Saturday, December 12, 2009

Acting White: Racism on Stage





H/T: Stuffwhitepeopledo

James C. Collier

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22 comments:

invisiblemannakedcity said...

I'm from this part of NJ, in a town that has a sizable black middle class population (on the order of 30 or 40%), yet I can say that my black friends and I would definitely catch more attention.

It was bad enough the cops used to bother us, especially since we went to school with most of their kids.

What was weirder though was the schools. It's a sociologist dream.

http://nancycsolomon.com/mindthegap/

I think it's so interesting in NJ, because people here tend to live a very segregated lifestyle. They basically questioned why black people would be in a public park.

However, I think what would have been more interesting, what if the black kids had been dressed the same as white kids. I dont mean to detract for racism, but the way you dress does also seem to have an effect. I mean there are black kids from Ridgewood, but I doubt you'd see them wearing a baggy black thermal, and a fitted that's too large.

I'm not saying, just saying.

Anonymous said...

I think these shows contribute to racism in that the focus is always on whites.

Why not go into black, latino, asian, arab communties and enact similar scenarios.

I doubt if the behavior and/or reactions in these communities would be any different.

Conclusion? Less finger-pointing and more understanding that we ALL need a good slap upside the head.

James C. Collier said...

@Anon 11:57, in at least one sense I agree with you that majority-minority dynamics have influence in cases such as this, regardless of ethnicity. But the majority has particular difficulty seeing itself critically from a leveraged position. While each side suffers from myopia, the majority still rules, hence the drive for 'protected status' on minorities (accompanied by a second tier of other resulting issues).

Sonny said...

James this is interesting, unfortunately not surprising, but interesting.

Also I agree with your comment to Anon "the majority has particular difficulty seeing itself critically from a leveraged position".

It takes a real forward thinking member of the majority to be able to put true perspective on this issue or view it from a neutral point of view.

I think one of the reasons why the race barrier is so wide is because we only see each other’s issues, from our own perspective.

I once worked closely with a white guy who was pretty redneck. We often got into lengthy conversations about race.
One thing we did that I learned a great deal from, was answer questions how we thought each other would answer them.

It was extremely interesting to hear how he thought black people would answer questions of race. It made certain questions about racist people make sense.

Anonymous said...

Sonny stated:

"It takes a real forward thinking member of the majority to be able to put true perspective on this issue or view it from a neutral point of view."

I agree. I also think it takes a real forward thinking member of the minority to be able to put true perspective on this issue or view it from a neutral point of view. I am not sure which would be harder, but I think it matters just as much.

I was thinking if that car was in an all-black neighborhood, and three white boys were trashing it. Do you think cops would be called? Certainly the boys would not be ignored. Maybe they would get a sound beating and everyone would agree they deserved it, no? No racism or brutality charges would be leveraged against anyone who touched them. Then try the same scenario with 3 black kids in the black neighborhood. I'm not sure what would happen. But ... the first scenario would be pretty fictitious, I guess.

It is interesting what you did with your white co-worker.

Sonny said...

Anon, I think dialogue about race is a must. I think this is how we get people to think, about how they think.

I understand your comment, but partially disagree. I agree that everyone, minority and majority, should be forward thinkers. We should all focus on solutions and results vs. the past and who is to blame for what. However you say, “I think it matters just as much”. I would agree it matters, but definitely not as much. Remember, I said it does matter so please read that correctly.

Now let me explain.
Anyone can be racist, blacks racist against whites, whites against Hispanics and the circle is endless. Racism is bad and evil, I hope we all agree on that, but even worse than racism is oppression. Minorities can’t oppress the majority, and in a nutshell, that’s why I say it matters if minorities are forward thinkers, but not as much.

Racism is in its most evil form, where communities or even entire races are affected when the racist is also in an authoritative position. Otherwise, it really boils down to you don’t like me. To that, so what, at the end of the day I’ll have forgotten about you because it has no real effect.

But when you use your racism and authority to deny fundamental human rights, then it really is an entirely different thing. When I walk into an interview and am immediately deemed not hirable, or always fit the description of a suspect, or assumed to be not smart enough to comprehend all because the color of my skin, then racism is more than us not liking each other. The basic human rights that the majority takes for granted are present in the mind of minorities every day. It can become psychological and sure it produces resentment, or reverse racism we could call it.

It matters more for the majority to be forward thinkers because the minority only has the ability to dislike a member of the majority. The minority cannot create harsh penalties for crimes that are primarily committed by the majority.
The minority can’t create obstacles in the way of the majority receiving critical loans, for education, homes and businesses.
So that’s why I disagree.

Lastly, and I promise I’m not trying to be offensive to you. But if you disagree, then my opinion of you would be that your are part of the problem…. That sounded more harsh then what I intended or hoped for, but I feel it necessary to point out.

My white co-worker - about 15 years ago we worked night security together, nothing to do but talk. He was as redneck, racist as they come. However over time, I became the "cool black guy" and we began to be able to have some really candid discussions.
I really would recommend everyone try that exercise, I learned a lot and maybe he did too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sonny,

You say: "Minorities can’t oppress the majority, and in a nutshell, that’s why I say it matters if minorities are forward thinkers, but not as much."

I think minorities can be the majority in many instances nowadays, and especially in the future. My concern is a mindset that thinks that it is only the majority (i.e. white) that needs to look at their biases and prejudices, and are oppressive and bring negative mindsets to situations. Experience has taught me different.

I understand the institutional racism and the "prejudice plus power equals racism" thought process. And I do agree with what you posted: that what the majority believes and does matters a bit more. I also think that honest dialog about race is a must, even though some of it is not very palpatable ... nobody is perfect, we tend to respond to what our experiences have been.

"The minority can’t create obstacles in the way of the majority receiving critical loans, for education, homes and businesses."

Maybe I am naive, but when I went to school, all I saw were opportunities for minorities ... honestly, it was overwhelming. Maybe because it was a state university located in the city (which is fine, you need to reach out to the majority, which happens to be "minority"), ... There are breaks for minority-owned businesses, I don't see minorities not getting denied loans for homes (I am from a very mixed-race family, maybe the people I know and hear of are exceptions, I don't know). I understand this may be the case of the past, but nowadays it seems different. I guess in a nutshell, I'm not sure what so-called "minorities" want. There are laws on the books (not administered perfectly), but they should apply equally to everyone and I have to have some amount of faith that they are ... sometimes they don't and that is a problem (for everyone, not just blacks). There is a black president, a black attorney-general, a black surgeon general, to state just a few ... and for 12% of the population, that's good representation I would think.

I can only go by my experiences and observations (which can be flawed and biased, but they are what I see), and what I read. You read one website, one set of "facts" ... you read another website, a different set of "facts" ... it gets confusing. Sometimes I think what "minorities" complain about are the same stuff white people complain about, except that the minority can attribute his/her problems with people to skin color when it may not be the case.

I appreciate your response, Sonny, and don't worry about "being harsh." I have thick skin and want the truth above anything else. Love can be blind; truth can be cold and cutting. But seeking them both and using them together I believe can make better relations between peoples, and maybe even one day, peace on earth ... who knows ... I know I certainly don't have all the answers.

Sonny said...

Anon, I feared my entire statement wouldn’t be heard. I tried to clarify by adding the following “I would agree it matters, but definitely not as much. Remember, I said it does matter so please read that correctly”. However it was still missed. Nevertheless we agree on that.
My only point is that the majority has the leverage and nothing changes if the majority doesn’t want it to.
Example: no matter how bad minorities wanted to elect Obama, we couldn’t have done it if whites hadn’t agreed to help. Whites have the leverage so what they think matters more.

I really can’t believe you don’t know that blacks have harder times getting loans than whites. Here’s an article that you can read, http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/01/real_estate/Minorities_denied_mortgages/index.htm. Here is a quote from the article “Blacks were denied mortgages 36.1% of the time in 2008, while Hispanics could not get a loan 31.1%, according to the data. Whites had denial rates of 13.6%.”
You said “There are laws on the books (not administered perfectly), but they should apply equally to everyone and I have to have some amount of faith that they are” .
Here is a link that provides some stats about how the laws are administered to each race. I’ll give you two quotes from the article.
1 – “Of the 253,300 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses at yearend 2005, 113,500 (44.8%) were black, 51,100 (20.2%) were Hispanic, and 72,300 (28.5%) were white”.
2 – “Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks. Yet blacks comprise the great majority of drug offenders sent to prison. The solution to this racial inequity is not to incarcerate more whites, but to reduce the use of prison for low-level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment.”
http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/64 this link has some great information.

