March 4. I made some much needed edits.
I’d first like to go on the record for not caring one way or the other about the (provisional) name of the new UU White Allies group. I first made a connection with the Gay-Straight Alliances, and in any case they don’t seem to be so keen with the name anyway.
Someone I admire said that one should understand those you oppose well enough that they can recognize themselves in your description. That’s fair and wise. Since the White Allies phenomenon — apart from the name — lends me to opposition, I’ll give them the first benefit of the doubt.
This is a far-from-exhaustive list of what I see claimed, in no order:
- Racism is a/the core crisis of the United States: a denial of our expressed values and the ruin of millions of lives.
- Opposition to racism also is an expressed values for Unitarian Universalists, even though most of us benefit from it.
- It is unfair to expect those who live under racist oppression to do all the heavy lifting to overcome it.
- This action is a function of a faith commitment and is a valid religious expression, not simply a side-interest.
- This commitment to fairness leads to difficult and necessary decision that will discomfort many Unitarian Universalists.
On the other hand, I think there is a feeling by earnest people who don’t feel like they can express their concerns without being bullied, branded a racist, and disregarded. Let me be plain: a White Allies organization could easily stifle dissent, and if it happens I’ll call it out here.
Again, an inexhaustive list of my concerns.
- The accepted theory about white racism itself seems one-sided, and attempts to question it are branded a product of the same racism.
- There doesn’t seem to be a place for white people to make a comment about racism without deference to non-whites, which is an deference to authority that Unitarian Universalists wouldn’t accept in any other venue.
- That there is no solution to this ontological racism crisis for whites; there is, at best, mitigation for sin based on identification with anti-racist efforts. I catch a strong whiff of opaque, hierarchical Gnosticism — again, a kind of personal subordination that Unitarian Universalists would not accept otherwise.
- Anti-racism efforts loom large “at 25” (as seen in the UUA communications) but there isn’t much evidence that the grassroots have caught on to it.
- At the same time, anti-racism has taken on the defacto role of “core” (again, based on how the UUA administration communicates) among those who make day-to-day UUA program decisions. This theoretical base is more in evidence than the programs themselves. (Making the tail wag the dog.)
- All said, I’m not going to loose sleep since I’m also catching a hint of an energy that feeds on itself. In particular, a “true believer’s” emotional dependence that starts with zeal and ends with mania. (Seen before the recent White Allies effort, but among the same constituency.) After this article, I don’t plan to feed it any more.
23 Replies to “Alliances: white or otherwise”
I cant say that I disagree with anything you say —
— but unlike you i havent read much on their website (other than they dont like the name),
The name and the defenders here make me not interest at all in the group – despite my active interest in the topic.
not even enough to check what is really going to be the point: what do they do…
Parades? Booklets? Demonstrations? Consiousness Raising All-Night Teach-ins? Letters to the Editor?
Plenty of organizations out there that have a track record, why join a small one in a small denomination?
Scott – Thanks for your words. I think it was good to see the Allies logic laid out in words that they might consider accurate. There is a huge chunk of truth in them. I for one have no doubt that I benefit from certain forms of white privilege, as well as male privilege; just as my life is hindered by homophobia, and classism (my income would be considered poverty level if I had children).
Your critique #3 and #6 seem to further lay out the concerns I had in an earlier post. Namely that perfect anti-racism is impossible, and that liberal white guilt often leads to little more than an emotional relief (“mitigation of sinful feelings” as you might put it). I would have a better feeling about UU anti-racism and anti-oppression endeavors IF I could point to pragmatic, concrete results in society (and I’m insisting on something more recent than the 1960’s). But I’m hard pressed to think of any such results. Groups of UU’s seem to organize, do a lot of talking, organize some conferences, maybe engage in some 60’s era style protest, and then… what? What is the outcome? Society largely seems to move on without us.
The questions I am left with, for any such endeavor are…
(1) If your religious cause can never achieve the perfectly anti-oppressive society, what is the point? And if this can not be achieved, is your faith in vain? I coincidently ask a very similar question of Quakers regarding the Peace Testimony. If permanent world peace can never be achieved, what is the point, and is the Peace Testimony in vain? I’ve gotten some fascinating answers from Quakers on this one.
(2) What concrete changes do they think the UUA must make? What are the roots of the anticipated discomfort? And have you considered if such changes will only shift oppression upon another group? I can think of a number of zero sum games I’ve seen played out in natural resource conservation, where solutions simply generate a whole new set of problems for a different set of human/plant/animal populations. Ponder the whole puzzle of how to exterminate rabbits (an invasive and ecologically disruptive introduced species) from Australia.
(3) What concrete programs of anti-racism might one engage in, beyond organizing groups, talking about the subject, and protesting? And what are the expected outcomes?
I felt bullied by responses when I tried to make a similar point at CoffeeHouse and FUUSE in the past, but it didn’t decrease my concern over this aspect. The way I understand it, anti-racist folks believe that anti-racism is a spiritual path. I am willing to accept that they feel this way, and that on some level they put anti-racism on a level with Christianity, Buddhism, Neo-Paganism, or other possible spiritual paths. They very frequently describe anti-racism work as spiritual work, motivated by religious feelings and with quasi- (or overt) religious ends. I am willng to explore anti-racism as a spiritual option, and to grant anti-racism a place within the constellation of faiths which co-exist within UUism, and to do my best not to unecessarily attack another’s religious path.But if that is the case, then they have no right to foist their spiritual path on me. If anti-racism is a spiritual path, then as a UU I must be allowed to NOT select it as part of my spirituality. I have to have the right to make my own conscience-informed decisions about which religious activities I engage in and which religious ideologies I accept, critique, or reject–otherwise, we replace a recent and contested racial ideology with our defining commitment to the individual religious conscience. Just as it would be wrong for the UUA or other bodies of UUs to demand that all UUs accept a certain interpretation of Christianity, it is wrong for anti-racism folks to demand that the UUA make major investments in their spiritual path, reorient all young adult activities around their particular spiritual path, and declare that any UU who disagrees with their religious ideology is contemptable.
On the other hand, if anti-racism is NOT a spiritual path, then as a UU I have the right to ignore it and not be troubled for believing that UUism has a religious core that is other than mere commitment to a particular secular ideology about race. In this case, it is wrong for anti-racists to demand that UUism as a religion be beholden to their particular view of something for which UUism was not created, something whch is other than the religious motivation which formes the raison d’etre of Unitarian-Universalism as a denomination and a faith.
I have been around anti-racist circles for my entire adult life, and what I see is a form of Neo-Calvinism. White skin leads to a form of total depravity, regardless of one’s beliefs, behaviors, background, class, or social position. The answer is for whites to accept their utter sinfulness and throw themselves on the mercy of people of color. This can lead to a form of emotional catharsis and a new birth as a white ally–a regenerated person who is convicted of sin but through the grace of an outside power is elected to the kingdom anyway. This results in the division of humanity into two types: the smal number of the saved (anti-racists) and the great unwashed mass of the damned (white people who find anti-racism unreligious and unconvincing). The obvious task then is to try and turn all activities into camp meetings in order to force the greatest number of white people to acknowledge their guilt in the eyes of an angry God/ideologically privileged racial class. Fueled by religious zeal, emotions run hotter and hotter, and any resistence is taken as evil (in the religious sense) and provokes condemnations, personal attacks, and accusations of persecution. The result is an atmosphere poisonous to whites and people of color alike, the significant erosion of pan-racial support for specific activities designed to further racial justice, and the alienation of both white majorities who disagree with the Neo-Calvinism AND white minorities and people of color from the battleground where this clash occurs–which in this case, would be Unitarian-Universalism.
I would consider myself an anti-racist, Jeff, but do not adhere to the form of Neo-Calvinism that you describe. At all.
Is it possible that there is more than one way to be anti-racist?
Even if it doesn’t make a difference in the whole American society, AR/AO is something that our congregations and that UUism needs in particular. The UUA is like over 80% white. Why is that? Shouldn’t we change that? Shouldn’t we atleast try and make a difference about racism?
And Jeff, it’s not Neo-Calvinist. It’s a fact of society. White people in American society have white skin privilege. They also have the privilege not to recognize that racism exists. And it’s not that white folx throw themselves to the PoCs to be saved. That’s exactly the opposite of what is intended because white folx shouldn’t seek AR help from PoC but from other struggling white allies. I don’t like the term white allies, because no white person totally gets all aspects of racism and neither do PoCs. And the white people who are “unconvinced” by anti-racism are those white folx that have been brainwashed by their parents and society to think colorblindness exists and is ok. Racism had come back into society’s focus. INSTITUTIONAL racism. There are some good books that discuss racism in today’s world, I urge you to read them before you continue to complain about anti-racism work, because anti-racism has the best intentions.
Check out “Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Colorblind Society”. I have to read this book for a class I’m taking. Fact-laden about institutional racism today and a discussion about race realists and race consciousness-ists.
Also, “Uprooting Racism” is a decent book (not the greatest ever, but it’s ok) to get started understanding that racism today is the same and yet not the same as the 60s and that we have to change.
Last, “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?” by Beverly Tatum.
P.S. There’s a big difference between being anti-racist and not being a racist….the first one is actively fighting racism, and the second one is ignoring the fact that institutional racism exists, which one are you? (That’s a question for everyone to ponder…)
Bart – You bring up the issue of the UUA being 80% white. I’ve never understood why the racial percentage make-ups of denominations are an important issue. In fact, the racial make up of churches by itself doesn’t concern me much. What concerns me are the motives, practices, and actions of any particular religious community, regardless of its racial percentages.
What does concern me are the motives behind wanting more people of specific races in our pews. I remember Bill Sinkford saying that if we White UU’s want more Blacks in our churches, just so we can feel good about it, then that is not a good motive. Such an action treats people of color as objects for our religious fullfillment. Or do we see specific racial groups as in need of being evangelized? I hope not. I can not view a Hispanic Pentecostal or a Black Methodist as any less beloved by God than any UU. Or are we trying to live out some kind of theology of global trans-racial unity (the Baha’i Faith tries to do that with mixed success). If that theology is what we are trying to live out, then I need to hear that theology explained and unpacked so I can figure out if it is sound or un-sound. Or lastly, has somebody at 25 Beacon done the demographic math, which shows that the White population in the U.S. is shrinking (a a percentage of total population), and so attracting people of color is a mere demographic survival strategy? Again I hope not! From a Humanistic conviction, I believe we should not view people as a means to our own selfish ends, but as fellow humans with ends of THEIR own faith and calling. When those ends are held in common then we should work together and worship together, as our common needs allow. When they are not in common, we should allow for freedom to work and worship each in our own way.
Why is the UUA mostly White? My guess is that we are mostly irrelevant to many non-White racial groups, just as we are irrelevent to the religious experiences of most Whites in North America (and I predict we will become increasingly irrelevant to many gays/lesbians as other denominations open up). AO/AR implies a level of hidden UU racial hostility that I have yet to see much evidence for.
Am I anti-racist? That is the question you want me to ponder. I guess not at this time, because I’m not clear what institutional racism means anymore. When I think of institutional racism I think of my family members, on the Bay Mills Indian Reservation, who continue to struggle with Bureau of Indian Affairs mismanagement of Native assets, which they as First Nation persons are not allowed to manage themselves. I do not think of institutional racism as a church that is White as a legacy of being created mostly by Whites, and which is largely irrelevant to the religious experiences of most of North America’s people (White and non-White).
Bart, stop and think about the sort of posts you write. Do you really want to tell people who don’t see things your way that they are “brainwashed”? Can you see why many people might think your brand of anti-racism is offensive and arrogant? You ask us to ponder a question, but perhaps you’ll do us the favor of pondering one in return: is it possible, even theoretically, for a white American UU to come to different conclusions than you about race/religion/society/UUism/anti-racism, and for those conclusions to be valid or respectable?
