Open letter from white parent to other white parents – “Platitudes are not enough”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-harvey/dear-parents-of-white-children_b_3719818.html

I read a study some time ago comparing white and black families. It found that on average, African-American parents start talking about race with their African-American children by age 3. White parents with white kids? Age 13.

Is it any wonder my white students are so racially baffled and behind? That they look like deer in headlights when I tell them we’re going to talk about race in their actual lives? It’s not just the fact of being white, and thus insulated from the negative affects of racism (though I believe white children are deeply harmed as well — in different ways), that works against their developing aptitude about race and anti-racism. We, their parents, are working against them too!

ChildrenColor

Photo by: Lorenia

 
Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-harvey/dear-parents-of-white-children_b_3719818.html

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Open letter from white parent to other white parents – “Platitudes are not enough”

  1. Wow, never thought about it. Thanks for the convicting post.

  2. “[white students] look like deer in headlights when I tell them we’re going to talk about race in their actual lives?”

    Probably because they know you about to lay some total bs on them and try to make them feel guilty for things they have absolutely no reason to feel guilty about.

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

    • Just so I understand, when you say “you about to lay some total bs on them…” are you saying that racism doesn’t exist, that there are no valid racial concerns in America today worth talking about?

      • ” are you saying that racism doesn’t exist, that there are no valid racial concerns in America today worth talking about?”

        I watched Dr. Martin Luther King deliver his “I Have A Dream Speech” live on a black and white TV. At that time white racism was a serious problem in America. Today not so much. It is no longer acceptable in polite society for whites to express clearly racist views.

        Today the real problem is twofold. One, the overt racism of blacks towards whites. Many blacks hold onto their bitter racism like a treasured family heirloom. Secondly the racism of – for lack of a better term – white Liberals who attempt to enforce their own racist narrative to justify their bald attempts at political power.

        So yes, racism does exist, but it is not the racism that Dr. King spoke about. Many blacks worship the ground that Dr. King walked upon but have betrayed every thing he stood for in life – things like love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

        lwk
        free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

      • Is there “overt racism of blacks towards whites” as you say? I’d say yes, there are some instances of that so I’d agree with you there to a degree.

        I also agree that the racism that exists today is different from what MLK spoke against, but I disagree that people of color who continue to work against systemic racism today have “betrayed every thing he stood for.” Yes, Dr. King spoke of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. However, those ends are pursued in the midst of the struggle for justice and equality.

        Yes, racism has morphed. It is seldom overt, verbal racism, however that’s not to say that racism has been eradicated.

        Look at the stop and frisk policy in New York (https://lonetomato808.wordpress.com/tag/stop-and-frisk/) and the story of CeCe McDonald (https://lonetomato808.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/cece-mcdonald/) to name just two ways that race continues to function today – just in more subtle rather than overt ways.

  3. “I also agree that the racism that exists today is different from what MLK spoke against. … Yes, racism has morphed.”

    I don’t think so really. Here is what happened. It became unacceptable for whites to express any overt racism in public and whole generations now of white kids have grown up and largely abandoned the racism of the past.

    But the plight of blacks has not improved for many, and is in fact worse as generations of blacks now have learned to live on handouts and have come to expect a life of handouts as a right.

    Failing to achieve their goals many Liberals now have come up with a theory that some other “racism” has come along and replaced the old. They can’t show that racism acting except through statistics. So if more blacks end up in jail then that is “racism” to them, and not of course the propensity of violence and crime that now pervades large segments of black society.

    This new “morphed” racism is not real. It is only an excuse for failed policies and failed ideas.

    • re: “…generations of blacks now have learned to live on handouts and have come to expect a life of handouts as a right.”

      I’m not sure what you mean here when statistically, whites and blacks use welfare at nearly the same rate:

      Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
      Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %
      http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

      re: “So if more blacks end up in jail then that is “racism” to them, and not of course the propensity of violence and crime that now pervades large segments of black society.”

      Do you have any ideas on why there’s more “violence and crime” in “large segments of black society?”

