Author Topic: Is this offensive?  (Read 2630 times)

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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2012, 06:24:14 AM »
How will America avoid future atrocities if it is ignorant of, or merely disregards/downplays, past atrocities?

How many people do you think there are in America who are unaware of the fact that slavery used to be legal here?
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Offline Zankuu

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2012, 06:26:06 AM »
How many people do you think there are in America who are unaware of the fact that slavery used to be legal here?

You ask the most disturbing questions.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2012, 09:56:20 AM »
How many people do you think there are in America who are unaware of the fact that slavery used to be legal here?

The bare fact of it?  Probably not very many.  Its context, extent, etc.?  Probably quite a few.
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Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #32 on: July 09, 2012, 06:00:39 PM »
First of all, welcome to the forum boobatuba.  I look forward to hearing more about you and your worldviews!

On this topic, I am going to respectfully disagree with you.

Thanks for the welcome, Quesi! The thing is, I don't think we really disagree on much at all.

To treat this joke tweet from Chris Rock as some kind of larger forum for a discussion of race relations and history is a mistake, IMO. It was a cheap and easy joke to simply take another bitch-slap at those with white skin and "remind" them that some of their ancestors owned slaves. It's not particularly thoughtful, and it's something everyone already knows.

This idea that we teach history to avoid repeating past mistakes is, in this particular case, laughable. Is there really anyone that thinks the history of slavery in the US is taught to our schoolchildren so that they won't grow up and purchase slaves? Of course it's not.

We can talk about social inequality all you like, but it doesn't relate to this Chris Rock tweet AT ALL. I think you'd find in such a discussion that you and I and most intelligent people would agree that there's plenty of work to be done. That's all I'm saying. I'm not now and was never offended by it. I don't even think he "shouldn't have said it." But it was a juvenile joke and should be taken for what it was.

...the civil rights movement was not about people "judging" other people.

What about "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"? Do you think that this tweet helps promote that ideal or does it simply serve to further separate people of different colors? I think the latter.

It's not "white peoples independence day" no matter how many times Chris Rock says it. The assertion is stupid and divisive for no reason.

Offline Timo

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #33 on: July 09, 2012, 06:44:16 PM »
There are atrocities going on right now, in the summer of 2012, all over the world.  Even here in the "civilized" first world, here in the US, the incarceration rates for black men far exceed their representation in the general population.  (Most incarcerated black men reside in publically traded, for-profit prisons, which oddly are funded by my tax dollars, but that is another topic all together.)

Indeed.  And what I don't think that a lot of people realize is that you can draw a direct link between slavery and some of the practices of and attitudes that undergrid our mass incarceration system.  The thing is, even after the 13th amendment was ratified, there were all sorts of ways in which black people were put into systems of forced or coerced labor.  One of them was convict leasing.[1]  States realized that they could make money by leasing their inmates to private companies.  They soon began to selectively enforce existing laws as well as develop new laws that aimed to arrest, detain and later enslave black men (and poor white men, as well).  This selective enforcement led to a swelling of the black prison population in the South as well as what appeared to be a spike in black criminality that helped to develop the stereotype of blacks being especially prone to criminality in the late 19th and early 20th century.

What about "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"? Do you think that this tweet helps promote that ideal or does it simply serve to further separate people of different colors? I think the latter.

It's not "white peoples independence day" no matter how many times Chris Rock says it. The assertion is stupid and divisive for no reason.

Son, please.

The civil rights movement was not just a speech on the mall.  It was more than King and more than the SCLC.  It was about things that were more tangible than whether or not we all said nice things to each other.  And nah, this tweet doesn't contradict even your apparently limited conception of the goals of the civil rights movement at all.  Whatever you think is divisive, you're the one reading that into it.  It's not there.  And I'm annoyed that you're repeating this as if I haven't already addressed this point:

...saying "white person's independence day" is an acknowledgement of the fact that, at the time of our nation's founding, liberty was something that was only to be extended to white people broadly and to rich white men in particular.  That's not the same thing as saying that today's white people, even rich white men, should be implicated or held in contempt for that.  I don't see how you get from "white people's independence day" to some indictment of white people.  It seems like there's a few steps missing there. 

Maybe I'm slow, I just don't see how you get from point A to B.

What do you have to say about this?  Was it just so poorly thought out that it wasn't worth responding to?  What am I missing here?
 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convict_lease
Nah son...

Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #34 on: July 09, 2012, 07:58:23 PM »
Son, please.

Needlessly derisive. I'm trying to be as polite as possible and you're talking down to me. Not a good start.

Quote from: Timo
The civil rights movement was not just a speech on the mall.  It was more than King and more than the SCLC.  It was about things that were more tangible than whether or not we all said nice things to each other.  And nah, this tweet doesn't contradict even your apparently limited conception of the goals of the civil rights movement at all.

Just because I bring up a point of the civil rights movement (that everyone should be regarded equally regardless of their skin color) doesn't mean I think that's all there is to it. My conception of the goals of the movement are not limited to that one point, and I find it offensive that since I choose to examine that one point you immediately think that's my only read on the entire issue. You're the one who said:

...the civil rights movement was not about people "judging" other people.

And I was responding to that by showing that yes, it was about judging people. It was about judging people FAIRLY and not just on the basis of their skin color. Chris Rock's tweet is a perfect example of separating people based only on their skin color by using the phrase "white peoples independence day." It's detrimental to the very tenets of the civil rights movement.

Quote from: Timo
Whatever you think is divisive, you're the one reading that into it.  It's not there.

No. It's clearly there. It's a bitch-slap to people with white skin. It's a joke. I understand that. It's just not a particularly witty or mature one. What I find strange is that some people are latching on to this joke as an invitation to meaningful dialogue about race relations and history regarding slavery. It's a juvenile comment from a comedian who specializes in juvenile humor, sometimes about race relations.

Quote from: Timo
And I'm annoyed that you're repeating this as if I haven't already addressed this point:

...saying "white person's independence day" is an acknowledgement of the fact that, at the time of our nation's founding, liberty was something that was only to be extended to white people broadly and to rich white men in particular.  That's not the same thing as saying that today's white people, even rich white men, should be implicated or held in contempt for that.  I don't see how you get from "white people's independence day" to some indictment of white people.  It seems like there's a few steps missing there. 

Maybe I'm slow, I just don't see how you get from point A to B.

What do you have to say about this?  Was it just so poorly thought out that it wasn't worth responding to?  What am I missing here?

You're missing the fact that a tweet calling the holiday "white peoples independence day" is NOT a commentary on history which everyone is already very well aware of. It's a bitch-slap, and it's juvenile. I don't understand how you can NOT see that.

To address your point specifically, though, calling the holiday "white persons independence day" misses the point of the holiday entirely. The holiday celebrates the COUNTRY'S independence from Great Britian through the signing of the Declaration of Independence (although the date, according to many historians, is factually inaccurate). It's supposed to celebrate the freedom of the country from rule of the British monarchy, not freedom of individual citizens. It's a stupid and pointless comparison to use that holiday to lament the fact that only rich white men at the time had personal liberty.

That's why I find the comment to be simply a bitch-slap to white people. That's how I get from point A to B, because I believe the road you're traveling has a bridge out.

Offline Timo

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #35 on: July 09, 2012, 08:31:22 PM »
Needlessly derisive. I'm trying to be as polite as possible and you're talking down to me. Not a good start.


Nah, it was definitely some needed derision.  I don't see the point in not deriding something that I find to be worthy of that.  In a discussion like this, I'd rather be frank than polite.

And I was responding to that by showing that yes, it was about judging people. It was about judging people FAIRLY and not just on the basis of their skin color.


I see this as a pretty shaky bit of equivocation.  On the one hand, you're accusing Chris Rock of "judging" people in that he's casting aspersions on white people somehow.  But if the civil rights movement should be understood as being about "judging" people then hat's not the sort of "judging" that the civil rights movement was about ending.  If he was saying that white people shouldn't be able to vote or live in his neighborhood or so much as look at his woman or any other black woman, you might, maybe, possibly have a point.  But he didn't and so you don't.  Really, at worst, he's made a joke that was in poor taste and at best, you've made a poor comparison.

It's supposed to celebrate the freedom of the country from rule of the British monarchy, not freedom of individual citizens. It's a stupid and pointless comparison to use that holiday to lament the fact that only rich white men at the time had personal liberty.

It's supposed to, but forgive me if I find this to be an utterly nonsensical, non reality based way of looking at things.

What does freedom for your country even mean when your country denies you freedom?  How is it at all meaningful to say that it was our independence day too while most of us were still in shackles?  I don't understand how anyone can see this as a stupid or pointless comparison on an occasion such as this one.  The sovereignty of America as a country didn't translate to full sovereignty for most black people until the 1960s.  I really am having trouble wrapping my mind around how this wouldn't be relevent to any discussion of the meaning of American independence.

That's why I find the comment to be simply a bitch-slap to white people. That's how I get from point A to B, because I believe the road you're traveling has a bridge out.

You're not making any sense though.  Saying "white people's independence day" only highlights the fact that today, and at the time of this country's founding, white people were a privilaged majority.  This isn't some indictment of whiteness or a slap in the face of white people.  But apparently that's the bridge I'm missing.  The one that takes me from any mention of white privilage or white oppression to somehow arrive at an insult to white people.  I honestly don't get it.
Nah son...

Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2012, 08:56:14 PM »
Really, at worst, he's made a joke that was in poor taste.

Which is all I've been saying in the first place. Not offended, just seeing this tweet for what it is...a joke in bad taste.

I'm sorry we can't see eye to eye on the rest of this. I truly agree with you for the most part about the larger issues of history education (there's not enough attention, detail, or context to slavery in America) and civil rights (still a great deal of work to do), but I just don't see the relationship with the birthday of the country to slavery. Slavery was commonplace all over the world at the time. King George was ordering the colonies to continue it over the objections of many founders as late as 1772. Escape from that rule was as advantageous (eventually) to slaves as it was to free men. That's why I find it so strange to think of the independence of the United States as a "whites only" event. It simply wasn't.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #37 on: July 09, 2012, 09:13:44 PM »
Because England never got rid of slavery.
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Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #38 on: July 09, 2012, 09:23:37 PM »
Because England never got rid of slavery.

In their colonies? Yeah, almost exactly when the Civil War was being fought.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #39 on: July 09, 2012, 09:39:29 PM »
The irony is that here in Canada, we never rebelled against England, and we also never had your style of slavery.  Why was that?
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Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #40 on: July 09, 2012, 09:46:06 PM »
The irony is that here in Canada, we never rebelled against England, and we also never had your style of slavery.  Why was that?

Well, that's a softball if I've ever seen one.

Canada isn't and never has been based on plantation agriculture. Slavery existed in Canada until the 1830s (seems like about the magic date) but most slaves were house servants. Slavery persisted until it was outlawed in the British Empire in 1833. Is that somehow "better"?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #41 on: July 09, 2012, 09:50:58 PM »
There we go.  Outlawed in the British Empire.  In 1833.  But in America-land...?
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Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #42 on: July 09, 2012, 09:52:39 PM »
There we go.  Outlawed in the British Empire.  In 1833.  But in America-land...?

Being violently fought against at the same time, escalating in a bloody Civil War that once and for all settled the issue.

Your point?

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #43 on: July 09, 2012, 10:01:49 PM »
If people were bringing it up just to bring it up out of the blue for no reason in particular, I might be inclined to agree with you.  But in the era of the Tea Party, and on the occasion of the 4th of July, I think it's important to remember what life in the 18th century was and was not.

It IS brought up very frequently by prominent black leaders for no apparent reason other than to rub our noses in the fact that our white ancestors oppressed our black ancestors. I do not consider Chris Rock a black leader. He is an entertainer. But the Rev. Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and Malik Zulu Shabazz are black leaders who see a racist behind every tree and constantly rub our noses in our shit. Sometimes they are right about certain situations but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I remember walking through Times Square back in 1999 and stopping for a moment with all the other white tourists to listen to a street preacher lambaste the white devil. He was literally standing on a soap box. It made my fiance extremely nervous so I didn't tarry for too long.

Then you have the David Dukes, Robert Byrds and Virgil Lee Griffin's of the world.

Attacking those racist bigots is necessary and well deserved.

Quote
What I'm most concerned about is this myth of America that so many of us seem to buy into.  One that has sitting members of Congress declaring with a straight face that the founding fathers "worked tirelessly" to end slavery in front of people that didn't burst into laughter.  I find it problematic for a lot of the same reasons I find the "up from your bootstraps" Horatio Alger stuff to be problematic.  It paints this rosey picture of this country that just denies all sorts of aspects of our history and of our culture.

Revisionist history is problematic, I agree. I do not condone changing the facts.

You, Timo, were never a slave. I have never owned a slave. How can we see eye to eye if you hold the past against me?

Fall back, son.  Show me where I said that I was a slave or that slavery is something that I hold against you, personally or white people in general.  Seriously.  Where?  Quote me.  When have I ever said anything remotely like that here?  If you can't do that, then where do you get off trying to impugn my motives or assign some victim complex to me?

Why do assume the worst about me?

I did not even imply that you said anything of the sort. I merely made a statement of fact. It's an obvious statement which did not need to be stated.  So, why do you presume that I have assumed the worst from you?

Do you find the fact that you were never a slave and I never owned a slave offensive? Or was it offensive that I had the gall to make such an obvious statement?


I didn't get to grow up like that.

And that is a shame. It really is. No one should to be indoctrinated to put so much importance on the level of melanin in a persons skin. It makes it so much harder to overcome bias and prejudice when someone is raised that way.

Talking about it, even having uncomfortable discussions about it isn't "picking at the scab."  It's a conversation.

True, but some conversations are circular in nature and become very difficult to work out.

I had the great fortune of hearing a rendition of a Fredrick Douglass's speech last week while I was driving around the Chicago area. At the time he delivered this speech it was appropriate and absolutely necessary. It was also delivered to an appropriate audience. It is a great reminder of what the atmosphere was like back then. But it doesn't necessarily apply to today's day and age.

If you don't believe me, name ten famous black European men or women. 

Why do I present that challenge? Simple, America continues to be ridiculed as the worst modern civilization in regards to racial equality. Europe and Britain have apparently overcome their sordid past of black oppression. So, name ten famous black Europeans.

Do the black people in Europe constantly bang the drum of restoration? Do they constantly remind the British Empire of their part in the slave trade?

I am not being facetious, I honestly can't think of any examples I am asking for. It may be because I live in America but I can guarantee you that almost every one in Europe has heard of

Will Smith
Sarena and Venus Williams
Mike Tyson
Morgan Freeman
Clarence Thomas
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali
Condaleezza Rice
Maya Angelou
Langston Hughes

And last but not least...Barack Obama

If we focus too much attention on the past, we might miss what's coming up in the future. We got to look forward to move forward, no?

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #44 on: July 09, 2012, 10:28:04 PM »
Being violently fought against at the same time, escalating in a bloody Civil War that once and for all settled the issue.

Your point?

My point is that your point was that rebelling against Britain was critical to abolishing slavery.  Why was it so critical?
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Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #45 on: July 09, 2012, 10:32:29 PM »
My point is that your point was that rebelling against Britain was critical to abolishing slavery.  Why was it so critical?

