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View Full Version : "It's POC's job to teach about PoC's"



Rachel Udin
06-17-2012, 02:38 AM
Semi-rant form...

So I have this acquaintance... and he has these notions. But first let's clear a few things.

1. Despite the overly Jewish name to the left, I am PoC. (East Asian, Korean to be specific).
2. My educational system was really good apparently on teaching the basics about immigration. (Which is surprising since about half was US public school.)
3. I've traveled to other countries before... BUT I still don't pretend to know all about the country and people. (I still dislike tourist traps). Any information I ask for, I'm really humble and non-judgmental about.

So the notions are this: (White Male)
1. His educational system on immigration apparently really, really sucked. I don't just mean on what slavery was like (He's American), but I mean the coming of all immigrants.
2. He knows that I know more.
3. He thinks on that level of ignorance that PoC's should "just get over it." (Not just blacks but all of them) and then also adds things like "Lazy blacks are on welfare."
4. I point out he's just plain wrong. Systemic racism is still systemic racism and it still effects people today. (Such as the recent numbers that show that White Males are doing excellent in the job market... but everyone else is still doing poorly.)
5. He then thinks it's my job to teach him about immigration (the whole thing from before 1776...)

Arrrggghhh. On one hand, I think he's curious/a bit closed minded (can you be those at the same time?). On the other, why is it my job as a PoC to teach him anything, when he could you know, put the effort into learning it himself? He talks of White guilt, etc. *eye roll*

Is there any salvaging this? Or does anyone have you know, the great history of US immigration (Including genocide, slavery and detaining people based on ethnicity.) for the semi-deliberate ignorant white male? <--If there is such a book, I'd love to bring it to parties and smack a few people with it. "There is no more racism." was the last comment I heard at a party (Different white male). Oh really???? (I jumped on that one.)

Kitty27
06-17-2012, 03:23 AM
There is no hope and it's not our job to open minds.

People with this mindset have minds like steel traps. Their opinions are already formed and very little will sway them from it. Privilege blinds them and profound ignorance consumes the I give you major props for your obvious patience.

When you live in a world where racism isn't an issue and a lack of empathy prevents you from understanding that it DOES exist and impacts others,then statements like what this person said and the last one that no racism exists,happen. They can't be helped and I find it best for my sanity and blood pressure to avoid conversing with these folks.

If a person is willing to accept that racism does exist and at least tries to listen,then you can work with them. But the folks you describe are a waste of time.

They can't and won't hear what you are saying. They also tend to see POC as the"other". I remember people acting like Whitney Houston's homegoing service was some kind of anthropological venture. Blacks have been here for 400 plus years and yet some act like we are Martians. I had coworkers asking me questions,but there was a clear sense of respect from them and they just wanted to know. This is quite different from someone acting like"ewww,those people are SO weird!".

I wish you well with this individual. I couldn't do it.

lemonhead
06-17-2012, 04:50 AM
You just don't know until you do. My poor poor co-worker/close friend... When I moved to West Baltimore, I had several months of "omg, racism is real ya'll!" and this girl was so patient and kind to listen to me (on her lunch no less) marvel over things she knew her whole life.

Point is. If they're asking, they probably want to know. There's a difference between ignorant and racist. Ignorance can be helped. If you aren't the person to help, that's fine, you don't owe it to him...send him somewhere else.

leahzero
06-17-2012, 06:56 AM
IDK, it sounds like this guy is so blinded by his privilege that it will be a Herculean effort on your part to get through to him, Rachel. Is it worth it?

Tex_Maam
06-17-2012, 09:42 AM
I don't know if it's your style, but when people go full-metal stupid around me, I kinda like the cheerful acid approach. Around here, I hear a fairly steady stream of,

"God, these illegals just make me sick - they swim over here and line up to get free housing, welfare, school, and of course they clog up our hospitals to get free health care while they pop out their anchor babies."

Which is my cue to slap the table and say,

"aMEN, buddy! I tell you what - I wish I had a dollar for everybody I know who's torn up their driver's license and burned their social security card to start living the easy-street life of an illegal immigrant. It'd just about pay me back for that strawberry-picking job I lost to those dang Mexicans."

