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March 15, 2014 1:43 PM   Subscribe

As the twittersphere ridicules a White Man March in NYC, perhaps now is the time to watch Aamer Rahman, one half of the comedy tour Fear of a Brown Planet (with Nazeem Hussain), on the topic of Reverse Racism.
posted by Potomac Avenue (89 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The reverse racism bit from Aamer Rahman seems derivative of Bao Phi's old poem.
posted by wuwei at 1:46 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Different continents, similar concepts, meanwhile the nonsense is yet to stop.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:48 PM on March 15


The #whitemanmarch tag has been alternatingly depressing and cheering up my whole afternoon.
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on March 15




Rahman, who has not toured the US recently because of Visa issues, has a bunch of funny radical stand-up on that youtube channel.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:59 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


If you can't go see Rahman perform, check out Hari Kondabolu. He's got a new CD out and his take on race is really sharp.
posted by cazoo at 3:06 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


I'm a white man and I endorse this mockery.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:26 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Not to make an official Hari Kondabolu derail or anything, but folks interested in this whole angle in general should definitely check out his recent interview with Splitsider. Which also includes some standup clips.
posted by Sara C. at 3:37 PM on March 15


Rahman's delivery was just on point. Thanks for introducing him, Potomac Avenue.
posted by ignignokt at 3:47 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


[Deleted the"definition of racism" derail. Please move on. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 3:48 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]




Y'know, actually I went back and watched it again, and I don't think he's saying what I thought he was saying. I'm so used to being barraged by the current insanity about the alleged logical impossibility of anti-white racism that confirmation bias got the best of me.

Actually, he may just be making the perfectly sane point that, if group A has mistreated (e.g. oppressed) group B, then members of the two groups are going to be subject to different moral standards with respect to what it's ok to say about the other group. Not because racism by definition is systematic or whatever, but for the perfectly ordinary reason that, basically you're obligated to be nicer to someone you've mistreated.

My bad, not his.

Incidentally, I've literally never seen a non-white comic who came across as racist to me. Not because "reverse" racism is impossible...but just because it, as a matter of fact, is pretty damn rare...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:53 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


ok now that the original comment was deleted the whole thread just reads weird.
posted by dabitch at 3:56 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


The point of the bit is that racism goes SO MUCH DEEPER than just "oh man [ethnic group] is really like [sterotype], amirite?"

Like, sure, that stuff is shitty. And it's definitely not a good thing to do, ever. I recently had a conversation about racial humor with a (white) comedy friend and put broad stereotypical stuff out of bounds as a rule. But racism isn't just that.

Notice, also, that the bit doesn't explicitly defend "white people are all like this" comedy as being a net positive thing. It doesn't deal with that at all. It says, "this is what racism is, in the grand scheme, so get back to me when you notice non-white people doing that to white people."
posted by Sara C. at 4:00 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Good for you for coming around, Fists O'Fury... The thing is, there is a huge--or at least LOUD--contingent of those who believe that not only is there racism directed at whites in the U.S., but that it is pervasive and just about the only kind of racism that still exists. Basically FOX News. See Glenn Beck's bizarre statement that Obama "hates white culture".

There's also this idea that, for example, having a Black History Month is just as racist as a White History Month, or an organization helping women network in business is sexist. I do think it's a mistake, and not just a trendy left groupthink thing, to treat racism as a problem abstracted from history, as an issue of parity best represented by algebraic symbols.
posted by Schmucko at 4:22 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


You know, the thing that gets me when people interpret "PoC do not have the power to drive prejudice against white people" as "all people of color are complete utter saints and incapable of any racist attitudes whatsoever" is that I'm always like, are you not listening to how racial movements are always talking about internalized racism and starting to gain some major ground on the complicated dynamics between racial minorities, both positive and negative.

Then I realize that they only are only really thinking about white-minority dynamics instead of recognizing that we can't all be shoved into a giant category of not-white.
posted by Conspire at 4:25 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


recognizing that we can't all be shoved into a giant category of not-white.

They'll recognize us when they realize that this category is where all the good food is.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:28 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


From the White Man March link:
If you are a man, put on a pair of light khakis and a nice dress shirt. It should almost look like you are a groomsman at a wedding. Or maybe like an avenging Aryan angel.
Avenging Aryan angels are apparently a lot less impressive looking that they sound.

