The Problem In The Pronouns

 

self-absorption-and-bipolar-disorder-300x199As a theologically liberal clergy person, I receive a lot of drivel masked as thoughtful, contemporary writing addressing the most urgent issue of our day: How can we make life better for nice, middle-class white people? These things come with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, and are often written by black people, but they are really about white folk (and people “passing for white,” which I think includes people like Condi and Ben?)

Two big clues to who these missives are for, and what they’re really about: Pronouns. Also: verbs.

As a representative example, I offer the following, penned by Amira Sakallah and presented courtesy of the Theology of Ferguson project. “Ferguson,” you will recall, is the small city in Missouri where an 18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer. This is important, because a) Michael Brown is dead; and b) it sparked huge demonstrations and riots that went on all year, and resulted in massive property damage and further loss of life. So: serious business! Something for the clerical-collar-clad social warrior to really sink her straight, white teeth into! The essay is called Being a Do-Gooder, Becoming a Freedom Fighter: BlackLivesMatter:

In fact, in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledging the truth of how you have benefited from white or white-passing privilege at the expense of Americans of color, whether you know them from your nonprofit work or personally, can be very painful.

If you really want world peace, challenge your intentions. When you really start working for the powerless, the powerful will not be as excited about you anymore. You will not be praised for your selflessness. You will not be complimented. Your return on investment for taking this next step of service in the world will not be of benefit to you. In fact, in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledging the truth of how you have benefited from white or white-passing privilege at the expense of Americans of color, whether you know them from your nonprofit work or personally, can be very painful.

But this truth sets you free. It removes the paralysis you have often sensed within yourself but have been unable to identify. It makes you useful. It makes your work full, as a servant to your sisters and brothers in humanity. All of the benefit, then, goes to the betterment of black lives in America. The uplifting of black value in society. Where it belongs.

As a citizen of a country that has white supremacy sewn into its very fabric, your job now is to check your privilege, or in more religious terms, humble yourselves. In pursuit of well being for all, your job now is to sacrifice your comfort, and hear the stories of the Black Lives Matter movement. Your job now, is to show up and listen.

Pronoun problem: “your privilege,” “humble yourself,” “sacrifice your comfort,” “acknowledge the benefits of white (or white-passing ?!?!?) privilege,” and, of course, “this truth sets you free.”

Even assuming all this acknowledging, checking, and humbling does indeed set me free, so what? I thought this was about a young black man who — do we need to be reminded of this? — is dead.

I am a privileged person and a lucky, lucky girl. My sons do not stand a one-in-three chance of being incarcerated in their lifetimes, nor are they at high risk of murdering or being murdered, nor of being shot by a police officer, for that matter. My daughters do not have a better-than-even likelihood of bearing their children out of wedlock and rearing them alone.

The pronoun problem (and the limp verb problem) is endemic to liberal discourse; anti-racism is about the souls of the white and middle-class, not the well-being of the black and poor. Even calls for “action” are about white being (acknowledging, checking, humbling), not white doing. This is about whether the rich get through the eye of the needle, not whether the poor live and eventually prosper.

Where is the passage that begins, “This is what poor and African-American people need in order to not be poor anymore, and to lead lives that are as happy, healthy, and interesting as the lives of the lucky and privileged?”

There are 147 comments.

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  1. TG Thatcher
    TG

    Thomas Sowell knows the answer. Too bad the Black Lives Matter movement would (does?) Consider him “white-like,” and therefore feel justified in refusing to “hear” him.

    And that is a keen insight, that this sort of thing is more about moral vanity than about actual improvement. (Sigh)

    • #1
    • July 29, 2015, at 5:27 PM PDT
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  2. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    You remind me of my activist Democratic neighbors growing up: actually concerned with those not as well off, systemic injustice due to uncontrollable factors (race, sex, etc.) and results-oriented. To the extent this goes by the name “liberal,” I’m a liberal.

    But as you’ve noted here, far too much of what’s called “liberal” or “progressive” is the most transparent, most obvious, most banal moral superiority signaling, and it’s frequently connected to policies that are destructive to the disadvantaged: minimum wage laws, affirmative action, rent control, the Community Reinvestment Act. I won’t go so far as to say the left institutes these policies on purpose in order to sustain a permanent victim class (well, with the exception of LBJ, a pure racist bastard if ever there was one), but I certainly will ask what an enemy of the disadvantaged would do differently…

    • #2
    • July 29, 2015, at 5:43 PM PDT
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  3. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    It reminds me of the original justification for “diversity” in the Supreme Court decisions of the 1970s. The Court found that as a legal matter quotas were unconstitutional. Instead, diversity was allowable but was defined as something that would be of benefit to white students who would gain from their exposure to non-white students.

    The other thing this reinforces is how much of this cant consists of waves of verbiage that are hard for most of us mere mortals to understand. When I read most academic discourse nowadays it’s like I’m reading a foreign language. It’s disconnected from the world instead relating to theoretical constructs that exist in the fevered minds of its proponents.

    • #3
    • July 29, 2015, at 5:44 PM PDT
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  4. James Gawron Thatcher

    Kate,

    Why I’m truly surprised at you Kate. The average SJW isn’t only limited to the field of pronouns and verbs. Often they become experts at adjectives and adverbs too. Actually, almost their entire program to improve mankind personkind is centered around banal pedantic trivial linguistic obsessions.

    They aren’t interested in the content of thought only its verbal style. Hey, why don’t we play too. You’ve heard of the Enlightenment. Why don’t we call the whole lefty gang the Obscurement. Get it. Boy this is just great. I don’t need to know anything or care about anybody. I just play around with words and presto I’m King of the Socially Concerned.

    Cool.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • July 29, 2015, at 5:54 PM PDT
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  5. Jimmy Carter Member

    Kate Braestrup: This is what poor and African American people need in order to not be poor anymore, and to lead lives that are as happy, healthy and interesting as the lives of the lucky and privileged?

    Really?

    They “happy, healthy[,] and interesting” ain’t from living a Life of any moral code or striving to Live a virtuous Life, but just simply being “lucky and privileged[?]”

    And what the “poor and African American people need” to be “happy, healthy[,] and interesting” ain’t anything that They can control, but have to rely on luck and privilege?

    Where is the phrase that begins: Bull

    • #5
    • July 29, 2015, at 6:09 PM PDT
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  6. Karen Inactive

    I see your point, but I also get the argument they’re trying to make. Until about a year ago, our family lived in the wealthiest black-majority county in the US. We lived in a diverse middle class community. The wealthy and educated are typically black, and whites are typically working class.

    A few years back, one son had just finished pre-k and befriended a boy from Nigeria. They become friends because they both liked Spiderman. They were so similar the only difference between them was skin color. That summer we went out of state to see my husband’s family. One family member spent a good bit of time ripping on black people implying that they were all poor, uneducated criminals. I took exception to this several times. When we got back home, my little 5 year old asks me about the black people our family member had spoken of and wondered if he had ever seen one. My heart sank. He had no idea he lived in a community full of black people, because he had never heard them called black people. They were just people. If you asked him to describe the skin color of a black person, he’d pick a color in the range of tan to dark brown. I told him that he’d never seen the black people our family member had spoken about, because they didn’t exist, but we did have a talk about race and racism.

    • #6
    • July 29, 2015, at 6:25 PM PDT
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  7. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Jimmy Carter:

    Kate Braestrup: This is what poor and African American people need in order to not be poor anymore, and to lead lives that are as happy, healthy and interesting as the lives of the lucky and privileged?

    Really?

    They “happy, healthy[,] and interesting” ain’t from living a Life of any moral code or striving to Live a virtuous Life, but just simply being “lucky and privileged[?]”

    And what the “poor and African American people need” to be “happy, healthy[,] and interesting” ain’t anything that They can control, but have to rely on luck and privilege?

    Where is the phrase that begins: Bull

    I’m willing to consider the argument that moral codes and virtue lead to happy, healthy and interesting lives (though I could throw out a couple of names as counter-evidence; Hillary, the Donald…).

    I even think one could get into a decent discussion with someone who started with: “What poor and African American people need is a better work ethic.” Then we could talk about what, if anything, the rest of us could do to help instill such a thing. Because, you know, Christian charity.

    The problem isn’t that my liberal correspondents have got the wrong program. It’s that there is NO program. Nothing that anyone is supposed to do or stop doing, just lots of things we’re all supposed to think, admit and feel. So we can be liberated to think and feel some more.

    • #7
    • July 29, 2015, at 6:28 PM PDT
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  8. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Karen : When we got back home, my little 5 year old asks me about the black people our family member had spoken of and wondered if he had ever seen one. My heart sank. He had no idea he lived in a community full of black people, because he had never heard them called black people. They were just people. If you asked him to describe the skin color of a black person, he’d pick a color in the range of tan to dark brown. I told him that he’d never seen the black people our family member had spoken about, because they didn’t exist, but we did have a talk about race and racism.

    Karen—that’s a good story, and telling.

    IMHO, white racism is so obviously a feature of the history that led to where we are today that it’s silly to claim otherwise.

    It is also one of the factors that nowadays stands in the way of African American advancement. One of the factors. Not the only factor and, I would argue, not the most significant one, because it isn’t something that poor black people themselves (and those of us who want African Americans to be doing better as a group than they are) can do anything about. Focusing on racism may feel good, but it doesn’t change anything.

    Not only does acknowledging my own participation in white privilege not save Michael Brown’s (or anyone’s) life, we could scrub every last trace of racism from the heart of Officer Darren Wilson, and Michael Brown would be just as dead.

    • #8
    • July 29, 2015, at 6:41 PM PDT
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  9. Western Chauvinist Member

    I just want to know if you’ve ever been called, “Father Kate?” Seriously. On college tours right now and you hear the darnedest things…

    • #9
    • July 29, 2015, at 6:55 PM PDT
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  10. Jimmy Carter Member

    Kate Braestrup: “What poor and African American people need is a better work ethic.” Then we could talk about what, if anything, the rest of us could do to help instill such a thing.

    Why would the discussion be about instilling a work ethic for the poor and African Americans? How come there is not a need to instill a work ethic into the millions of immigrants and illegal aliens?

    Kate Braestrup: It’s that there is NO program.

    Good. Libs sitting around thinking and feeling are harmless. It’s when They DO have a program is there destruction.

    • #10
    • July 29, 2015, at 6:58 PM PDT
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  11. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Jimmy Carter:

    Kate Braestrup: “What poor and African American people need is a better work ethic.” Then we could talk about what, if anything, the rest of us could do to help instill such a thing.

    Why would the discussion be about instilling a work ethic for the poor and African Americans? How come there is not a need to instill a work ethic into the millions of immigrants and illegal aliens?

    You tell me. I’m talking about Ferguson Theology, here.

    Kate Braestrup: It’s that there is NO program.

    Good. Libs sitting around thinking and feeling are harmless. It’s when They DO have a program is there destruction.

    Well, maybe, but the flaccid absence of program is pretty destructive, too.

    • #11
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:04 PM PDT
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  12. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Western Chauvinist:I just want to know if you’ve ever been called, “Father Kate?” Seriously. On college tours right now and you hear the darnedest things…

    “Father” Kate? I tried to get my kids to call me “Reverend Mother…”

    • #12
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:05 PM PDT
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  13. Western Chauvinist Member

    Kate Braestrup:

    Western Chauvinist:I just want to know if you’ve ever been called, “Father Kate?” Seriously. On college tours right now and you hear the darnedest things…

    “Father” Kate? I tried to get my kids to call me “Reverend Mother…”

    Small liberal arts school in Iowa. Student guide said you could see “Father Kathy” for your spiritual needs. “She’s really nice.”

    Thought I’d heard it all by now. I was wrong.

    Oohh, I like “Reverend Mother!” I’m stealing that even though I’m not ordained. “Holy Mother” seems a step too far…

    • #13
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:09 PM PDT
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  14. The Dowager Jojo Member

    Focusing on racism does change things- it makes them worse. It creates problems out of what is sometimes thin air.

    We have made no progress as far as I can tell in race relations for over thirty years. If we stopped focusing on racism I think it would disappear on its own. But then what would liberals feel superior about?

    • #14
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:10 PM PDT
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  15. Western Chauvinist Member

    Jojo:Focusing on racism does change things- it makes them worse. It creates problems out of what is sometimes thin air.

    We have made no progress as far as I can tell in race relations for over thirty years. If we stopped focusing on racism I think it would disappear on its own. But then what would liberals feel superior about?

    They’d still have environmentalism.

    • #15
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:11 PM PDT
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  16. James Gawron Thatcher

    Karen :I see your point, but I also get the argument they’re trying to make. Until about a year ago, our family lived in the wealthiest black-majority county in the US. We lived in a diverse middle class community. The wealthy and educated are typically black, and whites are typically working class.

