Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why do white people hate talking about race?

On yesterday, I gave myself permission to relax and reflect on the state of America since that dreadful day – September 11, 2001.  So much has happened since that day.  We have our first black President.  We entered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Troops are coming home, and Ben Laden is dead.
The days following the collapse of the World Trade Center united America like I’ve never seen.  American flags could be found everywhere, and the call for unity stirred a deep pride and hope in the declarations of our Constitution.  There was a movement beyond our differences.  Those who died that day represented the myriad of cultures that make for this amazing union.
I began to believe in America again.  That’s a statement that many have a hard time conceding.   What you mean again! We are quick to pronounce America as the best nation in the world.  Patriotism is not only expected, it is demanded.  Shame on anyone who challenges the U.S.A’s place as the best nation in the world. 
The aftermath of 911 brought a movement of change.  Enter the candidacy of Barack Obama.  Something was happening in America.  Like magic, the plight of the past was minimized for the collective good.  Black people could no longer talk about the implications of racism and the continued strain of those living with disadvantage.
Jeremiah Wright, former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, was attacked for what black preachers do.  He confronted the hypocrisy of America in a speech were he declared “God, damn America.”  It was a sermon that came after 911.  It was used to expose the radical ways of Wright and the allegiance between Obama and Wright.
The underlying assumption was Obama is too black to be America’s President.  After challenging the church Obama attended, it was rumored he’s not a Christian.  That was followed by questions regarding his citizenship.  People argued that Obama is a terrorist plant.
The insanity has intensified since Obama became America’s first black President.  White people now claim they are being discriminated against due to their race.  “Obama hates white people,” a man stated on NPR.  It’s a sentiment spoken in numerous camps.  People are tired of black people talking about race.
The use of the word black stirs the pot of hostility.  “Although I do not support Rev Wooden's position, objecting to his statement because he is a black minister is wrong,” AJW responded to my recent blog. “We should expect a better argument from you than that, just as we should expect better arguments from Blacks who support the president and from Whites to oppose him because of his color.
According to AJW, it’s not appropriate to raise questions related to the changing culture among black ministers.  It is significant that a black pastor embraces a Republican agenda, but AJW refuses to concede the importance in pondering the shift.  Race, in his mind, shouldn't enter the conversation.  As insensitive as that may be, it’s not even the tip of the iceberg.
A student at Towson University is fighting to start a “White Student Union” on the campus.  Matthew Heimbach says the center will allow students to gather to support ideas of white people.  He wants a place that allows students a place to appreciate their history and heritage.
Heimbach was previously involved with an organization called Youth for Western Civilization, a group that placed messages of white pride across the Maryland campus. “When you have a group that calls themselves the White Student Union, their only purpose is generally hostility towards those who are non-white,” says Richard Vatz, professor at Townson University and a former advisor of the Youth for Western Civilization.
The point is, if black folks can have a center, we want one too.  Heimbach fails to understand the history behind culture centers is due to how history has been taken away and not taught in those history books. 
The thought fueling Heimbach’s agenda is a growing perception among white people.  They are tired of talking about racism.  Bob Parks has produced a video that asserts white people can’t criticize Obama without it being viewed as racist.   Check it out at:
Bob makes a good point.  It is possible to oppose Obama for reasons other than his race, but it’s also possible that people are against him because of his race?  It’s one of those things black people carry every day.  You never know the real reason behind not getting that big foot in the door.  It could be because the other guy or girl is more qualified. Or, it could be because of race.
“Man, ole dude checked ‘other’ in the box where they asked for his race,” I overheard a guy say at a bus stop.”  When he came in for the interview they saw he was a Nigger.  They said we will call you.  He’s been waiting for that call for 6 months.”
The two men laughed.  It wasn’t funny.  It could have been about race.
So much has happened since 911.  Some for the good.  Some for the bad.  Most of it is in flux.
One thing is clear.  White folks don’t like to talk about race.
Sorry, we need to have this talk.


  1. "White folks don’t like to talk about race."

    A bit of a generalization, no?

    Definition of PREJUDICE
    : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims
    a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

  2. Of course it's a generalization. All discussions about race are generalizations. At issue is with how to move past those generalizations.

  3. First, let me say that I am white and so that will color (bleach?) my take on this.

    Most white people absolutely hate to talk about race. I think there are several reasons for this:

    1. We're bad at it. Every adult white person has said and done racially insensitive things, and good white people are deeply humiliated by their own missteps. Black kids get talked to about the various meanings and effects of race in this country. They are taught its language and history and nuances. White kids are either indoctrinated as racists or kept as ignorant as possible most of the time. Neither is a position of strength, and both lead to embarrassing yourself in public (if you have any capacity for shame). So, we avoid it.

    2. It makes us feel bad. Since we do screw up, we are afraid of being (mis?)identified as racists. Getting called racist is viscerally upsetting to decent white people. You can call me any four letter word you want and I won't blink, but call me a racist and I'll go home and cry. Kind of like I imagine the n word to be, only, of course, with some important distinctions.

    3. We have a vested interest in keeping things as they are and/or dialing the clock backwards. It makes us harder to move forward, for sure. We don't want to be racists, we know it's wrong, but, let's face it, white privilege is pretty awesome for white people. We want to avoid the moral responsibility for racism, but we still want to reap the benefits of it. This is obviously untenable, so we resort to denial.

    4. It would be much easier to remain in denial if everybody would just be quiet.

    I have more I could say, but those are my initial thoughts. What does "why" look like through your eyes? I am interested to hear, because I am white, and we are experts at lying to ourselves so I always like to check and see if I'm at it again. :)

  4. @2ND ANONYMOUS!!! Well your comment CERTAINLY silenced Rev.... lol... I would just like to say IF you are a white person who has made those comments and your name is NOT Tim Wise.. Thank you... Thank you for being 'candid'. I cannot comment on whether or not you are being honest as only you know that.. BUT ..I do want to say that your comments have offered some insight into 'a' white mind who is sensitive to the question and these things need to be talked about and not swept under the carpet as I believe this is what Rev is getting at. I do want to say however that there have been times rightly or wrongly that I have been angry at the way black people are viewed by white people as a whole... I guess this must apply to you visa versa. You see in light of the Treyvon / Zimmerman case with riots erupting it really angers me that 'some' black people have rioted and looted in his name.. whilst 'black' people should be able to protest as other people do I believe rioting only hurts the image or reputation further...I don't however believe black people should be controlled or shamed into behaving themselves.. to put a wider lens on the situation I have been on forums where I have witnessed the vilest comments from 'some' white people and held my head in disgust because they have chosen to focus on this almost placing bets on how ling it would have taken for 'those' people to start rioting. The comments are always the people this and black people that whilst paying little or no regard to the fact that riots have been breaking out all over Moscow, Brazil and Ireland with political, sectarian and financial motivations.. all injustice BUT none of it as clear cut as one white person killing one black person believed to be innocent. When I have called them out as racist because they have chosen to use the phrase 'all black people' ...there they go again 'all black people like to riot' they completely take offence and miss the point that had they only prefixed their comment with the word ' some' it would make such a huge difference and would not perpetuate the stereotype that this is what white people think of black people even though it is only a small community of small minded people on this forum. It doesn't matter though.. when as a black person you red 20 comments which are vile about your race being spoken about in entirety and utter disregard to other protests taking place in Europe predominantly by white people it makes you almost give up hope that white people like (even white people like you) would ever entertain the fact that blacks are decent people and is enough to make you want to retreat and withdraw with many feelings of embarrassment and.. well they don't like us and they don't trust us so why should we extend the same attitude. I am not saying this is right because it is not... I am not a racist either but I am starting to wonder if hard working citizens like me with a degree, a purchased home, a thriving career, never having been on the dole / welfare and having traveled the world with an open mind will ever be seen as anything other than that water melon, chicken loving rubber lipped parasite that might just take a white persons job... even though I am inherently lazy... I am sick to the back teeth of this as I am sure you are sick the the back teeth of being presumed to be racist because of the colour of YOUR skin. You may be an expert at lying to yourself but I think 'some' black people are experts at believing the lies about our history re told by an education system that teaches world history through a certain lens.

  5. I would like to add... @ ANONYMOUS ... I also believe that it starts with home and school education and is compounded by experiences. If only a group of kids were taken as an experiment away from damaged homes that compound these beliefs and were given the chance to learn to read, write, speak and interact with people properly. Lose the expectation that they are hated (even though they may be) and learn to deal with the police and other powers that be with authourity SIT with the hate BUT challenge it intellectually and with an air of confidence then I think things might change. Black boys in the UK are also stopped by the police more times than whites but SOME of them learned to fight back with intelligence and cunning and to a degree take the mighty piss out of the police by being as polite as possible, speaking with a middle class accent and knowing their rights in turn this pisses the police off especially when they could do nothing but let them go..I refer to innocent kids being picked on.BUT... Is this maybe not being true to themselves? Why should they not be out after 11pm? why should they not be driving a nice car? By changing the way they speak are they not having to assimilate a culture perhaps which they are not from in order to be given half a chance of being believed to be innocent? So many questions... not many answers and I hope that you and Tim Wise are not the only 2 white people out there ready to talk about race. Have a good day... I enjoyed reading your comment not because I agree with it but because you were open to doing something that so many people immediately are offended at the idea of doing!!!! This in turn has quashed some of the anger I hold in my stomach towards 'some' people. White and black.. I know it's wrong but I am being real. Peace to you and yours.