Wait a moment. Avenging Aryan Angels? I think the last couple of times I've been to the triple-A the guy behind the counter was wearing khakis and a light dress shirt. This goes deeper than we thought.
posted by yoink at 4:34 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


If you are a man, put on a pair of light khakis and a nice dress shirt. It should almost look like you are a groomsman at a wedding.

These two phrases do not go together.
posted by dhens at 4:40 PM on March 15 [14 favorites]


Yah, he clearly has been going to some shit weddings.
posted by Bovine Love at 4:41 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Are you surprised? Did you think all his white supremacist friends would have super stylish weddings?
posted by NoraReed at 4:46 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Well, Hugo Boss isn't returning their calls anymore.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:49 PM on March 15 [16 favorites]


I'm not sure I want to follow someone who's ideas of satorial elegance begins and ends with "Best Buy Employee."
posted by The Whelk at 4:54 PM on March 15 [19 favorites]


These two phrases do not go together.

That's a smitin'.
posted by yoink at 4:56 PM on March 15


Come and feel the thunders of nature's blessed fight
for home of every people
in their native land.


White supremacist poet living in the USA, I do not believe native means what you think it does. . .
posted by DrMew at 4:58 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Queer eye for the avenging Aryan guy.
posted by naju at 4:59 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


If you are a man, put on a pair of light khakis and a nice dress shirt.

The Brownshorts!
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:01 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


He calls himself Horus the Avenger and he's a 43 year old who lives in his parent's basement c'mon reality you can't be this on the nose at least try a little.
posted by The Whelk at 5:02 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


Also, if America's Funniest Home Movies are any indication Americans will wear any damn thing to a wedding.
posted by The Whelk at 5:07 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


He calls himself Horus the Avenger and he's a 43 year old who lives in his parent's basement c'mon reality you can't be this on the nose at least try a little

I don't think we can lightly dismiss the possibility that he's trolling the hell out of the white supremacist community. I have to believe that of whoever wrote that hilariously awful poem.
posted by yoink at 5:10 PM on March 15


Based on a VERY RECENT online adventure into some of the more paranoid hate-filled parts of the web, I have ZERO problem beliving it's a hundred percent real and earnest.
posted by The Whelk at 5:12 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Also searching that hash tag is a great way to find out who on twitter is a raving, swivel-eyed loon.
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]




So I don't put a lot of stock in the ability of the white supremacist community to really grasp "irony," especially as a form of humor, so someone please tell me that, uh, vocal white supremacist Horus the Avenger is operating under some sort of theory about how either the ancient Egyptians or the gods which they worshipped were blonde and blue-eyed Aryan ubermenschen?
posted by griphus at 5:57 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


There is actually a super common white supremacist line that the anicent Egyptians where TOTALLY WHITE and that's why they could build such things but then they where overrun by lesser, more dark skinned people.
posted by The Whelk at 6:09 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


This usually comes up in online arguments on how CELOPATRA WAS NOT AFRICAN ARGLEBARGLE FORTHENSPIT
posted by The Whelk at 6:10 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah after making that hilarious comment, I turned to my wife and made it to her and she said the same thing and I spent a good minute throwing my hands up into the air yelling BUT IT IS LITERALLY IN AFRICA.
posted by griphus at 6:15 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Cleopatra like, 2,000+ years after the first pyramids?
posted by en forme de poire at 6:17 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


ARGH WHAT AM I DOING DO NOT ENGAGE
posted by en forme de poire at 6:17 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Weird racist fact about growing up in America: In my 6th grade World Geography class we did Egypt as part of The Middle East in our big "cradle of civilizations" unit and skipped the rest of Africa entirely.
posted by Sara C. at 6:18 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


en forme de poire, I did the exact same thing except I wanted to say that the Ptolemies were actually Greek, anyway, and then I had the very same DO NOT ENGAGE thought and thankfully had not hit "Post Comment" yet.
posted by Sara C. at 6:18 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Avenging Aryan angels are apparently a lot less impressive looking that they sound.

Well...
posted by MartinWisse at 6:19 PM on March 15


It turns out people with insane race-based ideologies do not have a coherent or well-informed picture of history who knew.
posted by The Whelk at 6:20 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


Sara C. That's totally common. Africa does not exist in most US history classes until the slave trade gets going, and then only a bit.
posted by The Whelk at 6:22 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


I saw this a couple of days ago, a crowdfunding project at Indiegogo diversity is white genocide which may be where those banners come from.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:26 PM on March 15


I'm really excited to see more minority and especially Asian origin comedians out there. Last night I saw a friend post that she really liked Jason Bateman's Bad Words movie, and though I haven't seen it I reflexively commented that I thought the trailer, which I saw like five times because it was played before every Oscar nominee movie, was super racist toward the little Indian kid. I would start to get a pit in my stomach whenever I saw it.

