Tim Wise on CNN Newsroom, 8/9/10 – Key Points for Effective Racial Dialogue

Here is Tim Wise’s appearance on CNN last week to discuss the key points necessary to any effective race dialogue.


50 Responses to “Tim Wise on CNN Newsroom, 8/9/10 – Key Points for Effective Racial Dialogue”

  1. Point #1 – Tony Harris would do us a greater service if he encouraged viewers to seek out, engage in or organize dialogues on racial and ethnic diversity in their own community.

    While a discussion on race on CNN is helpful, the essential point has gone unmentioned by Tony Harris and Tim Wise, namely that honest race dialogue in America needs to happen in person, in diverse groups. It’s not effective to passively watch talking heads on TV engage in the dialogue. It’s like trying to improve your baseball or tennis skills by watching a game on TV. You can get the idea but you can’t develop your own skill unless you engage in it and practice yourself.

    I appreciate that Donna Brazile, at around the 5:10 mark in her clip, alludes to this, when she says we need to ask, “What have we done since the (2008) election to try to improve racial dialogue in our community – racial reconciliation – you know it starts with us, it doesn’t start with anyone else…. How do we interact with our (Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, etc.) friends?”

    Point #2 – It’s counterproductive, if you want an effective race dialogue (i.e., that builds interracial communication, understanding, trust and friendship) to launch right into discussing topical areas such as those mentioned by Tim Wise and Donna Brazile (discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism, etc.). Those topics are indeed essential to a discussion of race in America and can be brought in at the right time, but participants in an organized race dialogue need to get to know each other first on a personal level, and build some trust and bonding, before diving into the discussions of what’s wrong in America and how to fix it. The best racial dialogues are multi-session, e.g. 3-5 meetings or more, with trained facilitators who establish groundrules to create a safe space for people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race.

    The lack of equity, mutual racial understanding, friendships and acceptance is so embedded in our society that at least several in-person facilitated meetings are necessary to make a dent. Diverse dialogue participants need the time and space to get beyond the usual superficial levels – including TV discussions – at which we usually discuss race in America.

    Tony Harris and CNN… if you want to do this right, develop a community race dialogue guide, make it available online, publicize it and then go to communities who are doing it, tape some dialogue and interview the participants.

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  2. Jeff, that’s a pretty thoughtful response.

    But I think that it’s ultimately misguided. True, you do have to HAVE the personal in there. In the multi-cultural classes and discussions I’ve participated in over the years, we definitely talked about the personal, quite a lot. But ultimately, I think it’s very easy for whites to just talk about race as a personal thing, about how we feel discriminated against, the problems our ancestors had, etc. For one thing, it makes us think we’re all in the same boat. Everyone’s felt some kind of discrimination, and most people have had nasty elements of their past. Certainly most whites, descended from various immigrants, know what it’s like to lose connections to culture.

    But we’re not all in the same boat; or, more accurately, we’re in the same boat but on different decks. So it’s important that white folks be able to think about white privilege and race as structural. At the least, they have to UNDERSTAND, as Bob Blauner famously pointed out, why BLACK FOLKS think that way. You can’t have a dialogue on race without having an idea of what it means, and for white folks, what it means is rather more limited than for black folks.

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  3. Jeff, I am curious as to whom would get to decide who the facilitators should be and decide what the ground rules are? I have been part of such discussions and often the “rules” and ground work are laid out from a privileged point of view or shall I say almost paternalistic one. Much of that “honest dialogue” becomes a session to dampen the feelings of the party with the least amount of authority.

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  4. How is racial dialogue possible while white people are oppressing PEOPLE OF COLOR? Even as I type this, PEOPLE OF COLOR are being killed by white people in PALESTINE, in New Orleans, in London, etc. PEOPLE OF COLOR are slaving away in factories in China to provide goods and services to white people. PEOPLE OF COLOR in Japan are mutilating themselves with plastic surgery at the behest of their white masters.white people in Israel are planning genocide against PEOPLE OF COLOR in Iran.

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  5. Racial dialogue with white people might be possible, if the following steps are taken:

    1. UNLIMITED IMMIGRATION OF PEOPLE OF COLOR to white ruled nations: white ruled nations (Israel, Amerikkka, the UK, France, Germany, etc.)must allow unlimited immigration from PEOPLE OF COLOR.

    2. RADICAL REDISTRIBUTION: All jobs, land, political positions, resources, must be redistributed in white ruled nations on a racial basis. Furthermore, this redistribution should be conducted on the basis of world wide demographics. For example, if BLACK PEOPLE make up 13% of the world’s population, they should receive 13% of the jobs, resources, and political positions in Israel.

    3.VOTING POWER: All PEOPLE OF COLOR should have the power of enhanced voting. For example, each BLACK PERSON’S vote in Amerikkka should equal 10 white votes.

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    admin Reply:

    this is frankly absurd…i agree with immigration openness because I basically reject borders, but the strict proportionality is a bit silly. I mean, there is no reason to believe that black folks would be 13 percent of the population in every country, per se. In some places it would be much higher, and in some places much lower. I believe in pretty strict goals for economic representation, but they have to be based on some realistic assessment of local and regional demographics. For instance, to say that Hawaii or Fiji or American Samoa, has to have the same percentage of black representation in each industry as the black global population is insane. Black folks would not have been represented in that percentage in such places even in the absence of racism. So, assessments have to be based on realistic understandings of what the representation levels might have looked like, absent white supremacy, not just based on abstract numbers alone. And to give enhanced voting rights is crazy.

    First off, why the 10:1 ratio? If we were trying to equalize voting power we would multiply by a ratio that would get the black vote up the to level of the white vote, which would be 5.5: 1, based on population differences. Where did you come up with the 10:1 ratio? It makes no sense. Fact is, if we merely had a true one person one vote (with no racial weighting) as opposed to what we have now, which is an electoral college system that weights the vote in favor of whites, and a disenfranchisement system that excludes ex felons (dispro of color) from voting, we wouldn’t need the weighting you advocate, as the effect of black and brown votes, in addition to antiracist white votes, would control election outcomes. Sadly, we have a system that is dispro stacked towards whites, rather than one person one vote, and thus, the problem…

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  6. Thank you, Frederic and Tia, for engaging in this discussion. I should reveal that I co-founded and then was director of the City-Wide Dialogues on Boston’s Ethnic & Racial Diversity from 2002-2008. We assembled a steering committee of 17 people, 9 of whom where People of Color. We were sensitive to White people dominating and kept ourselves conscious of, and resisting that, not with complete success but enough to provide a worthwhile experience to most diverse participants in the 4-session dialogue series according to surveys. Each group had about 20 participants, roughly half of Color and half White. We trained over 100 facilitators and always paired two co-facilitators who were of different racial backgrounds themselves. There was an agenda for each session, which was open enough to allow and invite each individual’s thoughts, feelings and experiences. At the end of the four (and sometimes 5) sessions, some groups opted to continue meeting on their own for further dialogue. Some built new friendships across racial and ethnic lines that continue to this day. You have to start somewhere and we are woefully bad in America at engaging each other in mixed groups on the topic of race. Our dialogue program was “Race Dialogue 101” but considering that most people don’t even get that far, I think we helped in the cause of smashing white cluelessneess about white privilege and structural racism. We did it by approaching it somewhat indirectly in assisting people to listen to each other. The facts of racism and gradual understanding begin to emerge if folks of Color and White folks sit and talk long enough. We helped them sit and talk long enough, at least to begin that process. There are some articles about the City-Wide Dialogues under “Diversity Dialogues” on my website here: http://www.civicdialogue.net/media.html.
    The program recently has been revived under the auspices of the YWCA of Boston.

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  7. RE: RADICAL REDISTRIBUTION: If you feel that such a policy is too radical, that local conditions should be prioritized, how about this:

    Using Amerikkka as an example, all jobs, resources, political positions, land, etc., should be apportioned out on the basis of the racial demographics within the nation itself, with the needs of PEOPLE OF COLOR being prioritized.Hence, BLACK PEOPLE would have to make up at least 13% of the faculty at every university.BLACK PEOPLE would, of course, be allowed to comprise more than 13% of any field or institution, as,where PEOPLE OF COLOR are concerned, their percentage of the population represents the floor, not the ceiling. white people, on the other hand, would have their numbers in any given field strictly reflect their demographics.This is merely just desserts, as all white people are complicit in the subjugation of PEOPLE OF COLOR.

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    admin Reply:

    In theory, I can certainly make the case that what you propose here could be just. Although there might be a few problems. To begin, we might not be able to say with any sense of logic that, in the absence of white supremacy, black folks would have been exactly 13 percent of the population throughout the entire U.S., and thus, in a position to get 13 percent of the jobs in, say, Butte Montana. Would the numbers of black folks in Butte have been bigger than they are now in the absence of WS? Sure, probably so. But exactly 13 percent? Probably not, or at least, it is certainly arguable. So the problem is, the U.S. is a huge country, with millions of companies, schools, etc. To actualize what you are advocating here would require the relocation of most black people in the country to areas they don’t currently reside in. Is that really something you think should happen?

    I think for me the point is: there is nothing unjust, inherently, about the notion of enforced proportionality, and I think any efforts by any institution to bring about something like what you propose are valid (especially when the representation is so clearly below the levels even of local demographics). But in practice, there is simply to make this strict level of representation work across a nation as large as this one without having to make black folks uproot themselves and have to move. That is just one of several problems practically with the proposal.

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  8. Jeff: Point well taken. I definitely think that, initially, it’s important to break the ice by just getting a multicultural group into a room. Unfortunately, if you just mention some hypothetical political issue, then it not only has the result of you dominating the conversation before it’s even begun, but you also have to deal with the fact that, by and large, white folks are pretty comfortable with theory and viewing these issues intellectually (in my experience, at least). So I think you’re right in that workshops are much more likely to arrive at problems organically, especially after they’ve been prompted, and go in directions they need to go that you didn’t anticipate, when you don’t set a pre-fab agenda.

