The Common Ground of Reid and Steele: From White Racial Framing to Hegemonic Whiteness

There’s been a lot said about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) comments in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s new book Game Change, which hit bookstores yesterday.

The authors quote Reid as saying Obama, as a black candidate, is successful because of his “light-skinned” appearance alongside his speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Along these lines, I refer readers to Joe’s post from yesterday, which deals with the “white racial framing” of Reid’s remarks.

Yet, one of the most vociferous challenges to Reid’s comments comes from GOP chairman Michael Steele. On Sunday, Steele called for Reid to step down. The remarks, Steele stressed, were just as contemptuous as those made by former Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who once praised Strom Thurmond’s segregationist presidential candidacy.

As a former student of mine, Taylor Harris, wrote:

Forget Michael Steele’s inane comparison of Reid’s comments to Trent Lott’s in 2002. Lott endorsed a segregationist, Reid endorsed a fair-skinned Ivy-Leaguer. As national anti-racist educator and author Tim Wise posted on his Facebook page, “That’s like the difference between saying, on the one hand, ‘gee Tim, you don’t look Jewish,’ and ‘Wow, those Nazis were really on to something.’ One is insensitive and stupid, while the other is monstrous.

Whether Steele is right or wrong in demanding an apology and a resignation is moot. This is the same Michael Steele who recently remarked that African Americans should join the Republican Party because he was going to offer “fried chicken and potato salad,” or his very recent remarks in which he matter-of-factly dropped the phrase “Honest injun.” Here, both Reid and Steele are employing the same historically-embedded worldview—one of white racial framing.

Rather than examine how white supremacist invective invades the wordplay of both the left and the right, the debate remains hijacked by the familiar “culture war” saga of red v. blue and right v. left. Most discourse centers on whether the left only criticizes the right for racism and excuses it amidst its own ranks, or whether or not Steele (and the right) is engaging in hypocritical political opportunism as a way of jump-starting predicted Republican gains in the House and Senate come the next election cycle.

In either case Reid implicitly reproduces the notion that being “too black” is a political liability in our supposedly “post-racial” age, while Steele explicitly reproduces a virulent stereotype ripe from the text of Amos ‘n Andy, the bulk of the discourse misses that white supremacist discourse has been so normalized that is has become common-sensed or “hegemonic.” Such white supremacist logic knows no political boundaries and cannot be reduced to such.

My own sociological research bears this out. In a forthcoming article in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies (advance copy here), I present data from two politically-opposed racial organizations: a white nationalist group and a white antiracist group. I found that both often relied on similar “scripts,” if you will, to construct a robust understanding of white and non-white identity on a personal, interactive, micro-level.

In particular, both groups engaged in what I call an “Identity Politics of Hegemonic Whiteness”—they both possess analogous common-sensed “ideals” of white identity that function to guide their interactions in everyday life. These “scripts” serve as seemingly neutral yardsticks against which cultural behavior, norms, values, and expectations are measured. Hence, white identity is revealed as an ongoing process of formation in which (1) racist and reactionary scripts are used to demarcate white/non-white boundaries, and (2) performances of white racial identity that fail to adhere to those scripts are often marginalized and stigmatized, thereby creating intra-racial distinctions among whites. As just one example, and akin to Leslie and Joe’s book, I found that both groups reproduce overt and hostile racism in private settings whereby they feel more free to engage in language and actions deemed politically incorrect. For those whites that didn’t “go along with the crowd,” they often found themselves the brunt of jokes, marginalized within their respective organizations, and framed by others as somehow lacking in mental, physical, and/or cultural acuity.

Unless we can have a more robust public discussion of how white supremacist logic has invaded the dominant discourse of both the left and right, and intimately influences how many whites are encouraged to create a sense of their own racial selves, I’m afraid we may be missing the larger point.

