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So, I'm not a racist but...
April 24, 2011 8:04 PM   Subscribe

How to tell people they sound racist

Jay Smooth also dropping the wisdom on,

Gays in Hip-Hop as well as No Homo
Asher Roth and post-ironic hipster racism
T-Pain's loving of Sean Hannity
Young men crying
Wacka Flocka Flame's rejection of lyrical stylings in favor raw capitalism
How he learned to stop worrying and love the nerd
10 other things that Martin Luther King said
Roman Polansky (previously)
Obama's election
Wall-E Theory(previously)
What is really important in pop life and race matters
His fears of Christine O'Donnell
posted by Blasdelb (161 comments total) 233 users marked this as a favorite

 
This guy is awesome. That's all. The Ze Frank of hip-hop, or something.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 8:11 PM on April 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


"[It] becomes a rhetorical Bermuda triangle, where everything drowns in a sea of empty posturing, until somebody just blames it all on hip-hop and we forget the whole thing ever happened."
posted by WalterMitty at 8:14 PM on April 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


He overlooks a third option: air horn.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:16 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I saw this guy's No-Homo video. I liked it.

Glad to see he's done other good videos.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:16 PM on April 24, 2011


I LOVE this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:19 PM on April 24, 2011


Damnit, I meant to also post this interview as a hyperlink in his name, oh well
posted by Blasdelb at 8:22 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has this really never been posted before?

God do I love Jay Smooth. Jay Smooth may be my favorite person in the universe. At least, he's my favorite person in the universe who I don't actually know.

Another good video on the general subject of homophobia and masculinity: East Coast Cats and Christopher Street Boys
posted by craichead at 8:22 PM on April 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Jay Smooth is the best. I wish he had television shows. That's right, at least two. In a just world, all the bullshit talking heads on cable television would be replaced with Jay Smooth clones. I figure I've got to keep my wishes realistic.
posted by furiousthought at 8:25 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah. This guy's great.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:30 PM on April 24, 2011


He is great. But I totally got distracted by the cat in the background of the Christine O'Donnell video.
posted by axiom at 8:35 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That cat is in quite a few of the videos, being awesome and generally a cat
posted by Blasdelb at 8:43 PM on April 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


ayo, word to jay smooth's cat. best hype man in the business.
posted by mexican at 8:43 PM on April 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


There are literally dozens of MetaFilter threads that I wish all the participants could've started out by watching that video about Asher Roth making an "ironic" racist joke. That is wisdom that applies to more than just racism.

"Respecting each other's humanity is such a pain in the ass. Do we really have to do this forever? Can't you all just lighten up so I don't have to respect you anymore? Isn't the whole point of coming together as one that I don't have to care what you think?"

Great post, Blasdelb (Also your Wacka Flocka link is pointing to the wrong video)
posted by straight at 8:44 PM on April 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


This guy is much smarter than I'll ever be. Does that make me sad? Dough-know.
posted by nola at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2011


Also, YouTube needs to show one of these with a notice when people post videos.

"We Recommend You Watch This And Consider Re-Editing Your Video Blog Rant."
posted by straight at 8:49 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was good, nothing that I didn't know already but something that I suck at applying it in real life. I live in a mostly white neighborhood two blocks from a mostly black neighborhood and sometimes stuff my white neighbors say sounds head smackingly stupidly racist and I need better ways to call them on it without alienating them. Mostly I just let it pass which doesn't help anyone. I need to learn to say something like, "you that sounds really bad when you say that?"
posted by octothorpe at 8:49 PM on April 24, 2011


Myspace rappers... put your shirts back on!?

I cop to dropping the odd Jay Smooth link in the past, but damn right he deserves an fpp.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:51 PM on April 24, 2011


Worrying about "sounding racist" is why there is no serious discussion of race. Or gender. Or sexual orientation. What we have is sanctimonious head-nodding, high-flown egalitarian sentiments and ritual condemnation of all dissenters.
posted by Yakuman at 8:51 PM on April 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thank you for this post.
posted by Evernix at 8:58 PM on April 24, 2011


Yakuman, unless people with privilege have the common decency to at worry about at least sounding racist much less being racist, there is no mutually respectful place for the discussion to begin.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:58 PM on April 24, 2011 [29 favorites]


Oh, man, Jay Smooth? Wow, suddenly, I am 16 again, in the basement of my boyfriend's parents' house, figuring out how the internet works. High school boyfriend was a big fan... and now that I think about it, a kind of amazing kid since he unboxed the computer to read about hip hop rather than look at porn.

But, yes, this is a great FPP. And that Christine O'Donnell video is hilarious.
posted by Leta at 9:00 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Ze Frank of hip-hop, or something.

Ze Frank has actually mentioned that he is a fan of Jay Smooth, because of his attention to the rhythm of his words. See here, part of Ze's rewatch of The Show five years after the fact (it's a great read all on its own).
posted by Hargrimm at 9:01 PM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Forget that it came out of my mouth ... I'm not gonna say it."

This guy is awesome.
posted by bwg at 9:03 PM on April 24, 2011


The only things holding Smooth back from being a celebrity or politician are that he acknowledges the gaps in his own logic and understanding, and he leaves the complicated analysis to those who are actually knowledgeable subject matter experts. He sticks to the clear, common-sense facts of the subject at hand, but understands both the limitations and the strengths of that world view.

We should all be so flawed.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:11 PM on April 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


"if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it."

I'm guessing that Lil B never saw that No Homo video.
posted by hippybear at 9:14 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blasdelb. the word "racist" is being used as shaming language. It is a rhetorical dodge invoked to to avoid difficult ideas, topics or thought. After all, anyone who dares utter in-egalitarian words about the races faces destruction of career and reputation. In some countries, it means jail time. The accusation is an easy way to defame people who have no politically accessible means of self-defense.
posted by Yakuman at 9:17 PM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yakuman, I trust you realize that the thing you're saying sounds racist.
posted by ErikaB at 9:20 PM on April 24, 2011 [22 favorites]


After all, anyone who dares utter in-egalitarian words about the races faces destruction of career and reputation.

What in-egalitarian words about the races can be uttered which don't have their roots in racism? I'd be curious to know.
posted by hippybear at 9:21 PM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Worrying about "sounding racist" is why there is no serious discussion of race.

Oh no, Yakuman, we're not supposed to worry, "Do I sound racist?" We ought to ask ourselves, "Am I speaking and acting in a way that respects the dignity of my fellow human beings?"

It's when you think about other people that you give them the benefit of the doubt and think, "That sounded racist" rather than, "He's being a racist."
posted by straight at 9:22 PM on April 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


Jay Smooth's videos are also available as a podcast through iTunes. You can also get episodes through blip.tv's RSS feed.
posted by crataegus at 9:24 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In some countries, it means jail time.

About the only thing I can imagine this referring to is pro-nazi speech in Germany. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you're not talking about that, but without it your comments seem rather overwrought.

When you say things that are seen as racist, it can mean that there are social repercussions. Them's the breaks. Saying things that offend other people can be changed; being a color that offends other people can't.
posted by verb at 9:25 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why rappers need steroids
posted by Blasdelb at 9:30 PM on April 24, 2011


Speaking of not being racist, I think this huckleberry doth protest too much.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:33 PM on April 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Speaking of not being racist, I think this huckleberry doth protest too much.

Yeah. If you ever find yourself saying, "The real problem is that the nigras keep saying I'm racist," you've pretty much failed at public life and should just find a quiet hole to hide in.
posted by verb at 9:35 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


After all, anyone who dares utter in-egalitarian words about the races faces destruction of career and reputation.


"Won't someone think of the racists?" Really?
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:40 PM on April 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, it's worth remembering that the most recent actual high-profile destruction of a person's career over comments incorrectly labeled 'racist' was a black woman discussing the problem of racism.
posted by verb at 9:45 PM on April 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Blasdelb. the word "racist" is being used as shaming language.

That's because being racist is shameful.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:55 PM on April 24, 2011 [34 favorites]


What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words? I wonder what this Smooth guy would think about that. Seems like some of the most racist behavior one can exercise to me.
posted by MattMangels at 10:06 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoy this man's talking, and would like to subscribe to more of his talking.
Thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 PM on April 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words?

Well, I think that gets back to the "if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it." moment in the No Homo video, which applies equally well to using nigger in any context if you're not black.

I use the word faggot for specific effect. But don't call me one if you don't want to risk my rainbow-infused ire.
posted by hippybear at 10:09 PM on April 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


Man, Jay Smooth.

I know I've seen the racism video linked a thousand times here before, at least in comments (too lazy to search FPPs), but hey, the more people who see it, the better, y'know?
posted by klangklangston at 10:10 PM on April 24, 2011


What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words? I wonder what this Smooth guy would think about that.