CopperQueen, I definately think there are multiple ways of being anti-racist. The one which is ascendant in UU circles is the Neo-Calvinist model I laid out, though. I haven’t seen any evidence that it actually leads to positive results; I have seen lots of evidence that it leads to self-righteous anti-racists who think that everyone else but them has been brainwashed. That doesn’t mean I think you as an individual adhere to this model.
Derek said, “Why is the UUA mostly White? My guess is that we are mostly irrelevant to many non-White racial groups, just as we are irrelevent to the religious experiences of most Whites in North America (and I predict we will become increasingly irrelevant to many gays/lesbians as other denominations open up). AO/AR implies a level of hidden UU racial hostility that I have yet to see much evidence for.”
I hear that but I also know many People of Color who, once they heard about UUism, really enjoy it because it means they have a space to be religious but not deal with the Christianity forced on them in the past in really horrible situations (Slaves and American Indians, for instance). But we, generally, have congregations in white neighborhoods and especially in upper-middle class neighborhoods – which can make it awkward. Most people go to church in their community – which is one way for communities to grow. When you have to go across town and be with a group of people that are different from you – it might be a little awkward, so you stay at home. I think UUism is relevant to more people but is too often shielded from them because “if they wanted to join us, they would” which clouds outreach.
I don’t think Bart is saying people he disagrees with are brainwashed. I think his point is that one is either a passive “not racist” or an active “anti-racist”. Because of the link between anti-racism, and nebulous definitions of institutional racism, I simply remain unconvinced about the AO/AR agenda.
Scott not BitB – Now that I think of it, I do see some of what your writing about. I have encountered a strain of Latin American Religious Humanism, often found in urban populations, that would find UUism very attractive. Our lack of bi-lingual resources makes it hard to connect. But is that racism? Or laziness on our part?
As for the Native American side of my family (a mix of Chippewa and Cherokee), they would not say Christianity was forced on them. Many of the Chippewa became Christians through the peaceful efforts of French Jesuits. More abusive treatment came later, as New France became British territory, and then American manifest destiny led to American abuse. My relatives have mostly chosen to be Roman Catholics. We may also have some folks who practice a traditional First Nations religion. Roman Catholicism is rather plastic in its ability to accomodate indigenous cultures and beliefs. I have fond memories of going to a mass, and experiencing burning sage wafted from a clay bowl with a dove’s wing (in place of the more Euro-American ritual of incense in a metal censor).
Between choosing Catholicism, or choosing a Frist Nations faith, the choice of UUism seems irrelevant. The Native American communities I’ve been linked to, tend to prefer forms of Christianity interpreted through Native eyes, or traditional religions that need nothing from UU’s (or other Euro-heritage faiths).
March 2nd, 2006 at 3:44 pm
“And the white people who are â€œunconvincedâ€ by anti-racism are those white folx that have been brainwashed by their parents and society to think colorblindness exists and is ok.”
I used the term brainwashed because I have had used against me in regards to my AR beliefs. It was an emotional word I used that I shouldn’t have. I should have used the term “conditioned”. I messed up, I acknowledge that.
And Derek, I think your idea of institutional racism (BIA controlling First Nation funds) IS institutional racism. And I believe that the AR/AO we use in YRUU is meant to address ALL institutional racism in the United States and Canada, but on a personal level. Because for one to understand what institutional racism is, one needs to know how it affects them. And racism affects all people, white folx and PoC (People of Color), but white people (from my personal experiences which includes me) need to first be educated on how white privilege actually benefits them. Because since white privilege is such an established institution, it seems invisible to us. This is why I think the current AR/AO efforts are good.
I’d really like to know what people think the AR/AO agenda is. Because it seems a lot of people are hostile to AR work and I can’t figure out why. I have heard people say it focuses too much on guilt. But I think the guilt and dealing with the guilt is a personal thing.
I used the term brainwashed because I have had used against me in regards to my AR beliefs.
You’ve underlined something that disturbs me about ARAOism. It truly is about “beliefs.” There seems to be something of a ARAO born again experience required. It requires something of a leap of faith, in such ontological goblins as “whitenes” and “white privilege.” And the evangelical-like certainty that the ARAO way of talking about race is the only legitimate one.
I’m certain that in my own life I’ve benefited from something you could call “white privilege,” and that saddens me. But that doesn’t make “white privilege” real, something that must be believed in for my social salvation.
“Whiteness” isn’t real. It’s a social fiction that we are taught, first as children. I remember well the first confusing “teaching experience” I was given in “whiteness,” and other painful ones after that. These did not beneift me or privilege me. They hurt, warped, and scarred me.
Thandeka’s article on “The Cost of Whiteness” lays all this out quite nicely. I’d encourage ARAOists to read through this article and take it to heart. Race is not as simple—not as black and white—as ARAOism would lead us to believe.
“Whiteness” is a Lie (in the Walter Wink/Scott Peck sense) created to keep “white folk” and immigrant groups (candidates for “whiteness”) in line by placing them over and against PoCs. Do privileges come with it? Certainly. But so do many, many costs. Calling “whiteness” only (or primarily) a privilege tells only half the truth and thereby gives power to the Lie that ARAOists seek to defeat in the first place.
First are you speaking for “YA” or some organization, are you a member or a leader?
If a member how much do you feel your stated views are the same as the group at large?
I assume the fact that you mention YRUU means you are “young” – still in school?
What experience have you had with other “AR” groups? (and i assume “AR” means Anti-Racism, and i would guess that AO means Anti-Oppression, although that one is less obvious) – Are “AR” groups in the UUA your only experience with “AR”?
Besides “Consiousness Raising”, what have you done to help encourage “anti-racism”?
And when you do consiousness raising, what exactly do you do?
What are you goals? What do you personaly want to accomplish? What do you personaly feel you can accomplish?
If you are young enough to still be in YRUU, how familiar are you with the dynamaics of “AR” work done in the 1950s-1970s (and later, and earlier) ? How familiar are you with the literature on the subject? Both classic and recent? What do you feel is the connection between historic “AR” and contemporary “AR”? What is your take on the 1960s UUA BAC controversary?
What do you know about group dymanics, the history of social action groups? Why do some groups make it and some fail?
What helps groups thrieve? how about the psychology of groups?
I could go on and on, at which point Scott will point to his “housekeeping rules” and suggest I post elsewhere.
I hope I recall it as BAC correctly!
Steven, I’m getting a mixed tone in your questions to Bart. Will you draw out — even if you go long! — the questions behind these questions?
Chutney, you’re pointing (as several others have) to the fact that AR/AO in UU circles, especially young UU circles, has become a belief system, which some would argue comes complete with a cosmology, dogmas, forces of ontological good and evil, signs and signifiers, and a plan of salvation. This is a serious problem over and above whether AR/AO beliefs accord to some extent with reality. When a spiritual belief system begins to impose itself on UUs, with a strongly evangelical tone and harsh words for UUs who opt not to participate (including potential penalties for ministers/ministerial candidates), we have a troubling situation. Regardless of the particular content of the belief system, there is no possibility that such a program can succeed in UUism: it strikes too strongly against the feelings and inclinations of a large number, most likely the large majority, of UUs. We simply value our freedom of conscience and ability to choose our spiritual beliefs too firmly, and there are too many UUs with too many differing personalities and personal backgrounds to expect any belief system to capture most of them. But such a self-righteous, mission-oriented movement can do considerable harm to communal good will and race relations within UUism.
Bart: You didn’t address the question that was put to you: “Is it possible, even theoretically, for a white American UU to come to different conclusions than you about race/religion/society/UUism/anti-racism, and for those conclusions to be valid or respectable?”
Steven: Bart is a college student.
Scott Wells wrote: “Steven, Iâ€™m getting a mixed tone in your questions to Bart. Will you draw out â€” even if you go long! â€” the questions behind these questions?”
probably because I am mixed up in asking my questions! And asking questions – and getting people to think about the answers is my day job! Of course, usually one asks one question which leads to the next…
But to talk to folks, you have to be on the same wavelength, or at least the same ballpark. So as Bart asks us questions (and i was one of the people in the thread – although I was asked by name), i needed to know where he was coming from, and what his experiences were, to know how to frame my response. if he was elderly, he would have different experiences than if he was in high school, and my response would be directed toward his experiences….
>First are you speaking for â€œYAâ€ or some organization, are you a member or a leader?
I might respond differently if he was a leader or spokesman – I would certainly feel his views are “official” then
>If a member how much do you feel your stated views are the same as the group at large?
wanting to get a little more information on the group, although certainly this is a “feelings” question. Does he generally feel his views mirror those in the organization.
>I assume the fact that you mention YRUU means you are â€œyoungâ€ – still in school?
while this might be an “agism”, im looking for his actual experience in Empowerment and helping and in dealing with suffering. the difference is in what has been experienced, as a frame of refrence.
>What experience have you had with other â€œARâ€ groups? (and i assume â€œARâ€ means Anti-Racism, and i would guess that AO >means Anti-Oppression, although that one is less obvious) – Are â€œARâ€ groups in the UUA your only experience with â€œARâ€?
there are other empowerment groups out there – if someone has been with another group and moved to (or added) this one, it tells us more information. How is it better than a larger group?
then a vast change to the real nitty-gritty:
>>Besides â€œConsiousness Raisingâ€, what have you done to help encourage â€œanti-racismâ€?
>>And when you do consiousness raising, what exactly do you do?
>>What are you goals? What do you personaly want to accomplish? What do you personaly feel you can accomplish?
If we cant achieve a color blind society, how do we achieve “anti-racism”? (note to self: is AR even the same as empowerment?) Consiousness Raising is good, hopefully we all will raise our awareness level as a result of these threads for example – but some consiousness raising techniqes work better than others (some dont work at all) – yeah, not very good flow of questions, is it?
then another quick change of questions, back to being able to feel him out, to understand his views. i give folks who went to Selma a few Brownie points, but realize that our experiences dont make us right; it just frames our awareness. Does he know what’s worked in the past, what hasnt and why things didnt work (although plenty of folks can and will disagree on why things dont work – thus my questions on the UUA and BAC. We we told to read a book, i want to know what other books have been read on the subject. King? Cleaver? Baldwin? SPLC? i can be persuaded either way on historic AR and contemporary AR –
>If you are young enough to still be in YRUU, how familiar are you with the dynamaics of â€œARâ€ work done in the 1950s-1970s >(and later, and earlier) ? How familiar are you with the literature on the subject? Both classic and recent? What do you feel is >the connection between historic â€œARâ€ and contemporary â€œARâ€? What is your take on the 1960s UUA BAC controversary?
changing focus again:
:>What do you know about group dymanics, the history of social action groups? Why do some groups make it and some fail?
>What helps groups thrieve? how about the psychology of groups?
Back to leadership question: if someone knows how groups works, and feels that what their group is doing fits in what the way groups work, then I dont need to discuss why I dont think something will work – we might disagree, but i dont need to discuss the basics –
I also thought about and took away questions about ‘guilt’ and how it impacts on us in social contexts…
I wrote my questions on a spur of the moment – as i do most comments (i write and post or write and delete) —
certainly i should have done a better job of grouping them logicaly…
Everyone agrees that “White Allies” is a less than great name.
I was one who thought it was worse than that – its an offensive name –
its so shockingly offensive, that its difficult for me to understand how the name happened.
maybe this is a factor of my age, maybe my late 60s understanding of AR has blinded me to the new 2000s realities.
maybe im just an old fuddy duddy standing in the way of real progress. that’s possible.
maybe Im susposed to be offended to be cleansed of my errors? That was certainly done alot in the late 60s-70s!!!
Slightly more seriously, Ive read enough of Scott’s writings to be reasonably clear of the context – not perfect, but reasonably. I may agree or disagree, but I understand the context. I was not understanding Bart’s context (although the postings since my last one are cleared some of my confusion), my questions were designed to give me the context.
However the only important questions (and yes, YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary!), are What are your (or the groups) goals? What do you personaly want to accomplish? What do you personaly feel you can accomplish?
I’m not sure how to answer your question. Because there are many different conclusions and beliefs in regards to racism held by white American. There are some views that don’t incorporate the whole picture of society or miss use research and studies (racial realists and the Thernstroms are good examples). Their views may be valid or may not be. Depending on how they came to their views about racism depends whether or not they are valid. Respectable is completely different than valid though. Respect is a deep issue for me. And someone’s views may be valid, but they may not be respectable. I have issues respecting someone who discounts my views of anti-racism without contemplating them.
All in all, it depends what those views are and how they came their conclusions. For instance, a white UU that says racism doesn’t exist anymore or that institutional racism is a myth and they think this because they themselves have never witnessed it and they also won’t accept any proof of racism…that’s not necessarlily a respectable view to me, nor is it valid. I’ve met folks with many different beliefs about racism, and some are valid and some have truth.
You say you believe you have benefited from white privilege, and it saddens you but that you don’t think you have to believe in white privilege to have “salvation” (I’ll take this as meaning anti-racist). My experience with AR is that the issue is not “believing” in white privilege but understanding and recognizing it. In your post on your blog, that you fleshed out, you make references to instances where whiteness has hurt you (your “costs”). That’s the issue with racism, EVERYONE is hurt by it. It also happens that one group benefits more than others too. Race was at first a social fiction, but it’s become a social staple. It’s imbedded in every fact of life in today’s society, and becoming colorblind won’t solve it because colorblindness is an unachievable goal now. I read this book “Inside Toyland” (Prof. Christine L. Williams, Univ. of Cal Press) and in it, Williams worked at two separate toy stores. She notes the racism, sexism, and classism inherent in retail and consumerism. Another book worthy of noting is “Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Colorblind Society” (Brown, Carnoy, Currie, Duster, Oppenheimer, Shultz, and Wellman, Univ. of Cal Press). This book is basically written in response to various racial realist writings, and is based mostly of facts and data. It’s too dense to go in to (it covers many facets of society).
I’m pleased that we seem to be on pretty much the same page. As I tried to say in my reply to sofia on my post, I hope that the stereotypical ARAOist I imagine is a fiction. And the nuance in your last comment here is giving me more hope that it is a fiction.
I can only echo what your saying about racism and retail. I live just outside the edge of white gentrification in Atlanta. As our neighborhood has grown more white, we’ve seen more Targets and Lowes and BestBuys. As you go further out, you end up with only pawn shops and liquor stores. Coincidence? I think not.
Could you say more about racial realism? I think I know what it is, but I’d like to have a better idea.
Chtuney: could you expand on your pawn and liquor store comment…
… is this race, or class?
Some of both, but mostly class.
The stretch along I-20 east of downtown Atlanta has historically been black working/middle class, with it spreading further out each year into the suburbs just like the rest of Atlanta. The housing in the “pawn shop and liquor store” neighborhoods is solidly suburban in style and certainly nice neighborhoods. But they are obviously black neighborhoods, and there are few places to shop without going to a whiter part of town.
woops. Meant to say “mostly race.”
Racial realism is a set of thoughts on racism held by both conservatives and liberals. It is the belief that talking about and being race conscious only creates more racism. Racial Realists also claims to attribute failure to individuals instead of looking at the whole of society. I feel like the racial realist point of view ignores a lot of blatant racism and misuses facts. They will also make their case and then slide in the occasional comment that says institutional racism is a factor, which makes me question their intent.
Atlanta has a huge history of racism. The railroad (and now the highway) split Atlanta into white and black. Gentrification is also a huge factor in racism, like white flight. It’s an interesting cycle. Whites will flee the city into the ‘burbs. And then when people of color start moving into the suburbs, white people will leave (driving down values) and go back to the city. Especially if “arty” districts are created or what not. Boston is a prime example of gentrification. Roxbury is a lot nicer now with home values shooting up.