That's not what I said at all. I said it was advantageous to everyone, both free men and slaves. King George was ordering Virginia and other colonies to continue slave practices even though the leaders of those colonies wanted to stop it. At least when the US got out from under George's leash the northern colonies abolished the practice of slavery. That, in turn, led to the fight for national abolition.

If the US hadn't fought for and gained independence from Britain, who knows how things might have played out differently? The slave trade was quite profitable for King George, after all.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #46 on: July 09, 2012, 10:34:32 PM »
Which is, again, why Canada, and other English-aligned countries, never abolished slavery while under Britain's thumb.
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Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #47 on: July 09, 2012, 10:53:30 PM »
Which is, again, why Canada, and other English-aligned countries, never abolished slavery while under Britain's thumb.

This statement confuses me. Was it only after these other countries were released or otherwise separated from British rule that they stopped the practice of slavery?

Is it that Europe was the main benefactor of the slave trade and therefore the last to disengage from the practice after all it's colonies abandoned the trade?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #48 on: July 09, 2012, 11:09:18 PM »
The statement was tongue-in-cheek.  Canada didn't get out from under British rule until the 20th century, and it was a mild affair at the time.  Yet, we hadn't had slavery for ages by that point.
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Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #49 on: July 09, 2012, 11:18:25 PM »
The statement was tongue-in-cheek.  Canada didn't get out from under British rule until the 20th century, and it was a mild affair at the time.  Yet, we hadn't had slavery for ages by that point.

Ah, okay. So, Canada just quietly did what it thought was right despite what the ruling government deemed appropriate.

I can relate.

This is an aside but what about the French controlled provinces? Was all of Canada in unison?

Please forgive my ignorance of Canadian history.

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #50 on: July 09, 2012, 11:31:25 PM »
The English regions actually went to war and conquered the French regions long before any of this, in the late 1700s.  Not to say there hasn't been any strife on that front in the intervening centuries.  Hell, there's even still a separatist party there, albeit a neutered one.  But the French-speaking regions were also under British rule during the period in question here.
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Online nogodsforme

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #51 on: July 10, 2012, 12:05:34 AM »
For the native people, it was most definitely "white people's independence day". My Indian ancestors, along with my African ones, were too busy getting freed from their land and their lives to watch the fireworks. But no worries. Now that the US government has given everything back with interest, we're all square. Not. &)

What some folks don't want to think about is that the past does matter. If your ancestors came from Europe and were given land or citizenship or a job in the 1800's, you are probably a lot better off today than the people whose ancestors lost all that stuff so your people could have it. And isn't it a tad bit arrogant to say that nobody should complain about all the death and destruction or bring it up in polite company, because it is, well, whiny?[1] Doesn't matter if you never personally owned African slaves or massacred a town full of Indians. You inherited the benefits. (Why people want to be congratulated for never having committed an atrocity, I can't imagine...)

One example of how the past matters: a study in the 1970's IIRC of Af-Am people with doctoral degrees found that every single family that produced a black PhD descended from African people who were not slaves. That implies that yes, it does make a difference if your ancestors had opportunities or not.

The results of oppression are not pretty, and will keep resurfacing in unemployment rates and poverty and drug use and crime and violence and police brutality and incarceration and rants by Al Sharpton and pointed remarks by comedians. No matter how our holidays and sanitized versions of history try to paper over the truth. As someone once said, even the boot that stomps will feel the nails someday. Consider Chris Rock's tweet a tiny little pricking nail.
 1. Kinda like the White Australia policy, or apartheid in South Africa. Enslave the original brown inhabitants of the land and then pass laws giving the good stuff to the white people. Create a completely screwed up unequal society and then tell everyone to act like it never happened. Nobody today should be bitter or anything. Just pretend your people weren't killed or enslaved, and act like the folks who got the goodies. Easy peasy.
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Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #52 on: July 10, 2012, 12:22:58 AM »
And isn't it a tad bit arrogant to say that nobody should complain about all the death and destruction or bring it up in polite company, because it is, well, whiny?