    I’d just say that, in my experience, it’s also important that someone prompts the ideas of white privilege, institutional racism, etc., at least as background material, before letting people loose.

    Malik: Your proposals are insane. Sorry, man, but that’s the only thing I can say in response.

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  9. Frederic,
    In response to your post, I don’t disagree with you about introducing material on white privilege and institutional racism but the timing is critical if it’s a community dialogue to build communication, trust and personal relationships among a racially mixed group of strangers. I would not use such materials as background material prior to the dialogue beginning because it risks putting some participants on the defensive from the get-go and some on the offensive, jeopardizing the success of the dialogue. One other point, we never “let people loose,” i.e. it’s not a free-for-all, where you can shout down or insult or debate. The point about groundrules and facilitation is not to put people in a straightjacket but to create a safe space where people of whatever racial background feel free to talk about their anger, fears, hurts, curiosities, bewilderment, etc. It may sound counterintuitive, but having structure and good (and flexible) facilitation in a dialogue doesn’t close down discussion, it actually opens it up.

    I’ll share below a piece I had in the Bay State Banner, Boston’s weekly serving the Black community, on March 19, 2009 (http://baystatebanner.com/Opinion58-2009-03-19). It was about Attorney General Eric Holder’s Black History Month 2009 speech at the Department of Justice in which he said, among many other things, that “…in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

    Holder’s speech got lots of headlines for about two weeks. The bad news is that it was only because he used the word “cowards.” The huff ‘n puff right wing got their jingoistic noses out of joint because he had called Americans cowards. They ignored the context and his whole message, of course, and only focused on that one word.

    My point in sharing this opinion piece is that while we must expose all Americans to the factual history of slavery, Jim Crow, the details of persisting racial discrimination in all our institutions and our mutual stake in eliminating it, there is still no substitute for engaging each other on a personal level to build trust and relationships. Racism is so embedded in our culture and deep within us, whatever our skin colors, we need some help to delve beneath superficial levels and unproductive debating to open our minds and hearts. That’s what I believe well-conducted race dialogue can do.

    “Racial discussions still important, even after Obama’s election”
    By Jeff Stone, Bay State Banner, March 19, 2009

    It’s rare when the Bay State Banner’s editorial page and the Boston Globe’s Derrick Jackson are aligned with Jeff Jacoby, also of the Globe. But they were all recently in sync in rejecting any urgency to Attorney General Eric Holder’s call for frank talk on race in America.

    The Banner preferred to focus on President Barack Obama’s election as evidence that diligent effort “can overcome racial discrimination” and said black militants were delighted to hear Holder’s words (“Time to take note,” Editorial, March 5, 2009). Jackson, in a March 7, 2009, Globe column, said Holder’s statement was “largely needless, given that the nation now has a black president,” and Jacoby opined on Feb. 25, 2009, that we’ve been “jawboning about race for two centuries” and “more race talk is the last thing we need.”

    With due respect to the apparently dialogue-averse Banner editorial board and Globe journalists, I side with Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., who in the Banner’s own March 5 Roving Camera said, “This speech started a long-needed discussion of race in America.”

    There are two major points I believe the Banner, Jackson, Jacoby and many other commentators have underplayed: that interracial relations in the United States remain, to our detriment, arms-length at best, and that Holder’s frank talk does not have to center around resentful debating and accusations about each other’s deficiencies.

    Look closely at Holder’s speech and you see the uncomfortable truths we really don’t want to face. He cited our self-segregation in “race-protected cocoons,” and the “polite, restrained mixing that now passes as meaningful interaction.” Can anyone dispute this? He talked about how away from work hours, “on Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not in some ways differ significantly from the country that existed almost 50 years ago.”

    A wise colleague, William Smith of Emerson College’s Center for Diversity in the Communication Industries, once told a group that the true test is “amity.” Beyond respect, full inclusion, equal opportunity and economic parity lies the still distant horizon of interracial friendship. Unless you are one of the fortunate few who grew up mixing freely, socializing and forming enduring friendships with people of other races, the hurdles of ingrained social suspicion and segregation are hard to surmount.

    I’ve been a participant in and organizer of numerous dialogues around racial, ethnic and religious diversity that have allowed me to step into others’ shoes, open my heart and recognize my ignorance and stereotyping. Our social separateness is so profound that I believe formal dialogue with facilitators is the only practical way for a racially mixed group to engage each other productively, going beyond superficial levels to talk honestly about painful experiences and build trust and new relationships.

    It’s also important to know that frank discussions, even about an emotion-laden, sometimes inflammatory subject like race, do not need to include angry finger-pointing or name-calling. That is not to say there aren’t uncomfortable moments in a dialogue or that sparks don’t fly occasionally. But with good facilitators and ground rules, people agree to listen more than they talk and everyone eventually gets to say what they need to say.

    We won’t reach Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” until the walls between us come down. Each of us, if we so choose, can take personal steps to make it happen. This is the message I take away from Eric Holder’s speech.

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  10. Dialogue is definitely needed but the biggest problem that needs to be addressed is education. Education has created a cultural gap between Blacks and Whites. To say that we just need to give more opportunities to minorities is pointless. The modern workplace embraces the diversity of qualified applicants not only to fill affirmative action quotas but to adapt to a new global market. Today we live in a more or less, separate but equal environment where there is an expectation of how one should act and speak based on the color of one’s skin. Until this changes we cannot move forward. Remember, education is power.

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  11. Jeff: “I think we helped in the cause of smashing white cluelessneess about white privilege and structural racism.”

    I’m curious… What was the impact on the POC involved in the dialogue?

    I’m asking because, while you mentioned how some groups decided to meeting for further discussions and some new cross-racial friendships were, there still seems to be a pretty asymmetrical result and, perhaps, asymmetrical objective. White cluelessness is addressed but no such improvement among POC was mentioned.

    And when people use terms like “racial reconciliation”, what do they (and you, in this case) mean? I’m asking that because this recent so-called Ground Zero Mosque con-troversy, along with the Dr. Laura situation and the Shirley Sherrod fiasco before it, has me questioning what people want when they call for ‘healing’ and reconciliation.

    It seems pretty clear to me that, when Mr. Wise and others mention “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism, etc.”, they are speaking directly to what has to be healed/reconciled which always seems to get lost when things get shifted into getting “people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race.”

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  12. I am a PERSON OF COLOR.

    I have been reading this thread with great interest. I agree that Malik’s racial apportionment scheme is, lamentably, unworkable. Therefore, I propose a simpler method for achieving racial justice, (all proposals are limited to the USA) :

    1. The USA must have open borders and allow unlimited numbers of foreigners to enter into the country.

    2. Any people who are in the USA are automatically citizens, with the right to vote.

    Since the overwhelming majority of the people who will immigrate to the USA under this plan will be PERSONS OF COLOR, the country will have a majority POC electorate within, at a conservative estimate, 10 years of its implementation. this POC dominated electorate will be able to pass any laws that it desires, as the white minority will be completely impotent. Indeed, the political structure of the USA will then resemble South Africa or Zimbabwe. Whites will have no say at all. The beauty of this plan is that many elements on the right (libertarians, corporate interests, the Wall Street Journal)will actively support it. Little do they suspect that they will be cutting their own throats, as a POC ruled USA will mark the end of conservatism and the death of the Republican party as a political force.

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    Tim Reply:

    I have no problem with open borders or citizenship as you describe it. It would not, however, mean that whites were completely powerless, because not all people of color view things the same way. Whites actually have lots of power in SA, not so much Zimbabwe, because Mugabe is a deranged thug, unlike the leaders in SA, but it would certainly shift the power balance, and that would be a good thing…

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  13. I am a PERSON OF COLOR.

    “deranged thug”: So, Mugabe is a “deranged thug.” Is he a “deranged thug” in comparison to Thomas Jefferson (rapist, POC killer,slave owner), Andrew Jackson (genocidal mass murderer of PEOPLE OF COLOR), FDR (creator of mass internment camps for POC), Harry Truman ( slaughter of hundreds of thousands of POC in nuclear attacks), Menachem Begin (butcher of countless thousands of POC), Benjamin Netanyahu (jailer of millions POC, plans the genocide of the Iranian people), Alexander the Great (the butcher of Asia, killer of untold millions of POC), etc.

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    Tim Reply:

    I never said he was more or less deranged than any of those. I have written about all of those other people’s thuggishness and murderous ways (well, except Alexander the Great I guess). But it is not a rebuttal to say “what about these other killers?” in response to the mention of one killer in particular. That is not an argument. There have been many deranged thugs through history, and the vast majority of them have indeed been white. I’ve never said otherwise

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  14. Wow, Tim. Calling a Person of Color a “deranged thug?” I guess that you have forgotten that terms like that are a trope of White racists everywhere. Heck, even Gandhi was called mad by his White oppressors.MLK got called every name in the book by white racists, as well. I guess that internalized racism is still there.You still have a lot of issues to work out.

    Don’t bother finding some pet Persons of Color who have said worse about Mugabe. During the Raj, the British could always find some Uncle Toms who would decry Gandhi.

    Wow. I still can’t believe that you said that.

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    Tim Reply:

    I am having a hard time understanding why someone like Mugabe, who butchers black people regularly and was a CIA asset for years, is off limits for such an appellation. If the problem, is that “thug” is often used to describe black people generally, such as in the U.S., OK, I can understand that criticism I suppose. I could have said butcher, or dictator, or whatever I guess. I certainly feel under no obligation to act like he’s a hero, or a good guy, or to not respond when someone else posts something suggesting that what we need is someone like that in the U.S. If condemning Robert Mugabe proves that one is operating from internalized supremacy, and not really against racism, then I don’t know what to tell you. If that’s the standard, white supremacy will never, ever be destroyed. Unless those of you who talk a lot about Mugabe decide to start acting like him… So, ya know, cool, set it off. Good luck with that…Yeah, that’s what I thought…

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  15. Talk about a LOL moment,a white guy calling a MAN OF COLOR a “deranged thug.” Hey Tim, maybe you should first look at a guy named Benjamin Netanyahu before you start spouting off. Remember the old saw about pointing out the mote in your brother’s eye while neglecting the beam in your own?

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    Tim Reply:

    @ FREE PALESTINE – and perhaps you should look a bit more closely at my positions. Fact is, I have never written any essay or spoken against or about Mugabe or other leaders of color in public presentations. On the other hand, I regularly call out Israeli leaders, and Zionism itself. I am an anti-Zionist Jew, and have bashed Netanyahu (and other, more “dovish” Israeli leaders) for years. So, I do exactly what you say I should. But the idea that a white person can never call a black leader a deranged thug, even when they are one, is just essentialist silliness. I agree we can’t start there, and I think we have to be very careful to whom we cast this aspersion: but Mugabe seems to qualify. And like I said, I don’t make a big issue out of it. I’ve never said anything about him in a speech, or article, not would I. But the issue came up here, on the part of someone who was suggesting that he was some kind of hero, so I offered my opinion. That’s all.

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  16. Hi nquest – thanks very much for your questions.

    — Re impact on POC — One of our main objectives was to break down barriers to interaction among people of different colors in Boston. Too much social segregation along with residential segregation here. We wanted people to develop confidence in talking about the elephant in the room, to be able to talk about issues that involved racial overtones or undertones and not avoid or sweep under the rug. Also to acquire the vocabulary to do so. We, Black and White and other, in this country are generally taught to avoid talking about race in mixed company because it’s “impolite” or the conversation may get ugly. But you can talk about and should talk about it. One way that works is a formal, facilitated dialogue such as I have described. It would be great if people could just sort it all out on their own informally but we haven’t been very good at it, as Eric Holder stated. For those who want to give it chance, a formal dialogue series can be rewarding, and I’m talking about POC as well as White. Surveys we did showed very high percentages (90+%) of all participants would recommend the experience to a friend and the open-ended comments also indicated that people of all colors found it productive. I am not saying everyone did. Some felt it was superficial and only touched the tip of the iceberg or had other criticisms. Others felt it was great to finally have the chance to talk about it. We had over 1000 people take part in about 60 dialogue series, each series having 4 or 5 two-hour meetings. To me, even those that thought it didn’t go deep enough were giving a compliment in a backhanded way – they were saying they wanted MORE dialogue, which is another good outcome.

    Quick answer on “reconciliation” – for people to feel comfortable talking about serious issues and socializing with people from other racial groups. That would be one good indicator. It doesn’t happen cross-racially very much.

    Re what has to be healed and when – Of course the injustices have to be remedied. Are you suggesting we can’t try to build good communication, trust and friendships until racial injustices are all fixed? I think that’s backwards. Work on both! Together!

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  17. Tim, you say that “Whites actually have lots of power in SA, not so much Zimbabwe, because Mugabe is a deranged thug, unlike the leaders in SA…” So, whites have little power in Zimbabwe, because Mugabe is a deranged thug?Hey,if it takes a deranged thug to reduce white power, I’m all for it! It seems to me that South Africa could use some deranged thugs in positions of leadership!

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    Tim Reply:

    Actually, the lack of white power in Zimbabwe (which actually isn’t what I meant to criticize, though I realize the sentence read that way), hasn’t exactly been the only issue with Mugabe. Mugabe’s power is about and always has been, Mugabe. It hasn’t empowered black Zimbabweans one iota, so I can’t imagine how the Zimbabwean model would be one to look towards for guidance, frankly. Mugabe talks about killing white people. But just about everyone he actually kills is black.

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  18. Mugabe “was a CIA asset for years,…” So what? If the CIA wants to support a man who has destroyed white power, more fools they. Last time I checked, the WALL STREET JOURNAL supports open borders. I guess that they don’t realize that that means a POC majority USA, which means the end of the Republican Party.

    “Someone like Mugabe, who butchers black people regularly…” Yeah, and Ho Chi Minh killed more POC than he did whites. History is like making sausage, Tim: if you want to enjoy it, don’t watch it being made.

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  19. Jeff,

    I’m not sure you understood my initial question. For one, you didn’t address the rather explicit issue I presented in terms of the lack of symmetry of, as you say, ‘outcomes.’ Again, you mentioned how the dialogues directly benefited Whites over and above the trust building and ice breaking with the “smashing” of white cluelessness. I wondering what direct benefit over and above trust building and ice breaking do POC get out of those dialogues.

    In this case, I was clearly suggesting, if not emphatically stating, that the outcomes and, possibly, the objectives of the dialogues were unequal if there was/is not some added benefit for POC other than “finally having a chance to talk” like the one you readily observed for Whites (again, the “smashing” of their cluelessness).

    As far as any implicit suggestions I was trying to make by defending Mr. Wise (and Donna Brazile), I was making a statement of fact, at least as far as I see it. And what did I say? Please read that part again because, if anything, I was speaking to and suggesting that the very object(ive) of cross-racial dialogue is apparently different or, as I said, gets shifted.

    It rather clear clear to me that getting “people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race” is a completely different conversation than one that’s focused on healing or reconciling, to use your term, “racial injustices.” To be clear, I see getting “people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race” to be beside the point and definitely so when the very thing POC want to get out of the dialogues are those things that will reconcile or reckon/deal with the on-going and historical ‘racial injustices.’ It would seem that would be why you perceived the POC participants wanted “MORE” dialogues. The discussion, apparently,a never really covered what they wanted to talk about, perhaps the very reason why some POC found the dialogues superficial.

    Ironically, that’s not how you described the experience or the impact/outcome for Whites. Again, you were quick to mention how Whites were “helped” and, presumably, directly benefited from the “smashing” of white cluelessness which was an extra-added benefit over and beyond cross-racial trust building, etc. But, for some reason, you still haven’t mentioned how POC were helped or what particular benefit or positive impact they experience beyond one all the participants, white and non-white, experienced. So, to put it crudely, when we score positives from the dialogues you described, we get the following:

    White = 2
    POC = 1

    The existence of such a glaring degree of asymmetry and inequity in outcomes/impact/focus makes the bottom line issue here about the apparent differences in primary, if not overall, objectives between your vision of what constitutes “effective race dialogue” vs. Mr. Wise’s, etc. The rank order of what’s talked about first is irrelevant. What and, considering the crude score, who you’re having the dialogue for is the issue.

    Perhaps the problem is the difference between what some call “human relations programming” vs. anti-racism.

    On another note, maybe you can help me to understand how getting White people to “talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race” leads to, as you see it, next level dialogues about ‘racial injustices’?? I guess I’m having problems understanding what the content of those dialogues are/were about if discussing about “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism” were somehow out-of-bounds or too toxic to discuss too soon. (White anger, fear, confusion and disappointment about what?)

    And, exactly, how was White cluelessness addressed — on things like white privilege and structural racism, no less — if discussion/dialogue about “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism” were off-the-table at that point? That is, how do you talk about White Privilege, let alone structural racism, without referencing or outside of the context of “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism”?

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  20. “If the problem, is that “thug” is often used to describe black people generally, such as in the U.S., OK, I can understand that criticism I suppose.”

    YES i think this is the problem. was that really so hard to see initially? i agree, bringing up the other killers was kind of useless, but wtf tim? all you had to do was acknowledge that “thug” was a bad choice of word considering the connotation – no one was demanding you list the merits of mugabe. instead, you offered FOUR posts of defensiveness, and didn’t even directly respond to the critiques of the specific word choice the commenters raised until the third.

    you really don’t think its effed up for a white guy (one who has built a career around being THE white anti-racist, no less) to refer to a black man as a thug? regardless of his policies (you mentioned yourself how several other words would have sufficed). really?

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    Yep, I think it was a messed up choice of words. Shouldn’t have done it. Won’t again.

    [Reply]

    Dominic Scimeca Reply:

    I’ve just read the above comments. And normally I wouldn’t jump in.

    But Seriously : You guys have got to calm down.

    If you were to read one of Tim’s books or listen to an interview, or even read up on Mugabe you’d probably realize what Tim meant. (the worst part is, I pretty sure you do know what he meant)

    There are many issues which need to be brought to light, serious issues which have lives at stake. I don’t think this “Mugabe, deranged thug” thing is really worth anyone’s time.

    If we focus a bit more on Unity, on building each other up, and getting things done based on our shared understanding of the racial situation, we can get so much positive accomplished. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves.

    [Reply]

  21. Jeff: I think NQuest has an interesting point in response to your material. I definitely think the same is true: There’s a way in which making spaces “safe” for multi-cultural dialogue is actually a way of protecting whites, who put a much higher value on “safety” because they have it. Discussions about race are going to be messy, but they’re usually messy one-way: Whites are able to dominate the conversation, by virtue of numbers, superior access to information and theory, etc. etc. So I think that we need to embrace the idea that, while we’re not going to tolerate personal attacks or violence, that the conversation WILL be messy and dangerous.

    For example: You say that you wouldn’t want to share some material on white privilege because it puts some participants on the defensive from the get-go. Problem is, female and non-white participants, research and experience show, are already ON the defensive. So you seem to be sometimes operating from a naive place of innocence that, frankly, doesn’t and can’t exist. Introducing that material, as the multi-cultural courses I’ve been involved in has done, is the only way to get white people to even know that these are things that black folks experience and think. Otherwise, many white people are honestly baffled by the notion that racism is anything beyond prejudice and meanness. It’s very hard for people to have a dialogue without at least being introduced to the idea that the white and black definition, or the “mainstream” and academic definitions, of race and racism differ.

    Further, you get into a problem when, if you DO end up introducing the material, then white folks get on the defensive ANYWAYS, only now they feel like you lied to them about how the meetings are going to go. At least getting the political stuff out of the way initially has the advantage of full disclosure. The only alternative is to just talk about our feelings or frustrations, which is wonderful for whites because we all have those.

    You bring up Holder’s speech and point out that the right focused simply on the word, “cowards”, and not the context. We should expect nothing better from them. But imagine if they had tried that crap as regards slavery or Jim Crow or something. It would have been political suicide. So what you think is a problem of trust, I think is a problem of information and worldview. Whites often don’t have the history or worldview to understand why such a claim makes sense and is at the least uncontroversial even if it’s wrong.

    [Reply]

  22. Nquest,

    I regret that you have such a negative impression of the type of dialogue I have tried to describe. Maybe it’s my lack of precision and detail in the description.

    First, there was not “such a glaring degree of asymmetry and inequity in outcomes/impact/focus” that you cite. Both POC and White participants gave this multi-session dialogue series experience high marks in the surveys we did. Those who wanted more or deeper dialogue included both POC and Whites, not just POC as you seem to think.

    Second, I am surprised you feel that making a dent in white cluelessness benefits only Whites and not POC? Given that Whites control the power structure and are responsible for the inertia of not addressing and therefore perpetuating persistent racist structures, how can it not benefit everyone if more White people become more aware of racism?

    You speak of the missing “added benefit” for POC. Can you be specific about what kind of added benefit(s) you’d like to see from a dialogue series?

    The hope of such dialogues, in my mind, is provide a place and a way for racially mixed groups to sit and be with each other, get to know each other personally, then get used to talking explicitly about racial issues. From that can emerge a willingness for action and reform in many people that didn’t exist before. For POC, it may be hope that didn’t exist that one can work with White allies. For Whites, a new consciousness of unearned privilege and a motivation to support and work for policies that provide equal opportunities and reduce racial disparities.

    All the topics that you mention are fair game for discussion. I don’t know if you’re familiar with organizing and facilitating dialogues. There is a process that groups go through of trusting, bonding and gaining growing confidence to explore the difficult issues. As a general rule, you would not want to bring up the most controversial issues in Session 1 with a group of strangers. Please remember that most people are not prepared – like you, Frederic and Tim – for example, to jump right in and talk about race and racism with a group of strangers.

    [Reply]

  23. “Second, I am surprised you feel that making a dent in white cluelessness benefits only Whites and not POC? Given that Whites control the power structure and are responsible for the inertia of not addressing and therefore perpetuating persistent racist structures, how can it not benefit everyone if more White people become more aware of racism?”

    Jeff: Her point is that, while that effect is real, it is an ANCILLARY effect. The idea is that we’re going to help whites so then we can help blacks. I agree with you that I don’t see an alternative to that, but we should be very clear that even in THAT moment, we are embracing white privilege.

    I think that it’s difficult to imagine POC thinking that the people in their group could be white allies if the people in these groups are introduced primarily non-politically.

    That having been said, there’s a selection effect at work. People who are going to take a multicultural studies class, or a seminar, or some such, are going to care at least enough to be doing it.

    You are totally correct that most people are not ready to talk about race and racism. Even in multicultural studies classes at elite schools, there’s certainly some difficulty around the topic. Ditto for gender, economic privilege, etc. But I think that the only way to get THROUGH that is to be honest up front and to start giving the material, then discussing it and letting people react to it.

    You seem to be very concerned about and aware of all of these issues. I think you’re correct that the first session should be, after laying out the proposed topics for each day, getting people to know each other, tell some stories, etc. And that process will continue holistically for a few weeks. But certainly I think for full disclosure there should be a syllabus or schedule about where the directions are going to go.

    Then again, just making sure that in each room, there’s an educated POC or white ally with information and research on hand, could accomplish the same goal.

    [Reply]

  24. Jeff: Nquest, I regret that you have such a negative impression of the type of dialogue I have tried to describe.

    Hmm… I don’t recall making a statement about my impression of the dialogues one way or the other. Like Frederic, whose sustained questions/issues regarding the type of dialogues you’ve described haven’t resulted in you classifying his questions/issues as “such a negative impression”, I’ve raised questions and raised issues. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    The ironic part about it is you just characterized my posts in that manner after Frederic (1) encouraged you to consider my “interesting point” and (2) explicitly stated that “you seem to be sometimes operating from a naive place of innocence that, frankly, doesn’t and can’t exist.”

    It’s clear my initial post was a response to your reaction to the CNN segment and, in particular, your comment about Mr. Wise’s and Donna Brazile’s perspective.

    Beyond that, you still seem to be struggling with the obvious lack of symmetry/equality in the dialogues you described. Mentioning how “Whites control the power structure” yada, yada does not address the specific question of the impact the dialogues have on the POC who participate in them. The math is clear and represents exactly what you yourself represented as the positive outcome from the dialogues, again, with the crude score of Whites=2 and POC=1.

    And I do recall saying the following:
    Again, you mentioned how the dialogues directly benefited Whites over and above the trust building and ice breaking with the “smashing” of white cluelessness. I wondering what direct benefit over and above trust building and ice breaking do POC get out of those dialogues.

    The “Whites control the power structure” idea hardly describes a direct benefit POC get from participating in the dialogue. Even if the views of the Whites who participated were radically changed, in order for you to be able to say POC benefited from that change you would have to be able to (1) show how the White participant(s) were, in fact, part of the White power structure and were direction changing, influential members of said power structure,(2) show how that White participant(s) was responsible for a specific pro-POC policy or practice change or was, in some important way, instrumental influencing the change and (3) show how the dialogues you facilitated were the primary cause of the White participant(s) push for the policy/practice change. That’s something you have failed to do, so far, so my question still remains with the wapsided math in tact. At best, what you described is an indirect benefit which, frankly, can’t be determined and would hardly show up in the evaluations or immediate feedback you get from POC at the end of a dialogue or series of dialogues.

    Jeff: You speak of the missing “added benefit” for POC. Can you be specific about what kind of added benefit(s) you’d like to see from a dialogue series?

    Don’t put that on me. It’s clear from your own representation of the dialogues that the crude score in terms of how much people benefit from the dialogues is: Whites=2 benefit points; POC=1

    Beyond that, your question seems odd given how I’ve already stated my own personal view — and assumed it to be widely shared and representative of the points Mr. Wise and Donna Brazile made that you dismissed so casually. I believe I was specific and clear when I said:

    To be clear, I see getting “people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race” to be beside the point and definitely so when the very thing POC want to get out of the dialogues are those things that will reconcile or reckon/deal with the on-going and historical ‘racial injustices.’ It would seem that would be why you perceived the POC participants wanted “MORE” dialogues.

    Jeff: “Please remember that most people are not prepared – like you, Frederic and Tim – for example, to jump right in and talk about race and racism with a group of strangers.”

    That’s hardly relevant to questions I’ve posed. Maybe can be past this disconnect if you could help me understand your perspective by addressing the last two paragraphs in the post I made before this one. Specifically:

    1. White anger, fear, confusion and disappointment about what?
    2. How was White cluelessness addressed if discussion/dialogue about “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism” were off-the-table at that point?

    [Reply]

  25. Frederic,
    There is a pair of trained co-facilitators in this dialogue model, usually one White, one of Color. If the group strays far from reality, they bring them back to it. There are facilitator agendas for each of the four sessions (and optional fifth session) that allow a a lot to come out but it is indeed Race Dialogue 101 and not a training on Racism or a workshop on advocacy or how to make change. There’s room and value for all these approaches. The main things, I think, is that they increase awareness, ability to talk together about these issues, motivation in support of change and motivation to take or continue action or any combination of the above. All the above fight the inertia of the status quo, i.e. the continuation of the racist system in which we live.
    Jeff

    [Reply]

  26. Wow….seriously??? Mical, Adam, and Free Palestine, I mean seriosuly?? I know you got to be kidding. I am a POC and i am hypersensitive to comments made by irresponsible (unconsciously and consciously racist) whites, and this is due to years of blatant discrimination in different countries that i have lived in, so I have reason to be. But I mean come on…calling a deranged thug, a deranged thug is racist?? Really?? Even for me that is extreme…but hey I guess everyone has their own experiences that defines them. I just think that detracts form the paramount task ahead of defeating white supremacy.
    On a side note Tim must be the bigger man, given that he apologized anyways even when it didn’t merit an apology.

    [Reply]

  27. Frederic: Her point is that, while that effect is real, it is an ANCILLARY effect. The idea is that we’re going to help whites so then we can help blacks. I agree with you that I don’t see an alternative to that, but we should be very clear that even in THAT moment, we are embracing white privilege.

    That’s precisely the point and, as a person of color (man, I hate that expression), I can’t help but see it. It’s like that kind of White privileging screams out at me, so I want to make sure everyone is as conscious of it as I am (and I’m Black/African-American and male, BTW).

    In the interest of dialogue, I’ll avoid making any comment about the way Jeff expressed his surprise… I will push the envelope and highlight question Jeff’s own remarks raises:

    Given that Whites control the power structure and are responsible for the inertia of not addressing and therefore perpetuating persistent racist structures, how can it not benefit everyone if more White people become more aware of racism?

    I’ll go out on a limb and bet that the kind of dialogues Jeff promotes didn’t begin once he get involved in them. I’d venture to say those kind of dialogues have been on-going in one way, shape or form for quite some time in the U.S. I’d also venture to say quite a few Whites have had their cluelessness smashed to little or no measureable effect to the racial status quo because all White participants are not a part of the power structure, per se, and, as far as I can tell, the dialogues don’t have a movement building orientation.

    [Reply]

  28. Jeff: The main things, I think, is that they increase awareness, ability to talk together about these issues…

    And that’s the rub. Considering what appears to be the equal or disproportionate focus on the “anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about races” that Whites have (disproportionate either due to the time used to arrive at “smashing of White cluelessness” or by considering White anger, etc. about race of primary relevance in the first) the question arises: what are “these” issues and in what context are “these” unnamed issues talked about?

    Jeff has already mentioned how discussion on topics like “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism, etc.” are off the table initially, though he hasn’t mentioned how any of the dialogues even after “more” dialogue occurred have progressed to the point of taking on those topics. So it would appear as if “these” issues Jeff refers to aren’t even considered in the context of topics like “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism, etc.” which, again, begs the question:

    How was White cluelessness addressed if discussion/dialogue about “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism” were off-the-table at that point?