I had a momentary thought that I shouldn't comment about it on her "this movie was funny" post but she's a very culturally literate person, reads/sees movies at 5X the rate I do, works in movies, is older and cooler than me, etc, so I felt like she could hack it. She was like, well it was kind of "equal opportunity" offensive to everyone, so I laughed, but maybe I shouldn't have.

I was like, yea not to make you feel bad, but there's a joke in there about how the kid tells Jason Bateman his last name is Gupta, and Bateman tells the kid he's going to tell the flight crew that he can hear the kid's bag ticking. I said, I don't even get why that's funny because Indian people, and Indian American people, esp those with Hindu backgrounds, which a name like Gupta is, have not been involved in 9/11 terror like plots, but they have been detained, shot, and other horrible things because of a (still confusing to me) inability to understand that Hindus aren't Muslims and Muslims aren't all terrorists anyway but still how did India even get pulled into that.

It's not "equal opportunity" because it doesn't present a funny thing about my culture I recognize about myself. It's a white guy threatening to get a little kid arrested for being a terrorist. It's a pretty crazy inability to even tell cultures apart, like at all.

Russell Peters, who isn't even funny all the time to me, has this joke about how older Indian men do this thing where they stick a finger in the air and say something like "First Class! Capital Idea!"

That joke is hilarious to me because I know a bunch of older Indian men who totally do that! They look like huge dorks and it's really weird and funny. Haha, laughing at my culture! Can totally do that when it's coming from inside the culture, or at least from SOME goddamn knowledge of the culture.

But it always seems to be "but EVERYONE gets taken down a peg" by "shocking" jokes when it's a white guy doing the writing or the acting or both of whatever. It's not "equal opportunity," it's racist.
posted by sweetkid at 6:26 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


the anicent Egyptians where TOTALLY WHITE and that's why they could build such things but then they where overrun by lesser, more dark skinned people.

In its more respectable form, this is broadcast on the History Channel as no really, these people were clearly incapable of building those things themselves, therefore aliens did it.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:28 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


One really interesting problem with the "equal opportunity offensive" idea is the fact that, ummmm, it's like a two hour feature film. How could they possibly have time to make fun of EVERYONE? I'm sure sometimes the white male protagonist is also the butt of the joke (though I bet it's not a joke along misinformed racial lines that calls back to how funny hate crimes are), but everyone? Really?
posted by Sara C. at 6:34 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


I first learned about Axum and Kush thanks to Carmen Sandiego, the TV series, way before encountering them in history class. Thanks, PBS!
posted by en forme de poire at 6:35 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


I've literally never seen a non-white comic who came across as racist to me.

Not even this guy?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:39 PM on March 15


Since when was Louis Farrakhan a comedian?

If he was, he should probably get a new agent or something.
posted by Sara C. at 6:42 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


In its more respectable form, this is broadcast on the History Channel as no really, these people were clearly incapable of building those things themselves, therefore aliens did it.

You know, I've seen all six seasons of that show and it's actually really saying something that when, compared to the sort of take-on-all-comers white comedians sweetkid describes, the show manages to be more racially and culturally inclusive in its general thesis that human civilization consists of inept bumblers that have needed their hand held through basically every worthwhile endeavor.

Also it airs on H2 now.
posted by griphus at 6:46 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Those aliens are tricky, instead of building megaliths with the same tech that carried them across the stars, they made them look just like prehistoric humans had quarried and placed them with brute musclepower and a few simple tools and tricks.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:51 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Sara C. That's totally common. Africa does not exist in most US history classes until the slave trade gets going, and then only a bit.

Pretty much the same in Australia. Egypt is part of the Middle East, the rest of Africa is skipped - unless we took a course/class in American history and then Africa comes in because slave trade.
posted by crossoverman at 7:11 PM on March 15


If you are a man, put on a pair of light khakis and a nice dress shirt. It should almost look like you are a groomsman at a wedding.