Matthew W. Hughey, PhD is Assistant Professor of Sociology and affiliate faculty member of African American Studies and Gender Studies at Mississippi State University. His research centers on racial identity formation, racialized organizations, and mass media representations of race. He can be reached at His website is


  1. marandaNJ

    Hughey said: I present data from two politically-opposed racial organizations: a white nationalist group and a white antiracist group.
    Then he states: I found that both groups reproduce overt and hostile racism in private settings whereby they feel more free to engage in language and actions deemed politically incorrect.
    This is confusing to me. White anti-racists evince overt racism in private? Well, then by definition, they’re Not Anti-Racists are they? You can’t be an anti-racist In Public, but surreptitiously racist in private. Cause if you’re one, then this negates the other. It’s like being pregnant or not pregnant.
    Is the crux of this argument that no matter what whites claim, or want to believe of themselves, or try to be, they will always be racists at heart? I have heard this meme on here before as in,”Good intentions are not enough!”
    Would someone please explain to me what Exactly Constitutes a White Anti-Racist? Because if you believe that African Americans should be treated in the same fashion Under the Law as any other Americans, don’t make racist jokes because you believe they are cruel, have black friends who you care about, what makes this person Remain a Racist? What exactly must one do to qualify?
    Is the only accurate evidence of being a true anti-racist involve marrying a black person? Or adopting a black child? I don’t see how you can qualify more than welcoming a person of color into your family. But if you don’t, you fall short of the mark? I am not being facetious. Where is the line drawn?

  2. Matthew Hughey Author

    @marandaNJ: No, the crux of this argument is not “that no matter what whites claim, or want to believe of themselves, or try to be, they will always be racists at heart?”

    You appear to misinterpret the arguement, so let me try to clarify. The crux is that the dominant and normalized scripts for making sense of everyday racial life are intimately intertwined with racist and reactionary ideology. They can be resisted, but often with a price: Hence the example at the end of the post about those whites that didn’t “go along with the crowd.” In resisting the scripts of Hegemonic Whiteness (that again were normalized and achieved the status of “common sense”), they often “found themselves the brunt of jokes, marginalized within their respective organizations, and framed by others as somehow lacking in mental, physical, and/or cultural acuity.”

    You bring up marrying or adopting a person of another race. Ironically, members of both these groups did such (yes, even the proclaimed “white nationalists”). Sadly and ironically, many people proudly proclaimed, “I’m married to an [insert non white person], so I can’t be racist.” I saw such interactional usage of children and spouses as an attempt, perhaps not consciously, to use those relationships as a form of tokenizing (I call it “epidermal capital”) whereby possession of the capital works to credentialize them and buffer them from claims that they might be “prejudiced” or “racist”.

    But again, a focus there still misses the overall point: As it’s not about demonizing or calling out a particular person (just as it’s not about Steele or Reid, but the larger ideological reservoir from which they draw) (I call this the “bad apple strategy” (see my post on RR from a while back on Von Brunn). Rather, the point is to examine how these ideologies and scripts are (re)produced, valorized, given status, and resisted in everyday life. I explain more about that in the paper I reference, which you are free to read.

    Thanks for the question.

  3. No1KState

    I’m gonna try to say this as uncontroversially as possible. I apologize in advance if some thoughts belong closer to others and I’m being confusing. I was trying to get a bit much in without becoming too long winded.

    First, it’s absolutely possible to fight racism on, say, a legal level without being aware of racism on a cultural level. Racism operates on a number of levels, and fighting it on one level doesn’t mean you’re not participating in it on another. We’re (black people “we”) not fighting for the right to be white. Not only should anti-racism mean equal education and educational opportunity; it should also mean that if out in public space, we (blacks) shouldn’t be considered uneducated for speaking black vernacular English.

    Part of anti-racism on a personal level for white people is doing the same sort of emotional work overweight people do as they lose weight. Truth is, it takes some “hella” courage to acknowledge the full extent, impact and implications of racism.
    If someone points out racism in a white anti-racist, it should be taken as constructive criticism, not an insult. It’s unhelpful to become indignant at the “r-word.” For example, black primary voters were right about Bill Clinton. That doesn’t diminish what good he’s done, only points out where he needs to do better.

    As always, it helps if a person is willing to acknowledge the problem. A recent study ( shows that “you don’t have to hate other groups to love your own.” So, even if a person has absolutely not one drop (pun intended) of anti-black bias, s/he could have (plenty) of pro-white bias; and ultimately, even this pro-white bias has a negative impact on the lives of people of color.

    It’s unhelpful if, as in the case of Reid and Steele, the conversation gets stuck on whether and how much white people are prejudiced without moving on to actually addressing the way the aggregate of biases impacts the lives of people of color. To respond/comment on the main post, with which I completely agree, “getting stuck” is part of white hegemony and supremacy. It makes the white experience more important than the minority experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s necessary to address the way white bias works against people of color. However, if we begin and end the discussion on white people, we normalize whiteness and do so without noticing the negative impact this normalizing has on nonwhites. We also end up with this legal notion that intent is more important than impact. Like the former student instructs, we have to discuss the reason Lott’s comment is “worse” than Reid’s. We have to discuss what would’ve happened to the black community if Strom had been elected. We have to talk about what Reid’s words mean today; inartful or not, what does it mean to the black community if they’re true?