I'll bet he'd say we should be big enough to care more about other people's feelings than about our own freedom to say absolutely anything we want to, and big enough not to whine like children, "BUT THAT'S NOT FAIR! THAT GUY SAID IT, WHY CAN'T I SAY IT? I WANNA SAY IT TOO!"
posted by straight at 10:11 PM on April 24, 2011 [30 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure I've seen this here before, but this is a great round-up, so.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 PM on April 24, 2011


What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words? I wonder what this Smooth guy would think about that. Seems like some of the most racist behavior one can exercise to me.

Yeah but lynching is a close second
posted by Jpfed at 10:16 PM on April 24, 2011 [43 favorites]


MattMangels: “What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words? I wonder what this Smooth guy would think about that. Seems like some of the most racist behavior one can exercise to me.”

Why on earth would it be racist to say that it's inappropriate for people of a certain race to say certain words in certain contexts? That seems insane to me. Given what while people have done to black people, it is inappropriate for me to say the n-word in most contexts. That's pretty much the only conclusion you can draw, given the history.

Do you honestly and truly believe that this rational, civil, respectful notion of largely avoiding the n-word if you're white is "some of the most racist behavior one can exercise"? Because, if so, congratulations; you appear to be the only person in America who's never witnessed any real kind of racism.
posted by koeselitz at 10:26 PM on April 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


How hadn't I heard of this guy before now? Thank you SO MUCH for posting this.
posted by Nattie at 10:32 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Worrying about "sounding racist" is why there is no serious discussion of race. Or gender. Or sexual orientation. What we have is sanctimonious head-nodding, high-flown egalitarian sentiments and ritual condemnation of all dissenters.


There is no serious discussion of race or gender or sexual orientation, much in the same way there is never any serious discussion of immigration, never mind a thousand scaremongering headlines and columns and politician's speeches and debates every year, never mind immigration being raised as a Serious Concern Facing Our Country every election.

The idea that there has been no serious discussion of race or gender or sexual orientation is patently absurd of course, but when you don't like the conclusions people arrive at through those serious discussions, of course it seems like "sanctimonious head-nodding, high-flown egalitarian sentiments and ritual condemnation of all dissenters" to you.

There has also been no serious discussion of global warming. Or the dangers of vaccines. Nobody ever discusses anything seriously, until they agree with you. Until then, it's all sanctimony and ritual shaming, because what else could it be? It's not like you could have missed something, that they could maybe see something you are not seeing, or understand something you missed. And it's not like people might have any good-hearted reason to worry about the spread of misinformation and prejudices, the pain and suffering and death it has led to throughout history and will again and again. How does that even compare to your right to say bigoted shit without social repercussions? Your needs must be respected, for you are above all.

Blasdelb. the word "racist" is being used as shaming language. It is a rhetorical dodge invoked to to avoid difficult ideas, topics or thought. After all, anyone who dares utter in-egalitarian words about the races faces destruction of career and reputation. In some countries, it means jail time. The accusation is an easy way to defame people who have no politically accessible means of self-defense.


The word "asshole" is being used as shaming language. It is a rhetorical dodge invoked to avoid dealing with difficult behaviour. After all, anyone who dares act like they have no consideration for other people faces destruction of their social life and reputation. In some places, it means they don't even get invited to parties. The accusation is an easy way to defame people who have no socially accessible means of self-defence.
After all, anyone who dares utter in-egalitarian words about the races faces destruction of career and reputation. In some countries, it means jail time. The accusation is an easy way to defame people who have no politically accessible means of self-defense.
You are so persecuted, you should follow the example of Martin Luther King and start a civil rights movement. Join up with the bankers, who are also facing a lot of oppression these days, they have the resources.
posted by catchingsignals at 10:34 PM on April 24, 2011 [31 favorites]


These kinds of threads are always so useful for outing the racists around here.

Oh wait, I'm sorry, I mean the r-word. I don't want to make them feel bad by using that shaming word.

I suppose I should be generous and allow that maybe they're not racists, they're just assholes who like to defend racism. But it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
posted by kmz at 10:39 PM on April 24, 2011


I thought we'd decided around here that there was no such thing as race?
posted by joannemullen at 10:49 PM on April 24, 2011


That's because being racist is shameful.

Well... in the United States, since sometime after 1970. And maybe in some parts of Europe.

Go anywhere else, and other time period, and most people are unabashedly racist.

(Islam makes a point of embracing all Muslims regardless of background, and while to some degree that does happen, you also get a lot of "people from X don't really pray properly".)
posted by orthogonality at 10:50 PM on April 24, 2011


These kinds of threads are always so useful for outing the racists around here.

I really do recommend taking a step back and thinking about how the first linked video relates to calling people racists (watch it if you haven't yet). I hope this isn't (or doesn't become) a "let's shit on racists because they suck" thread, so much as a "how do we deal with people that do/say things we think are racist" thread. If the thread is or becomes the former, the first video might as well not have been linked at all.
posted by Jpfed at 10:51 PM on April 24, 2011 [17 favorites]


Aww yeah, MeFi racist apologists.

It's like jazz played on dogwhistle, it's the notes you don't hear — Yeah, calling racism can be used to shame people who don't deserve it, but most of the time, people do deserve it and they're always claiming that it's, like, a coincidence that the big-lipped monkey drawing had "Obama" written on it.

But no, really, it's because, like, free speech means that I should be able to say "nigger" because it's not fair that black people get something they don't have to share with me. I'm telling Hannity! Free speech!

Given the choice between the dubious promise of even more serious discussions (because, believe it or not, race does get discussed seriously pretty regularly — unless you mean some sort of, "It's not serious because me, Cap'n Honky, hasn't sanctified it with the lily hand of legitimacy," kind of thing) or getting to keep calling out people who are racist for being racist even if it makes them feel a little bad about bein' all racist up in public? Gonna take the latter.
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Worrying about "sounding racist" is why there is no serious discussion of race. Or gender. Or sexual orientation. What we have is sanctimonious head-nodding, high-flown egalitarian sentiments and ritual condemnation of all dissenters.

I would point you to the Asher Roth video in which M. Smooth doth opine :
We're all basically at a crossroads now where we can choose between one path that starts with a commitment to caring more as we get closer, and another that starts with feeling entitled to care less.

So I'm hoping that Asher Roth and all of us are gonna take a minute to think, and choose NOT to go down the path that leads to being one of those annoying-assed, too-cool-to-be-human, Vice Magazine-ey kind of people.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:54 PM on April 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


getting to keep calling out people who are racist for being racist even if it makes them feel a little bad about bein' all racist up in public?

But it doesn't make them feel bad- it promotes their disengagement from the dialogue. That was the point of the first linked video- that we shouldn't be criticizing "being racist" so much as acts of racism.
posted by Jpfed at 10:56 PM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


nth-ing how really great this guy is.

continue.
posted by victors at 11:03 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words? I wonder what this Smooth guy would think about that. Seems like some of the most racist behavior one can exercise to me.
MattMangels, I found an answer to your question on, of all places, answerbag.com! Check it out:
"This has been answered quite a few times on this site, and (from the ones I have seen) recieved really good answers. Try searching for the answer on the site.

But for a quick answer: context changes.
(ex: Ever been to highschool? Notice how the group of unpopular kids call themselves "losers" and "nerds" and are fine with it? But then if an outside group throws the same words at them they are offended? Why is that? Because the context changes. Suddenly its a word to bring them down and reminds them of what they aren't/of them being opressed)."
and this one:
I suppose if you're called something derrogatorily for such a long time you try to call yourself that in order to make it seem trivial and not so painful.

There's a bit more to it than that, but y'know, it's answerbag.com. I hope that's enough to ease your mind. There may be more wisdom on that page, but forgive me I couldn't read on 'cause it was hurting my head.
posted by catchingsignals at 11:04 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought we'd decided around here that there was no such thing as race?

Doesn't mean there's no such thing as racism.

Well... in the United States, since sometime after 1970. And maybe in some parts of Europe.

Go anywhere else, and other time period, and most people are unabashedly racist.


And so... ?

That was the point of the first linked video- that we shouldn't be criticizing "being racist" so much as acts of racism.

Jay Smooth and you are much better and more patient people than I am. And I don't mean that sarcastically at all. I just get sick and tired of the merry go round.
posted by kmz at 11:04 PM on April 24, 2011


Given the choice between the dubious promise of even more serious discussions (because, believe it or not, race does get discussed seriously pretty regularly — unless you mean some sort of, "It's not serious because me, Cap'n Honky, hasn't sanctified it with the lily hand of legitimacy," kind of thing) or getting to keep calling out people who are racist for being racist even if it makes them feel a little bad about bein' all racist up in public? Gonna take the latter.