Wow. Hyperbole much? I don't think anyone's claiming the past should never be complained about. All we've said is that the joke was tasteless. An intelligent discussion of the history of slavery and civil rights is fine, but it should be done in an appropriate manner. Claiming that the Independence Day holiday is a "white's only" affair really doesn't promote understanding, wouldn't you say?

My ancestry is 1/4 Ponca Indian, but I don't take every opportunity to remind people of how oppressed my grandmother and her ancestors were. It's inappropriate and only serves to foster resentment.

Offline Timo

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #53 on: July 10, 2012, 02:23:05 AM »
Which is all I've been saying in the first place. Not offended, just seeing this tweet for what it is...a joke in bad taste.

Just to be clear, I'm not agreeing with you.  I don't think that the joke was in poor taste.  I said "at worst" it was in poor taste, as a rebuke to your claim that Chris Rock was some how alligning himself against the legacy of the civil rights movement.

With respect to the question of whether or not independence benefited the slave population, I'm inclined to think that this is wishful thinking seeing as how whatever King George thought about the slave trade, slavery was outlawed in Britain and in its colonies decades before it was made illegal in the US.  And even after that, as I've written, there were systems of forced labor put into place that enslaved blacks well into the 20th century.  I'm not saying that independence was a bad thing overall, I'm just not sure that I can agree with you on this point.

Also:

Claiming that the Independence Day holiday is a "white's only" affair really doesn't promote understanding, wouldn't you say?

I don't think that the claim is that independence day is a whites only holiday, it's more that it was a whites only holiday at the time.  Mr. Blackwell brought up a 4th of July speech by Frederick Douglass that expounds upon this topic.

But the Rev. Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and Malik Zulu Shabazz are black leaders who see a racist behind every tree and constantly rub our noses in our shit.

Malik Zulu Shabazz is not really much of a "black leader," however we define that term.  He's certainly a leader who is black but he doesn't have anything like a broad based constituancy in the black community.  The New Black Panther Party is the fringe of the fringe.  It's a Nation of Islam offshoot that's denounced by everyone from the original Black Panther Party to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  I'm really amazed that you would even bring this guy up.  Whatever Fox News or The Blaze or the Daily Caller might want to say, he and his organization are just not comperable to Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton and their respective organizations and networks, whatever their faults those men may have.  Honestly, I find the comparison to be a bit insulting to the reverends.

I remember walking through Times Square back in 1999 and stopping for a moment with all the other white tourists to listen to a street preacher lambaste the white devil. He was literally standing on a soap box. It made my fiance extremely nervous so I didn't tarry for too long.


I guess what I'd say to this is that there's a comedian by the name of Elon James White who has a specific name for that sort of thing.  He usually calls radical, conspiratorial nonsense either "125th Street logic" after dudes in Harlem that are always on about the white man doing this or that to the black man or "putting on the Wonder Woman bracelets," which is a stab at the Black Israelites that have a lot of things to say about a lot of things.  These people are there in the black community in the same way that there are fringe groups in the white community.  We all have our crazies.  But...actually I'm not sure that I have a point here.  I really don't even know why you brought this up.

Do you find the fact that you were never a slave and I never owned a slave offensive? Or was it offensive that I had the gall to make such an obvious statement?

Nah, looking back I actually misread what you wrote.  I thought you were writing that I was somehow holding slavery against you, which wasn't what you were saying it looks like.  I took the footnote when I quoted you, which throws the whole context out of wack.  So nah, retracted.

As for black folks abroad:

If you don't believe me, name ten famous black European men or women.
 

....uh....okay?...why not!  Since you apparently can't think of any, I'll even tell you what they're known for too.

