Monday, August 24, 2009

Can Black People Be Racist?!?

We'll keep this one short and sweet, since the title more or less says it all. Can Black folks, in the post-racial year of 2009, be racist?

HBCU/Barbershop K'Nowledge says that black folks can't be "racist" because we "don't have the power to oppress others". I've never really, really understood that whole line of reasoning, especially since I sometimes hear it said in a town/city where the mayor is black, the school superintendent is black, and the city council is mostly black. Is political capital, even the elected kind, not indeed power? Can't that power be used to "oppress others"?

My read is yes, indeed, Negroes can be (and sometimes are) just as racist, prejudiced, and ignorant as anyone else. I don't necessarily think "power" has anything to do with racism. "Power" can be used to oppress, sure, but so can words and actions. You don't need a title to make someone feel "less than". The Klan weren't (always) folks in positions of power either. They were (and still are for the most part) just some marginalized, ignant, hating bastards with strength in numbers. Does than make them not-racist?

I won't belabor the point, but I really want to see what ya'll think.

Question: Can Black people be racist?

58 AverageComments™:

Anonymous said...

I can not wait to read the comments on this one.

the uppity negro said...

Well, I think that reasoning is fair and logical.

I think what needs to be done is a fair definition of both the words racist and prejudiced and bigoted. I'm quite clear that blacks can be the later two and I say so without any reservations or qualifications of various examples.

Racist no.

I always viewed racism as the wielding of said prejudices in such bigoted actions that connote that one feels superior to the other. I mean that's the definition of any of those -isms: the idea that one is superior to the other. Now of course you have your offshoot black groups that pull the "black is better" ideology just the way you have these small factions of whites who believe that "white is better" for whatever reasons.

Can black people be racist? Unequivocally no.

Monie said...

Most people are not racists. Most people who harbor racial ill will are bigots.

Racist to me implies that not only does one feel superior because of race but also that one exhibits a certain amount of hatred as well as a certain amount of power to take some action against those who they hate.

So for instance Oprah could indeed be a racist if for instance she prefers to hire Whites rather than Blacks (not that she really does that or anything). And since she has power her actions could negatively affect a lot of people.

As well a Black police officer could surely be a racist if he decided to. And as you mention AveBro lots of Black people have the power to be racist; governors, police chiefs, school superintendents, doctors, etc.

So yes a Black person can indeed be a racist. To say otherwise is sort of demeaning I think in an odd sort of way.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

I think we get caught up in the superior portion of the definition.

We do need a good clear mutually agreeable definition of racism, otherwise everything is racist and nothing is.

@AB when you say "Black People" do you mean American Black People, or Black People at large or something else entirely?

I think a lot of misscomunication occurs between people, because we use words differently. We're walking around using words thinking we have a common definition and we don't, add to that the new catch phrase "coded language".

Follow with me for a bit, even though I am arguably one of the whitest white people to walk the face of the earth, I have never really felt compelled to limit myself to just dating irish, or anglo women. When I was a young man, I dated a black woman, she had "good hair" but was somewhere half inbetween black coffee and a mocha.

She got along well with my parents and eventually took me to meet hers. Her mother may have warmed too me after a time, but I could see the distrust in her eyes, hear it in her voice, and sense in her treatment of me.

Everytime I met her mother or entered the home I was unfailingly polite and courteous, yes Mrs. no Mrs., please and thank you and deferential.

Still I could tell she wasn't overjoyed to have me around her daughter.

Now our attitudes and our beliefs are informed by our experience. I am sure white people treated her badly at some point, she would have directly experienced the ills of segragation, and discrimination. I'm not of that generation, I didn't do any of those things, to the best of my knowledge neither of my parents have ever discriminated or treated anyone as other than just people.

Her experiences had created an expectation, she had formed certain negative images of white people, and projected it own to me. At one time don't trust white people was probably a useful survival mechanism. At a point it has to go away though.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

I think behaviour only becomes racism, when it violates normal civil social interaction, commerce, or hiring. When it diminishes a person soley because of genetic chance.

@AB you married a beautiful black woman, and not a beautiful white, asian, or indian woman

Was it racism? Nah it was preference, you saw a woman who reflected the best parts of you and wanted to make beautiful black aboveAverageChildren.

When the those kids grow up and you want to instill them the facets of your version of black culture is it racism? Nah. Our cultures make us interesting, we do need to all still have a common American Culture.

I think it would only be racist if you instructed your kid to only hire or promote black people if he's in a position of power, or to hate or mistrust people of different races.

