Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let’s play Throw Your Grandma Under the Bus!

It’s one day after Barack Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech... “a speech worthy of Abraham Lincoln,” according to that dear old, silly old Chris Matthews. So is America better off?

The right-wingers sure ain’t feeling that Obama love, I can tell you that. Newt Gingrich on Fox News last night said the speech “was really infuriating. The more I looked at it, the phonier it got.”

Now Rush Limbaugh says some conservatives are calling Obama’s address the “Throw Your Grandmother Under the Bus Speech.” (Rich Lowry at National Review Online started that one.)

They say it was in bad taste for Obama to publicly chide his own white grandmama for her occasional cringeworthy statements and stereotypical racial views... especially as a means of defending his closeness with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

To me, Obama was saying that none of us is without sin, while also making a point about the progress in racial attitudes over decades. It’s time to speak openly about such things.

In that spirit, let’s play a game... a game in which we share some of our own families’ dirty laundry.

Did your grandfather hate white people (as with my commenter Dragon Horse)? Did your aunt despise Jews?

Maybe your great-uncle was a Klansman. Or your mom talked around the supper table about how all gays should be shot.

Now is the moment to share it... here inside the non-judging walls of the House of Love. Go ahead... throw ’em under the bus!

I’ll start. I never knew my grandfather on my father’s side. He died soon after I was born. My grandfather was born in the late 1800s, a light-skinned colored man (“mulatto,” according to the U.S. census). We’re talking about a man from a different world.

Well, this item of information was shared within the family for laughs. But supposedly my grandfather used to say: “Don’t let a black nigger with purple gums bite you. They’re poisonous as a snake!”

See, that’s what I’m talking about. There had to be somebody in your family who said stuff like that. Come on... please share.

73 comments:

cnulan said...

Identity Politics and Bill O'Reilly's Memetic Assault on Obama

O'Reilly spent the entirety of today's radio factor show making threats about the dire consequences to non-whites of continuing to call what he and his fellow ethnonationalists preach and practice "racism". He also excoriated Media Matters and liberal commentators who have labeled his pattern and praxis racist. At no time has the audacious scope and breadth of O'Reilly/Roger Ailes/Rupert Murdoch's propagandistic ambitions been more clearly evident than over the months during which O'Reilly has mounted a tragically effective, racially motivated and perpetrated campaign to damage Barack Obama's political prospects.

We are to disregard O'Reilly's clearly stated priorities, aims, funding sources etc.., and imagine that all the good works of Trinity United Church of Christ and pastor Jeremiah Wright are as nothing when compared and contrasted with the fiery 30 seconds of decontextualized dissent culled from a decade of his sermonizing? We need'nt decontextualize O'Reilly in any manner, form, or fashion in order to see precisely what he is and what he represents.

About that Roger Ailes; Roger Eugene Ailes (born May 15, 1940) is the president of Fox News Channel and chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group. He was a media consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989.

I'll see BHO's grandma and straight raise you a mama David. My birth mother is an "hispanic" white woman who gave me up for adoption to my father's older sister and her husband. That entire branch of my biology is as racist as the day is long and I disowned them many years ago. I know more about the private failings of racist folks who would rather never have those "private" failings disclosed than brother Barack himself knows. Thankfully, I'm not running for president and thus enjoy the freedom to call em like they T.I.-is....,

Jon said...

My great grandfather was, in many ways, an heroic and admirable figure, but that's not what we're here to talk about. He was also an member of the Orange Order, engaged in violence against Catholics and is reported to have been involved in torching Catholic churches. His descendants, my Canadian relatives, most of whom have never seen a Black person, are very anxious about Canada getting "too close" to the US, for fear that their remote town will be overrun by Blacks.

My parents used to be casually racist in their attitudes and remarks, but they had to reconsider when I married a Latina and my sister married a full blooded Native American. The rest of 'em, I'm tossin', but I can't bring myself to throw Mom under any bus.

Oh, and their was my maternal grandfather. He was supposed to be Irish, but denied it hotly. He thought the Irish were an inferior race. He did a pretty thorough job of covering up his family history too. My grandma put together an obviously bogus family history that had his family coming over on the Mayflower. Under the bus with the both of them.

Anonymous said...

A certain member of my family currently preaches death to the Polish. I think that's about it.

Russell said...

How about throw your great-gradfather under the bus?! I already mentioned to our old friend memomachine in a previous post that my grandmother harbored some racist tendencies but her father, oh boy! I knew this man to be gentle and kind but have been told that he was known to walk the sidewalks of his Georgia hometown with a knife drawn, daring a black person to cross his path. Yikes! No wonder Dizzy never wanted to go back to Georgia.

Also funny that his reacist tending daughter ended up moving out of the South to Washington D.C. and marrying a full blooded Sicilian in the 1940s.

Dougfp said...

Both my grandfathers died before I was born, so I can't speak to their racial attitudes. But my father (now deceased) displayed open racism toward blacks and pretty much any other ethnic group. He told me several hundred times that Martin Luther King was a communist and that blacks were better off before civil rights. How he knew the latter was never clear, since he never knew any black people.

Yet he never used the "n" word. He did however use the "j" word. (it ends in -aboo if you're wondering.) I remember watching TV with him once and Debbie Allen came on (in her prime I'm talking.)

His comment: "That's a good-looking jig."

My mother also once wrote Bull Connor to praise him for his heroic work in Birmingham hosing down unarmed blacks.

Pretty typical for whites of a certain generation I think.

Anonymous said...

Great game! I was born and grew up in a country so white that I vividly remember the first time I saw a black person in real life. (Look, mum! He's not on TV! He's real!) I must have been about 5 at the time.

I guess it was the fact that there were absolutely no colored people around that kept me isolated from my parents' prejudices. I grew up curious and ignorant, but not prejudiced. When we moved to a more racially mixed country during my teen years, I formed a friendship with a black girl. Imagine the shock horror when my mum one day declared that it was only during my friendship with that girl that she first "started thinking of colored people as humans, too".

In retrospect, there were/are also lots of cringeworthy expressions in our language. To "feel like a white person again" was a euphemism for having a wash for the first time in a long while, or to emerge from an uncivilised and uncomfortable situation in one piece. Growing up, I didn't for a moment reflect on the implications of this expression for non-whites... and I think most people didn't. After all, there was no one arond to take offense, so the comments went unnoticed.

Oh, and my parents still insist on using the word "negro" for blacks: it doesn't have the same horrific connotation in our native tongue as it does in English. I myself have lived in an English-speaking country for too long now, and cringe every time I hear it... but they won't stop, not even when they come visit me and walk around on the street using this easily-recognisable word! I am so grateful no one seems to have picked up on it thus far.

There's my bus... btw, great blog!

Kellybelle said...

What a double standard! Why is Obama's grandmother's racism any less newsworthy than Rev. Wright (so-called) prejudice.

I will throw a friend under the bus: she told me never use a white person's chapstick because only white people had the herpes virus and borrowing lip balm was how non-whites got it.

quirkychick said...

On the paternal side my grandfather and great grandfather were klan members in the pacific northwest where the target was the chinese, or chinks as my Nana (on the maternal side) referred to them until she said it in front of me when I was 10 and I told her it wasn't okay to talk like that. She also used to refer to the westside of Long Beach, the city where three generations of my family grew up, as "colored town".
She said that everyone did and I responded that it made her sound ignorant so she never said anything like that around me again, but I know that she still thought those words.

My mother says that the N word still rolls trippingly off the tongue 'round the dinner table at Uncle Tom and Aunt Anne's in Missouri but I've never heard it uttered in my presence.

Kevin Allman said...

When my mom went back to work, I had a grandmotherly babysitter who was the sweetest, twinkliest human sofa of a woman imaginable. She wore faded housedresses and smelled like baby powder, played games with me and baked cookies. I loved her.

One day she was looking after some other kids as well, and the little girl was acting up. The girl got a spanking (Grandma Ruby would've been puzzled by concepts like "time-outs"), and when she was appropriately chastened, Ruby took her in her lap and comforted her.

"Do you know what happened today?" she asked. "You went away for a while and a little nigger girl came and took your place. She was very bad and she got a spanking, but now the little nigger girl is gone and I've got my good girl back and I'm so happy...."

I told my parents about it, and they gave me a child's version of the talk Obama gave yesterday about how people we love can say very, very wrong things. Bus time for a five-year-old.

SJ said...

You can't choose your family, but you can choose your pastor.

I recently moved in with a black guy. When I told my parents (after they asked me) that he was black they got scared and told me to "be careful".

The stereotypes of black, male Americans reach far, far beyond American borders.

Undercover Black Man said...

Fabulous responses! My commenters are the best!

But I notice so far it's mostly white people playing. Where my black peoples at?

Let's hear some color-ism stories.

Joe Crawford (artlung) said...

I'm 37. My grandfather, WWII vet, now 90-some years old, has used the "N" word, maybe two dozen times in my hearing. I remember being cowed and appalled and silent, and in the last decade the reaction of me and my family is to shush him and tell him that that is not a polite word to use. He shrugs it off, though he seems not to use it much anymore.

I'll also add, he voted for Obama in the Democratic Primary in California.

I love my Grandfather but we don't see eye to eye on everything. Further, I will punch anyone who fucks with him in the nose. I'm not throwing anyone under the bus. I hope we're all likewise able to learn from and overcome the ignorant practices of our elders.

Undercover Black Man said...

... she told me never use a white person's chapstick because only white people had the herpes virus and borrowing lip balm was how non-whites got it.

I'll file that under "News You Can Use." Thanks, Kellybelle.

Undercover Black Man said...

I'm not throwing anyone under the bus. I hope we're all likewise able to learn from and overcome the ignorant practices of our elders.

Indeed, Joe. That was the theme of Barack Obama's speech yesterday! And those right-wingers who think he "threw his grandmother under the bus" didn't wanna hear it.

In my heart, I'm very forgiving about all of these things. No story I've heard here yet makes me angry at white people or ready to utter "God damn America."

Because I stand, like Obama, here in the present day. And I see the monumental progress that's been made across American society. Our history is like our family... we can't choose, we can't rewrite the past, we must accept and understand our flawed nature as human beings.

ripvanruben said...

My otherwise sweet and kind grandfather used to root for the Soviet Union during the Olympics because they were white.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Now known as the Klitschko Effect. ;^)

Med Scottdock said...

My beautiful and sweet grandmother - born and raised in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho - once uttered (as my sister and her Korean and black friends walked by her in the kitchen): "That Melissa, always so nice to the Japs and the Niggers."

I was about 12 at the time and about fell over.

teresa said...

Throwing my slave-owning great-great grandfather under the bus. The one who got together with his slave--my great-great grandmother--and had my great-grandfather.

And as much as I love her & miss her, I'm throwing my color-struck grandmother under the bus. (She got "M" for mulatto in the Census, too.):

When my little sister took a pair of scissors and cut her butt-length hair off to her ears, my grandmother said, "Now you look like all the other pickaninnies."

Bklyn6 said...

I thought he used the grandma anecdote to get to the heart of whiteness.

To me he was saying that as much as this white woman loved her black grandson, her feelings for him couldn't assuage her fear of black men; perceptions of race in America are that ingrained in our moral fiber. I also felt he wanted white america to realize that matters of race often operate beneath the radar of cognition.

I wonder. Had he told an anecdote about his African grandma saying racially insenstive things about white people, would the pundits call this bad taste, too?

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"But I notice so far it's mostly white people playing. Where my black peoples at?"

For what?

Black folks talk disparagingly about white people all the time. Mostly due to the experiences they have had large and small as expressed by your white commentators.

Most stereotypes about white folks that black parents convey to their children are designed to enable them to function with care in a racist society where people with certain "racial" prejudices have the power to back these prejudices up.

So black folks relating their "We Ddon't like white people" story are of no equivalence.

As far as color struck black folks are concerned, there are plenty stories. Most every back person can tell a few - to other black folks. If white people want to hear these stories, let them go and get Spike Lee's DVDs.

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"Because I stand, like Obama, here in the present day. And I see the monumental progress that's been made across American society. Our history is like our family... we can't choose, we can't rewrite the past, we must accept and understand our flawed nature as human beings."

David. Seriously. I know you are black. And I have my particular socio-political reasons reasons for that.

However, why are do you, who looks like plenty of people classified as white, consider yourself a black man rather than a white man?

Michael Fisher said...

sorry about the typos and grammar.

Anonymous said...

My mother doesn't trust white people AT ALL and told me she heard about the Jewish conspiracy to knock down the Twin Towers. She does trust Jews over white people in general though.

Wanda said...

and I was taught never to share combs with white people because they have lice. I didn't learn that from my mother, that was a schoolyard rumor when I was a kid.

buttercup said...

My maternal grandfather was black, but looked white. He was kinda of an elitist, and was an equal opportunity racist. He talked about niggas, whites, 'ricans, chinamens--I could never get that. He actually told me one day that he thought my father was a "good nigger" and thought it was a compliment.

His real alliance was the almighty dollar, his loved color was green. And yes, he was a Republican.

Undercover Black Man said...

I thought he used the grandma anecdote to get to the heart of whiteness.

Nope, Bklyn6. He brought up his grandma thusly: "I could no more disown Rev. Wright than I could disown my white grandmother."

Which is to say that any given person's "cringeworthy" attitudes -- or other flaws -- do not define him or her as a human being, or disqualify that person from love.

Undercover Black Man said...

... why do you, who looks like plenty of people classified as white, consider yourself a black man rather than a white man?

Fisher, I consider myself a black man because when my father traveled from D.C. to Virginia to court the woman who would become my mother, and that bus crossed the Virginia state line, he had to move to the rear.

I consider myself black because my older siblings attended segregated D.C. public schools... on the black side of the line.

I consider myself black because everybody in my extended family married other black folks. If I were to consider myself white, that would make the only white guy in a black family. And that's too weird even for me.

My dad's working life was inhibited by his race... because he worked for the federal government, and the civil service was segregated until 1948.

A well-meaning white man once suggested to my father that he classify himself as an "Indian" instead of a Negro. That way, he could rise in the civil service. And the truth is, he had more Amerindian blood than African (I assume). But he would not do that.

As for you, Fisher... if you think Barack Obama's speech was just directed at white folks, you need to listen to it again.

Today's exercise is about honoring Obama's intent and speaking frankly about our racial baggage... all of us, as Americans.

So come on and share. You musta heard some choice shit from the German side of your family.

purejuice said...

my father, who came of age during the depression and worked well together all his life with all kinds of people of color, wrote home describing all the young men he was in the CCC camps with by their pejorative ethnic names -- Ds, Ks, Ns and Ss.

phx said...

