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Psychomacologist
01-05-2012, 06:56 PM
Labour MP Diane Abbott - Britain's first ever Black female MP - has been accused of racism after Tweeting: "'White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game."

Explosions of righteous indignation abounded from the (largely WHITE) political parties, who each cheerfully shoved forward the closest available PoC politician to say how this wasn't okay and no form of racism is allowed. (Unsurprisingly, the Tories had to dig quite deep into the back benches before they could find someone)

From the BBC article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16423278):


Labour's Chuka Umunna said party leader Ed Miliband had told Ms Abbott her remarks were "unacceptable".
...
Shadow Business Secretary Mr Umunna told the BBC: "Ed Miliband has spoken to her this morning and made it very clear in no uncertain terms that the contents of the tweet were unacceptable.

In a statement, the Labour Party said: "We disagree with Diane's tweet.

"It is wrong to make sweeping generalisations about any race, creed, or culture.

But Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Radio 5live her comments were "intolerable".

"This is racism," he said. "If this was a white member of Parliament saying that all black people want to do bad things to us he would have resigned within the hour or be sacked.

"For a shadow minister to hold these sort of views is intolerable, it is wrong, she needs to go."

Diane Abbott has since apologised and said her remarks were taken out of context. In fact the tweet was part of a larger conversation about race relations and a discussion about the term "Black community leaders".

Leaving aside the sheer hilarity of the I-spoke-to-a-Black-man-once-Conservatives wheeling out a non-White back-bencher to accuse a Black woman of racism, what are your thoughts on this story?

Of course, in the simplest-possible interpretation of events, an MP made a sweeping generalisation about a particular racial group. The Sun gleefully called her a hypocrite (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4040948/MP-told-to-resign-over-racist-tweet.html) ("She doesn't want White people to be racist to Blacks but it's okay for Blacks to be racists to Whites!"); The New Statesman went with "Let's not pretend that Diane Abbott's comments were genuine racism (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/01/white-abbott-black-context)". They are, however, a lone voice in the crowd of people going "Oh this is racism. No question".

But if individuals from minority communities can't point out discriminatory, colonialist or racist behaviour in the White majority, how can they work to tackle those issues? How can we move towards a truly post-race society if any criticism of White people is shut down in a storm of righteous indignation?

Should White people maybe just take a long hard look at history and suck it the hell up?

I'm honestly not sure what to think about this.

ETA: DAMMIT there is already a thread about this which I only saw five minutes AFTER writing this all out.

Thump
01-05-2012, 07:16 PM
Should White people maybe just take a long hard look at history and suck it the hell up?


Well, no, because whatever may have happened in the past, we are not responsible for our ancestor's behaviors. Sins of the father and all that.

There is no such thing as "racial guilt" or whatever it's called because if you look back objectively, you'll quickly find that every race, group, creed etc. has been guilty of some atrocity at some point in their history so if any one group is guilty for the crimes of "their kind" then we are all guilty of something.

That's not to say that I think racist comments or any other kind of discrimination should be disregarded but the idea of equality is that everyone gets treated them same, i.e. they have the same opportunities but also suffer the same consequences for misbehavior regardless of their background. Hate is hate regardless who is doing the hating. You can't ask people to treat you like a person if you're not willing to do the same, whatever you label yourself.

That said, what applies to the common person and what applies to politicians is also very different.

IMO, any sort of grouping of people by race and attributing them any positive/negative characteristic in comparison to another IS racist at some level, the gravity of it is measured by the reach of the person. I would tut tut at her statement if she were my next door neighbour, same as I would for a white neighbour making the same sort of comment about Blacks. But as she is a politician, I expect her to be held to the same standards as politicians of any other ethnicity.

The words in that tweet may not be that big a deal coming from Mrs. Nobody but they are from a politician with the potential to reach a lot of people. It's true that when a White politician says something like this they are expected to resign. I don't think it's unfair to expect the same from a Black one (or Asian or whatever else), on the contrary, I think it's right.

I'm a hardcore feminist and one thing that really incenses me is when women get off more lightly than men for the same offenses. Any discrimination, "positive" or negative, is really just saying "we're different and we as {insert group here} are better, but we'll humor you for a bit, pet".

At least, that's how I live it :)

Jcomp
01-05-2012, 07:17 PM
It's a racist statement. If she wants to speak about the history of predominantly white nations exhibiting a history of discriminatory, colonialist or racist behavior, a person in her position should say precisely that and not make a generalization. I don't think there is any excuse for doing otherwise.

missesdash
01-05-2012, 07:49 PM
I'm torn because I've yet to decide whether or not I accept the"power+prejudice" definition of racism.

If I subscribe to that belief, her comment isn't racist.

Regardless, her comment was irresponsible. Still, it's amazing how quick people are to interrupt a conversation about white supremacy by bringing up the insipid "reverse racism" card. The large conversation was certainly more important than a comment taken out of context. This is a major derail.

Jcomp
01-05-2012, 07:54 PM
I'm torn because I've yet to decide whether or not I accept the"power+prejudice" definition of racism.


Personally, I accept that definition for supremacism, but not racism. Otherwise we'd basically be saying that PoC's can't be racist even toward other PoC's who aren't in a predominant position of power, which seems absurd to me.

And yes, it's a derail, but that's all the more reason why someone in her position has to be precise in her language. History tells us that, of course, such a statement is going to be followed by a derail, and you can't count on your opponents to keep the conversation on track, obviously, so you can't provide them any opportunity to seize and steer the conversation into the direction they want to take it.

Psychomacologist
01-05-2012, 08:12 PM
I'm torn because I've yet to decide whether or not I accept the"power+prejudice" definition of racism.

If I subscribe to that belief, her comment isn't racist.

Regardless, her comment was irresponsible. Still, it's amazing how quick people are to interrupt a conversation about white supremacy by bringing up the insipid "reverse racism" card. The large conversation was certainly more important than a comment taken out of context. This is a major derail.

