The People You Meet When You Write About Race

by Guest Contributor Crommunist, originally published at The Crommunist Manifesto

Racism Bingo

This post was inspired by Pervocracy’s “The People You Meet When You Write About Rape.”

Mr. History

    “Black people were enslaved like a million years ago. They’ve had enough time to get their act together, but they’re still whining about their problems. I don’t want to hear about transgenerational wealth gaps and discriminatory hiring practices! Their problem is that they’re lazy! Case closed!”

Ms. Kumbayah

    “We need to recognize that everyone is just the exact same on the inside. Why do we bother using labels like “black” and “white” anyway? Even though the way society treats people falls along racial lines to the detriment of some and benefit of others, we should ignore that! Aren’t we all just members of the human race?”

Mr. Hear No Evil

    “It’s people like you that are the real racists! Most people don’t think twice about someone else’s race! Talking about race is what makes racism happen, not entrenched ideas that won’t change unless they’re discussed!”

Ms. Myopia

    “I’m a black person, and I haven’t ever felt mistreated because of it. Therefore, nobody else has any business complaining about racism – I’m living proof that it doesn’t exist!”

Mr. Funk & Wagnalls

    “Here is the dictionary definition of racism. You can see right here that it describes only one small subset of behaviour. You have no business advocating that the definition of a word change to fit a changed environment of racist behaviour, even if it still describes the old racism. You must adhere to this one definition always!”

Ms. Minimizer

    “Sure, racism used to be a big problem, but there’s lots of black people in prominent positions these days. Can’t we stop talking about racism like it’s still a big issue? The President is black, and clearly nobody has any problem with that! Don’t we have more important things to talk about?”

Mr. Liberal White Guilt

    “White people are the worst! You’re absolutely right. I am a white person, and I just feel so awful every time I hear about what my people are doing to yours. We need to start fixing the problems in the black community. After all, that’s what we do – go into other communities and solve their problems!”

Ms. Black Nationalist Kook

    “White people are the worst! You’re absolutely right. I am sick and tired of watching the white man destroy us. It’s time to rise up and take to the streets. Until we show them that the black man is the original man, and that white people are an ancient genetic experiment to create a human being without a soul, we’ll never achieve true freedom.”

Mr. Bootstraps

    “I’m so sick and tired of people talking about ‘white privilege’. My father was an immigrant from Switzerland, and he had to struggle just like everyone else to make money. His life was tough – you call that privilege? I didn’t get a handout from anyone, and neither should anyone else!”

Ms. Interpretation

    “Affirmative action? Isn’t that just where white people aren’t allowed to have jobs because they’re all saved for less-qualified minorities? That’s just slavery but in the other direction – reverse slavery! My cousin knows a guy whose brother didn’t get into his first-choice college, possibly because of affirmative action – racism against white people is the biggest problem nowadays!”

Mr. Conspiracy

    “Of course you’d say that – the NAACP has been pushing that lie since they were formed! This whole ‘anti-racism’ thing is just a way of taking white people’s hard-earned money and putting it into welfare programs and health care. It’s how black people are planning on getting reparations!”

Ms. Extraterrestrial

    “You monkeys are just mad that you’re genetically inferior to our master race! Once our society, which was created by white people, shakes off this liberal brainwashing, we’ll finally be able to send you animals back to where you came from. Get over it – white people are just superior!”

But I would be remiss and completely unfair if I didn’t mention…

Mr./Ms. Has Been Listening

    “This topic made me really uncomfortable when I first started talking about it, but I’m glad I did. I’m not sure if I ‘get’ everything, but my thinking has definitely changed. Here are some reasonable objections and questions that I have, and I hope we can talk about them without offending each other.”

I am really happy to report that while I have personally met all of the above people, Has Been Listening is by far my most common interaction. All of the above are conversations I relish having, and it is my fervent hope that I am slowly equipping you to navigate those waters as well as I could. As I’ve said all along, the more talking we do, the more we learn.

  • Lee L.

    What category would this person fit into?  I like to call him the John Henry.  He would probably say: “Yes, racism exists.  I’ve faced the ugliest forms of all racism and I’m still bitter to this day that I faced discrimination in my industry.  I worked twice as hard as a white person to get where I am today and the hard work made me, my neighbors, and my children and their friends  better people.    However, if you’re still poor and uneducated in America with the vast institutions we have, it’s your fault for  handicapping yourself further when the system already handicapped you so quit your bitching, you functionally and financially illiterate hoodrats.   Oh, and don’t think I’m letting sheltered, bourgeois white people off the hook.  Your privileged lifestyles are paid for with the rights of guys like me who work their butts off and still get harassed by law enforcement for non-crimes while your kids snort coke and nothing happens to them. “  

    • Mistinicoleharper

      I believe I know your John Henry…

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  • Keith

    You forgot “As a white person” or “Well I’m white and” followed by reaction comment.

  • Lindseymegan

    OMG.  I just came across a CNN article discussing the disparity of wealth between blacks, whites and latinos….the first four comments? Lets just say I met Mr. History, Mr. Hear no Evil, Mr. Bootstraps and Mr. Interpretation. Sigh…

  • Brandon

    I would also like to submit Mr./Ms. “Thank You for Playing the Race Card.”

    Issues of race and racism are brought into the conversation, prompting some sort of question from this individual about playing the race card, along with free license to let loose a torrent of stereotypes and racist ideology, possibly culminating in the ultimate act of dropping the n-bomb.  It’s always important to remember: they didn’t start it.  You did.  By mentioning race.  What’s wrong with you, anyway?

    Best recent example: Dr. Laura.

    Also known as Mr./Ms. “Well, Since You Mentioned Race, Let Me Just Take This Opportunity…”

  • Brandon

    I would also like to submit Mr./Ms. “Thank You for Playing the Race Card.”

    Issues of race and racism are brought into the conversation, prompting some sort of question from this individual about playing the race card, along with free license to let loose a torrent of stereotypes and racist ideology, possibly culminating in the ultimate act of dropping the n-bomb.  It’s always important to remember: they didn’t start it.  You did.  By mentioning race.  What’s wrong with you, anyway?

    Best recent example: Dr. Laura.

    Also known as Mr./Ms. “Well, Since You Mentioned Race, Let Me Just Take This Opportunity…”

  • Brandon

    I would also like to submit Mr./Ms. “Thank You for Playing the Race Card.”

    Issues of race and racism are brought into the conversation, prompting some sort of question from this individual about playing the race card, along with free license to let loose a torrent of stereotypes and racist ideology, possibly culminating in the ultimate act of dropping the n-bomb.  It’s always important to remember: they didn’t start it.  You did.  By mentioning race.  What’s wrong with you, anyway?

    Best recent example: Dr. Laura.

    Also known as Mr./Ms. “Well, Since You Mentioned Race, Let Me Just Take This Opportunity…”

  • Pockysmama

    I run into this a lot too and I always point out that under the theory that Obama is and can claim to be partially white is:  so can most black Americans.  Most black Americans have a significant percentage of Caucasian blood, a legacy from the systemic rape and forced breeding of slave women.  But they don’t want to be reminded of that.   

  • Pockysmama

    I run into this a lot too and I always point out that under the theory that Obama is and can claim to be partially white is:  so can most black Americans.  Most black Americans have a significant percentage of Caucasian blood, a legacy from the systemic rape and forced breeding of slave women.  But they don’t want to be reminded of that.   

  • Mike

    If I was an alien and I read this I would believe there are only white and black human beings. No other races are mentioned..

  • Tula Keti-Koti

    There is also Ms. “Take-the-High-Road”….cowardly, she is nice, but afraid to address any conflict-laden situation. However, she can never “take-the-high-road” herself.  Seven long years working for her….my skin still crawls thinking about it. Give me the Mr. I Don’t Like (insert dimension of diversity); much easier to deal with and comprehend. 

  • Anonymous

    Love this love this LOVE THIS! I nodded and smiled to every single one listed.

  • Anonymous

    “Should be” and “are” are two very different things though…It takes a good deal of willful ignorance to believe that people should be treated equally?

  • Anonymous

    “Should be” and “are” are two very different things though…It takes a good deal of willful ignorance to believe that people should be treated equally?

  • Ariel Johnson

    I understand and appreciate your clarification. I have definitely met quite a few white folks who just can’t seem to accept/understand why someone who theoretically could claim whiteness (or “at least” bi-racialness) would, instead, embrace and consider themselves to be black. (In my experience, they always seem bewildered, and feel just a little bit rejected – without ever considering the compounding significance and historical weight of every previous person who could have identified with multiple races very nearly always electing to present themselves as white/european as possible…but that’s a digression.)  

    I think the confusion in this thread is from where you said “I have yet to come across a white person who…”, which seems to say that, in your experience, 100% of white people take issue with our President’s personal racial identification.  Encountering that kind of ignorance is face-palmingly frustrating, and there’s a tendency for those of us who ‘get it’ to want to quickly demonstrate that we are not one of  THOSE people, so please don’t lump US in with THEM. (Which is kind of awkward and a weird thing to unpack, so I won’t.)

    In any case, I suppose you could now say that you have come across (if only virtually) a number of white people who do not take any issue with the fact that Pres. Obama considers himself a black man.

    Now, if only we could find a few who don’t take issue with not being provided a special “not-racist white person” category (cuz, you know, we’re not all assholes. You DO know that right? For example, I’M not an asshole. Please indicate that you know that not all white people, specifically me, are racist assholes?….)

  • Ariel Johnson

    I understand and appreciate your clarification. I have definitely met quite a few white folks who just can’t seem to accept/understand why someone who theoretically could claim whiteness (or “at least” bi-racialness) would, instead, embrace and consider themselves to be black. (In my experience, they always seem bewildered, and feel just a little bit rejected – without ever considering the compounding significance and historical weight of every previous person who could have identified with multiple races very nearly always electing to present themselves as white/european as possible…but that’s a digression.)  

    I think the confusion in this thread is from where you said “I have yet to come across a white person who…”, which seems to say that, in your experience, 100% of white people take issue with our President’s personal racial identification.  Encountering that kind of ignorance is face-palmingly frustrating, and there’s a tendency for those of us who ‘get it’ to want to quickly demonstrate that we are not one of  THOSE people, so please don’t lump US in with THEM. (Which is kind of awkward and a weird thing to unpack, so I won’t.)

    In any case, I suppose you could now say that you have come across (if only virtually) a number of white people who do not take any issue with the fact that Pres. Obama considers himself a black man.

    Now, if only we could find a few who don’t take issue with not being provided a special “not-racist white person” category (cuz, you know, we’re not all assholes. You DO know that right? For example, I’M not an asshole. Please indicate that you know that not all white people, specifically me, are racist assholes?….)

  • Ariel Johnson

    I just wanted to chime in and thank everyone here for the work that you do. On several occasions, I have had the words I needed to articulate why something was wrong, offensive, or intolerable because of the excellent discussions I’ve read here. I also find that reviewing a lot of the relevant concepts keeps me primed to check my own privilege, and recognize the causes behind misunderstandings before it’s too late to salvage a situation or relationship (this is particularly helpful now that I’m a supervisor at a very large, very mixed race/gender/social class workplace), and to be calm in otherwise tense situations.  So, thank you, from someone who has definitely been listening. 

  • Ariel Johnson

    I just wanted to chime in and thank everyone here for the work that you do. On several occasions, I have had the words I needed to articulate why something was wrong, offensive, or intolerable because of the excellent discussions I’ve read here. I also find that reviewing a lot of the relevant concepts keeps me primed to check my own privilege, and recognize the causes behind misunderstandings before it’s too late to salvage a situation or relationship (this is particularly helpful now that I’m a supervisor at a very large, very mixed race/gender/social class workplace), and to be calm in otherwise tense situations.  So, thank you, from someone who has definitely been listening. 

  • Morenaclara

     I hope not to offend anyone but I speak as someone who is of Mixed heritage(  neither of my parents are black BTW)  it angers me when people say “he’s as much white as he is black”or “OBAMA IS MIXED NOT black”.  But for different reasons. It is his human right 
    to identify himself, not for the people around him to say that he is not mixed/black/white etc.    If you have a problem with that, that’s your problem
    not his. From what I gathered,  he does see himself more Black than White and that should be respected. Also from what I see most people who say “he’s as much white as he is black” or “his black family didn’t even
    raise him, the white family did” would never say that if Obama was not president.

    • Filmrag

      Yes! I never even thought about it much until someone I know made a “he’s totally as white as he is black” comment; I happened to note that if he were in my neighborhood and nobody knew he was the US President or a political figure at all — if he were any other man walking down a street nearly anywhere in the world — he would be considered black.

  • Morenaclara

     I hope not to offend anyone but I speak as someone who is of Mixed heritage(  neither of my parents are black BTW)  it angers me when people say “he’s as much white as he is black”or “OBAMA IS MIXED NOT black”.  But for different reasons. It is his human right 
    to identify himself, not for the people around him to say that he is not mixed/black/white etc.    If you have a problem with that, that’s your problem
    not his. From what I gathered,  he does see himself more Black than White and that should be respected. Also from what I see most people who say “he’s as much white as he is black” or “his black family didn’t even
    raise him, the white family did” would never say that if Obama was not president.

