Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Gerold Firl (
27 Apr 1995 12:37:40 -0700

In article <> (youssef) writes:

> Good grief, I think a major problem with people in this country is
>that don't haven't had a real *accurate* history lesson.

Have you ever seen _how the other half lives_, by jakob riis? If you are
interested in history, in particular the history of the american underclass
and the assimilation process by which individuals have moved (or not moved)
from the underclass into the mainstream, read this book. Riis was one of
the very first photojournalists, working in new york city from around
1870-1890. He was an important figure in the social reform movement of that
time, and provides an very interesting glimpse into one of the other "other
halves"; the segment of american society which worked to repeal injustices
such as slavery, and which worked on behalf of the indians, and who did
their best (and pretty damn well, actually) to ameliorate the terrible slum
conditions in decaying urban ghettoes. (Note: the poverty of new yorks
bowery and hells kitchen in 1880 was worse than it is now.)

In particular, read his comments on the newly-forming black community,
formed largely from freed-slaves from the south.

>located around the mid-16th century in Western Africa. Now imagine being
>stripped of all your civil, human, economic, moral rights and freedom for
>almost 200 years-- that's 3 centuries, over 10 generations, over 70,000
>days. That was slavery from the 1690's to the 1860's. Now imagine being
>freed, but still not having any rights for another century. Imagine being
>a culture in a society which evolves without you. Imagine watching your
>parents live hard, cruel lives as a child, growing into a hard cruel life,
>and then watching your children live hard cruel lives. Imagine a system
>biased completely biased against you based not on your cognitive abilities
>and physical skills, but your heritage.

The thing that surprized me about what riis had to say regarding these
ex-slaves was the sense of hope, the sense of community, the strength and
optimism of the newly-free. The picture you paint of hopeless people
stripped of their human quality just doesn't jibe with history as I know
it. Check _bullwhip days: the slaves remember_, a collection of interviews
with ex-slaves talking about their experiences. You might be surprized at
how resiliant people can be. Your image of them as pathetic, helpless
victims is very skewed.

The black culture of harlaam seems to have grown in complexity and creative
energy throughout the first half of the 20th century. Blacks made important
contributions to american culture in the arts, and to some extent even in
the sciences. What does the name booker t. washington mean to you? Or
washington carver?

> That is just a flash of history to add some illumination to your
>cherished statistics.

I cherish neither the statistics of crime rates, nor a skewed view of
history which seeks to excuse the mistakes of the past. I don't think
anyone is happy about high rates of crime, yet, they exist. We should seek
not to excuse them, but to fix them.

I have been wondering why it seems that black cultural integrity appears to
have disintegrated _after_ the passage of civil rights legislation. In my
opinion, mainstream american culture has made a good-faith attempt to
repudiate racism and build a truely multicultural, pluralistic society
based on the rule of law and equal protection. The effort has had some
success, but also appears to have had some seriously negative repercussions
as well. Perhaps these should be viewed as inevitable effects of
integration. As blacks move from being a segregated subculture to an
integrated part of the american mainstream, some dissociation should
probably be expected. I guess I'm hoping that by making blacks aware of
this effect, of the pitfalls of moving from one culture to another, they
can avoid some of the worst problems.

> Ohh, and I don't condone, encourage, engage in, or support "black
>violence", in fact I don't condone any violence. But as a black man in
>America, when one of my brothers goes wrong a part of me respectfully

Not me. I understand, but I have no respect for those who take the easy way
out. We can do better than that.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf