Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Robert Hartman (
28 Apr 1995 18:48:53 GMT

In article <3np5fa$>,
Gary Strand <> wrote:
>rh> Robert Hartman
>gs> Gary Strand
>gs> [T]o me, "oppression" is too-often used for "things didn't turn out the
> way I wanted". Face it, life is a bitch and a crap shoot sometimes. "If
> you can't always get what you wa-ant, you musta be-en oppres-sed", right?
> Sorry, but that kind of self-pity and refusal to realize that life ain't
> always fair just doesn't carry well with me.
>rh> OK. Even if it is often used that way, too-often used that way, what do
> you do about those situations when it is appropriately used. How do _you_
> tell the difference?
> I'd have to know the details, the context if you will, of the situation in
> which the alleged oppression is occurring, ie, I won't just take someone's
> word for it. A black person telling me she's being oppressed isn't enough -
> I have to know the details.

Fine. If you're willing to take the time to listen to the experience
of your boss, as you said you would, and those he points you to, as
I asked, that would be outstanding. That would be the kind of thing
that, if more people did it, would obviate any need for programs like AA.

I just want to be clear that listening is a bit more than just hearing
the words and plugging them into your own previous framework.
Listening is about discerning the other person's framework, and seeing
how their words fit within both yours and theirs. If you'll do that,
I'll count you as part of the solution--whether we wind up agreeing or not.

>rh> We step back, acknowledge that there's shit on all of us, and start help-
> ing each other clean up.
> Howzabout we don't sling shit on each other, or ourselves, to begin with?
>rh> We don't go around saying that there isn't any shit on anybody.
> Which is *not* what I've said.

But what do we do about the shit that's already there?

To me, that's the crux of the issue. If we need to wade in and get
some of it on ourselves in order to clean one another, are we willing
to do that or not?

Pretending that it isn't there, or that somehow it doesn't matter
because it didn't get on you, begs the issue. Stop doing that. It
only makes it seem as though you're reluctant to get any of it on
yourself. But that seems uncharacteristic of someone who argues as
thoughtfully and as forcefully as you do.

>gs> Fine. Don't be oppressive to others. That's how I am
>rh> Really? You know that for sure. You've checked it out thoroughly. You've
> done the longitudinal study on yourself. You keep track of it on a daily
> basis. Well, no one could ask for more than that.
> Do you suspect otherwise?

Well, I'll feel a lot more sanguine after you interview your boss and
the folks he refers you to. On other issues, I suspect that you do
keep an eye on yourself. On the issue of racism, I suspect that you
don't--because as a white person, it hasn't been a necessity for you.
What I actually suspect is that you wouldn't know what to watch for in
the first place.

>rh> Emphasize others capabilities to help themselves all you want, but don't
> pretend that the impediments they face aren't there--even if you haven't
> encountered them yourself.
> I've never said that racism, sexism, idiocy, bigotry, &c don't exist - what
> I do dispute is that these things are the *only* "impediments" for some. It
> is considerably more complicated than that.

Right. The other impediments are things that minority people will have
to sort out by themselves. However, they _can't_ fix the racism,
bigotry, and the sexism by themselves, and those things complicate and
distract them from the things that they _can_ do for themselves. Only
_we_ can fix those things. So let's stop whining about how unfair it
all is and get to it. Let's get the hell out of their way so they can
get on with the work that _they_ need to do.

>rh> Exactly what is it that a person can do that would revoke her or his sta-
> tus as a human being? You said murdering innocent children, and I'd tend
> to agree. But is that all? Or are there other things that could disqual-
> ify a person?
> I'd save the categorization of "human in biology only" strictly for those
> who in engage in egregious violations of others' rights - yer serial rap-
> ists/murderers/molestors, terrorists, and the like.

What's the difference between a murderer and a soldier who kills "the
enmey?" This is an important distinction if you say that you can
distinguish between people based on what they do. Who was it who
got to designate the other person as "the enemy?" Prior to the war,
few to none of the soldiers on the "other side" ever killed anyone.