4th generation racist: Can you be anti-racist if you’re anti-white?

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Disclaimer: The thoughts and ideas presented in this very long post do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the blog owner, or any of the blog affiliates. The piece chronicles my journey from being anti-white, to grudging tolerance, to what I am working toward now – full acceptance of all people, regardless of race. The thoughts below are not necessarily what I believe now – but they are all beliefs I have held at some time or another.

If you are already threatened by any perceived anti-white sentiments on this site, you may want to stop reading now. However, if you want to explore issues that some PoCs have with white people (as more than a few of my sentiments are shared) and why it is important to acknowledge and overcome these ideas, read on. I’ll be checking in throughout the day to respond to questions and comments, as this is such a provocative topic. — LP

How do racists think?

Where do their racist beliefs come from? How do they continue to justify their beliefs in our increasingly multi-culti society?

For me, finding the answers to these questions are easy.

All I have to do is look inside of myself.

The reason I am involved with racial activism today, the motivation behind wanting to build bridges and understanding between different groups of people, the reason I found Racialicious in the first place all stems from one thing: my intrinsic bias against white people.

The bias I acquired – and the racist behavior I engaged in due to that bias – was fostered in two ways.

First, there was anti-white sentiment reinforced by my family, who had experienced all kinds of problems interacting with white society. Starting with my great-grandmother claiming African-American heritage in lieu of her actual Native American heritage (effectively choosing a life marred with prejudice over possible extermination) and ending with my mother’s instructions on how to navigate a world that is hostile to people of color, my family holds a deep mistrust against white people.

Second, there is the reinforcement by my community. Many people of color harbor some sort of bias or issue with white people. It could be subtle comments about differences or insulation within one’s own community or outright hatred – the undercurrent of bias exists, and is actively reinforced by the PoC community.

My understanding of race in America came to me through lessons. The lessons that were taught to me, all by well meaning people, were attempts to shield me from internalizing hatred for the self. I learned at a very early age to question all things taught to me by white establishments – to watch what I learned in school, because they would tell me that Columbus was a hero, that the US was infallible, and that the only Negro worth knowing was Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here’s an example of one such lesson:

White people have no history. They have spent their time on earth consumed with hatred and anger, releasing their hatred on the more civilized people of color, destroying empires and technological insights with their greed. They are inherently cruel and destructive.

Does that sound strange? Ridiculous even? How can a person reasonably claim that white people have no history, that an entire race of people are inherently cruel and destructive? It just doesn’t make logical sense!

And yet, society perpetuates the same ideas. Society teaches that people of color have no history outside of slavery, or white dominance. If there were historic accomplishments made by people of color, they are not important enough to note in history books.

Think about your education.

How much do you know – that you learned in primary and secondary school – about the history of other nations? How much time did you focus on European history and American history? How did your curriculum treat African, Arabic, and Asian (including South East Asian) history? Did you get one year out of twelve devoted to learning about other nations? (I did – it was a course called Modern World History.)

Many Americans are unaware that our history is told from a skewed perspective. People of color only exist in the context of white people – slavery, the Opium Wars, the Alamo, the building of the Panama Canal…major history lessons are learned with white people at the forefront. With that type of world view, are we really surprised when people hold on to erroneous ideas like Blacks benefited from slavery? Continue reading

Mexicans wear awful hats … and will give you AIDS

by guest contributor Laura Martinez, originally published at mi blog es tu blog

Talk about ads that speak for themselves. This print campaign was assigned by Marie Stopes, a British NGO, warning Brits about the dangers of unprotected sex. What’s more embarrassing -his hat or what he might give you? asks the copy showing, what else?, a guy wearing a big Mexican hat (similar to that of my friend Pedro, from Pedroland)

According to Mexico’s press reports, the NGO has apologized to the Mexican government, saying it was not its intention to single out Mexicans as purveyors of deadly diseases, and that the posters were distributed through several British clinics years ago.

OK, but what about the hat? can someone tell the Brits that –even though we ALL wear these things on our heads– we don’t actually write the word MEXICO on them… How ignorant is that?

links for 2007-08-31

I’m Excited to Announce the First Annual Racialicious Pseudo-Science Round-up!

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

And I am keeping my fingers crossed that it’s our last.

Upon provocation, most race theorists will break down and admit that they would be completely out of a job if people knew the real truth about race: that it’s a figment of our overly active imaginations.

