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Sunday, January 5, 2014

It Looks Like You're Apologizing for Being Racist! Would You Like Help?

Posted by on Sun, Jan 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

comb.jpg
Hello there! I couldn’t help but notice that it looks like you’re writing a blog post responding to people who called you racist. Would you like help? Are you sure? Really? I’m pretty sure you need help. A whole lot of white folks this year tried to argue with charges of racism, and exactly zero of them succeeded. I’m talking about people like cartoonist Ted Rall, UK politician John Mac Canna, reality star Brandi Glanville, and even Paula Deen.

Are you really, really sure you don’t want my help?

Look, let me just give you a couple of pointers, okay?

1. Don’t tell us you’re not racist. Racism isn’t an either-or proposition. It’s complicated. Racism isn’t always intentional. Racism is not always active. Racism can be about perception, and someone else’s perception is out of your control. It’s not a simple yes or no, and immediately denying your own racism throws your entire argument into doubt.

2. For the love of Christ, using the “some of my best friends/coworkers are black” argument is a terrible decision. Guess what? Arguing that nobody of a certain race should be offended because you know one or two members of a certain race who aren’t offended? That’s racist.

3. It’s better to start a conversation than to make a statement.

I know this isn’t an easy thing to hear, and I know that nuanced discussions about race don’t make white people comfortable. This isn’t easy. I know a thing or two about fraught depictions of race: I’m an anthropomorphized Afro pick, for God’s sake! Just keep in mind as you write this thing: There’s no one right answer, and we’re all making it up as we go along. Everybody makes mistakes. And most importantly, being humble doesn’t cost anything, and it often gets great results. Good luck, honky!

 

Comments (59) RSS

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1
I would post this on a Sunday afternoon too. Kinda like a Paula Deen apology.
Posted by Bean on January 5, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
2
I would add:

4. If all you can say is 'I'm sorry if you were offended,' then shut up until you can do better.

5. If you're about to say something that could be reframed as 'I'm not racist but...' then shut up, shut up, shut up.

6. Shutting up is really an option! I know your feelings are hurt and you feel like you were misunderstood but you actually CAN just stop talking now! Your special-snowflake feelings are not actually the most important thing here!

7. Just say "I fucked up and hurt people and I'm really sorry." AND THEN SHUT UP.
Posted by siduri on January 5, 2014 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Zebes 3
also

#: Don't sit and just deny you're racist. Fess up, try to understand why what you said is a problem, and look for ways to fix your behavior. All sorts of people make racist comments all the time; you're only a shitty person if you refuse the opportunity to grow as a person afterwards.
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on January 5, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 4
I think doing something racist is 100x worse than racist speech.
Posted by dnt trust me on January 5, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 5
Don't forget

4. Pointing out something you did once that wasn't racist.

Well holy shit, that changes everything!
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM · Report this
rob! 6
Nice to see you, Zebes. I was worried you'd sworn off.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on January 5, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 7
Point #3 is correct. It is better to start a conversation than to make a statement. Therefore, to refrain from arbitrarily calling someone a racist would go hand-in-hand with that advice.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Report this
8
I call myself a racist all the time. Am I proud to be racist? Hell no. It embarrasses the hell out of me. Do I fight against my internal programming (having grown up with a proudly racist father, being surrounded by the media images that paint young black men mostly one way, etc etc)? Yep.

But I am an ashamed racist. I hate what my brain does without my permission.
Posted by bareboards on January 5, 2014 at 4:25 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 9
@8: Yeah, that consciousness is at least more trustworthy than anyone who says something that happened didn't happen because it couldn't have happened because NOT RACIST.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 5, 2014 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Lissa 10
@7: Oh Phoebe, did the the point muss your do even a little bit as it flew over your head? No? Aqua Net certainly is a wonder.
Posted by Lissa on January 5, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 11
@10: Aqua Net, do they even still make that? I haven't seen it on the shelves for some time.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 5, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
12
Sally's Beauty Supply stores used to carry it, now no longer :-(
Posted by Spit End on January 5, 2014 at 4:48 PM · Report this
13
I see no solutions here for responding to people who indiscriminately throw around the word "racist" as an argument-stopping technique.

This list implicitly assumes that the anonymous person in question actually WAS being racist.
Posted by Your List Is Racist on January 5, 2014 at 4:57 PM · Report this
fletc3her 14
We all have biases and sometimes we inadvertently say something that reveals them. We can then either double down or take a step back and think about what we've said.

Aqua Net, from the Lornamead group, the makers of LIce Shield and Yardley Soap.

http://www.lornameadna.com/aquanet.html
Posted by fletc3her on January 5, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Report this
pinksoda 15
@13 Here’s a solution: how about asking that person, “I’m sorry, what was it I said that offended you? I would like to understand why it was offensive.”

There, no blame assigned or denial of feelings, just an honest attempt at growing as a person. Of course, that wasn’t really what you were asking, was it? You were really asking how you, personally, could be excused from the responsibility of saying something offensive.

Well, here’s another thought for you: if you really weren’t being offensive, more conversation can actually make that point for you. You may even get an apology out of it. At the very least, you will have conveyed that you are willing to have been wrong if it means understanding someone else’s point of view better.
Posted by pinksoda on January 5, 2014 at 5:31 PM · Report this
16
@11 & 12
On the top shelf of the hair care section of Fred Meyers in Freebal. It comes in three hold-strengths each in
its own color coded aerosol can. Of course, NFI implied nor intended.
Posted by Fairhaven on January 5, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
17
What makes Picky an 'Afro-pick' anyway? As a white woman with stupidly thick and somewhat curly hair, a pick is the only thing I can use without tearing my hair out by the roots. How do I know if I've chosen the right one?
Posted by sanguisuga on January 5, 2014 at 5:45 PM · Report this
18
"Guess what? Arguing that nobody of a certain race should be offended because you know one or two members of a certain race who aren’t offended?"

Exactly. Just like if a few members of a certain race ARE offended doesn't make it racist.
Posted by Reader01 on January 5, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 19
@13: "This list implicitly assumes that the anonymous person in question actually WAS being racist."

Yes. Because people often make racist statements or come to shitty assumptions

@17: "What makes Picky an 'Afro-pick' anyway? As a white woman with stupidly thick and somewhat curly hair, a pick is the only thing I can use without tearing my hair out by the roots. How do I know if I've chosen the right one?"

The hair style is called an "afro" though plenty of "white" persons have kinky hair. Are you seriously this dense?
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 5, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Report this
20
If racism is an either/or proposition, then we're all racist, end of conversation.

Progressives need to be careful about this RACISM! thing. It's becoming a modern day witch hunt. Once you're accused, there's no right response, regardless of the merits of the accusation. Look at the Ted Rall situation for exhibit A.
Posted by MRM on January 5, 2014 at 7:03 PM · Report this
21
@20: Sorry, disregard my first sentence. I'm drunk.
Posted by MRM on January 5, 2014 at 7:18 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 22
@20: "If racism is an either/or proposition, then we're all racist"

Okay.

"end of conversation."

No.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 5, 2014 at 7:20 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 23
@7 --- Phoebe, I think your word "arbitrarily" is important. An initial reaction of "that's not fair --- I'm totally not (or whoever I'm sticking up for is totally not) racist" may of course make an allegation of racism seem arbitrary. But it might be worth examining one's actual words or actions to see if there's some way they could legitimately have been construed as racist. There might even be an underlying attitude in there somewhere that one wasn't quite aware of. (Well, there might be.) And then if one found something in one's actions/words/thoughts that one didn't like, one could try to stop doing/saying/thinking such stuff.
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on January 5, 2014 at 7:35 PM · Report this
24
It's probably worth visiting (or revisiting) Jay Smooth on this subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJi…
Posted by Joel_are on January 5, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
25
Prejudice? Of course you are prejudice. We all Pre-Judge. All the time. We kinda have to in order to navigate through the world. The trick is recognizing that we are doing it and that it is happening every time we interact with another and calling yourself on it.

That WE is important too. The prejudice happens in both directions, Again the trick is recognizing that it is happening and calling yourself on it.

We fail at that a lot and admitting it is oddly hard.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on January 5, 2014 at 8:20 PM · Report this
26
Danielle, is that you?

