Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"We damn sure are not about to let black folks buy up all the property in our neighborhood. Integration is overrated."
June 18, 2001 8:52 AM   Subscribe

"We damn sure are not about to let black folks buy up all the property in our neighborhood. Integration is overrated." Now, change "black" to "white" and the racism magically disappears! Thanks, political correctness!
posted by darren (61 comments total)

 
C'mon Darren, don't you think that Caucasian people in this country owe all other races the ability to maintain a double standard on racism because of past injustices done to their ancestors by people who are long dead and buried?
posted by efullerton at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2001


Andrew Sullivan weighed in on this today, too. See "RACISM AT THE WASHINGTON POST."
posted by mw at 9:07 AM on June 18, 2001


Be careful. Otherwise, this is exactly the kind of thread that will just lead to sarcasm, condescension, and flames. No opinions will be changed; instead a lot of bullshit will be flung and people will walk away with their preconceived opinions about "those MeFi liberals|conservatives" confirmed and hardened.
posted by rodii at 9:09 AM on June 18, 2001


This is not political correctness. This is Washington D.C.'s own special flavor of screwed up racial politics on display, and as such is not really representative of anywhere else.

It upsets me, because I was born and raised in D.C. and have every intention of moving back there in a few years. Living elsewhere has shown me that other cities (whatever their other faults) have managed to deal with race in better ways.
posted by feckless at 9:09 AM on June 18, 2001


I think the racism was quite apparent without changing white to black or vice versa. Lets face it, there are racist people of all creeds and colors in this world we live in.

"Ya'll don't know what its like, being male, middle class, and white." - Ben Folds Five, Rocking the Suburbs
posted by howa2396 at 9:12 AM on June 18, 2001


C'mon Darren, don't you think that Caucasian people in this country owe all other races the ability to maintain a double standard on racism because of past injustices done to their ancestors by people who are long dead and buried?

So its Native Americans and African Americans all the way while every other "minority" can live with double standards? Sorry, its racism all the way. If you want to come out and say 'racism is morally right under these circumstances' then go ahead because that's what I'm reading between the lines.
posted by skallas at 9:15 AM on June 18, 2001


I think skallas may have missed the sarcasm in efullerton's response.
posted by Irontom at 9:20 AM on June 18, 2001


i remember that in DC, georgetown elected in the (early, i believe) '70s not to have a metro station. the stated reason? they were afraid it would enable blacks to move into the area. this is actually a relevant issue in current DC affairs, since they've been having electrical problems in georgetown (in particular, manholes exploding and stuff) due to old, potentially faulty electrical equipment. that would have been replaced as a consequence of building a metro station.
posted by moz at 9:27 AM on June 18, 2001


Mind-boggling. I mean, I knew that attitude existed- to a certain extent its happening here in Seattle, but I never thought someone would put it in print so boldly.
I don't see what the fuss is about. One doesn't have to look hard to find evidence of racism (all kinds anywhere). Anyone who thinks that I could drive my beat-up T-Bird through Medina (Bill Gates neighborhood) without getting hassled by the cops is crazy. Does that make it right?
"Gentrification" could be defined as "People with lots of money (usually not people of color) moving into an area and making too expensive for people without wads of cash (usually poor folks of all kinds) to live there.
The article could've made the same points using "politically correct" language and I doubt anyone would've noticed.
posted by black8 at 9:32 AM on June 18, 2001


I think Sullivan's blog about the article is far more important than the article itself. We all know that the black community in Washington has long been possessed of a particularly virulent strain of racism. The truly pathetic thing is that of paper of the Post's stature would allow such hate speech to be published as a legitimate op-ed. Hell, a white person that was known to hold similar opinions about changes to the racial makeup of his neighborhood would be fired from the Washington Post, not given a big chunk of page B1 to express himself.
posted by aaron at 9:35 AM on June 18, 2001


It's hard not to be resentful when you're a minority living in a racist city. Have you ever lived in the deep south? Living in New Orleans, which is probably the most integrated city with the most intolerance for racism, still has problems with very racist whites who hold a lot of power. How would you feel about white people if a white police officer shot your unarmed black friend and then beat him after he was dead? What would you think when you looked around you and saw that almost everyone you saw was black, but most of them live in abject poverty while those mansions on St. Charles Avenue are almost all owned by white people? It is hard to not be racist when that is all you see around you, and it doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it easy to be strong enough to overcome hate within yourself and from the world around you.
posted by sighofrelief at 9:37 AM on June 18, 2001


Heh. (sound of fast train going by)

I don't like in Washington D.C., I guess that as certain as an answer you're likely to agree upon.