"If you are a woman, put on a pair of madras skorts, like you're some sort of fairy princess or something."
posted by PlusDistance at 7:43 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


[Folks, this is probably not a great time to be riffing on aliens. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:49 PM on March 15


Sign you might be a fascist: you're worried about anti-fascists protesting your march.

To be honest, I think they are just plain racists, but that's because I live with a 20th century historian and he's really picky on what is included as fascism, because if it has no meaning it becomes a useless analytical term.
posted by jb at 8:02 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Horus the Avenger

Because Horace the Avenger just doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:20 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


I don't think we can lightly dismiss the possibility that he's trolling the hell out of the white supremacist community. I have to believe that of whoever wrote that hilariously awful poem.

I have plumbed a few of the deeper, and some of the darker(but probably not the darkest, the internet goes deeeeep) shitholes of the internet since i was a young teen. Mostly out of curiosity.

One thing that is consistently true is that the most vocal and feces-spewing members of any hate filled community are always the most hilarious stereotypes, and completely in earnest. Like 14 year olds, or guys who are 25+ who live in their parents basement and drill their fleshlights all day.

The person who doxed me and got someone else to take photos of my house and post them online saying to come attack me was 14.

Nothing about this surprises me or strikes me as out of the norm for this sort of stuff, but maybe it's just my general daria-like attitude and cynicism.
posted by emptythought at 8:36 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


I've literally never seen a non-white comic who came across as racist to me.

I'd like to nominate Carlos Mencia, though all of that is shit he says about ethnic groups he is not part of (and not anything he says about white people)

Also, sorry for reminding everyone of Carlos Mencia's existence.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:28 PM on March 15


The White Man March guy is a great example of how the social media outrage machine picks irrelevant idiots, turns them into straw men that everyone can hate, and thereby avoids talking about the complicated grey areas in class and race politics.

The grey areas and subtle situations are the hard part, the scary part. It makes sense that people would rather rail against some cartoon of a man than engage with each other in difficult conversations about race where all of us can be hurt and all of us can be wrong.

As for Rahman, he's talking about racial oppression, or institutionalized racism. Not just racism. Racism is bias or hate based on race. Period. It's a simple concept, it can be represented in one word.

To take that word and declare that it only means institutionalized racism, and that therefore one cannot call an act of racial hatred against a white person "racism" is itself racism under the original, and true definition of the word.

Unfortunately, as with the whole phenomenon of some radical feminists on Twitter and Tumblr declaring that "misandry doesn't exist" and immediately thereafter saying something wantonly shitty about men, the new, false definition of racism is often used as an excuse to be shitty to white people.

This is totally counterproductive because the entire formulation is based on declaring inequalities to be permanent, and creating a protagonist/antagonist narrative that can trickle down to individual interactions, rather than being a tool to understand societal forces. That isn't how we get to the egalitarian future we should be seeking.

Interpersonal racism is when one human is shitty to another human because of their race. Any human of any race can be interpersonally racist to another human of a different race.

Institutional and societal racism is a much bigger and scarier thing. It needs to be acknowledged, fought, and yes, in America, whites don't currently experience societal racism.

Yeah, I know that if you're under a certain age, you may have been told otherwise by a college professor. And I know if you read a lot of social justice stuff online, you've been told otherwise. You were told wrong.

It's a matter of semantics, but the word racism, when used alone, needs to mean the general and universal concept that it's always meant. It needs a modifier like "societal" to mean what Rahman's talking about.

And that's why you don't see the United Nations or other big-picture, global institutions changing their definition to suit what Pat Bidol or Judy Katz or your UC Santa Cruz professor think about the matter. And they never will, because they think bigger.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:57 AM on March 16 [10 favorites]


The comic Louis CK has a bit about how it's great to be white and he can really recommend it. And he's right; whites are privileged almost everywhere. Many of these people going on about "white genocide" are actually quite correct: they are being oppressed, and their relative position versus people of other ethnicities is being eroded. But it's not because they're being oppressed as whites; they're being oppressed by the vast impersonal hand of the free market which grinds the faces of the white and colored poor alike.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:33 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Defining a word in a way that excludes how some people prefer to use it is a way to say how you want to use it for your purposes. Declaring other definitions "wrong" means nothing more than that you won't participate in conversations where those definitions are active. It's rare to seriously attempt to define a word in a way that accounts for all its uses everywhere; not to say it isn't useful to do so, but we have professionals for that sort of thing. You probably want to talk to an etymologist about the etymology of "racism".
posted by LogicalDash at 4:18 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


> BUT IT IS LITERALLY IN AFRICA.

Brooklyn is literally on Long Island.
posted by jfuller at 6:13 AM on March 16


Why are some people so crazy invested in arguing whether something can be called racist?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:20 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Oh, that's easy--if you control the definition, or even just substantially influence it in a propaganda kind of way, you have a hand in which conversations happen, and which do not.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:34 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Also some people would rather be pedants than have friends.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:08 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Since when was Louis Farrakhan a comedian?

Ever since the singing gig didn't work out. (I didn't say he was a good comedian. But you sure as hell can't take his schtick seriously. At least, I can't.)

Why are some people so crazy invested in arguing whether something can be called racist?

Because it is the 21st century shibboleth. Lot of power, deserved or not, lies in the ability to slap on the Scarlet R.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:24 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Wait are you saying that there is more power in labeling white people racists than there is in just being a white? Because like, I think that's literally the ONLY power that POC have that white people don't. It seems to me white guys complain about it because they want that power too. Well too bad y'all we don't get to call POC racists. Dang it! Back to getting paid more and being handed every advantage in every other area! :tearz:
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:47 AM on March 16 [13 favorites]


It seems like white people think being called racist is the worst thing that can happen and thus we must do everything we can to rigorously define the word so if you call me racist I can nitpick myself out of it.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:48 AM on March 16 [10 favorites]


I think deciding you only want to engage with people talking about institutionalized racism or other systemic forms of oppression so you don't have to deal with privileged people who think that marginalized folks complaining about them is some kind of evil oppressive force is a pretty rational decision. I mean, yeah, it is an attempt to control the conversation. But the power we're aiming for is the power to tell childish white dudes whining about the one time they got called a cracker to shut the fuck up and then block them on Twitter.
posted by NoraReed at 9:17 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


I thought MBATR was defending the rights of said white dudes to cry "racism."
posted by en forme de poire at 9:24 AM on March 16


You could also wear sunglasses. Ancient warriors knew that a mask covering the eyes offers protection, but also provides the wearer with extra confidence. Sunglasses can intimidate others who cannot see your eyes, while making you seem cool and collected. This look is good if there might be hostile crowds

No, it makes you look like a fucking coward who is afraid to be recognized in public. What is it with groups like this and the KKK, trying to present the face-concealing hoods etc. as something right and honorable, when really the only reason you're hiding your face is because you're too much of a goddamned coward to do these horrible things openly and publicly?
posted by xedrik at 9:49 AM on March 16


Because these people are, by and large, massive cowards.
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Most of the racism-against-white-people that I have seen appeared to be from people who seemed somewhat disenfranchised. I expect this plays a role in their apparent quest to find someone to blame.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:05 AM on March 16


They're talking about sunglasses. I wear sunglasses ever day without having to make up some warrior backstory to it. Sheesh.
posted by dabitch at 10:37 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Plus that's not even a particularly good one. Come on, guys. Go all Perseus and Medusa on that shit and claim it they keep you from being mind controlled by Zionist theta-wave hypnotism or keep the True Light of God from firing out because you're some sort of racist Scott Summers.

It's not like Racist X-Men is any more or less improbable than actual white supremacy justification.
posted by griphus at 11:14 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Plus Scott Summers is already kind of a dick so it's not like it's that big a leap
posted by shakespeherian at 11:23 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


social media outrage machine

Aside from anything else if I read this harbinger of ludicrous drivel one more time so help me god I shall roll my eyes so hard they fall out of my head.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:33 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


There is minor discrimination against white people - or everyone but a given group. A Toronto restaurant that posts prices in English that are higher than in the other language is discriminating, and you'll see apartments advertised but only for people from one or two ethnic groups. I've heard racist comments from white to black people, and black to white people, and black people to other, different black people. I grew up in what Americans would call "a minority-majority neighbourhood", and the older kids told my friend not to play with me because I was white.

Obviously, none of this is the same as systemic, systematic institutional racism. I constantly think about how privileged I was and am for being white, what opportunities I've been given that a non-white person (especially someone black or native) would not have received, and how people are constantly making positive assumptions about me based on my race.

But it doesn't help fight systemic racism to insist on specific, academic definitions, and then to ignore the little niggly things that we all do to each other that hurt racial and ethnic integration. Those little girls who excluded me were reacting to a world that was deeply racist towards them - and the adult me can recognize that. But at the time, the attitude of the majority non-white people in my neighbourhood contributed strongly to racial segregation within the neighbourhood. We weren't united together against the many problems - poverty, building management that bordered on the psychopathic - but instead divided into us and them (and the Asian people who were an even smaller minority and who mostly kept entirely to themselves).
posted by jb at 12:53 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch >

As for Rahman, he's talking about racial oppression, or institutionalized racism. Not just racism. Racism is bias or hate based on race. Period. It's a simple concept, it can be represented in one word.

To take that word and declare that it only means institutionalized racism, and that therefore one cannot call an act of racial hatred against a white person "racism" is itself racism under the original, and true definition of the word.

Unfortunately, as with the whole phenomenon of some radical feminists on Twitter and Tumblr declaring that "misandry doesn't exist" and immediately thereafter saying something wantonly shitty about men, the new, false definition of racism is often used as an excuse to be shitty to white people.


You're totally right to make that crucial analytic distinction between racist acts or words or attitudes, on the one hand, and institutionalized race-based oppression on the other. However, I disagree with what you seem to be saying thereafter.

First of all, for the same reason that racist acts are not equivalent to institutionalized oppression, misogyny and misandry are not empirically comparable, despite "misandry" being an etymologically faithful backformation from misogyny. There is more to racism than the analytic distinction: places with histories of oppression make it possible to bring that history to bear on an individual, which is why calling someone a gender- or race-specific term of abuse provokes strong reactions, but calling a White person a honky or a cracker is at best slightly rude.

Not only is oppression not equivalent to racism, but certain group-specific power relations (Whites oppressing Blacks, men oppressing women) have social reality, whereas others like women oppressing men or Blacks enslaving Whites do not. So when someone says that misandry doesn't exist, they're correct to the extent that they are distinguishing between individual acts or words and massive historical trends of social structruration, which create distinct social patterns with determinative power over people's lives, that persist for centuries.

Interpersonal racism is when one human is shitty to another human because of their race. Any human of any race can be interpersonally racist to another human of a different race.

This is not exactly right, I think, and here's why: racism emerges from history. It's not possible to boil the dynamics of conflict between social collectivities to atomistic racism between individuals, which is agnostic to history and context, and institutionalized oppression. That two-tiered conception is overly reductive and elides the important and constitutive relationship between those two levels of social reality. Individual acts gain significance as they emanate from larger social structures. This is why men can have a male-specific gender dividend, even if they aren't impressive individuals, and why Whites can get a racial dividend even if they're not wealthy or otherwise high in social status. So, sure, in the abstract it's possible that (for example) a Chinese woman who's never been out of China could be racist against a Mexican guy despite not having any direct experience with Mexican people, nor being informed by any substantial history between the two countries, but in reality, racism is instantiated in patterned ways that emerge from historical conditions. So interpersonal racism has a much more specific area of deployment, in actuality, than this states.

And that's why you don't see the United Nations or other big-picture, global institutions changing their definition to suit what Pat Bidol or Judy Katz or your UC Santa Cruz professor think about the matter.

I will thank you to leave my alma mater out of this. It's not the hotbed of perverse/anti-White/anti-male leftism that some febrile imaginations construct. Everything about veganism and camping amongst redwoods is true, though.
posted by clockzero at 6:33 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


There is minor discrimination against white people - or everyone but a given group. A Toronto restaurant that posts prices in English that are higher than in the other language is discriminating, and you'll see apartments advertised but only for people from one or two ethnic groups. I've heard racist comments...

I don't disagree, I just really don't see any of this stuff as a major priority in fighting racism, right now.

When the worst injustice in the world is that I didn't get to find out about the secret "more authentic" Korean menu because I don't read Korean and just get handed the regular menu with the $15 bulgogi (which is probably what I came here for, anyway), then sure, we can talk about how racism is some kind of circular firing squad where everybody hates everybody.

Meanwhile, people actually die because of racism. Right here in America.
posted by Sara C. at 6:49 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Yes, it is very minor discrimination. The only serious consequence is that when people find out, it may feed resentment of the people who use language to discriminate and thus damage integration.

The most serious race issue in my Canadian city right now is a carding policy being carried out by the police - like New York's stop & frisk and with equally racist profiling of young black men. It's racist and pointless and does nothing but feed anti-police sentiment in communities that already have reason to distrust authorities. It does nothing to improve safety and probably will hurt it in the end (what with witnesses being less willing to assist the police).
posted by jb at 8:57 PM on March 16


The White Man March guy is a great example of how the social media outrage machine picks irrelevant idiots, turns them into straw men that everyone can hate, and thereby avoids talking about the complicated grey areas in class and race politics.

Ignoring the fact that this gray area thing sounds like a straw man in and of itself, how about no? A friend of mine from highschool, who is a black woman, made a great point about this right before it was posted on here.

The fact that it's even getting mentioned at all is awesome, because people like to tell her all the goddamn time that white supremacy is dead.

I'm also kinda uncomfortable with the "oh, there's only a few neonazis, why should we waste air time talking about them?" argument. How about we point them out and shame them every time they poke their heads out? How is it cool that they're able to march down the middle of the street in a major city in 2014 still trumpeting their bullshit?

And how does it avoid having the higher level discussions? the internet is not a single TV station conducting interviews and debates on some CNN type news show, there's infinite places to discuss these sort of things. If you're so annoyed by attention being pointed at this go look at something else. It isn't monopolizing anything.

I'm not even going to get in to the thesis of your post. But that entire premise with the gist of this is an overblown easy target for people who don't want to think hard is pretty assy.
posted by emptythought at 11:16 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


I deeply wish there were two completely different and commonly understood words for "systemic, societal x-ism" and the more prosaic usages. I've lost count of the number of arguments of the "black history month/affirmative action/arts grants for women only discriminate on the basis of x and are therefore x-ist" I have encountered, and they often seem to have at their center the idea that any discrimination is always wrong and unjustifiable, while turning a blind eye to how society currently is. It's also very hard for me to explain exactly why they are very different things without seeming like either a stubborn pedant or a particularly tenacious No True Scotsman sort of person. I'd appreciate any links or angles people have which are good at getting the distinction across.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:03 AM on March 17


The concept of "reverse" racism makes no sense to me. It introduces some subjective value into what otherwise is an objective attitude, i.e. you look different than me so I think of you and treat you differently than I do those who look like me. Racism requires no power, it only requires the ability to generalize based on nothing but physical appearance.
posted by Jamesonian at 8:00 AM on March 17


only discriminate on the basis of x and are therefore x-ist

There already are separate terms for this sort of thing, and you just used one in the above quote.

Discrimination is not systematic oppression.

Bias is not systematic oppression.

Prejudice is not systematic oppression.

We have lots and lots of words to talk about this, words that are way more appropriate than words like "racism". In my experience, when white people call bias against whites "racism", or when men call discrimination against men "misandry", they're doing it because they want to conflate the relatively mild forms of preferential treatment they are subject to with those more pernicious forms of actual oppression. It's true, it is discriminatory for clubs to let women in for free and have Ladies' Night drink specials, while men have to pay full price. But it's not oppression, and thus misandry continues not to be a thing.

The problem isn't with our language. The problem is that privileged people really really don't want to see their privilege. (And I say this from a position of privilege, and lots of times when I didn't see my own privilege.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's unfounded optimism in the idea that you can use a discussion about such things to change the minds of some of these men, but I don't mind acknowledging that racism towards white people and misandry can exist, though only on an extremely personal level and therefore is not a fraction of the concern that systemic racism and sexism are. If only because I've seen a few times the conversation where a guy says that he's experienced something and people answer that he's wrong, that wasn't racism (for example).

I mean it's not like they're really wrong to define racism in such terms, as has been explained above, and the guy needs to learn the difference between micro and macro and how this thing that happened to him this one time is being weighted against centuries upon centuries of heinous behaviour that continues today... but I've seen the guy sort of shut down once his personal experience has been invalidated, which immediately halts any chance at helping him to a new perspective.

Usual caveats that it's not one's job to educate such doofuses and that there's no guarantee that they're sincere or willing to listen apply. I may be off the mark on this. But I've just thought that it might be a more useful tack if persuasion is the goal, to recontextualise that sort of personal baggage rather than flatly counter it.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:28 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


When talking about about beliefs, and not ideologies--i.e. the systems driven by beliefs that cause groups of people to act in a coordinated way without necessarily organizing themselves together--in those conversations, I think it's sensible to treat any type of discrimination via faux-biological category as "racism," since philosophically they're all bogus in the same way. They're going to be high theoretical sorts of conversations, though, so not terribly relevant when you're actually looking for justice, social or otherwise.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:29 PM on March 19


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