I'm with you, if only because, man are those conversations exhausting. To explain to someone why their bigotry (not just about race, but about other things, too) is so fucking terrible, to calmly and carefully explicate it, just completely sucks the air from the room. Particularly since bigots rarely go into these conversations in good faith, because I've rarely seen change myself, because the goal posts are always moving and there's always something new and offensive to be said. There's this expectation that these conversations need to always be teaching moments, that the person of color, or the other minority member, needs to be a fucking teacher and it's such a drain of time and energy and I've cut some of those people out in my life because I was sick of holding their hand and explaining why it wasn't okay to go around saying that the Black Panthers are just like the KKK or that you can't cast black people in movies because the only movies black people like are Big Momma's house and you find yourself having these conversations over and over again, as a release valve for them to like, air their white guilt, because they feel safe with you because you're white and patient with them but it's upsetting and exhausting and you feel like you're on a frigging treadmill.

Sometimes it's easier to to say, "You're racist, and I don't want this in my life anymore." Let someone else explain it to them when, someday, they're venting about the horrible thing that liberal said to them, or whatever. Ensuring that bigots continue to feel safe in discourse about race is not my job.

But generally, I love the video, because Jay Smooth is awesome, and this makes arguing with strangers easier. Deep down, though, I'm always going to have a little voice in my head screaming, "Tell them they're racist. It's the truth."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:06 PM on April 24, 2011 [22 favorites]


This almost makes up for all those insipid plays on the "That's racist!" kid animated gif.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:13 PM on April 24, 2011


Jay Smooth is awesome. When I dream of speaking in public, I'm as articulate, thoughtful, charismatic and likable as he is.
posted by maxwelton at 11:28 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


MattMangels, forgot to give you the link to the answerbag.com page.
But it doesn't make them feel bad- it promotes their disengagement from the dialogue. That was the point of the first linked video- that we shouldn't be criticizing "being racist" so much as acts of racism
I agree Jpfed, but it seems to me that at least in that video he wasn't so much concerned with keeping them engaged in dialogue -- he was saying that making it about the person lets people do "judo flips" and be all HOW DARE YOU CLAIM TO KNOW WHAT'S INSIDE MY SOUL, so concentrating on the act is for your own sanity, if nothing else. I'm all for dialogue and engagement, but feel like PhoBWanKenobi, and care more about the people having to speak up, and how often it can all turn on them if they're not careful.

But I actually first learned of this idea in Feeling Good, the Mefi favourite book. It's talked about in there as labelling, one of the major cognitive distortions. We can never know what's inside someone else's mind or heart, or the whole of who a person is -- so making it about the act, not the person is just acting on the information you've got, and unsurprisingly is less likely to make the other person feel defensive if we are trying to give any kind of constructive feedback, since an act is much easier to change or take back than the person they are.
posted by catchingsignals at 11:48 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuck, man. Fuck. Fuck!
posted by lholladay at 12:04 AM on April 25, 2011


Big fan of Jay here in Tokyo.
posted by gen at 12:07 AM on April 25, 2011


Point taken, straight; and thanks catchingsignals.
posted by MattMangels at 12:23 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


My key for spotting racists: they always apologise for the fact that their comments caused a fuss, not for the comments themselves. Today's example (it's homophobic too!):

"I apologise for the fact that it was ill timed. I had no intention and no thought that it would go into this."
posted by twirlypen at 12:32 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic.
posted by crossoverman at 12:33 AM on April 25, 2011


Yeah, I get the feeling some are missing the point. The reason it's a good idea to avoid calling people racist isn't because it kills dialogue with them. It kills dialogue period. It's the easiest thing in the world to dismiss somebody to other people by saying she or he is racist, but then you're just making it seem to everybody else as though you're just pulling a massive conclusion out of plain air. But if you say: "she / he did racist thing a, and said racist thing b, and sang along happily to racist song c" - then you're being clear about what you're actually talking about, and people will understand you a lot better. And, yes, you'll avoid conversations where people defend themselves by pointing out that they aren't really racist based on prior actions.

Which, for the record, is a defense that is more common than I think we're acknowledging. In fact, it's quite common among people who hate racism. I know I've used it when people have pointed out that something I said sounded racist or sexist. It's the default reaction, because we all have a tendency to take it personally when friends point that stuff out, and to assume that they're making judgments about us in general.

Also, yeah, this isn't really about dealing with dyed-in-the-wool bigots so much. Why? Because dyed-in-the-wool bigots are easy to deal with. You don't. Nobody needs to talk to such people on any deep level; often they're best avoided completely. If anybody's worth talking to, they're worth talking to in the way this video suggests, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 12:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


I love Jay Smooth's videos, and I wish the "sounding racist vs. being a racist" distinction was really as viable a conversation as he makes it seem. Sadly, most of the people I know who make comments that "sound racist" really are racists, and they're mostly immune to anything resembling a rational conversation. In my experience, most racists and racist-sounding commenters aren't interested in a serious discussion if it doesn't include enthusiastic agreement that their views are correct.

When you have neighbors and relatives who are able to say "nigger this" and "spic that" as casually as if they were talking about the weather, you can only try to rationally discuss it with them so many times before you finally have to say "You know what? If you want to talk like that, you go right ahead and knock yourself out, but you will NOT talk like that in my house, especially around my kids, and I won't stick around and listen when you talk like that in YOUR house either."

Sometimes a firm and adamant shaming is the only thing that gets results.
posted by amyms at 12:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but again, nobody gets ashamed when you call them a racist. They just think you're full of shit. It's utterly ineffectual, and it makes you sound like you're basing your judgments on some kind of abstract whim.

Shaming of racism is all well and good, but the only shaming that will ever actually work is shaming that goes like this: "you said racist thing x and racist thing y and racist thing z. You keep doing this racist shit, and it's fucking obnoxious."
posted by koeselitz at 12:46 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


And so... ?

And so, it's interesting -- and illuminating about human nature -- that racism or tribalism or a strong tendency to divide the world into "us" and "them" seems to be the default, the rule rather than the exception.

That is, racism, like cancer, is the natural state of things.

We liberal Americans are anti-racist not because we "never learned racism", but because we've been so strongly acculturated to reject what's natural.

Let me be clear: by natural I don't mean good or right, I just mean, "the default". Nor am I saying "natural" equals moral. But just as children are selfish until taught to share, people, it seems, are racist until taught to see beyond race.

And we come by this only very recently; again, until 1970 or so, it was perfectly respectable to be blatantly racist, even in the US.

If we want to eradicate racism, we have to understand it, and acknowledge that anti-racism is something that's unnatural and slowly and painstakingly acquired.
posted by orthogonality at 12:53 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


They just think you're full of shit. It's utterly ineffectual...

They may think I'm full of shit, but it's not ineffectual... I have been successful in getting otherwise loud-mouthed bigots (especially my father-in-law) to figure out non-racist ways to discuss news and current events with me, and to self-censor their more offensive word choices in casual conversations around me.

Granted, they're probably still using inflammatory language when I'm not around, and they're probably just as virulently racist as they were before, but at least a seed has been planted that not all of their friends and relatives agree with them, and that their views just maybe aren't as widely accepted as they think.

Sometimes even those kind of baby steps make a difference.
posted by amyms at 1:07 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


That is, racism, like cancer, is the natural state of things.

You know, you really need to work on your metaphors. I think you'll find cancer is not the natural state of things.

Now, you might say that racism is like a cancer - the way it occurs and spreads, but then you have to accept that not having cancer is like not having racism. And apparently you're ready to accept we are all born racist, which isn't really supported by anything - least of all your terrible metaphor.
posted by crossoverman at 1:08 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yakuman, I trust you realize that the thing you're saying sounds racist.
posted by ErikaB at 5:20 AM on April 25


Now I know I'm a terrible one for banging on about the wonder of irony and how it should be easy to spot, but I'm really not sure about this comment. I hope it is ironic, because neither of Yakuman's two preceding comments sounded racist, and so if this comment is not intended ironically then what it does is stand as a perfect example of Yakuman's second remark: "The word "racist" is being used as shaming language. It is a rhetorical dodge invoked to to avoid difficult ideas, topics or thought."

The only problem I had with that second remark is that it wasn't made clear enough that this sort of misuse of "racist" is by no means the whole picture, and frequently the word is used simply because it is accurate. But there was nothing racist about what Yakuman said.
posted by Decani at 1:29 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I co-sign so much with PhoBWanKenobi on the "teachable moments" phenomenon. As much as I try to be that person who takes the high road and explains "you know, that sounded racist (or homophobic or otherwise bigoted)", it can be damn tiring sometimes.

I hate that I find myself biting my tongue and not having a callout or a teachable moment as I get older. I used to think people who got mad at "soft" bigots instead of calmly explaining why an action was inappropriate were overreacting, that they weren't understanding enough of how our stratified society prevents people from overcoming superficial differences to just have conversations. And while I still think that's true, I'm personally nearing the end of my magical negro rope.

Nowadays, I just think, "Wait, you're X years old and you were really never close enough to another black person before you met me -- and we're not even that close -- to ask that thing you just did? Anyway, can't you just google that?"