In seriousness, though, if the sarcasm approach doesn't work ("It's SO NICE that we don't have to worry about racism anymore - which hunky Asian actor is your favorite?"), you might just tell him straight up - look, you're probably a pretty nice guy, but it's hard to want to talk to you when you're rocking the almighty attitude. If he values your company, he ought to shape up or shut up. If he doesn't, then you sure as hell don't need to invest your emotional energy trying to pull his head out of his ass when he's so clearly enjoying the ambience up in there.

backslashbaby
06-17-2012, 10:00 AM
"Lazy blacks are on welfare" is a big ole neon sign on his forehead. Don't even bother, really. He's either trying to wind you up, or he thinks you actually want to hear all of the brilliant discussions he and his friends have while getting high or shooting pool or whatever.

He's trying to convince you why you are wrong or laugh at you. Don't fall for thinking he's a rational human being. Just mho, of course :)

nighttimer
06-21-2012, 12:09 PM
So the notions are this: (White Male)
1. His educational system on immigration apparently really, really sucked. I don't just mean on what slavery was like (He's American), but I mean the coming of all immigrants.
2. He knows that I know more.
3. He thinks on that level of ignorance that PoC's should "just get over it." (Not just blacks but all of them) and then also adds things like "Lazy blacks are on welfare."
4. I point out he's just plain wrong. Systemic racism is still systemic racism and it still effects people today. (Such as the recent numbers that show that White Males are doing excellent in the job market... but everyone else is still doing poorly.)
5. He then thinks it's my job to teach him about immigration (the whole thing from before 1776...)

Arrrggghhh. On one hand, I think he's curious/a bit closed minded (can you be those at the same time?). On the other, why is it my job as a PoC to teach him anything, when he could you know, put the effort into learning it himself? He talks of White guilt, etc. *eye roll*

Is there any salvaging this? Or does anyone have you know, the great history of US immigration (Including genocide, slavery and detaining people based on ethnicity.) for the semi-deliberate ignorant white male? <--If there is such a book, I'd love to bring it to parties and smack a few people with it. "There is no more racism." was the last comment I heard at a party (Different white male). Oh really???? (I jumped on that one.)


There is no hope and it's not our job to open minds.

People with this mindset have minds like steel traps. Their opinions are already formed and very little will sway them from it. Privilege blinds them and profound ignorance consumes the I give you major props for your obvious patience.

When you live in a world where racism isn't an issue and a lack of empathy prevents you from understanding that it DOES exist and impacts others,then statements like what this person said and the last one that no racism exists,happen. They can't be helped and I find it best for my sanity and blood pressure to avoid conversing with these folks.

If a person is willing to accept that racism does exist and at least tries to listen,then you can work with them. But the folks you describe are a waste of time.

They can't and won't hear what you are saying. They also tend to see POC as the"other". I remember people acting like Whitney Houston's homegoing service was some kind of anthropological venture. Blacks have been here for 400 plus years and yet some act like we are Martians. I had coworkers asking me questions,but there was a clear sense of respect from them and they just wanted to know. This is quite different from someone acting like"ewww,those people are SO weird!".

I wish you well with this individual. I couldn't do it.

I second Kitty's well-said words.

At this point in my life my days as a Negro Tour Guide are over. It was fun when I was young and militant and Afrolicious, but now I'm not so young, even more militant and there's grey in the old Afro.

It's simply not worth the time it takes trying to drag such a supremely ignorant man out of the swamp of White entitlement he so obviously wallows in. If he showed any indication he really and sincerely wants to become more informed and enlightened, it might be worth the effort (not for me, but maybe for you).

But really, what's the upside of trying to teach a grown man shit he should know already? Don't smart-ass White boys like your colleague think if they don't know something it must not be worth knowing?

Toss him a copy of Invisible Man, The Autobiography of Malcolm X and tell him to read some Wright, Baldwin, Morrison, Giovanni and Hughes, listen to Miles, Public Enemy, Funkadelic, Donny Hathaway, 2pac and Gil Scott-Heron and finally do a marathon of Richard Pryor albums and performances.