Here is probably the most significant law that I know where minorities are directly targeted. Crack vs. cocaine has a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity. Crack has a mandatory minimum of 5 years for 5 grams (a thimble full), and the same amount in powder cocaine is a misdemeanor and considered recreational.
“In 2006, 82% of those sentenced under federal crack cocaine laws were black, and only 8.8% were white - even though more than two thirds of people who use crack cocaine are white” - http://www.drugpolicy.org/drugwar/mandatorymin/crackpowder.cfm

The legal system is geared to punish minorities harsher and more frequent than whites. Police are concentrated in black communities. Blacks have more frequent run-ins with police which creates more opportunities to be arrested.

You asked what do minorities want. Awesome question, I wish it was asked more often.
I would like for minorities to have a fair shot at the American dream. I would like for each minority to be judged on his own individual actions and not a stereotype, television character, or the wanted suspect on the news last night. I think a lazy man should starve, and a hard working man should get ahead. I think the laws/legal system should be fair, for real.

I’ll end by saying I appreciate having a conversation on this touchy subject, when the goal of all parties is “truth above anything else”. And I love your statement “Love can be blind; truth can be cold and cutting”, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything more true.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with not wanting black people, regardless of age, hanging around in a park? I myself would find any excuse to get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

The blacks are going to jail because they are dealing, not so much using.

Rarely does it seem anyone goes to jail for just using.........

Anonymous said...

I've watched both videos now, and I am struck that:

A) More people should have called 9/11 on the white kids
B) It's hard to just call this out and out white racism against blacks versus just racism, or ingroup/outgroup since the experiment does not have a counterpart in a black neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I've watched both videos now, and I am struck that:

A) More people should have called 9/11 on the white kids
B) It's hard to just call this out and out white racism against blacks versus just racism, or just "typical/expected" ingroup/outgroup behavior since the experiment does not have a counterpart in a black neighborhood.
C) The experiment did not take place in a known "diverse" community.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the almost duplicate posting, the first post was entered too soon because of my fat fingers.

Sonny said...

Anon@12:58

Please explain what having this experiment in a known "diverse" community would reveal. I'm not following you.
Also duplicating this in a black neighborhood could only show that racism is on both sides at best.

This is definitely a clear demonstration of racism. I am curious to know why you won't/can't just admit it.
I don't think you were one of the park patrons, so why is it difficult.

I think this is part of the problem, and I don't just mean on your side, but by all people. We lack the ability to just come out and say "I was wrong". Instead we stand up for wrong as if it were right, all because we don't want to be the bad guy. When the only way to not be the bad guy is to have just actions, but we lack the moral character for that too.

Anonymous said...

At my workplace a fair number of black co-workers wore Obama shirts with varying degrees of slogans after he was elected. You know the ones.

If the next president is white and any white person wears a shirt remotely like that they WILL, no ifs, ands, buts, be looked at like they are racists.

You can't have it both ways but a darn lot try and they should be the ones with a more open mind to the plight of racism in America instead of being the ones to keep it going at such a fever pitch.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can duplicate this exact "arranged social interaction" by switching the races and neighborhoods. The dynamics change. This neighborhood is a certain kind of neighborhood; maybe it is a wealthy white-ish city neighborhood on the edge of a poor black one, and the face of crime to those people, because of media images and/or their own experiences, is black. You cannot blame people for wanting to protect themselves; most people are superficial and respond to image instead of actual deed being done. Maybe they think a white boy in that neighborhood wouldn't be doing such a thing if it weren't his own car ... maybe that's how those people are subconsciously acculturated to think. And I think that's kind of ... dangerous. They could balk at opening their door to a black man, but invite a smiling white serial killer in.

I think sadder than anything was the people that called 911 for the kids that were merely sleeping in the car. But then again, I don't know the history of that neighborhood.

John said...

"Crack vs. cocaine has a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity. Crack has a mandatory minimum of 5 years for 5 grams (a thimble full), and the same amount in powder cocaine is a misdemeanor and considered recreational."

What everyone seems to forget is that the sentencing disparity was DEMANDED by blacks, because of the damage crack was doing to black communities. Cocaine was not doing comparable damage to white communities. Prior to this, whites were called racist for NOT having harsher sentences for crack.

In addition, they are two different drugs, with different effects (both the rate and "high" are different). They are not just two different forms of cocaine.

The sentencing disparity is if the defendant is charged in federal court - most are not. Some states have different sentencing guidelines for crack, but most treat it as cocaine.

Jose said...

The reaction of the people in the video did not surprise me. It does upset me that the three black males sleeping in the car got more 911 calls than the white kids vandalizing.

