whites as villains” is extreme in my view. Writing a history book explaining the warped and uneducated mind-set of many whites would be more accurate.
    This book would include much more information about what America was like from the perspectives of the races that were subjugated and had to listen to “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” stories. If you were a Native American, how would this make you feel? That’s the type of question that would promote self-examination and empathy. I’ve had my students write stories about what it would be like to be a slave. It was eye-opening for many of them. Many were surprised that George Washington had slaves.
    To simply take the stance, “let’s write an American history book where the whites are villains” seems too simplistic. Just my opinion. I’d rather have one with the approach “Whites committed many cruel acts toward other races. And this is why. With education today we know better than to be ethno-centric. All different races and cultures have gifts we can learn from.”
    This creates racial harmony, rather than fanning the flames of hatred. Isn’t this what we want?

    • Sal Baje

      i don’t think the original post, nor any of the subsequent comments, advocate for writing history books that portray white people as villains. i think that the point is that US history, conveyed in textbooks and in popular discourse, is unidimensional, which in turn, limits how we can even to begin to envision a more just and equitable society.

      i am often dumbstruck by the lack of understanding of *basic* US history displayed by students in undergraduate (and sometimes, graduate) courses. sadly, my encounters with native-raised and educated US people who are even remotely aware that my country of origin, the philippines, was a US territory from 1896-1945 are rare. the same is true of the annexation of hawai’i and much of the history of the indigenous genocide in the US — a fact that is particularly lamentable in my local context, a higher ed institution in the great plains. this lack of basic understanding of the historical contexts in which people in the US live is, frankly, appalling.

      there is, of course, the well-observed phenomenon of knowing something and either remaining indifferent to it and/or not acting on that knowledge. blaque swan alluded to this in a previous comment. yet, before acknowledging this history, people must first be aware of it. it seems to me that how history is taught in the US is far from fair to POC, and this shortchanges students of all ethnicities: students of color receive the message that their histories don’t matter, and white students don’t learn of the legacy of anti-racist white people who struggled alongside POC for abolition, civil rights, and social justice.

      @cordoba blue, your text, above, and your other postings are excellent examples of the strawman argument. in fact, your texts here would be fertile grounds for a discourse analysis on how discussions about race are typically framed in the US.

      • cordoba blue

        @ Sal: Thanks for the insult. First you claim that you don’t advocate for writing history books that portray white people as villains, then you tell me my arguments are strawman examples. What PRECISELY did I say that was insulting to PEOPLE OF COLOR?
        Let’s see: Was it when I asked my students to write about slavery in the first person so they could understand the heinous cruelty? Was that the strawman?
        Was it when I suggested teaching children: “whites committed many cruel acts toward other races?”
        Was it when I said that observers to the Old South found the area medieval? Was that the strawman?
        Was it when I said the north did not consider menial labor beneath them and was much more multi-cultural?
        Was it when I suggested history books not be written with whites as villains but portrayed the “warped and uneducated mindset of whites” as a product of living in a uneducated age of illiteracy? Exactly which statements of the above did I make that so offended you Sal?
        YOU are an example of why discourse between white (yes I’m white) anti-racists and POC (as you call yourself) can never come to fruition. You do not want harmony, but rather to keep the fires of hate burning brightly. On a mission to denigrate any way you can.
        No matter what I say it will always be the wrong thing, the wrong angle, the strawman..because Sal, you wish it to be. And yet you claim in all innocense, “People must be aware of white history of all ethnicities”. When did I dispute that? Because I called for racial harmony INSTEAD of the drum beat of “Attention POC: Detest the White Man! They Have Eyes Like Snakes and Tongues with Forks”.
        You call my arguments “fertile grounds for how discusssions about race are typically framed in the US”. And how would you “frame them” so that racial harmony could MOVE FOREWARD? I await your reply.

        • Sal Baje

          Thank you for providing such lucid illustrations of white racial framing that Professor Feagin (who is the originator of this blog) has written so extensively about. Thank you, too, for providing a stunning example of the inability of some white people to confront the less flattering eras of US history.

          I wish you and @JennieD (below) happiness and the causes of happiness in all the days of your lives.

  13. cordoba blue

    It’s pretty hard to find middle ground with Very Angry people. If you don’t buy into total committment to (as one commentator said it) “dismantling the white race”, you’re a surreptitious Nazi I guess. An undercover white nationalist. (Scary foreboding music now heard on screen like the theme from Jaws).
    Exactly what does dismantling the white race entail anyway? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: sounds like WW III to this white person. Would that satisfy POC?
    Why not just make a huge sign written in Red Paint that states “Race War on Saturday. All Invited. Bring Your Own Beer.” I mean it’s that ridiculous people really!
    This is supposed to be an academic website where “cooler heads prevail”. Through education we can comprehend the views of others. But this name-calling is incomprehensible to me. I like Pat Schenck’s approach because it’s LEVEL-HEADED. People will not listen to a rabble-rouser. They tend to avoid people who call for war because they’ve all seen enough. Or do we want more?
    Traditionally, the only people wars appealed to were adolescent boys who’ve NEVER been in combat. To them it’s romantic and fun, until they experience a real battle. Then they realize their naive children’s view points. There’s nothing fun about all-out hate people. It just leads to more hatred. WW III would not be fun for me. Besides my squirt guns have a leak from last summer. :)

  14. JeannieD

    Anyone who allows the past to hinder their ability to mobilize and move forward is a fool. I don’t feel bad about anything that I haven’t personally participated in. I don’t hold grudges, and neither do I allow perceived slights to get in the way of my pursuit of excellence. The past should not be used as as a crutch to justify lack of motivation, inability to succeed, or as an excuse for criminal actions. By anyone. Individual responsibility should be the topic of discussion here.

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