That should be enough to get him started. Tell him to write up a ten-page report with footnotes on what he's learned. If he gets it that's a good start. If his mind is blown, then tell him he ain't ready. Remedial Black History class for Slow Learners is not on the schedule this semester.

Holla if ya hear me. :Lecture:

Rachel Udin
06-21-2012, 08:13 PM
I second Kitty's well-said words.

At this point in my life my days as a Negro Tour Guide are over. It was fun when I was young and militant and Afrolicious, but now I'm not so young, even more militant and there's grey in the old Afro.

It's simply not worth the time it takes trying to drag such a supremely ignorant man out of the swamp of White entitlement he so obviously wallows in. If he showed any indication he really and sincerely wants to become more informed and enlightened, it might be worth the effort (not for me, but maybe for you).

But really, what's the upside of trying to teach a grown man shit he should know already? Don't smart-ass White boys like your colleague think if they don't know something it must not be worth knowing?

Toss him a copy of Invisible Man, The Autobiography of Malcolm X and tell him to read some Wright, Baldwin, Morrison, Giovanni and Hughes, listen to Miles, Public Enemy, Funkadelic, Donny Hathaway, 2pac and Gil Scott-Heron and finally do a marathon of Richard Pryor albums and performances.

That should be enough to get him started. Tell him to write up a ten-page report with footnotes on what he's learned. If he gets it that's a good start. If his mind is blown, then tell him he ain't ready. Remedial Black History class for Slow Learners is not on the schedule this semester.

Holla if ya hear me. :Lecture:
A-men.

Enough with basics, if he throws it back, he doesn't want to listen in the first place. I'll quit. Still don't get why people of privileged think it's our job to teach rather than their job to learn.

I'd rather help people who want to be helped. I've been giving a guy in Brazil a rundown of real American literature--stuff that's not only by white guys. He got through quite a few now. He likes it.

Alessandra Kelley
07-08-2012, 06:50 PM
I think it's pretty presumptuous to assume that any PoC is able and willing to educate anybody who asks about racism. It's a lot to ask, to request that somebody argue one out of stupidity.

I don't think people should be obliged to teach on demand. But is it presumptuous if people voluntarily wish to do it?

Something I've sometimes been uncomfortable with is when someone like me (white) talks about racism to people displaying ignorance and I get the "only white people are upset about that, all the black people I know are cool with it" (I heard this argument about the Confederate flag) or the less subtle but same message, "you're not qualified to talk about that because you're not black/Asian/Hispanic/whatever."

They seem to me shaming and silencing tactics, but I do wonder if I am being pushy and presumptuous to speak when I am a member of the privileged class, not the oppressed one.

I have not directly experienced racism, and I don't want to presume on experience, but I do think I can recognize when things are wrong.

It is most emphatically not the job of every PoC to teach about PoC's. But are we non-PoC's causing trouble when we speak out?

Kitty27
07-09-2012, 12:29 AM
I think it's pretty presumptuous to assume that any PoC is able and willing to educate anybody who asks about racism. It's a lot to ask, to request that somebody argue one out of stupidity.

I don't think people should be obliged to teach on demand. But is it presumptuous if people voluntarily wish to do it?

Something I've sometimes been uncomfortable with is when someone like me (white) talks about racism to people displaying ignorance and I get the "only white people are upset about that, all the black people I know are cool with it" (I heard this argument about the Confederate flag) or the less subtle but same message, "you're not qualified to talk about that because you're not black/Asian/Hispanic/whatever."

They seem to me shaming and silencing tactics, but I do wonder if I am being pushy and presumptuous to speak when I am a member of the privileged class, not the oppressed one.

I have not directly experienced racism, and I don't want to presume on experience, but I do think I can recognize when things are wrong.

It is most emphatically not the job of every PoC to teach about PoC's. But are we non-PoC's causing trouble when we speak out?


I much prefer to talk with someone who understands that racism does exist and impacts lives every day. Even if they don't experience it,the fact that are willing to acknowledge racism, means a lot to me. When both sides acknowledge it is real,the conversation flows much more smoothly and understanding is reached.


I don't mind talking about anything with anybody!

Midian
07-09-2012, 05:47 AM
I don't generally see any point in trying to be the person that teaches.