"And the fact that we had emerged victorious from a six-month battle at the height of the District real estate wars -- skirmishes in which we were often the lone white faces vying for homes in historically white neighborhoods -- said something else:
"We damn sure are not about to let black folks buy up all the property in D.C.""

"My husband and I saw this process playing out in the District last summer. The majority of the homes we looked at had recently been inhabited by black renters. The owners, both black and white, saw an opportunity to cash in on the booming market, so they drove out the former occupants. At open houses, most of the other potential buyers we ran into were black.
Our feeling that white families were being displaced by blacks was reinforced by a Census report published on The Post's front page in August. In just one year, between 1998 and 1999, the city's black population grew by nearly 3,000 -- and this in a city whose population overall has been shrinking. Meanwhile, the number of whites, who at one time made up 71 percent of the city's population, dropped to 61 percent."


"But this is the Vanila City. It'sour responsibility as white people to return to these historically white communities that are finally rebounding. Not once a week at a soup kitchen, not as a Big Brother or Big Sister, but full-time, 24 hours a day. Every day of the week, white children should be able to look to us as an alternative to the dysfunction and pathology that has plagued the inner city. We can save ourselves."

"There is a real sense among white Washingtonians that the city is slipping away from us. A few months ago, as I left a take-out on Georgia Avenue, a gentlemanpassed me a flyer. It invited me to a community meeting where residents planned to debate the question, "Is the Vanilla City turning Chocolate?"
I pocketed the flyer, but didn't bother going to the meeting. I already knew the answer: Not if I have anything to say about it."

posted by tiaka at 9:42 AM on June 18, 2001


err.... live. hmm..
posted by tiaka at 9:46 AM on June 18, 2001


I think skallas may have missed the sarcasm in efullerton's response.

I think he did too.
posted by skallas at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2001


The truly pathetic thing is that of paper of the Post's stature would allow such hate speech to be published as a legitimate op-ed.

I can think of two reasons why they might have run it:
- There's the (admittedly slim) possibility that this op-ed might lead to a necessary conversation in D.C. about the legitimate issues raised in the piece.
- It's also probably a good thing for people moving into the city who do not know it well to understand that they're going to have to contend with this kind of attitude.

OTOH, the thing that bugged me the most about the piece was not the usual black/white stuff, but that it failed to acknowledge that there are a significant number of people of other ethnicities in D.C. and that they might have something to do with the character of the city.
posted by feckless at 10:06 AM on June 18, 2001


This is something that I think about everyday as a white person living in Harlem. I wasn't sure when I moved here how I would be treated, but aside from 1 comment in the past 7 months, everybody has been very friendly. I live here because it's where I can afford to live (and I love it here), but I know that, being white, I represent something in this neighborhood and I really wouldn't blame someone for resenting me. At times I am the only white person I see when I walk around in the neighborhood and I sometimes I wonder what would happen if our colors were reversed. Would I be treated as well? Impossible to answer, of course. But something I think about.

Clinton recently moved his office to Harlem, and there are mixed feelings about this. While some think that it will give somewhat of an economic boost to the neighborhood, other people are worried about "gentrification" (and this is happening in Harlem, everyone says it's the next "hot spot") and that the people who have grown up here will not be able to afford to live here. Yes, this has something to do with race, but it's also about heritage. And the fact that black people have consistently gotten pushed out of neighborhoods when rents go up.

How often do you hear about a white neighborhood getting taken over by black people? And yes, some of it is economically related. And sometimes people would rather rent to white people.

Race is a complicated issue. I certainly don't know the answer to solving it. But I personally wouldn't want to see Harlem become just another "white neighborhood" in Manhattan because of the rich history it has. A history that could be lost if people aren't concerned with preserving it. There is a sign near my house that says something to the effect of (I can't remember it word for word) that it's okay for people to come into the community as long as they aren't pushing people out and they respect the history of it. I think that's a great way of putting it. Whether that will happen in reality remains to be seen.

I hope no one takes offense to anything that I've written, these are just a lot of the thoughts I've been having over the past few months and I thought it might help give a different perspective on this issue.
posted by witchstone at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2001


Perhaps it's the result of my neo-conservative bias but I find it more reprehensible when a minority engages in racism because they of all people should know it's effects and how it feels on the receiving end.