Which is to say that any given person's "cringeworthy" attitudes -- or other flaws -- do not define him or her as a human being, or disqualify that person from love.

UCM that's the best thing I've heard from a human all day.
(Offers UCM some lip balm)

quirkychick said...

Wanda that lice things is no rumor. So many of my friends have kids that come home from school with head lice. It would be nice if they told me about it before I walked in and sat down and although these schools are attended by a cultural rainbow the one commonality seems to be that everyone's got $$$ so apparently head lice don't discriminate in any way.

Christina said...

I'm black and grew up in a white neighborhood, and went to an HBCU. I have to say some of my most memorable experiences came not at the hands of my grandmothers, but with the people I went to school with. That's when I learned about good and bad hair, that I have dark skin (seriously! I never knew I had "dark" skin before, because I was just regular black compared to white people) and all other kinds of fun things.

My grandmothers' just trafficked in a bit of garden variety self-hate. With a bit of distaste for Haitians and other "island blacks" thrown in. And I loved them.

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"if you think Barack Obama's speech was just directed at white folks"

Of course it was.

The amount of black people who objected to Obama's mama being white is minuscule. Nor did black folks particularly chastise McCain for hangin' with Hagee, or agreeing with O'Reilly that McCain is part of the "white male Christian power structure".

The damage control Obama had to do was thusly directed at white folks.

Racism is a white thing.

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"Fisher, I consider myself a black man because when my father..."

Exactly. Everything you are describing, both in the past and presently is the result of racism/white supremacy. That is, you are black because of the existence of this system that defines everything that is dear to you as black. That is, it defines you as black.

And that is the very essence of this fucked-up and unjust system. Clearly it is alive and well. Sicking our heads in the sand as if it ain't existing will just expose our posteriors to be deep-drilled.

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"You musta heard some choice shit from the German side of your family."

Actually, no. The German side of my family are mostly extremely refined white supremacists. They would never stoop so low as to utter any such words as Nigger or the German equivalent thereof.

Let me give you an example. A certain member of that that side of the family introduced me to Ribbentrop's (Hitler's foreign minister) granddaughter and I was supposed to marry her. No one uttered a word of objection.

I thought the better of it.

She then married a Jewish guy who got killed in a "car accident" within a year.

Real powerful racists work on levels so high, so subtle, and so refined that the average person, especially a black one, can not even possibly fathom.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Well, Fisher, there's all kinds of systems. If we were in South Africa, you and I (and Nulan too, apparently) would be defined as "coloured"... and no doubt part of a coloured culture that was distinct from the various "black" cultures.

If we were born in Haiti, looking like we look, we'd be part of the "mulatto elite," with an identity distinct from the black masses. (I'm not sure that Haiti has put that social construct behind them, two centuries after their successful rebellion against "white supremacy.")

So again I say the only way to supersede these constructs is to adopt a fierce humanism. Are "black partisans" so hung up on grudge-bearing and political racialism that they can't embrace white people as fellow human beings?

Michael Fisher said...

While I'm at it, let me give you another example. When I went to school in Germany as a kid, no one ever said a bad thing about Jews. Then again, no one ever said anything at all about Jews.

I didn't know until I was in NYC that in the super-liberal and intellectual famous University town where I lived there once existed a large thriving Jewish community with several Jewish synagogues all of which had been driving into exile and concentration camps, the synagogues burned down and demolished.

No one said jack, no one mentioned it, no one mentioned these Jews, no one thought about it. No one uttered a bad word about them. They just had ceased to exist.

Now that's refinement.

Thembi said...

@michael fisher

"Real powerful racists work on levels so high, so subtle, and so refined that the average person, especially a black one, can not even possibly fathom."

Bahahahaaa! "especially a black one"? Be serious. A staged car accidents? What's next, burning down a business for the insurance money and quantum physics?

@wands
RE: Head Lice - not a rumor. Lice can't live in greasy hair (hey, that means like mine!)

What's crazy is that I can think of lots of things that were said to my grandmothers by people of other races, who by now is prolly someone's grandparent, but I'm guessing those folks dont read blogs.

My grandmother says "you know, THAT kinda good time," to refer to homosexuals in the cutest old-fashioned faux homophobe way.

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"Well, Fisher, there's all kinds of systems. If we were in South Africa, you and I (and Nulan too, apparently) would be defined as 'coloured'... and no doubt part of a coloured culture that was distinct from the various 'black' cultures."

Exactly, no. What you are describing is how one system manipulates social reality as it fits within the scheme of white supremacists.

Have you ever noticed that in countries with a majority of "white" people, the one-drop rule is employed, while in countries with a minority of "white" people all f a sudden there are "black", "coloreds", "quardoons", etc. and a social structure of rewards and opportunities commensurate with the same?

"Are "black partisans" so hung up on grudge-bearing and political racialism that they can't embrace white people as fellow human beings?"