    Also, to Hughey’s point, hegemonic whiteness and pro-white bias has a negative impact on poor whites. The bias they face from other whites isn’t so much about class but as much race: they’re just doing a poor job of performing white racial identity and are marginalized for it.

  4. marandaNJ

    Hi No1,
    Thanks for all the info. Much of what you said was very thought provoking and I will continue to mull over all you said.
    I want to address one thing. And I hope I don’t sound like I’m picking at the general crux of what you said. But this topic interests me. In fact, when I commented as smoke.a.newport last summer, we actually discussed this.
    You said: “it should also mean that if out in public space, we (blacks) shouldn’t be considered uneducated for speaking black vernacular English.”
    What happens is when educated black people greet each other, they often do so in the vernacular Initially. Just like whites do when they say, “Hey ya’all! Whatchu doin’?” Then, educated blacks, I have noticed, Switch [you called it code switching I think] to Standard American English. Educated whites do exactly the same thing. They use the vernacular, and I know you already know this but hang in there please, for Emphasis.
    Point is, No1, that poorly educated black people Always Use the Vernacular. They can’t switch to SAE because they haven’t learned it. This is the standard English taught in schools. Now, I already know language is arbritrary folks, so please don’t go there. I am not saying one dialect in Inherently superior to another. It’s just that by consensus, SAE is what has been “chosen” for newscasters, professional people, educators etc to use as our “formal” English if you want to label it that.
    The ability to code switch is telling. It signifies to others that you have the capacity to communicate in both dialects and are thus educated. Now, honestly, I don’t know how this will change. Even over time. Yes, it’s true people associate speaking SAE with education. And better education places you in a higher socio-economic class in most people’s minds. Thus, it’s true that if blacks continuously speak the vernacular in public, others [even many blacks] consider that person uneducated.
    This is true of other languages as well. All languages have dialects, some considered “professional” and some considered “provincial” or “country”.
    What do you think?

    • No1KState

      While there are different dialects of “white” English, I hardly know of any “white” English that doesn’t hue very closely to standard English. The dialect newscasters use is, I’ve been told, “midwestern” because it has the least amount of “accent.”

      Which, I guess will answer your question. Let’s first distinguish “accent,” which is about phonetics and not grammer or semantics,from grammar and semantics. While someone from Boston may not sound like someone from Lincoln and someone from Baltimore may not sound like someone from LA (west coast city or Southern state), grammatically and semantically, they’re all speaking pretty much the same dialect. Absent slang, of course.

      And before going too far, I better point out that “street slang” is just “street slang” of black English and not black English itself. The way surfer slang is a version of slang that pertains to standard/white English. That stuff Martin Lawrence does, ie, “What the problem is?” ain’t even correct black English. He’s just making a show for a mainstream/white audience.

      “Hey y’all! Whatchu doing!” is more Southern than either white or black. Which speaks to how closely Southern white English and black English in general are related.

      That’s accent and quite different from dialect. I can sound “educated” just be changing my accent regardless of my dialect. (I can sound white, too! But that’s more a change in voice quality than accent.) Even middle/upper class blacks speak some degree of black English when in private. What they complain about as for lower class blacks is their public performance.

      So, yes, even Haiti has “high” French for professional and civic situations and “low” French for the neighborhood. And yes, even some blacks promote whiteness in terms of language. But speaking black English shouldn’t be a marker of being uneducated. SAE is taught in schools, yes, but we learn language BEFORE school. If a child isn’t speaking by the time s/he is 3, s/he is developmentally delayed.

      Educated whites may improve their accent for public performance. Even the kids from Jersey Shore could clean up, improve their accent, and be thought of as “educated.” I imagine whites who have to switch are just switching from one accent to another. Like someone turning off the twang. And that’s not to mention whites who don’t have to switch. They’re not changing their grammer or semantics.