Growing up in inner city Buffalo, in an area about 85% black, I can assure you that being a minority is certainly a challenge. It seems to me though, that if the hatred and ignorance of racism is responded to in kind then the only real winner is hatred and ignorance. That's the same reasons I can't support the death penalty.
posted by revbrian at 10:20 AM on June 18, 2001


point 1: Re: "How would you feel about white people if a white police officer shot your unarmed black friend" - I hate pigs regardless of whom they shot or their color.

point 2: It's hard to be racist when you hate everyone equally. I hold no bias in my pure unbided disgust with humanity.

point 3: Mainstream media is biased. Along ethnic lines it tends to be pro-Israel, pro-Republican, anti-smoker and anti-gun. It isn't anti-black or pro-white, it just tends to ignore racial injustices unless their extreme enough to get attention.

point 4: Political Correctness is a bunch of BS. See point 2.

-zebulun
posted by Zebulun at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2001


I'd just like to encourage everyone to also post their thoughts about this article in a place where the editors might see them.

As for the article, well, I'm just stunned. It's not every day you see a troll in print.
posted by fraying at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2001


For an interesting take on self-imposed ethnic neighborhoods, read Amid New York's Sea of Faces, Islands of Segregation in today's New York Times.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:36 AM on June 18, 2001


I think all you white and black folks are all screwed up in the head.
posted by anildash at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2001


I think all you white and black folks are all screwed up in the head.
posted by anildash at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2001


I really liked your comment, witchstone, but one thing bothered me: " I represent something in this neighborhood and I really wouldn't blame someone for resenting me."

Never feel sheepish for the actions of others. Never accept criticism for them, from yourself or externally.

Seeing yourself as "The White" may feel more humble and less hateful than, say, seeing your neighborhood as a bunch of niggers, but the thought comes from the same place.

I hope that didn't sound patronizing.
posted by dong_resin at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2001


C'mon Darren, don't you think that Caucasian people in this country owe all other races the ability to maintain a double standard on racism because of past injustices done to their ancestors by people who are long dead and buried?

Absolutely not.

So its Native Americans and African Americans all the way while every other "minority" can live with double standards? Sorry, its racism all the way. If you want to come out and say 'racism is morally right under these circumstances' then go ahead because that's what I'm reading between the lines.

Just what I was thinking. You beat me to the punch, skallas.
posted by tomorama at 11:27 AM on June 18, 2001


Hmmm, so what we have here is a middle class couple who went to nice schools in the burbs, went to college, got good jobs, and then outbid a bunch of people to get a house in a (now) spendy area...

"It's time to reverse an earlier generation's hopeful migration into white communities and attend to some unfinished business in the 'hood."

The 'hood' uh-huh, okay, isn't the hood where all the poor people hang out ? Does she really think that any poor people, who she thinks she'll be helping, will be able to afford to live there once her money and the money of all the other middle class couples arrives ? Puh-lease.

"But the shake-up may lead to nothing more than a shake-out, with the same old winners and losers."

The same old winners and losers indeed, the winners being the rich and the losers the poor. The good thing here is that more and more of the winners happen to be black, still racist, but black...
posted by zeoslap at 11:28 AM on June 18, 2001


Just in passing, I really liked that phrase "talented tenth". It's an interesting way to restate Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crap").
  Talented tenth == "The glass is one tenth full."
  Sturgeon's law == "the glass is nine tenths empty".
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:42 AM on June 18, 2001


It's amazing the racial tones people are taking on that Metro response board to decry the racism they see in the Post article. (thanks for pointing out that link, Derek)

While I think the article was small-minded, and somewhat ironic (it's ok for blacks to spend lots of money in da 'hood, drive up prices and make it unaffordable for the poor folks to live there, but not the vanilla people), I'm with most of you in being amazed that the Post would publish it.

It's not a very good article, either. I mean, if the point was to galvanize people to invest back in the neighborhoods they grew up in, that would be great - if the writer actually grew up in the neighborhood in the first place.

All I could get out of it was 'prices are going up and it's the poor people who are going to get pushed out again.' Which, of course, is nothing new, and a social issue that has yet to find a good solution.
posted by rich at 12:42 PM on June 18, 2001


Does anyone really believe that the author of the Post op-ed is anti-white? The choice to live primarily among people who look like oneself, at a comfortable standard of living, is a privilege available mainly to whites in the U.S. Rather than take a tone of righteous indignation, we might do better to try to understand where her feelings are coming from.
posted by sudama at 1:42 PM on June 18, 2001


And you would be saying this, sudama, if the colors were reversed?
posted by mw at 1:54 PM on June 18, 2001


By the way, I wrote a fairly impassioned thing about the double standard issue and racism in general in my own blog if anyone's interested...

Sighofrelief wrote:
Have you ever lived in the deep south? Living in New Orleans, which is probably the most integrated city with the most intolerance for racism, still has problems with very racist whites who hold a lot of power.

Errrr, I was born and raised in New Orleans. Lived there for 24 years. It's not a very big place so I'm not exactly sure what part you lived in, because New Orleans is chock full of racism. And not the overt kind typically. It's subversive and pervasive. Sadly, it just is and the attitude is not only accepted but expected.

People look at you funny when you don't laugh at a racist joke. They really look at you funny (and sometimes take offense) when you say that it was out of line. And forget about being accepted by anyone if you date cross-racially...

It's sad. Very very sad. And one of the reasons I'll never move back despite my entire family being there.

About the integration part, I wouldn't consider a black/white ration of 90/10 in Orleans Parish and 10/90 in Jefferson Parish to be very integrated. More like simmering border crisis.

How would you feel about white people if a white police officer shot your unarmed black friend and then beat him after he was dead?

The same way I'd feel with a white police officer and a white friend. Or a black police officer and a black friend. Or a green police officer and a magenta friend. I think that the brutal (and potentially undesrved) death of my friend might be a little more important than people's skin color. I think it would affect me more.

Wrong is wrong and stupid is stupid. When people stop seeing everything as a black/white issue and instead a people/people issue, we'll be able to get past it much faster. That's not to say that motivations aren't sometimes (often, in some places) influenced by racist. They ARE. But reducing everything to those terms chips away at a person's ability to overcome.

What would you think when you looked around you and saw that almost everyone you saw was black, but most of them live in abject poverty while those mansions on St. Charles Avenue are almost all owned by white people?

I'd think that I was in the South... Seriously, there's a reason that that happened (slavery/racism/etc). But what would you do? If the tables were turned, would black people give up half of what they had to rectify the situation? I mean, I'm not defending people in New Orleans. They could surely start helping things by reaching out and building bridges. By becoming NO LONGER IGNORANT (because that's really what it is there. It's learned ignorance if that makes any sense). But really, I think any quick fix would be difficult and probably harmful.

Not that that's what you're suggesting...

It is hard to not be racist when that is all you see around you, and it doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it easy to be strong enough to overcome hate within yourself and from the world around you.

Your statement simultaneously evokes both hope and despair in me... It's not hard to NOT be racist. Hate takes effort, and unfortunately it's one that people learn to do. It hard to unlearn thing people have taught you. It's hard to not feel like a victim when you're always told that you are (or someone else is).

But not being racist is actually easier than the alternative.
posted by fooljay at 2:11 PM on June 18, 2001


[sudama] Does anyone really believe that the author of the Post op-ed is anti-white?

Surely not even you are going to try to justify this overtly racist article, are you? When the woman not only thinks "Hell, I don't wanna live around no white folks" but actually goes out of her way to publish that in a nationally recognized newspaper, surely even you have to draw the line and call the racist a racist, right? Right?!
posted by m.polo at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2001


Does anyone really believe that the author of the Post op-ed is anti-white?

Yes.
posted by aaron at 3:00 PM on June 18, 2001



Does anyone really believe that the author of the Post op-ed is anti-white?

"We damn sure are not about to let white folks buy up all the property in D.C."

Question answered, I think.
posted by jennaratrix at 3:22 PM on June 18, 2001


Jonah Goldberg has just posted a column about this racist and the Post's double standard.
posted by aaron at 3:24 PM on June 18, 2001


Yes, this woman is a racist. Past transgressions do not excuse present thought. Just because she's black, it doesn't make it "okay".

To sanction this woman's thoughts because she happens to be black knocks the whole thing back 100 years.
posted by owillis at 3:45 PM on June 18, 2001


The column's interesting. Goldberg says Hopkinson isn't a racist. For once, I agree with him.

But there's another sense in which Ms. Hopkinson isn't a racist (or idiotic) at all. This is clear simply by the fact that she wrote the piece in the first place. A real racist would be much more careful about exposing herself.

And that's the point. We need a word for Ms. Hopkinson and others like her. And "racist" isn't it. ...

