Wednesday, April 11, 2007

White Responsibility for Racism

I posted yesterday about this whole Don Imus fiasco and I've read a lot comments on this subject in the last two days. What is hard for me to believe, even after seeing it with my own eyes, is that there are white folks everywhere are defending his comments. Here is their reasoning:
1. It's only comedy; black folks should just get over it.

2. Black comedians and rappers say stuff like this all the time so why should "they" get mad just because a white guy said it?

That second question always makes me so angry. I challenge anyone to find a lyric or a comedy act by anyone black where the words "nappy headed ho" are said all together in one sentence.

To be blunt, slavery is over. It ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. White folks do not get to dictate to black people what they can or cannot say anymore. If we choose to use those words among ourselves, then that is black folks prerogative. White folks need to start getting used to the idea that they do not possess superiority over black people. You cannot tell us what to say and how to say it. Moreso, when we tell you that the words you use to us and about us are insulting, you need to listen and you need to quit. It's that damn simple. And there is no need to ask "Why?"

But since some white people will inevitably ask why I will explain why. The struggle isn't over the words, the struggle is over power. And white people like Don Imus and George Bush and your next door neighbor and your bigot sister or cousin refuse to relinquish the power those words have. White People insist on saying them and on retaining the RIGHT to say them. And just like other rights and privileges white folks are determined to keep to themselves, it's not something you've earned, it's something you've stolen based solely on the power of your skin. Not brains or beauty or ability or some magical god-like white power that conveys on you the dominion of all things, just your skin is deemed "white" and mine is not.

So now, I ask you 'Why?' Why is that white people need to be able to say those words "just because black people do." Why is it so important to you? Why is it so important to be able to say the words but also to give the impression that oh, no, you would never do such a thing and you certainly don't condone anyone else saying it.

Yet when your friends and family or even Don Imus speak such things, you remain silent. And you allow him to get away with a slap on the wrist vacation of a two-week suspension. Wink wink nudge nudge, boys will be boys, right?

But he's a sixty year old man who should know better.

White people need to wake up about the level of insult words like this possess and the message they convey when they don't stand up against it. Telling black people to get over it is blatantly agreeing with the offender and the offense.

Frankly, there is no truth to the lie that these words would be used together by black people in every day speech unless you were delivering the basest of insults and ready to fight. These words are not acceptable among ourselves. My husband would never say anything like this to me unless he was ready for a divorce. And I would certainly never allow anyone to say this to my daughter without a lawsuit or delivering an old fashioned American ass whupping. Either will suffice.

To my white friends, it's not enough to simply be outraged or sympathetic. You have to be the one to tell your friends that this is not ok. You have to be the ones to make the phone calls of protest. You have to be the ones to not laugh the next a friend or coworker makes bigoted or racist remarks.

And you have to be the one to actually speak up - not just stay silent because you don't want to "offend anyone." When you see and hear things like this SPEAK UP. Yes, even to your family and friends. That is what I ask of you, demand of you. Do not stay silent because your silence, to a bigot is approval.

Black people have carried the ball of protest but it's time for white folks to stand up and if you don't agree with the likes of Don Imus say it.

Otherwise, how can you call yourself my neighbor or my friend?

7 comments:

  1. http://thestartingfive.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/interview-with-espn-columnist-jemele-hill-part-1/

    Come on over Deb.

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  2. Deb, I love ya but if you want to talk about what ended slavery then get it right. Presidents cannot outlaw things with an executive order. The thirteenth amendement of the US Constitution is what ended slavery. Here's a good start for you and everyone else that's been brainwashed by our crappy schools, from Wikipedia;

    The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, which declared the freedom of all slaves in the territory of the Confederate States of America that had not already returned to Union control. Issued in September 1862, the order became effective on January 1, 1863.

    The proclamation made the end of slavery a central goal of the war (along with restoring the Union) and was highly controversial in the North. It was not a law passed by Congress but a presidential order empowered, Lincoln knew, by his position as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

    The proclamation DID NOT FREE ANY SLAVES IN THE BORDER STATES (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), nor any southern territories already under Union control. It first affected only those slaves that had already escaped to the Union side, but as the Union armies conquered the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (estimated at 4 million) were free by July of 1865.

    After the war there was concern that the proclamation, as a war measure, had not made the elimination of slavery permanent. Several states had prohibited slavery, but some slavery continued to exist in Kentucky and Delaware, until the entire institution was finally wiped out by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865.

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  3. Oh Deb, and I forgot to say....

    "Uhuru"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Well, if you want to really get technical, slavery hasn't ended. The period where blacks were able to enslaved publicly and blatantly merely 'cuz white folks said so is over.

    However, there are people who are enslaved the world over including right here in the good old U S of A.

    What I said was more for a general reference than for historical accuracy but preach on girl, preach on.

    Now I have to google "Uhuru!" or wait for you to come back.

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  5. Ah, according to Wikipedia:

    Uhuru is the Swahili word for 'freedom'.

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  6. Regarding the white-black saying different things.. I think that you cannot preserve something to be permissible to yourself and "punish" the other if they do it..

    If you want to stop this, then you have to stop both from saying these things; black folks should stop popularizing "slave-nigger language" in all types of media to stop "others/whites" from saying what they don't like.

    You demand something, work for it!

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  7. I fail to see where whites are responsible for racism. However, this excuse is just another part of the stranglehold the blacks enjoy holding on the whites. They think they've got a real good thing going & they crank it up at every opportunity.

    Actually, this "racism" jazz has become a real laugh with white people. While it's become a crutch with the blacks.

    Perhaps it's time everyone, regardless of their skin color stood up on their own two feet & become accountable for themselves in this life. Gosh, that would be a refreshing change!

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