« Off for the weekend, and a note on women's jeans | Main | Monday notes, and a reflection about youth ministry and ego »

March 30, 2006

Comments

aldahlia

Gosh. This reminds me of a HUGE conversation that happened a few years back. Prometheus6 kept track of it, but it looks like it's gone (link rot sucks.)

It basically started with the usual "Where are the Black bloggers?" question, and eventually turned into "What does it mean to be a black blogger?" Someone started a meme that asked:

1. what does it mean to be Black? what does it mean to be Black?
2. how has Blackness affected your worldview?
3. how has Blackness affected your educational experience?
4. how has Blackness affected your experience with authority?
5. how has Blackness affected your experiences with people of other races and ethnicities?

Which then morphed into, "Why pin it all on Black identity? What does it mean to be a white blogger?"

Which lead to Prometheus6 issuing 5 questions:

1. what does it mean to be white? what does it mean to be White?
2. how has whiteness affected your worldview?
3. how has whiteness affected your educational experience?
4. how has whiteness affected your experience with authority?
5. how has whiteness affected your experiences with people of other races and ethnicities?

Which in general lead to a 'what is whiteness' conversation that actually bled over into the conservative blogs too.

Perhaps it's time to renew the questions.

Sara

aldahlia, why is "Blackness" capitalized and not "whiteness?"

aldahlia

Because I was cutting and pasting from an old document.

aldahlia

The first set of questions should read like this:

1. what does it mean to be black? what does it mean to be Black?
2. how has blackness affected your worldview?
3. how has blackness affected your educational experience?
4. how has blackness affected your experience with authority?
5. how has blackness affected your experiences with people of other races and ethnicities?

I'm sorry. Trying to reconstruct bloggy stuff from three years ago is an exercise in why google sucks.

barb

That is the most disingenuous reading of my post you could possibly come up with. You have twisted my meaning beyond words. I'm literally speechless. You are a fucking ass, Hugo.

For your readers: I encourage you all to go read my post in its entirety; it's about something completely different than what Hugo leads you to believe. Read also, please, his comment which is a shorter (and less snarky) version of what he said here and read my response to his comment which I wrote before I read this.

I can't believe you would do such a shitty thing, Hugo. You are indeed very welcome to not read my tiresome adolscent blog anymore and I won't read your defensive self-righteous one.

Hugo

Barb:

I am deeply sorry that my post was so profoundly offensive to you. I reread it three times before I saw how my paragraph about ME when I was at Berkeley could be construed as an attack on you. I've deleted that paragraph in its entirety. The only person I intended to criticize was me.

Though I have a sunnier view of race in general than you do, and generally am more conservative on the issue, I have colossal respect for your position, which I don't see as adolescent. But the paragraph which poked fun at my earnest white guilt came too abruptly after a quote from you, and of course could easily be misread. The fault is entirely mine.


So the paragraph is gone. It wasn't necessary to my broader point, which was to celebrate a culture that I believe IS a culture: WASP America has its beauty and its value for which no one need apologize!

I was offering a celebration of my family, my culture and my heritage, nothing more.

I have tremendous respect for your site and your work, Barb. I will continue to read your blog, though if you wish, I will refrain from either commenting on it or linking to it. And again, I am deeply sorry that my post was so hurtful to you.

If there's anything further I can do -- beyond publicly and privately apologizing and deleting what I believe to be the one offensive paragraph -- let me know what I can do. If not, I am sorry to have so suddenly and painfully lost your cyber friendship.

Hugo

PS: I've changed the title of the post too -- too close, I realize to late, to the title of your blog.

Hugo

And Aldahlia, those are fine questions. Next week, I'll tackle them.

barb

Here's the main point of my post, by the way. That whatever it is about whiteness we don't like (and I'm not saying that people can't have experiences like Hugo's) whether it's non-touchy-feeling families or the history of genocide and slavery and imperialism, we should recognize that the response should not be to run away from it, or to appropriate other people's cultures (find that Cherokee grandmother in your family tree) but to remember that we're still making/creating the story of whiteness.

