Politics: Racism in upcoming U.S. elections..Remember the Titans?

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Anahi DeCanio
Anahi DeCanio
United States

Racism in upcoming U.S. elections..Remember the Titans?

It is THE Elephant in the room... Yes we can talk about gender but that's not the only thing that America is talking about in the privacy of their living rooms.

I have had friends (maybe ex-friends by now) tell me right out that they will not vote for a black man. It can't just be happening to me.

I would love to open the discussion.

Racists - strong and vocal

It is alive and kicking. I belong to an immigration forum where posters (shielded by anonymity) outrightly insult Barack O. because of his color. They are also anti-immigrants who hang around in that forum and bash the immigrants who ask questions about the process.

We have a discussion about politics and some of these people are unbelievably prejudiced, hate-filled and ignorant, insulting Barack because of his skin color.

Unfortunately, racism is strong and alive in this election and in this country.

Anahi DeCanio
Anahi DeCanio
United States

She is such a polite young woman...a compliment?

My experiences have been more subtle but still very powerful. I have been debating with myself where does politeness crossover to cowardice, for lack of a better word. Hve you ever been in a situation when you knew you needed to speak up and didn't? Did you walk away regretting it?

It is simpler to respond to someone showing outright ignorance and hatred than someone who just hints at it with a wink.

I have been put in specific situations at work, religious services, school and awkward social situations where speaking up took courage. I have vowed to speak up but even for somebody like me who publicly plasters her beliefs finds it awkward to deliver righteous embarrassment. It seems to me that people find it easier to speak against sexism than racism.

What buttons does racial hatred push way deep that people recoil from? Women are particularly taught to be "polite" but we also need to arm young women with the tools that will empower them to speak up. I'm not so young but still learning so if anyone has any tips my ears are open...

Our fates are linked

Hi Anahi,
I read your comment in the Sarah Palin thread and I wanted to respond to your question:

Is it okay for women to be concerned with discrimination against women and not be concerned about all discrimination?

This is THE question! It is so important. As a white working class woman, I know I must work extra hard to understand the struggles of women of color, men of color, immigrants, indigenous, all working class, marginalized sexual identities, people facing discrimination because of ability, children, the environment... everyone and everything! The vast majority of us face discrimination in some way and it should be our personal missions to find opportunities for alliance. Our struggles and fates are tied to each other. There is so much power and hope in solidarity.

There is a very famous, very moving quote from the German Pastor Martin Niemöller who spoke after the Holocaust. I think it is really relevant to your question:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Erykah Smith
United States

Speaking for others

I love that poem Renee. But I don't want to paint alliance as so simple.

Because Obama is a black man who faces racial discrimination, does this necessarily mean he can speak for discrimination faced by women of all races simply because they also face oppression?

Maybe there is slightly more possibility for empathy, but I think history has given us examples that this is hard work. The Black nationalism movement in the U.S. for example is cited by Black feminist thinkers (such as Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Davis and bell hooks) as being a sexist revolution.

This isn't to suggest that Obama fits this pattern. But I do want to suggest that oppression doesn't equal empathy. Men of all races need to do some work to relate to the oppressions of women of all races.

Anahi DeCanio
Anahi DeCanio
United States

the human condition

HI Renee,
I had seen the quote before but had forgotten all about it. I have become so empassioned by comments of race around me that reading the lines again actually meade me weep...Thank you...It is part of the human condition to be imperfect, but I hold out hope that being aware of our shortcomings and working at achieving the better part of ourselves is also an integral part of our identities. You, my friend, are a perfect example.

Michael DeLong
Michael DeLong
United States

Beyond My Frame of Reference

I guess the difficulty for me is even conceiving of having a friend, or even close acquaintance, who would hold that opinion. Maybe this is a testament to my living in the famous "liberal bubble" of the San Francisco Bay Area, but I really can't wrap my head around someone I know thinking such a thing, much less having the audacity to say it out loud! Obviously I know that there are plenty of people out there who hold that opinion, but I guess I count myself lucky not to have encountered it in real time.

Anahi DeCanio
Anahi DeCanio
United States

Obliterating the frame of reference

I'm so glad you said that. I'd like to see it be beyond everyone's frame of reference.
I also believe that racism should be well above the labels of liberal and conservative. Thanks for a hopeful comment!

Wangui Banks
Wangui Banks
United States

We all have friends with "racist" biases

Dear Anahi,

I guess luckily, noone has openly told me that they would not vote for Obama because he is a black man (this is very possibly because I am considered a black woman). I am not oblivious to the fact that there are people out there who feel that way and all I can do is be grateful that I strive to see past that.
However I have friends and acquaintances whom I know to be racist but they are my friends because I choose to accept them for who they truly are (which is far from the label "racist"). Is it their fault that they were brought up to believe certain stereotypes about people? And aren't I doing the best thing by being their friend and breaking those stereotypes?
I do not like fighting against what I perceive to be wrong, but rather shine a light on it and let others conscioulsy choose for themselves.

Renee the poem you shared with us is beautiful. Thank you.

How to intervene on racist comments

I come from an area of the U.S. that is not very racially aware and I've encountered these comments a lot (and have also had to deal with my own conditioning as a result of growing up in this area).

I wanted to share this great video about how to address racist comments. I think it is so good!! I hope you do too.

Michael DeLong
Michael DeLong
United States

The Bubble Burst

Wow, it's almost too strange of a coincidence, but now I can say I have encountered a friend making the very same racist comment regarding Obama that sparked this thread. It was, in fact, shocking to me, especially as this friend is also of color. I am going to really have to chew on this now. I wish I had watched Renée's video before I heard those words coming over my telephone. I didn't know what to say.

Anahi DeCanio
Anahi DeCanio
United States

We are all racist...

I'm very grateful to be having this "conversation", not to be condemming of anyone's behavior but to learn from each other for a better future. Racism is not a one way street. I have seen and felt black on white racism also so I think its important for all of us to feel included in this dialogue and examine our feelings. I was moved by Renee's comments that she works at overcoming learned behavior. I lived in NY on 9/11. A few months later, while on a NYC bus a man got on the bus with a big backpack. He appeared to me to be of Arab dissent. I was afraid.
I'm not proud of that but it would be less proud if I didn't admit it and worked on it.

Dialogue is Key

Hi Anahi,

I wanted to send a thank you for your candid comments. Your honesty and openness is inspiring and encourages others to look at their own prejudices. If everyone is constantly boasting about how far they've evolved past bias... well then that doesn't really allow anyone else the space to say they are struggling. The U.S. as a nation likes to think it is the most evolved place on earth (an illusion for which Obama has now become the poster child) and that sort of thinking doesn't open the floor for constructive dialogue among its residents.

So thank you for filling that void and making this a very rich, inspiring and important conversation.

Well, i'm just glad that this discrimation and racism issue is all behind us now that the decision is set.


Regards,
Giselle
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Tags: racism elections political campaign voting , empowerment, racism, speaking up, , equality, racist, race issues, Obama, black and white, race issues , تمكين , المرشح , الحملة


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