The comment by the man, assuming that the black kids were "getting ready to rob someone". Was totally out of line. But probably in line with what most white people think. Rasism lives and is strong in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

"But probably in line with what most white people think. Rasism lives and is strong in the U.S."

Yup, you just proved it.

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem. When you have Hip Hop and Rappers all over tv rapping about shooting people up, being in gangs and how selling drugs made them successful, then what do you expect?! I am African American and no I am not upset about the two videos at all. The problem is our black community puts out rappers and hip hop artist that do all the wrong things and dress a certain way. We created a culture. It is a stereotype that all black kids who wear baggy clothes and are hanging out in groups late at night are all drug dealers. But who created the sterotype?! We did!! The majority of big time successful rappers all have had a history with guns, violence, drugs and multiple women! So,the white people who have no contact with black people, but watch tv and see these artists rapping about drugs and half naked women they are going to automatically think that anyone they see that is dressed like this must be like the rapper on tv. If we had MORE positive examples on television representing the Classy African Americans in this country then there would be less stereotyping. And by the way, white people are not the only people who are racist and stereotype, Asians do as well and many other races. But the media makes a big deal when a white person targets a black person because of the history involved. It just pisses me off that our black community doesn't take some responsibility for this problem! Look, if their was a very large amount of African American rappers that presented themselves in a different light and rapped about going to school, being successful and overcoming negativity then I am sure things would be different today. Think about it. What if history was different and in the 90's instead of a east coast west coast beefs, tupac and biggy were going to schools and telling students to do the right thing. What if Jay-z talked to the students and told them not to sell drugs and instead to get an education?? Do you think there would be so much stereotyping today? And if there was then I would say that its a problem. But we need to fix the problem with ourselves first!

Anonymous said...

@the last Anonymous: I mostly agree with your points, but I do have an issue with part of it. First I'll say this, yes, us as African Americans need to check ourselves and our rappers. The change we need will come from within. In their defense though, back in the day rappers didn’t glorify guns, sex and drug violence. That was started by NWA, in an attempt to bring light to the social conditions in the ghetto. Automatically blacks gravitated toward him, as finally we felt we weren’t alone. My dad’s generation had civil rights to unite them, my generation had gangsta rap. (sorry for the rabbit trail)


However, I disagree that the stereo type was created by us. We created the culture, yes, but the stereo type, no. Also, you said because the kids dress like rappers who rap about drugs, naked women and gun violence, that whites are justifiable to stereo type them. (those weren't your exact words - but really close to your point)However, if a young women walks into work with a short mini skirt on, she is not to be confused with promiscuous women or a women who wants to sleep her way to the top. Many bosses have made this stereo type and have been rightfully punished. My point is this, I don't care what I dress like, if you look at me and prejudge me based on your own personal experience with someone other than me, your wrong.
It's up to us as humans to educate ourselves to the deep seeded prejudices that cause us to categorize people based on color, clothing, hair styles etc and learn to actively deny that natural behavior.
Lastly, just as with women with short skirts in the workplace, punish those who continue to do so in a wreck less fashion.

Anonymous said...

@the last Anonymous: I mostly agree with your points, but I do have an issue with part of it. First I'll say this, yes, us as African Americans need to check ourselves and our rappers. The change we need will come from within. In their defense though, back in the day rappers didn’t glorify guns, sex and drug violence. That was started by NWA, in an attempt to bring light to the social conditions in the ghetto. Automatically blacks gravitated toward him, as finally we felt we weren’t alone. My dad’s generation had civil rights to unite them, my generation had gangsta rap. (sorry for the rabbit trail)


However, I disagree that the stereo type was created by us. We created the culture, yes, but the stereo type, no. Also, you said because the kids dress like rappers who rap about drugs, naked women and gun violence, that whites are justifiable to stereo type them. (those weren't your exact words - but really close to your point)However, if a young women walks into work with a short mini skirt on, she is not to be confused with promiscuous women or a women who wants to sleep her way to the top. Many bosses have made this stereo type and have been rightfully punished. My point is this, I don't care what I dress like, if you look at me and prejudge me based on your own personal experience with someone other than me, your wrong.
It's up to us as humans to educate ourselves to the deep seeded prejudices that cause us to categorize people based on color, clothing, hair styles etc and learn to actively deny that natural behavior.
Lastly, just as with women with short skirts in the workplace, punish those who continue to do so in a wreck less fashion.