Archive for the ‘racist’ Category

“You are the one keeping racism alive” means that talking about race helps to keep racism alive. That it would die a natural death if people just stopped talking about it. That I should stop talking about race and go back to writing about half-naked women or the Middle East or whatever it was I was writing about before race became a big subject on my blog. That I am causing more harm than good.

It is something white commenters often say on this blog. Yes, white. I cannot remember a black commenter or any person of colour ever saying that, not even the right-wing ones. That alone should make you wonder about where this thought is coming from.

And it goes beyond this blog:

  • Rush Limbaugh seems to think racism is kept alive by the “race industry”, by people like Al Sharpton.
  • Three-fourths of white parents do not talk to their children about race.

Some white beliefs that support this:

  1. Race is unimportant: race does not affect whites directly in a bad way. Unlike people of colour, they do not have to think about race unless they want to.
  2. Racism is dead: because it does not affect them, many whites think it has died away. It is just something in the history books: slavery, Jim Crow and all that.
  3. Noticing race is racist: many whites do not see the difference between being race conscious (knowing how race affects your life) and racism (looking down on people because of their race).
  4. If we do not talk about racism it will go away: an odd idea that no one thinks to apply to things like sexism, cancer, crime, dishonest government or any of the other ills of human life. What makes racism so different?

Blacks are one-eighth of America. They could not keep racism alive all by themselves even if they wanted to. They do not control the courts, the police, the newspapers, the schools and all the rest. But whites do.

Whites in America have five times more votes and 50 times more wealth. Like it or not, racism rises or falls with them. Racism goes on because they continue to be racist. It is that simple. There is no huge mystery about it. It does not fall out of the sky or come up through the cracks in the sidewalk. It comes from whites acting in racist ways – not from black people talking about whites acting in racist ways.

Some whites might say “you are keeping racism alive” because they hold to one or more the beliefs listed above, but the heart of the matter is that talking about race makes white people uncomfortable. Because deep down, whether they want to admit it or not, they know that they have an unfair position in society because of the colour of their skin. Instead of living right they would rather live a lie – like they have been doing to different degrees ever since slave days.

– Abagond, 2010.

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Yesterday I wrote about the white gaze. Then later when I checked the news what did I see? We knew this one was just a matter of time:

stimuluschimpcartoonIt is a Sean Delonas cartoon from the New York Post, the top-selling newspaper in New York. It shows the police shooting a chimpanzee dead, something that was in the news. But then one of the two policemen says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” President Obama had just signed the stimulus bill into law, as shown on the page before, and said we might need another one.

Some say the chimp stands for Congress, the Democrats or Washington, but it makes more sense that it is Obama: most people assume he wrote the bill or had it written under his direction. Also, white Americans have been comparing blacks to monkeys since who knows when and Obama is black.

This is an excellent example of white gaze: The picture places you with the white people in it – you are the third (presumably white) policeman – and it views people of colour as less than fully human – as a monkey in this case.

I thought the New York Post had more sense than to print a racist cartoon – especially one about the president – even if the Post is a right-wing newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, the one who brings us Fox News.

Even apart from the racism, since when did shooting the president – or anyone in Congress – become something to laugh at? How is this cartoon going to look if Obama is ever shot?

Al Sharpton, the best-known black leader in New York, called the cartoon “troubling at best”.

The Post, in its defence, said this:

The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.

Trying to make it about Al Sharpton.

Delonas says he did not mean the cartoon in a racist way. Jeff Fecke of Amptoons said in defence of Delonas:

He hasn’t seen illustrations from a hundred years ago showing his people are more like apes than the purer, smarter, obviously more civilized race.


You hardly have to go back a hundred years. Try last year:


Surely Delonas remembers the Curious George T-Shirts, the ones showing a monkey eating a banana that said “Obama in ’08”. Surely he remembers how that went over. (If only black people remember that one then America is far more screwed up than even I thought.)

Delonas and the people who run the top-selling newspaper in a city that is one-fourth black are not that unwitting.

The cartoon was racist and they knew it.

I hope that everyone at the Post who signed off on this is fired – or, better yet, has the good sense to tell the public they are sorry and then resign.

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