      Michele Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, would suggest otherwise.

      The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

  4. “…systemic racism …”

    One last thought, another way of saying what I said before, but in fewer words.

    Today when people talk of “systemic racism” what they are really talking about is the “systemic failure” of previous policies.

  5. “Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
    Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %”

    Actually you have a point there. I was focusing on the accusation of “systemic racism” only.

    But if you generalized it more then you would have to talk of the overall, overwhelming, and general “systemic failure” of Liberal policies.

    ““So if more blacks end up in jail then that is “racism” to them,…”

    Yes, but you have to understand why that is so. It is largely so because blacks are being _taught_ that all their problems are due to racism. Blacks, by their ministers, teachers, provocateurs like Al Sharpton, and Democratic politicians that everything is racism.

    It is kind of like the Oprah incident yesterday where she said she was the victim of racism in wanting to look at an expensive purse in Switzerland. I am sure in her mind there is only one possible explanation for what happened – racism.

    There is a basic principle involved here: You find what you are looking for.

    So for several generations now we have spent an inordinate amount of effort “sensitizing” people to racism, and by God, that is exactly what they find every time they look! 🙂

    “Do you have any ideas on why there’s more “violence and crime” in “large segments of black society?””

    Well, how about:

    1. War on Drugs

    2. Making excuses for bad behavior

    3. Creating huge reservoirs of resentment by nonstop preaching to blacks that everything that goes wrong in their life is the result of racism.

    And now we have a lot of black-on-white violence and it is increasing. And we have black youth mob violence (using social media for example, to coordinate attacks on retail establishments – “flash mobs” I believe it is called).

    According to FBI stats for 2011 where the race of the offender is known for homicides the offender is black over 50% of the time, although blacks are 12-13% of the population (and of course the victims are largely black too).

    “Michele Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, would suggest otherwise.”

    There are a whole lot of people who make their living preaching the idea that racism has as you put it “morphed” into something that only the highly educated, probably like Michele, can adequately detect.

    That would be my guess.

    Like I said before, what we have here is systemic failure of Liberal policies.

    lwk

    • I think we have some pretty fundamental differences regarding what we think the root problem is regarding race in America today.

      You seem to believe that racism today is something that people are making up and perpetuating for their own benefit or to make up for the “systemic failure of Liberal policies.” You also seem to want to dismiss instances like Oprah’s as people seeing what they want to see.

      I believe that the overt racism of the past has changed – that there is still a racialized system in play that oppress certain groups of people based primarily on skin color. I believe that example’s like NY’s stop and frisk policy are evidence of how racism has changed and that Alexander’s arguments are not something that “only the highly educated, probably like Michele, can adequately detect.” Rather, many people of color would say that it’s not difficult to detect at all.

      https://lonetomato808.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/stop-and-frisk-the-high-school-senior/

      Thanks for reading and for commenting in a civil manner.

  6. “You seem to believe that racism today is something that people are making up and perpetuating for their own benefit or to make up for the “systemic failure of Liberal policies.””

    I do think a lot of it comes from perception and if we could work on changing the perception we would see a lot less off it. I do think that a lot of our problems come from the failure of past policies.I think that it is natural human tendency sometimes to do A to solve a problem, and then if it doesn’t work, do A even harder and with more determination. At some point you have to realize that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is crazy.” At some point you have to realize what you have been trying to do won’t work. Good intentions are no excuse. 🙂

    “You also seem to want to dismiss instances like Oprah’s as people seeing what they want to see.”

    Not dismiss it, but to listen to _both_ sides of the story. The Swiss salesperson doesn’t sound like she thought she was doing something racist. Her native language probably isn’t English and you get these two people together, and as nice as I think Oprah probably is in person, she has a lot to overcome in not looking for racism (a lot of her career in acting depicts racism).

    The standard response from some people I would call Liberal would be along the lines of, “Well the Swiss person has racism so deeply ingrained in her she doesn’t even know it.” I don’t buy that. I think most people understand when they are discriminating based on race or whatever.