Ms. Hopkinson doesn't think the government should do anything to keep white people from buying homes in historically black neighborhoods. She simply feels that the black middle class should stay put in D.C. rather than head out to the suburbs. And she's right. D.C. would be in far better shape if the black middle and upper classes chose to remain there rather than head for greener pastures. One of the ironies of the fabled Harlem Renaissance, let us not forget, was that it was largely a product of de facto segregation.

The black middle and upper class remained in Harlem in part because they couldn't move to the suburbs. The black Washington middle and upper classes have more options today, and that's a wonderful thing for them, though not for the city — a fact Ms. Hopkinson recognizes. Indeed, the trend she is fighting is the reality that many individual families — individual black families — rationally conclude that raising children among the black lower class is a bad idea.

posted by allaboutgeorge at 4:02 PM on June 18, 2001


Race relations problems would be non-existent if the world was like 'The Fat Albert Show'. The black folks live 'over there', and have wacky adventures in the trash yards. Occasionally, they come 'over here', and help young white folks who are thinking about stealing cars, or getting into drugs, or who have run away from home. Then they go home again, of course.

No, I don't have a point :).
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:06 PM on June 18, 2001


Indeed, the trend she is fighting is the reality that many individual families — individual black families — rationally conclude that raising children among the black lower class is a bad idea.

How very noble of her to sacrifice her own children's future for the sake of appearances... I don't know which is worse, the original editorial or the "justifications" like this one that are starting to spring up. To claim that she's not a racist because "A real racist would be much more careful about exposing herself." is after the fact, pardon me, bullshit.
posted by m.polo at 4:43 PM on June 18, 2001


That Goldberg article is fantastic. Thanks. I find myself in complete agreement. Viva Diversity!
posted by revbrian at 5:03 PM on June 18, 2001


That Goldberg article is fantastic. Thanks. I find myself in complete agreement. Viva Diversity!
posted by revbrian at 5:04 PM on June 18, 2001


Hopkinson doesn't sound like she's interested in sacrificing her children's future for appearances' sake:

Frankly, I'm the last person willing to sacrifice my 6-month-old son, Maverick, to some lofty ideal. But I have reason to be optimistic about his public school prospects five years from now. Within a one-block radius of my home, there are at least eight babies around the same age. Some of their parents -- all but one of them black -- are newcomers like myself. Others have lived there since crack devastated our neighborhood. But I'm confident that each of us is equally committed to making sure our kids get the best education possible. And that gives me hope.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 5:47 PM on June 18, 2001


I'm really not certain where the racism can be found in one family exercising their economic clout to buy a home. What institution denied whites the opportunity to buy the same home? What neighborhood movement froze out anyone who sells to whites? If those exist, they haven't been very successful.

Remember: Racism without power is mere prejudice. I'm with Goldberg, calling this racism is pointless rhetoric -- probably intended to reduce the sting of the charge of real racism where anyone, black, white, or yellow, is denied economic opportunities by institutional and societal redlining.

The author makes an excellent point about Prince Georges County, which is allegedly the most prosperous majority black jurisdiction in the country. Blacks built strong neighborhoods in Chicago, such as Bronzeville, that were destroyed by white power structures because they were perceived as threats. The urban renewal that destroyed the strong black neighborhoods pushed economically successful blacks to seek out safe neighborhoods, which were generally white, leading to real-estate wars and "blockbusting".

Integration may be overrated (I don't think so -- but minorities probably have a different view of cultural dilution), but saying so doesn't make one a racist. Suggesting that blacks build strong communities instead of fleeing them, that they stay and by staying combat the weaknesses of economic tailspin and crime, is the same message that whites should have listened to a generation or two ago. Then, whites were perfectly happy to run away from the city and its problems.

In fact, the only reason this author's choice to buy in DC is a problem is because of an influx of whites. Blacks being allowed to move where they want, as long as they don't compete with whites, is the pernicious racism here.
posted by dhartung at 5:50 PM on June 18, 2001


More of what I found of merit in Goldberg:

She doesn't think the feds should keep whites out, but she does think that blacks should do what they can as families and as a community to make it a little harder for whites to come in. That's what she means when she says, "We damn sure are not about to let white folks buy up all the property in D.C." And, by doing this she and her husband admit that they are willing to pay more money for a home, assume more risks in terms of crime and sub-par schools, and take on a higher level of community responsibility.

And again, I say, "You go girl!" ...

And Ms. Hopkinson could probably live, in many respects, a better life in the suburbs. But preserving what's important to you requires trade-offs. These trade-offs may be irrational or misguided or based in sentimentality or something I don't understand. But I don't think they're necessarily racist.

posted by allaboutgeorge at 5:54 PM on June 18, 2001


The real issue is economics, not race. People rushing to blame her for for any possible sign of racism miss the reality that she is bringing gentrification just as surely as any white people do.

The woman was bragging about winning at two rounds of bidding wars. Gentrification is a real and valid concern. Which is more important, that a working class family still be able to find affordable housing, or that a family of color win out at the expense of inflating the tax estimates of their new neighbors?

The desire to buy real estate at any price price tends to lead to higher tax bills for those who really commit to stay in a neighborhood for decades. Exploitation of pre-gentrification real estate prices is not an issue of race, but financial greed.
posted by Sqwerty at 6:05 PM on June 18, 2001


dont complain.. move to DC.. except it sucks to live there.
posted by stbalbach at 6:06 PM on June 18, 2001


Exploitation of pre-gentrification real estate prices is not an issue of race, but financial greed.

The same argument could be made, without the issue of race, in terms of those in (primarily) English villages who try to prevent the influx of those who sell their one-bedroom studio in London SW1 and look to buy up a row of houses for an ersatz rural life.

In fact, people in areas such as the south-west present it in quasi-racial terms: the far corners of England have always had a very distinctive regional identity, right down to their dialects. That's slowly being diluted: by the obvious influence of national broadcasting, but also by a housing market that drives first-time house buyers to the homogeneous suburbs.
posted by holgate at 6:26 PM on June 18, 2001


I have a question. which nation has the most diverse culture?
posted by clavdivs at 7:09 PM on June 18, 2001


Indonesia? Russia? Thailand? How the heck do you answer that?
posted by rodii at 7:28 PM on June 18, 2001


This whole thread sickens me, though I have seen similar things so many times that I ought to be beyond it by now.
To argue that switching "black" and "white" proves that the column is racist is nonsense. That would only be the case if "black" and "white" were entirely equal in America today, when evidently they are not. The fact that white racism massively still exists today, means that for a black person not to want their neighborhood swamped by whites is a very different thing from a white person not wanting to let black people move in.
What is happening here is that a lot of white people, from Andrew Sullivan on to many of the posters in this thread, are unwilling to own up to the fact that they still get inestimable benefit from white skin privilege. Pretending that white racism doesn't exist any more, and thereby claiming that it is actually black people who are the racists, is what happens when people feel so entitled, and take their privileges so much for granted, that they can't see beyond their own noses.
posted by Rebis at 10:02 PM on June 18, 2001


That is a great comparison Holgate. I don't believe there us anything wrong with communities seeking to retain or control the economic problems that follow gentrification. The ability to produce a large down payment is a mixed blessing for most modest neighborhoods.

It would be interesting if the publisher were to follow up and see if the woman wrote the article actually remains true to her new urban neighborhood when her six month old is on the cusp of beginning grade school.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:35 PM on June 18, 2001


I refuse to accept the "racism without power is prejudice" argument. Racism is prejudice, a bias determined by the race of an individual. And you can be racist whether you're white or black. And I think this article clearly shows that.
posted by darren at 4:51 AM on June 19, 2001


The author and the article is in no way racist. Its perfectly acceptable to be afraid of the dilution of your culture. She's right integration isn't always good for a minority.

As a British (born) Asian I like the fact I can go to areas of my city (London); where there are shops selling saris, Hindi CDs & DVDs, Bhangra music blasts out of cars, Indian food & spices, where the are groups of young Asian guys & girls out & about, etc.

If these areas got gentrified by rich white people, and the Asians got scattered about all over but in no majority anywhere (integration?), then I would lose access to a culture & identity that I have a right to.
posted by Rips at 4:59 AM on June 19, 2001


This isn't to say that "integration" is automatically "homogenisation": if you look at Brixton or Whitechapel, for instance, you have a community that sustains several different cultural identities at once, and is all the better for it. And people move there not because of any impulse towards gentrification, but because of the vibe of the place: I'd rather have the mish-mash of Electric Avenue than the faux style of Hoxtonised London. (Call it the cultural equivalent of fusion cooking, not baby food.)

Which raises the question of whether it's actually possible to come into those kinds of communities without subtly, and then more noticeably changing their character. (Consider the way in which areas of San Francisco, especially the Mission, have had the life stripped out of them by the dot-com boom.) Not that this isn't itself inevitable: areas evolve, go through rises and falls, but there are ways -- rent controls, for instance -- that prevent them becoming "Minority Community Heritage Experiences".
posted by holgate at 5:40 AM on June 19, 2001


fooljay--my point exactly about how racist New Orleans is whislt being possibly the most tolerant city in the South. At least we in Orleans Parish wouldn't allow Harry Lee, a renowned racist and the Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, to become Sheriff here. It's not the best, but after living in both Washington and New Orleans, I'd have to say that New Orleans handles racial diversity better than our capital.
posted by sighofrelief at 7:46 AM on June 19, 2001


Ok,

The main problem with the Goldberg article is that he is stating that Hopkinson argued against allowing Federal intrusion into forcing black communities to allow whites to move in.

Hopkinson's article was about her having to outbid only white people to buy a home in a 'black community' and how
white people moving into D.C. were pushing out the poor black people who lived there.

As for Goldberg stating that she is not a racist because she published her aticle is to say that Farrakann is not a racist. It is to say that the KKK, because they are open about their racism, are not racists. It is an assine argument.

Hopkinson says that blacks should finally return to the communities that are now rebounding. Would she be so bold if they were not yet rebounding, on the slide, or totally made up of burnt out shells and crackhouses?

I agree that everyone should return something to communities they can help, and that people should support their ethnic history as well as celebrate their own diversity. But stating that beating out a white family is a reason to be happy (supposively Hopkinson wouldn't have had a bidding war against a black family) is racist and clouds any other reasons or arguments she was trying to make.
posted by rich at 9:52 AM on June 19, 2001


then I would lose access to a culture & identity that I have a right to.

You have a right to force people of a certain race to live together so that you will have access to their culture at your convenience?

What about the cultures that don't have a large presence in London? Should we perhaps go kidnap a few thousand Eskimos from up north and dump them in the East End so you can go look at pretty igloos once in a while?
posted by aaron at 10:33 AM on June 19, 2001



I don't read the Washington Post as regularly as I used to since I moved from the D.C. area six years ago, but I don't think they've been Louis Farrakhan or the KKK write op-eds for them.

If they were totally made up of burnt out shells and crackhouses, I don't think she'd be moving in.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2001


I've been thinking about this since this post first appeared on the front page. I'm also disappointed, but not surprised to find defenders of this vitriolic bit of racial ranting here, either.

This is most assuredly racist. The reason that switching the words white and black proves it is racist is not because the words are more loaded in that presentation it's because of the logical application of equal equality. Goose and gander stuff, folks. Change it to Latino and Asian. Indian and Pakistani. Taliban and everybody else.

What's fair and equal is fair and equal for all. By defending this article on the merits of historical injustice it is not only creating a double standard, it is creating an attitude of retribution. Since "white folk" had it so good for so long, it's time they got a taste of it from the blacks, huh? All that does is swing the pendulum in the opposite direction, giving it momentum to swing back in another arc of retribution.

It will only be through the strict application of equal equality, that is, treating ALL people the SAME as you would anyone else, that this sort of thing will just stop. I resent the notion that it is ok for this "journalist" to out bid someone just because they're motivated to out bid whitey. If they had just out bid everyone because they bid more then there'd be no issue. To be motivated to "beat" someone out of something you want, based simply on your own preconceived notions regarding their ethnicity is wrong. It's racially motivated and that's wrong.

Those of you defending this tripe need to read some Dinesh D'Souza and John Whortley. They might open your eyes up to how unequal equality is in America these days...
posted by Spanktacular at 3:51 PM on June 19, 2001


Spanktacular, well put. Very well put...


Racism without power is mere prejudice.

This is crap, as Darren mentions. Colin Powell is perhaps the most powerful black man in American polictics today. If I don't like black people, does that make me prejudiced against Colin Powell but racist towards any black people under my employment? That's crap. Racism is racism and any other redefiniftion is euphemistic at best.

Its perfectly acceptable to be afraid of the dilution of your culture.

Dilution of your culture? Since when did culture become a personal possession or even a characteristic of one person? The culture of a place or people is the sum of all of its parts. Its the way people move, talk, eat and live. Preserving a culture? Fine, but I think that doing so by excluding people is a losing proposition. Doing so by excluding people of another race is racism pure and simple.

Let me give an example which might help make this clear. Let's say there's a club that doesn't allow membership to minorities and only let's women in the door one Sunday per month. For the most part, its white males only. This is done to prtect the culture of the club. You know, talking about white male things and acting like a white male, whatever all of that means... (I am reminded of the Eddie Murphy "Black man in a white man's world" spoof). Is that racist/sexist? Yes it is.

So let's say that the club decides to change its policies and let minorites and women in. You have a few guys sitting at the bar grumbling about the change that's about to occur. They are scared and pissed off that the "culture" around the place is about to change. Are they racist/sexist? Yes they are.

Culture is not about race. Culture is about people. It just so happens that often times a certain culture is associated with a certain place, which is inhabited mainly people people of a certain race (anyone heard of divergent evolution?). The faster we unlink "culture" and "race", or for that matter anything and "race", the faster racism will end.

As a British (born) Asian I like the fact I can go to areas of my city (London); where there are shops selling saris, Hindi CDs & DVDs, Bhangra music blasts out of cars, Indian food & spices, where the are groups of young Asian guys & girls out & about, etc.

As an New Orleans born San Franciscan, I'd like to park, get into a restaruant easily on a Saturday night and not be asked for change every 30 feet. But I live here because for the most part I love it. If conditions change, then I move somewhere else which will make me happier. You have the same choice. Sure, it's sad to see your environment change, but get used to it. Nothing (except for New Orleans) stays the same forever.

If these areas got gentrified by rich white people, and the Asians got scattered about all over but in no majority anywhere (integration?), then I would lose access to a culture & identity that I have a right to.

First of all, I have a problem with the statement "gentrified by rich white people". I can't put my finger on why except that I don't think that it's what you actually mean, but you're using your words very loosely. (Or so I hope...) Secondly, you have no right to any culture or identity. None. Zero. Explain how, if you disagree.

To argue that switching "black" and "white" proves that the column is racist is nonsense.

It's not meant to prove anything. It's only to illuminate the double standard which exists.

The fact that white racism massively still exists today, means that for a black person not to want their neighborhood swamped by whites is a very different thing from a white person not wanting to let black people move in.

The only way that it could be considered different is if the black person is afraid of whites moving in and being discriminated against. In case you haven't noticed, there aren't many racists who choose to move into a neighborhood where the vast majority or even entire population is made up of those against whom they are prejudiced. What that means, is that it's either an irrational fear on the woman's part or she's racist. Plain and simple. And those two scenarios are not mutually exclusive. Fear and ignorance are the two most powerful ingredients in a racist martini.

What is happening here is that a lot of white people...are unwilling to own up to the fact that they still get inestimable benefit from white skin privilege.

Well that all depends on how you look at it, doesn't it? Do I get benefit from my skin color, or do those with another skin color get the opposite? I tend to think that the treatment I get is because I'm a person, plain and simple. Because a racists may not give the same treatment to someone else is not my fault for the way I was born. Of course, if a store owner let's me into his store and then denies access to a black person, and I don't take issue with it, then it does become my problem as well, doesn't it?

Pretending that white racism doesn't exist any more,

Who in the hell claimed that? You'd have to be pretty stupid to claim that white racism doesn't exist. You also have to be pretty stupid to claim that black racism doesn't exist. It does.

At least we in Orleans Parish wouldn't allow Harry Lee, a renowned racist and the Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, to become Sheriff here. It's not the best, but after living in both Washington and New Orleans, I'd have to say that New Orleans handles racial diversity better than our capital.

Yeah, I could see that. The funny thing, for those who don't know, is that Harry Lee, the sheriff of a suburb of New Orleans which is 90+% white is a reknowned racist and he's Asian. Oh the irony...
posted by fooljay at 3:58 PM on June 19, 2001


use that nice brain you have.
posted by clavdivs at 8:45 PM on June 19, 2001


First of all, I have a problem with the statement "gentrified by rich white people". I can't put my finger on why...

I can. The statement implies either: a) that only rich white people would ever even consider doing something so "mean" as to move into areas that "belong" to another culture (which would be bullshit, as anyone who's followed demographic trends in New York's outer boroughs for more than a year or so can attest); or else b) that Rips would only be truly bothered by such gentrification if it was rich white people moving in ... any other race or class would be just fine, or at least more acceptable. And that, of course, would be pure racism.

Colin Powell...

During the 2000 campaign, starting way back before the primaries when a lot of people were still thinking Powell might run himself, I lost count of the number of people I saw on TV and heard on radio (all black) who, when asked if his campaign wouldn't be a positive thing for black Americans, said no because "He's not really black." Interpret that as you wish.
posted by aaron at 10:47 PM on June 19, 2001



« Older CD-eating fungus?...   |   Oscar goes For Five... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments