Sunday, March 09, 2008

If You Think I Hate White People, Please Read This

You know, I can't make up my mind what I should think when I hear comments from white women online who claim that I have some dislike for white people just because they are white. Though I could easily hide it, I make it completely clear to people that I am a woman of mixed heritage with a white partner and a child who is even more multi-ethnic than I am. If I wanted to claim that white people should be hated or denigrated because they are white, then it really wouldn't make much sense for me to own up to loving and choosing to fill some of the spaces closest to my heart with people who are white nor would it be wise for me to continuously make it clear that my own genealogy includes white people. Instead of lying and covering up what would be inconvenient if I wanted to denigrate people just because they are white, I've always chosen to live honestly about my heritage.

The funny thing about this is, when I've participated in predominantly black forums (online and off), I've been castigated more times than I can count for not being willing to deny or ignore the non-black parts of my heritage. Hey, I'm caramel brown with a big afro! No stranger is going to look at me and say, "That woman must have some Irish ancestry." or "I'll bet that woman has a white partner waiting on her at home." To some people, because of my skin color and hair type, I should just call myself black and that's it. And, you know, when I post on predominantly white forums, it's easy for me to understand why so many people of color feel that way.

The world I live in is one that constantly centers whiteness. Do you know what I mean? I'm asking sincerely because it's the only way you can understand the rest of what I'm saying. In a system where whiteness is centered and the white, Western world is positioned as the normative culture, there will always be more than enough people around praising white women and men. White women and their cultural icons are in no danger of being forgotten.

I have yet to see an American school textbook that mentioned women's rights without including the names and accomplishments of at least Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. However, how many of them mention the fact that until Europeans colonized this country, women were already enjoying the rights that Stanton and Anthony fought for plus many more? Can you understand why that's problematic, at the very least?

Living in a place like this one, where those that look like you are regularly acknowledged and praised, there is a real dearth of places where the idea of decentering whiteness even gets introduced. As a woman of color raising a woman of color, I want the odds that she will be able to live in a world where whiteness is decentered to be a lot greater than they are now. That doesn't stand a chance at ever occurring unless people of color and our allies are willing to agitate for it just as the cultural icons of the white, Western world have agitated for the world that exists today.

For those whites who happen to read this, I'd like to ask you a question.

Do you really think that understanding this is the same thing as hating white people?

27 comments:

Sylvia/M said...

I don't think you hate white people; but then again I'm not white. I think this is a fabulous post.

Ravenmn said...

I'm hoping for a world in which Dragon Fire doesn't get asked such idiotic questions. Seeing some of the posts by younger bloggers gives me hope that this will, in fact, happen.

Jess said...

I've never read your blog and thought that you personally hate white people, but I would like to go on record as saying that I do feel as though a majority of black people HATE white people.

You ask at the bottomm if understanding what you wrote is the same thing as hating white people and the answer is more complicated than no--I can understand what you are writing but still FEEL differently about it, and what I FEEL is that black people, on the whole HATE white people.

I read a good mix of both black and white blogs and the black blogs that I read radiate hatred for white people. Now whether that is true or not, I don't know, but it's what I come away feeling after reading the black blogs.

I started reading a number of black authored blogs quite by accident and was initially drawn in by the passion of the writing and the honesty I found there. Then I would start to see references to "whitey" and other such things that made it clear that black people really do not like white people or their privilege and at first I was kind of bummed because I thought to myself that I do not hate black people just because they are black and yet black people seem to group us all together and hate us as a group and if you mention anything, oh boy, the lectures come about our privilege and how we don't get to feel bad because they've been feeling bad about themselves all their lives. It feels like a SHUT UP tactic if you tell me that I am not allowed to feel how I feel. I never comment anywhere because I'm not up for being bashed the way I see others get bashed for expressing their opinions.

Anyway, I think I've gotten over the initial shock that black people hate us. I keep reading trying to understand it all. I like seeing the world through differnt eyes.

Melissa McEwan said...

Do you really think that understanding this is the same thing as hating white people?

Nope.

And I suspect that anyone who thinks you hate white people doesn't understand the difference between white people and white privilege.

Lucizoe said...

Aw, Melissa said what I was thinking.

Some white people can't hear a single thing about white privilege without panicking ("I'M not like that! ZOMG, you hurt my feelings! Me me me me!"). If one views the world as a zero-sum game then I guess any mention that maybe white people are not, in fact, super special snowflakes or the natural masters of the universe, is akin to advocating racial genocide. Or something.

All that to say, Hi! I'm white! The people who think you hate white people? Lacking in basic reading comprehension. (And probably willfully so, especially if you are at all referring to the train wreck that is the Michigan festival forum).

Salspua said...

I agree, Melissa. You said it perfectly.

And those who think it means hating white people have no clue what the extent of their privilege is. I can't KNOW it, either, but I know I don't know.

sal

Breez said...

I have a strong distaste for "white" as an institution.

On the flip side, there are white individuals that I like.

Whether or not white people understand my feelings is frankly, immaterial to me. Partially because, even if they walked a mile in my ghetto shoes, they would STILL have the shroud of their whiteness.

I despise the fact that in 2008, there are still elementary school text books that teach that black people "came over" to the states. I guess it was on Carnival Cruise Line?

I despise the fact that music, fashion, etc. is not legitimized until a white face is attached.

It galls me that even now, Hillary Clinton can shed crocodile tears, playing white damsel in distress versus the big black negro with the Middle Eastern middle name, and folks pull back and say "maybe we are being too hard on her. (She didn't bat an eyelash when her husband told the nation that he got his dick sucked by Jabba the Hut, but now she gets overcome by emotion? Get the hell out of here.)

Now, do these actions speak for every white individual? No. However, the institution of whiteness is a motherfucking machine...and I rage against that bastard.

annaham said...

Do you really think that understanding this is the same thing as hating white people?

No.

I've never felt that you "hate" white people (that is, for the short time that I've been reading your blog), and I'm a young white female. I completely agree, furthermore, that whiteness needs to be de-centered as much as possible--I am consistently bothered by the ways in which whiteness still very much masquerades as the "default," or as a non-identity (to paraphrase Robert McRuer). I have privilege, because I am white. This bothers me for many reasons, most of which I cannot articulate. And as you've pointed out, there's a big difference between being opposed to white privilege and being opposed to white people.

AnnMarie Kneebone said...

I am white. I believe that decentering whiteness is critical for everyone. I hate systemic racism. Everywhere I go, my white skin cuts a swath on my behalf. It simply should not be that way.

No, I do not believe that you hate me because of my white skin.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Holy crap, what idiot thinks you hate white people?!

For the record, speaking as a White Person, not only do I think you personally do not hate white people, I also think that the majority of Black people do not hate white people. I *do* think that it is often uncomfortable, at best, to be white in the face of an effort to decenter whiteness, and I think a lot of white people, having never had to question their privilege and power, experience this as a blatant attack on them or evidence of deep-seated hatred of them.

I see the kind of work you are talking about as coming out of a deep love. Just like feminism isn't about hating men, but about liberation for all of us, with particular concern for women's oppression - well, I see the same kind of formula in what you're talking about.

bfp said...

hm. you know how many black bloggers I've ever read who've EVER referred to white people as "whitey"? Zero.

not one.

Now, of course, I don't read every black blogger under the sun, but I do read quite a few, and many many of them are passionately political--and still, not one of them has ever referred to white folks as "whitey".

Plain(s)feminist said...

I don't think I've ever seen or heard "whitey," either, come to think of it, except on '70s sitcoms.

I have seen/heard plenty of white people who use racial slurs, however.

But even if the reverse were true, I doubt I would take "whitey" as a sign of hate unless someone said to one individual, "I hate you, whitey."

Tom said...

bint alshamsa,

You don't come across to me as hating white people at all. You come across as not wanting to put up with the stuff we so often try to get away with.

(I've been reading for a long time, but I don't think I've commented before.)

Daisy said...

Wonderful post.

Doing genealogy, I found black ancestors also. I'd always heard whispers that they were there, and by gum, it was true. :)

I've found mentioning this fact somewhat problematic too, since I also want to decenter whiteness and make it clear most people are mutts. (In the USA anyway, particularly those of us with southern ancestry!) At the same time, I don't want to look like a clueless white woman who is trying to be cool: Hey, I'm hip--I have black people in my family tree! And certainly, I've never used this as any kind of excuse for my own behavior when it's been found lacking in the racial sensitivity department.

At the same time, think it is important to mention: I am blonde and blue eyed and there are blacks in my gene pool, so probably in yours too. ;) Purity is a figment, get over it.

It's a tightrope.

Again, great post from you, and I never got the idea you disliked white people at all...In fact, I've always seen "the German" as sort of looking like Rutger Hauer in NIGHTHAWKS! hahaha!

whatsername said...

Clearly you want to kill whitey.

Why do you hate me Bint? :(

Anonymous said...

I found your blog awhile ago by accident and your honesty has kept me reading. I have never sensed any dislike, resentment, hatred or what-have-you from your posts. I am white.

Two life experiences have colored my perspective on the world. One, I grew up with a father who had been a double amputee since a childhood accident. I was a teenager before realizing that when we went out, people were staring at him. To me, he was normal. In fact, I can remember thinking as a little girl that other children didn't have real daddies because a real daddy had only one arm and one leg.

The other was that as a young adult, I lived in a provincial part of Japan for six months. For six months I had the unsettling and unexpected experience of being "different", stared at by children, intrusively contacted by some adults and avoided by others. Growing up white in America, I was used to blending in. My time in Japan forced me to become aware that I had always taken this for granted; the advantages of being white in a dominant-white culture were so ingrained that I was unaware of their existence.

Joan Kelly said...

I have only seen me use the word whitey.

I am sorry if that played any part in the whitey-hating groundswell that Jess thinks she is seeing.