To me, it keeps coming down to two things:

1. This was a comment made as part of a wider conversation she was having about the Black community, with another individual on Twitter, in the wake of the verdicts in the Stephen Lawrence murder case (in brief: Black teenager murdered by gang of White teenagers 18 years ago. Police royally f-ed up original investigation, accused of institutionalised racism. Finally, two men convicted of the murder almost twenty years after it happened). So in the wake of this she was talking about the Black community and "Black community leaders" and the importance of solidarity in minority groups etc etc, and she made this comment as part of that discussion.
Predictably, people have picked up on this one part of the wider conversation (a massive derail, as you say) and started yelling about how racist it is, ignoring the fact that Ms Abbott was discussing very real issues faced by a minority community. Instituionalised racism? Remnants of colonialism still affecting daily lives of PoC? Black teenagers being stabbed to death by White people who get away with it for 18 years? Forget all that shit! The slighted feelings of over-privileged White people are MUCH more important!

Which brings me to...
2. This gleeful "look at the Black woman being racist!"-fest ignores the fact that Britain is NOT post-race and NOT racially equal. White people still enjoy an enormous amount of unearned privilege simply by virtue of being White. All the White people complaining about how racist this is have probably, 99.9% certainly NEVER been on the receiving end of racial abuse; been told to "go back where they come from"; had racial slurs and insults thrown at them; been stop-searched solely on the basis of their race; been denied jobs solely because of their race; been treated differently in the classroom because of their skin colour; been treated with undue suspicion and mistrust by the police because of their skin colour; or been made to feel that they are not truly "British" because of their race. NONE of these things have ever happened to them.
So when I see these people - White people, hugely privileged and yet totally unaware of that privilege, totally oblivious to what it is actually like to be a minority in Britain - when I see them moaning about how racist this is, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I know that she made a generalistion based on race, which I can see, yes, that's not really fair and she should have been more clear or maybe NOT tweeted it in a public place where everyone can see. You could read that as racism if you define racism as "stereotyping/judging based on race", so very simplistically it's racist. But the reaction to it is completely out of proportion. This is on the "I say, steady on," end of the scale of offence, and everyone's acting like it's at the "That, sir, is an act of war!" end.


It's also worth pointing out that when White politicians and public figures are accused of racism, there's usually plenty of people falling over themselves to explain how it's NOT racist because of blah blah blah. Yet when it's a Black woman saying something ill advised, everyone's all "RACISM! RACISM!" and doesn't care about the nuance.

I don't know. I see the racial generalisation. I see that it's kinda unfair. I see that it's ill-advised to say that publicly on Twitter. But the reaction to it just leaves me with the distinct impression of a lot of very privileged people gleefully leaping on one mistake so they can act all hard-done-by and victimised.

missesdash
01-05-2012, 08:17 PM
That's exactly what rubs me the wrong way. People LOVE making these kind of arguments. It's so validating for them. "see! see! She's racist too!"

That's why I called it a derail. It's so obvious what they're doing.

Jcomp
01-05-2012, 08:24 PM
I don't know. I see the racial generalisation. I see that it's kinda unfair. I see that it's ill-advised to say that publicly on Twitter. But the reaction to it just leaves me with the distinct impression of a lot of very privileged people gleefully leaping on one mistake so they can act all hard-done-by and victimised.

I wouldn't dispute this, but I would say that when you're aware of what the typical reaction to such a statement would be based on history, you have to know better than to make such a statement. Especially on Twitter, where you have to type it out and then hit send and can't chalk it up to misspeaking. You're not in position to change the game and you're only going to sabotage whatever relevant argument you're trying to make by inviting this backlash, however disproportional. You just have to know better.

Psychomacologist
01-05-2012, 08:24 PM
That's exactly what rubs me the wrong way. People LOVE making these kind of arguments. It's so validating for them. "see! see! She's racist too!"

That's why I called it a derail. It's so obvious what they're doing.

It also furthers this myth of parity: that somehow, one Black woman's ill-advised generalisation on Twitter is just as bad as all the racism and discrimination BME communities in the UK have to deal with. It's all "See? We're racist, they're racist, everyone can be racist! Stop blaming us and making us feel bad!"

missesdash
01-05-2012, 08:30 PM
It also furthers this myth of parity: that somehow, one Black woman's ill-advised generalisation on Twitter is just as bad as all the racism and discrimination BME communities in the UK have to deal with. It's all "See? We're racist, they're racist, everyone can be racist! Stop blaming us and making us feel bad!"

Exactly. And it's the kind of thing that will be used as cannon fodder for the next decade anytime she wants to talk about white racism.

Psychomacologist
01-05-2012, 08:34 PM
I wouldn't dispute this, but I would say that when you're aware of what the typical reaction to such a statement would be based on history, you have to know better than to make such a statement. Especially on Twitter, where you have to type it out and then hit send and can't chalk it up to misspeaking. You're not in position to change the game and you're only going to sabotage whatever relevant argument you're trying to make by inviting this backlash, however disproportional. You just have to know better.

Yeah, I understand this. I mean, the statement was totally ill-advised and I'd go so far as to say the whole discussion was probably not a good one to have on Twitter, in snippets of 140 characters. But what gets me is how many White public figures seem to get up on stage or Twitter or the football pitch or TV and just open their mouths and spew outrageously racist BS. I don't see David Cameron watching every word he says lest he causes offence (*points at hugely insulting generalisations about the Muslim community, made by Cameron last year*). Or David Starkey. Or John Terry.

There's often a double standard applied to minority communities: they must be cleaner-than-clean, because any slip up is viciously pounced upon as evidence that they are "just as bad as White people".

It's not what she said so much as the way everyone is reacting to it that's making me uncomfortable.

Thump
01-05-2012, 08:34 PM
I don't see it that way, possibly (probably?) because I identify as White (though, technically I'm half Hispanic I guess, but I don't look it or identify with that part of my heritage).

Anyone with any sense knows who still holds the power and that parity is still a dream in the works for ethnic minorities, women, LGBT and other non-white-male groups but I don't know how we'll get there if the previously secure and cozy White folks don't start feeling a little of what it feels like to be victimized. I know I'm quite naive about these issues or maybe I have a lot of common sense about how the world should be and other people are insane but yeah...