It's not rocket science. He's not unaware of the fact that he's following the stereotypes. He's not unaware that all black people aren't lazy. He's making a choice to just go with it.

People aren't as stupid as they like to pretend. He knows it's a racist remark and he knows it's not true. He just doesn't care because it's not a life he's been exposed to. He's perfectly happy to just believe it as some kind of fact-enough that he can say it.

If there's anything we're all taught, it's to treat others the way you want to be treated. You don't need anyone new to tell you that. You don't need Malcom X or Abe Lincoln or 2Pac.

Just because you aren't exposed to other cultures doesn't mean you don't know about them. The world has gotten much too small to even try to pretend that 1. racism doesn't exist, 2. that a person that is willing to say black people are lazy isn't racist, or 3. that they might be curious to know more or learn more.

No. They already know. What they want is to pretend they're ignorant so you don't think they're racist. The only their ignorant of is the actual black/asian/hispanic/whatever experience - which runs the gamut of poor to rich and we all experience it differently as races.

At least, that's the impression I've always had with people like that. I've never met someone that said racist things that was simply ignorant of racism.

DarthPanda
07-09-2012, 08:18 AM
Not all teaching is bad... There are so many non-PoC who truly want to broaden their understanding of racism and privilege, and that is REALLY HARD TO DO without PoC there to provide insight and personal experience and reality checks. Otherwise, it turns into a bunch of pale people patting each other on the back while condemning "those other white people", and then going away feeling shriven and satisfied that they're enlightened enough to recognize racism when somebody else is doing it.

There are a lot of conversations that desperately need to be had, and if a person is genuinely seeking open and honest discourse in an appropriate forum with someone willing to share their time and insights and experiences, then it should be encouraged. The "teaching" that seems most problematic is when a non-PoC is actually asking, usually in an indirect way, for the PoC to PROVE SOMETHING TO THEM. Such as:

-prove that racism exists
(example: How can you say racism still exists when we have a black president? What about affirmative action? Minorities get MORE advantages than white people now!)

-prove that PoC aren't also racist
(What about the Black Panthers? They're like the black KKK! Why can black people say "cracker" and white people can't say the n-word?)

-prove that a racist term/item/incident is truly racist
(My black/asian/hispanic friends don't care about [____], why should you? How can racial profiling be racist when it's based on statistics? How can [some ignorant shit I just said] be racist when I totally didn't intend for it to be? I'm 1/32 Cherokee and I'm not offended! The Confederate flag just means "Southern Pride"! How is that racist?)

-prove that PoC aren't the cause of all their own problems
(Why can't [minority] people just work harder like my ancestors did? If you don't want white people to use the n-word, why do you use it?)

People like that don't really want to learn anything. They just think they've found some kind of clever logic-loophole that will ultimately reaffirm all their delusions of genetic superiority.

Ken
07-09-2012, 03:38 PM
... am a white male myself. Don't feel any sense of privilege though as I'm Jewish. There is plenty of antisemitism out there. Have encountered that directly and indirectly. My basic attitude is to just go about my business. And if things are more difficult all the better. I like challenges. And when it's all over and done and you're still left standing by some miracle then you know that you owe that to no one but your maker and you.

Rachel Udin
07-10-2012, 12:07 AM
... am a white male myself. Don't feel any sense of privilege though as I'm Jewish. There is plenty of antisemitism out there. Have encountered that directly and indirectly. My basic attitude is to just go about my business. And if things are more difficult all the better. I like challenges. And when it's all over and done and you're still left standing by some miracle then you know that you owe that to no one but your maker and you.
Talking as a Jew here (though I should clarify that I am Korean adopted to a Jewish family<--funky background).

My parents, mostly my mom would talk about how other people didn't have privileges, such as African American, occasionally Asian (though I figured that the hard way on my own--especially after getting racist remarks on the streets), women, gays, etc. As a Jew she was pretty strong about that.

However, when you looked at the gamut of friends she had the majority of them were not only Jewish, but Jewish white. She gets privileges as a white Jew that she takes for granted that I don't get.

