Social Question

palerider's avatar

Where does white American guilt end and black American responsibility begin?

Asked by palerider (1020 points ) October 5th, 2010

At what point is the white american guilt of the past assuaged, paid for in full, and the responsibility of today’s black population taken up as a banner? When a child of an immigrant (latino, black, caucasion, asian) can move through the ranks and become wealthy, why are there millions of blacks in America who bemoan that the system is not fair? Is it because they are told they can not succeed by their parents and political leaders or because there is an injustice inherent in the system?

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54 Answers

ETpro's avatar

When we balance the scales so that every young child has an equal opportunity to be all that they can be. If you compare by race income disparity, educational disparity, life expectancy, incarceration rates, top executive positions, CEOs, home ownership… You name it, whites are on top.

You might make a very powerful case that what we have tried so far isn’t working to balance the landscape, but you certainly can’t argue that we already have a level playing field unless you also argue that blacks and latinos are simply racially inferior to whites. And remembering Nazi Germany, we know where that lie leads. Also, looking at what Jewish scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists and writers have contributed to the world, we clearly know that Hitler’s argument of racial superioty was nothing but a Big Lie.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I can’t speak for all Americans, I will just speak for me. I never had any guilt about black slavery. One side of my family didn’t get here until the 1880s so they had nothing to do with it.

On the other side, my first ancestor on this continent came here as an indentured servant.

Pandora's avatar

When people stop following me through the store because I am the only latina shopping at the time in a store full of white people.

palerider's avatar

The people made worse off by slavery were those who were enslaved. Their descendants would have been worse off today if born in Africa instead of America. Put differently, the terrible fate of their ancestors benefitted them.
Thomas Sowell

If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.
Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell, learned black conservative

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It’s a good question, and I certainly don’t have an answer. @ETpro has the wrong answer again, as usual. On the one hand he says, correctly, that every young child must have equal opportunity. Hear, hear! I’m all for it. The evidence he offers that they apparently don’t have that is… that we continue to have unequal outcomes.

I do make the case that what we have tried so far isn’t working to balance the landscape. I certainly make that argument. It’s even so obvious that he seems to have noticed it. But apparetnly his answer is to do more of what we’ve been doing so far—at least since the 1960s. And I say not.

I don’t think that any race is inferior in any significant way from any other. (I couch the language because some diseases and physical afflictions affect some races more than others. For example, I sunburn pretty easily, and my people are predisposed to skin cancer.) For that reason I think that there should be zero racial disparity in treatment.

I also don’t think that “blacks” as a group can or even should be grouped “as a group” any more. There are so many examples of stellar black performance in any field of endeavor, and such a huge middle class of blacks, too, that any lingering institutional racism is a quirk and an anomaly. But there certainly are a lot of Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons around who make it their business to harp on those anomalies as if they represent all or even any significant fraction of our institutional leadership—private or public. And they do, unfortunately, represent a large number of people who rightly or wrongly “feel” disenfranchised, have been raised to feel that way, and find a benefit to feeling that way.

And from a historical point of view, at least in this country, any black person here descended from former slaves should thank whatever pain and humiliation their ancestors had to endure… that enabled them to now be American citizens with the rights and privileges they enjoy—or could enjoy, if they only would. They should just get on with their own lives, and bury their ancestors. It’s about time, really.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s a bit off the map. You kinda gotta go trekking through the woods. If you really want to see that point, though, you can get there. I think it’s part of a geocaching event.

Ok, I’m being facetious to point out that there is no real answer to this question. This is the kind of thing that I think is best seen in a framework of human psychology and sociology. There will always be in-groups and out-groups. There will always be people who think that if they whine, someone will give them something. They are right. We often give people shit just to shut them up.

Others will groan about what’s fair and historical events and again, it’s just a technique to see what they can get. It’s a legitimate technique, in my book.

Others will realize those things don’t help much, and they’ll decide that they need to take responsibility for their own lives, no matter what happened in the past, and no matter how unfairly they are treated now. They’ll just get on with it because the “poor me” approach is pretty much for losers.

This struggle between guilt and responsibility will never end. Or, rather, the end will keep on moving around. Sometimes it’ll be on the Mason-Dixon line, and sometimes it’ll be in Boston, and sometimes in New Orleans. Sociology is an abstract idea, as is what we are talking about. The argument will go on forever, and some people will pay attention to them because that’s their personality, and others (black and white) will say it has nothing to do with them.

I don’t know who gave us the idea that life was supposed to be fair. It ain’t. We only get what we are willing to fight to protect. (The fighting need not be violent).

jaytkay's avatar

Very few people blame their current troubles on slavery. I mean very few except for self-pitying whites who feel put upon and frightened when black people appear on their TVs or, heaven forbid, in their schools and neighborhoods.

josie's avatar

I have no guilt. I was not here. I owe nothing. Talk to the slavers.
It is easier to blame somebody for failure and get sympathy than it is to actually accomplish something. One requires effort. The other requires an audience.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t get your premise – today’s racial relations are not supposed to be about guilt or responsibility of any one single race. Today’s racial relations (and people really fail to grasp this when discussing race) are not about whose fault slavery was or whether blacks should have to deal with all that they might have a problem with – it’s about standing together, in solidarity, and realizing one’s privilege in different contexts and understanding history but recognizing a different future is possible. Whenever I speak about race, many white people respond with ‘I have no guilt’ but I never discuss race in terms of guilt, I discuss it terms of what’s actually happening right now, what specific instances reek of systemic racism and where are there organizations doing powerful work to give equal opportunity to people while debunking oppressive paradigms. I am a white person, I don’t feel guilty for slavery and it doesn’t matter where my ancestors are or aren’t from. All I can do is in this lifetime and in this lifetime I am an activist and an ally to the people of color communities and causes. I understand being welcomed and not welcomed in those communities sometimes and these times don’t incite anger in me or make me give these issues an ‘us v. them’ spin. So, the answer to your question is this: your guilt can end now (unless you behave in a racist fashion, which is something everyone should evaluate in terms of their actions) but everyone (no matter the color) has a responsibility to come together and end oppression when such a thing is clear.

Dog's avatar

I do not see equality.

I do not see equality when state school taxes are drawn up and allotted by district- perpetuating the cycle of poverty. The classrooms, the only true path out of poverty, are underfunded and deprived of resources.

I ask what “responsibility” you feel should be taken.

Are you unhappy about the scholarships and quotas that help those who claw their way out of a sub- class school system enter college and find productive careers?

Do you consider these opportunities “white guilt?”

I hope not because I recieved aid. The help offered allowed me to rise out of poverty. I earned scholarships not just based on merit but on my situation. My status did benefit me in getting into a good college. Was this wrong? Even with excellent grades I could not have done it without help that had been set aside for a person in my position.

Why can’t we all just help one another without feeling that it is a punishment for sins of generations past?

Oh by the way- I was a single caucasion mother getting help.

Help should be available to everyone with a dream and the will to work to achieve it.

ETpro's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I am quite able to speak for myself. And let me do that right now. I hereby state that @CyanoticWasp does not have my permission to speak for me, and that words I never wrote but that are attributed to me by @CyanoticWasp are probably wrong.

I stand by every word I wrote above. I said that we might need to change what we are doing. But I grew up in the South, and I know very well that oppression of blacks did not end with slavery. We are still far from fixing the inequities because so many whites want to keep things just they way they have always been. I said that what we’ve tried so far hasn’t worked. What we should do was not the topic, so I didn’t go into it. But if someone wants to ask a question about that, I think it would be a great question and elicit some interesting ideas.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

That’s wonderful, @ETpro. Does this mean that you will stop putting words in the mouths of others, too? You continually claim to know “what the Tea Baggers want” and “what the conservatives want” by making hyperbolic statements about extreme positions as if they were a mean. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting, though.

And though you are correct that you didn’t technically say “we should continue to do more of what we have been doing” (mea culpa on that), since you answered (with emphasis) that “white guilt” could stop when all children have equal opportunity and then implied that they don’t, you inferred as much, you old sophist you.

Jabe73's avatar

@Pandora Are you serious, I thought we outgrew that.

@ETpro I really do agree with what you said but I have seen many white and minority kids (many of whom were poor) throw away many opportunities because they just wanted to screw around or were too lazy to work at bettering themselves. The only difference here is that the minority kids would cry racism or say the system is against them because of their race. Then ironically the white kids would claim the system is biased against whites because they are not a minority. Never mind the fact that they decided to burglarize homes/businesses or selling heroin instead of finishing school or attaining their GED’s even though they had chances. Like I’ve said in other posts I see another side here.

Qingu's avatar

Let’s not confuse “white guilt” with acknowledging the real-world effects of a poverty cycle inflicted onto a minority population.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am an older white woman and rarely have an equal opportunity. No one ever recruited me to be a CEO of a corporation regardless of my qualifications or lack thereof. But I managed to have a successful career in the real world, after paying my own way through college and university and then another successful career in the world I love.

I think you don’t have to go to the best schools or have the best lab equipment, if you want to succeed you will find a way regardless of your age, color, race whatever. That is why there are many successful minority people who do achieve in their chosen fields.

To me it is a case of you can lead a horse to water, etc.. The opportunities are there for everyone who wants to seek them out, actually there are (here at least) more opportunities for those who are not white. The problem is instilling the desire to achieve in those who have never had role models in their family. If you are the 3rd generation of non working parents, it is extremely difficult for anyone to break out of the mold. Somehow parents have to be forced to force their kids to go to school. And if the school isn’t as good as one in a wealthy white suburb, I don’t know how to fix that because it is not easy to get teachers to go into a school where their life will be in danger.

Jabe73's avatar

I grew up in a poor family but I worked my butt off to make something of myself. I know of several blacks/hispanics that done the same only to be condemned by their same race “peers”. No one puts a gun to anyone’s head to live a life of crime and poverty. Many minorities had gotten plenty of opportunities to better themselves and squandered them because they were too “cool” or it was considered being a “wuss” to succeed only to hear these same people complain how the “system” screwed them or was “prejudiced” against them.

Why should people like me who did work hard have to feel sorry for the lazy or cool people that didn’t make the effort?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@rooeytoo While I understand what you’re saying, you will never know if the same life you describe, but as a black woman, would have gone the same and my guess it probably wouldn’t.

Jabe73's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I know of many people (including minorities) that had chances over and over again but decided to be “hard” or “gangster” and blow all the opportunities given to them. Racism was not even an issue here but yet was turned into one. When does this end?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jabe73 When does what end? People not taking opportunities and making excuses? It will never end.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I agree, it is not possible to know for sure. But to say it couldn’t be done if I were a black woman is to insult and demean those many black women who are successful and have achieved great heights.

I already said it would be harder for a kid who is third generation living off handouts, where is the encouragement and goading going to come from? But I don’t have the solution to that problem. Here they tried to tie welfare payments to school attendance, but it was beaten down by those of all colors who say it would punish those who should not be punished. I personally think just about anything that would get kids into school would be a good thing.

ETpro's avatar

@CyanoticWasp You are right to point out that I should have more directly addressed the OP about “white guilt”. I think that “white guilt” is mostly a false argument invented by whites who like the status quo to demean the idea of trying to establish an equitable society for all. My family on my Father’s side once owned Bacon’s Castle, a large Southern Plantation. I don’t feel one whit of guilt about my ancestors many generations ago having owned slaves. I didn’t do it. They did.

I do not believe that affirmative action established by various Executive Orders of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson or that codified into law by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were put in place because of White Guilt. I think that they were established to try to do what is fair. They were established because those putting them forward realized that this nation is strongest when we tap into the power of all our people, not just a selected, privileged group. If Affirmative Action has failed, and a compelling argument can be made that it has, then I am all for looking at how best to level the playing field. I am not convinced that just tossing out Affirmative Action and letting things fix themselves would work, though. It did not work for the 100 years after slavery was abolished.

As to putting words in the Teapublicans mouths, I am content to let them speak for themselves and just quote what they say they stand for. The things I have attributed to them are not fringe ideas, but are ones that are bellowed daily on conservative talk radio and Fox “News”. The Tea Party itself doesn’t seem to have a very cohesive message. But the candidates they have put on the ballot this election certainly do. But again, that is for a different thread.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

This is a Brave Question… of which I do not know the answer to.

Yet I thank you for asking it nonetheless.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@rooeytoo Assuming black people couldn’t ‘make it’ is very different, in my mind, from recognizing that you, as a black woman, would face more barriers on your way there.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies What makes it brave, in your opinion? You don’t think most people have these thinly veiled thougths anyway? Yea, real revolutionary.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

the “thin veil” is worn for two reasons. to conceal thoughts from others, and also as protection for the wearer against the shocking veracity of basic elemental truths.

removing that veil requires a touch of bravado, as do most revolutions.

palerider's avatar

in the gettysberg address, old honest abe lied. we are not all born equal. we all do not have the same opportunities. but these inequities are not due to skin color, origin, or ethinicity. they are inherent differences in the human genome and the human experience. this is what we do have; ability, experience, and knowledge. we use our ability and knowledge to gain experience and skills, and we use those skills to profit. profit is not an ugly word; it is motivation, driver, engine of true progress, invention, and ingenuity. there is not now, nor has there ever been on the face of this earth the freedom and security to use ones own ability, skill, and intellect for his/her own purposes, whether that be for profit or for altruistic purposes, than here, now, in this country and in the past 230 odd years within the borders of this republic.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Yeah, I think there is a difference in degree.

Jabe73's avatar

I’m glad you asked this question, I have to add one more thing here. There is an interesting paradox here. On one side you have unfairness by a majority race that helped create an unfair reverse racist affirmative action laws that the majority of racist/bigoted/prejudiced whites condemn because of their very own bias (which if they would had never existed to begin with) these laws would had never been established to begin with.

Now on the other side, you have many people of minority races that will use this racism as an excuse to be racist themselves and even as an excuse to live a life of crime rather than make something of themselves. I had a buddy who attended a local Job Corps Center (he was half black/hispanic) and he outright told me that many of the inner city kids that attended here did not take their vocational courses/GED?driver’s licenses opportunities seriously, always cried racism or the “system” being against them all because they were disciplined for screwing around, cutting courses and harrassment of the other kids that took their opportunity seriously. The majority of these inner city kids either dropped out of these courses or got themselves terminated from the program only probally to go back to their neighboorhoods crying racism or god knows what. The lack of educational opportunities for minorities has another issue to it that should be really called “squandered educational opportunities”.

There is one other thing I wanted to add here, the inner city minorities (or any race for that matter) who want to do good are scared off from doing so or are even afraid to attend their schools (for good reasons) because of being mixed with peers that have no interest in doing good. This is why I believe parents need to start being held accountable (including the deadbeat dads who continue to sleep around). Juvenile laws need to be beefed up as well. Why should the kids who want to do good be forced to attend schools with the bad students? I’m sorry I didn’t give an answer that didn’t cater to either the conservative or liberal side here, this opinion just coming from a non-partisan realist. When do we stop pondering to the criminally inclined because of laziness and stop punishing the few that try to do good. No one can force you to do good, you either want to or you don’t. Each side here the way I see it are their own worst enemies. I knew several blacks/hispanics I was friends with and they agreed with me to a T here, their very own peers were their own worst enemies.

ETpro's avatar

@Jabe73 Excellent points. Even if it doesn’t directly address the OP, GA!

@palerider We truly do have a great deal of opportunity here. I think that when our
founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence of all men being created equal, they meant in opportunity, not it height, intelligence, inherited wealth, and luck of the draw with parents. And Honest Abe was picking up on that thought, even though at the time he said it women were treated like property and many men were born into slavery and weren’t even considered humans.

We have come a long way toward true equality since the Gettysburg Address was given, but we still have a good deal of inequality left to correct. But the progress toward universal equality has been inexorable as civilization developed, and those who stand against that tide today will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Pandora's avatar

@Jabe73 It was near Xmas time 2 years back. I went into an expensive department store with my husbands cousin. We were the only one’s in there who were not white. Quickly a white floor sales person came over to ask me if I needed any assistance. Mind you I was in the mens department looking for some jeans for my husband. Its hard to find him jeans in his size so that was why I was there. I didn’t have any any large purse or anything, simply my coat on my arms because it was hot in the store, and a small purse. I don’t know where he thought I would hide jeans. He asked no one else if they needed asssistance and pretended to be busy while watching me and not even attempting to fake it. No smile or anything. No polite demeaner. Just staring at me as I looked at jeans. I straight out told him that just because I was latina didn’t mean that I was born to steal or didn’t have the money to shop there, he didn’t need to stare at me so hard because I wasn’t there to steal. I was furious. I wanted to talk to his manager but my husband called then because he wanted to know where I was and I couldn’t tell him, because I didn’t want him to know I was looking for gifts for him. The sales clerk didn’t even attempt to deny his prejudice. The distain on his face was obvious. So I had to leave before he came in.
Never went back to shop in that store. Figured if they can hire bigots or train their staff to profile against certain races than they don’t need my money. Ever!

palerider's avatar

@Pandora exactly, that’s another way we vote with our feet, and our pocketbooks!

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s one example I read about in Barack Obama’s second book:

Black fathers who shirk responsibility for raising their children.

Joybird's avatar

Everyone has equal opportunity now even though discrimination does still exist. You wanna know who some of these immigrants achieve and become affluent? They cooperate with each other. They live in multi generational situations with many extended family members under one roof. They share resources…which means they don’t need things like child care because they use a family member in their own housing for this. They pool their financial resources because they all agree to work and they take what they’ve earned and they buy a large house where there are good schools. And then they rebuild their resources and they buy a business or a franchise. And then they all work two jobs….one to build up another nest egg and they work the franchise till it’s strong and then they buy another…and another.
Some segments of the American population have been made entitled and they are now producing a steady stream of narcissists bred and raised by well meaing mothers who are trying to build a healthy community because most of their own men and their children’s fathers are awol. In attempting to do this they have overindulged their youth and turned out a wave of narcissistic thugs who debase themselves and everything around themselves.

palerider's avatar

touche’ joybird, i can’t disagree.

Nullo's avatar

There is no guilt to be had. You didn’t enslave anyone, and I’d bet good money that you haven’t singled out anyone for discrimination, or taken anything from them.
I can’t even claim ancestral guilt – I come from a long line of European peasants who didn’t venture Stateside until about 1912.

I’m rather fond of the idea that everybody is at least partly responsible for themselves.

sugabelly's avatar

The author of this question and most of the respondents need to read Derailing for Dummies.

How wonderful for you to completely ignore all the energy white people in America have invested into racism of all kinds, types, and degrees.

Racism isn’t limited to calling a black person a nigger you know. Racism is also suspending black children for rough behaviour while calling identical rough behaviour by white children “playful boisterousness”.

Racism is shredding resumes sent in by a person named Shanequa Rashon even though she is well qualified while offering an interview to someone named Caitlin Prescott with the SAME qualifications. (this has been proven and businesses have been caught doing this in the USA and Canada btw)

Racism is even in the fact that as I typed THIS VERY RESPONSE, the squiggly red lines that you get for incorrectly spelled words appeared under “Shanequa Rashon” but DID NOT appear under “Caitlin Prescott”. (Go on, try it when you respond to this post)

Racism is when I walk into a store and five sales attendants continue to ask me if everything is alright or if I need assistance every three minutes even though nobody seems as interested in “helping” the gaggle of white teenage girls that walked in right along with me and who are most likely “helping” themselves to the store’s merchandise courtesy of a five fingered discount. (I’ve seen this one happen too many times. A bunch of white teenagers rob a boutique or store blind while the sales attendants are too busy following black shoppers).

Racism is ignoring how American society, economy, etc has been set up so that non-white people bear the brunt of everything that there is to be suffered in this country and not acknowledging that there is a ranking of people in this country based on race where your race determines the amount of racism and ill treatment you will receive and whites are at the top and continue to benefit from racism daily while asians are next, and then latinos, and then blacks.

And while you may not have personally enslaved anybody, there is much guilt to be had because every morning when you wake up and walk out your door, you benefit from the racism against others who don’t look like you in your society.

But I’m just a young woman typing words right? Please don’t mind me.

rooeytoo's avatar

I just looked at your profile and answers to assorted questions, I have reached the conclusion, that you appear to be a bit racist yourself.

I stand on my answer above, I can’t change history or the world, only me. If we met on the street or you came to me for a job, you would have the same opportunity as anyone else, unless you started spewing your racist agenda, then I would escort you to the door no matter what color your skin may be.

sugabelly's avatar

@rooeytoo Ah yes of course…. Ever since I came to this country I quickly learned that any attempt by a non-white person to point out racism will immediately result in whites claiming that person is being racist or reverse racist.

Okay, keep believing your fantasy. What I said was 100% true like it or not.

rooeytoo's avatar

@sugabelly – I don’t know what country you are referring to, but why did you go there if it is so unsatisfactory and racist towards you?

wundayatta's avatar

@sugabelly I thank you for pointing out those examples of racism that white folk probably aren’t aware of.

I’d be interested in hearing your opinion about responsibility. I assume you feel that it is worthwhile pointing out incidence of racism because increasing white awareness may help decrease these behaviors. But pointing those things out doesn’t open any doors for you, immediately. You’re still getting all this unwanted attention from the clerks and no one is helping you find the right lipstick, or whatever it is you are there for. They probably wouldn’t know how to help you that way, anyway, since they’d have little or no experience with your skin colors.

So, do you have a responsibility to do what you can to get through life, even though the social structure is stacked against you? Of course you do. That’s not the real question. You owe it to yourself. Unless of course you are happy to sit back, let the barriers stop you, and then complain about them being there.

How much do you fight the root causes and how much do you just get on with life?

I ask myself a similar question, since there’s a lot of stigma against the mentally ill. Is it worth fighting the good fight to reduce the stigma? Of should I just travel along beneath the radar and avoid having to deal with how people think about it. Should I pass? Or should I take on this cause?

Someone has to, I suppose. But it’s not going to be me. I did my fighting thirty years ago. Now I just want to be left alone to try to… find some inner peace.

What’s your thinking about that? And why do you choose to fight? Educate? Whatever?

sugabelly's avatar

@rooeytoo I am referring to America. And it is rather ignorant to ask “why did you go there if it is racist towards you?”.

Nobody likes to be the target of racism so obviously I have business I have to take care of here otherwise I would not be here. It’s such an annoying comment to make and I’ve heard it from many Americans. “Oh, if you don’t like it here why did you come?”

Just because Americans have the luxury of not having to leave their country to work or study or buy something does not mean that everybody does. And just because people from other countries come here does not mean that it’s so amazing here and wherever that person is from must be a shithole so they should be grateful to be here.

I am a human being and I expect to be treated with respect wherever I go. Telling me to get out is not going to change the fact that many people in this country are racist and disrespectful.

SuperMouse's avatar

@sugabelly FYI, @rooeytoo does not live in the US.

rooeytoo's avatar

@sugabelly – I did not tell you to get out. I asked why you came if it was such a bad place. And you answered the question, sort of, for an education or to earn money or to buy something. You imply you are leaving when your business is done. A lot of Americans might not appreciate that purpose and treat you accordingly. Did it ever cross your mind that you reap what you sew? You seem to be dissatisfied and perhaps your attitude invites attitude in return.

Personally when a kid or backpacker came into my store I watched them like a hawk and it mattered not what color they were. It was simply my experience that these people, as a group, generally were the light fingered ones.

I am sure what you say did actually happen but people base opinions on life experiences. Show them by your behavior how wrong they are and their attitudes will change.

I’m 66 and still fighting the equalist battles for all women regardless of what color they are. I just choose to do my fighting in a different fashion than you.

Fernspider's avatar

@Pandora – interestingly enough I have pretty much had the same experience. Shopping with my partner for sunglasses and being stared at constantly by a particular shop assistant; making me feel uncomfortable like I was intending on stealing something. Even at the moment my parter decided to walk to the counter to pay, she insisted on taking them from him, walking/escorting us to the counter herself; waiting in line with us!

I made a remark like “Do you treat everyone like they are criminals?” to which she laughed but didn’t deny it. It was obvious we had been targeted for reasons unknown to me.

My partner and I are white. Had we been black, instintively we probably would have decided that the treatment we received was due to our race.

Just saying. I understand the presumption that discrimination is racially motivated but it seems to me that sometimes, there are other discriminations in place that we are unaware of and may not be racial. Age, attitude, how one dresses, unusual customers, body language, a shop assistant being in a bad mood or randomly targeting someone, looking like someone they know and don’t like, incorrect intuition… you name it, there are all sorts of reasons people are badly treated.

Granted, there are no doubt instances where it is racial but I suppose I can’t help but feel like a minority always assumes it is due to their minority and believes it is the cause in every instance where someone is rude or unfair to them.

sugabelly's avatar

@rooeytoo There is no attitude in this world that is an invitation to racism. Racism has nothing to do with the object of racism, it has everything to do with the person who is racist.

And why do I have to show people better by my behaviour? It is NOT my job to teach other people that I am a human being. I should not have to argue my humanity to anyone, yet that is what many black (especially) and non-white people are forced to do everyday.

Why should we have to constantly prove and convince others of our humanity before they treat us like human beings??

THAT is the problem, because instead of racist people taking responsibility for their own disgusting behaviour, they keep finding excuses to say that their racism is involuntarily induced by some imaginary fault of the other party. Oh, I wouldn’t call this black man a nigger if he were completely human, it’s not my fault he is a monkey. Or, oh, it’s not my fault for following this black woman around because black people are naturally predisposed to stealing.

And so on. Somehow it is always the discriminated party’s fault for the racism, never that of the racist.

rooeytoo's avatar

@sugabelly – okay, have it your way, the world and USA in particular is a terrible racist place, you are a hapless victim. You have my pity.

sugabelly's avatar

@rooeytoo People like you will NEVER understand. Because luckily you have the luxury of being able to choose not to understand because it doesn’t happen to you. Go on persisting in your ignorance. It’s okay.

SuperMouse's avatar

@sugabelly before posting this response I spent a while trying to figure out how I might be
able to meet you in a place where you might understand
that I have at least some idea
of what it is to face discrimination. Maybe I could
share the fact that as a single
mom on food stamps I was on the receiving end of many
disgusted looks as I got
groceries to feed my kids. Or I
could point out that all of my
nieces and nephews are ethnic
minorities. I could point to the fact that because of their
ethnic last name, my kids are
exposed to many nasty ethnic jokes. Maybe I could share
the fact that my husband is
quadriplegic and a full time
wheelchair user who faces
discrimination every time a
couple of stairs keeps him from
getting in the front door. But I
realize that will do me no good.
You seem very attached to
believing that you are wronged every single day by most everyone in your path in a way
that no one who doesn’t have
the same color skin as you can
even comprehend.

The real irony here is that by
labeling an entire country as
racist you are doing the very
thing you are railing so hard
against.

sugabelly's avatar

@SuperMouse Labeling an entire country as racist when it actually is is not being racist. It’s just stating facts. This country is racist and it’s too bad. Being upset that I called your country racist (when everybody knows this is 100% true) is not going to change anything.

And at least, perhaps through the suffering of your non-white relatives you are now more aware of what it’s like to spend even a day as a non-white person. As for the dirty looks you get for using food stamps, that is Class-based discrimination…. racism’s distant cousin.

SuperMouse's avatar

Wow @sugabelly you are right thank you for enlightening me. Your response is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. I hope and pray that
someday you will be delivered from your plight. FYI I am not the least bit upset that you think of the US as racist. To each his own.

ETpro's avatar

@SuperMouse It would be a rare occurrence indeed if 320,000,000 people all agreed on anything. As racist as Nazi Germany became under Hitler, there were quite a few Germans risking their lives to protect Jews, and hel0 them escape the SS. If the heart of racism is generalizing an observed behavior and projecting it onto a large collective of people, most of whom you have not met; then labeling all Americans as racist is a racist act.

SuperMouse's avatar

@sugabelly, I just got to wondering if you ever considered that the shabby treatment you receive every where you seem to go might be a result of the enormous chip on your shoulder rather than the color of your skin.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SuperMouse – that is what I thought too. I never set eyes on this person but she has managed to get me to dislike her sight unseen. I truly don’t give a damn what color she is, she would be annoying no matter what color skin she has.

This is what I have learned in my travels, jerks come in every color, creed, nationality there is and so do nice people.

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