"History is not over, folks. We white people do have a horrible past, we have a horrible culture but it's not a finished product. Culture is a process. We are still creating our story. We can make it a painful, beautiful story of redemption, of reconnection with the rest of humanity. So look back, yes, recognize the past, but don't forget you have to look forward too. And whether looking backward or forward you have to have a wide-angle lens. We have to see at least hundreds of years at a time in order to get things in perspective. Looking at the short term is a distortion. We are the star-bellied sneetches and we did some horrible things but now we have the gift of potential redemption in front of us. What an exciting time to be alive! Of all the periods in history to have been born white, the 21st century is such an exciting time to have been placed! A potential turning-point in history! Our grandkids could look back and say "wow, and YOU were there, mama! You saw the story of white racism and did not turn away. And now things are different for us. We are not so ashamed to be white anymore because the story of white people is the story of redemption!" What a beautiful story! And then our grandkids' grandkids will ask, "What was white? What was black? What was race?" And we will smile sadly from beyond the grave and think, "it was just a very long detour".

THAT was what my post was about. Hugo just couldn't see it because he got all defensive about white North American culture being standoffish.

That's fine to celebrate your family and your heritage Hugo. I have no problem with that, but don't make my post out to be something it's not.

Thanks (I think) for deleting the adolescent and tiresome critique of yourself back when you were like I am now. That (sorta) helps. Doesn't matter though I have enough confidence in my writing that I think it can speak for itself.

barb

And I don't deny that we can indeed find good aspects of that culture to preserve and celebrate.

Like tubing down rivers.
Woody Guthrie.
and calling everybody "hon".

David Thompson

"We white people do have a horrible past, we have a horrible culture but it's not a finished product."

Who is this "we" you speak of? I've never whipped my slaves, and I've never known anyone else who did. You can put that collectivist bullshit back where you found it.

Sara

barb, you seem to be coming back to the very thing you say hugo is unfairly accusing you of - harshing on perfectly fine aspects of cultures that white people have made. These are matters of personal preference and things that vary from culture to culture that aren't really worth cursing at someone over for disagreeing with you. I'm either missing something important here or totally disagree with your position (which I gather to be that white people need to sleep with their babies or continue to suffer their miserable culture). Either would be fine, but until I figure out which, I'm totally confused at the nasty rhetoric that's being dished out here.

barb

Hah! I've got another one! Cow-patty mushrooms! There's a great aspect of (southern) white North American (youth) culture! Going out into cow fields to find mushrooms and then EATING THEM FOR PSYCHEDELIC ENTERTAINMENT!! LOL ... okay, I'm starting to not be mad anymore. (doesn't mean I've completely forgiven you, though)

barb

Sara, geez, do I use language that badly? I'm not mad at Hugo for liking his white culture. I'm mad at him for 1.) calling me (or my blog) "adolescent and tiresome" --he fixed that. 2.) taking my post out of context and making it seem like I'm saying something I'm not. Which apparently worked on you unfortunately. Go read my actual post. Or at least read the excerpt of it I posted here.

I don't think I can say it any clearer: "whatever it is about whiteness we don't like (and I'm not saying that people can't have experiences like Hugo's) whether it's non-touchy-feeling families or the history of genocide and slavery and imperialism, we should recognize that the response should not be to run away from it, or to appropriate other people's cultures (find that Cherokee grandmother in your family tree) but to remember that we're still making/creating the story of whiteness.

If you can interpret that to mean that "people need to sleep with their babies more or continue to suffer their miserable culture" well.. I don't know what else I can do.

Sea Ganschow

Good catch Hugo. I have to admit, as I did to Bitch Lab, I snuck that in about my own upbringing coming from my own pain (pretty transparent there, yeah). But also I overgeneralize sometimes because I want people to think and talk about race and class and to think about their own early years. That in my mission to end oppression.

