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To Whom It May Concern

Dear lovely white people in real life, on the internets, and world wide who have felt the need to educate me on some things,

The people who can rightfully declare racism to be over? Are the people to which the racism is happening.

Don't worry, we'll let you know.

Thank you,


ps. And just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't be racist, you know better than that.

Disclaimer (cause I'm a softie): I speak in generalizations, but know that when I talk about whitefolk, I'm talking about THE WHITE as opposed to each individual white person ever. Several of my flist is white and I love y'all like ice cold water on a hot summer day, but some of your counterparts are trifling!

I know that all blacks aren't goodness and sunshine, but due to several events that will be discussed below, I think I'm being fair by giving us the benefit of the doubt in most cases. I like to talk about these things because they can be put in any context. To say that racism doesn't exist is to say that evidently all -isms don't exist and discrimination is in the eye of the beholder which is not only untrue, but completely condescending. Discussion of race lends itself to discussions of gender, sexuality, and personal freedoms in general.

I love y'all, and I'm open to any and all discussion as long as there is no flaming of my flist. Feel free to rant and rave and throw things, just make sure there's a message tied on.

It's not even that there was a big bust up that happened today that sparked this, as much as a lot of seemingly minute instances of covert racial discrimination that make me wonder. What gives white people the right to say that racism is over? And why does it surprise me at all that this seems to be the cool new thing?

This country has been settled by white people for nearly 600 years (which is barely anytime at all). Of those 600 years, approx 450 involved some form of human slavery, the majority of which was African (if you want to call that human). Let's guestimate that you can have 4 family generations in a decade. 4.5 decades of slavery means that approx 18 generations of African families were held in captivity (correct my math if I'm wrong).

Can we think about that for a moment? The monument of that, the sheer capacity of that? You know they say that if you were molested as a child, there is a fairly good probability that the behavior will be repeated, and then that person will repeat it and so on. Think about 18 generations of that. And not even a literal molestation, but the physical, psychological, and emotional abuse at the hands of an oppressor that devalues you so much that you have to fight to become 3/5ths of a person!

Think about the first generation of Africans off the boat. You come to a new land full of a race of people you've probably never had any contact with. You're separated from your family, from your villiage, from your culture, your language, your power structure, your safety net; and you're forced to do manual labor that may have been beneath you back home. You may become complacent and settle in to this new life, you may become militant and rail against the system, you may be killed, you may escape, but whatever you do you have to deal with the fact that you are no longer you. You are no longer Guyanan, Nigerian, etc, but you are... not American, not yet, but instead in limbo.

You may be bred with some female on your plantation, you may come to the conclusion that your wife or husband is dead and to move on so you meet someone and marry them, but some way you have children. These children grow up speaking English, forgetting the ways of their homeland, they see you as the world around them sees you, and in turn the way they see themselves. Maybe some work hard and see you as an inspiration, maybe some see you as a disgrace, maybe some look up to your master, maybe some have been torn away from their plantation and never know you.

So these children, they start to grow up and some of them have children, and maybe one aspires to read and is beaten because of it, and one aspires to be free and gets killed because of it, and maybe the body of one is hung as an example, and maybe this example works. These children grow and they have children that for whom this way of life is their way of life. Fully born into slavery, fully knowing nothing of their past world, knowing nothing of real family life, of being free, or being a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, human.

And all the while, you have groups fighting against slavery, except some want a more humane method of slavery, and some want to go back to Africa, and some want you to go back to Africa, and some want to seceed from the Union, and some want to provide higher education, and some think you should learn trades, and you're sitting there, in the middle of this, working your blackness off trying to figure out if maybe you should wake up tomorrow?

The disunion that was brought into the African American family is something that is still palpable today. The false notions of disregard for the black man by black women, the mammyfication of the black woman, or the sexualization depending on skin tone, weight, or sometimes nothing at all. The placement of the white woman on a pedastel as an object of desire, the punishment of the chase. All of these things work together to keep control of the black mindset where it belonged, in the hand of their masters.