      And sense we’re teasing things out, let’s keep teasing things out. Poorly educated blacks are POORLY EDUCATED. One problem is the quality of educations; ie, class size, teachers’ ability, resource availiblity, facility quality, etc and so on. The other problem is racism in education, both from teachers and in the soft subjects. A white child in Boston may be corrected for grammer, but not for the silent “r.” Plus this child won’t be admonished the way a black child would for using the habitual “be.” Upper class whites in New York may look down on lower class whites in New York for speaking too nasally as a class marker – and even that’s about “sound,” not grammer, and a poor performance of whiteness. And some blacks may look down on other blacks for poor grammar, not sound. Even that is about a poor performance of whiteness (think historically). But the only dialect of English that’s routinely and soundly mocked, not just as uneducated, but as lazy, ignorant and slang etc and so on.

      And when we talk about consensus, who’s consensus? If by consensus you mean “majority opinion,” then blacks have always been a minority. At best we topped out at 15% about a century or so ago. We’ve been around 13% the past several decades. We weren’t, and aren’t, included in this consensus. And the consensus, as “majority opinion,” doesn’t bring all groups together to reaffirm America as a multicultural society; it reaffirms “whiteness.”

      I mean, whenever I was in a class learning, or remediating, on grammar, the teacher would ask us what sounds right. To make it easier to grasp. It didn’t take too much of this before it occurred to me that what sounded acceptable to me didn’t always sound acceptable to my classmates. At first, the rest of the class would have light bulbs going off and I was still sounding out, trying to gauge for meaning – cause whether or not something is correct in black English involves what the speaker means. Then I realized, years before peers of any race, that rules of grammar didn’t change. Especially puntuation. I learned to sound out “proper” English just to get it reinforced mentally. So . . . what I’m trying to say is that grammar lessons only reinforced, standardized, what white classmates were already speaking. Grammar rules only applied to their dialect. The teacher may have encouraged lessening their “twang” but that was it. Not much else was “corrected.”

      So . . . SAE is just maybe an middle/upper class version of white English, but it’s basically white English. “Code switching” applies to grammar and semantics, lexicon and diction as well as accent. It’s not what whites have to do.

  5. marandaNJ

    The problem No1 is we can’t go back in a time machine and re-establish what constitutes SAE. It’s a done deal, isn’t it? 99% of books in Barnes and Noble, 99% of American magazines, 99% of internet info is written in SAE. SAE is how America gets its information in an Information Age.
    If you don’t master SAE you’re Crippled for Life. You can’t understand an insurance policy, a doctor’s report, a mortgage, credit card regulations, your child’s homework, a teacher’s report on your child’s progess, instructions on how to operate your new flat screen television, a bank statement. If this isn’t survival, what is?
    Yes, it’s true blacks didn’t actually vote on which dialect America would communicate in. But it’s here now. The solution is not to keep repeating, “It’s not fair that black kids have to code switch!” Because, if they want to survive in Any Country on Earth, they must code switch. The French don’t understand black vernacular anymore than the average white American. The Chinese don’t understand, the Egyptians don’t. You get the idea.
    My solution to this problem is for blacks to beat whites at their own game. It’s perfectly attainable. If you need to speak and communicate in SAE to survive, then learn it up one side and down the other, and stop labeling it “The White Man’s Language”. Because there’s an implication there that black students Shouldn’t have to Lower Themselves to Learning “White Man’s Foul Ways.”
    There’s another way to view this situation which you rarely address. It’s called kick whitey’s butt by being smarter and faster than whitey. Everytime I suggest this approach you always give a long list of “Buts”. But black kids are taught by biased white teachers, but black kids don’t have the educational facilities middle class whites do, but black kids shouldn’t have to code switch.
    With due respect, No1, what do you think black kids Can do? Instead of emphasizing what they can’t do, what are they capable of?
    This sounds corny, but if Abe Lincoln could practice math problems by firelight using charcoal and a shovel for a piece of paper, you mean to tell me it’s totally in the province of white America to elevate the educational level of black children, or can black children do some of the work themselves? I think if the motivation is there, there’s more access to free reading materials, and educational facilities even in inner city America than in most countries anywhere in the world.
    I know suburban schools are better equipped compared than inner city schools. My point is inner city American schools, deficient as they are compared to American suburbia,still excel public schools in the vast majority of other nations.
    SAE is here to stay. My point is, now what?

  6. No1KState

    You’ve never suggested that part of anti-racism work on the part of black students is to be smarter.