I actually co-sleep with my young ones and breast fed and play and laugh a lot and damn yes I'm white.

There is much to be pleased about ourselves.

Hugo

Thanks, Sea. Barb, I've never heard of cow-patty mushrooms. Just as I need to do a typology of student crushes, we need to do ones of whitenesses.

barb

you're kidding!!! you've never heard of psychedelic mushrooms that grow in cow patties? maybe it's a southern thing.

Here's another one: you know in the south, you can say anything no matter how horrible about someone and if you follow it with "bless your/her/his heart" it's all okay. As in, "Hugo acted like a big, whiney, jerk tonight, bless his heart!"

[evil grin]

(I'm not mad anymore.)

Laine

Barb has class! Bless her heart!

mythago

White people don't sleep with their children. They don't play much and they don't hug much. They don't laugh much. And they spend most of the time trying to look good.

WTF?!

David, the undeniable past history of racism and slavery in America has nothing to do with whether you, personally, were ever a slaveowner. The tantrum doesn't become you.

David Thompson

"the undeniable past history of racism and slavery in America has nothing to do with whether you, personally, were ever a slaveowner."

No, it doesn't. My ancestors were philosophers and sadists and everything in between. They ravaged northern Europe, saw Hannibal campaign through Italy, built Mohenjo Daro, and survived a near extinction. They lived, fucked, and died in total anonymity; and you, I, and their other relatives are the sole record that they ever existed at all. Whatever they did or did not do is irrelevant now; they are dead and their sins died with them.

stanton

"We white people do have a horrible past, we have a horrible culture but it's not a finished product."

While there are events in history that might be used to justify the above statement, the truth of the matter is there are very ugly events in the history of all races. The scale of these atrocious acts is limited, in each case, only by the degree of technological advancement of the group involved. The "white race" has been involved with horrifying injustices, as have all of the other ethnic groups. And they also were innovative in the development of a social conscience, moving them to go to great lengths in attempt to correct the social wrongs. Yes, the need to do so was brought forcefully to their attention by screaming protests, after generations of suffering - but the rersponse to such protests could have been more vicious suppression. That it was just the opposite demonstrates an evolution in social consciousness beyond anything the world has ever seen on such a scale.

So what is whiteness? It is nothing about which to feel superior to any other "ness", but it is nothing to be ashamed of either. It requires no apology. It requires no reparations. It is a thing about which one may be justly proud.

barb

LOL @ Laine

Hugo

Oh, I know the "bless your heart" line well! Heart-blessings all around!

Vacula

David Thompson: "Whatever they did or did not do is irrelevant now"
Stanton: "The "white race" has been involved with horrifying injustices, as have all of the other ethnic groups. And they also were innovative in the development of a social conscience, moving them to go to great lengths in attempt to correct the social wrongs."

Um, right.
Social Conscience = white people
Slavery & Segregation = irrelevant

Depends on what you see as "social wrongs," I suppose. Like all that wonderful political philosophy about freedom and equality and pursuit of happiness that (oops!) didn't apply to the slaves, didn't apply to the colonial holdings in India and Africa and Asia and, um, anyone that wasn't white or didn't have access to white education and economic power. Right.

mythago

and their sins died with them

If only they had.

stanton, it's kind of silly to be proud of 'whiteness', as though skin color were some kind of unifying thing beyond all else. What it has been and, to an unfortunate degree, still is, in America is a marker of class, culture and the legacy of slavery and racism that we're still trying to get out from under.

It has nothing to do with 'white guilt'. But we can't fix racism if we pretend it doesn't exist, or that it's a good thing when it's 'white pride'.

carlaviii

I still maintain that reticence is a survival trait in an environment where you can be snowed in and literally stuck with each other for 3-6 months of the year.

- the Nordic-Scottish mutt.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004