When my grandfather passed away back in 1998 I went home to the small town I grew up in NC. It was semi rural and small. At the time I was in the Army, my grandfather was a highly decorated Army Veteran, so my Brother(also in the army at the time) decided to present the flag to my grandmother.

My hair was a little long, so I decided to get it cut before the funeral so that I would look impecable for the funeral. I wanted a crisp high and tight fade, and with no millitary barbers around I figured my best bet was a black barbershop.

I went and sat down. The barber sat me down, and put the apron around and asked me what haircut I wanted. As I started to explain a middle-aged black man reading the paper flat out asked me what the hell I a white man , was doing in the black barbershop. The barber saved me from having to answer "because he wants a good haircut-no shut up" and some less kind words.

I never considered the town I grew up in as particularly racist, then again I walked around with caucasia-flauge so maybe I didn't see it.

With racism there seems to be two perils, ignoring it where is exists and seeing it where its not. You can think anything you want, sometimes you cant help the random stuff that flits your head, you certainly can help what you nurse in your secret heart. I or you can't force anyone to love us or view us anymore charitably. We can expect, and demand that we treat each other with basic human decency.

I think all humans can be racist, I think blacks can be racist. I hope they won't be though, or reject it, it's becoming a smaller world by the day and we all have to share it.

Growing up in my small rural town I can think of 4 black kids I admired for various reasons. One for his artisitc ability, one for his strength (I think he had biceps when we were in first grade), one for his raw athleticism, probably my favorite of all four was the kid who used to come to my house and play GI Joes, he used to develop complex rating schemes to rate the various professional wrestlers -catergorizing them by strength, endurance, artistry, and "intestinal fortitude". I know my father respected his father, and I will always be glad we played together as kids. I think it prevented me from learning to entertain stereotypes.

I would hate for black people to allow racism to become culturally normalized and my sons not to have the same opportunities to form the friendships I did.

Rambling I know, I need a good editor, but the question itself evoked a lot of thought.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

It's intersting that the posts here that seem to generate the most comments seem to revolve around race. I think there may be a genuine hunger in a lot of Americans to have an honest coversation about it.

It certainly seems true in at least the microcosm of AB.

Ciara said...

Can we be racist? Absolutely

It has nothing to do with power. It has everything to do with thought and ideas. If you as a Black person "hate Whitey", you are a racist.

I think one of the reasons why we as a Nation can't have a progressive conversation on race is because we as Black people have to stop acting like were not at fault for some of the racism we see today. We can hate people; I've seen it.

Also, racism is more than White vs. Everybody else. Asians can be racists against Blacks and vice versa.

Marbles said...

Here's what I was going to say before I read uppity's comment.

One thing that really bothers me is the transparently self-serving redefinition of "racism" that molds it into only applying to a powerful majority over a disenfranchised minority. It's blatantly political and dishonest because it absolves oneself of responsibilty of facing one's own darker impulses.

Then I read uppity's comment. So now I'll say this:

I definitely see where you're coming from. Still, I disagree for two reasons---
First, I don't see how it fits together that you mention the "black is better" fringe, but then say "unequivocally no." It seems like a contradiction. There is definitely the fringe that believes in the superiority--and in some cases Biblically preordained dominance--of African peoples. Doesn't that fit the definition of racism as you put it?

But the main reason I disagree is this---you as an individual are bothering to make the distinction between "racist," "bigoted," and "prejudiced." Even though you and I know that those words have differences in definition and application, I don't think most people--black or white---are going to bother with such nuance when faced with this question. It'll be one or nothing. So I think splitting those particular hairs doesn't carry much water in this case.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...


With Majority too that varies by region.

Something I've brought up to AB before, by around the year 2050 the demographics of America are likely to change so much that whites are no longer the majority. That will certainly alter the equation. That is of course assuming we make it pas 2012 :)

Marbles said...

@ Ciara:

"Also, racism is more than White vs. Everybody else."

Have you ever read what Japanese schoolchildren during the 1930s and 40s were taught about Koreans and Chinese? Horrific stuff. As bad or worse than what whites were fed about blacks.

The children raised on this carefully manufactured hatred of course grew up to be the barbaric soldiers who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Chinese in cold blood, most notoriously during the Rape of Nanking.
That's only the worst example that I can think of in terms of racism having nothing to do with blacks or whites.
This stuff has always been everywhere humans are found.

Marbles said...

@ Atypicalwhiteguy:

I work with a guy who claims to believe in the Mayan-projected doomsday date of December 12, 2012. Can't tell if he's joking or not. In any case, once we get a few months past that date (allowing for a margin of error on the Mayans' part), I'll breathe easier. XD

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

On a side note I think compulsory millitary service would do a lot to end any residual racism. It just dosen't survive long when everyone has to struggle through the same stuff, eat the same food, endure the same hardships (at least in the Infantry), wear the same clothes etc. There are probably some diehard racists there but you either keep that shit buried or you'll be made to wish you had.

Marbles said...

@ Atypicalwhiteguy:

It'd be interesting to study that very premise in light of the recent troubling reports of the military recruiting increasing numbers of white nationalist militia types---who then proceed to leave the service and take all their newly acquired knowledge of firearms and military tactics back to their little friends.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

I think theres more smoke than fire there. That report came straight out the Southern Poverty Law Center, who seems to have a vested interest in generating controversy to raise more money to write more reports.

I'm not saying there no substance too it, but I'd say the incidences of it are few and far between.

My first team leader, squad leader, and SGM were all black men, and pretty much all studs and genuinely good people.

If you can maintain racist beliefs after being exposed to a confounding daily truth you're not so much racist as insane.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

A common root of racism seems to be propaganda and the abscence of postive cross-cultural and cross-racial experiences.

A lot of the BS just dosen't survive the light of day.

Marbles said...

The smoke to fire ratio could be distorted. Not impossible. But there has to be at least something to this.

I just hope the MILITIAS continue to be more smoke than fire....

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

@Marbles and @Uppity, have yall watched this and if so what do you think about it?

Trailers here:

full-video here on google too its lengthy

Marbles said...

Argh. I have got to get the sound card on my computer fixed.

Kopekler said...

Everyone can be racist, but the effects of racism differs by who is in power, be they the majority (whites in US/Europe, Sunni Muslims in the Gulf, Slavs in the Balkans, etc.) or the minority that holds disproportionate power (S. Africa, upper caste in India, Sunni and Christian in Lebanon etc).

For example, I am white and if every PoC community in the US hated white people, I believe it honestly would not make any difference in my ability to live my day-to-day life. However, if the white community hates all PoC communities...well, all you need to do is look at history to see how that effects a person from a minority group in their day-to-day life.

Shady_Grady said...

By and large Black people have not been indoctrinated into a worldview belief that they are the best at everything, the wisest, most beautiful, wealthiest, closest to God (Goddess)and that the further away a person is from blackness, the more that person is to be pitied, hated or feared. Most Black people don't even worship a divine image that looks Black. The English language is not full of negative connotations for "whiteness" as it is for "blackness".

Generally speaking Blacks are not the ones moving out of neighborhoods because whites are moving in. Despite years of progress, the fact remains in corporate America that the higher up you go in the hierarchy the fewer Blacks you will see. The numbers on unemployment, income and income by education remain relatively dismal. By some studies a white with a criminal record is more likely to get hired than a black without one.

So having said all that, can blacks be racist? Well maybe. But I wouldn't really use that term. Bigoted? Sure. Prejudiced? Absolutely. But I really do think that racism requires not only a belief in racial superiority but the opportunity and willingness to put it into practice, which generally Blacks don't have in America.

Now if the history had been different, would Blacks act any differently toward whites? If America were majority Black and Whites were the Other, would Blacks be any better? I think not. People are people.
But that's not the world we live in.

Tunde said...

i think its very possible for black people to be racist. one of my line brothers is one of the most racist people i know. and he has no shame about it. he has a strong discontent towards asians.

i'm partially prejudice towards caucasians. i wouldn't say that i'm racist but i don't particularly care for most of them that i have met so far in my life.

the uppity negro said...

@ Marbles

Perhaps I contradicted myself with that one. Seeing as how fringe groups do have this "black is better" mentality. However, since I do believe personally that wielding power is needed for this idea of being considered a racist, then I guess that's why I still said unequivocally no.

See, what I'm having a problem with really does boil down to the language between "racism," "prejudiced" and "bigoted" on a lesser level. I think if we could adequately delineate between the first two we'd be alright. Why do I say that--because of our effed understanding of both of those words, it allowed Glenn Beck with his fat nasty face to call Obama a racist and not really think twice about it and say so without evidence.

Okay, so black folks called Bush a racist, what's the difference?

I think Stephen Smith on the Ed Schultz show made the delineation between the two about as best as anyone could say. Here's the link

I think there's a stark and clear difference between me acting mean and evil towards a white person simply because they're white and me being an elected official or being the head of a company or on a board of directors and me allowing systematic practices to be carried out that seek to maintain blacks and browns into a permanent underclass.

At the end of the day, Jeremiah Wright can go off all he wants and Jesse and Al can say whatever they like, and Glenn Beck can say whatever he wants, and white folk still are the ruling power structure in this country.