  • Queenmee

    Please add “Mr, ‘Be Careful About Discussing Racism’”(he is married to Ms. Myopia)  to the list. I have seen black people do this interesting, balletic dance of claiming and affirming blackness while telling Black people to “be careful” when discussing, even in private, their feelings and reactions to racism.  These are the POC’s who will leave you in a lurch as you speak out about things, because said POC’s are very, very aware of the power dynamic (White folks have  power and you don’t.)  What they really mean is- “if you call out racism when and where you see it, you will be attacked and I won’t be able to help you or stand by you because I am too busy defending my own precarious niche in this racist, hierarchical system.” They sometimes act as attackdogs for the dominant group and will publicly thrash you so that all the white folks know that they do not lay claim to this negro speaking up and speaking out.  Usually these are folks who have lived in all white places for so long that they have learned the fine art of appeasing the powers that be without really seeming to. They still talk about the complexities of Elvis in private and only with other black folks  and will   I live in a place where the Ms. Myopia’s are rampant (however, if you initiate something that will help them as black people get ahead, they’re all for it and benefit from all your speaking out while publicly disclaiming you in front of the people in charge). Anyway, these people don’t care about you as a person of color or as a person, they care about seeming authentically whatever and making sure they can sell that authenticity to whomever is listening without really caring about you.

  • Queenmee

    Please add “Mr, ‘Be Careful About Discussing Racism’”(he is married to Ms. Myopia)  to the list. I have seen black people do this interesting, balletic dance of claiming and affirming blackness while telling Black people to “be careful” when discussing, even in private, their feelings and reactions to racism.  These are the POC’s who will leave you in a lurch as you speak out about things, because said POC’s are very, very aware of the power dynamic (White folks have  power and you don’t.)  What they really mean is- “if you call out racism when and where you see it, you will be attacked and I won’t be able to help you or stand by you because I am too busy defending my own precarious niche in this racist, hierarchical system.” They sometimes act as attackdogs for the dominant group and will publicly thrash you so that all the white folks know that they do not lay claim to this negro speaking up and speaking out.  Usually these are folks who have lived in all white places for so long that they have learned the fine art of appeasing the powers that be without really seeming to. They still talk about the complexities of Elvis in private and only with other black folks  and will   I live in a place where the Ms. Myopia’s are rampant (however, if you initiate something that will help them as black people get ahead, they’re all for it and benefit from all your speaking out while publicly disclaiming you in front of the people in charge). Anyway, these people don’t care about you as a person of color or as a person, they care about seeming authentically whatever and making sure they can sell that authenticity to whomever is listening without really caring about you.

  • Julieta

    Texas here. Being a consumer here isn’t bad because the city’s economy relies on money from Mexican nationals. They pay all kinds of taxes but can’t vote, so it’s a pretty sweet deal!

    Getting a job so you have money to spend? Eh. If you speak Spanish and want to work in a call center there are plenty of job opportunities. Just don’t get excited about being promoted out of wearing a headset. The company wants all that untapped dinero and you’re going to make it happen.

  • Julieta

    Texas here. Being a consumer here isn’t bad because the city’s economy relies on money from Mexican nationals. They pay all kinds of taxes but can’t vote, so it’s a pretty sweet deal!

    Getting a job so you have money to spend? Eh. If you speak Spanish and want to work in a call center there are plenty of job opportunities. Just don’t get excited about being promoted out of wearing a headset. The company wants all that untapped dinero and you’re going to make it happen.

  • Julieta

    You’re not kidding. I hear it a lot from my cousins — “If we can do it, why can’t everyone else?” They don’t seem to get that it’s often a matter of circumstance. Most of my cousins are ordained (so American churches sponsored them) and married white Americans with steady jobs.

    Age has a lot to do with it, too. If you’re young and just starting out, it’s not as hard getting in on the ground floor and work your way up within a company. But if you’re a former executive? Where do you go when you have ageism and racism working against you?

  • Julieta

    You’re not kidding. I hear it a lot from my cousins — “If we can do it, why can’t everyone else?” They don’t seem to get that it’s often a matter of circumstance. Most of my cousins are ordained (so American churches sponsored them) and married white Americans with steady jobs.

    Age has a lot to do with it, too. If you’re young and just starting out, it’s not as hard getting in on the ground floor and work your way up within a company. But if you’re a former executive? Where do you go when you have ageism and racism working against you?

  • Bernadette Durbin

    I think it’s entirely possible that the concept of privilege hasn’t occurred to Ms. Kumbaya in many cases. Maybe that falls under the category of “Ms. Blind” but I know that a lot of privilege details aren’t necessarily evident to me unless the counter-example is pointed out. I’ve never had obvious brush-offs at interviews; it might not occur to me that someone who isn’t pale might have problems that way unless it’s specifically mentioned. (It does now, of course. But there was a time when I truly believed that “anyone can do this,” and I wouldn’t have even thought of privilege as a reason others might have problems. And yes, that’s a form of privilege in itself.)

  • Bernadette Durbin

    I think it’s entirely possible that the concept of privilege hasn’t occurred to Ms. Kumbaya in many cases. Maybe that falls under the category of “Ms. Blind” but I know that a lot of privilege details aren’t necessarily evident to me unless the counter-example is pointed out. I’ve never had obvious brush-offs at interviews; it might not occur to me that someone who isn’t pale might have problems that way unless it’s specifically mentioned. (It does now, of course. But there was a time when I truly believed that “anyone can do this,” and I wouldn’t have even thought of privilege as a reason others might have problems. And yes, that’s a form of privilege in itself.)

  • OC

    I don’t see anywhere where CW said he/she had white friends!!

  • OC

    I don’t see anywhere where CW said he/she had white friends!!

  • Morenaclara

    yes, indeed.  Even in my home state  there is some Nativism but  California is far more accepting  towards immigrants than in other places in America.

  • AnthroLing

    I agree.  I’ll read this intelligently written article with the intent of reading comments that would spark a healthy debate, but alas, I am always disappointed. 

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  • http://twitter.com/mwpolitico Shirley Grigsby

    Mr./Ms. Has Been Listening 

    I have a huge problem with the above Mr./Ms., and the person of color who co-signs on to that lame BS.  Newsflash: Racism is wrong point blank, how can there ever be  any kind  “reasonable objections” to it?  

    This Mr./Ms. are experts at playing lip service to racism and being on the path of “discovery”, while at the same time, having no intention of getting rid of their racist beliefs,  but has the uncanny ability to convince a person of color that a authentic conversation on race has begun.  Only a desperate  person of color who is seeking validation from their oppressor falls for this.  

  • Baz

    I think you need to add Mr Irony as well. Lots of people spout out racist crap under the guise of irony.

  • Baz

    I think you need to add Mr Irony as well. Lots of people spout out racist crap under the guise of irony.

  • http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com Alon Levy

    Mr. (almost never Ms.) Pseudoscientist: I’m not a racist – I’m just a realist. And I’m not saying all black people are stupid, just that the average black specimen has lower IQ than the average normal person, and the average black student/athlete is overrated and benefits from affirmative action. Besides, it’s only natural for people to prefer their own kind – it’s government-mandated equality that is unnatural and creates problems.

  • http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com Alon Levy

    Mr. (almost never Ms.) Pseudoscientist: I’m not a racist – I’m just a realist. And I’m not saying all black people are stupid, just that the average black specimen has lower IQ than the average normal person, and the average black student/athlete is overrated and benefits from affirmative action. Besides, it’s only natural for people to prefer their own kind – it’s government-mandated equality that is unnatural and creates problems.

  • Morenaclara

    I like to think of myself as Ms. liberal guilt ( half white though) and  Ms.Misanthropic(I never got over my bitter phase)  with  a hint of listening .

  • Morenaclara

    I like to think of myself as Ms. liberal guilt ( half white though) and  Ms.Misanthropic(I never got over my bitter phase)  with  a hint of listening .

  • Breadprincess

    Anyone who subscribes to the “Mr. History” vein of thought needs to sit their ass down and watch 500 Years on Netflix, to get their “facts” straight.

  • emilyseyebrows

    I hope I am Ms I am listening. A year ago I had no real idea about what racism meant. I thought it was only using the n-word and my grandfather talking about how African people don’t write books (even overwhelming evidence to the contrary won’t change his mind). There’s so much I’ve learned since I opened my eyes.

  • Keke

    We can add Mr./Ms. Oblivious to this list.  Some people I have met are completely oblivious to their racism.  They would say things like “I think Black people are cool!  They’re the best athletes/dancers!”  or “Hey, I don’t care about race.  In fact, I date outside my race all the time.  I really love Latinas.  They’re so spicy!”  or when talking about indigenous tribes they say things like “What a noble group of people.  They are so mystical/otherwordly, and their primitive lifestyles are so interesting…..,”  

  • Keke

    We can add Mr./Ms. Oblivious to this list.  Some people I have met are completely oblivious to their racism.  They would say things like “I think Black people are cool!  They’re the best athletes/dancers!”  or “Hey, I don’t care about race.  In fact, I date outside my race all the time.  I really love Latinas.  They’re so spicy!”  or when talking about indigenous tribes they say things like “What a noble group of people.  They are so mystical/otherwordly, and their primitive lifestyles are so interesting…..,”  

    • Ryan

      Why does ignorance have to be equated to racism?  Saying “Black people are cool! They’re the best athletes/dancers” is an ignorant thing to say but it does not predicate racism.

