White People’s Burden Robert Jensen, Alternet.com
I don’t really have a comment on the article; it very eloquently and succinctly says everything that needs to be said. I do have comments on the 500-odd comments that have already been posted to the article. It’s just sad and funny to me. What some people refuse to admit is that there exist (or they may be) “semi-racists.” They might not burn crosses in my front lawn, but they’ll tell a racist joke. They’re the frat guys who study with you for a Psych test, but have a “Dirty Mexican” party at their house on the weekend. The guy who has a black buddy at work, but see how quick he’ll call his daughter’s black boyfriend a nigger. They are the reason why my grandfather would rather deal with the most racist of southern Rednecks before putting too much confidence in your typical liberal yuppie, because at least you KNOW what the redneck is thinking.
But white Americans have a problem with that, presumably because the majority of them enjoy their white privilege very much and don’t want the uncomfortable guilty feelings of knowing that the profits of subjugation and slavery didn’t just vanish in the sixties. I mean, think about it: the people who grew up in Jim Crow are our parents. Do you really think the playing field has been leveled that quickly?
Of course not, but that is what the majority of whites would rather believe, because they have the luxury of being able to. Condoleeza Rice may be the only black person of note in this country with the (lack of) balls to regurgitate that line. On to the commentary:
“Mentioning race doesn’t mean you’re racist!”
No, it does not. Trust, if anyone knows this, I do, and I’ve already covered it in a previous post. However, when you are telling a story or whatever and introduce people’s ethnicities, although they have nothing to do with the context of the story, it means something
. It means that you want your audience to know the races of the people in the story because you want them to bring their predefined sterotypes with them in painting that mental picture you’re trying to make. If I were to say, “I was in the grocery store and this lady with three kids tried to bogard in front of me in line…” You would see it one way. If I said, “this Mexican lady with three kids…” that adds a whole other layer of meaning, because why would I have
to point out that the lady was Mexican, unless there was some sort of a background there? How do I know that the lady is Mexican anyway (as opposed to Puerto Rican, Panamanian…)?
Which brings up our next point: I get so irritated hearing people call each and every hispanic person they see “Mexican.” It’s stupid. It shows a complete lack of respect for a person’s origins. I hate to say it, but it’s also derogatory in the context in which many people use it, because our racist-ass American POV says Mexicans are lazy and dirty and can’t speak English and are over here illegally anyway. So that’s the brush with which not only all Mexican people, but all hispanic people in general, are painted. If someone repeatedly referred to me as Trini, and I know my butt has never seen Trinidad, I’d be annoyed. I’d be especially annoyed if the stereotype was that all Trinidadians steal and lie. Maybe I’ll start calling random white people Slavs. Or Ruskies.
“But why should minorities get first dibs on jobs and scholarships? That’s not equality!”
Okay… how did George Bush get into Yale? Not on his academic merit, I’m sure. He was a legacy. How many black, hispanic, Asian, or Native American legacies are there at… most universities? Hell, minorities couldn’t piss at most universities until a generation ago. Affirmative action negates the unfair advantage that white people have (by virtue of their simply being white) by forcing minorities into certain slots. A black person who made a 700 on the SAT
is not going to get into college above a white person’s 1500, but a black person with a 1500 might. Is that fair? Arguably no, but it’s definitely not fair that the white kid got an automatic subconscious bonus point when he walked through the door. Affirmative action gives minorities that same bonus point, both figuratively and quite literally. Last year, the Young Republicans on UNCC
’s campus had an “affirmative action” bake sale, where they sold cookies to white people for $1, and to minorites for 50, 25 cent, or for free. The NAACP
or the BSU
had a rebuttal sale, but they didn’t do it right, either. A REAL
affirmative action bake sale would be for the NAACP
to buy the flour, sugar, chocolate chips, the stove, and everything else out of their budget, spend all night baking all the cookies, put them in bags, and then give them to the white kids to sell at 100% profit. That’s
how the world gets down.
So I’ve wasted about an hour of work time, talking to the air on topics of nothingness, because no one who needs to wake the heck up ever will. Racists and their undercover brothers will continue to rampage on the defense and make excused for themselves, and those who demand better will continue to be accused of “playing the race card.” What can I say? I’m a feminist and a black advocate… best of both worlds, huh?