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anti-racism

White Racism: The Major Obstacle To A United Left

Why hasn't the Left been effective...at any thing other than PR?
George Jackson, Blood In My Eye..."The major obstacle to a united left in this country is white racism. There are three categories of white racists: the overt, self-satisfied racist who doesn't attempt to hide his antipathy; the self-interdicting racist who harbors and nurtures racism in spite of his best efforts; and the unconscious racist, who has no awareness of his racist preconceptions...the self-interdicting racist, no matter what his acquired conviction or ideology, will seldom be able to contribute with his actions in any really concrete way. His role in revolution, barring a change of basic character, will be minimal throughout..."

George Jackson's words in 1971. How could something said so long ago have such perfect applicability to today? How could so few understand processes so evident to their victim/inferiors, yet continue to deny the existence of such conditions?

"Minimal throughout", is a phrase one could use to describe the Left and its contributions to real change. Racism effectively shackles any constructive response to the system, because deep in the soul of the white activist, their identification with racism/white supermacy appears, veiled, yet absolute. George Jackson recognized it in his day and the disease is still present. The only blacks or other people of color desired are the controllable mascot/mammy/magical negro type.

The response of self-identified lefties is to question the sanity of any person of color who doesn't drop to their knees and lick their tofu hemroids. I question the Lenscrafters of the lefties I see, hear and interact with in Portland and I demand that you look in the mirror quick, if you can find it. Once we deal with your astigmatism, we can perhaps deal with mine.

Just last night, a white woman who is a PDX transplant was talking about how Portland is this great "facade," that appears groovy on the outside and is reactionary and close-minded in the gooey center. Fuck, the political action component of this equation: that's small potatoes. We're talking, if we're talking correctly, about people who are prancing around in a dreamworld and who don't want to be awakened. And sleepwalkers are incredibly dangerous, especially to those who attempt to wake them.

Ralph Ellison in his masterpiece, "Invisible Man," talks about the invisibility of black people as a condition of whiteness, a condition afflicting white people. We black folks are perfectly visible; the blindspot that causes white folks to not see us, to act as if we aren't here, causes them to brutalize us accidentally on purpose - is internal. It used to be called "the Negro problem." We were the problem people and white folks needed to figure out how to fix us. The converse is true; the problem people are the white folks. But still, many whites attempt to brand people of color the problem. Lani Guiner speaks of us being the "Miner's canary', the ones who call out the poison in the culture. And we are condemned by those who want to maintain the status quo, who don't want the poison to stop poisoning us.

We raise our voice and tell them that they are behaving in a racist manner, that even they can manifest virulent racism...And they are incapable of believing that they are or could be racist. I have been told - repeatedly, no matter what tone of voice, no matter how polite or impolite, no matter what words I use to describe what I see - that I am blind. Whenever black folks raise their voice in protest, they are condemned, be it MLK, Malcolm X, Stokely, Angela Davis, Cynthia McKinney. We always crazy.

Is it possible to help white folks who aren't inclined to see? There has to be, the planet is depending on it.


There is a wonderful resources online - "How to suppress discussions on racism" ( http://coffeeandink.livejournal.com/607897.html) that is not only hilarious, but painfully true. The pathology of whites who are challenged about racism triggers a plethora of tactical responses that are used to parry, repel, muddy the water, misdirect, kill the messenger and a thousand other spontaneous behaviors unified in their ability to torpedo conversations on racism. These methods are so consistent that Coffee and Dink has literally written a book on how white folks fight the power of the racism allegation. Shockingly, what Portland has taught me - and I came here with high hopes - is that no matter what political stripe, there is a unified field of racism/white supremacy that is deeper than I had come close to imagining. And it feels like a group psychosis.

I urge those of you who claim to be liberal, progressive, have positions in lefty media or are otherwise leaders in your community: check yourselves. I truly believe that, like George Jackson, when whites deal with the racism in their marrow, then and only then will they be able to create solutions that solve and provide answers that answers (RIP Fred Hampton). Until then, anything that you all do will be teathered to earth by the racism you were fed on in-vitro. Don't believe me, ask one of the unsmiling, non-shuffling black people you know. Or, look for the white transplant who isn't laughing along with the hipster hippies in-jokes on Mississippi.

I know it sucks to have someone black call you out. How do you think it feels to experience it?

I'm calling on all white people to consider themselves racist until proven innocent. Consider that racism/white supremacy permeates EVERY institution of this country, the educational system, the media, all of it. There is no escaping it and if you are not actively engaged in a ferreting out and cleansing process - 24muthafucking7 - you are a non-racist in name only. Non-racists are made, not born and they are made not by reading a couple of bell hooks tomes. This isn't simply or merely an intellectual problem; this is a whole-person, spiritual issue. Its a lifetime process to heal. It takes honesty, guts, courage. Few have it. Do you?

When are we going to have a teach-in on racism/white supremacy in the Left? I wonder if any local lefty organization would sponsor such a thing? I don't expect it, thus, I advocate POC's doing there own thing as much as possible.

***Black folks and other people of color are going to have to create solidarity amongst each other. We are going to have to heal our communities, even with this gorilla of racism on our back. We can do it. We need to mend OUR colored relations and develop strategies to deal with the ills in our communities, as well as the racist in the sheet or the tie-dye shirt.

Peace Ya'll

homepage: homepage: http://thefreeslave.wordpress.com


Portland must confront its racism 07.May.2007 08:19

tsalagi red

"I'm calling on all white people to consider themselves racist until proven innocent."