    I think the last time you and I discussed public education, it started out with your saying that the unemployment rate is disproportionately high in African American communities because of the disproportionately high drop out rate, and that the drop out rate was so high because African American families don’t take education seriously enough. You located the problem in the African American community for not taking education as seriously. I can find the quote if you like.

    Cause I wonder . . . when did I suggest that black kids shouldn’t learn SAE and that black kids can’t learn SAE?


    Maybe it’s my fault for cutting my comment too short. I’ll try to be as clear, here, as possible.

    SAE is the language of academia and scholarship, boardrooms and court rooms, official and government business. It’s the “high” English of America. I have no problem with that.

    My problem is what happens in public space. In this case, I referenced “the mall” as public space. To be clear, I don’t mean “public vs private” as in “government vs citizen(s)” owned. I mean “public vs private” as in “outside the home/inside the home.”

    The way I’m using it, examples of “public space” include shopping malls and plazas, sidewalks, amusement parks and carnivals, church, bus stops, sports arenas, restaurants, department stores, rest stops, rap songs, movie theatres, golf courses, parking lots, laundromats, city stoops, grocery stores, music stores, hospitals, clothing stores, shoe stores . . . I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out.

    What I was initially saying that you responded to is that if out in “public space” like at the mall, or on the sidewalk, speaking black vernacular English should not be a marker of education.

    Nor, for that matter, should it be a marker of intelligence. But to be clear, if “poorly educated” blacks ALWAYS use vernacular and NEVER switch because they NEVER learned . . . it’s because they’re, as you said, poorly educated. According to the rules of SAE, “poorly educated” as you used it is a participle of the transitive form of the verb “educate.” “Educate” is either something the subject noun does (active) or something that is done to the predicate noun (passive or transitive). You used it in the second sense and I just continued in that use.

    As such, “poorly educated” people of any race probably always use their vernacular because they haven’t been properly educated in the standard form of their language. In the US, the quality of education a person receive, whether poor or proper, is dependent upon the quality of education their local government provides.

    Sure, you were probably trying convey a meaning more like this: folks who haven’t really tried in school. But you used the words “poorly educated” and I just extended its usage.

    So that we’re clear, what I mean by “not fighting for the right to be white” is this:

    1 – due to history and demographics, what would otherwise be known more as “high” white English is now standard American English
    2 – as the national standard (as opposed to official) dialect, it is appropriate for academic situations, business situations, and government situations
    3 – in all other situations, the vernacular is acceptable and no judgement should be made about the education or intelligence of the speaker

    Therefore, the reason educated blacks use SAE out in public is because they’re making a certain public performance. They’re conscious of being in hearing of others, especially whites, and that they will be negatively judged by others.(“By” and the direct object “others” makes this transitive.) This judgment is based, not on the meaning of what’s actually said, but on how closely it conforms to SAE, which is, as stated before, white English.

    No one, no matter their socioeconomic class or race, should have to code-switch when they’re at the mall.

    I apologize if this comes across as condescending. I just wanted to be as clear as possible. Morever, not having said something, like “blacks should beat whites at their own game,” is no indication of my position about that particular thing.

  7. marandaNJ

    No1Said: 3 – in all other situations, the vernacular is acceptable and no judgement should be made about the education or intelligence of the speaker.
    I agree. I guess I just thought you thought it was condescending for blacks to learn SAE or code switch at all. You are correct here. No judgments should be made regarding the vernacular outside of the “formal” places you mentioned. People should feel comfortable speaking in their vernacular without feeling like someone is judging them.

    • No1KState

      Good we’re on the same page.

      You think maybe there could be anything else you might have, er, “just thought I thought?”

      What if, just maybe, we could take my comments for just what’s written? Not make assumptions about what I mean?


      If you need clarification, feel free to ask. But by and large, I mean what I say, not what it may approximately “sound like.” You know what I mean? Like, if I thought it was condescending for blacks to learn SAE, I would say just that. To make another play on words, what I think is condescending is the way black vernacular is treated in schools. A lot of kafuffle could be avoided if black students were taught in school to code switch rather than that the language of their family and friends is substandard. Think back . . . you probably first saw me use “code switch” in reference to what is encouraged in Italy. There, students aren’t taught that they should lose their vernacular; just that they have to learn standard Italian to be successful in life outside their neighborhoods. That’s what I advocate.