      • ulular

        Basing your feelings, whether positive or negative, on reductive stereotypes is dehumanizing. You don’t have to consciously hate to practice and perpetuate racism.

      • ulular

        Basing your feelings, whether positive or negative, on reductive stereotypes is dehumanizing. You don’t have to consciously hate to practice and perpetuate racism.

      • ulular

        Basing your feelings, whether positive or negative, on reductive stereotypes is dehumanizing. You don’t have to consciously hate to practice and perpetuate racism.

      • Anonymous

        Anybody who declares a whole racial/ethnic group cool probably hasn’t been around many people from that group, if they had, they’d know that the people of said group vary from person to person and can’t be lumped together. Lumping individuals together under a racial umbrella is one of the facets of racism, whether the person intends to be racists or not. 

  • Keke

    We can add Mr./Ms. Oblivious to this list.  Some people I have met are completely oblivious to their racism.  They would say things like “I think Black people are cool!  They’re the best athletes/dancers!”  or “Hey, I don’t care about race.  In fact, I date outside my race all the time.  I really love Latinas.  They’re so spicy!”  or when talking about indigenous tribes they say things like “What a noble group of people.  They are so mystical/otherwordly, and their primitive lifestyles are so interesting…..,”  

  • practicality

    This is great!

    However, I think “Mr. White and Black are the Only Races to Discuss” is another character in this as well. Depending on the location, people sometimes talk about race as if those are the only two that exist, while ignoring other racial issues/problems/disparities. 

  • practicality

    This is great!

    However, I think “Mr. White and Black are the Only Races to Discuss” is another character in this as well. Depending on the location, people sometimes talk about race as if those are the only two that exist, while ignoring other racial issues/problems/disparities. 

  • practicality

    This is great!

    However, I think “Mr. White and Black are the Only Races to Discuss” is another character in this as well. Depending on the location, people sometimes talk about race as if those are the only two that exist, while ignoring other racial issues/problems/disparities. 

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  • Mickey

    One can tell Mr. Bootstraps that his problem was class and/or education, not color, because he has the “complexion for the protection”.

    To Ms. Interpretation, I’d say there is no such thing as reverse racism. Racism is racism regardless of which way it is coming from.

    To Mr. Hear No Evil, I’d say if no one thinks twice about race, why is it that those of us who have ambiguous appearances get asked ” What are you?” within the first five minutes of meeting a stranger? And calling out racism does not make one racist. If a woman points out sexist behavior aimed at her, does that mean SHE is the real sexist?

    To Mr. Conspiracy, I’d say, “Oh, and you don’t think POC work hard? I worked my ass off for the nice house I live in!”

    Mr. History and Ms. Extraterrestrial can both *insert most hellish insult you can think of* :P 

    • sam

      “If a woman points out sexist behavior aimed at her, does that mean SHE is the real sexist?” Unfortunately, there are people who think that.

  • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

    Except for Ms/ Mr Has Been Listening I’ve run into all of these people in the comments section of the Washington Post.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this.  I know it probably wasn’t meant to be a comedic piece, but I couldn’t help but laugh from recognition.  Doing any kind of anti-racism/racial justice work can feel isolating, especially when you come into contact with one or more of these people of a regular basis.  Sometimes I feel like there are only so many vent sessions you can have with like-minded friends before laughter becomes your only form of relief.

    • Madeline Wetta

      I didn’t really stop to think whether this should have been a comedic piece or not – there’s truth and humor in it, that’s why I love it so much. I think it’s helpful to people who are passionate about racial justice – whether they’re people of color or white folk – to know that we have all probably had an evolving understanding of how race has privileged us or oppressed us, and hopefully someday we can all hope to be Mr/Ms. Has Been Listening. Or is that my Mr. White Liberal Guilt talking? Shit. Thanks for this!

  • Anonymous

    Great post. 

    I have personally met : 
    Ms Minimizer, Ms Myopia, Mr Black Nationalist Kook/Mr Bookstrap/Mr history/Mr Kumbaya/ Mr hear no hell  and thanksfully  Mr/Ms. Has been listening.

  • jen

    The “Black Nationalist Kook” label is outrageously inappropriate.

    • http://twitter.com/Crommunist Crommunist

      How so?

      • jen

        The other labels seemed to have some correlation to the attitudes described, but the “Black Nationalist Kook” is associated with attitudes that aren’t even a bastardization of Black Nationalism.  Black Nationalism isn’t about racism, Black Muslim mythology OR victim complex.  So…

        • http://twitter.com/Crommunist Crommunist

          You raise a good point. I’ve only ever encountered that attitude from those that describe themselves as black nationalists, but the phrasing does seem to imply that BNs are all kooks. As you point out, there is only accidental association between nationalism and revisionist history.