I acknowledge that I have some advantages over others as well. I come from a well-educated middle-class family. That is a privilege and I often take it for granted. I think almost everyone in the world has an advantage and disadvantage for functioning--the danger of privilege is that you don't see it function until it dysfunctions on you. Or the dysfunction becomes a function.

As a Korean, when I went to Korea, after studying for years, I was able to function very well. The weight of racism lifted off for those moments (though the annoying prejudice against adoptees came in... another issue). I could actually blend into a crowd without a baby pointing to me and staring at me like, "What the hell is that?" I have to admit that felt like a relief and empowering for that time. For that time I was part of the privilege class (just severely disabled with my Americanisms and lack of fluent Korean.) I could see other Koreans on TV so I didn't feel strange or ugly. I wasn't treated that differently because of my skin color. I could move about freely. That bubble didn't always last since I often saw American movies on Korean TV and I wondered why the US is so insular that it doesn't do the reverse? I was a little disoriented and annoyed when two guys from the US talked to me in English and I'd been functioning in Korean.

I still remember that feeling of relief, which made me realize for probably the first time in my life the other privileges I also had (also because my family in Korea is poor and I'd forgotten most it--so it was also humbling.) Then the floor dropped when I got back and I got cat called on the streets with a mix of an anti-Asian misogynistic comment. (It's one of the weirdest things. Do AA Women get that crap?) And I went, "Ah, America at last." That experience really made me aware of privilege and how I take advantage of it without being aware.

We all have privileges, I think. Whether it be that we're heterosexual CIS, male, part of the mainstream religion, etc. The danger is that we often don't *feel* those privileges at all. I still can melt into the feeling of being white, but I never make it. I also can try to melt into the feeling of being Korean, but I never make it. I can also try to melt into being Jewish, but I never make it. I can try to melt into the feeling of being Korean American, but I never make it. ('cause I'm always kicked out... eventually--you're not really _X_) By never making it into one group, I realize the advantages and disadvantages of each group, and I think that makes me more willing to recognize that yes, being part of the middle class, getting a High School education, getting jobs in technology, having free time to write, are all luxuries afforded to me by my position in society. Some of them were earned by the factor of my white ancestors trying hard, and some by the virtue of privilege.

You don't feel privilege until you are suddenly without it.

Midian
07-10-2012, 12:24 AM
I still remember that feeling of relief, which made me realize for probably the first time in my life the other privileges I also had (also because my family in Korea is poor and I'd forgotten most it--so it was also humbling.) Then the floor dropped when I got back and I got cat called on the streets with a mix of an anti-Asian misogynistic comment. (It's one of the weirdest things. Do AA Women get that crap?) And I went, "Ah, America at last." That experience really made me aware of privilege and how I take advantage of it without being aware.

The last time I was in Korea I was 5. So I can't really comment on what that was like, I have no memory of it.

But as an adult, I've never had much luck with Koreans. I've always felt MORE segregated with them than with any other culture. Part of it is probably because I grew up in the military where growing up, we didn't have enough people to get picky over race so it was never an issue. When I came to the states and went to Koreatown without my mother, it was always an awful experience. Being half white is probably a lot like having the adoptive prejudice.

Most just refused to have anything to do with me. (I don't speak Korean so that was just one more mark against me.)

It doesn't happen to me outside of the sheltered areas like Koreatown where you can live there and never really interact with the rest of the world if you so choose. In the suburb where I live now I've never had a problem. At least not to my face so I assume not privately either.

Ken
07-10-2012, 12:39 AM
... the best stance to take is not to be too concerned about what others think. And I almost believe that that's the case even if others are supportive and accepting, because those commodities come with a price. That isn't to say that one should abandon their civic responsibility. When observing or experiencing injustices one owes it to oneself and to society as a whole to speak out. On an everyday level though I've found that this is often counterproductive and you really just have to tune out to a degree. Otherwise you wind up frayed. And when it comes to ones own actions one can take carry through and live up to their ideals by treating everyone equally, without privilege or prejudice. Ultimately, we're all in the same boat and it is really idiotic to go about with an air of superiority or whatnot. Peace. And remember. There are good people out there. Maybe even a lot. World isn't such a bad place, though not necessarily such a good place either. Somewhere between hell and heaven would be a fair approximation.