    “..there is still a racialized system in play that oppress certain groups of people based primarily on skin color.”

    In regards to pragmatic politics of the Democrats I would have to agree. But that is a big issue in itself.

    “I believe that example’s like NY’s stop and frisk policy are evidence of how racism has changed …”

    I wrote a post on profiling that talks about that (not NY particularly, but the practice itself).

    Was Trayvon Profiled?
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/was-trayvon-profiled/

    We could probably split a lot of hairs on what is real racism, but I think what is happening with “stop and frisk” is that the police think they can look at people and have reasonable suspicion they might be up to something illegal and justify in their own mind they should be able to stop them and check them out.

    It just so happens that a lot of blacks (and probably Hispanics) fit the “profile.” I don’t think it is so much overtly racist in the sense of “let’s just screw these blacks because they are blacks.” It is because the police genuinely think they can identify people and skin color and dress are things they use in their “profile” (which in fact may be statistically accurate, but as I argue in my post, for law enforcement statistcs shouldn’t be enough).

    I absolutely think that “stop and frisk” is basically a police state in action. Police may have good intentions but good intentions, as I argue repeatedly, are not enough. An American should have a right to walk down the street and not be stopped, detained, and searched by police without reasonable cause and “reasonable cause” is not statistics or a profile.

    “Rather, many people of color would say that it’s not difficult to detect at all.”

    I don’t doubt that at all, but the whole point of my argument is that blacks may not always be the most objective witnesses as to what happened. I know that is extremely incorrect politically to say, but nevertheless I think it is the truth.

    One thing for sure, neither view is 100% correct. There is certainly racism still existent and by racism I am talking about both black and white racists. As I think I said before, I see black racism as being a pretty important factor. And to summarize I think we will see less of it if we don’t hype people up to see it everywhere.

    Here is a thought. Back in Salem, Mass. they saw a lot of witches because that is what they were looking for. Hung some of them too. That is what I am trying to say above all else. People find what they are looking for, and black people’s perceptions are not always 100% accurate (nor are anyone else’s). We could all work to change that, but blacks have to be willing also to let go of their racism.

    “Thanks for reading and for commenting in a civil manner.”

    I generally think that being civil and persistent beats yelling and calling names. I would say you were extremely civil also. 🙂

    lwk

    • So I really wanted to leave things with an “agree to disagree” stance but I just had to ask you about this bit:

      “…the whole point of my argument is that blacks may not always be the most objective witnesses as to what happened.”

      That’s quite a statement to make. Can you unpack that a bit? Are you saying that somehow only non-blacks are qualified to speak on the experience of what it is to be a black person in America or anywhere else in the world?

      I can understand someone not seeing racism where others do. I disagree with that, but I respect anyone’s ability and right to come to that conclusion. But I can’t understand someone making the blanket statement that an entire segment of the population is unqualified to speak on their own lives based on the color of their skin.

      The argument could just as easily be made the other way – that Whites (or any other racial group) are not the most objective witnesses to how they experience the world.

      I’m guessing you said what you did because you believe that people of color are biased towards those in their own racial group. But the thing is, everyone has a biased way of seeing and experiencing the world based on their upbringing, their various socio-economic/educational contexts, and, yes, their race. Everyone has blind spots and areas of misunderstanding. That’s why we all need to listen to and dialogue with those we disagree with, even (maybe especially) when we don’t understand why they hold the beliefs they do.

  7. “Are you saying that somehow only non-blacks are qualified to speak on the experience of what it is to be a black person in America or anywhere else in the world?”

    There are a couple premises you seemed to have packed into your question that need revision. First off, using the word “only” puts an absolute stamp on an idea that is not a claim to absolute truth.

    What I mean is that too many blacks see events in their life almost solely through the filter of racist cause and effect. To the degree that a black person is convinced that racism is at the root of cause and effect in their life they are probably not an objective witness.

    Any person, whatever the color of their skin or their cultural heritage, has some filters on how they see reality. A good example would be how many Muslims in the mid-east see Jews. Their filter, carefully constructed from childhood, can only see Jews as filthy animals that don’t deserve to live. That is a strong filter. Another filter of that same culture is a view of women as having no role in society but subservience. That is also a strong filter.

    My point is that “filters” do not uniquely belong to blacks. Another filter I think that many Liberal whites have is that blacks actually can’t get ahead without their help. I forget who came up with the phrase “the soft racism of low expectations,” but it captures the essence fairly well. Black writers Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have written extensively on this. Walter Williams went so far in one recent article to say that a “conversation about race” between whites and blacks would not solve the problem. He said in effect that blacks need to have a conversation among themselves about who they are and how they let themselves get where they are today.

    So yes, many blacks on the issue of racism are not entirely objective witnesses. Their filter is often too strong and they are trapped in a illusion of their own low expectations.

    You ended your statement above with, “in America or anywhere else in the world?”

    No, I am primarily talking about America. I don’t know blacks in the rest of the world well enough to talk about their problems.

    “But I can’t understand someone making the blanket statement that an entire segment of the population is unqualified to speak on their own lives based on the color of their skin.”

    You shouldn’t take a statement and turn it into an absolute dictum. And it is not in any way “based on the color of their skin.” It is not based on their DNA. It is largely based on what they are taught. It is based on the “filters” they are raised with.

    “The argument could just as easily be made the other way – that Whites (or any other racial group) are not the most objective witnesses to how they experience the world.”

    And it would be a valid argument. Many whites have their own filters in regards to blacks. Many whites have a filter of guilt that they have been taught. Many whites have a filter of being afraid to criticize blacks or black culture for fear of being called a racist. Thereofre they essentially don’t call blacks on their racism even when they see it. This seems to me to be an especially strong filter on younger whites. If they have a racist view at all, you would have to almost have to call it reverse racism against themselves.

    “…everyone has a biased way of seeing and experiencing the world …”

    This is absolutely true. As mature adult human beings a large part of our growing is identifying our filters and trying to overcome them. A wise man once said to me that one way of finding truth was to first try to figure in which direction everyone was looking, then to turn around and look in the opposite direction. Often the real truth – the objective truth – is just the opposite of what the majority of people believe it to be.

    This is so old an idea that it is in Isaiah in the Old Testament:

    Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. -Isaiah 5:20

    “That’s why we all need to listen to and dialogue with those we disagree with, even (maybe especially) when we don’t understand why they hold the beliefs they do.”

    Again, I don’t disagree. One always has to listen. But one is not obligated to believe that everything one is hearing is completely and totally objective truth.

    Regards,

    lwk

    • Let me slightly qualify this statement so I am not misunderstood:

      “But one is not obligated to believe that everything one is hearing is completely and totally objective truth.”

      I am not saying that the people talking to you are lying, or that they are trying to deceive you. They may fully and passionately believe their truth is beyond dispute. And they still may not be correct and their witness may not always be completely objective.

      Truth is true and nothing else is true. It is what it is, regardless of how many people believe the opposite.

      Regards,

      lwk

    • I think there is wisdom here (although I have some reservations around the phrase “objective truth”).

      “A wise man once said to me that one way of finding truth was to first try to figure in which direction everyone was looking, then to turn around and look in the opposite direction. Often the real truth – the objective truth – is just the opposite of what the majority of people believe it to be.”

      And so when you say…

      “What I mean is that too many blacks see events in their life almost solely through the filter of racist cause and effect. To the degree that a black person is convinced that racism is at the root of cause and effect in their life they are probably not an objective witness.”

      and

      “…many blacks on the issue of racism are not entirely objective witnesses. Their filter is often too strong and they are trapped in a illusion of their own low expectations.”

      …what I want to say in response is that, in part, I’ve come to the conclusions I have regarding race and racism because I think that too many non-blacks DON’T see events in their life through the filter of racist cause and effect.

      and

      …many non-blacks on the issue of racism are not entirely objective witnesses. Their filter is [also] too strong and they are trapped in an illusion of their own perceptions.

      Thanks for the lively discussion,
      randall

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s