I mostly agree, but I think that your argument has a major flaw.

1. Where is this court which will prove white people innocent? Well, it doesn't exist. George Jackson was off the mark when he said there are three types of white racists. There are four types. The fourth is the person who knows they are racist, and are examining and confronting their racism continuously. We are all part of racist society. People of color are also part of racist society, and have likewise internalized the mechanism of their own oppression. We all have to work at this, all the time, and that includes Maxjulius.

Playing on Portlander's "white, liberal guilt" is not going to motivate them to confront the institutions of racism in this country. If you are not going to play with white activists until they change, then they will never change. The same goes for the white activist - if you refuse to engage with people of color, and do so on their terms, then you are perpetuating racism. Period.

We all have to work at it, white, black, brown.


Response 07.May.2007 13:42

Maxjulian

Red said: "1. Where is this court which will prove white people innocent? Well, it doesn't exist. George Jackson was off the mark when he said there are three types of white racists. There are four types."

First of all, your court remark is a fallacious argument; the court is our interactions with white people. Guilty as charged.

Next, how is Jackson off the mark, if, in his experience, he saw no white folks doing this great work? You say that,"the fourth (type of white person) is the person who knows they are racist, and are examining and confronting their racism continuously."

I live in Portland and I'm still trying to find "those people" you are talking about. Literally, I can think of ONE white person who's got the guts to look at her racism and that of her culture without prettifying it and does it continously. I know tons of white folks who THINK they fit into category four, but I don't see the honesty and the willingness to go beyond the surface. So, category four is barely worth mentioning if there's nobody in it. (Even my one friend who I'd put in that category has to deal with hazing from white liberals and progresives because she makes it so hard for them to live in their fantasy world. Her presence reminds them of the work they AREN'T doing - and they HATE her for it.

"We are all part of racist society. People of color are also part of racist society, and have likewise internalized the mechanism of their own oppression. We all have to work at this, all the time, and that includes Maxjulius."

Yeah, we do all have to work on it, but we come from two wholly different positions: white people benefit from racism/white supremacy. People of color don't and we internalize the hate and drag each other down. With a whole lot of help. We have an incentive to get the white boot off of our neck, however; what is the white person's incentive to get their boot off of our neck? What is their incentive to better understand a system that operates on their white behalf. Whites have no incentive to look deeper and even when we tell them that this terrible system is killing us, explain to them patiently how their system of race privilege operates - whites are not in any hurry and they don't get it.

"Who feels it knows it," so said Bob Marley. I'm just letting you know how it feels.

""Playing on Portlander's "white, liberal guilt" is not going to motivate them to confront the institutions of racism in this country. If you are not going to play with white activists until they change, then they will never change.""

If honestly telling white folks how we feel and how fucked up it is that they are playing games while we are dying is wrong, then what's the right way to communicate this to them? Understand though, that there is a history of white folks telling black people how they SHOULD oppose and verbalize their opposition to racism. Us speaking our truth and you listening is not an option, evidently.

The time for coddling white people and tiptoeing around them is long over as far as I'm concerned. I speak the way I do to bring white folks out of the clouds. Most don't like it, but I'm not trying to be popular. It is people of color who are dying of racism/white supremacy. Globally. Telling white folks that this is the case - providing them statistics of all varieties - has not increased their step, has not motivated them to view what we're going through as a Code Red situation. You AREN'T listening!!! And this is the biggest impediment to us working together.


You say that: "We all have to work at it, white, black, brown, red, yellow." So true. However, white people have TONS of work to do in terms of dealing with this racism that they don't see, that they deny, that they refuse to look at, whether we use honey or vinegar. Rather than get caught up in my "tone," I would suggest seeing if the shoe fits. Really honest people can and will do that, but they are few. And folks who use excuses, talk about me triggering "white guilt," fail to recognize that whites have plenty to feel guilty about. I didn't create it; the country that you live in and control is the origin. Fix that. Me and people of color like me are trying to do white folks a favor by surfacing the underneath, the hidden feelings, the illegal psychological processes that drives white behavior all on its own.

Let's work on that.


PISB 07.May.2007 16:16

d

i would encourage EVERYONE who thinks of themseslves as anti-racist to take the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond's workshop on racism. our entire collective decided to take the course together to learn how to better interact with the mostly black neighborhood where our bookstore is located. do it, seriously. put it on your list and really do it. it is VERY important.

 http://www.pisab.org/

yup 07.May.2007 20:46

----------

maxjullian is just speaking uncensored. Red doesn't like the way it was said, cause it was not specially, designed for Red (or was it now). Red has got a lot of nerve improving on George Jackson. Red's self examination is not going well.

i have seen some real horrors in this city. and i gotta say that since i have started spending more time with leftist, activists and anarchists that my friends of color don't want to hang around so much. can you blame them? i have never seen so many all white events, ever in my whole fucking life. and i hear some scary shit, and have to have some really basic conversations with folks over and over.

it is like most of our folks do not have the basic constitution to hear somebody like maxjullian out. as if somebody signed us all up on a list, "don't shake us or we will all fall apart..."

suck it up white portland. seriously. and "crying" is NOT an option.

urgh 16.May.2007 16:23

urgh

Max Julian is right on. The left is racist. And it does not see itself, so it reacts with denial because of the self image of being 'the good guys'.

The liberal left is especially egregious. It was a while back at a liberal meeting of some sort and someone mentioned that there were no people of color in the meeting and someone else said they had a black friend and to my horror, the other people clapped!