// Also, "No, you are not allowed to touch my hair."
posted by lesli212 at 1:37 AM on April 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'll bet he'd say we should be big enough to care more about other people's feelings than about our own freedom to say absolutely anything we want to, and big enough not to whine like children, "BUT THAT'S NOT FAIR! THAT GUY SAID IT, WHY CAN'T I SAY IT? I WANNA SAY IT TOO!"
posted by straight at 6:11 AM on April 25


This is another fine example of twisting someone's words to make a shaming straw man.

It's not a question of saying "I want to say that too", it's a question of pointing out the hypocrisy of attacking racism while saying, "This race gets to say a word; that race doesn't". And spinning fallacious little webs of specious justification for that with dubious stuff about victims getting to "reclaim" words and so on doesn't alter the fact that it is racist, by definition. This race gets to do that; this other race doesn't. That is treating one race differently to another. That is racism. Exactly the same goes for things like affirmative action. If you defend these things, the only honest way to do it is to argue that they are justifiable racism, but do not try to argue that they are not racism because it doesn't fly.
posted by Decani at 1:41 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, the funny thing about saying things like "that's what racism is, by definition" is that it makes it really easy to spot people who don't know what the definition of racism is. You should look it up. "Treating people differently because of their race" isn't it.
posted by Errant at 2:10 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Errant - I feel like the prejudice + power definition is academic jargon, and it's not all that reasonable to expect persons outside of academia to be familiar with it. "Rods" are different things to auto mechanics, ophthalmologists, and regular people shopping for a window treatment, you know?

Of course, I can't really think of a good way to avoid the useless, muddying debate that is probably going to pop up with Decani. Especially since he's wandering into wider policy issues where so much of the argument is about the labels a thing has and what those labels mean, rather than "what is best for society".

Tiring. Maybe sufficient to overcome my little bout of insomnia tonight though. Wish me luck.
posted by kavasa at 2:21 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's because being racist is shameful.

And that's the sound of the point of the first link in the post whooshing overhead.
posted by rodgerd at 2:36 AM on April 25, 2011


That's because being racist is shameful.

And that's the sound of the point of the first link in the post whooshing overhead.


Hardly. I absolutely agree with Jay Smooth that it's more productive to point out specific instances in which is person's statements may, in and of themselves, seem racist, rather than issuing a blanket condemnation of that person's assumed belief system.

I was simply objecting to the implication that shaming people for being racist (or rather, to take Mr Smooth's point, saying racist things or otherwise acting like a racist) is bad. Of course you should shame racists. Do you really disagree with that?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:08 AM on April 25, 2011


I assume the word most often brought up in this "they get to say it and we don't" context is "nigger," right?

A black person using the word has none of the baggage that comes with a white using the word, especially in the context of talking to or about a black person; baggage based on centuries of ill-treatment. I'm not sure that can ever be undone--maybe after decades of true equality, which we don't even have more than a glimmer of yet.

How, exactly, is your life lessened by having certain words you cannot use when referring to certain people? Taboos of this sort arise from historical abuse by the people-who-now-can't-use-the-word of the people-who-still-can. Losing the use of slurs as wrongs are righted is one of the very few prices of privilege.
posted by maxwelton at 3:08 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


This race gets to do that; this other race doesn't. That is treating one race differently to another. That is racism.

I don't think that's what racism is. It's not about being treated differently, it's about being treated as inferior. White people lose nothing and miss out on nothing by not using racial slurs. There is no real-world impact and it does not contribute to their denigration as a class. To me, it is useless to talk about racism without acknowledging power dynamics. In fact, that goes for all issues of equality. Inequality is a result of group dominance with actual harm, not differences.

Errant - I feel like the prejudice + power definition is academic jargon, and it's not all that reasonable to expect persons outside of academia to be familiar with it.

I think a lot of people are familiar with the understanding that racism involves actual oppression. Really, the only people who frequently muddy the waters are those who do not much suffer the harms of racism. The idea that racism can exist without harm is pretty foreign to the victims of it. Actual harm is intrinsic to racism.
posted by Danila at 3:08 AM on April 25, 2011 [40 favorites]


...it is useless to talk about racism without acknowledging power dynamics. In fact, that goes for all issues of equality. Inequality is a result of group dominance with actual harm, not differences.

thank you, Danila.
posted by jammy at 5:17 AM on April 25, 2011


"I'm not saying you're racist, but the things you're saying are racist."
This pulls the onus off of the speaker, reducing the cognitive dissonance. It also reflects concepts underlying English Prime, where you avoid identifying language. The person isn't their actions, attitudes, or speech, in the sense that these are not immutable qualities that cannot be changed. These attitudes are picked up, like physical objects, and can be set down.

"I used to think that way, friend. Until I discovered Jesus."
This is a really great way to catch out folks who claim to be Christian and confront them with how unChristian what they're saying is. It's not delivered as a slap in the face; more like a glass of cold water in the face of someone who has passed out from complacency.

and, of course:

"Well, that explains the casual racism."
posted by Eideteker at 5:22 AM on April 25, 2011


Ooooh! I've never encountered this guy before. I think I'm in love.

Thanks for the post, Blasdelb!
posted by MeiraV at 5:41 AM on April 25, 2011


I once witnessed the absolute best way to call someone out on a racist joke. It was a locker-room situation, with jokes and the usual man-chatter flying around, and someone crossed the line and enough people laughed to make me really uncomfortable. But what do you say? The situation was resolved by one of the coolest guys I have ever met, chiming in and responding with a big friendly smile:

"Yeah, I got one too. What do you call a black man with a PhD?"

[beat]

A doctor, you fucking racist."

posted by sixswitch at 6:07 AM on April 25, 2011 [58 favorites]


Damnit, I meant to also post this interview as a hyperlink in his name, oh well

The reporter interviewing him in that clip has the biggest crush on him ever. If you look at her while he's talking, she's really doing her best to restrain herself and keep that giant grin off her face, its adorable.
posted by tempythethird at 6:12 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not a question of saying "I want to say that too", it's a question of pointing out the hypocrisy of attacking racism while saying, "This race gets to say a word; that race doesn't".

One odd thing about this assertion is that it posits a counterfactual. It is simply not the case that that race doesn't get to say a word. That race gets to say a word. That race often seems to look for opportunities to say a word. We just had a thread in MetaTalk where someone explained that he could not be entirely content unless he got to say a word, and laid out the system he has put in place to allow him to do so. Individuals may not get to say a word as often as they might like, but that's a slightly different matter.

What that race (on occasion, in certain situations, while running for political office, when the cameras are on, when there's somebody of this race in the room) is strongly discouraged from doing is using terms with a long history of being used by that race against this race as terms of racial abuse as terms of racial abuse.

There are exceptional cases, for example people with television shows who are held to a more exacting standard by their employer, and edge cases, but that seems to be the core guidance.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, you really need to work on your metaphors. I think you'll find cancer is not the natural state of things.

Now, you might say that racism is like a cancer - the way it occurs and spreads, but then you have to accept that not having cancer is like not having racism.


No, that wasn't what I meant at all.

I mean that cancer is the original natural state of cells: cancer is when a cell grows selfishly, like a single-celled organism, disregarding the pact that multi-celled creatures anciently made to put the survival of the organism ahead of the survival of the cell.

Single-celled organisms can split and split and split and are potentially immortal because of it. Cells in your body have given up immortality for the good of the whole -- only certain cells in your gonads have any chance at all of creating daughter cells (sperm, eggs) that will outlast your body. Cancer happens when cells revert to the ancient selfish rules. (Of course, most cancers die with the body they kill, though some few, like viral cancers and the cancer that killed Henrietta Lacks, do survive their host.)
posted by orthogonality at 6:20 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This race gets to do that; this other race doesn't. That is treating one race differently to another. That is racism.
Don't you ever get bored of having this discussion?

Jay Smooth is a really, really smart guy. He's also got a perspective that I, at least, don't hear a lot. He's someone who is really steeped in the world of hip-hop, who loves hip-hop and has deep respect for the musicians who make it, who thinks a lot of critiques of hip-hop are unfair and problematic, but who has big issues with the way that hip-hop culture thinks about masculinity. It's a little weird to me that someone would watch his videos and think "oh goody, this is an excuse to make the same speech about race and racism that I've been making for the past 12 years!" Can you really not find anything new to say about those videos? Can we really not ever move this discussion beyond the burning issue of whether white people should be allowed to say nigger?
posted by craichead at 6:30 AM on April 25, 2011 [22 favorites]


You know, how come my dog is allowed to shit on the garden, but when i do it...
posted by fullerine at 6:36 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some people are 100% racists. Calling them racist vs calling their behavior racist: it's probably not going to change their mind either way, so who cares.

Some people are mostly NOT racist, but occasionally let slip something that sounds racist. Those people, THOSE are the ones whose behavior (and not their intent) should be addressed, for the reasons Jay Smooth already said.

Saying that racists are bad and tiring and deserving of shame completely overlooks that there are varying degrees of racism, and that someone who is barely racist is probably more likely to listen to someone who doesn't lump them in with someone who is 100% racist.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:41 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The sound on this interview is pretty awful, but there's a transcript, and it's wide-ranging and interesting.
posted by craichead at 6:47 AM on April 25, 2011


That is, racism, like cancer, is the natural state of things.