@ AB

To address this idea in towns where blacks are on all levels of government, is there any documented evidence that would show that these blacks practiced "reverse racism?"

Small town or not, I'm quite sure if any evidence of severe preferential treatment could be logged the state officials would be there quick, fast and in a hurry to bust it all up.

My read is yes, indeed, Negroes can be (and sometimes are) just as racist, prejudiced, and ignorant as anyone else. I don't necessarily think "power" has anything to do with racism. "Power" can be used to oppress, sure, but so can words and actions. You don't need a title to make someone feel "less than". The Klan weren't (always) folks in positions of power either. They were (and still are for the most part) just some marginalized, ignant, hating bastards with strength in numbers. Does than make them not-racist?

Making someone feel less than regardless of a title on an individual one-on-one basis is a lot different than helping carry out policy that adversely and systematically affects one race of people versus another. This is the type of local policies on the state and city level that lead to lopsided funding when it comes to education and various city services--and let's not get on the health care debate. I think when people make those decisions and do so and can sleep at night, then they have transcended the boundary of just plain ol prejudiced, into being racist. That they think so lowly of certain people that they would help legislate their demise, why because if they were forced to view them as equal and indeed humans, then they would be forced to treat them differently.

Also, I'm not sure where you got your facts about Klan members being some offshoot group at least prior to the 1960s. It was more than common practice for elected officials to be members of the local Klan, in addition to various prominent people such as lawyers, judges and most certainly police officers.

the uppity negro said...

In hindsight, I have a few questions based on some interactions I've had with some people over the years:

1) Why do some of the black people I've mingled with think its some badge of intellectual superiority to come to the conclusion that blacks can be racist?

Usually when this topic is breeched I just keep my comments to myself, but somehow, whoever says it all of a sudden gets a chorus of amens and then somehow get Negro Accolade points for saying that.

2) Why do blacks that openly admit to being "racist" wear around like a badge of honor as though it's okay?

cjames30082 said...

This is one of those posts where folks say "There's racism, but I'm not a racist".
I have made many racist comments regarding everyone. I don't know how many times I've sat around and said some crazy *ish* like "If you need some yard work done, just go hire some mexicans." Damn that racist.

I roll through South West ATlanta Shawty (SWATS) from time to time and promptly lock my door. Why, I don't know, racism has a little something to do with it. I don't do it in my white suburban neighborhood. I don't even lock the door when I'm at the grocery store.

How many times have imitated a white man with a line of "Not Unusual to be loved by Anyone." Is that racist, you bet it is. So long story even longer we're all racist to a degree

cjames30082 said...

It's not OK to be racist. I got a problem. But the first step to solving a problem is admiting you have one. MOST folks won't admit they have a problem.

Sasha said...

oh h- yes, black people can be racist. not only can we be racist, some tend to turn their noses up at our own people. as in, if you're light, you just may not be black enough....or...if you're so fair that you pass for white, that you may get the cold shoulder if the person in question is unaware that you're black just like them. please dont get me started on how some black people think white people's water is colder in reference to other products such as buying or selling something as opposed to just going with the option thats the best choice.

Marbles said...

@ cjames:

"How many times have imitated a white man with a line of "Not Unusual to be loved by Anyone." Is that racist, you bet it is."

(completely clueless expression)

"But the first step to solving a problem is admiting you have one."

We fear what we'll find when we poke around in dark corners of our psyches.

@ uppity:

I'm not clear where you're going by citing the Glenn Beck thing, because I don't think Obama's given any evidence for being ANY of those three things. Beck would have sounded like a jackass no matter which one he used. (I do wonder if the fallout would have been as great if he'd used the less loaded "prejudiced," though.)

---"Hey Lionel! Am I prejudiced?"
"YOU, Mr. Bunker? NAW!"
(Michael rolls eyes)-----

"Small town or not, I'm quite sure if any evidence of severe preferential treatment could be logged the state officials would be there quick, fast and in a hurry to bust it all up."

In that regard, I think it's better to look not at American small towns but at the ANC in South Africa.

Ed The Sports Fan said...

Black people are racist as hell, hell we racist amongst ourselves with light-skinned vs. dark-skinned. (which is why i created the Light Skinned Coalition)

Plus, we racist as hell towards others depending on how you treat us. Black folks generally like hispanics because we resonate with one another, but don't try to get at they ladies or its a real problem. It'll be Coronas and wedding dresses flying round this mother. Asians are 50/ aren't usually as trusting, but women love that black schlong so it evens out. As for white folks, it just depends on the nigga. Yeah, I said it, nigga. White folks are cool but sometimes because they are the "majority" they don't realize when they are out of pocket. Most of the time they don't realize it so I can't say its their fault, sometiems black folks can do so much justice just by educating white folks. Trust me, they'll love you for life because of it.