Idris Alba (actor, he's in that movie Prometheus that I've been hearing bad things about, but I loved him in The Wire and I liked him in Luther too)
Estelle (singer)
Sade (singer/goddess)
Zadie Smith (writer, I think I could listen to her speak all day)
Thandie Newton (you might remember her for portraying the aforementioned Condi Rice in that Oliver Stone movie, W)
Dizzee Rascal (rapper, probably the closest thing that the UK has had to a cross over to the US rap market....or maybe it's Tinie Tempah, I only know half of what the kids are listening to these days, I've seen him show up on sound scans but I never hear him mentioned)
Wiley (another rapper whose music I like quite a lot and sometimes even post on this very website)
Scorcher (a rapper and actually a pretty good actor it turns out)
Kano (same, I don't know how famous either of them really are in the UK, but I just finished watching Top Boy on Netflix, which they were both in and I thought they did a good job)
Lennox Lewis (boxer and all around cool brother, I wish he was still on HBO)
Taio Cruz (musician, he's responsible for some of the dancier stuff on urban radio here in the US)
Jordan Stephens and Alexander Sule (I had to look their individual names up, they have a group called Rizzle Kicks that's apparently popular in England and that my little cousin quite likes, she thinks they're cute, but they haven't really crossed over here yet...I think they probably could take a bite out of that teen pop market pretty easily if their label ever decides to market them here)

(I think it's also worth noting that one of the most famous black entertainers in America right now is a Canadian who raps under the name of Drake.)

Anyway, those are all people from England, almost all of them are musicians and half are rappers.  I think that kind of shows where my interest in Europe is.  I'm sure I'd be able to come up with more examples if I spoke a little French or German or something, though.  And I'm sure the Europeans here can give you some examples besides rapity rappers from the UK.  In any case, I think the fact that you can't name many famous black Europeans probably has more to do with the media you consume and with media markets more broadly than with economic opportunity in our respective continents.  If you look at film, you'd probably have a much easier time seeing an American movie in the UK or France than the other way around, right?  And you've probably seen some black Europeans on TV and in film without knowing it.  The aforementioned Idris Alba does a good American accent and so you'd be forgiven for not knowing the dude that played Stringer Bell is actually from London.  The same is true of say, dude from Homeland....David Harewood.

But to get back to the more important point, I don't think that this whole exercise does much to illuminate a conversation about racial disparities or ugly racial histories.  Jay-Z, for example, is obscenly rich.  He also came up in a place (Bed Stuy) and in a time (the mid 80s) that was kind of crazy, even for a slum.  The fact that he managed to succeed does not somehow speak to the greatness of our institutions.  He was an exception to the rule.  What happened to all those other kids from Marcy?  I mean, even if I can't think of anyone famous from say, Bayridge, I'd bet that someone from there would have a better shot at financial success than someone from East New York, even though I can think of some famous people that are from there.


So yeah
Nah son...

Offline boobatuba

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #54 on: July 10, 2012, 03:19:00 AM »
With respect to the question of whether or not independence benefited the slave population, I'm inclined to think that this is wishful thinking seeing as how whatever King George thought about the slave trade, slavery was outlawed in Britain and in its colonies decades before it was made illegal in the US.  And even after that, as I've written, there were systems of forced labor put into place that enslaved blacks well into the 20th century.  I'm not saying that independence was a bad thing overall, I'm just not sure that I can agree with you on this point.

Can you at least concede that, once they got out from under the thumb of British rule, every northern state passed either anti-slavery laws or included anti-slavery provisions in their state constitutions? That was from 1777-1804. England didn't abolish slavery until 1833. Vermont outlawed it in 1777. Massachusetts in 1780. Thomas Jefferson was ONE VOTE SHORT in Congress of ending slavery altogether in the states in 1784 and that led to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which outlawed the selling of slaves anywhere northwest of the Ohio River.

Had the United States not fought and achieved independence, who's to say that England would have stopped a profitable business for them at all?