    [Reply]

  29. Jeff: it is indeed Race Dialogue 101 and not a training on Racism

    Hmmm… That’s odd when captions CNN used were “Getting Real On Racism” and “Racial Inequality Is Dangerous To All” — i.e. the very impetus for and purpose the racial dialogue. So your posts have always been about a different objective all along although you tried to present them as being one in the same for most of this thread.

    [Reply]

  30. Nquest and Frederic,
    In an earlier post, I supplied a link to a webpage – http://www.civicdialogue.net/media.html – where you can open up pdf’s of newspaper articles in which African-American participants are quoted about their experiences in the Boston City-Wide Dialogues. I don’t know if you mentioned your reaction to them. The two articles I call to your attention to are “Boston Globe: Talk About Race” and “Bay State Banner: Talk Anything But Cheap.” I would be interested in your comments on how people described their experiences.

    [Reply]

  31. NQuest: I imagine there’s an order to events. In the multicultural classes I’ve attended, we didn’t start with any political information, just introduced each other. But we got radical information within a week, it was just about getting to know each other first. The question is the timing: When do you change the topic to the hard issues of race?

    Also, I wonder what you think the alternative would be. If you’re going to host a multi-cultural, multi-racial discussion group, white people are likely to not have as much information about pervasive racism and discrimination. Nothing can be done about that. And teaching them is going to bring them more information than the black folks attending. It’s like having a class where half of the students are a grade level behind: You have to play a lot of catch up, and yes, that does benefit those students disproportionately, but it is still in the interest of everyone in the class to participate. POC = 2 and whites = 1 in this calculation, but everyone is further ahead, and you can’t get to everyone getting 5 or 6 and people of color getting 10 until white folks are on board.

    As far as white fear, confusion, disappointment, I could say that they fall into a few categories:

    a) Resentment that they think is racial but is really economic. Many white people have legitimate challenges. And they hear a mythology of welfare mothers, of black folks getting off easy while they struggle. So the elites have successfully used blacks as scapegoats for economic resentment. Tim recalls that that was the case even for some of the hardcore Duke supporters: They were primarily angry at what they perceived as racial problems (immigration, welfare, etc.) but we know are actually economic problems.
    b) Confusion at their racial identity. The cost of getting the ticket to white identity was leaving behind cultural identity and practices. In multi-cultural classes, I’ve successfully gotten whites on board when I talked about the things that they lost from being white. Suddenly they remembered the way their Italian grandmother cooked, or the lost languages, or the folk stories, or the dances, that they’ve lost connection with.
    c) The cost of privilege. The psychology of privilege is profoundly messed up, so talking about that is useful.

    Jeff: I suppose I understand that orientation, but I just wonder how much time really has to be spent on pure racial dialogue and how much value one has after a particular point. I sort of view it as riding a bike: You eventually have to get them on the bike and pedaling. So even for basic racial dialogue, let ALONE trying to DEAL with racism and white privilege, you STILL need to have ideas of what racism, white privilege, discrimination, etc. ARE, because those are the lived experiences of non-whites and not the lived experiences of whites. I think Race Dialogue 101 still has to have the basics of Race 001 for people to even get close to seeing eye to eye.

    [Reply]

  32. Jeff, I don’t recall you mentioning the following from the “Talk About Race” .pdf (my emphasis):

    “Since there wasn’t much representation of people of color, class issues were a big topic. They talked a lot about the escalating cost of living being brought on by the high cost of real estate in South Boston,” she said. “Some people there recognized that although they were white, they hadn’t had all the opportunities other whites had.”

    Beyond that, I have no idea why you want to take attention away from your disregard of the CNN captions that set the context for this thread (i.e. “Getting Real On Racism” and “Racial Inequality Is Dangerous To All”). Perhaps you could be more forthcoming and explain what you’re trying to get at or what specific statements by African-Americans you want me to respond to and why.

    Frederic: If you’re going to host a multi-cultural, multi-racial discussion group, white people are likely to not have as much information…”

    And there you have it. The obligatory Tim-ism from a Q&A, emphasis on Mr. Wise’s second point:

    Q: In terms of fighting for racial equity, what specific things do you think whites can do?

    A: First, recognize that racism is a white problem, and a problem that all whites must address…

    Second, don’t worry so much about interracial alliances and organizing. First, organize around racism in the white community; with friends, colleagues, family members, neighbors. I know we all want to work together, and build alliances with people of color, but unless we spend just as much time working on cleaning up our own shit, intraracially, then no long-term alliances are going to last…

    —————————————–

    Now, that may not apply to Jeff’s dialogues in Boston especially since the goal seems to be more about fostering better human/race-relations given the history of racial strife in that area. No one is poo-pooing that. I’m just saying that’s a different effort with different aims.

    Frederic: “As far as white fear, confusion, disappointment…”

    All those things you mentioned sound like internal conversations Whites could/should have within their own community amongst themselves which, ironically, was more or less what happened in Jeff’s dialogue that Jewel Cash, the person quoted above, attended. Beyond that, when Jeff talked about creating “a safe space for people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race”, I’m seeing, perhaps, the same “messy and dangerous” parts you alluded to where Whites express their racial resentment full of pernicious racial stereotypes and scapegoating (e.g. blaming affirmative action, etc. for the employment or educational opportunities they felt they missed or where cheated out of). It’s not like POC aren’t consciously aware of how Whites feel in terms of their racial resentment.

    Frederic: In multi-cultural classes, I’ve successfully gotten whites on board when I talked about the things that they lost from being white. Suddenly they remembered the way their Italian grandmother cooked, or the lost languages, or the folk stories, or the dances, that they’ve lost connection with.

    Hmmm… Imagine that. Notice how you said you were able to influence that kind of reflection and recognition. I suppose you could argue the multi-cultural class provided the setting for that kind of conversation but one would think the white-to-white dynamic would produce the same result in a predominantly/all white setting.

    That aside, you’re reinforcing the idea that the dialogue, at least on those topics, is all about benefiting Whites. For some reason, you didn’t make the argument that working Whites through their misplaced/misdirected racial resentment/angst, their identity confusion and the cost of privilege is of interest to POC. You didn’t mention how discussing those things would increase POC’s understanding in any way similar to how Whites would benefit, understanding-wise, from hearing about POC’s experiences/perspectives.

    In fact, the exploration of White resentment, identity confusion, etc. you presented doesn’t have POC in mind or involved. And I have no idea what you we trying to say with the numbers and equations you used (“POC = 2 and whites = 1 in this calculation” ??? “everyone getting 5 or 6 and people of color getting 10” ???).

    [Reply]

  33. “All those things you mentioned sound like internal conversations Whites could/should have within their own community amongst themselves which, ironically, was more or less what happened in Jeff’s dialogue that Jewel Cash, the person quoted above, attended. Beyond that, when Jeff talked about creating “a safe space for people of difference races to talk openly about their anger, fear, confusion, disappointments, etc. about race”, I’m seeing, perhaps, the same “messy and dangerous” parts you alluded to where Whites express their racial resentment full of pernicious racial stereotypes and scapegoating (e.g. blaming affirmative action, etc. for the employment or educational opportunities they felt they missed or where cheated out of). It’s not like POC aren’t consciously aware of how Whites feel in terms of their racial resentment.”

    Except that it’s important for POC to be in on that discussion to. Because if POC start expressing some of the same concerns, suddenly it becomes clear that welfare moms can’t be the problem. By process of elimination, it has to be major inequality and power.

    My point of reference here are the activist discussions I’ve had with POCs and classes I’ve taken with mixed groups of Asians, blacks, Latina/os, and whites. My experience is that it was useful for everyone to be in a group and talk about all the related issues, so everyone knew where everyone else was coming from.

    Take the loss of culture. Asian folks have had to deal with it too: Many Asians take English names to assimilate, a practice which many younger Asians are now getting frustrated with.

    “Hmmm… Imagine that. Notice how you said you were able to influence that kind of reflection and recognition. I suppose you could argue the multi-cultural class provided the setting for that kind of conversation but one would think the white-to-white dynamic would produce the same result in a predominantly/all white setting.”

    But we had to preface that discussion by talking about white privilege and institutional racism. Starting at the loss of culture, ironically, ends up making no sense. The cool thing about it is that you play Aikido with their anger. The discussions of white privilege and racism bring up some defensiveness among many even liberal and progressive whites. But then when you start talking about the cost of that racism historically, suddenly they’re angry not at the POC in the class or the theorists, but at structural racism.

    “That aside, you’re reinforcing the idea that the dialogue, at least on those topics, is all about benefiting Whites. For some reason, you didn’t make the argument that working Whites through their misplaced/misdirected racial resentment/angst, their identity confusion and the cost of privilege is of interest to POC. You didn’t mention how discussing those things would increase POC’s understanding in any way similar to how Whites would benefit, understanding-wise, from hearing about POC’s experiences/perspectives. ”

    I didn’t because you didn’t ask me to. You were asking what legitimate white grievances and confusions were out there. I listed off many, noting how it was important to

    How do POC benefit from being involved in this topic? Well, if white folks are talking about the loss and marginalization of their culture, what a perfect time for black folks to mention a loss of a connection to Africa, being dislocated, and being culturally marginalized and stigmatized. If we talk about economic problems that people are facing, then POC are able to vent about their own issues.

    Ultimately, having everyone talk about where they are and why they care gets everyone more interested in struggle and resistance. If POC are seeing whites who are starting to get it and, more importantly, care enough to actually go through the process of getting it, then maybe they won’t lose hope and will have white allies with which to work with.

    The multi-cultural studies classes I took had a specifically activist bent, asking us to give a presentation on a particular activist action we could do on campus. I fail to see how this doesn’t benefit POC.

    “In fact, the exploration of White resentment, identity confusion, etc. you presented doesn’t have POC in mind or involved. And I have no idea what you we trying to say with the numbers and equations you used (“POC = 2 and whites = 1 in this calculation” ??? “everyone getting 5 or 6 and people of color getting 10″ ???).”