As a result of centuries of trying to wrap our heads around the concept of difference as it asserts itself in its many varied forms of phenotype (physical assertion of genetic characteristics, or in other words, what you look like), behavior (nature or nurture?), and especially intelligence, one of the easiest ways for researchers to condense their work was (clearly) via categories. While the creation of these categories may have begun innocently, an acting out of human curiosity and our need to understand the world around us, we, unfortunately, found ourselves unable to deny our biases, some of which were steeped in our own vanity in conjunction with a need to assert power and superiority (i.e. if you look like me or come from where I’m from, you’re probably better). The complete high-jacking of Darwinism is a perfect example of the manipulation of scientific research for the sake of social gain and, ultimately, oppression, yet some forms of “science” began with the very purpose of studying why certain groups were “better” than others and how to eradicate the “inferior peoples” by way of breeding out characteristics associated with said groups.

Unfortunately for the indigenous peoples of Asia, Australia, Africa, and many parts of Europe at the turn of just about each century (even as early as the Greek “golden age,”), the mental filing cabinets of the people in power were continuously replenished with new information by way of incredibly divisive pseudo-sciences like phrenology (the study of skulls and brain size as a means of predicting intelligence in humans), the frighteningly oppressive eugenics movement, and, of course, philosophy. I remember literally shuddering when I read the sections about slavery in Aristotle’s Politics. This Harvard study guide sums it up quite nicely:

Aristotle argues that slavery should be limited to those who by nature are slaves . . . Aristotle is drawing on the notion (drawn from Plato) that reason must rule over the appetites, that higher faculties must rule over lower faculties, to have a well-ordered soul or a human being capable of governing him or herself. Human beings who are not capable of being governed by their own reason in this way are fit to be slaves. . . [Yet] that capacity to recognize reason means that the natural slave can recognize the justice and appropriateness of being ruled over by a master. . .

It’s pretty easy to see how one could read whatever they wanted into this and apply it to society. The Christian Bible was also a favorite of oppressors in their successful attempts to subjugate American indigenous groups, Africans, Asians, the Irish, Italians, and Eastern Europeans forced to work in the Americas in deplorable conditions, be it enslavement or indentured servitude, and, much like the Bible, the Koran has been used similarly as a means to relegate women to the position of subservience to men and to justify crimes against humanity. Almost every other holy book has been used in the same way.

So what am I getting at here? Long story short, everything is open to interpretation, and has been since the inception of art, science, and literature. Despite what history has shown us about the dangers of social manipulation of religion, science, and philosophy, we have continued this trend in the present. I am, quite frankly, disappointed in how gullible our society continues to be when it comes to this report or that experiment or something that someone with a upper-echelon university said one day on a whim. Most of these so-called “discoveries” are little more than arm chair psychology with a few pop references to appease those of us who are too ignorant to see through what’s basically trash in the scientific world and who are easily impressed by a few big words and colorful charts. What’s worse, however, is that while many of these studies may have a relatively high social importance or even lead to additional research, the reporting surrounding them not only simplifies the results, but distorts them to the point that the potential knowledge society could gain is lost for the sake of sensationalism.

Here are a few of my most recent “favorites.” These are perfect examples of how the press either poorly reports, neglecting to mention variables, or how the people leading the studies themselves do the same:

Interracial Couples = Better Parents
I am sure you all remember this one. The study basically equated involving one’s children in more extra-curricular activities to be correlative with good parenting. Makes sense, right? Except that factors like class, parent’s age and/or when they chose to have their child(ren) in relation to their financial and emotional stability were missing from the media coverage. They also noted that black father/white mother pairings invested less in their children, but remembered to account for certain factors like class, unemployment, and discrimination that may be linked to the results. But then lost credibility (with me, at least) again when they considered “Latino” a race, calling Latino/Latino pairings mono-racial and Latino/white pairings interracial, when, in fact, this may not be the case (because as a Latino/a, you can technically be of African, Asian, indigenous, or European descent, or a mixture of any or all of the above). For more of what I thought on this, go here.

Asians and People with Down Syndrome Are Not That Different
[Hat tip to Carmen!] Wow. Two Italian doctors link epithanic fold, aka what creates almond shapes eyes in Asian descendants (including indigenous peoples throughout the Americas) and people with Down Syndrome, to behavioral characteristics and personal preferences: Continue reading

Action alert: save Kenneth Foster

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update: Success! The governor commuted his sentence. More here.

From RaceWire:

For only the third time in history, the Texas Pardons and Paroles Board has voted (6-1) to commute Kenneth Foster’s death sentence. But that means we have only 24 hours to pressure the Governor to sign the order and save his life. Please take a minute this afternoon to call Governor Rick Perry and demand that he save one innocent life: 512-463-2000.

And more from Too Sense:

Consider that your mere presence at the scene of a capital crime, whether or not you actually committed the crime in question, is enough in Texas for a court to end your life. This is not simply a matter of mistaken identity, as with Troy Davis; even those arguing for his conviction do not believe he committed the murder. It is quite literally, his association with the murderer that provides the case for his guilt and execution.

Is P&G’s new “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign actually groundbreaking?

by guest contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

From Advertising Age:

The campaign’s goal is to make all black girls and women feel that way regardless of skin tone or origin and, of course, forge a closer relationship between P&G brands and their black consumers in the process.The campaign obviously bears some resemblance to the idea behind a globally lauded effort by one of P&G beauty’s key competitors, Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” from Unilever. The formula for both: Find a group that feels slighted by popular culture, then position your brand(s) squarely on their side.

But there are some key differences in origin, society and company that make the P&G push groundbreaking and potentially powerful in its own way.

Potentially, that is, because quite uncharacteristically for P&G, this thing isn’t fully thought out yet. Ms. Reid took a hiatus from maternity leave to unveil the concept at the National Association of Black Journalists meeting in Las Vegas earlier this month, where it generated keen interest — particularly from black anchorwomen, Ms. Reid said — but so far relatively little coverage.

P&G’s Always and Tampax have established a $50,000 grant, and the company is in talks with women’s organizations to develop a series of community discussions on the issue, with booklets likely to be distributed by Essence, but that’s about it so far.

It’s nice to see Advertising Age attempt to enhance its editorial content with diversity. It’s also disturbing to see the continued cultural cluelessness demonstrated by the supposed industry experts.

For starters, calling P&G’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign groundbreaking shows a definite unfamiliarity with minority marketing. While this well-intentioned effort may have broad reach, it’s hardly unique. Additionally, comparing the initiative to Dove’s “Real Beauty” bullshit is inaccurate—particularly since the Dove perspectives remain primarily White. Vaseline recently ran a campaign for its lotions celebrating Black skin (the skinvoice.com website appears to have vanished). Hell, virtually every health, beauty and fashion brand targeting Black women—including many P&G products—has adopted a “My Black Is Beautiful” stance at least once in their respective marketing histories. On abstract levels, there are numerous corporations wooing minorities with such tactics. Mickey D’s hypes the “365 Black” campaign, designed to honor Black History past February, and a host of advertisers have created identical year-round propaganda. Other minority segments undoubtedly feature similar semi-patronizing concepts.

That aside, there’s a bigger related story receiving zero press coverage. A few years ago, P&G kicked off plans to distribute more assignments to minority agencies. It’s unclear how successful this scheme has been, although the White agencies maintain political and financial strangleholds on the accounts (e.g., Grey Advertising allegedly produced commercials introducing Pantene’s Black hair care products, despite the fact that a capable minority shop is on Pantene’s agency roster). If they really wish to exhibit diversity innovation, P&G should award total control of any brand to a minority firm. Unfortunately, it looks like “My Black Is Beautiful” does not apply to the mega-advertiser’s minority partners.

Finally, Advertising Age is correct in recognizing race and ethnicity limit diversity discussions. But the truth is, minorities have never charged that it’s just a racial and ethnic thing (minorities, incidentally, is not a term labeling people solely based on their skin color or land of origin). Rather, the issues revolve around the global offenses of discrimination and exclusivity—which go way beyond race and ethnicity. In the end, it’s impossible to hold diversity discussions when all the involved players don’t come to the proverbial roundtable.

links for 2007-08-30

When truth is stranger (and more racist) than fiction: i.Beat blaxx and Pedroland

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

What do an MP3 player and an amusement park have in common? Both were so over-the-top that I was convinced they were hoaxes. Until I found out otherwise.

TrekStor is a German company that manufactures MP3 players and other small electronic gadgets. They decided to name their latest MP3 player i.Beat blaxx. No joke.

(hat tip to Stereohyped and Eric R)

Pedroland is an amusement park in Dillon, South Carolina whose entire theme is a racist caricature. No joke. This is the copy on the homepage:

pedro got 112 meelion amigos, who stay weeth heem, opp teel now all satisfy come back, send frans…thees make pedro ver’ HAPPEE…like for frans come back all time…pedro hope YOU make 112 meelion and wan happee amigos! you come back soon, too, yes?

Holy crap.

Oh and don’t forget to check out the Sombrero Tower.

(hat tip to Laura Martinez and Carlos)