That, in a nutshell, is why I believe that American independence benefited everyone. It was the beginning of abolition movements around the world, following the examples of the northern states. That's not wishful thinking, that a careful consideration of historical facts. England followed America's lead, not vice-versa.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #55 on: July 10, 2012, 01:21:17 PM »
Then you have the David Dukes, Robert Byrds and Virgil Lee Griffin's of the world.

Attacking those racist bigots is necessary and well deserved.

I disagree.  I think they are too low hanging fruit and attacking them makes us feel moral and righteous and tends to cause us to overlook the more subtle racism around us.  Attacking them is like attacking the Phelps'.  They are obvious targets and when we do it we feel good, but it does not address the actual problem.

I think we can skip punching the obvious punching bags. Because they obviously are what they are. 
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #56 on: July 10, 2012, 01:47:17 PM »
... attacking them makes us feel moral and righteous and tends to cause us to overlook the more subtle racism around us.

I had thought that that was the entire point of attacking them.
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Is this offensive?
« Reply #57 on: July 10, 2012, 02:36:40 PM »

I remember walking through Times Square back in 1999 and stopping for a moment with all the other white tourists to listen to a street preacher lambaste the white devil. He was literally standing on a soap box. It made my fiance extremely nervous so I didn't tarry for too long.


Wow.  I have to say that this is a very telling story.

13 years ago you heard a man speaking despairingly about your race.  He wasn’t directing his speech at you.  He (possibly, probably?) wasn’t even speaking rationally.  It frightened your fiancé.  And it left a huge impression on you.  You still think about it.  Remember it.  It disturbs you. 

How many times do you think a person of color has heard someone speaking despairingly about their race or ethnicity?  By someone who isn’t even directing the speech at them?  By someone who is (possibly, probably) not even speaking rationally?  In a lifetime?  In a year?  In a week?  On the TV.  On the street.  In line at the supermarket.  On the bus.  And what about the speech that is directed at them?  Or the actions?  The store clerk who follows them.  The real estate agent who directs them away from certain neighborhoods.   The maitre d who ignores them.  The police officer who just needs to determine what they are doing in this neighborhood.  The lone elevator passenger who looks just a little nervous when they get on the elevator and gets off on the next floor.  If you do not believe that these things really happen in this day and age, ask a person of color.  And then believe their words.

Racism exists.  Blatant, outright, indisputable racism.  Racism targeted at individuals.  Racism built into our cities and our neighborhoods and our institutions. 

White privilege exists.  It is so comfortable and so institutionalized that those of us who live inside of the cushion of white privilege really don’t think about it.  We don’t recognize it.  I can walk into a boutique in a pair of sweatpants and ask for help finding a petite dress in my size.  I can walk into a 5 star hotel lobby and ask directions to the bathroom.  I can swear in public, and not worry about reflecting poorly on my race.  If I speak another language (badly) I can be pretty sure that native speakers of that language will be impressed.  When I first moved to my current neighborhood, (a long time ago, when white, non-hispanics were in the single digits in terms of representation in the population) I had real estate brokers and building managers tell me over and over again that their building would love to rent to “someone like you.” When I walk into a bank or financial institution, I can be pretty sure that someone of my race will be behind at least one of the cushy desks.  I know a taxi will stop for me. 

I don’t think that it is ever the “wrong time” to talk about racism, because racism exists.   The effects of racism continue to permeate our society.  Even though Barak Obama is president, racism exists.  And the effects of racism are more insidious than having to wait a long time to get a taxi.  In my previous post on this thread I talked about disparities among the races in terms of incarceration rates and infant mortality rates and educational attainment rates.   This is HUGE.  Why are we not talking about these issues all of the time????

I really like this Tim Wise presentation.  Yeah.  It is long.  But find some time for it.  And it is from 2007, pre Obama election, pre housing crisis, pre health care reform.  But it is still so relevant.  Watch the first few minutes.  See if you don’t get pulled in….

 
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 02:45:26 PM by Quesi »