ETA: oops, you guys moved on >___< I was answering the post with the comment on parity.

Jcomp
01-05-2012, 08:44 PM
Yeah, I understand this. I mean, the statement was totally ill-advised and I'd go so far as to say the whole discussion was probably not a good one to have on Twitter, in snippets of 140 characters. But what gets me is how many White public figures seem to get up on stage or Twitter or the football pitch or TV and just open their mouths and spew outrageously racist BS. I don't see David Cameron watching every word he says lest he causes offence (*points at hugely insulting generalisations about the Muslim community, made by Cameron last year*). Or David Starkey. Or John Terry.

There's often a double standard applied to minority communities: they must be cleaner-than-clean, because any slip up is viciously pounced upon as evidence that they are "just as bad as White people".

It's not what she said so much as the way everyone is reacting to it that's making me uncomfortable.

Understandable. The way I tend to see these things, though, is that it's already known how the game is played. If you'll allow me to just torture the hell out of this "game" analogy that I can't seem to shake... if you already know things are stacked against you and your side is far behind on the scoreboard, and if you are going to step into a role of "leadership," then you take on a responsibility of having to be that much better than your counterparts. You can't afford to make similar mistakes. Just can't. It's shitty, but it's reality, and the most efficient way to combat it isn't to dwell on what's unfair, in my opinion. I'd rather go for the victory first, then go back and analyze what's unfair.

Psychomacologist
01-06-2012, 02:09 AM
Understandable. The way I tend to see these things, though, is that it's already known how the game is played. If you'll allow me to just torture the hell out of this "game" analogy that I can't seem to shake... if you already know things are stacked against you and your side is far behind on the scoreboard, and if you are going to step into a role of "leadership," then you take on a responsibility of having to be that much better than your counterparts. You can't afford to make similar mistakes. Just can't. It's shitty, but it's reality, and the most efficient way to combat it isn't to dwell on what's unfair, in my opinion. I'd rather go for the victory first, then go back and analyze what's unfair.
I get this. I just... I think that it's really unfair and it depresses me. I mean the way people are reacting you'd think she'd declared war on White people or something.


I think this pretty much sums up why I have a problem with this story:

David Starkey name-drops Enoch Powell and says "The Whites have become Black", and blames Black culture for the rioting in Britain last summer. Toby Young goes forth to the Telegraph blog (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100100845/was-david-starkey-being-racist-on-newsnight-last-night/) to explain to everyone that this is not, in fact, racist.

Diane Abbott remarks briefly on Twitter that "white people love to play divide and rule". Toby Young goes forth to the Telegraph blog (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100127409/was-diane-abbotts-tweet-racist/) to explain how terribly racist this is and how Diane Abbott is probably a racist too and there's no excuse for this and what if a White person did it?

Well we know what would happen if a White person said something like this. Toby Young would defend them as 'not racist' on the Telegraph blog.

It is fucking bullshit.

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 02:22 AM
I get this. I just... I think that it's really unfair and it depresses me. I mean the way people are reacting you'd think she'd declared war on White people or something.


I think this pretty much sums up why I have a problem with this story:

David Starkey name-drops Enoch Powell and says "The Whites have become Black", and blames Black culture for the rioting in Britain last summer. Toby Young goes forth to the Telegraph blog (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100100845/was-david-starkey-being-racist-on-newsnight-last-night/) to explain to everyone that this is not, in fact, racist.

Diane Abbott remarks briefly on Twitter that "white people love to play divide and rule". Toby Young goes forth to the Telegraph blog (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100127409/was-diane-abbotts-tweet-racist/) to explain how terribly racist this is and how Diane Abbott is probably a racist too and there's no excuse for this and what if a White person did it?

Well we know what would happen if a White person said something like this. Toby Young would defend them as 'not racist' on the Telegraph blog.

It is fucking bullshit.

I've said all I have to say about this in the other thread, so I'll just say...I agree with this post.

backslashbaby
01-06-2012, 02:31 AM
Those reactions are bullshit. The Toby Young example is amazing. That is a perfect illustration of the kind of illogical standards many folks do apply.

I commented on the other thread, and I'm not comfortable with her phrasing. I'm just hoping we all get on the same page about generalisations, especially to keep it simple and clear for young folks growing up. Not that her gaffe was any kind of the big deal some people are making it out to be!

Wayne K
01-06-2012, 02:33 AM
Should White people maybe just take a long hard look at history and suck it the hell up?

No


Well we know what would happen if a White person said something like this.

That's an unfair statement. White people are punished for racist statements all the time. Is it equal? No. But nothing is

Jcomp
01-06-2012, 03:00 AM
That's an unfair statement. White people are punished for racist statements all the time. Is it equal? No. But nothing is

No, it's obviously not an "unfair statement" in the context of her post as it relates to Toby Young. It's a very precise statement in the proper context as it relates to Toby Young, in fact.

Wayne K
01-06-2012, 03:06 AM
No, it's obviously not an "unfair statement" in the context of her post as it relates to Toby Young. It's a very precise statement in the proper context as it relates to Toby Young, in fact.

I thought they were two separate things. I didn't see the context

Sorry, the "Should white people suck it the hell up" comment has me a little sensitive

Jcomp
01-06-2012, 03:22 AM
For my part, I don't think white people should "suck it the hell up" any more than a PoC or other potentially marginalized party should "get over it" in regard to whatever past hardship has set the stage / played a part in the current state of race / social relations and inequality.