Actually the vast majority of "black partisans" I know and met are thorough humanists. It is exactly this that makes them sound so "radical". If you oppose a inhuman system and that system has the louder and more powerful megaphone, the humanists will be drowned out and presented as the culprits.

Michael Fisher said...

thembi...

"Bahahahaaa! "especially a black one"?

Case in point.

No offense, thembi, but the genius of the system lies in the fact that it's existence is as much as possible concealed from it's victims.

For example, everybody talks about "race", but no none can actually define what the hell "race" is. No biologically. Nonetheless, we succumb to theories about biological "race-specified 'IQ'" and biological "race-specified behavior".

Even David Mills constantly falls into that trap.

If you sit down and logical examine most every concept you work with throughout your life, you'll see what I'm talking about.

It's a snow job put on people, and a real good one at that.

Undercover Black Man said...

Lice can't live in greasy hair (hey, that means like mine!)

Ringworm's a different story, though. That's the scalp anxiety I remember from elementary school... not lice.

Thembi said...

@michael fisher
What does the non-existence of race have to do with the ridiculous idea that theres such a thing as a concept that is especially difficult for a black person to understand? You're relying on the exitence of race to even make such an argument, and you dont certainly dont know enough about me to label my laughter as a case in point.

My laughter was actually at how self-impressed you sound.

Michael Fisher said...

Thank you for your comment, Thembi

Lolo said...

Michael Fisher, I think that what you are saying is that racism can only exist when there is one "race" that can dictate due to it's place of originating power. The subjugators are the ones who dictate the terms and all subsequent behaviours follow from their originating system, including the behaviours of the subjugated "race".

Am I fumbling close to what you're saying?

I see many parallels to the racism of the Japanese in relation to Koreans. There continues to be unofficially sanctioned discrimination towards native born Koreans in Japan, many, if not most, who are descended from Korean slaves that were taken there during the occupation and colonisation of Korea. What the Japanese did at that time was all to familar sounding; native language was forbidden, everyone was "given" proper Japanese names, all property stolen and reassigned to Japanese, etc., etc., etc.

When Koreans that "pass" in Japan are caught (and you can imagine how diligent they are to catch them since hello, we do look an awful lot alike) the attending social and financial ruin are pretty thorough. It has also resulted in some pretty remarkable self hate on the part of the Koreans and the complete and total denial that the Japanese are racist.

So. It's racism if a) the originating subjagating "race" still holds the majority of power in terms of access to quality of life and b) challenging it or getting caught breaking the "rules" results in either physical or social/financial destruction.

All the other stuff, like a Korean-american calling a Chinese-american "Jap" falls under the heading of bigotry, since the one has little to no ability to effect any real damage on said "Jap".

Am I close?

stella said...

Great analysis@ Fisher and Lolo.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Can't really help you on this one,
Dave other than to say how much my father commented that white women tended to be top tall, wide waisted, and flat assed.
Oh, and he would always tell us to lock the doors when we got out the car because "we were in a white neighborhood."

Anonymous said...

White folks = wet dog smell, right?

GenevaGirl said...

After reading many of the comments, I can't stop laughing! I now realize that I'm going to have to toss my entire family - both sides - under the bus. Parents, grandparents, great-grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins. You name it, they're road kill.

I'm from an equal-opportunity racist family. They talk about white people, Jews, Latins, Asians, and black folks with equal abandon. Actually, they talk worse about black people.

Boy, can my family dog our own people! You'd better have your child's hair combed and lotion on those ashy knees or they'll talk about you - loudly. Yet, I wouldn't consider any of them racists. Just loud and crazy.

I did just have to admonish my mother for talking about "good hair" in front of my daughter. "Mom, as long as you have hair on your head, it's ALL good!"

My father wouldn't even consider voting for Bloomberg, "I ain't ever gonna vote for a ..." ( Yes, he's a college-edumacated man.) Okay, my dad is a racist. I'll concede that one.

I always went to private, all-girls' schools and remember being told to not to get to close to my white classmates because they got lice and that their wet hair smelled like dogs. I can only imagine what their mothers were saying about me!

I hadn't thought about any of those myths in years until very recently when my daughter got a mysterious, round rash. When the pediatrician told me it was ring worm, my chest tightened. All of those memories of hearing about how only dirty PWTs got ring worm surfaced from the depths of my memory.

Another memory: My very color-struck, paternal, great-grandmother didn't like my mother because she had brown skin, but "at least she has good hair." My mother was a dutiful in-law and just swallowed the insults, which my father's family dismissed because "she's old." Me, I'd have cussed her out.

Oh, wait, I'm going to have to toss a few of my in-laws too. My husband's family is Jamaican and they tend to be more relaxed about race relations (but don't get them talking about battymen - gays). They, too, however, have their issues.

On a visit to us in Geneva, my father-in-law asked me if somebody was a "coolieman," loudly, in a restaurant. I darned near went under the table. My husband had to explain to his father that outside of Jamaica you don't call Indian people coolies. Pops couldn't understand why not, "It's just what we call them."