We liberal Americans are anti-racist not because we "never learned racism", but because we've been so strongly acculturated to reject what's natural.


Respectfully, orthogonality, this is wrong. "Racism" is not the natural state of things. Racism is a learned behavior. It happens to be commonly taught, but the very idea of race is not something that young children naturally understand. My son asked me, when he was five years old, if he could grow up to be black. He's not an idiot, he's just lucky enough to go to a school with a very diverse student body and a bunch of multi-racial families. I had to explain to him that he was out of luck and we talked about genetics and it turned into a conversation about pocket frogs, but the fact is that it is up to you, as a parent, to teach your kid about the differences among people. Exclusion of the other may or may not be a human trait, but definition of the other need not have anything to do with religion or skin color or sexual orientation, and if it does that is our failing as parents, not some law of nature.
posted by The Bellman at 6:50 AM on April 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


>This race gets to do that; this other race doesn't. That is treating one race differently to another. That is racism.

>I don't think that's what racism is. It's not about being treated differently, it's about being treated as inferior.

Exactly this. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that racism is about different races being able to do and say different things and that if we truly lived in an equal world, everyone would have the equal right to do and say what they want without any sort of social repercussions. So you know, it's the black people's collective fault that racism still exists you see, because they can say the n-word or make racial jokes without any punishment while white people are penalized for it and this is just a tremendous injustice.

But this isn't the case. Racism and race theory is ultimately about power and privilege and examining the power structures around race. And the fact of the matter is that privileged people using racist/sexist/bigoted language or even light-hearted jokes does a lot more damage to marginalized groups than when minorities do it.

It's the classic case of "why can the black comedian joke about white people but if a WHITE COMEDIAN joked about black people he'd be booed offstage", or even more popular the whole "why don't black people get charged with hate crimes as often as whites well I'll tell ya why it's because there are certain races getting more protection and THAT is racism." They're making these claims without thinking about the power structures and privilege (or lack of) behind these sorts of social phenomena, and they're racist comments because they are refusing to acknowledge those power structures and presence of privilege.
posted by windbox at 6:54 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Orthogonality: Single-celled organisms can split and split and split and are potentially immortal because of it.

Hang on - are you saying that racism may lead to immortality? That does at least explain Strom Thurmond's remarkable longevity, but learning that every hour spent filibustering civil rights legislation is worth an extra year of life is going to make the Senate intolerable.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:55 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My problem with Jay Smooth's videos is that I can never grasp his point completely: halfway through each one, I veer off into inappropriate fantasies.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:00 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jay Smooth has been posted a few times here before. He has a Metafilter account as well. He's maddening because he's so awesome but that battle against the little hater has turned into a war. He'll make a video and then disappear for like months at a time. Announce a big project, disappear for months again. He also knows about how much people like the cat. It's always about the cat. Beat that little hater, Jay, come on.
posted by cashman at 7:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know, all these programming posts are getting a little over the top.

I mean, it's nice someone wants to share how to avoid race conditions, but not all of us will ever be coders, so let's keep it down.
posted by Samizdata at 7:32 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Racism and race theory is ultimately about power and privilege and examining the power structures around race. And the fact of the matter is that privileged people using racist/sexist/bigoted language or even light-hearted jokes does a lot more damage to marginalized groups than when minorities do it.

And before anyone starts questioning "Is White Privilege actually a real thing", Tim Wise has already broken it down for you.

You're welcome.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:37 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Saying that racists are bad and tiring and deserving of shame completely overlooks that there are varying degrees of racism, and that someone who is barely racist is probably more likely to listen to someone who doesn't lump them in with someone who is 100% racist.

Does it? I don't deny that there are degrees of racism (and homophobia; the discussions are usually about equivalent). But I find it almost entirely impossible to tell how bigoted someone is until I'm engaged in a conversation that thoroughly examines their beliefs.

And again, that's tiring. Sometimes it's worth it. Most of the time it isn't.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with Jay Smooth that it is better to say "What you said sounded racist, and here's why," instead of saying "you're a racist." That being said, I don't know who he has as friends, because the discussion tends to actually go like this.

"What you said sounded racist, and here's why?"

"You're saying I'm a fucking racist?"

"No! I'm saying what you said was a little bit racist."

"Well, I'm the one who said it, so I guess I'm a big fucking racist."

"That's not what I'm saying at all."

"I have a lot of black friends!"

"Okay, you're not hearing me."

"I'm hearing you all right. You're saying I'm a racist."

Discussions of sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, and the like tend to go like this as well. So I guess the flip side of Jay's equation is if you find yourself on the receiving end of that conversation, don't go ape shit and try to defend yourself against a charge that is not being made. Chances are, somebody is trying to keep you from making a fool of yourself.

And I think Jay is directing his comments at his friends, who sometimes, without intending to, engage in sketchy behavior, and he wants to point it out as gently as possible. But when Rush Limbaugh repeatedly uses race-based scare tactics to manipulate his audience, we don't have to be as circumspect. We can just come out and say he's a racist. Also, if your uncle comes home wearing a hood and smelling of burning wood, you are in your rights to say "You're a racist and I don't want to be in the same house as you."
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:23 AM on April 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Also, if you want to have the N word conversation, can I ask that you Google it first? You're taking a good discussion and making it remedial nonsense, because you had an idea that struck you as novel, when it isn't, and haven't done an ounce of additional reading to see if anybody has had that same idea before, and if anybody has responded to it. So you're forcing MetaFilter, as a whole, to have a discussion it has had a million times.

I mean, if you have a new iteration of the argument, based on all your research, and in response to discussions that have already happened, fine. But if you're going to come roaring into t a thread about racism with whatever pops up off the top of your head, it's like going into a thread about comic books and saying "I don't know why there are words in bubbles above people's heads! That's stupid!"

There is a certain amount of self-education we can fairly expect you to do before you engage in conversation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:26 AM on April 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


Detour spotting for white anti-racists (pdf) is helpful if you have friends like AZ's or you find yourself getting defensive at the idea of being called out for doing something racist.
posted by quiet coyote at 8:45 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


kavasa: Even if we go with "power + privilege" as a specialized definition, which I think other people here have adequately demonstrated it isn't, a cursory Google tells us that the most common dictionary definitions are either "hatred or prejudice based in race or culture" or "a belief that races have inherent characteristics that contribute to an essential superiority or inferiority".

None of that is about treating people differently, it's about treating people badly. (And I note that second definition still has hierarchy built right into it.) Treating people differently is fine, people are after all different. It's whether you are treating them fairly that matters. In this case, fairness often requires compensation for structural inequality, which means that behavior often does appear different. But it's not about different, it's about fair.
posted by Errant at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2011


Also, if you want to have the N word conversation, can I ask that you Google it first?

Googling it also brings up a ton of Yahoo answers links with "best response" marked as something along the lines of "grar, I know, it's bullshit right? this is reverse racism!" and other ignorant garbage. Not saying that with 3 more seconds of digging you can't find anything that's actually substantial, but you can also find plenty of shit from google to support your backwards views if you wish.
posted by windbox at 8:54 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Jay Smooth technique works on people like my dad. He lives in Multi-racial California (he grew up in the Central Valley and lived in the Bay Area his entire adult life) but still thinks Mexican or Asian "jokes" are funny.

I'm totally going to send this to him (to use on his friends of course.)
posted by vespabelle at 9:02 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a risk with life in general; you can always find people to support your views. The mark of somebody who wishes to engage in real discussion, rather than make hit-and-tun drive-by points, is that the have actually investigated what the other side has to say, and has an opinion about that.

It sometimes seems like discussion about race in this country is hamstrung by the fact that we have to repeatedly have the same rudimentary discussion with every person who comes along, like all six billion people on earth need to be individually introduced to the basic concepts, one by one, in conversations that take over entire threads. And while I don't expect all six billion are going to have that discussion here on MetaFilter, there gets to be a point when the same point is introduced in every single thread as though it is a novelty that has never been thought up before, whether that is the real subject of the thread, and we either grind to a halt, ignore it, mock it, or try to have conversations around it while others patiently explain, no, it's not racist for black people to use the N word, and it's not racist that white people are discouraged from using that word.

Perhaps this is how it must be. But you'll excuse me if it wearies me a little, and I request that people meet me halfway on it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


And the truth is, if your contribution to a thread is something similar to "You know who's actually racist? Black people!" it's fair to me to stop and ask that, before you post this, you ask yourself "Am I on the right foot with this?"
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


My son asked me, when he was five years old, if he could grow up to be black

I think this may be precisely the innate racism that orthogonality was referring to.

White man wanting to be black is a common trope and a racist one as far as I am concerned, because it is almost always followed by self-serving paeans to a sensual black allure (read: big dicks).

