Who Really Isn’t a “Racist”? Why it still seems there’s so much “superiority” around us
Everyone likely has a part of themselves than despises others different from themselves.
We are all egos (“I”s) who are charged by nature with the need to survive, first. So we fear being reduced to nothing, with death as the most extreme threat, and control by others (also negating our sense of “I” in a way).
So after our individual self, we “extend” our egos [our “identity”] through “community” (first, family, then others who live around us). Then, other categories that we are apart of, such as gender, nationality and creed.
So there is likely a part of everyone who thinks their race is better than others, as it is a part of who they are. (Ideally, it “shouldn’t” be, since it is only superficial pigmentation, ultimately, but as it did stem from community; i.e. people who lived together in certain climates developed certain common physical traits, man did build “cultures” around it, and so it continues to be an “issue” in social affairs and politics).
Since the human conscience senses this is wrong, it leads to guilt. The guilt is reacted to through forms of denial in one or two ways: placation/patronage, or backlash/blaming. The conservatives have taken the latter, while the liberals have taken the former.
A concept known as the Johari Window says that while we have those parts of ourselves that are public, so that we and everyone else know about them; and are private, so that we know about them, but not others; there are also things that are conscious to neither ourselves nor others, and also that are uncounscious to ourselves, but conscious to others. What’s unconscious is known as the “shadow”, which we tend to disown, and yet see only in others. However, part of it can be seen by others, and when confronted with it, we will react in a fierce denial.
Conservatives want to think their nation, from its founding was “exceptional”, but the people back then were in ignorance that the way they treated other peoples was wrong. It was somewhere in the conscience, but suppressed from consciousness. Yet others could see it clearly (especially the victims, of course. Like the statement that they had to deny blacks were fully human as to not be accused of not being Christians. But that means the biblical “curse of Canaan” as the ultimate “divine” validation of racism was apparently not enough by itself. They had to keep evolving new justifications, because subconsciously, the practice was still not validated, no matter how many new arguments they added).
Their successors today, the would-be guardians of “traditional American values”, have simply taken on the identity of these earlier people, and yet have to continue to try to suppress the full ugliness of a lot of what was done back then. So they try to turn the accusations back on others, or focus on other “moral” or political issues, like abortion or “socialism”, where they can prove they are still “exceptional” compared to others’ sin/evil, after all.
They fail to see that they, as humans, still contain the same proclivity to sin that they see others doing. Their “traditional values” protect unborn people, but kill born people. They oppose government control by a society that would oppress their religious beliefs, but support corporate control (which can end up just as bad, and can buy out the government), and would oppress others’ beliefs if they still had the power.
They then think their “choices” (whether individual or collective) and outward “civility” (lower crime figures, greater “decency” of past society, etc.) make them better people, and justify any hateful attitude they show toward others, seen as morally deficient.
Liberals realize the past was full of evil, and as part of the same “culture”, want to dissociate themselves from it. But they may end up in an opposite form of denial, not seeing that they are still part of that culture, no matter what (and still benefit from it as others point out). So they too still have the same procility to those evils they see in others, and thinking that their “compassion” makes them better people, justifying a similar self-righteousness, but one that looks better by focusing on “compassion”, rather than personal “morality”. They too want freedom, but end up trying to minimize others’ in the process.
Both sides will try to control the other, with government force, ultimately, when they get the chance (in the past few generations, with the old societal order being overturned, it’s the liberal side that has ended up wielding government power increasingly, to stamp out the older control).
So yes the “bleeding heart” white liberal may think themselves “better” than (at least, subconsciously) some street-talking stereotypical black man, and perhaps be nervous around them, clench their purse, etc.; even as they may otherwise stand up and fight for the cause of blacks. Many black people may feel the same way about that stereotypical person (as Jesse Jackson once admitted).
On the black side (as the conservatives try to point out), being “better” than whites would take the form of a kind of “moral superiority”, against historic racism; which comes out through resentment. This too can be either openly manifested as an expressed resentment or hatred (and trying to “stick it to them” in political rhetoric), or can fall into the subconscious of someone who wants or tries to forgive the white race and get along with them and move on.
We must remember this part of it too, when we try to tag others with “hate”.
Trying to stir up deep seated guilt, through “sticking it to them” (with “‘truth’ [that ‘hurts’]”, “[hard] ‘facts'”, etc. as conservatives more often put it) only leads to defensiveness, and more deep seated, though possibly suppressed, resentment.
That’s why I believe we need to be careful when talking about “white privilege”. We’re lumping the whole race together (just as white “racists” have done to us), and while it’s true that even the “bleeding hearts” may still “benefit from systemic racism”, while “trying to ease their guilt”, we should realize we cannot clean this [apparently universal] thing we’re calling “racism” out of people’s hearts.
The liberals may continue to placate, but at the same time, the conservatives, who are the ones who have more of a genuine problem, simply step up their rhetoric, and label all of our speech and our leaders as just as “racist” (and we hardly ever answer them directly. We seem harder on the liberals who are handling their portion of the collective guilt by at least trying to do the things we want, and this just makes it look like, as the conservatives claim, we just have an unending need for gaining “[free] stuff” through “guilt manipulation”. The more we ignore them, the louder they become, and the more public thought they influence, making it harder to gain the things we’re asking for; the most important being respect. The larger “image” of us this creates is a large cause of the continuing “systemic racism”, being the “system” is still controlled by both liberals and conservatives).
The big news this past week, was this:
Interrupting Bernie: Exposing the White Supremacy of the American Left
It even mentions “all of the ‘this is not the way’ sentiment we’re hearing from White progressives”, yet “it was the interruption at Netroots (alongside other direct pressure) that led to Bernie’s explicit platform on racial justice.” and appeals to Martin Luther King’s statement on how the “white moderates” are a bigger stumbling block than the open racists.
In this instance, these “well-meaning White people”, “…who consider themselves the most progressive of us all, shouted down and booed Black women who dared to force Blackness into the center of White space…and chanted the name of a White man throughout that moment.” (They had called for a moment of silence for Mike Brown a year after he was gunned down). This is evidence of “the deep-seated White supremacy that would cause us to boo during a moment of silence for a Black boy murdered by a White police officer”. They thus “would rather maintain injustice than risk the decentering of our Whiteness and White comfort.”
King’s statement mentioned the moderates of his day being “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice”. And so, today,
“And how much more ‘devoted to “order”’ can we be than to lecture Black people about what direct actions are and are not ‘hurting your cause’? (Notably, this language I’ve seen from countless White folks shows that we do not see the cause of racial justice as OUR cause – it’s that cause over there that we will tolerate so long as it doesn’t disrupt our Bernie rally.)”
I too am concerned about it “hurting our cause” and “not being the way”, but this is not from wanting to maintain some [false] sense of order; it’s from seeing how all this stuff we say and do gets turned back on us in backlash. Like using it to prove, once again, that we’re the true “racists”, who are only “whining”, incessantly, to get more “free stuff”. And then for all this reaction to white liberals, we totally ignore the white conservatives saying all of this openly racist stuff.
It does make sense to do that, under King’s premise that it’s the moderate/progressives that are a “worse” problem than the original conservatives.
That’s where I think I’m seeing a bit of hyperbole that is being taken too literally to the point of getting out of hand. Let’s be really honest. Moderates not working fast enough for us are not as dangerous as conservatives who want to set us back to the pre-Civil Rights era. Who have filled public discourse with rhetoric portraying all of us as a bunch of leeching “takers” and criminal “thugs” who are detrimental to their otherwise “exceptional” society; much of this in code, but it seems becoming more bold and direct, as it goes on for years and years, unanswered (proving to them it is “hard truth” that can’t be answered). Who can sway many who are in the middle. Many of us are too busy trying to stamp every molecule of racism out of the hearts of liberals to see the huge potential tidal waves of racism coming up behind us.
It’s just a matter of tact, I’m getting at.
I’m not saying those two women were wrong for doing that, to try to stir up awareness among those who have seemingly fallen into a smug, half-hearted “do-gooding”. I do have some concern about the way the article talks about: “to center Black lives and Black issues”. I guess the context is decentering whiteness, particularly in a black cause.
While this is of course understandable, it does seem to maintain an “us vs them” mentality that we are in the very breath of accusing them of! We may say “we’re doing that because it’s already that way” [i.e. “they did it first”], but if we’re trying to erase racial discrimination, we should show them all a better example. And while they are acting subconsciously, we’re doing it very consciously and aggressively in cases like this.
While terms like “white supremacy” may be technically true, on a subconscious level, the very fact that we’re dealing with the subconscious, makes it not really beneficial to keep tossing them out so much. When we think of historic “supremacy”, we think of what was very conscious. (What was unconscious, again, were the things that proved they weren’t superior). For these liberals today, superiority is not conscious. I think we should give them some grace on that.
That doesn’t mean giving them a total “pass”, but I just think to go charging at them “You’re no better with the ‘white supremacy’ then the racist groups” will make them more likely to not hear us. If they’re struggling with their own deep seated guilt, and trying to, imperfectly as it may be, compensate for it, then this will not help them clearly see where they need to improve.
So we can challenge white liberals, to make them more consistent in their participation in the cause, but I think it’s now time to pay more attention to those on the other side still trying to blame us for all of the problems of their nation.