Let me stop now because more memories are flooding back. David, as you see, we too, unfortunately, play along.

stella said...

In Trinidad, my aunt's custom phrase "Coolie does Kill" referred to Indian men. She used that phrase to ward off a suitor of one of my aunts. He eventually became the the governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ken said...

I moved to Africa to teach English as a foreign language in a French-Speaking AFrican country. One of my friends, a fellow black male and college student was doubtful. He looked at me with concern and said, "you know....um...Africa....that's a whole lot of niggas...um..yeah." I kid you not. Not exactly throwing Grandma under the bus, but a well-meaning friend who was as Obama said about some members of his church "shockingly ignorant." I gotta say, I knew where he was TRYING to come from and it was funny since he was sooooo sincere about it. Oh, I'll throw my mom under the bus -- I'm dark-skinned, my sister is light-skinned, and my mother is in-between the two of us. I recall vividly when I was around 8 years old hearing my mom say to a friend on the telephone about me..."Yeah, my baby is Black but he's beautiful." So, it was implied Black meant ugly, but I was the exception..oh and the follow up was I had "good hair." lol!

Some guy said...

Not a lot of examples of homophobia so I'll offer up one:

My mother passionately hates gays. She said many times that AIDS was God's judgment on them. I'd like to know what she thinks now that AIDS is the leading cause of death among young black women, but she'd probably say it was an invention of the liberal media. Incidentally, I'm gay and when I came out to her she compared me to a pedophile, so I have no problem tossing this woman, who sacrificed and scraped to feed her family, under the bus on national television should the opportunity arise. Some people might call me bitter.

She also talked often about white people, but those were based on real injustices that continue today. On the other hand, I frequently heard that black people "can't stand to see another black person get ahead" and "can't drive". That's all I got for now.

craig said...

If we were in South Africa, you and I (and Nulan too, apparently) would be defined as "coloured"... and no doubt part of a coloured culture that was distinct from the various "black" cultures.

If we were born in Haiti, looking like we look, we'd be part of the "mulatto elite," with an identity distinct from the black masses.


Sure "high yella" subculture exists in an attenuated fashion even here. But it holds no charm or allure and is consequently something that I've always personally rejected because of its intrinsic silliness. What kind of dumbasses sit around and celebrate and relate to others on the basis of their inbred inherited traits?

Interestingly, in all the worlds many hierarchical cultural establishments, there also tend to be "nerd" subcultures. I suspect this has always been the case and that nerds gravitated toward one another via their shared interests as tinkerers, engineers, builders. I believe that if pressed I could cite more than a few historical examples to bear this out - but I believe our Black History month observations will tend to corroborate what I'm trying to express. For as long as I can remember, I have always tended to gravitate toward other nerds. It's my great good fortune now to be professionally and interpersonally associated with an enclave of Black professional engineers, but guess who we work with on the daily? And so it goes, a world within worlds within worlds.

So again I say the only way to supersede these constructs is to adopt a fierce humanism. Are "black partisans" so hung up on grudge-bearing and political racialism that they can't embrace white people as fellow human beings?

That's a very good kwestin David.

Aren't fierce human essentialists obligated to confront racism wherever and whenever they encounter it?

Failing to do so makes them what? Passive racists? Hypocrites? Cowards? What?

In order to make a living, I have to deal with everybody. I deal as a consummate professional. Subject matter expertise and professionalism in the technical trades go a long way toward obtaining an egalitarian response from folks who are assured by my assurance.

That said, we're not talking about quantitative, objective "doing" here. We're talking about politics, ideology, and relationship. Why would I ever even consider embracing another who considers me part of an other and inferior species? Such a one as that has declared himself my enemy.

Now, as a Christian aspirant, I was long ago taught that it's important to love one's enemies. As a Nietzsche fan, I read another variation on the theme of loving one's "worthy" enemies. Sadly, I suffer a compassion deficit and am guilty of more than a little Christian apostasy. As a matter of habit, I tend to be as cruel as expediently possible to my enemies. Instead of trying to "convert" an enemy, my habitual preference is for massive deterence. It's surprising how quickly "phukking with you" stops, in the infinite niggling little ways that humans like to do, when you demonstrate that that shit will always be costly or painful to do. Call it the "wolverine" approach to the human ecosystem.

Now David, you tickle me. It took me a minute to understand how you role, because you're almost the antithesis of a wolverine. You're like the person in the cubicle ranch who always has mass quantities of the best candy. People stop by to talk and hang out because goodness is being served. That practice of serving up Black cultural confections is a very good and very Christian thing to do. As a people, we've excelled at that for generations. As an individual, you excel at it and I appreciate you for it. Some of us, however, are just not tempermentally suited to doing that. In the fierce humanist construct, some of us will excel as humanists and others of us will simply excel at fierce...., it's all good though.

Undercover Black Man said...

GenevaGirl, thank you for that fantastic (and hilarious) comment.

Undercover Black Man said...

As a matter of habit, I tend to be as cruel as expediently possible to my enemies.

No shit, Sherlock? Your woofin' sent poor memomachine outta here in shambles. :^o

Seriously, Craig, your comment lifted my spirit. Thank you for it.

(To think, I was on your "enemies" list a few short months ago.)

Aren't fierce human essentialists obligated to confront racism wherever and whenever they encounter it?

If you want to put it that way, Craig, okay. But "confronting racism" is not an end in itself, nor an ultimate good. What of someone who's way of confronting racism is to cold-cock random white guys on the street? Or to piss surreptitiously in the office coffee pot?

Or offing the pigs?

The goal should be doing what one can to move the society forward, closer to its own great ideals. Not the fool's errand of trying to eradicate unwholesome thoughts from the human mind... or offensive words from the vocabulary.

The fierceness I mention in "fierce humanism" is a fierceness directed at one's self... to understand and accept our nature as human beings.

teresa said...

Fisher said: Have you ever noticed that in countries with a majority of "white" people, the one-drop rule is employed, while in countries with a minority of "white" people all f a sudden there are "black", "coloreds", "quardoons", etc. and a social structure of rewards and opportunities commensurate with the same?

Actually, in New Orleans, where my family is from, there was a whole buffer class of free mulattos (creoles/les gens de couleur libres ) and the whole octoroon/quadroon/mulatto thing was pretty codified back in the day.

Also, as Dave noted, up until about 1930, there was a "mulatto" category on the census. My family were categorized that way in 1910 and 1920 censuses.

Russell said...

Help me out here. Does anyone find it extremely ironic that the admittedly offensive term "colored people" was generally removed from polite conversation decades ago but now the term "people of color" is widely accepted as P.C.? I know that "colored people" was the term of the white man and "people of color" seems to have sprung from minority culture itself (thus there is an obvious ownership of the terms that differentiates them) but aren't they essentially, linguistically the same?

Danielle said...

I agree w/Chris Rock when he said old black folk are some of the biggest bigots when it comes to white people.

I have an Aunt who is in her 80's and "cracka" rolls off her tongue like it was water. She despises white people because he lived under Jim Crow and there's no telling her otherwise.

Most of my older relatives are like this. I have an Uncle in his 50's who was a member of the 5% nation (a spinoff of NOI) and his hatred of white people remains to this day.

I grew up hearing him rant about the "white devil", etc. I remember having a Barbie doll who was white that I had to throw under the bed when he came over (LMAO).

I still love them though. Shit is just complicated and Sen. Obama spelled that one out well.

Render said...

http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/american/adl/uncommon-ground/secret-relationship.html

How refined is that?

===

I get the impression that there are some posting here who would have a real problem with a "right-wing" Jewish guy like me making a pass at Thembi, (who I happen to think is really pretty).

===

Barry O isn't ready yet.

Colin Powell would have been a far better choice with far less racist baggage, had he been interested.

===

"I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality."

MLK Jr.

===

I too look forward to that day...

STILL,
R

Some Guy said...

Danielle, I thought about that bit too.

John B. said...

My grandma used to grit her teech and mutter under her breath every time Dr. Martin Luther King was on TV. She was especially apoplectic when he got the Peace Prize.

Then again she used to criticize one of her friends who used the N-Word.

Michael Fisher said...

lolo...

"I think that what you are saying..."

You're dong much better than fumbling. In fact, you are doing much better than I.

Lola Gets said...

I know Im a wee bit late on this one, but I wanna play!

My maternal grandparents were very classist and colorist. Well, they were more colorist than classist, and they were both shocking and sickeningly amusing. One favorite phrase was:

If youre Black, get back!
If youre brown, stick around
If youre yellow youre mellow
and
If youre white, youre all right!

My grandfather said that all the time.

When my Alzheimer-ridden grandmother saw my quasi-natural hair, she said:
"So youre letting your hair go back Joyce?" (Sooo not my name!)

Ok, thats enough for now, lol.

L

Undercover Black Man said...

^ You always bring it, Lola. Thanks for playing.

Lolo said...

Because I think we could use a little relief, I know I could, I'll share some funny too. (I'm korean/chinese/hawaiian/dutch ancestry)

Long time back when I worked for a celebrity photographer, he was assigned to do a portrait of Richard Pryor.

I was extra excited about this job and it probably came across. I go and knock on the door and a uniformed maid answered, takes a good hard look at me, says nothing when I say we're hear to for the photo shoot, then very firmly shuts the door in my face.

I go back to the truck and report, my boss goes and knocks on the door. It opens, a pretty asian woman answers, there's some conversation, the door closes and he gets in the truck laughing.

"That was Richard's wife, she wanted to know who you are, I told her and she said that the only females allowed on site have to be "fat, black and ugly"

BTW the maid fit her criteria and my boss had to hire someone else for the shoot.

Another one. Living in Lousiana and I'm walking in the grocery lot to my car when a black chick swerved in her path and came over to ask me "where's a chinese restaurant round here?"

