Wh**e folks and racial naivete

For the past few days I have been thinking about the rather interesting observation that this presidential season seems to be bringing out, the fact that by and large when you are person of the paler hue, one does not have to think about race on a regular basis.

Seriously, both in my online as well as real life dealings, I have been in contact with white folks who are positively stunned at the blatant racism that is coming out the closet as America seems to be edging closer to possibly having its first Black president. It seems that on an almost daily basis, we are seeing effigies of Obama, folks making asses of themselves on TV about how America is a White Christian nation and only white folks get to be in charge. Shit, I am sure Sears is running out of white sheets in some parts of the country.

The thing is as a Black woman, none of this is surprising to me, shit I would be more surprised if we didn’t have folks doing this shit. See, I was born in the early 70’s yet I have been on the planet long enough as a Black woman to know that despite the strides we have made racially in this country, shit regular readers know my Pops grew up drinking from the colored water fountain and never thought he would have a white son in law. Despite the fact that we have made strides, we still have a long way to go. America has never had a truthful racial dialogue, too many white folks would rather see my ass serving them when I am in a restaurant than see my Black ass getting served.

Don’t get me wrong, thoughts of race don’t consume every moment of my waking day, but honestly there are not too many days that I don’t face that reminder that I am Black. Its just good for me that I love my Black self and accept that being Black is a part of my identity. I can never just be a person because in this world, I am Black first and foremost and that’s cool with me.

My kids are biracial, yet they are being raised and have been raised to understand that most likely folks will view them as Black, so while they can call themselves what they want to, just understand folks may view you differently.  Speaking of the kids, my son was 3 when race was brought to his attention and now at 3 my daughter is starting to notice racial differences. It most certainly isn’t anything I have called attention to, but I suspect that children of color notice racial differences sooner than white kids. That’s neither a positive or a negative but just one of those things. I was about 4 or so when I realized race and when I entered kindergarten and was the only kid of color, it was my grand debut into the land of racial differences.

On a parenting board that I hang out at, a white mother encountered a racial minority being mistreated by a white man and her kids were with her and she was at a loss with how to deal with the situation. Other posters (white) suggested that kids are too young to be burdened with dealing with racism.  That stunned me because as a Black child, I was raised to understand that sadly racism is something you may encounter yet I have grown white friends who still grapple with dealing with racism. Honestly, I expect it and rather than being surprised I look for ways to move on less I blow a gasket.

Part of why we as a nation have still not moved on is because in my humble opinion, we refuse to talk honestly about race, what the legacy of slavery has meant to millions of African-Americans. How systematic oppression over hundreds of years cannot be wiped out in 40-50 years. Until we get to that point as well as the point of looking at our own internal biases that may cause prejudice deep within us, I truly don’t feel we are making nearly as much progress as we think. No, what we are doing is that type of cleaning when you sweep all the shit into the closet and under the bed but at a certain point,  the closet door starts bulging, demanding that you move shit out of the closet. That is where we are at as a nation. The closet doors are becoming unstable.

There are those who feel an Obama presidency will usher in a new era, well it will be a new era, but I suspect Black folks will still get stopped for driving while black. Police brutality will be an issue and all the other injustices will happen. So while I might start looking for my dancing shoes soon for November 5, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to truly achieve racial parity.

As for white folks raising kids, don’t fear talking about injustice with your kids, to do so IMO will create a generation that is truly prepared to tackle injustices head on.

7 thoughts on “Wh**e folks and racial naivete”

  1. You made so many great points, excellent blog! My folks grew up in a time where they couldn’t use restrooms when they went downtown to shop in our home area. They let me know that the world will always see me as a black man, no matter what I did. It is so sad that still in the 21st C, we cannot move past race and all we need to do is have honest and open dialogue. Instead, we have a new generation who feel that race is irrelvant and the Civil Rights Movement happened so long ago and has no impact on them. Unfortunately on the flip side, White Americans are either shocked (as you mentioned) that so many have such bitter and harsh feelings or are just in complete denial that these sorts of issues still divide us.

  2. Loved this. My fear is that many whites will believe an Obama Presidency makes us all even and instead of cleaning out the closets will just pack up and move to another house.

    We shall see, but America needs to do what I urge people to do all the time learn to look in our dark places (no pun intended) that we aren’t so proud of and come to terms with who and what this country is. You know loving yourself the good, bad, and slutty!!!

    -OG

  3. Gurl…after spending most of my life having to be Ambassador to the White Folks / Educator of the White Folks, it’s a damn shame that we’re almost about to elect a black president at a time when I’ve pretty much hung up my ambassador/educator hat.

    I have lost patience with whites who act like all of this was supposed to have been over with back in the 60s. In a way this election campaign has forced whites to see what most HONEST people of color always knew: Just because the civil rights movement happened doesn’t mean those racists went away. They didn’t; they just went into the closet, like you said, and had babies and grandbabies while in there.

    I have this fantasy that Obama will win by a landslide and that more and more well-meaning whites will start to question all the pillars of white supremacy and look for ways to bring them down. Maybe when I start seeing some action on their part, I’ll be motivated to rejoin the reconciliation conversation.

  4. What gets under my skin are: 1) He / She didn’t mean that in a racist way. He / she is not racist. {After the person has said, done, behaved in a way that is clearly prejudicial and racist .} 2) “No offense to you, but…” As if blacks folks are all the same, do everything alike, and believe the same things. When one black person does something negative, white America paints the entire race with the same brush. However, when one black person does something positive, the reaction is that it’s somehow an anomaly.

    If Obama should happen to win, I think we will see two opposite extremes of whites thinking that racism doesn’t exists (our POTUS is black, come on!) and whites perpetrating hate crimes at unprecendented rates and cruelty.

    This was such a great post. I love coming to your house to hear what going on with you in Maine. On my way to Nova Scotia I’ll have to make a point to stop in Maine to see what’s going on.

  5. Good post.

    I worry all the time that our failure to discuss this stuff now will mean more pain for my children. It’s like this national debt we’re piling up. We are forcing our children to pay the bill for our good time.

  6. Hey BGIM, I mentioned you in my current post on Tarzan & Jane, Palin and McCain. Lol, you’ll have to check it out to know more.

    Good post here. We’re on the same page and share the same concerns.

  7. Hello there!

    It is true that those who are white DO NOT have to think about race on a daily basis because race does not impact their existence.

    I said at my blog a couple of days ago that race is not the sum total of who I am and I received email because of that comment.

    For some black people, every thing in their day is about race. I guess they think that is the existence of everyone else.

    You have raised some interesting points of view here!

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
    Lisa

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