And I am disgruntled to see, for the second time today (first was on Angry Black Woman's blog), people who haven't said hateful things having to explain that they aren't hateful. Particularly as the non-hateful things they say on the subject of racism are in fact necessary to say because of other people's hate. It was very hard for me not to write "other people's hate" in all caps just now.

Lisa Harney said...

Tulip, I have never seen you say one word that implies hatred for white people, and I've read quite a few of your words.

In reference to Jess' post above: I don't get the impression that the majority of black people that I've read or interacted with hate white people. I guess maybe when I read black people talking about white supremacy, white privilege, and white people, it resonates for me because I say similar things about cissexual supremacy, privilege, and people, but I don't hate cissexual people. I don't hate straight people, I don't hate men, but I can talk about how male privilege and heteronormacy affects me, and I've been accused of hating cis people, straight people, and men for saying these things.

Usually, when I read or hear someone talking about racism and white privilege, I sympathize, because they're saying things very similar to what I say, and vice versa.

Anyway, anyone who says you hate white people has a serious disconnect from reality.

Sorry for absence from commenting here - I've been under the weather for well over a month, had other issues come up. :(

Renegade Evolution said...

Shit, do I need to get my guns? What asshatery. I'm pretty dang white, and funny, never wondered for a second if you hated me. In fact, I've always gotten the impression that we'd have a great time over a beer or something.

Shrug. Humans.

lethal said...

Great way to say this. You've got my full support.

belledame222 said...

response:

"No. I just hate dense people. Perhaps this is why you're taking it personally."

seriously, you know what I love best about this: that so often this comes from white women who would and do scream bloody murder or at least go pshaw pshaw! when accused by some butthurt boy of being "man-haters."

or, better yet, if you -are- referring to That Board, I suppose in two or three cases, you get people who DO cheerfully admit to being man-haters, but still can't understand why o why anyone would feel the same way about white -women-, because that is TOTALLY DIFFERENT, yer so UNSISTERLY and also IGNORANT (my theory of the world, let me tell you it)

Aaminah said...

What the...

"that black people really do not like white people or their privilege"

Well, Jess, there is a big difference between "not like white people" and "HATE" and an even much bigger difference between "not like... their privilege" and "HATE white people".

I don't know where you've been reading, because as others mention I've NEVER seen a blog that uses the term "whitey". Maybe you just aren't reading intelligent blogs, I dunno. Or maybe you are projecting because you're going in with the assumption and looking for it to be confirmed.

I know alot of people of color (not just blacks) that aren't particularly fond of white people as a structural whole, but very few that actually hate white people. I know many who, like me, HATE the fact that some whites wallow in their privilege, get to deny said privilege, and like to make everything about their feelings while constantly telling us we shouldn't have any complaints. But pretty much those same people have individual white people in their lives that they like, enjoy the company of, and even sometimes love.

And no, my Habibti Bint, you have never come off as white hating to me. Talk about someone playing the race card...

Aaminah said...

"response:

'No. I just hate dense people. Perhaps this is why you're taking it personally.'"

Truly fabulous and then some... :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a white woman and I do not think you hate white people.

Anyways if that doesn't convince your white "friends" who think you are hating, try these ones:

"I don't hate white people-in fact one of my best friends is white!".

Then ask them where they've heard it before ;)

:) Rainbow Girl

Anonymous said...

I don't care for them. They are so full of it!!

Anonymous said...

Listen lady,

This country is obsessed with race. We live for it. We cannot pry ourselves from it. Our culture is obsessed with sex, instant gratification, socialism and the redistribution of hard working people's money amongst those who do nothing. Do I really think that understanding this is the same as hating white people?
Do I understand that a black woman feels threatened by white people? Do I understand that most of these blog sites promote generalization and bigotry? Yes, I do, though it's probably just my "ignorance" as a white person as to the so called "privileges" I receive. My fortune came from a hard working family; from a mother who devoted her life to teaching students and a father who dropped out of college to support his family. I didn't have much when I was a child. When my father earned enough money, he went back to college and is now a successful businessman in the construction industry. My mother graduated from teaching and is now an assistant principle. They were given nothing. They earned everything they had. They tried to raise me in such a way so as to teach me that God made all people equal and gave all people the same capacity for success as any other. I see many black athletes, black movie stars, black musicians, and now even a black president. So, do you mind if I answer your question with one of my own?

Around what exactly is "whiteness", as you put it, centered?

whatsername said...

Power and money.

And of course you can't see her point, because you were able to achieve the whole "American dream" thing through what appears to you to be hard work alone.

But it's never hard work alone.

That's not to diminish what your parents managed to do, it's not EASY for any of us. But if your family had been of color, your story would be different. Maybe with the same end result, maybe, given the right circumstances.

But white people do have privileges, and they do make things easier. Not EASY. But easier.

Though honestly if you want to be treated respectfully at someone's blog, it's a good idea not to start out with "listen lady"...

P.S. I'm white.