And by love I mean by you many drinks at the bar and loan you money with no questions asked. LOL.


Marbles said...

@ Ed:

How about the love anyway without the drinks? I'm dead broke.

the uppity (and sometimes elitist) negro said...

I'm pulling my elitist card on this one.

We all got a different definition of racism. Apparently my over-analytical ass is out the loop because it seems that everyone else is operating off of the simple definition that if you don't like someone else of a different race without any further qualification of said disliking, then you meet the criteria for being racist.

That's some bullsh&% in my opinion though.


If you can explain to me how making a joke about "getting some Mexicans" with regards to doing yard work is racist, I'm all ears.

At worst its prejudiced, at best it's a statement of reality and fact. The reality is that many Latinos (perhaps mostly Mexicans) do yard work, the fact is that many of them do good work. I'd feel much more comfortable hiring them to do my yard work than Booga Man from around the corner. Consistently at the schools I went to, those that had the local janitor or Booga Man do the grounds, it looked like crap. But the Latino workers did the job par excellence.


Please explain to me "racist amongst ourselves." Unless you were joking, I don't see how racism can exist amongst members of the same race.

DCBred said...

Haven't had a chance to read all the comments, but of course, I have to weigh in.

Black people can be racist and there are black racists. There are black people who hate other black people! Furthermore, there are plenty of black people that have racist beliefs toward others. "Power" is not just an institutional's also social. And in society, Black people can and do have power over other races at times. And we have to get this idea out of our heads that we are the permanent minority. In situations where we are the majority, there is opportunity for us to have institutional power over another race.

DCBred said...


Comments like that perpetuate social exclusion and an environment where it's ok to treat Mexicans as second-class citizens. That's racist. That one little comment doesn't exist in a vacuum by itself. It's encouraged and encourages others to do the same, think the same...and act the same.

You have no right to put yourself on a pedastal in this one. As someone who's studied Sociology (and over-analyzed this issue just as deeply), I can assure you your definition is self-serving.

DCBred said...


Comments like that perpetuate social exclusion and an environment where it's ok to treat Mexicans as second-class citizens. That's racist. That one little comment doesn't exist in a vacuum by itself. It's encouraged and encourages others to do the same, think the same...and act the same.

And black people can hate their own people. For example, there are a number of websites out there run by black women who only date white women. These sites are dedicated to bashing black men and women who date them.

You have no right to put yourself on a pedastal in this one. As someone who's studied Sociology (and over-analyzed this issue just as deeply), I can assure you your definition is self-serving.

Sorry had to add more...

Marbles said...

@ uppity:

I've never been able to figure this one out:

Three years ago I was a phone rep in a customer service department. I was friendly acquaintances with this young black guy about my age who worked next to me. One day after a customer call, out of nowhere he turned to me and just started on this frustrated rant: "God! Almost every time I get a black person on the phone they are so goddamn stupid! These black people are total idiots!"

Well, what the hell was I supposed to say to that?

Now this guy was no Henry Louis Gates Harvard-educated elitist type, nor was he a lightskinned "passable", conservative stuffed shirt, or "white"-sounding". He simply struck me as, frankly, an "average bro".

I didn't know how I was supposed to respond to that. I was thinking "Is this some kind of trick?" I basically just shrugged and hoped that would satisfy him. But it really weirded me out.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

1) Why do some of the black people I've mingled with think its some badge of intellectual superiority to come to the conclusion that blacks can be racist?

Usually when this topic is breeched I just keep my comments to myself, but somehow, whoever says it all of a sudden gets a chorus of amens and then somehow get Negro Accolade points for saying that.

@Uppity, the ego protects itself. I think it's only with great effort that we can see our own personal flaws.

I don't know you personally but from reading your posts I'd have to guess you have a higher IQ than most people, and you are either formally or highly self educated.

Like me you may fall trap to an exercise of the intellect, you analyze, cogitate for a bit, your vocabulary gives you a broader pallette to create a more subtle rendering of a subject. You don't just have reds you have vermillions, burgandies, and crimson.

Then you take that painting down to show your friends and get a "I like the reds, uppity". It's dissastifying because you feel the difference between the reds, they are obvious and powerful to you.

I guess it goes back to one of your initial premises, we need a common and mutually acceptable definition of racism that we can all wrap our noggins around.

the uppity negro said...

@ DC Bred

Not at you specifically, but I'm waiting on someone to give a working definition of racist. If you're even remotely suggesting that simply because blacks hate other blacks qualifies as racism then I don't know even remotely how to respond to that. And as a sociologist wouldn't you be able to give a cogent definition as to how one should approach this issue.

And let me further explain the whole comment with Mexicans and yard work: to make such a statement must come with some qualifications I'll admit. You know when someone is making the comment in a derogatory way, or their really making it as a statement. If one is making it as a derogatory statement, I still allege that it's not a racist statement. Is it highly prejudiced? Yes. Is it daresay a bigoted remark? Probably so.

I will ask for a counter on this one. How is it that my definition is self-serving and supposedly yours isn't--although, in the sake of fair arguments, I wasn't quite clear on what your definition is.

I think the situations where we are the permanent majority is a falsehood. Aside from a few Negro colleges and other local schools and churches, we aren't in the majority to be exercising our prejudicial preferences. Seeing as how on a state level and most certainly not nationally we're NOT in the majority, I'm trying to see just how the African American brand of "pop racism" is as equally detrimental to the forward movement of this country.

The more I think about this topic, I think posing the question as such moves us off topic.

@ Marbles

If another black co-worker of mine did that, I would have rolled my eyes and not missed a beat. I probably would have chalked him up as pure-D ignorant.

Don't get me wrong, I've had conversations about this with my black friends and I say to them, how can you go around calling all these people by these derogatory names and if one them even thought about saying the n-word, you'd be ready to fight. The issue of awareness and sensitivity is a two way street.

@ Atypicalwhiteguy

Still haven't figure out if it's "a typical" or "atypical" lol

But, yeah, the world has never been in stark black and white, and I think that's been part of humanities downfall that we've been able to operate in the shades of grey--or the shades of blue or the shades of red. Understanding that most of us speak from a certain context, and that we are the sum total of our past experiences exuded in the present, then I think we can begin to move forward. But as long as we operate in the "this OR that" or the "us vs. them" dichotomies, we're doomed from the start.

Marbles said...

@ uppity:

"I think the situations where we are the permanent majority is a falsehood."

But again, that gets into the question of who that "we" includes. If it includes only African-Americans, then yer probably right. But broaden the net, and South Africa's ruling ANC changes the entire equation.

Atypicalwhiteguy said...

@Uppity somedays I'm a little of both I guess.

I don't think I'm immune to racism, I am as apt as anyone to belive the worst about my fellow man. I try not to nurse anything in my sanctum sanctorum though.

@AB few questions for you when you have the time and anyone else for that matter who wants to chime in:
1.How did your experiences growing up affect any racism within yourself?

2. On a whole were your experiences with whites postive or negative?

3. How hard was it to keep bad experiences from souring positive ones?

4. Could you tell a difference between your peers and older whites?

5. Assuming, you did interact with whites on an equal postive basis as a child and young man, if you had not do you think that would have changed your changed your perceptions of whites?

the uppity negro said...

@ Marbles

I'm speaking for the descendants of African slaves living in North America.

I know jack diddly about slave descendants in the Carribean and in South America. I know even less when it comes to South Africa.

However, when an all black government oppresses it's people I have some varying opinions on that.

First--it's wrong , wrong, wrong as hell. How can one human being do that to another? Human rights charges need to be filed and followed through immediately. By the same token, how does one justify the SA government that still has millions of people living in actual SLUMS. These aren't ghettoes of city subsidized housing projects, but veritable slums where people don't have drinking water and postal addresses.

That to me isn't racism. That's just some other brand of totalitarianism that says the proletariat don't count.

Secondly in my opinion, they learned half of this stuff and techniques via European colonialism on the African continent. Or at minimum, the predicament these countries find themselves in is a direct result of European colonialism. It's only been 52 years since the first African nation declared its independence of British rule in 1957, 50 years given the complete rape of a countries national resources is merely a drop in the bucket. Let the record show, the Portuguese set up shop in Ghana taking over building Elmina castler in 1488!! Doing the math, these past 50 years is pocket change compared to the way the Europeans benefitted.

So when the British left in 1957, please believe Ghana was still indebted up the wazoo to the mother country, as are many sub-Saharan African nations. It's a vicious cycle.

In some way, as these despots saw how cruelly the Europeans treated their people, they said why not I. And they did.

Is that racist? No. Just inhumane.

the uppity negro said...

Wooow, this is the first time I had to split a whole comment into two because it had exceeded 4,096 characters, lol.


1. I don't consider myself racist, prejudiced at times, of course we all are. Growing up though, I did a lot of stuff in mixed settings, my mother worked at mixed office places. So I don't have this isolated experience with white people. I had a few teachers in high school who perhaps let their prejudices get the best of them--did I or my parents ever say they were racist? Not once. And I quickly learned that just because I was mistreated in school by a white teacher didn't mean the teacher was racist, and that was something my parents already practiced.

And of course through high school having white friends, it was quite clear that just because one white person hadn't dealt with some prejudices didn't mean that every other white person was racist.

Common sense told me that.

2. On a whole, I've had decent experiences with white people. I mean, I've gotten the sideways glances a few times. Given an internship I did last summer where I was the only black in an ALLLLL lily white setting in suburban DC, I realised half of the problem was sheer ignorance. While some of my fellow bloggers (LOL) were ready to level racism at the whites I was with, I was quite clear that their comments, as insensitive as many of them were, stemmed from sheer ignorance.

Fact of the matter is that being out in DC suburbs, those white people had not one general concept of black urban life than what they saw on the news at night, and their one of two trips into the city. Every piece of stereotype you could imagine had been emblazoned on their brain as often times true.

For example: the first week i was there, I went with my group down to Ben's Chilli Bowl and we passed the Howard University exit on the green line and the group leader asked on a train full of black folk "so can whites enroll at Howard?" Now this dude had been in DC his whole life and he still didn't know that just because they're HBCUs doesn't mean that only blacks could go there, and that in acutality places like Howard were created because it was against the law for blacks to attend Georgetown!

the uppity negro said...

....continued from the first two...

3. It was easy for me. I consider myself relatively open minded. Like I said, I go into each new encounter much the same way I meet any new person. Just because one person was an idiot doesn't necessarily mean the next one will be either.

AB is dead on right on this one. He didn't say it in this post, but he has many times before that the dismantling of race in our country is going to come from our one-on-one actions human to human.

4. There's a stark difference between peers and older whites. By far, the most friendly white folk i've encountered were old whites in the South.

Go friggin' figure.

The cold reactions and slightly rude encounters with whites down south are almost all from the middle aged and younger. Like the 70 year old and 80 year old whites always seem to be the most talkative if you're standing in line somewhere or something like that.

ACtually, whites up north are the rudest in my opinion irrespective of age. And since I've traveled so much stateside, the friendliest state I've ever visited was Mississippi

5. That's a big "what if" and I'm not sure if it's a fair "what if" at least for me. I mean, I ended up going to an HBCU for undergrad, and for me I had an equal chance of not going. But, when I got displaced by Hurricane Katrina four years ago in the middle of my schooling, I consciously made the decision to go to an HBCU following that disaster. And I also consciously made the decision to go an HBCU for grad school. If an HBCU had my concentration for doctoral work I would have gone to one as well (but none of them do.)

So, while I chose to be around people of my own color, it in no way makes me change my perceptions of whites. Just like many blacks pull out the "we're not monolithic" card, I've tried my best to extend the same courtesy to white people--not all white people are the same.

My pastor always said this my whole life (too bad this quote didn't get looped ad nauseum) and it was that "Every one your color, is not your kind and everyone not your color is against you."

Marbles said...

@ uppity:

"ACtually, whites up north are the rudest in my opinion irrespective of age."

Sir, this means war!

Atypicalwhiteguy said...


with regards to #4, I definitely would have to agree that it appears there is more internalized racism in the North as compared to the South. Again this is from the white's mans perspective so obviously theres a slew of stuff that wouldn't register on my radar.

I was stationed up at Fort Drum NY, for 8 years. Its in a little town called Watertown about 45 minutes from Syracuse. Before they built the base there the locals told me a grand total of 2 black families lived there. Before that the irish lived on one side of the river and the italians the other, they either went to St. Anthonys or St. Patricks church and that was that.

I think in some ways the North said - well we did the emancipation proclamation, we presevered the Union, and ended the discussion.

Down south I think we actually thought about it a bit more struggled and came a little closer to understanding each other. I'm not writing off anything that happened or is still happenning but I think regionally (at least in NC) we made more effort to wrestle with the issues.

In some parts of the North, I think they just shrugged and kept moving.

Marbles said...

@ Atypicalwhiteguy:

To the extent that this north/south difference exists, it could also be because blacks have lived in the north in large numbers for a much shorter time than in the south.

the uppity negro said...

@ Marbles and ATWG

That's what my parents said because I observed the difference between northern whites and southern whites: down south whites actually were forced to change their way of life. Up north, business continued on as usual. Racism and various prejudicial practices up north and out west had always been institutionalized in the sense that there wasn't a big ol' "No Coloreds Allowed" sign posted in the pane glass window of the local Five and Dime store.

Although, blacks have been in northern cities in large numbers as early as 1910 according to census records. With the 1890s being the worst documented when it came to lynchings in the South and thanks to NAACP being started in 1909, that's what spurred the Great Migration of southern blacks up north to the major cities and of course smaller industrialized cities like a Saginaw, Michigan or a Toledo or Akron, Ohio. It was the returning of black soldiers from World War I that gave impetus to many of the race riots in the major cities in 1919-1921.

Moreover, with the influx of ethnic Europeans migrating during WWI, those ethnic Europeans and blacks migrating to the north are solely responsible for factory workers in the northern cities. We've been a part of the North for quite some time now.

cjames30082 said...

This calls for my favorite line ever on A CD from Dr. Dre's Chronic Track nine.

GUY #1: "Hey look man, don't you know in order for us to get this thing to work. We gotta get rid of all pimps, pushers and prostitutes, then start all over again clean."


Wave said...

Pretty easy answer. Any member of any racial group can harbor racism.

Ciara said...

This calls for my favorite line ever on A CD from Dr. Dre's Chronic Track nine.

GUY #1: "Hey look man, don't you know in order for us to get this thing to work. We gotta get rid of all pimps, pushers and prostitutes, then start all over again clean."


That's actually from the movie "The MacK" but yeah, I get your point lol

Marbles said...

Hey Cjames--

I still wanna know what that "Not Unusual to be loved by Anyone" thing means....

Ann said...

I looks like I'm going to have to start printing out the comments section when I take a day off from the grind.

A-Chi said...

I can't believe no one has done this yet, but from the dictionary:

Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\
* Function: noun

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

— rac·ist \-sist also -shist\ noun or adjective

Therefore, based on the definition, yes blacks can be racist. In fact, racism isn't restricted to just white and black. For example, (from stereotypical movies!) Koreans can be racist against Blacks.

Racism isn't dependent on power, though power can enforce racism. That is why a poor white person working at the local diner with less than a high school degree and unable to pay rent can be just as racist as anyone else.

Marbles said...

Five minutes ago I was picking up a pizza slice at the corner, when suddenly this black guy barges through the door and yells at the white guy who runs the place: "Hey! Hey you! How you been? Where ya been lately? You haven't been coming around anymore! Whatsa matter, you think you're BETTER than us? Gettin' UPPITY, huh? Huh?!" Then they both cracked up and slapped each other five.

What does this have to do with the topic? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. XD XD XD

the uppity negro said...

I guess my last general comment on the whole issue:

I think its interesting that blacks, at least that have commented on this blog I think relatively indicative of a wide swath of your average black person in America (whatever that is), are so readily to accept the fact that fellow blacks can be racist. Personally, I think it's only because we've allowed mainstream thought to tell us that. Forty years ago, such a question wouldn't have even entered the minds of a black person in such a way as we see it now. Moreover, any white person wouldn't have even thought of accusing a black person of being a racist.

Granted 40 years ago no one foresaw a black president, let alone one with such an ethnic name as Barack Obama.

@ A-Chi

While I do appreciate someone actually producing a real definition in somewhere printed and authenticated by some real sources, I ask the question as whether do many of us operate off of that definition? Whatever the case is, I need to know to adjust my approach to the whole issue.

@ Marbles

Yeah, blacks and whites sometimes do have those type of friendships where that can happen. I've seen it take place. I think its really cool when you can joke about it like that. said...

I'm obviously late here, but as usual, I'd like to thank all ya'll for this nuanced and well reasoned debate.

One note of clarification for ATypicalWG: you might think race is the most popular subject at, but it isn't by a longshot. Anytime I do anything about relationships, it's blogger gold. Race is a distant 2nd.

spool32 said...


If power is a requirement for racism (I don't believe it is), wouldn't that observation indicate that the balance of power is beginning to... well, if not equalize, at least reflect demographics more?

nihprodne said...

I'd say that anybody has the ability to be racist...but then I would turn around and say that I don't think it is about "race" anymore. Most hate I see is a case of the haves and have nots, color is just something tangible you can attach to it

then again I may be completely wrong

Anonymous said...

I am sure that at least some are racist having experienced racial slurs several times from african - american people. There does not seem to be a clearly defined law or technique that can be applied in these cases.

londongirl92 said...

Everyone, no matter what race, is a little bit racist. That's just the way life is.

I disagree with the comment that 'black people can't be racist as they don't have the power to oppress others' that's not true.

Black people have every right to be racist imo though.

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