Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"We just don't give a shit": When Colorblind Racism Speaks Back to Us

If a sociological concept has real explanatory power as a description of the world, and peoples' interactions in it, there will be a moment when it manifests itself through the behavior of a given individual.

Those moments are rare. When they occur, there is a moment of validation where we can say to ourselves, "yes, we are not that crazy after all!" The eureka moment is important because it brings satisfaction from knowing that theory building and empirical work do not occur in a vacuum.

I do not like to feed the online trolls who are attracted to stories about race and social justice. Moreover, the Trayvon Martin case has pulled in the worst of the White Right as the mix of guns, race, and a dead black teenager are ambrosia and honey to them as they twist themselves into knots of logic to find "self-defense" in the shooting murder of an unarmed person by an honorary white man named George Zimmerman.

I will break my rule.

Over at Alternet, the following comment was made in response to one of my posts on the George Zimmerman trial. It is colorblind racism and white racial resentment speaking to us all:
I've read any number of op-ed pieces here about the Zimmerman verdict, from "slave passes" to "White America" to "systemic racism". And all over one trial that in itself seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with race.

You imagine the "good, decent" white folks (as opposed to those other ones) don't understand your frustration because we're unable to sympathize with persons of color, that we're socially or psychologically incapable of such a feat. Well, as a white dude--although admittedly you might not classify me as one of the "good ones"--I have to say you're wrong.

We just don't give a shit. Not that we don't care about the kid who got killed, that a 17 year old's life was taken. I imagine most people--regardless of color--can see the tragedy in that, no matter who was in the right or wrong. We just don't give a shit that that kid was black.

No, seriously. We really don't give a shit. And you know something else? We're getting tired of being told by black people how if the roles were reversed and it was a white dude shot by a black guy, all us white folk would be crying bloody murder. In fact, within the last year I can guarantee that more than one white person has been killed by a black person. No protests over it. No mass chaos. Why? Because we don't really give a shit.

You want to know a secret about most white folk? Most white folk want black folk to shut the hell up about their race. Not because we're scared of it, or don't understand it, or feel guilty about it. But because we see race kind of like we see the kid from a different school district: everyone finds him exciting and fascinating at first, but after 4 weeks no one cares any more--he's just another kid. We get it. You're black and that gives you some special perspective that us white folk will never understand and that you'll never tire of reminding us about.
Was this just a performance? Provocative words taken from the backstage of White spaces and put out into the front stage via the Internet? I have no way of knowing. Either way, the above sentiments channel the collective (White) American subconscious and the passion that is white racial resentment in post civil rights America.

Privilege is the ability to get annoyed that inconvenient matters are being discussed, and the assumption that your wishes for silence will be respected as a given. Privilege is also the ability to tell those Others that they need to just shut up and move along, as we--here being white folks--just don't want to hear about this "race stuff" anymore.

As I try to navigate the clear public divides in attitudes, morals, and values in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case, where white racism and the white racial frame have inverted empirical reality and common sense for their owners, it is helpful to have comments such as the one above in mind.

"We" are not crazy; most of "them" simply do not give a damn about "us". It ain't rocket science. Do not waste the energy trying to make sense of something so very simple.


SunKissed said...

I love how he speaks the obvious as if it were profound. White people don't care about black people's thoughts and feelings? Somebody post the obligatory Nicolas Cage meme "YOU DON'T SAY!"

jewishlightning said...

White boy spoke truth.

Further, competent black folk gainfully
engaged with the local/regiona/national/global economy don't give a
rat's stinking little ass either.

The only folks who truly care
are folks engaged by or subject to the tired, worn out, and utterly
useless racial services machine in America.

Your beloved presidentselect tried to tell some of the best and brightest what's up a minute ago

and the sissy choir proxies for perennial grievance in higher-ed lost their soft and simple minds back then...,

Learning is Eternal said...

I never wanted them to care bout us. I could give a fuck less bout their acceptance. What would be appeasing (minute) would be on a world stage one or some of them would claim their social construct/invention, racism & admit WE (wp) brought most evil to this world. Especially against people of color. Even then I will never let them forget their receipt for the atrocities they withdrew/got paid in cash from the world.

Vic78 said...

Okay. So he doesn't empathize. What's the point of going to your blog and saying 'I don't care?' He doesn't have to follow the trial. He doesn't have to take Liberal Art courses except for composition. He doesn't have to follow politics. He can walk around with his head in his ass to his heart's content.

On the flip side, non whites don't give a shit about what white people are talking about. Stupid is looking like a joke to me. I'm not really interested in convincing white people to care about the world. Like I said, the math tells me we don't need them. Let them live off their credit cards to maintain a middle class lifestyle.

Real talk, I wouldn't place myself in a conversation when I don't care about the topic. Butting in makes one look like an ass. He's another dumb ass white guy that thinks his opinion means something when grown folks are talking.

Vic78 said...

His stupid ass doesn't even understand that we're fighting Jim Crow right now. It should've been funny when Obama told the half wits that jobs weren't coming back. He got reelected anyway. So he can get mad at Black folks all he likes.

I blame the media for coddling them for so long.

Michael Varian Daly said...

chauncey devega said...

"On the flip side, non whites don't give a shit about what white people are talking about."

They/we care deeply. That is part of the problem. It is also a realistic survival strategy.

chauncey devega said...

"I never wanted them to care bout us."

Are you sure?

chauncey devega said...

Jim Crow? Aren't those black licorice candies?

Vic78 said...

I'm talking about those times when they have advice as to what Black folks should be doing.

Elly said...

I have had (or seen) exchanges like this before, over a range of issues, and I've always been struck by the implicit cowardice embodied in that royal "we." Despite the air of bravado, jerks like this seem incapable of owning their words - it's always "we" - never "I."

galleymac said...

Heh -- we still care about that (how much advice have I been given, during my lifetime, over "what not to do or say in front of white people), when just maybe shouldn't.

Paul Sunstone said...

Speaking as a white person, I would much rather listen to a black person talk about racism than listen to a white person tell me it no longer exists. I can learn something from the former that might make me a bit wiser, but what can I learn from the latter that won't make me just as much a fool as he?

Paul Sunstone said...

I've noticed the same thing, Elly. "We" is also often enough used to mask a weak position, as if by implying that many people share your view, your view is all the truer.

Dama Gazelle said...

Maybe the trial "didn't have anything to do with race" as the poster claims. Can we extrapolate that the enforcement of crimes and the legal system have little, if nothing, to do with justice?

Maybe that's the common ground we all stand upon: the question of whether GZ was overarmed or TM was underarmed per the laws of the land.

Learning is Eternal... said...

I am sure. That was not my best sentence but in terms of the sentiment being expressed I did not falter. More than anything I want US to care about US. Respect from any & all will follow. For some reason I have always viewed them as hyenas through a Lions' lens. I've never craved their acceptance. I get your question though & Overstand it on so many levels. Short it may have been but I doubt you expect a one word response. You don't have to care nor have an invested interest in the well being of Black Folks to simply have respect for yourself & your surroundings...