For Diane Abbott's part, ultimately, she has to be more aware of what's at stake and how she will be vilified if she makes a careless statement like that, and how it can undermine anything positive she's trying to accomplish. That's her responsibility. History indicates that there is a significant and vocal segment of the white population that gets defensive if not outright furious in such situations. Saying that this should just stop isn't going to change anything in any significant manner. I understand being pissed off at people like Toby Young for their hypocrisy, but I'm at a point now where I'm more interested in results and production. Employ tactics that will allow your team to advance, prosper and win. Maybe it's the aspiring CEO in me. When the stakes are this high, I don't think people should have high expectations of an asshole like Toby Young, but I do think people should have high expectations for a pioneering black MP. I'd love to cut her some slack, but unfortunately that's a luxury, especially when it's such an easy mistake to avoid. She has to do better.

thebloodfiend
01-06-2012, 06:48 AM
I can see how her statement can be interpreted as racist, but I don't see it that way. I have a hard time believing that crowds of white people are just so offended by what she said. I think the comment was stupid, but I think it's highly hypocritical for her to be called out like this, while people like Ron Paul skate by on claims of sheer ignorance. They're both politicians.

I don't think white people should just suck it up. I think there should be room for a discussion on white privilege and white guilt, though.

I mean, is the video NT posted yesterday racist because it makes a generalization about white girls? And if it was Shit Black Girls Say, would that be racist? Even if it is just humor?

backslashbaby
01-06-2012, 09:10 AM
I really hope it's implied that it's Shit Some White Girls Say. Since it's humor, the precision doesn't have to be there, imho. But if anyone seriously believes all white girls are like that, I'm offended by that belief, yeah. "But I know a white girl who does that" doesn't work very well to paint all of us, either.

The subconscious racism and privilege arguments are different, I think. That's so societally ingrained and below the surface that it makes sense why folks haven't conquered that yet, because they were harder to notice. I really do believe those things are truly incredibly widespread.

Rufus Coppertop
01-06-2012, 11:52 AM
If someone makes a sweeping, condemnatory statement about a group of people, based on the colour of their skin, it's racist.

If that person gets a stern talking to and a slap on the wrist for it, good!

Psychomacologist
01-06-2012, 02:29 PM
To clarify to people who don't like this:


Should White people maybe just take a long hard look at history and suck it the hell up?
It is a question, not a statement. Because I honestly don't know if I think this. I mean, one very cynical and emotional part of me is going "Oh, FFS White people, get the hell over yourselves already!" but I know that's not really fair. I don't honestly think we should just let something like this go. But then I look to the history of racism, and the fact that White people today still benefit from the racism and colonialism of the past, and it just annoys me that so many people are ignoring the wider social and cultural context of this and viewing the statement as if it were said in a vacuum.

The other thing is, and this is a big part of why I'm annoyed about all this - when a White person says something racist/racefaily/inappropriate/offensive, there's usually plenty of people queueing up to explain how this isn't racist at all and everyone is just making a fuss. Take, for example, the SlutWalk debacle in America recently, where a young White woman turned up with a sign saying "Woman is the N***er of the world". In the resulting internet shitstorm, there were plenty of (mainly White) people saying that this girl didn't mean to cause offence and it's a John Lennon song and why was everyone getting upset. Or, in other words: "Suck it up, Black people - White girls can say n***er if they want!"

David Starkey says something blatantly racist? Suck it up, Black community - he didn't mean all of you! In the other thread, someone linked to the twitter stream of comments in response to Liverpool FC player Suarez racially abusing another footballer. And so many people are saying Evra is a grass, he's a sissy, he's a wimp (along with plenty of racial slurs) - in other words, he should just suck it up and not complain. Complaining about racism makes you a grass and a sissy.

PoC are told to "suck it up" all the time.

It is usually the case, when people from minority communities try to draw attention to racism or racist portrayals in fiction/film or discrimination or rampant White privilege, that a bunch of (usually White) people will dismiss such claims as "making a fuss" or "seeing racism everywhere" or "being oversensitive". People will defend the racism. They'll say "If you don't like it, don't watch it/read it/listen to it!" Derailing for Dummies (http://derailingfordummies.com/) was written by someone who saw the same dismissive and belittling attitude repeated over and over again, every time anyone from a minority group tried to draw attention to discrimination or racism.

And yet, the minute a Black woman says something racist about White people, a zero-tolerance policy is advocated.

It's not individuals to blame for this - it's just a social attitude. It's a society-wide phenomenon.

If I was to be particularly vindictive and cynical, I'd suggest that if White people really want in on the "victims of racism" party, they should have the whole experience. They should experience the sweeping racial generalistion, and then they should listen to lots of Black people explain how this isn't racism at all, and they should experience the frustration of trying to get their complaint heard whilst every single point on the "Derailing for Dummies" list is thrown at them; they should experience not just the racism but the accompanying dismissal, the accusations of over-sensitivity, the suggestions that the community "deserves it" for one spurious reason or another, and the general belittling of their complaints as not really that important. They should go through all this in a society that routinely under-privileges them because of their skin colour, and where despite best efforts very real and dangerous racism against them still persists, so this one comment is just part of the whole fabric of overt and subtle discrimination they have to deal with in their day to day lives. Maybe then I'll be inclined to throw a pity party for all the White people who are soooo offended and upset by Diane Abbott's statements.

I'm sorry if this seems harsh or unfair. But I am honestly so sick of people acting like this one thing she said somehow makes White people just as much the victims of racism as BME people. Because it doesn't. Not by a long, looong way. It means that for once, for ONCE, White people are finding out what it's like to have racial discrimination come back the other way.

Because yes, what she said was unfair. Yes, it was a racial stereotype and therefore racist. Yes, she shouldn't have said it and she was right to apologise. But it is one incident in a society where still the vast majority of racism is by White people, towards Black people and other minority groups. The context is this is a tiny blip on the radar in a culture that routinely privileges White people and disadvantages everyone else. So whilst people are of course well within their rights to be offended and demand an apology, and Diane Abbott was absolutely right to apologise and retract her statement, can we please stop pretending that we're all equal and everyone is equally victimised. Because it's not true.

Okay I think I'm done now. I'm honestly quite upset about all this, so if this post comes off as overwrought I apologise. I'm just really sick of the hypocritical attitude of people (I'm looking at you, BBC and other news outlets) who will ignore hundreds of tweets calling Evra a f****** n**** black c*** and a grass and a sissy (who cares about the racial abuse of a Black man?) but will latch onto and make a huge fuss over one tweet with one insensitive remark about White people. The whole thing is just, "Racism towards White people is much more important than racism towards BME people" and that makes me sick.

I hope I haven't offended anyone. I'm still trying to get all this straight in my head.

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 04:11 PM
David Starkey says something blatantly racist? Suck it up, Black community - he didn't mean all of you! In the other thread, someone linked to the twitter stream of comments in response to Liverpool FC player Suarez racially abusing another footballer. And so many people are saying Evra is a grass, he's a sissy, he's a wimp (along with plenty of racial slurs) - in other words, he should just suck it up and not complain. Complaining about racism makes you a grass and a sissy.

The irony is, most of the people upset about Abbott's words seem to be the same people defending Starkey, and John Terry, and Suarez, and Jeremy Clarkson ('it's only a joke!') The same people who get upset about the 'PC Brigade' ruining it for everyone, and complain about people playing 'the race card'. That's what delegitimises a lot of the upset, for me. There's a whole lot of hypocrisy at play.

shaldna
01-06-2012, 04:24 PM
Should White people maybe just take a long hard look at history and suck it the hell up?



No one should ever have to 'suck up' racism.

And that's what it is. Yes, she could have said much worse things, but what she said was, at ground level, a sweeping and offensive comment about a whole race of people.

I get what you are saying about looking at the past, but seriously, if all we ever do is look at the past and see that as justification for our behaviour now, then we will never get anywhere.

Racism is wrong.

RobJ
01-06-2012, 04:53 PM
I hope I haven't offended anyone. I'm still trying to get all this straight in my head.
Your posts are offensive to me. I consider your attitude towards 'white' people to be racist and offensive.

backslashbaby
01-06-2012, 05:16 PM
Certainly the people who excuse racism by white people should suck it up. It is completely hypocritical to act like the racism with such enormous weight behind it is nothing, and white people getting a taste of it is a huge frigging deal.

Should white people in general suck it up? It's nothing compared to racism in the world, but I do hate anyone with any influence showing that kind of behavior. How can you explain her statement to a little white kid, for instance? It's the sort of thing that breeds contempt.

As time goes on, more and more white people have zero to do with the power balance that was most noticeable in colonial times. I think as things change for the better, it's appropriate to try to notice that more and more, too. It's better, too :) :)

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 06:02 PM
As time goes on, more and more white people have zero to do with the power balance that was most noticeable in colonial times.
In the UK, the overwhelming majority of our MP's are white (and, notably, white, rich men) I'm no great fan of the woman, but Abbott was the first black female MP, elected in 1987, which says something about the power balance in UK politics. We've still got a way to go in terms of balancing power across ethnicity.



Certainly the people who excuse racism by white people should suck it up. It is completely hypocritical to act like the racism with such enormous weight behind it is nothing, and white people getting a taste of it is a huge frigging deal.



That's my attitude towards it. I'm a white person who has zero power to 'divide and rule' (working class people seldom do) and, to be honest, it seemed fairly obvious to me that Abbott's comment wasn't directed at me. That's why I wasn't offended. I did think 'hey, that's a bit much', but it seemed somewhat oversensitive to get upset about it when, in the past few weeks, I've seen the institutional racism perpetuated by the police force leading to an 18 year delay in justice for Stephen Lawrence, the barrage of excuses for John Terry and Suarez's use of offensive racial epithets and, connected to that, the sheer force of racist vitriol levelled towards Stan Collymore for daring to speak out about it (one particularly delightful tweet spoke of hunting down the 'mud hut' Evra lived in and raping his 'lazy n****r of a mother')

And people are calling for Diane Abbott's blood? What she said, especially in comparison to the above, warrants a stern talking-to and a slap on the wrist, and she's had that ten times over.

What she said was wrong, and it's perfectly okay to acknowledge that. But let's not pretend we're deeply wounded by it. Let's not pretend it's impacted on our lives the way racial abuse has and continues to impact the lives of ethnic minorities in this country.

Jcomp
01-06-2012, 06:29 PM
Your posts are offensive to me. I consider your attitude towards 'white' people to be racist and offensive.

Given the length of Psycho's posts and attempts to explain herself, this shitty little two-liner contributes nothing. Do better.

Priene
01-06-2012, 06:35 PM
And people are calling for Diane Abbott's blood? What she said, especially in comparison to the above, warrants a stern talking-to and a slap on the wrist, and she's had that ten times over.


In a few weeks, this man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0z_Y2dk-aQ&feature=related) is due to lead out the England football team, assuming the police haven't taken him into custody. You've got to love our national double standards.

Psychomacologist
01-06-2012, 06:35 PM
Certainly the people who excuse racism by white people should suck it up. It is completely hypocritical to act like the racism with such enormous weight behind it is nothing, and white people getting a taste of it is a huge frigging deal.

Should white people in general suck it up? It's nothing compared to racism in the world, but I do hate anyone with any influence showing that kind of behavior. How can you explain her statement to a little white kid, for instance? It's the sort of thing that breeds contempt.

The thing is, I don't have a problem with calling her statement racist or inappropriate. Because it was. I look at it and I think, okay, she made a sweeping generalisation based on race, that's racist. It wasn't a particularly nasty or hateful statement but it's still hurtful and inappropriate. No problem there.

Then she apologised, and I think, that's fine, yes, she did the right thing. She retracted the statement - again, fine, good, I agree with that. Her party leader reprimanded her but didn't sack her, and that's fine. I agree. I think they did the right thing. I think she did the right thing. She made a stupid and offensive statement, she retracted and apologised. I agree with all that.

So it's not that I think she should be allowed to get away with it because she's Black, or that she shouldn't have apologised. I don't think that. I'm not upset that she apologised and retracted.

I'm upset about the hypocrisy. I'm upset about the Toby Youngs of this world, who will defend David Starkey to the hilt but condemn Diane Abbott on a sneeze. I'm irritated by all these people suddenly advocating a zero-tolerance policy to racism now that a Black person has said something racist about White people.

And I'm also upset because I think Diane Abbott's response was completely appropriate, and yet it's not the response I see from White people accused of racism. The BBC received hundreds of complaints about David Starkey's comments. They did not apologise, or distance themselves from what he said. They defended the Newsnight programme, saying the panel had "robustly challenged" Starkey's comments. Ofcom decided no action was needed against Starkey or the BBC. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8804265/David-Starkey-cleared-over-racist-Newsnight-remarks.html) And Starkey "has denied that he said anything racist and says he stands by his comments." (from the article) He has neither apologised nor retracted.

A quick search of the situation with John Terry reveals that, despite the case being passed to the CPS for criminal prosecution (John Terry is going to be formally charged with (I think) racially aggravated assault), Terry has not apologised. He has denied saying anything racist and is "disappointed" and wants to "clear his name" (He allegedly called someone a f***ing Black c***, btw). He has not lost his highly-paid job as a premier league footballer. Similarly, Suarez's Liverpool club - manager and teammates and staff - have defended him ("His from Uruguay! He doesn't understand that Negro is a bad word!") and insisted he's not racist.

And that's what's really annoying. The double standard. The fact that Ms Abbott's perfectly reasonable and appropriate response is NOT expected of White men who say or do racist things. That fact that there's not a queue of people defending Abbott as "not really racist". The fact that Abbott apologised but Starkey didn't. THAT is what's so frustrating. THAT'S what's annoying. The fact that there's people who will defend Terry, and Starkey, and any other White person who says something racist - but when a Black woman offends White people, it's racism, no question or excuses.

I look at this - at the Toby Youngs, and the people commenting on the Guardian, or the Twitter comments, and I think - why are we only super-efficient and eager and keen to condemn racism when it's a Black person doing it? Why can't we be this good at condemning racism by White people? Why are we still making excuses for White racists but refusing to make excuses when it's a Black woman saying something inappropriate? We should condemn racism ALL THE TIME. We should refuse to make excuses ALL THE TIME. But we don't. We only do it when a Black person has been racist.

The whole debacle has just shown me how intolerant of racism a certain type of people can really be - how they can so quickly and unequivocally condemn racism and refuse to defend it. It's shown that these certain people can see racism and immediately recognise it as inappropriate and call people out on it. But only when a Black person is racist. It reveals this deep hypocrisy and double standard.

I don't think all White people are like this (or that it's necessarily only White people that hold this view). I've said on another thread that I think, by and large, that Britain isn't overly racist as a country and that the White population has a low tolerance for racism and bigotry. I stand by that. I'm overall hopeful on that front. But cases like this just emphasise that despite all the progress we're making, these attitudes and double standards and hypocrisies still persist. That there's still people who think David Starkey made a perfectly good point but Diane Abbott is a stupid racist. And that's just really depressing.

backslashbaby
01-06-2012, 06:41 PM
It is so depressing. And it does tell you something about those sorts of people who try to act clueless in other cases. No, they see it as racist when they hear the 'white people' part. They get it then. It's when it's talking about someone else that the other person must have brought it on themselves.

It's amazingly self-centered bullshit at the most innocuous, imho. And it gets much worse from there, obviously.

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 06:57 PM
Given the length of Psycho's posts and attempts to explain herself, this shitty little two-liner contributes nothing. Do better.

Agreed.



In a few weeks, this man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0z_Y2dk-aQ&feature=related) is due to lead out the England football team, assuming the police haven't taken him into custody. You've got to love our national double standards.


He gets to keep his multi-million-pounds-per-year job and continues to earn the adulation of millions of people, including children. But by all means, let's sack Diane Abbott instead. The hypocrisy stinks.



And that's what's really annoying. The double standard. The fact that Ms Abbott's perfectly reasonable and appropriate response is NOT expected of White men who say or do racist things. That fact that there's not a queue of people defending Abbott as "not really racist". The fact that Abbott apologised but Starkey didn't. THAT is what's so frustrating. THAT'S what's annoying. The fact that there's people who will defend Terry, and Starkey, and any other White person who says something racist - but when a Black woman offends White people, it's racism, no question or excuses.



It's amazing how many people are willing to leap to the defense of white people caught making racist statements. It's only a joke, you're too sensitive, stop playing the race card, the PC brigade, yada yada. They're the same people who'll cheer John Terry, who'll laugh when Richard Littlejohn says, of the Rwandan genocide (http://enemiesofreason.co.uk/2010/06/10/bongo-bongoland-and-the-mail/), 'If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them.' They'll defend Starkey's assertion that the riots were a byproduct of black culture because 'well, it's true, isn't it? Whatever happened to freedom of speech?'

What Abbott said was quantatively less offensive than what Littlejohn said (and it's worth noting that Littlejohn gets 80k a year to say it) and yet she's the one we're calling to sack. The double standards here are appalling, and, I have to say, they're not doing much to disprove Abbott's generalisation.

Torgo
01-06-2012, 06:59 PM
Ed Miliband has just tweeted that we'll all miss Bob Holness, especially for his work on 'Blackbusters'.

Priene
01-06-2012, 07:10 PM
The double standards here are appalling, and, I have to say, they're not doing much to disprove Abbott's generalisation.

Let's not forget this classic:

What do you call three dogs and a blackbird? The Spice Girls.

That pearl was delivered by Liam Fox years ago, but he somehow neglected to resign over it.


Ed Miliband has just tweeted that we'll all miss Bob Holness, especially for his work on 'Blackbusters'.

Twelve months I've followed Ed and he's not said a single interesting thing. His twitter flunky must have been on the sherry.

RobJ
01-06-2012, 07:18 PM
Given the length of Psycho's posts and attempts to explain herself, this shitty little two-liner contributes nothing. Do better.
That two-liner doesn't need your approval.

Jcomp
01-06-2012, 07:20 PM
Regarding the hypocrisy / double-standard discussed in this thread, I think it's worth considering the motivation. Warning, armchair psychology is on the way...

You have a segment of the white population who feels "persecuted," for lack of a better term, any time the subject of racism comes up. They feel like they're being labeled a racist by default since they're lumped together in the same pot with genuine racists, or so it seems to them. So they feel a need to defend racist statements made by white people because, in their head, they're defending themselves. Conversely, when they see a minority make a racist statement, they latch onto that as an example because, again, this is a way of defending themselves. "See! We're not the only racists! Stop trying to make us feel guilty."

It is, of course, not limited to white people or race relations. The same kind of thing is what motivates the ridiculous "War on Christmas" propaganda, or the absurd notion that men are becoming increasingly marginalized in a society that allegedly favors women. Certain members of large, dominant groups who don't really see the benefits of being in a position of "power" react this way when they feel like other people paint them as one of the bad guys based on their association with the group.

The question then becomes, what's the proper response to this? It's depressing / upsetting / etc., sure. But it's not going to go away. So how do you go about trying to navigate these attitudes and come to a realistic, reasonable solution?

backslashbaby
01-06-2012, 07:35 PM
I don't know what you do about people who are naturally defensive and very immature. I mean, there are always those types in society as lots of political issues show.

But does it help if white people feel like they are able to get a bit of a nod from PoC? Absolutely. I know the kid gloves are irritating, but it is an issue that causes such defensiveness that it helps if naivete is acknowledged as different than asshattery.

Growing up white, you might feel hated by Black people (especially) overall all of your life. That's probably not true anymore, thank God. But it was hard as a kid being automatically disliked by the majority of the Black girls. It makes total sense, but that still lingers in the consciousness of a lot of people.

Young kids were particularly bad about grouping by color, but that was also longer ago. I don't know. It's hard to explain how it feels to think somebody automatically hates you before you open your mouth or do anything... because you are white. But that's how it used to be, way too much.

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 07:36 PM
I think that's pretty spot on, Jcomp.



Young kids were particularly bad about grouping by color, but that was also longer ago. I don't know. It's hard to explain how it feels to think somebody automatically hates you before you open your mouth or do anything... because you are white. But that's how it used to be, way too much.


I see what you're saying, and I don't think you're wrong. But then, those same non-white kids would find it hard to explain how it feels to know that your life is going to be x times much more of a struggle, and that you may be denied justice or a fair chance or even just equal because you're not white.

Kitty27
01-06-2012, 07:41 PM
Your posts are offensive to me. I consider your attitude towards 'white' people to be racist and offensive.


That two-liner doesn't need your approval.


Respect your fellow writer applies here. Instead of making such proclamations,explain-in a respectful manner-your reasons for feeling that way.

If you cannot be civil,this isn't the room for you.

thebloodfiend
01-06-2012, 07:42 PM
It is, of course, not limited to white people or race relations. The same kind of thing is what motivates the ridiculous "War on Christmas" propaganda, or the absurd notion that men are becoming increasingly marginalized in a society that allegedly favors women. Certain members of large, dominant groups who don't really see the benefits of being in a position of "power" react this way when they feel like other people paint them as one of the bad guys based on their association with the group.

The question then becomes, what's the proper response to this? It's depressing / upsetting / etc., sure. But it's not going to go away. So how do you go about trying to navigate these attitudes and come to a realistic, reasonable solution?

I wish I had the answer, and I agree. I think it's absolute bullshit. Not to derail, but CNN ran an article a few months ago about how men were becoming less and less because women suddenly had more power. I had to do a WTF check to make sure I wasn't reading The Onion.

Jcomp
01-06-2012, 07:52 PM
I wish I had the answer, and I agree. I think it's absolute bullshit. Not to derail, but CNN ran an article a few months ago about how men were becoming less and less because women suddenly had more power. I had to do a WTF check to make sure I wasn't reading The Onion.

Yeah, [sorry to continue the "derail" I kicked off] the entire notion baffles me. Ironically, in my opinion, the more a man gripes about how he feels somehow "diminished" by the power women have in society, the more I want to tell him to stop crying and man up, for God's sake. [/sorry for derailing I promise, no really]

Amadan
01-06-2012, 08:20 PM
I don't think white people should "suck it up" about racism, and I'm also in that group that is still uncertain about the definition of "racism = power + prejudice," but I do think white people should get it through their heads that if a non-white person says something dirogatory about white people, yes, it's mean and probably unfair and it may hurt your feelings and probably they shouldn't have said it, but it is not the same thing as when a white person says something dirogatory about non-white people.

I guess that ties into the "racism requires institutional power" theory, but even if you don't believe that and stick to a more literal/dictionary definition, that still doesn't make all racism the same.

If a black man insults me for being white, it may piss me off, but it hits me as an asshole being rude to me. If I responded with racial epithets directed at him, I'd be hitting him with not just my own attitude, but an entire history and a lifetime of racial harassment he has probably experienced. "Racist" insults directed at me just do not have the power to sting that much.

Jcomp
01-06-2012, 08:34 PM
I don't think white people should "suck it up" about racism, and I'm also in that group that is still uncertain about the definition of "racism = power + prejudice," but I do think white people should get it through their heads that if a non-white person says something dirogatory about white people, yes, it's mean and probably unfair and it may hurt your feelings and probably they shouldn't have said it, but it is not the same thing as when a white person says something dirogatory about non-white people.

I guess that ties into the "racism requires institutional power" theory, but even if you don't believe that and stick to a more literal/dictionary definition, that still doesn't make all racism the same.

If a black man insults me for being white, it may piss me off, but it hits me as an asshole being rude to me. If I responded with racial epithets directed at him, I'd be hitting him with not just my own attitude, but an entire history and a lifetime of racial harassment he has probably experienced. "Racist" insults directed at me just do not have the power to sting that much.

One thing I think that plays into this, that I'm sure a segment of the white population does appreciate while another segment does not, with all the variances in between of course.... is that there's still a sense of isolation when you're a minority facing racism. Even in the 21st Century in what's supposed to be "post-racial" society, even with racial violence being far more sporadic (though obviously not eliminated) compared to how it was in the past, it lingers. If you're white, unless you venture into or happen to live in a part of town that isn't predominantly white, it seems you wouldn't have that same sense of being alone.

I can't speak for all minorities, obviously, but I imagine I'm not alone in this. In the back of our minds, for many of us, there's always a vague concern about a situation going completely bad, and then there's also the concern about being, for lack of a better term, outnumbered.

I took a trip to Portland recently, which is a city that, for a guy from the relative melting pot of San Antonio, has an almost stunning majority of white people. No big, I love the hell out of white people (and people in general, when I'm not being a cynical misanthrope), and on the Texas-Scale-of-Friendliness-to-Strangers, Portland rated a solid B+ in my experience. But there was still, in my mind, the idea that if some shit went down, I wouldn't have very many people at all who I could automatically consider allies. If some random person went on a racial tirade against me, there wouldn't be many people I could look to and immediately feel, "Well, I know they've got my back." If it escalated there weren't many people who I could instantly feel comfortable around. Now, obviously that's not to say that none of the white people around would have had my back. In fact, a probable majority of them would have, but in that kind of situation the gulf between "probably" and "certainly" feels enormous.

That's what the history of racism has instilled into certain people in America, I think. I think that's a big part of what makes it feel unique to us, at least. It's not just simply a matter of "it's automatically worse when a white person does it." It feels worse and more serious to us because deep down we all know that if the shit really goes down, we have nowhere near the resources or numbers to stand a chance.

ViolettaVane
01-06-2012, 08:42 PM
I do think white people should suck it up to a certain extent, or not complain about it without thinking (and LISTENING) first. Racism simply does not hurt them to anywhere near the degree it hurts PoC.

Think of this analogy. I have an accident where the top of my pinkie finger has to be amputated. I walk into a ward full of Iraq veterans with serious brain injuries and leg amputations who are trying to get some physical therapy done and I start yelling OWW OWW OWWW MY PINKIE HURTS IT'S NOT FAIR WHYYY MEEEE.

If I'm going to complain about my pinkie hurting, I'll do it more respectfully and in such a way that it doesn't minimize other people who suffer from much more severe versions of the same affliction.

I think a lot of white people instinctively get this principle of basic respect. Others.... don't.

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 08:43 PM
If you're white, unless you venture into or happen to live in a part of town that isn't predominantly white, you don't have that same sense of being alone.

Even in a purely metaphorical sense, this is true. Look at the number of people leaping to condemn Diane Abbott and compare it to the number who condemned David Starkey.



but I do think white people should get it through their heads that if a non-white person says something dirogatory about white people, yes, it's mean and probably unfair and it may hurt your feelings and probably they shouldn't have said it, but it is not the same thing as when a white person says something dirogatory about non-white people.



This makes sense to me. Derogatory comments about minorities have a certain unpleasant pedigree passed down through the centuries that lend them a weight that derogatory comments against whites simply don't have. It doesn't mean it's any less wrong, but it is not the same thing at all.

missesdash
01-06-2012, 08:44 PM
I don't think white people should "suck it up" about racism, and I'm also in that group that is still uncertain about the definition of "racism = power + prejudice," but I do think white people should get it through their heads that if a non-white person says something dirogatory about white people, yes, it's mean and probably unfair and it may hurt your feelings and probably they shouldn't have said it, but it is not the same thing as when a white person says something dirogatory about non-white people.

I guess that ties into the "racism requires institutional power" theory, but even if you don't believe that and stick to a more literal/dictionary definition, that still doesn't make all racism the same.

If a black man insults me for being white, it may piss me off, but it hits me as an asshole being rude to me. If I responded with racial epithets directed at him, I'd be hitting him with not just my own attitude, but an entire history and a lifetime of racial harassment he has probably experienced. "Racist" insults directed at me just do not have the power to sting that much.

Yes yes, all of this. I'm hesitant about it because I can't claim to know the experiences of others. But then there's the entire concept of "kierarchy" which basically deals with all the ways various privileges intersect.

So even if a POC can't conceivably "be racist" there is still sexism, ageism, ableism, cissexism, etc. So when a POC makes a racial comment that a white person finds particularly hurtful, I'm forced to examine the POC's privilege and see what, about the exchange, gave the POC the kind of levity needed to use a racial comment to deeply hurt someone who, in theory, has never been a victim of large scale, institutionalized racism.

It usually comes down to other power dynamics, but occasionally it comes down to a possibility "power+prejudice" seems to ignore: some people are just more sensitive than others. And I'm not okay with telling someone their hurt is somehow less than mine because of the actions of people we've never met.

I am, however, okay with acknowledging it's a very *different* kind of hurt.

ViolettaVane
01-06-2012, 08:49 PM
Oh, I think PoC can definitely be racist. I'm fine with dealing with multiple definitions of racism. We can be racist against other PoC (and often are) and we can be racist against ourselves (and often are).

crunchyblanket
01-06-2012, 08:53 PM
It usually comes down to other power dynamics, but occasionally it comes down to a possibility "power+prejudice" seems to ignore: some people are just more sensitive than others. And I'm not okay with telling someone their hurt is somehow less than mine because of the actions of people we've never met.



That's fair, I think. Although in this case, I firmly believe that the level of hurt being spoken about is, for the most part, heavily exaggerated. There are white people like me, who've never knowingly oppressed minorities and, through the dubious virtue of being working class, lack the power to do so, who may be offended, but on the whole that's not what I'm seeing here. What I am seeing is a whole lot of hot air being blown about by people who are quick to leap to the defence of a white person who's said something offensive about minorities. What I'm seeing - and this bothers me a whole lot more than what Abbott said - is an almost pathological need, in some quarters, to restore a sense of white victimhood after the sham that was the Stephen Lawrence investigation.

That's not to say that everyone who's upset by this is putting it on, because I don't think it's that simple. But it's telling that a large number of the oh-so-wounded (check out The Sun calling for Abbott's resignation, when it cheerfully defends Starkey's racism as 'freedom of speech') are the same people who throw 'the PC brigade thought police' accusation like it's going out of style.

missesdash
01-06-2012, 09:11 PM
@crunchy

Oh I definitely agree that this is a lot of posturing. My concerns are usually with younger people who have a more fragile self image and less cultural baggage.