And it worked so well, and so forcefully, that it was allowed to continue for 100's of years. Hundreds of years of this endless cycle until one day slavery is outlawed. And here's where it gets even better.

"Well hello nigger, the law says I can't have you as a slave anymore, so get out."

1. "Okay! Gotta go, see you when I see ya!"
2. "I'm sorry? Law?"
3. "I don't have anywhere to go."
4. "I don't WANT to go."
5. "Get out and do what?"

Slaves with no education, no income, being forced out of what had been their homes for years and into a world that was pretty unaccepting. They were expected to rebuild new homes, get jobs, education, and become decent citizens with no psychological support, and very little federal aid.

Wow, that sounds eerily.... current.

And while not all blacks were happy about being free, there was a rather fair number of whites who were also displeased. To the point of segregation, and Jim Crow, and Strange Fruit, and syphillis, and the KKK, and burning crosses, and assisination, dragging men behind trucks, beatings beyond recognition, and racial profiling.

And it gets to the point where laws have to be passed, and amendments made to the US Constitution that say, "Hey, yeah, sorry about that whole you not being a whole person thing. Umm, and you can go to school anywhere, and get a job too! And... well, oh you don't have to be slaves anymore! Oh, did we cover that? Well what else do you want?"

And that's just what happened to black people, so when I get emails, or read posts, or talk to my special, lovely whitefolk, and I hear,

"There's no more racism, it's mostly just classism now." It really pisses me off. Classism not based on a racist system? Does that make it any better?

"Well, at least not in more Urban areas. The larger metropolises don't have racism." I was going to go all linky on you with several examples of racism in LA, New York, and Chicago, but then I thought, "WTF-ever! What kind of dumb sh*t is that to say?" And even if that bit of effusement were true, and again, does it matter?

"Well in large areas there's no racism, the smaller areas there probably is a bit. Nebraska only has about a million people right? That's not so bad."

Let's take a bit of a side trip to talk about redistricting in Omaha. Now, the way I understood it was that Omaha felt that Omaha schools weren't getting the proper funding from the taxes in their communities. A lot of major businesses were paying taxes to different districts so what Omaha decided to do was redistrict, and put all of the school under one platform of OPS and make sure the monies got distributed accordingly.

There were two plans, and Ernie Chambers (resident black political "leader". He's pretty trifling, but one thing he does well is rile up the whitefolk, more on that in a bit) headed a plan to break up Omaha into three sections. Now normally this wouldn't be an issue, but the way Omaha is set up, North Omaha consists of blacks, South Omaha is mainly Mexicans, and West Omaha is white. Because of some big businesses West Omaha would receive the most funding, then South, then North. I honestly don't remember the fist plan, and of course that was the one that made the most sense, but Ernie's was the one that garnered the most attention and was eventually passed.

What's sad is that everyone knew it was a racially divided, but no one wanted to fully acknowledge that. And this is the kind of thing that Ernie does. He never says it, but he knew this plan was BS when it was introduced, and he also knew it would pass with flying colors. I admire his moxy, but I don't like it at the expense of the education of our children, but I guess that's the point. I actually don't have too much of a problem with the decision, what's funny is that while this redistricting is forming, a lot of the communities are moving to compensate. Omaha's downtown (North) is going through a major renovation and more white are starting to move there and South to the smaller developments (LaVista, Bellevue), and Blacks are starting to move West for cheaper affordable housing, and Mexicans are pretty much just chillin' where they are, but moving slightly North. Meaning in the long run this plan will eventually benefit those it was going to hinder at first. Of course, that's a lot of years off and who knows what changes will take place then. I also don't have any kids in that system nor do I teach or administrate there. There are several kinks and now the NAACP is involved so God knows where it will go, but the fact that it happened is telling of the state of race relations right in the heart of this country.

Anyhow, when you say something like,

"Racism doesn't really exist anymore", or

"Crash was too dramatic", and

"Affirmative Action has run its course and is no longer needed", what you are saying to me is,

"In this bubble where only I exist, racism is not an issue, and for that reason I can not acknowledge that perhaps to others it is definitely a problem, because those people obviously aren't as enlightened as I am." What I hear is,

"I refuse to apologize for the mistakes of my ancestors even though you have to live with them." and,

"I've stopped feeling bad about racial discrimination, I really wish you would too." or,

"Obviously your paranioa has nothing to do with past events, you should look to the future!" or my favorite,

"Nigga isn't even used the same way as nigger! I've never heard it used that way in real life so now that the meaning has changed, I don't see a problem with saying it regardless of how black people feel about it. Because it is my decision."

I agree with the statement that racism has become less overt, I agree that there are more ways to combat and prevent raciscm, but racism is most definitely not over. Not until you can convince multiple generations of POC that their worth doesn't lie in stereotypes and assumptions. That their cultural definitions have nothing to do with gangs, violence, jail, drugs, and STD's. Not until we can get hired based on merit without having to assimilate to white standards and norms. Not until the natural crayon in the Crayola box doesn't mean white. Not until white is not the standard, and everything else is exotic, or unusual, or strange. Not until we say so.

And like I said, just hold tight, we'll let you know.


Some blackfolk comments:

Black people ARE goodness and sunshine. There are bad human beings of all shades. You must understand that. A lot of the problem we have is that we do not love ourselves. We make excuses. THis goes into a broader discussion, I think, in that we have no tryue definition of love. I realze this wasn't the focus of your post, but it's important to point out. We are beautful and wonderful people in a horrible situation.

One major thing that people who classify themselves as white have a problem with is the idea that emancipation is not the same thing as freedom. It has a psychological impact, much like being called "minorities" or referred to as "diversity". Again, we are distracted from the truth, which is that we are in a horrible situation and making the best of it.

My favorite conversations about "racism" (because God forbid we discuss white supremacy) are the ones where I say "but I never asked to be here." Because the answer is usually either "well then leave" or "well, deal with it. you're here now." Yet, when you start saying that African people in the Americas are disenfranchised, they ask for examples.

The problem in "the race discussion" in this country is that too many people continue to LIE, and profit from said lies. There is also ignorance, yes, but in the end, aren't people ignorant because they were lied to? And when your currency is lies, being faced with actual truth (like a bunch of brown people walking around that are not supposed to BE here) is difficult. I think that until one addresses the reality of white supremist thinking, it's use as a defnese mechanism, globally, and its manifestation in business, media, and culture, there isn't a discussion to be had.

Discussing "racism" is often a one way conversation, where if you are of African descent, you are on the losing end. We're often the ones trying to show people who classify themselves as white the "err of their ways". But once you illustrate this to them, what are they supposed to do? Most white people I know are in debt. They lease things, live in rented apartments, have loans and are employed with no savings and own nothing but a car that depreciates in value every day. This is not someone who can change "racism". This is someone who is trying to live a dream that they, like us, saw on TV. They hate their lives as much as we hate ours, and so they're "empowering themselves" by acting like you and I are the ones who are inferior.

"We are beautful and wonderful people in a horrible situation."

Oh I agree 100% with that entire paragraph. And I love the parallels you mentioned about talking about race (our problem) and white supremacy (they're problem). The way that whitefolk pass the buck is truly outstanding.

"They hate their lives as much as we hate ours, and so they're "empowering themselves" by acting like you and I are the ones who are inferior."

This is the paradox of whitefolk, which is why this classism thing is going to make race relations even worse. White people cannot deal with not being on top, and they will find somebody to blame for their failure and lack of position.

And I took your last paragraph to be from the point of view of the white people making the excuse. Fighting racism isn't just about money, or class, but about making sure that your personal habits don't further the cause of racism. Which sometimes is really all we ask.