Now your son has not articulated that yet and perhaps it is not on his mind at all. But to casually deflect the point that most of us have deep seated, innate notions about difference, belonging and race with a charming anecdote about a 5 year old boy is a bit coy.
posted by eeeeeez at 9:21 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My grandmother has an approach that she thinks lets her talk about race with impunity.

She claims to be totally racially colorblind. Not as in the "I don't care if you're black, I hardly even notice" typical colorblindness excuse. She takes it literally, as in she pretends she can't differentiate racial attributes, so therefore she can't be racist. As in, she'll see a dark-skinned person on the TV and turn to somebody else and say "I don't see race, but is that person black?" Once she gets confirmation the person is black, she'll go on to make a racist remark or joke, but then say it doesn't matter because she doesn't see race.

It's like a half-baked comedy sketch.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know who's actually racist?

Smurfs. Damned blueskins are so insular.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2011


I don't think it's coy. The child is socialized into thinking using our categories, good and bad. What's natural for humans is to learn these grouping and sorting tools. The content is malleable. The significance attached to particular skin colors is not "natural". Think about it for one second and there are hundreds of examples of this... The fact that we can become critical of the way we were socialized doesn't mean that we never learned our place and others places in a racist society...

This "It's natural to be racist" thing is not a coherent argument and I have no idea what emotional ground it's actually defending. Race is a socially constructed thing (which doesn't mean it doesn't exist, btw).

Maybe I'm not getting the argument. Maybe people trying to say it's interesting that it's easier to be ignorant? or it's interesting that it feels natural to just go along with the majority view on things?

I agree with that, it's interesting how privilege works and how it makes it easy to ignore this stuff. I think it's moral cowardice though to retreat from confronting it as something we do to people everyday and are responsible for.
posted by ServSci at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, if you want to have the N word conversation, can I ask that you Google it first? You're taking a good discussion and making it remedial nonsense, because you had an idea that struck you as novel, when it isn't, and haven't done an ounce of additional reading to see if anybody has had that same idea before, and if anybody has responded to it. So you're forcing MetaFilter, as a whole, to have a discussion it has had a million times.

This also deserves to be reiterated in the context of the "I thought we'd decided around here that there was no such thing as race?" argument, which we have also covered extensively and is sufficiently basic that the onus is on anyone who isn't aware of the possible answers to that question to catch up themselves.
posted by invitapriore at 9:42 AM on April 25, 2011


Thanks for posting this - I had never heard of Jay Smooth before, and I've really enjoyed the videos I've checked out so far. We need more intelligent voices like his out there. And he walks the hard-to-balance line between judging people (which he doesn't) and calling people on their shit (which he does). Posts like this are why I love metafilter.
posted by ericbop at 9:45 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


ServSci, when orthogonality says "Racism is natural" he doesn't mean that our racial categories are inborn, he means that the socialization you're talking about, sorting people into categories, irrational discrimination against The Other, is almost universal throughout human societies and the struggle against it is a rare and wonderful thing. And given the near universal tendency for human societies to do that, it's probably always going to be an uphill battle.
posted by straight at 9:47 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, if you want to have the N word conversation, can I ask that you Google it first?

This probably doesn't apply to MetaFilter, where good faith is a core tenet of the community experience. but I think this conversation is often not about an information deficit. People don't start the conversation because they sincerely want to know why they can't say it - it's pretty obvious why they shouldn't, and they already know that in the right conditions they can.

It seems like often people have the conversation because having the conversation is one sure-fire way to create conditions in which they are able to say it, in front of people who don't like hearing them say it, while having a plausible defence against objections to them saying it (the pursuit of knowledge). It's a way to tweak the nose of Politically Correct types, essentially, rather than a good-faith inquiry.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


"If you defend these things, the only honest way to do it is to argue that they are justifiable racism, but do not try to argue that they are not racism because it doesn't fly."

Yeah, no, making up your own definition of racism where it's some sort of context-free extreme egalitarianism — especially when it conveniently reinforces your own privilege?

That's pretty much the sort of bullshit that your friends need to pull your coat over, no matter how much of the cranky contrarian you're fronting on.

Because, like, Affirmative Action's not racism (only through the big Bell Curve bullshit does it imply that anyone's inferior), and — guess what? — you can say "nigger" in contexts where you're discussing the word, but you can't call people it without, you know, sounding like a big ol' racist. If you want to be mad at someone, blame the racists for ruining the word.
posted by klangklangston at 10:03 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saying that racists are bad and tiring and deserving of shame completely overlooks that there are varying degrees of racism, and that someone who is barely racist is probably more likely to listen to someone who doesn't lump them in with someone who is 100% racist.

Does it? I don't deny that there are degrees of racism (and homophobia; the discussions are usually about equivalent). But I find it almost entirely impossible to tell how bigoted someone is until I'm engaged in a conversation that thoroughly examines their beliefs.


Does it? Yes, it does. If someone I've known for like 10 years never says or behaves in a racist way, and then one day drops some racist remark into a conversation, that person is barely racist. To me, the point of the Jay Smooth vid is that focusing on whether a person holds racist ideologies is really less important that focusing on whether a person ACTS in racist ways. I don't need to engage in a thorough conversation to think back and remember how many times a person has acted in racist ways. That's what's really important, and that's the thing to put a stop to.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:04 AM on April 25, 2011


This was a really thoughtful call to action. I think I like Mr. Smooth.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:10 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Oh no, Yakuman, we're not supposed to worry, "Do I sound racist?" We ought to ask ourselves, "Am I speaking and acting in a way that respects the dignity of my fellow human beings?""

In England, if you question whether immigration is a good thing as it means your grandchildren are struggling to find work you get called a bigot. By the PM no less. There was nothing that questioned peoples dignity. So we are hardly able to have an intelligent debate about it. Even though it means the corporations can continue to make obscene profits and keeps the minimum wage down. Why pay more when you can hire people who will work for min wage? And we have tons of 18-24 year olds who don't have work due to this policy. Yet if you bring this up, you are called a bigot. Right. Like Chomsky said, the intellectuals of the masses will chant the correct slogans...

""Yeah, I got one too. What do you call a black man with a PhD?""

er, that fucker who downgraded Pluto. The Evil Bastard.(TM)

also can someone explain the tap-dancing reference? Maybe it is because I am English or something, but I have never heard that used in a racist way?
posted by marienbad at 10:12 AM on April 25, 2011


Also, if I'm saying or doing something that's racist and I don't realize it's racist? I really hope people tell me because otherwise, I might be offending folks unintentionally and not realize it. I'd generally prefer to only offend people on purpose so I can continue being a nice white lady or something.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:14 AM on April 25, 2011


In England, if you question whether immigration is a good thing as it means your grandchildren are struggling to find work you get called a bigot. By the PM no less. There was nothing that questioned peoples dignity. So we are hardly able to have an intelligent debate about it. Even though it means the corporations can continue to make obscene profits and keeps the minimum wage down. Why pay more when you can hire people who will work for min wage? And we have tons of 18-24 year olds who don't have work due to this policy. Yet if you bring this up, you are called a bigot.

I'm sorry that you or people you know got called a bigot. That's not what Mr. Smooth recommends anyone should do who disagrees with you about immigration. I hope that doesn't weaken your resolve to speak and act in a way that respects the dignity and humanity of all the people whose lives are affected by the immigration debate.
posted by straight at 10:19 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


marienbad: Questioning immigration policy and asking whether it is accomplishing goals of equity and inclusion is one thing. Blaming immigrants for taking all the jobs is another. Because there is a long history of racist social policy which has masqueraded as immigration reform, it is useful to be clear in one's speech and approach, so that it is clear you don't mean "the problem is all these damn immigrants" but "the current immigration policy may be creating unintended side effects which we should review". One is a soundbite, one is discourse.

Also, I'd just like to suggest that in a fraught topic, answering "what is a black man with a Ph.d" with "that evil bastard" is... well, it seems ill-conceived as a joke, at least to me.
posted by Errant at 10:31 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't usually follow YouTube video blogs. I'm not into hip-hop, nor much of pop culture. I'm not even American. Only a few of the linked videos could be said to apply to me. But I have a huge new intellectual (and non-intellectual, if I'm honest) crush right now. Well done, Jay Smooth!
posted by MelanieL at 10:31 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I saw Niel DeGrasse Tyson speak a little while ago, and there were actually kids protesting the demotion of Pluto. He talked them all out of it.

It's hard to argue with somebody who knows what he's talking about, even when you're angry about something.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on April 25, 2011


amyms: “They may think I'm full of shit, but it's not ineffectual... I have been successful in getting otherwise loud-mouthed bigots (especially my father-in-law) to figure out non-racist ways to discuss news and current events with me, and to self-censor their more offensive word choices in casual conversations around me. Granted, they're probably still using inflammatory language when I'm not around, and they're probably just as virulently racist as they were before, but at least a seed has been planted that not all of their friends and relatives agree with them, and that their views just maybe aren't as widely accepted as they think. Sometimes even those kind of baby steps make a difference.”

Then you're doing what the video says. Seriously, there's no conflict here. If you've gotten your father-in-law et al to stop uttering execrable things around you, you clearly didn't do it by saying "you're a racist, I'm never talking to you again." You did it by saying "that thing you just said was racist, and I won't listen to it. Sorry." There had to be some kind of expectation about what things precisely you meant, and sometimes that requires a conversation, to the tune of "I will not have you say x or y or z around me, okay? Those are racist things."
posted by koeselitz at 10:39 AM on April 25, 2011


You do realize that Neil deGrasse Tyson did not actually make the decision to downgrade Pluto, right? He's just been one of the more public faces of the decision by the International Astronomical Union in the US because of his role as a Nova presenter, right?
posted by hippybear at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Neither the "You're a racist" conversation nor the "That thing you did seemed racist" conversation works on someone who is, in fact, an admitted racist. The first statement is met with "Yes, and?" and the second is met with "Yes, and?"

So if you think someone really is a racist, you need to be trying to have a different conversation with them. The "Hey racism is not good for you/us/them/anyone because..." conversation. It sometimes seems like people think that merely pointing out racism is the same as arguing against it. It is often not the same -- just pointing out racism only matters to people who have something to gain by not being perceived as racist.
posted by rusty at 10:44 AM on April 25, 2011


Derail of a derail, but...

In England, if you question whether immigration is a good thing as it means your grandchildren are struggling to find work you get called a bigot. By the PM no less.

I assume you mean "bigotgate", where Gordon Brown did this. It's probably worth clarifying that he did it off the cuff, in private, without knowing that he was being recorded. Which was followed by an apology and then another apology after his first apology was deemed insufficiently grovelling and public.

It was represented as damning proof that he had lost the common touch, and totally derailed his attempts to focus on other issues in the run-up to the General Election. The implication that Gillian Duffy was SILENCED ALL HER LIFE, or that this was a Prime Ministerial statement ex cathedra, are incorrect.

Let's compare that the current Prime Minister says in publicabout immigration:
For too long, immigration has been too high. I believe that controlling immigration and bringing it down is of vital importance to the future of our country[...] Across all the main routes of entry to Britain - work, family, education, we are taking action simultaneously[...] For years, people have been playing the system, exploiting the easiest way of entry into the UK.


Video of full speech here.

David Cameron largely agrees with you, Marienbad, although I don't think his aim is to fight the capitalists and increase the dignity of the working man. He wants to reduce immigration and cut welfare payments, because he believes that immigration is driven by British people choosing to live on welfare rather than work and immigrants coming in to do the jobs they refuse to do. So, the aim is to return more British people to low-status, low-paid, minimum-wage employment and get them off benefits.

Whether this will work is rather more questionable, but the idea that talking about the desirability of limiting immigration gets you called a bigot by the Prime Minister is at best ill-informed and at worst actively dishonest.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:46 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think a country can have a rational discussion about immigration. It's a complicated issue. And immigration does have real consequences.

However, the problem is that the people who are most enthusiastic (or at least, the ones given the biggest soapbox) about arguing against immigration also tend to use racist or bigoted rhetoric, which makes it even harder to have a rational discussion. People who are for immigration or who don't think immigration is an issue then feel like they're right because they are not the racist ones in the argument.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:50 AM on April 25, 2011


Oops, forgot my last sentence. The point is, racism makes it very difficult to actually talk about immigration. I wasn't taking a side with my comment.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:52 AM on April 25, 2011


Yet if you bring this up, you are called a bigot.

"Bigot" is a loaded term, but if you are scapegoating immigration policy as the only factor in determining a national economic policy, you run the risk of sounding xenophobic.

I mean what is nationalism in practice but institutionalized racism?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2011


also can someone explain the tap-dancing reference? Maybe it is because I am English or something, but I have never heard that used in a racist way?

Tap as a dance form is historically very black in America, particularly with reference to minstrel shows. It's also often accorded less esteem than other dance forms, largely it seems for similar reasons. Also, there's the uncomfortable echo of slaves dancing to entertain their owners as in that Shirley Temple movie The Littlest Rebel.

Every group being insulted has certain reductionist signifiers the insulter uses as And another thing those people do is X. In America, tap-dancing is one of those reductionist signifiers used to caricature black folk. Often combined with only eating watermelon & fried chicken and having rapacious sexual appetites.

Essentially, unless your actually speaking about/to Sammy Davis jr or Gregory Hines or Savion Glover or a particular dancer, non-black folk referencing tap-dancing while speaking to/about black folk is considered insulting.

There was that one episode of News Radio where Dave Foley's character spoke of his love for tap, how he wanted to be a "real hoofer". White folk & tap in America is the signifier for cripplingly uncool. Then again, both the actor & character are Canadian. Not sure what tap signifies up in round-bacon land.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:47 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oops - forgot my last sentence also. Obviously, the focus on good faith on MetaFilter means that I don't think there was any lack of sincerity on the part of Marienbad. But if we are talking about "bigotgate", I don't think the lesson is that you can't talk about curbing immigration in Britain without being shouted down - it's actually that you can't dismiss that discourse without being savaged by the press. I don't at this point think anyone in the political mainstream of Britain or the US would dare to say that immigration was an economic good without adding a proviso that it needed to be controlled and limited.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:47 AM on April 25, 2011


Also, if your uncle comes home wearing a hood and smelling of burning wood, you are in your rights to say "You're a racist and I don't want to be in the same house as you."

Now now, don't be hasty - he could just be a Druid.

that's funny, he doesn't look Druish...
posted by FatherDagon at 12:06 PM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Like an Irish monk?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or Andre the Giant pretending to be the Dread Pirate Roberts
posted by jtron at 12:15 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered what a holocaust cloak was, did they make that up?
posted by sweetmarie at 12:40 PM on April 25, 2011


I get that the racism conversation is important ground, but I'm bummed that everyone latched on to that instead of onto the awesome video wherein Jay Smooth DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS:

We need 700 CCs of everybody's money, STAT!

This guy is great. I would like to be his friend.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


"What you said sounded X, and here's why?"

"You're saying I'm a fucking X?"


Ha, I just had a conversation exactly like this! At that point though, I just thought, "Oh jeezus, we're doing this?" and rather than having to unpack some kind of phenomenological argument I just let them cry away. And that they did: "You called me X!"

Jay Smooth does deliver good commentary though.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:00 PM on April 25, 2011


I second Cashman's emotion about Jay trying to silence the little hater. You can find more Jay Smoothness on his blog at Ill Doctrine and his tumblr at Jay's Other Stuff. Keep on truckin, Jay.
posted by shannonm at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2011


I'm sure this has all been said before, but I'd like to use this long-ass comment as a chance to articulate, mostly to myself, my thoughts on the whole "But I can't say it!" derail. In the past, I've usually blown it off with what I think of as the Chris Rock argument. Are you allowed to say it? Not really.* But hey, if you wanna trade hundreds of years of slavery, oppression, and inequality for the ability to say one word, be my guest!

The real answer is, well, yeah, you're "allowed" say it. Ain't no law. But if you do, don't be surprised if your comment ends up being misinterpreted or offending someone. Basically, if you're worried about pissing someone off, skip it. Caveat dictor.

I'm no linguist, but meaning has a number of components, including lexical definitions, cultural context, the relationship between the speaker and the listener, the interpretation of the listener, and finally, the intent of the speaker. When you say a word that has multiple definitions and contexts, it can be interpreted in multiple ways, no matter your intent.

So, first off, despite the two spellings, we're talking about one noun with two very different definitions: it's either a slur, or a fairly innocent word meaning more or less "man," or "dude," in the sense of "my man" or "yo, dude." That said, it's possible to invoke the provocative and benign definitions simultaneously, blurring the meaning. This is true even if you're "allowed to say it," as with, say, some pissed off guy stating, "Yo, nigga, get off my car." Complicated!

I won't get into the cultural context in terms of history, because it's pretty obvious. The one thing I will say is that the idea of "reclamation" is not at all straightforward or unanimous, and is made more difficult by the popular currency of the word in question. There are people who just don't care, there are people who say "nigga" even though they have issues with the word themselves (n.b.), and there are people like my grandmother, who was taunted with the word "nigger" when she was a kid, and for whom the word will just not ever be okay, in any context, whatsoever—even though, thanks to cultural shifts, she magically became a white person over the course of her lifetime.

As goes relationship and interpretation, this depends on your audience. How well does the audience know you? What's the audience's background? Are people walking by overhearing your conversation? The less context people have regarding your personal nature, and the topic at hand, the more they're going to fill in the blanks with cultural context. And again with the one-meaning-invoking-another thing: If you read as white to your audience, your comment is more likely to ping a certain cultural history in people's minds, even if it is absolutely clear that your statement is benign. Sort of like how every time an anti-smoking ad comes on the teevee, it makes me really want a fucking cigarette. Despite the blatantly obvious message of the ads in question, for me, seeing images of people smoking and hearing the word "cigarette" triggers a host of outside context and history that the ad clearly wasn't trying to invoke. But the trigger goes off anyway.