I stopped in my tracks, looked her in the face and deliberately replied "Now, why would you ask me that question?" After she did her double take we both spent several minutes laughing like sillies.

I have what my mother and her friends always called a "good nose", meaning that the bridge is high. She used to insist that the reason for it was that she would pinch and mold it when I as an infant. I wish she had done something about giving me good hair while she was at it.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

so now that we've had this "We Are The World" moment, how many people support Obama? Who decided to change their support away from him for either (a) attending Trinity Church, or (b) mentioning his grandmother's utterance of bigotry in Tuesday's speech?

Vince Spence said...

michael fisher said...
Racism is a white thing.
March 19, 2008 7:16 PM

Was that a typo? Not one blogger after he said that disagreed. I guess I learn something new every day. I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow.

Vince Spence said...

deangelo starnes said...
so now that we've had this "We Are The World" moment, how many people support Obama? Who decided to change their support away from him for either (a) attending Trinity Church, or (b) mentioning his grandmother's utterance of bigotry in Tuesday's speech?

March 20, 2008 11:26 PM

DeAngelo, neither (a) nor (b) have altered my decision on whether to vote for Mr. Obama. Of course, we'll never if his statement about his grandmother was true. I am told many politicians make inaccurate statements from time to time. But, I learned recently only white people are racist, so it probably is true.

Vince Spence said...

michael fisher said...
Racism is a white thing.
March 19, 2008 7:16 PM

Does that also mean only whites can discriminate, or be bigots or be prejudiced?

Minister Faust said...

Med Scottdock: "My beautiful and sweet grandmother - born and raised in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho - once uttered (as my sister and her Korean and black friends walked by her in the kitchen): 'That Melissa, always so nice to the Japs and the Niggers.' I was about 12 at the time and about fell over."

Matt, thanks for that. Freaking hilarious. (No, I'm not being sarcastic, and yes, I'm a Pan-Afrikanist.)

UBM, thanks for this fascinating survey. This is an interesting exercise in sociology. (No, I'm not being sarcastic.)

Minister Faust

Ken said...

Anyone can be racist. Not everyone has power or institutional support to enforce or perpetuate their racist opinions. In other words, a lot of Black racism doesn't add up to much, except usually self-hatred and a tendency to adopt a victim status which ultimately only hurts themselves and other Blacks. But white racism, that's another matter altogether. Jim-Crow laws, job discrimination, housing discrimination, and on and on and on. But can Black people be racist? ABSOLUTELY! And isn't it funny how White people fear us so much when they are indirectly a part of a system so graphically violent and harmful to us everyday? If anybody ought to be scared of anybody -- it's Black people who need to be quaking in our boots cause if White people really decide to turn on a Black person, Lord help you. And that's the truth.

Kenya W said...

Oh this is great!
I had just moved to Atlanta, I had scored an interview at the Martin Luther King Center, and my maternal grandmother, who is black, said to me that I should never work anywhere that is all black…

Also, when I first moved to Atlanta I remember telling my southern Baptist grandmother that I could not find a good African Methodist Episcopalian Church (AME), in Atlanta, and she said that's how people get caught up in cults...trying to be too black.

Oh! One more, same grandma, and believe me, I would give her my lung if she needed it. Anyway, she and my very, very, very dark skinned grandfather were married 47 years, but she had the audacity to ask me once why this Caribbean guy that I was dating, "had to be so black". I was like now if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black.

Boy that felt good.
Thanks to Dr. Wright and Senator Obama for getting us to this point of conversation. Hell lets thank crazy a_ _ Hannity while we are at it.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Kenya, welcome to my spot. And thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

Damn I'm loving this thread!

Since I was adopted into a white family, I could potentially throw 90% of my family under a bus. It pains me to say it but for about 80% of that 90% I would be standing on the sidewalk, handing out free cups of sweet, cold lemonade to passer-by's. Bitter? hell yeah!

It ranges from my late grandfather, upset that me and my older sister (also adopted and black)drank his last Coke, "savages" - I was about 9 or 10- to various family members basically expressing that even though they didn't really view us as their family (in a multiple of passive-agressive ways) that we were 'okay' but basically viewed the rest of the black population as criminals and animals. So today, my sister is totally fucked up and me, in my late thirties is still trying to undo all the emotional damage that was done.

But yeah, enjoying the thread! Kudos!

Coquinegra said...

My family is all mixed up..my mother is 1/2 Lumbee, 1/2 AfrAm 105 costal Carolina, my dad AfrAm from GA, but we have Pa Dutch, Belgian, and Puerto Rican inlaws...
but my father hates Puerto Ricans. thinks they can't drive, pay bills, park decently and he thinks they steal. we fight so much about it we no longer discuss it because I call him Archie Bunker. it kills him to know i'm a fan/friend of Willie Colon..Bahahaha. if he hated Puerto Ricans so much he should have tried to see I wasn't raised with them next door...cuz i'm all about mofongo now!