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( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)
Where is the idiot?
Jul. 1st, 2006 07:59 am (UTC)
Re: ^%$#$@@%$^%%^!!!
Everywhere! I updated.
*smh* - i_dreamed_i_was - Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 30th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
What happened?
Jul. 1st, 2006 07:58 am (UTC)
I updated!
(no subject) - leila82 - Jul. 1st, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stickykeys633 - Jul. 1st, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 30th, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
Tell me when the beatdown bus boards, and I'll come join you.
Jul. 1st, 2006 07:59 am (UTC)
Updated! And you'll be the first in line!
Jun. 30th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC)
Jul. 1st, 2006 08:07 am (UTC)
Updated, let me know what you think. I do love that icon, oh Bob!
Jun. 30th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
"And just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't be racist, you know better than that."

thank you.

Sure theres not as many racists as there were long time ago but racism still exist. I think its just more invisible more than anything. Theres people that are still racist but they try to hide it. Back in the day..racism was more visible.

I also laugh at people from ny and cali that say theres no racists there. pls.
Jul. 1st, 2006 08:07 am (UTC)
Yes, yes, and yes. Very well put and I updated to talk about a lot of those things.
Jun. 30th, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
bedtime already? are you disco napping??

dear white people:
when you are interested in mobilizing as a revolutionary force by following the leadership of the people who know where change needs to happen the most,
then you can call yourselves political.
ps--condoleezza rice does not count.
Jul. 1st, 2006 05:08 am (UTC)
ps--condoleezza rice does not count.

Hee! I'm going to reform Condi, that's my mission in life, to get her back on track.

I work overnights so I sleep from about 4-9ish.
(no subject) - stickykeys633 - Jul. 1st, 2006 08:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
I used BELIEVE that racism was becoming less common...I led a sheltered life where people that knew me just didn't say racist things IN FRONT of me because they knew it would set me off.

BELIEVING Felt nice...but it left me unprepared for the reality of it all.

what happened? as if it's any of *MY* business...

Jul. 1st, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
(no subject) - graciebaby_ - Jul. 1st, 2006 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stickykeys633 - Jul. 1st, 2006 08:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2006 01:49 am (UTC)
Well you've got my ear now. What on earth happened, and who's the idiot talking this trash to you??
Jul. 1st, 2006 08:09 am (UTC)
Is updated, my usual ranting!
(no subject) - katiedidtoo - Jul. 2nd, 2006 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stickykeys633 - Jul. 2nd, 2006 05:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - katiedidtoo - Jul. 3rd, 2006 12:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stickykeys633 - Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)

the thing is: white people are clueless. privilege does that to a person. you think everyone has it like you: no race! doesn't matter! all in the past!

but you know as well as i do that that's about as true as saying that any child can be president.

excellent post. i agree 100%. like you said. POC will tell you when the fight is over, ok?

racism is like a virus. it just mutates. it hasn't gone away; it's just become a more covert, virulent strain.
Jul. 1st, 2006 09:37 am (UTC)
A lot of whitefolk aren't necessarily bad, or evil, or even racist in a conscious way. They are just ignorant to it. It's such a side thing that they have to force themselves to see and too many don't make the effort because really they don't have to. You go to the right town you never have to worry about multiculturalism.

It is more covert, and that can be almost as dangerous.
Jul. 1st, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
And just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't be racist, you know better than that.

That reminds me of this thing a girl said to me once. She said "You're lucky that you're gay, because you can be racist and no one would care." I just kind of stared at her and then never spoke with her again.

My point: People are stupid. The majority of white people are extraordinarily so.
Jul. 2nd, 2006 03:56 am (UTC)
"You're lucky that you're gay, because you can be racist and no one would care."

I've heard that said before, and it makes me laugh everytime. Some people, you gotta wonder...
Jul. 2nd, 2006 01:02 am (UTC)
One white woman's opinion
I have thought a lot about this subject. I am willing to say that I still have racist tendencies - not the kind that make me wish any ill on anyone, but the kind that come from not examining my own beliefs deeply enough and the kind that come from ignorant assumptions that I can tell something about someone from the color of their skin.

I am willing to apologize for all the crap white people have done. I figure if white people can look at people of color and ask them questions as if that person can answer for a whole race, I can begin apologizing for my whole race. I'm sorry for what white people have done, the injustices committed, the rapes and murders and slavery. It makes it embarrassing to be white, frankly. I feel crappy about it and I will work to try and correct injustice where I may.

Here's my feeling: when white people have acted as well for 450 years as they have acted badly for the past 450, then we are off the hook. Until then, we have got a lot of making up to do.

If I were another color, I sure as hell wouldn't trust white people. That would be crazy, wouldn't it?

Jul. 2nd, 2006 04:00 am (UTC)
Re: One white woman's opinion
The thing is that we kind of have no choice but to, which it's so important that more white people step out of the privilege box and start viewing themselves from the outside.

Thanks for this comment, and welcome!
Jul. 5th, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC)
This makes me think of a conversation I had with my landlord last night. Now the Boston area, as you might know, is pretty notoriously racist. What I've seen is a pretty entrenched Irish/Italian-American political power structure with WASPs as having cultural/finanical power. It is different than in Maine where I grew up, partially b/c their is not as much economic stratification and their is not as much wealth at stake, so I really notice it. The cronyism is out of control and I regularly work with people in the court system and the state who have their job through connections-- jobs they aren't always qualified for. (OMG, the stories I could tell you) And God forbid their kids actually get charged with any crime--they pull the craziest, most threatening shit (i.e. once I did an eval on a kid whose dad was connected and he tried to call the Commissioner on me for some weird reason, not realizing that i know the Assistant Commissioner and probably wouldn't get chastised)

Well, anyways, I live in a two family house and my landlords live upstairs. My landlords are black and the people diagonally from us are black. There is a guy right behind us who is from one of these entrenched family. This guy behind us forged a bunch of surveys, trying to take land from the two black homeowners and leaving the white homeowners alone. He's been putting my landlord through the wringer and he said, "I don't think he expected me to fight it b/c I'm black" but they are pursuing it in court. And I think there is a truism that people don't realize. I'm not from one of these entrenched families--so I don't receive blatant cronism, but then again, if I owned the house, I can bet that this guy wouldn't fuck with me either. I think there is this everpresent knowledge of power heirarchies and there are always these entitled natures--it's just you get the rage when you make the subliminal, liminal.

I think it's really a well-written post. I think it's hard to tell white people (and I know white people :P) to be conscious about our racial privilege and the history of racism in this country since privilege means no one messes with you-- and in turn, it means that I can either dodge the bullet or have the option of messing up someone elses life. I have held out hopes with kids that I can teach stuff on an individual level--when I think of the whole population of white people, it seems much more problematic.
Jul. 5th, 2006 03:25 pm (UTC)
Baby steps you know. I told someone that the paradox of white privilege is that so many whites come from unprivileged means, but automatically hold a vast amount of power over someone they don't know. I told them that if given the choice of a small town many whites could just hold out and never hear the word multiculturalism ever again.

Thankfully this is slowly changing, but you have generations of old and young who are hesitant to change along.

The thing about your landlord is so interesting and very typical of what I've seen in my area. We even have a special program that teaches POC* how to use the court system to their advantage because many didn't know how to countersue, or defend themselves in case of wrongful accusations and the like.

*They say the program is for everyone, but it is geared towards the minorities.

It's good to see you back! I knew you were busy, but it's always fun having you around!
Jul. 25th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)
This is gorgeous. What beautiful linkages and shining senses.

*cuddles post*
Jul. 25th, 2006 04:53 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it and thank you for participating!
Sep. 4th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
What? I've always seen the "Dear White People" letter and wondered where it was from! How did I miss it from you?
Sep. 5th, 2010 12:27 pm (UTC)
LOL! I had to relive this post, I'd completely forgotten about it!
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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