      In fact . . . that’s kinda what they wanted to do in Oakland. What would happen is in English class, Ebonics (Ebony phonics) would be broken down into its compenent parts. For example, one familiar feature of black vernacular is the missing linking verb. So, instead of saying, “That dude is a hottie!”, a black vernacular speaker might say, “That dude a hottie!” So a student would be taught that “dude” is a noun and “hottie” is an adjective modifying the noun “dude.”. Then the teacher would point out the missing verb “is” and eventually students would learn that in standard English, they need to keep “is” even if at home they drop it.

      At the same time, from my perspective, if we’re making headway fighting racism on all fronts, SAE speakers (the ones) who pride themselves on being “educated” for keeping the linking verb would learn that where SAE speakers might use a contraction, “That dude’s a hottie,” black vernacular speakers drop the verb altogether. So . . . there’s really not a whole lot of difference in that case in what’s happening grammatically. And SAE speakers who pride themselves on being “educated” should take a moment to realize that there’s not a whole lof of difference between themselves and speakers of black vernacular. Right? Cause at the end of the day, not even contractions are allowed in academic scholarly papers.

      Now that I may have made things clearer, I can circle back to Matthew’s point in the original post.

      See, although all students are taught to keep all verbs in their papers and that not even contractions are allowed in academic writing, no one is looked down on for contracting verbs in their everyday speech. Whether a student contracted the verb or dropped it altogether in a paper, the teacher would mark both equally wrong. Right? But no one corrects a teen for contracting the verb “is” in everyday speech the way a teen would be corrected for dropping the verb “is.”

      The fact that such social disgrace is reserved for black vernacular’s dropping the linking verb is about race, not grammar; and, the pretense that it’s grammar, not race, comes from white racial framing. See, even in most white vernaculars, the verb is kept. So to speakers of SAE, even its less formal versions, dropping the verb is grammatically incorrect. To them, it seems the issue is grammatical. (I just had my own lightbulb moment! Dropping the linking verb is lazy if you’re convinced it’s grammatically incorrect and all it takes to be correst is even just the “s” sound! Oh!) But it’s only just a grammatical issue of bad grammar if you take for granted that everybody is supposed to be speaking SAE, which we already know is white English.

      See, one thing white racial framing does is make what’s normal for whites the standard for everybody else, then pretends race doesn’t exist. So even anti-racist whites can look down on nonwhites if/when we don’t meet standards that are really culturally white. Thus, maintaining hegemonic whiteness.

      And for the love of all that’s good and holy, if writers for CSI have to mock black English, the least they could do is just drop the linking verb instead of substituting the verb “be” for “is” which is grammatically incorrect in black vernacular English!

      Like I said, good to be on the same page.

  8. marandaNJ

    I know what you’re saying No1. It’s true that whites generally do place more of a stigma on black vernacular than they do on other white vernacular. I’d be dishonest if I said otherwise.
    The thing is, what can we do about this? It’s discouraging. The problem with trying to “undo” centuries of racism is that, well, we’re talkin’ centuries here! It’s so imbedded that it’s still like trying to roll a boulder uphill.
    I know I must sound like a hard-boiled debater sometimes, but the truth is I have so many wonderful black friends, and the thought of someone hurting them specifically hurts me very much. And actually pisses me off! [Not that I’m ignoring the plight of All blacks.]
    I’m making the point that familiarity brings caring and makes a huge impact on racism. Alot of racism is based on some really bizarre myths because whites don’t actually have black friends who they can relate to. I have a white friend who never had black guests in his home. This is a Huge Part of the Problem. I don’t think he even really “sees” black people. I also know an older lady down the street who calls black people “coloreds”. I always want to ask, “And what color would that be exactly?”
    So yeah, I get mad. Anyway, you are an interesting person No1. Good to be on the same page back at ya!

    • No1KState

      You gotta pick your spots when it comes to getting mad at people, other than me, of course. (j/k) Personally, sometimes it’s better to just shake my head, roll my eyes, and move on. I can be very protective of my “che,” as it like to call it. My sense of inner equalibrium. Ie, with everything going on with healthcare and the teaparties and in MA, Reid’s 2-year-old comments weren’t worth messing up my che.

      And since you’re putting yourself out there of sorts, I guess I’ll do the same.