Grats
Posted by Lack Thereof on January 5, 2014 at 8:47 PM · Report this
27
Everyone is biased to the familiar. Everyone.

Calling someone a racist is a severe condemnation by association in a nation whose racism has both a violent, bloody history and a multiplicity of expressions in the culture.

The term is loaded with emotions. Even when it is technically valid, it may do more harm than good.

Leveling that charge against someone whose words or behavior exemplify moderately offensive and simply ignorant behavior only serves to shut down the conversation that might otherwise have served as an opportunity for education, change and growth.

Outrage isn't the best response to natural bias or unintentional offense. Education is...constant, unrelenting education.
Posted by When I look at you, I see a different me. on January 5, 2014 at 9:18 PM · Report this
wingedkat 28
No one has ever accused me of being racist, but as a privileged midwestern middle-class white daughter of socially aware educated parents, I'm conscious that I am racist. I don't mean to be racist, and I'm a lot less racist than many people, but I know I am. Someday, I'm going to slip up and say something ill-considered and stupid that will come off as racist, and this advice will be useful.
Posted by wingedkat on January 5, 2014 at 11:11 PM · Report this
NotSean 29
@27 FTW (PS get registered)

To paraphrase the Stranger's post: Don't you just hate it when you take the time to tell someone they're a racist and then they don't do the "you-got-me dance" the right way? What a let-down.
Posted by NotSean on January 5, 2014 at 11:12 PM · Report this
Zebes 30
@6 Rob!:

Aww shucks, thanks! I'm still kicking around. These things happen in phases.
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on January 5, 2014 at 11:44 PM · Report this
Sandiai 31
@28, totally agree. Along with points in @2, to please "shut up" and listen.

Danielle, loved this so much.*

*If Picky really IS you. [Oh, gosh, why am I assuming that? Think Sandiai, who at the Stranger has kinky hair? THINK!]

@19, about @17. I kind of felt it was a joke, mostly based on that last line. perhaps she will come back to clarify her meaning.
Posted by Sandiai on January 6, 2014 at 2:03 AM · Report this
Knat 32
What, no reference to "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" yet? Fine, I'll do it. (link, slightly modified to be acceptable on The View)

"You're a little bit racist."
"Well, you're a little bit too."
"I guess we're both a little bit racist."
"Admitting it is not an easy thing to do."
Posted by Knat on January 6, 2014 at 8:18 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 33
@27: "The term is loaded with emotions. Even when it is technically valid, it may do more harm than good"

It doesn't fit well into a soundbite, for sure.

But regardless of how you phrase it, there are problematic aspects of society that reflect poorly on actions. We can definitely argue on how to phrase it, but the reality is that we do things based on shitty preconceptions and without always understanding how these societal contexts drive us.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 6, 2014 at 8:31 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 34
@33: I think only Saints or Prophets are able to walk the talk of your last sentence. And unless you have a demonstrable real-time event that someone is a racist, it's best to not level the charge as @27 so aptly put.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 8:53 AM · Report this
35
@4 speech IS an action.

Posted by westello on January 6, 2014 at 8:53 AM · Report this
36 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
37
It's worth noting that a lot of white people who throw around the word "racist" in an accusatory way often have their own racial biases--they've just suppressed them more. People absolutely should acknowledge their racial biases and the fact of ongoing institutional racism, but sometimes the loudest accusers and finger-pointers are overcompensating for their own issues, and I think sometimes that the reluctance of certain people to admit their racism is a reaction to perceived hypocrisy. Group public shaming can often seem as nasty and shrill as the worst crypto racist ranting.
Posted by Jizzlobber on January 6, 2014 at 9:54 AM · Report this
SiSiSodaPop in Vegas 38
Referring to a white person as a "honky" is totally acceptable. amirite?
Posted by SiSiSodaPop in Vegas on January 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 39
@34: " I think only Saints or Prophets are able to walk the talk of your last sentence. "

Or you could think and feel instead of taking pride in your vast, unfathomable density. Good god, the excuses some persons make for being proudly, unquestionably bigoted.

People will inevitably fuck up. Foresight helps keep them from fucking up, but generally it helps them figure out why they fucked up and helps them avoid it in the future.