Random example of how all of the above can come together: I lived in a predominantly Latino neighborhood for years, and it was not uncommon for kids and young adults to be all "yo, nigga," with each other, both with friends, and, y'know, when they wanted someone to stop touching a car. This was in no small part because of the colloquial prevalence of the word in hip hop, which is just a little popular these days. It was also because the people using the word self-identified as minorities, and at that, minorities who descended from a related-but-different context of colonialism and slavery; most people on the block (which was largely Puerto Rican, but also Mexican, Panamanian, and Ecuadorian) were mestizo, or creole, or both. Were they allowed to say "nigga," even though they weren't African-American? In the neighborhood, it was a norm, so yeah, pretty much. Even so, it made my overly-sensitive white girl ass uncomfortable. I imagine that, at times, it also raised questions for the Latino speakers and listeners, as well as the African-Americans in the neighborhood—and let's not even get into the visually-interpreted-as-black-but-culturally-Latino thing. My point: Even when the norm says you can say something, it still raises issues. And people's hackles.

So, yeah, say what you want. Just be aware that every time you say "nigga," you are opening a big 'ol can of worms, and increasing the chance that, because of the above, the intent of your statement will be completely overshadowed or lost in translation. This holds true for both literal use, as well as too-cool-to-be-human, Vicemagazine-ey type stuff. You should not be surprised that this happens, or that you may be called on it.

*For the record, as an overly-sensitive white girl, I can't bring myself to say the "nigga"s in songs, even when I am singing to myself, alone, at home. Which can seriously fuck up my flow, especially when I'm trying to keep up with "Bombs Over Baghdad": "Cure for cancer, cure for AIDS / Make a mumble grumble mumble stay in bed for aw...shit."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


Tim Wise is full of shit and it's an insult to Jay Smooth to even bring him up.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence. . .

Because no one ever questions Sarah Palin's intelligence.

Somebody should tell Tim Wise that white privilege is when somebody pays a white guy to go tell college students that white people are racists.
posted by layceepee at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hating on Raekwon is hating on America
posted by Blasdelb at 5:19 PM on April 25, 2011


Because no one ever questions Sarah Palin's intelligence.

Well, you're right. Not no one.

But last time I looked, more than a few million of my fellow Americans thought she was smart enough to sit 1 geriatric cancer survivor's heartbeat away from the nuclear launch codes. She's still considered to have a non-zero chance of being the Republican candidate in 2012.

Would a Latina Republican VP candidate with Palin's resume be remotely considered viable, especially when her own daughter is having babies out of wedlock? How about a black candidate whose husband was also a part of a militant separatist movement that advocated violent secession from the United States?
WISE: "White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
"
Jay Smooth points you to the case of T.I.

Somebody should tell Tim Wise that white privilege is when somebody pays a white guy to go tell college students that white people are racists.

Methinks the commenter doth protest too much clumsily & ineffectively.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:43 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


DAMN... methinks mine own snark was finished off clumsily & ineffectively
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:45 PM on April 25, 2011


DAMN... methinks mine own snark was finished off clumsily & ineffectively
posted by P.o.B. at 5:52 PM on April 25, 2011


Heh, I clicked through on that Penny Arcade cartoon and thought I saw FINISH HTML!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:06 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


That video "Machine Guns and Stupid Choices" brought tears to my eyes. One of the things I have found it difficult to deal with is the assumption that young black men are stupid. There's a grudging acceptance that it's possible for black women to be smart (though mean), but black men, especially young black men, are frequently portrayed as dumb and aggressive for no reason. I have never been able to express what I know from having been around black men all of my life, all kinds of black men but especially poor ones. Nobody sticks up for the "ghetto boyz" with the stupid sagging pants who stupidly get in trouble with the law over and over. I see them all the time and I feel like I understand but I can't express it. Jay Smooth did it for me.

He's talking about people I've known all my life. I've loved them, debated with them, did their homework for them (until I decided to charge money, and then I learned they were perfectly capable of doing it themselves), worked with them, hung out. These men are my uncles who died young, from guns (murder and suicide) and drugs (killed by the legal kind - alcohol). Uncle Harold and Bobo and Uncle Darren, they were not stupid at all. But so many of them believe that, as Jay put it, "my reputation and my manhood are the only currency I have in this world". What really really gets to me is the fact that, to a certain extent, they are right. Certainly, if we learn from experience then what they have learned fits their experiences. But they have these "defense mechanisms" born of years of trauma and pain. They make perfect sense even if it's not sensible.

All I really want people to see is that they are human beings, with the complexities and desires of anyone. Jay talks about the "history of fear and pain" behind the stupid actions of so many rappers. Well rappers are artists, and artists in general know from "a history of fear and pain". I just wish people could see what Jay sees there, just how human they are.
posted by Danila at 7:55 PM on April 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


Danila: Really, the only people who frequently muddy the waters are those who do not much suffer the harms of racism. The idea that racism can exist without harm is pretty foreign to the victims of it. Actual harm is intrinsic to racism.

I can speak from my own experience of growing up with unexamined privilege and say that the power+prejudice definition was foreign to me and it did take some pondering over what a facilitator at an anti-racism training said for me to recognize the sense it makes.

Which is all to say, to engage someone you have to either speak their language or teach them your's. White people with unexamined privledge are probably going to start from the definition that racism is synonymous with individual acts of prejudice without consideration of power structures.

It also helped me not feel defensive when I thought about other types of privilege. For instance many of us are fortunate to have able bodies and we take for granted the world that's been built for able bodied people. And we take for granted that, if we are lucky, we will live long enough to not be totally able bodied. Or to think about analogous power imbalances that have affected me, such as being an introvert in a culture that mostly rewards male extroversion.

I could also see that introversion analogy as being shot down as not oppressive enough, but if someone wanted a shortcut to my secret heart to help me understand easier, it would probably start by someone making the leap to find a common place where we had both experienced vulnerability. That would be an example of speaking my language.

The Color of Fear has a really brilliant example of "teach your language" where the facilitator (who has been really hands off up until now) asks privileged white dude to suspend his disbelief about what everyone else is saying and explain how he would feel if everything they were all saying was true.

It's a shame those tapes are so costly because that turning point is so palpable.
posted by Skwirl at 11:44 PM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mefi's Own Jay Smooth!
posted by lunit at 6:41 AM on April 26, 2011


I sometimes suspect that the people who weigh in to these discussions by saying "the real racism is that white people can't say [the n word]" aren't actually mad because they can't say that word. As evidenceofabsence points out, in all sorts of ways, they can.

What they're really exercised about is that they can't control how others react to them saying it.
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"What about saying that only people of a certain skin color get to say certain words?"
posted by cashman at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're waiting for metafilter to give up ironic racism, maybe don't hold your breath.
posted by jfuller at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, this guy is great! Thanks for the introduction - he is now my pop culture hero!

What kind of impact does Smooth have in the hip-hop world? I know nothing about that culture. To me he sounds like a hipper, funnier version of a college professor: grammatically complex sentences, precisely articulated ideas, huge vocabulary. American culture in general scorns intellectualism, so where does he fit into the picture? Is his message getting any traction?
posted by Quietgal at 10:40 AM on April 26, 2011


http://wbai.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=339&Itemid=135

On the radio since 1991
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:48 AM on April 26, 2011


i was really hoping this would be a link to TMBG but this video is great too :)
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2011


If you're waiting for metafilter to give up ironic racism, maybe don't hold your breath.

jfiller, I'd think there's a difference between a racist joke that you can only tell is ironic if you supposedly know the speaker is of-course-not-racist, and the quote you link to, which is quite obviously trying to use caricature language to accuse someone else of implicit racism in what they're saying or doing.

But I should let someone who actually has brown skin weigh in on whether they find that particular kind of rhetoric more hurtful than helpful.
posted by straight at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2011


Last I checked it wasn't really deemed proper here to call out comments on other threads here on Metafilter instead of Metatalk, cases in point aside.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2011


> jfiller, I'd think there's a difference

Certainly there's a difference. Our kind of people obviously can't mean anything bad so we'll understand what they said as a joke. Someone for whom we have no sympathy... well, people like that really do want to kill more brown people. Racists, case closed.

P.s. this is caricature language. Like it?


> Last I checked it wasn't really deemed proper

It's one of my unexamined privileges.
posted by jfuller at 2:25 PM on April 26, 2011


http://www.illdoctrine.com/2011/05/a_brief_note_about_not_feeding.html

On Donald Trump. Can we please replace Tosh.0 for a while with Jay Smooth? And the cat must be part of the contract. I mean really, it's past time for this man to have a show. Or at least appear on the Daily Show as a correspondent or an interview or something.
posted by cashman at 10:38 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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