      I’ve come across all too many white liberals who still indulge in racism and try to hide behind statements like, “I have friends who are black,” and stuff like that. So, not knowing you personally, I wasn’t trying to throw salt on your friendships. I was just trying to say that I wasn’t impressed, for lack of better words. Having black friends doesn’t mean a white person doesn’t engage in some level of racism. And whatever you think of intellectual capacity of black students, the truth is unless racism in education and society altogether are addressed, just telling black teens to “get a good education” isn’t really doing much, you know? And from my perspective, it indulges in whiteness, for lack of a better term, to pretend that the central problem is located in the black community and not society.

      Familiarity does make a huge impact. In fact, a study shows that whites’ negative racial bias falls for minorities in their group/team. If you get a group of random strangers, then split them off into interracial teams for competition, just being on the same “Team Red” makes a difference.

      Here’s the other thing from my perspective – Historically, the black communitiy has always done its part to overcome racism, both in terms of working hard to overcome barriers and being sociopolitically active. I don’t know if kids nowadays are taught to be twice as good and work twice as hard. But as recently as at least the 80s, black students were taught to do what you suggest – learn the system then use it against racists. Or, more specifically, you suggested learn SAE inside and out.

      That kind of advice has always been shared in the black community. We don’t need people of any race talking down to us as though they’re sharing some insight we’ve been ignoring. That’s why I get upset with that type advice coming from someone who hasn’t, or doesn’t, acknowledge the severity of social and institutional racism.

      Not to mention the fact that throughout all of history, there’s always been someone saying that “if black would only [fill in the blank]” our social problems would be solved. It started with blacks having to get used to being free . . . then whites would extend all the benefits of freedom. If only we’d educate ourselves, or end crime in the community, or organize our families betters. Nowadays the rate of out-of-wedlock births is held up as the boogie man when it comes to family structure in the black community. But after the Civil War, whites, especially landowners, were upset that black husbands wanted to be paid well enough so that their wives could be stay-at-home-moms, like the wives of middle/upper class whites.

      Then of course, Booker T Washington said if blacks just kept our heads down and learned skilled trades, thus becoming necessary and valuable to the economy, whites wouldn’t be able to deny us equality and justice. His solution was that instead of blacks studying literature or philosophy or other areas of liberal arts, we should just focus on trade and farming. We really didn’t even need to master SAE; just know it to the extent that it was necessary to whatever trade a student was studying for.

      There’s always been some “ill” in the black community that justified our 2nd class status, even when these ills existed the same in white communities or where imaginary in the first place. So . . . yeah, I get pretty pissed about those kinds of solutions, too.

      Yeah, racism seems incalcitrant, but we forge ahead anyway. Once upon a time, Africans were deemed equal to whites. Some even suggested that Africans were superior in intellect – because of the grio, of course. When it came to business and trade transactions, even involving slaves, the memory of the African merchants and political leaders was as reliable as what the merchants had written down. If it was that way before, it can be that way again. (Not the “superior in intellect” part, the “deemed equal” part.)

      But making headway means acknowledging fighting racism is like rolling a boulder uphill. And it’s not that all white people and only white people who have the particular moral failing of racial bias. It’s just that as the primary beneficiaries of a society with a racial hierarchy, white people can sometimes be unaware of the extent of the problem or afraid of the implications of acknowledging the extent of the problem. And it’s counterproductive for whites to complain, for example, that poor whites have it hard, too. Blacks are aware of class biases. Blacks are disproportionately poor! So we know about class biases or issues the poor face just because they’re poor. But it’s just the fact that even poor whites have a racial benefit that poor minorities don’t have. We’re not trying to make whites feel guilty or blame everything on “whitey.” It’s not about blaming “whitey” just for the sake of blaming “whitey.” It’s just the fact that there’s hardly any problem in the black community, including the number of single-parent households, that doesn’t have its genesis in anti-black racism. We just want a fair and equal society; and whites aren’t always aware of, or sometimes even willing to acknowledge, how unfair and unequal it is.

      So when it comes to things like “focusing on what blacks can” do, it’s not that I disagree with you. In fact, if I’m dialoguing with a young black person, I do urge learning SAE in and out. It’s just that when it comes to really undoing racism, SAE isn’t the heart of the problem. And for interracial discussions on racism, it’s vital to get to the heart of the issue. And yeah, I get mad when a discussion that’s supposed to be on racism skips over racism to what the black community “should be doing.”

      So, there it is. In my normal “writer’s wordy” way. So, if I ever need to make my comments and intents more clear, I’ll do that. But no more of the various accusations of my level of anger all that. That’s just uncouth and uncool.


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