          How about “Mr. Crazy Black Anger” to offset “Mr. Liberal White Guilt”?

        • http://twitter.com/Crommunist Crommunist

          I have changed it on the original site to “Ms. Mythology Kook”. I think it captures the same attitude without unfairly slandering Black Nationalists. My sincere apologies for the mischaracterization.

  • nicthommi

    This is great, but I’d correct the part in ‘Ms. Minimizer’ about the black president.  I have yet to come across a white person who didn’t take issue with the idea that the president is black.  They love to say “he’s as much white as he is black” or “his black family didn’t even raise him, the white family did.”   I personally think that a lot of them secretly take issue with the fact that he opted for a black wife too. 

    • http://twitter.com/Crommunist Crommunist

      I’ve heard this statement from lots of people, and “nobody has a problem with that” was intended as a sort of nudge-wink sarcasm for the reader.

    • Mickey

      Why do you think that they secretly have a problem with him having a black wife?
      Because she’s not white (to fit the “Successful black man gets white trophy
      wife” stereotype) or because she’s “authentically black” (something I’ve read
      elsewhere) as opposed to being mixed race/light-skinned like himself?

      • nicthommi

        Um, yes and yes.  Michelle Obama is NOT the wife that I think a lot of people would expect or prefer Obama to have.  An attractive black man like him could have picked anyone, and people get very irritated when they feel as though they are knocked off of their pedestal.  He “shouldn’t” have picked her when he had other and “better” options.  I think that even among black people, she’s not what I see on the arms of educated black men.  I find her to totally awesome and amazing, but the best way I can describe it is that it reminds me of how/why James Evans got killed off on Good Times.  It still bothers some people to see a strong and powerful black man unapologetically show his love and devotion to his unmistakably black wife (and black daughters).  The way he looks at her is unmistakable, and no I dont’ think a lot of people like it.

        I don’t buy into the idea that being light or dark makes you “authentically” black.  It’s other intangible qualities that I find hard to articulate, but she reminds me of the black women in my family, and as we get older, she reminds me of my friends.  I’d say it’s her overall carriage that I think makes some people uncomfortable.  She’s tall and confident. 

    • Hyoral

      There are plenty of white people who have no issue with the idea of a black President. I’m one of them, and I know many others.

      • nicthommi

        That’s not what I said.  I said that people have a problem with the president identifying himself as “black”  instead of biracial. I blame it on the idea that non-blacks seem to hold that all blacks except for the ones who have a white parent are 100% Black.  And a refusal to acknowledge that the definition of black and many black people use is the one that white people created.

        The people who I’ve heard object to that are in fact white. The two statements are not equivalent.

      • nicthommi

        That’s not what I said.  I said that people have a problem with the president identifying himself as “black”  instead of biracial. I blame it on the idea that non-blacks seem to hold that all blacks except for the ones who have a white parent are 100% Black.  And a refusal to acknowledge that the definition of black and many black people use is the one that white people created.

        The people who I’ve heard object to that are in fact white. The two statements are not equivalent.

    • Hyoral

      There are plenty of white people who have no issue with the idea of a black President. I’m one of them, and I know many others.

    • Hyoral

      There are plenty of white people who have no issue with the idea of a black President. I’m one of them, and I know many others.

    • Anonymous

      nicthommi, I think of that individual as Ms. Shades of Grey (I’ve known one of these):  “Why do people keep
      calling Barack Obama black?  He’s not black — his
      mother was white.  He’s bi-racial.  Why do you keep hearing that he’s
      ‘the first African-American President’ when he’s actually the first
      bi-racial president?”

      • Anonymous

        It’s like you can’t win. When the president calls himself black, some people want to throw the biracial label on him, but when other people, like Tiger Woods calls themselves mixed-race or biracial, people want to force them to be black!

    • jas

      I agree with you in general. But isn’t it more accurate to say that he fell in love with a black woman who he then married, rather than “opted for a black wife’?

  • http://betweentwowhirlds.wordpress.com/ Between Two Worlds

    I don’t know whether I should laugh (which I did) or I should just be ashamed of how easy it is to slide into and understand each of those 24 attitudes.

    But with that said – what do you mean by “All of the above are conversations I relish having…”?

    • http://twitter.com/Crommunist Crommunist

      Just that I like getting in the mix and debating when these statements come up – others may not be as readily confrontational.

  • j.

    I don’t see any mention of purple people here…

    • Lyonside

      Oh God, yes, the colorblind peeps who say, I don’t care if you’re white, black, brown, or green! Usually said by white people when they have one token brown friend and absolutely no examination of their privileges. Ever.

      • Anonymous

        “I don’t care if you’re white, black, brown, or green!”— I cannot stand those people or the “we are all the human race” folks.  It’s a good way to avoid a meaningful discussion and dismiss clear evidence of racial injustices and colorism.

        • Alba R

          Actually I can say proudly that I’m one of those that say: I don’t care about your color, hair texture, origin, disability, first language, religion, whatever! I have never deny the existence of discrimination, it is everywhere and it express itself in different forms all around the world. I like (or even love) to discuss it too, but it gets tiring to see people trying to classified others to some group just to comply to what is their definition of a person. Since I moved to the continental US it had always made me mad to fill those race/ethnic origin questionnaires. I’m tired of people putting me up quickly for latina or hispanic. It gets to the point that I hate those words. How the heck my first language came to be a definition of my supposed “race”? Why I keep hearing from some people that latinos are a race? Surely all that comes from the ever lasting custom of always trying to see the rest of the world from only one point of view. And mine is that, in the end I’m human just like you.

        • Alba R

          Actually I can say proudly that I’m one of those that say: I don’t care about your color, hair texture, origin, disability, first language, religion, whatever! I have never deny the existence of discrimination, it is everywhere and it express itself in different forms all around the world. I like (or even love) to discuss it too, but it gets tiring to see people trying to classified others to some group just to comply to what is their definition of a person. Since I moved to the continental US it had always made me mad to fill those race/ethnic origin questionnaires. I’m tired of people putting me up quickly for latina or hispanic. It gets to the point that I hate those words. How the heck my first language came to be a definition of my supposed “race”? Why I keep hearing from some people that latinos are a race? Surely all that comes from the ever lasting custom of always trying to see the rest of the world from only one point of view. And mine is that, in the end I’m human just like you.

          • Lyonside

            What about SELF identification? I don’t like the forms either, espeically when they say “check only one.” At the same time, I appreciate that the fear of being labeled racist or biased makes some companies add the disclaimer that the information is only used for statistical reasons and does not affect XYZ, which also lets me know that they were perhaps guilty of bias in the past and are now under scrutiny. In addition, I don’t mind adding ethnic information WRT medical care, since there are SOME diseases and disorders that have an ethnic component. Since most medical and prescription drug studies are done on white men (!), it’s important, I think, that they see what happens when a mixed race woman uses the same drugs. Or a mixed race kid. Or a API man, etc.

          • Alba R

            I only wrote based on my experience so far and how I pay my respect to other people. Each person identifies itself with a group who it feels affinity and belonging. In my case I have always used the demonym I grow up with.  Even using Antillean, Caribbean, Latin American or American (as the American continent). The norm in the US is that I should fill my ethnicity on the medical forms as hispanic since I’m from a Spanish (Castilian) speaking country. (Can you see the same thing I do? A ethnic group based just on a language.) The problem is, the first and only time someone asked me for this information, I was asked my race.  And my obvious answer was “I’m a mix of european and african”.  Since the composition of the Latin American people (from Haiti to Bolivia) is so diverse with mixtures of different ethnicities, including the broad spectrum of West Africans, Native Americans, European and East Asians, how could you pick a representative sample for 590 million people with diverse origins? Continuing with my previous post, for me the truth is that there is only one human race with so much different ethnic groups that are endlessly changing (in example there are no more Olmecs or Visigoths) in the never ending migration, giving birth to new cultures and languages. As humans people love to make emphasis in their differences and in their ignorance of others assume that they could never be similar in anyway.

          • Lyonside

            I agree that the Latin@/Hispanic grouping is ridiculous for not taking the diversity of Spanish- and-Portuguese speaking peoples. Some regions are more mestizo,  some more almost-completely indigenous, some are mostly all descendents of Europe and/or Africa, some are decendents of Asia (like the Japanese-Peruvians). I blame Nixon.

            At least on the census and in the better documents, Latin@ is considered an ethnicity, not a racial demographic. So you can be a white Latino, a black Latino, a Native Latino, an Asian Latino, etc. and hopefully on the forms you can check more than one as appropriate. I don’t see that enough outside of the census, though. There’s a lot of colorism in Latin@ communities, though (as everywhere), and many people responded to very real prejudice by claiming “White” Hispanic, despite a mixed background (like my husband’s father) in an attempt to assimilate and avoid racism from the majority culture. As overt prejudice decreases, more Latin@s are acknowledging their various backgrounds. But that’s hard to do when people insist in pigeon-holing people into one universal nonsensical category, and/or when they insist that Latin@ is a racial demographic.