Posted by undead ayn rand on January 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 40
@38: No, that is racist in itself.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 11:11 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 41
@37: Essentially "Wah wah your intolerance of my intolerance is worse because wah"

I expect to get called out when I say something embarrassing and stupid, and I expect to get called out more when I refuse to acknowledge that I did something stupid.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 6, 2014 at 11:12 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 42
@39: Pardon me, you're the one sounding incredibly pious along with being stupid by insulating that I'm a bigot.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 43
@34,

No, it is never acceptable to look the other way just because challenging the status quo makes you uncomfortable.

Since the beginning of human history, people with power have told those with little or no power to shut the fuck up because complaining is so "mean" and "rude". That is what you're endorsing. So how about you stop while you're not too far behind?
Posted by keshmeshi on January 6, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 44
@42: I'm not the one who lives their life in such fear of what people think of me that I'd rather hold my hands over my eyes and ears versus trying my best to be a good person.

The difference between the two of us that I'd rather fail and be a better person than pretend that I'm awesome with no self-adjustment when I fuck up.

It's a process for me, whereas you were formed perfectly from your maker and think you can't possibly be defective how the rest of us lesser mortals are. Feel free to drown in sanctimony.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM · Report this
45
@38 & 40 Calling white people honkies is fine for the same reasons that we don't need a white history month (primarily because there is no danger in this society that white people will be systematically marginalized because of our race). Also, it's generally hilarious when someone gets called honky, and even better when someone gets called ofay.

@42 I think you mean implying. Or maybe insinuating. Definitely not insulating.
Posted by pemulis on January 6, 2014 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 46
@43: You are stretching things out of proportion. I'm not talking about failing to speak up when someone calls the waiter the N word or 'hey boy' - I'm talking about such things as the wanton generalizations that people are racists because of well, let's say Republicans for example.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 47
@45: One is still a racist no matter the color, direction, race, historical legacy, social context, or intensity of the derogatory word that is used.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 48
@44: I like our debates, but then you get in a huff and go off topic and get pouty.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 49
@48: I find shutting down self-criticism to be a particularly fetid habit, so huffy :/

If you want to speak about ways that are less constructive to enable debate, fine. But stating that the debate is unnecessary and unconstructive, shit.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 6, 2014 at 2:55 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 50
@34 Phoebe, did you mean to reply to @23? Anyway, yeah, I agree --- that's why I made sure to use the word "try." You don't have to be a saint or a prophet to try.
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on January 6, 2014 at 3:21 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 51
And Comment #27 got enough endorsements that I finally turned on unregistered comments long enough to read it. Yes @27! (And yes, you should register)
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on January 6, 2014 at 3:23 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 52
@50: No, no, the best solution is not to try but instead get angry at anyone affected by your outside persona and discuss your unassailable "inner you".
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 6, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 53
@52: I assume you're being sarcastic with that comment, right? Please bear with me, I'm a little slow.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 6, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
54
This post is full of win.

Phobe meanwhile gets the 'Yo Is This Racist?' BINGO the fastest, every fucking time. Holy hell some assholes are goddamned determined to remain firmly on a plinth of white privilege.
Posted by happyhedonist on January 7, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
55
As an Asian, the biggest anti-Asian racists I have to deal with day in, day out are black people. Straight up the dumbest, most racist motherfu*kers I deal with.
Posted by The Chinaman on January 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM · Report this
56
@55 Well, shit, we all know that each and every black person thinks exactly the same as any other so you are now excused for thinking that each and every black person is rascist against people of asian descent ....

Why the fuck do I respond to unregistered comments? I am a glutton for punishment!

TL, DR: you are an idiot and are probably rascist.
Posted by I am not a spokesperson for “the black race" on January 8, 2014 at 12:07 AM · Report this
57
@54: +100 for use of the word 'plinth'.
Posted by clashfan on January 8, 2014 at 7:15 AM · Report this
58
@47 I didn't say that the use of the word honky to describe a white person wasn't racist. I said it was acceptable. And hilarious.
Posted by pemulis on January 8, 2014 at 7:40 AM · Report this
MegaZordBlasterZoid101 59
This article/blog is so stupid it makes no damn sense. Just absolutely absurd & nonsensical.
Posted by MegaZordBlasterZoid101 on January 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM · Report this

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