    White people have more power in our society than black folks. They have less knowledge.

    When you bring them into any class on white privilege and race, of COURSE they’re going to benefit disproportionately because no matter how advanced the class is, most POCs (particularly blacks in my experience, sometimes Asians and Latina/os can need to be brought on board too) are far more aware of these issues than whites are. It’s like having a reading class that intends to get everyone to a 12th grade reading level but has a group at 11th grade level and a group at the 8th grade level. Some of the instruction has to be remedial, which for the 11th grade readers will be practice and reaffirmation and for the 8th grade readers will be really difficult catch-up work.

    But the class still brings everyone, the 11th grade readers and the 8th grade readers, to a 12th grade level. Everyone benefits.

    So once we get whites to be less clueless and able to participate, suddenly we have a lot of information and cultural memory that we didn’t have access to before that benefits everyone.

    More importantly, once you do the remedial work to get whites on board, you get them involved in the struggle. And since they have so much more institutional power and access, they give the movement more per capita. White allies are going to be essential to really changing structural problems in our society since they are the majority, just like it’s difficult to imagine women substantially getting at patriarchy without reaching out to a good number of men. Having the white allies join the movement gets us to a place where we can see racism alleviated, which will benefit blacks more than whites.

    So those are the two rationales. You DO want your class to be specifically oriented towards making sure that POC get a SPECIFIC benefit. But I generally can’t see any way to structure a class oriented at getting people educated about issues of race and activism and so forth without having white folks disproportionately benefit. I’d love to hear if you have a solution…

    “Frederic: “If you’re going to host a multi-cultural, multi-racial discussion group, white people are likely to not have as much information…”

    And there you have it. The obligatory Tim-ism from a Q&A, emphasis on Mr. Wise’s second point:

    Q: In terms of fighting for racial equity, what specific things do you think whites can do?

    A: First, recognize that racism is a white problem, and a problem that all whites must address…

    Second, don’t worry so much about interracial alliances and organizing. First, organize around racism in the white community; with friends, colleagues, family members, neighbors. I know we all want to work together, and build alliances with people of color, but unless we spend just as much time working on cleaning up our own shit, intraracially, then no long-term alliances are going to last…”

    Okay, so you might not like the particular IDEA of a class, but then Jeff isn’t really doing something wrong but something you’re not interested in by definition.

    More importantly, you have to remember that Tim DOES lead multicultural and multiracial groups, speeches, etc. I think he’s just saying that white people have to be ready to do a lot of internal work, which is absolutely true. But I really don’t see a problem with structuring a class where POC get something and also help white people get something.

    [Reply]

  34. Frederic –
    Many good points above. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    butchrebel Reply:

    @Jeff Stone:

    You take the time to thank Frederic for his “many good points” and never, at any point, response to Nquest’s last post for you.

    There are SO many problems with that — including:

    You’re a white (at the very least) middle class man that runs an organization that facilitates intergroup dialogues aimed, among many things, to support people of color(?) by raising white people’s awareness about their racial privilege and power, create allies in the struggle against racism, presumably with the end of goal weakening, and eventually eradicating, institutionalized racism/white supremacy.

    Yet, after a series of back and forths between you and (someone that (I, a person of color, presume) is (also) a person of color , a person that is providing you with an opportunity to increase the efficacy of your project by prioritizing POC’s needs and concerns — you choose to ignore that person by not responding to her/his direct, simple questions, and respond ONLY to a white man (who engaged both you and s/he).

    Why, then, should I, a person of color — a member of the group you ardently state is prioritized in your anti-racism project –accept that assertion, much less attend your dialogues, or promote them, when clearly, you’re not willing to self-analyze, and interrogate your own racism and racial privilege issues *past* a certain point?

    Surely, Jeff, you’re aware that, historically and in the present day, people of color continue to endure institutionalized racism by lowering our standards for white folks — many of us (I believe most of us — we both know I can’t produce measurable evidence of that though empirical and historical evidence supports my assertion) appear to, and are prepared to expect less from you [white folks] than we actually do, and should, especially if the goal is creating and supporting white allies in the struggle against structural racism/oppression. Because, frankly, white people’s inordinate, invisible racial privilege has made them so damn sensitive, and defensive.

    In my irrevocably subjective view, the best white ally is one that is ALWAYS willing to self-interrogate, and privilege the perspective of the person of color, despite damage done to their ego, at the expense of criticism from white family, cohorts and colleagues, and loss of concrete opportunities (that they access, in large part, because of oppression of all forms, including POC’s racial oppression). White allies do not necessarily do this because they agree with the person of color’s statements, but because that white person understands that power relations are always at play — that people of color often go unheard and invalidated, or are far less likely to be heard and validated, that the POC’s views ared fundamentally undervalued in a context of institutional racism — so the psychological wage in material gains extracted from white privilege, and force of THAT dangerous habit is a racial privilege that needs to be surrendered without an internal fight, that, for a devoted, consccious white ally, ought to be easily relinquished.

    Put simply — adhere to one of the fundamental principles of effective white anti-racist practice: Do FAR more listening than talking. Give the POC the RESPECT of respond to their queries, which is a tacit validation of the person of color’s perspective, question, and worthiness in a world hellbent in convincing them otherwise.

    [Which means that neither TIM, nor FREDERIC, should have responded to MALIK the way they did in the first place. Tim should have never referred to Malik’s statements as “absurd.” Frederic should never have called Malik’s view “insane”.

    This is the point where the internal dialogue of a POC of color, like me, who is willing to educate white people, who sees white allies as vital to anti-oppression struggles: WTF???

    How does a rhetorical attack on a person of color’s views, views shared by many POC, to be sure, forward the goals of anti-racism? And make you white allies?

    It doesn’t. Not in that moment, anyway.

    Because, and it should go without saying, for Malik, the views you denigrate are informed by a very particular racialized (gendered, classed, etc) historical experience, a particular racialized cultural setting, a particular, legitimate subjectivity. The Malik’s of the world should be supported, and depending on the context, challenged RESPECTFULLY not broken down intellectually — especially not by those who’ve had the privilege of accessing the technology, scholarly and activist networks, academic resources, and finances that permit them to gain the knowledge they use to intellectually and psychologically batter that person of color in the first place.

    Tim, your comment came off as pompus — the style of communication was unnecessary. And obviously, as evidenced by ensuing comments from POC on this post, not appreciated by the POC who follow your work, who support you by throwing their hard earned funds your way, when they buy your books, pay for tickets to your speaking events, pay you thousands of dollars to speak at the schools they attend, etc — POC who routinely defend your white ass to the legions of white people who’d rather not see you on CNN, who’d rather you just shut-up and leave them alone to luxuriate in their privilege and benefit from their racial denial.

    Tim, you are needed. So needed. You MUST *BE* better than all that — and, yes, because of your very public job, because you profit, literally AND directly, from white people’s racism (which will keep you employed for life), and POC’s/white allies’ desire to be rid of it — you must be better than that ALL THE TIME].

    In anycase, JEFF STONE, Boston is a very manageable commute from where I currently reside. Previously, I thought I’d check one out, and/or recommend them. I will still recommend them — to white folks. And I am disapponted in you, Jeff.

    Now, you have a chance to repair what I perceive to be your mistake. I hope you choose to do that rather than to remain silent, which only barely conceals your defensiveness (masked as smugness — “why doesn’t s/he [Nquest] ‘get it’; I won’t ‘waste’ any additional energy on her/him,” thereby collaborating (albeit indirectly) in the white racism you say you want to help change, and the white supremacist power structure you profess a commitment to challenging.

    Peace, Love, and Revolution

    [Reply]

    butchrebel Reply:

    Nquest’s question:

    How was White cluelessness addressed if discussion/dialogue about “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism” were off-the-table at that point?

    [Reply]

  35. Frederic: “How do POC benefit from being involved in this topic? Well, if white folks are talking about the loss and marginalization of their culture, what a perfect time for black folks to mention a loss of a connection to Africa, being dislocated, and being culturally marginalized and stigmatized. If we talk about economic problems that people are facing, then POC are able to vent about their own issues.”

    You’re trying hard, Frederic, but it’s not working. You should have quit while you were ahead when you acknowledged the inherent inequality/symmetry. But something about that fact (and what you imagine it means) makes you uncomfortable and have caused you to not only retreat into this strange mode of White denial but has also caused you to lose the logical strength that usually accompanies you points/arguments.

    Let’s be clear here: what you’re still describing is POC providing input that enhances the understanding or, using Jeff’s term, “smashes” White cluelessness or some-such. Once again, its a benefit for the Whites involved in the dialogue — i.e. Whites leave the dialogue with more knowledge/understanding than the came with. POC, not so much.

    Also, at no point has “venting” been presented as a benefit in and of itself when it comes to the White individuals involved in the dialogue. So the idea that POC “venting” or sharing similar experiences/feelings to Whites hardly counts as a benefit to POC. Seems to me, most POC have some awareness of how White ethnic culture has been lost, to some degree or another, due to Whiteness and have long since made the point that they, as POC, have had to deal with losing their culture in their American experience.

    If anything, this POC “venting” (and Whites benefiting from seeing how cultural loss has something to do with societal forces that impact everybody) fits into the bonding and trust-building idea which keeps the crude score Whites=2 and POC=1. As noted, it’s not like POC haven’t talked, “vented” or screamed at length about the historical and current social/institutional forces which impact their ability to recover or sustain their culture. And as far as this White identity confusion thing being an example of the “legitimate” White anger, fear, confusion, etc. — which was not the point of the question I raised which, if anything, suggested that exploring White anger, etc. was a detour or an entirely different direction away from, “beside the point” of dealing with “racial injustices.”

    Frederic: If POC are seeing whites who are starting to get it and, more importantly, care enough to actually go through the process of getting it, then maybe they won’t lose hope and will have white allies with which to work with.

    There is so much wrong with this “catch-up” idea of yours, specifically with how POC supposedly “benefit” from that process. One thing in particular is the underlying idea that Whites have less knowledge. It as if the concept of White denial — which, by definition, means that the denier knows but just refuses to acknowledge it — is foreign to you, of all people.

    And let me explain that. I feel that White people have a set of knowledge points they care share/exchange in multi-cultural, multi-racial groups. They know racism from a perpetrator’s, accomplice’s, eye-witness’, beneficiaries’, other-side-of-the-coin standpoint. They have a story to tell something both about the inner-workings of racism and White Supremacy and the impact on them that POC, the victims of (white) racism and White Supremacy, don’t.

    It’s like having a reading class that intends to get everyone to a 12th grade reading level but has a group at 11th grade level and a group at the 8th grade level. Some of the instruction has to be remedial, which for the 11th grade readers will be practice and reaffirmation and for the 8th grade readers will be really difficult catch-up work.

    But the class still brings everyone, the 11th grade readers and the 8th grade readers, to a 12th grade level. Everyone benefits.

    That would make sense if the supposed benefits you claim POC get out of the dialogues Jeff described — that you are now, strangely, championing when you initially found them particularly problematic — were comparable to graduating 1 grade level in knowledge/skill above where they were before they the dialogues started. While you and Jeff have certainly pointed to how Whites knowledge/understanding would advance grade level(s) as a result of the dialogues, you simply have not done that when it comes to POC.

    More importantly, once you do the remedial work to get whites on board, you get them involved in the struggle.

    More importantly, per Tim from the same Q&A, “racism is a white problem, and a problem that all whites must address…” So let’s be clear about whose “struggle” we’re dealing with. I could easily argue that Whites should be looking for POC allies to help them with addressing their (white) problem but then we’d have to actually believe stuff like “Racism is bad for racists [and those who benefit from White Privilege]” not just the victims/targets.

    More importantly, you have to remember that Tim DOES lead multicultural and multiracial groups

    You’re making a non-point and certainly not a “more” important one for none of the stuff you’ve said about getting Whites up to speed requires direct, immediate or constant input from POC — that could be accomplished with concerted “internal work” headed by existing White allies and your White majority argument, the fact that there are more White people than POC, is an argument for greater emphasis on that approach. Mentioning Tim’s multicultural sessions also doesn’t make you point “more” important because I have never said I was against or didn’t “like” multicultural and multiracial dialogues.

    Further, notice you didn’t characterize your own criticisms of Jeff’s dialogues as something you didn’t “like” and you didn’t equate your criticisms to you arguing that Jeff’s dialogues were “wrong.”

    I made a simple point about what’s problematic in the approach and assumptions in the type of dialogues Jeff mentioned (which, again, disregarded the CNN captions that the dialogues were to be about Racism 101, Racism 2.0 or what-have-you vs. Race 101). In making that point, I accented the point that the thing POC ultimately want out of multi-racial dialogues are constructive talks on those things Jeff more or less declared the “wrong” things to talk about re: Tim’s emphasis on (per Jeff) “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism, etc.”

    [Reply]

  36. Obviously, I’m going to have to make myself proofread my posts before hitting the submit button. One of the things I meant to say (that didn’t come out right) was:

    “I feel that White people have a set of knowledge points they [can] share/exchange in multi-cultural, multi-racial groups. They know racism from a perpetrator’s, accomplice’s, eye-witness’, beneficiaries’, other-side-of-the-coin standpoint. They have a story to tell [x] both about the inner-workings of racism and White Supremacy and the impact on [the White community/individual] that POC, the victims of (white) racism and White Supremacy, don’t.”

    On that note, I feel obliged to say that when it comes to multi-racial/multi-cultural dialogues, I personally have the expectation that there is a mutual exchange of ideas (and by mutual, I mean equal/reciprocal exchange ) and always get that impression that that’s what’s being suggested; hence, Frederic’s and Jeff’s emphatic assertions that “everyone benefits”, including POC as if their assertions reconciles the mathematic inequality.

    Oh, and Frederic, this was the part of your post I didn’t understand:

    Frederic: POC = 2 and whites = 1 in this calculation, but everyone is further ahead, and you can’t get to everyone getting 5 or 6 and people of color getting 10 until white folks are on board.

    Keeping with the math lingo, you’re going to have to show me your work for me to understand what you’re saying — i.e. explain how you arrived at POC=2, Whites=1. And, as I questioned/challenged above (pending approval of my post), you’ll have to show how your schoolhouse, reading level analogy actually holds true: that is, where is the evidence that POC’s “reading level” is improved by the kind of dialogues you admit disproportionately benefit Whites?

    Note: You’ve only alluded to POC’s “hope” level being elevated in a curious delayed — but certainly not guaranteed — gratification sorta way. Doing “the remedial work to get whites on board” doesn’t guarantee that they will “get on board”, much less stay on board or, as I pointed out to Jeff, nothing says that Whites who do “get on board” are the ones who actually have the power and access you talk about. So, oddly, with those odds clearly in play, you’re counting “hope” of something that’s not guaranteed for two distinct, predictable reasons — at least not guaranteed in the same way as Whites’ reading/knowledge level improvement is anticipated — as a possessive, substantive “benefit” POC take away from these dialogues.

    [Reply]

    butchrebel Reply:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to educate and challenge. I’ve learned A LOT from your posts.

    You’re BRILLIANT and you rock!

    [Reply]

  37. “Keeping with the math lingo, you’re going to have to show me your work for me to understand what you’re saying — i.e. explain how you arrived at POC=2, Whites=1. And, as I questioned/challenged above (pending approval of my post), you’ll have to show how your schoolhouse, reading level analogy actually holds true: that is, where is the evidence that POC’s “reading level” is improved by the kind of dialogues you admit disproportionately benefit Whites?”

    Sorry, that was a typo. I meant the opposite: POC 1, whites 2.

    The point is that you have to give the whites 2 units to invest into them, because they’re so far behind in terms of basic knowledge.

    But once you get them on board, then they can not only give POC benefits that POC couldn’t get otherwise in terms of knowledge and perspective, but also can leverage their disproportionate power to challenge the system that disproportionately harms POC.

    Ultimately, bringing everyone on board is good for everyone. Worrying about who is getting more at each particular stage is bizarre.

    “That would make sense if the supposed benefits you claim POC get out of the dialogues Jeff described — that you are now, strangely, championing when you initially found them particularly problematic — were comparable to graduating 1 grade level in knowledge/skill above where they were before they the dialogues started. While you and Jeff have certainly pointed to how Whites knowledge/understanding would advance grade level(s) as a result of the dialogues, you simply have not done that when it comes to POC. ”

    No, I found the WAY it was being done problematic. Bringing whites on board is just going to have to be part of the solution, both history and logic show.

    People of color have plenty to learn about how white people view the world, why they view it the way they do, their ethnic backgrounds, why they hold the attitudes they do, what turned them around, etc. In multicultural discussions I’ve had, Asians and Latina/os were plenty surprised by some of the things they heard. While POC are generally far more aware of our reality than we are of theirs, the power dynamic keeps everyone in the dark to some degree.

    But also, you’re assuming that these classes have NO benefit for people of color. Well, Jeff did show some interesting evidence of his dialogues leading to some benefit for POC particularly. I too have seen this happen: The class taught POC about things. For example: Any multicultural class will often talk about gender too, and that’s something where black men and black women need to have a chat, and a chat that is different from but parallel to the chat white women and white men do. Nothing builds that solidarity than those discussions: White and black women seeing what issues are similar and what issues are different.

    “You’re trying hard, Frederic, but it’s not working. You should have quit while you were ahead when you acknowledged the inherent inequality/symmetry. But something about that fact (and what you imagine it means) makes you uncomfortable and have caused you to not only retreat into this strange mode of White denial but has also caused you to lose the logical strength that usually accompanies you points/arguments.

    Let’s be clear here: what you’re still describing is POC providing input that enhances the understanding or, using Jeff’s term, “smashes” White cluelessness or some-such. Once again, its a benefit for the Whites involved in the dialogue — i.e. Whites leave the dialogue with more knowledge/understanding than the came with. POC, not so much.”

    Again, in my experience, POC having the chance to talk about this alone to an audience that is finally receptive had unique psychic benefit. Remember: Any multicultural class that gets whites to listen and blacks to talk, or men to listen and women to talk, has the benefit of at LEAST getting the discussion going and letting those people vent to people who normally are not in the frame of mind to really process it. So that’s a benefit that accrues ONLY to the poor, GLBT, POC, women, etc. in these discussions.

    Further, I’ve heard many black people saying that they didn’t understand just how alienated white folks felt from their culture. It can actually lionize POC by reminding them of the fact that they do have that culture and at least kept that. What a wonderful feeling: To finally feel like you have something whites don’t.

    And you can’t understand why your oppressors do what they do unless you know their psychology. So when black people get an insight into why white people behave the way they do, it is beneficial to them from the perspective of knowing how to make appeals.

    Clarence Darrow had to be white, and a socialist, to know that it was worth it to try to appeal to the better angels of the white jurors.

    “Also, at no point has “venting” been presented as a benefit in and of itself when it comes to the White individuals involved in the dialogue. So the idea that POC “venting” or sharing similar experiences/feelings to Whites hardly counts as a benefit to POC. Seems to me, most POC have some awareness of how White ethnic culture has been lost, to some degree or another, due to Whiteness and have long since made the point that they, as POC, have had to deal with losing their culture in their American experience. ”

    It doesn’t? I have heard EXACTLY the opposite, not only on this blog but in every discussion I’ve had. In fact, to have a man in a discussion actually care about and know about sexism, or a white person know about and care about racism, etc. is often really liberating to black people. And I’ve heard that being able to vent, to talk about these issues, is in fact deeply psychologically helpful.

    Remember that, as messed up as it is, those who are on the bottom in this society (the poor, blacks, women, etc.) are often in the position of being told that they are wrong, that they are just whining. Even though they see what’s going on every day, there is still that impression that it must just be them.

    But, and again this is messed up but it is just the way it is, for many of these people, hearing the same thing from the people who are supposed to be right validates their experience.

    In White Like Me, Tim has quite a few stories about how black listeners responded to his speeches, and were given real hope precisely because he was white.

    We all have something to learn from each other. All of our experiences matter, and can teach us lessons. Getting a chance to share them is almost by definition useful to everyone.

    My point, and why I was questioning Jeff in line with you, is that I think the discussion needs to be AWARE that it COULD turn into a means to benefit those who are already powerful and give nothing useful to the oppressed.

    But in the multicultural studies classes and groups I’ve been part of, it’s been overwhelmingly women of color leading and teaching. So they find something valuable about reaching out to overwhelmingly white college students.

    One of our groups did an interview with a transgendered individual who was trying to navigate Davis. They said that the ability for this guy to talk about what he was going through and tell it to an audience he knew was interested was itself useful.

    “If anything, this POC “venting” (and Whites benefiting from seeing how cultural loss has something to do with societal forces that impact everybody) fits into the bonding and trust-building idea which keeps the crude score Whites=2 and POC=1. As noted, it’s not like POC haven’t talked, “vented” or screamed at length about the historical and current social/institutional forces which impact their ability to recover or sustain their culture. And as far as this White identity confusion thing being an example of the “legitimate” White anger, fear, confusion, etc. — which was not the point of the question I raised which, if anything, suggested that exploring White anger, etc. was a detour or an entirely different direction away from, “beside the point” of dealing with “racial injustices.” ”

    But they haven’t vented it to the oppressor class in a setting where the oppressors have to listen and are apparently interested in hearing it. Nor have they vented it in a context where it’s imaginable that they could do something about it.

    “There is so much wrong with this “catch-up” idea of yours, specifically with how POC supposedly “benefit” from that process. One thing in particular is the underlying idea that Whites have less knowledge. It as if the concept of White denial — which, by definition, means that the denier knows but just refuses to acknowledge it — is foreign to you, of all people.”

    Ummmm, no, no it’s not.

    First of all: Just because white denial is a factor doesn’t mean that white ignorance is also not a factor. Do you imagine that we white folks are omniscient? That we live on a hill with infinitely ranged binoculars and get to see how everyone else lives and laugh at them?

    The social isolation that white people experience from POC of all stripes gives them tremendous ignorance about what POC are going through, about their culture, etc. We do get windows in: For example, we listen to rap music. But we’re culturally alienated from what those lyrics MEAN, the context they came out of. We watch the Chappelle Show but don’t know what he’s saying. And other things we just plain don’t know. We don’t know that Japanese and Koreans and Vietnamese are very different.

    Now, other things we are in denial about, sure.

    But even there, forcing people to talk about it is EXACTLY what needs to be done, for both POC and whites.

    For whites: To be faced with the question, and with the evidence for what they’re denying, is a way to make it so that they can’t deny it anymore. I’ve found that, with denial, part of the picture is to put such an immense amount of information from sources that they can’t deny that they are unable to pretend that it’s just a valid different opinion.

    For POC: To see HOW whites prevaricate, and the layers of denial, is useful to understand what psychology they went through at each level of denial.

    Again, I’ve heard from plenty of POC that while they knew we were in denial about something, that they didn’t know the trajectory and it was useful to see someone recount how and why they could be in denial, what was in their head, etc.

    “And let me explain that. I feel that White people have a set of knowledge points they care share/exchange in multi-cultural, multi-racial groups. They know racism from a perpetrator’s, accomplice’s, eye-witness’, beneficiaries’, other-side-of-the-coin standpoint. They have a story to tell something both about the inner-workings of racism and White Supremacy and the impact on them that POC, the victims of (white) racism and White Supremacy, don’t.”

    Exactly. And talking about that is of almost no value to white people, since we know it already (once we’re honest with ourselves, which POC don’t necessarily need to be there to insure), but useful to black people.

    So let’s talk about the accomplice issue. If a black person knows what’s going through a “good white’s” head when they hear a racist joke, then maybe they can find a way to get an ally in the future when they hear such a joke in a group.

    ‘More importantly, per Tim from the same Q&A, “racism is a white problem, and a problem that all whites must address…” So let’s be clear about whose “struggle” we’re dealing with. I could easily argue that Whites should be looking for POC allies to help them with addressing their (white) problem but then we’d have to actually believe stuff like “Racism is bad for racists [and those who benefit from White Privilege]” not just the victims/targets.”

    Yes. But racism is also transparently a black problem, and a problem that all blacks must address (and do). And while there are psychological harms from white privilege, there are psychological AND material harms from black underprivilege.

    More importantly, we don’t need black allies to deal with the problems in our community. We can solve them on our own because we have the power.

    But to really change black community problems requires dealing with white folks.

    The rich can get what they want done, the poor don’t.

    Men can get what they need, women can’t.

    The oppressed are more harmed than the oppressor. They get disproportionate benefit from oppression being ended. Yes, we get the moral benefit from not doing something terribly wrong anymore. But if history teaches us anything, people terribly undervalue moral goods. Tim is asking white people to give up things of immediate, tangible value for potential and uncertain future benefit. This is just fine. We have to do it. But we all need to be involved, and we all need to be working together.

    “Further, notice you didn’t characterize your own criticisms of Jeff’s dialogues as something you didn’t “like” and you didn’t equate your criticisms to you arguing that Jeff’s dialogues were “wrong.” ”

    I didn’t do that because I hate being sectarian. I don’t know what his classes were like. I didn’t sit in on them. And after talking to him about them, and seeing the material on the site, they seem really good. Maybe I’d do some things differently, but no, I’m not going to say his choices and estimations are “wrong”. How arrogant would that be?

    ‘I made a simple point about what’s problematic in the approach and assumptions in the type of dialogues Jeff mentioned (which, again, disregarded the CNN captions that the dialogues were to be about Racism 101, Racism 2.0 or what-have-you vs. Race 101). In making that point, I accented the point that the thing POC ultimately want out of multi-racial dialogues are constructive talks on those things Jeff more or less declared the “wrong” things to talk about re: Tim’s emphasis on (per Jeff) “discrimination, history of slavery and segregation, current discrimination and racism, etc.””

    And I think Jeff ended up indicating that

    a) they actually DO talk about those things (the site specifically goes into what they talk about, which includes things like housing discrimination and historical racism), just not immediately and
    b) that plenty of POC like the dialogues.

    Again, maybe there IS something wrong with his dialogues after all. I don’t know, I haven’t attended them. But I think he’s done his work to show that he knows about these issues, cares about them, and has his reasoning for what he does, and has offered some evidence that they’re valuable. I don’t see what criticizing him accomplishes.

    [Reply]

  38. Interviewer: “How do we approach conversations about race?”

    Tim Wise’s
    *THREE* KEY POINTS FOR EFFECTIVE RACIAL DIALOGUE:

    #1: Racism and racial discrimination continues to put people
    of color at a significant disadvantage.

    It’s THE…important starting point for any HONEST dialogue.

    We have to understand the way things actual are, rather than the way we’d like them to be.

    Historically and still today…the evidence is overwhelming…A huge nationwide study of 10s of 1000s of companies estimates conservatively that 1/3rd of the time, when people of color are out on a job search, they are the victims of discrimination. That effects about a million to 1.2 million people of color a year. That’s not a minor consideration.

    So, if we’re gonna to have a talking about housing, or employment, or education, or wealth, or the criminal justice system, we have to start with the reality that the disparities are real, and that in part, they are significantly caused by racial discrimination — that’s the starting point.

    …The biggest problem that we have to get over is “white denial,” though, and I say that as someone who has studied that for a long time. Even in the early 60s, BEFORE the Civil Rights Act was passed, Gallup Polls found that 2 out of 3 white Americans thought that black Americans had FULLY equal opportunity.

    Now, obviously, that’s absurd, but that’s what otherwise descent, sane, intelligent people thought even then. So…the hurdle for a lot of white Americans, and even some folks of color, is THERE. But the evidence is the evidence. I encourage people that are skeptical to look at the data…the footnotes, look at the data and decide for themselves.

    #2: Being color-blind, or “color mute” is not an option.

    Julian Bond, civil rights legend, really says it best, “To be blind to color is to be blind to the consequences of color,” (i.e., racism).

    Let me give you an example:

    If I’m a teacher right now in the state of Arizona, and I’ve got a lot of Latino kids, I can’t be “colorblind” or blind to the role that their identity plays in their life, because there are right now in the eyes of some, not all…under suspicion as if they shouldn’t even be there, as they don’t belong. If I’m a teacher, and I’m gonna meet the needs of those kids, I’ve got to know where they are. I can’t have this idealized version of life that says, “race doesn’t matter to them,” because IT DOES.

    As a parent (I have two kids), if you don’t TALK to children ABOUT RACISM, both PAST AND PRESENT, they grow up — they can look around and see the disparities — they can see that who has what is often about color, who lives where is often about color — if you don’t provide the context for that, you know what happens, those kids grow up, according to the research, to believe that those disparities are A) natural, which is a dangerous thought, or B) that the folks on the bottom are there because…they don’t try hard enough, their bad people, they aren’t as smart as the rest of us.

    So, really, “color blindness” or being “color mute” can actually feed racist perceptions.

    #3: We all have a stake in combatting racism and racial
    inequality. That is, people of colors’ progress HELPS
    white people.

    “This is critical, especially for getting over that problem of [white] denial…a lot of times we…worry that…if people of color make progress it’s gonna hurt white folks.

    The fact is…racial inequity is DANGEROUS for all of us. In about 30/35/40 years…about half the [U.S.]population will be people of color, the other half will be white people. There is NO WAY that we can maintain a healthy, productive economy and society if one half of society has double the unemployment rate, three times the poverty rate of the other half, 1/10th the wealth, 8 years less life expectancy, double the infant mortality of the other half…we [MUST] worry about the racial disparity of the other half, and the racism that is, in part, responsible for them…because otherwise the whole society is not going to functional because of the racial inequity of the other half.”

    [Reply]

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