    A few years back, one son had just finished pre-k and befriended a boy from Nigeria. They become friends because that both liked Spiderman. They were so similar the only difference between them was skin color. That summer we went out of state to see my husband’s family. One family member spent a good bit of time ripping on black people implying that they were all poor, uneducated criminals. I took exception to this several times. When we got back home, my little 5 year old asks me about the black people our family member had spoken of and wondered if he had ever seen one. My heart sank. He had no idea he lived in a community full of black people, because he had never heard them called black people. They were just people. If you asked him to describe the skin color of a black person, he’d pick a color in the range of tan to dark brown. I told him that he’d never seen the black people our family member had spoken about, because they didn’t exist, but we did have a talk about race and racism.

    Karen,

    I certainly hope that your son later on doesn’t wander into certain neighborhoods after dark. The black people your family member had spoken about that don’t exist might kill him.

    Exactly how many mothers have the problem that you have? On the other hand, how many mothers must tell their children the truth about where they will not be welcome because of their white skin color. This to save their very lives. Ten times the number of whites are killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites. I wonder where all of this takes place.

    Someplace else.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #16
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Jojo:Focusing on racism does change things- it makes them worse. It creates problems out of what is sometimes thin air.

    We have made no progress as far as I can tell in race relations for over thirty years. If we stopped focusing on racism I think it would disappear on its own. But then what would liberals feel superior about?

    Somewhere, on some thread, I declared that I thought there should be a moratorium on discussions of racism. Not because it isn’t real, but because the discussions don’t get us anywhere.

    Western Chauvinist: Small liberal arts school in Iowa. Student guide said you could see “Father Kathy” for your spiritual needs. “She’s really nice.”

    WOW! But doesn’t that imply that “Father” is a higher-status title than Mother..? Why isn’t someone offended?

    • #17
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:20 PM PDT
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  18. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    James Gawron:

    Karen :I see your point, but I also get the argument they’re trying to make. Until about a year ago, our family lived in the wealthiest black-majority county in the US. We lived in a diverse middle class community. The wealthy and educated are typically black, and whites are typically working class.

    A few years back, one son had just finished pre-k and befriended a boy from Nigeria. They become friends because that both liked Spiderman. They were so similar the only difference between them was skin color. That summer we went out of state to see my husband’s family. One family member spent a good bit of time ripping on black people implying that they were all poor, uneducated criminals. I took exception to this several times. When we got back home, my little 5 year old asks me about the black people our family member had spoken of and wondered if he had ever seen one. My heart sank. He had no idea he lived in a community full of black people, because he had never heard them called black people. They were just people. If you asked him to describe the skin color of a black person, he’d pick a color in the range of tan to dark brown. I told him that he’d never seen the black people our family member had spoken about, because they didn’t exist, but we did have a talk about race and racism.

    Karen,

    I certainly hope that your son later on doesn’t wander into certain neighborhoods after dark. The black people your family member had spoken about that don’t exist might kill him.

    Exactly how many mothers have the problem that you have? On the other hand, how many mothers must tell their children the truth about where they will not be welcome because of their white skin color. This to save their very lives. Ten times the number of whites are killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites. I wonder where all of this takes place.

    Someplace else.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I don’t know. I spent years living in all-black neighborhoods and don’t recall anyone ever being unwelcoming to me because I’m white. Of course, I’m also friendly. That probably helped.

    I’m sure black-on-white murder happens, perhaps even much often than the reverse, but Karen was referring to remarks along the lines of “they’re all poor, uneducated criminals.” Not true, and not helpful either.

    • #18
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:31 PM PDT
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  19. Karen Inactive

    I had FB friend link an article called “I, Racist” that was essentially a young black man telling white people to check their white privilege and empathize more with the state of the black community. I’ve taught in an urban, poor, predominantly black public school and the overwhelming feeling there is utter despair. The first question I was asked by my middle school students was “How many kids you got?” At the time I had just gotten married and told them, to which one replied, “You don’t need to be married to have kids.” I think these people who write about white privilege know the black community is broken. They know public conversations and legislation won’t change things. We can make an arguments for why, but then we’re told to check our privilege. I believe that what they really want is for us to give a damn about these kids. To connect with Trayvons and Micheals when they’re little boys, before they embrace the despair that awaits them. This thug life/gansta culture boils down to a survivalist mentality based on despair and hopelessness. The black community knows this. Remember that mother in Baltimore who pulled her son out of the crowd of looters and smacked him around until he followed her home? She was fighting for her son’s future at the moment, for him not to be seen by the world as another black teen thug.

    • #19
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:38 PM PDT
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  20. Western Chauvinist Member

    Kate Braestrup: WOW! But doesn’t that imply that “Father” is a higher-status title than Mother..? Why isn’t someone offended?

    Precisely!

    • #20
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:43 PM PDT
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  21. Zafar Member

    Kate Braestrup:Even calls for “action” are about white being (acknowledging, checking, humbling) not white doing. This is about whether the rich get through the eye of the needle, not whether the poor live and eventually prosper.

    It’s well intentioned, sort of, but incredibly self obsessed.

    • #21
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:46 PM PDT
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  22. James Gawron Thatcher

    Kate Braestrup:

    James Gawron:

    Karen :I see your point, but I also get the argument they’re trying to make…

    Karen,

    I certainly hope that your son later on doesn’t wander into certain neighborhoods after dark. The black people your family member had spoken about that don’t exist might kill him.

    Exactly how many mothers have the problem that you have? On the other hand, how many mothers must tell their children the truth about where they will not be welcome because of their white skin color. This to save their very lives. Ten times the number of whites are killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites. I wonder where all of this takes place.

    Someplace else.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I don’t know. I spent years living in all-black neighborhoods and don’t recall anyone ever being unwelcoming to me because I’m white. Of course, I’m also friendly. That probably helped.

    I’m sure black-on-white murder happens, perhaps even much often than the reverse, but Karen was referring to remarks along the lines of “they’re all poor, uneducated criminals.” Not true, and not helpful either.

    Kate,

    My father’s graduate students were from all over the world. Pakistan, India, Africa. Obama’s father looks exactly like one of my father’s graduate students. They all got their PhDs. They were in my house socially from the time I was conscious enough to remember. I loved them like cousins or in some cases like a brother or a sister.

    However, knowing that skin color means nothing doesn’t change the fact that if a local black gang takes over the local mall after dark you need to think twice before going there. If you think that your friendly demeanor will always get you through I’d think again.

    Reality can’t always be parsed into a socially pleasing package.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #22
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:49 PM PDT
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  23. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Jojo: We have made no progress as far as I can tell in race relations for over thirty years.

    No. There’s been progress.

    Karen : They know public conversations and legislation won’t change things. We can make an arguments for why, but then we’re told to check our privilege. I believe that what they really want is for us to give a damn about these kids. To connect with Trayvons and Micheals when they’re little boys, before they embrace the despair that awaits them. This thug life/gansta culture boils down to a survivalist mentality based on despair and hopelessness. The black community knows this. Remember that mother in Baltimore who pulled her son out of the crowd of looters and smacked him around until he followed her home? She was fighting for her son’s future at the moment, for him not to be seen by the world as another black teen thug.

    This is where I keep coming back to, in my usual, relentlessly-this-world-ish way; I don’t want young black men to be killed. Not by other young black men, not by police officers, not by anyone. Karen, from your experience, did you gain a sense of what America as a whole might do to improve things?

    • #23
    • July 29, 2015, at 7:49 PM PDT
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  24. Jimmy Carter Member

    Kate Braestrup: You tell me. I’m talking about Ferguson Theology, here.

    Some people realize that if They want to be “happy, healthy[,] and interesting,” then the onus is on Them; not on others to create some program.

    Kate Braestrup: Well, maybe, but the flaccid absence of program is pretty destructive, too.

    Tell Us what program is absent after all these years and trillions spent? Yeah, I know. Freedom can be a real pain to those Who won’t take responsibility for Their Own Lives.

    Kate Braestrup: Somewhere, on some thread, I declared that I thought there should be a moratorium on discussions of racism. Not because it isn’t real, but because the discussions don’t get us anywhere.

    You brought it up:

    Kate Braestrup: Tags: Ferguson, Liberalism, Poverty, Racism, theology

    • #24
    • July 29, 2015, at 8:02 PM PDT
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  25. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    James Gawron:

    Kate Braestrup:

    James Gawron:

    Karen :I see your point, but I also get the argument they’re trying to make…

    Karen,

    I certainly hope that your son later on doesn’t wander into certain neighborhoods after dark. The black people your family member had spoken about that don’t exist might kill him.

    Exactly how many mothers have the problem that you have? On the other hand, how many mothers must tell their children the truth about where they will not be welcome because of their white skin color. This to save their very lives. Ten times the number of whites are killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites. I wonder where all of this takes place.

    Someplace else.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I don’t know. I spent years living in all-black neighborhoods and don’t recall anyone ever being unwelcoming to me because I’m white. Of course, I’m also friendly. That probably helped.

    I’m sure black-on-white murder happens, perhaps even much often than the reverse, but Karen was referring to remarks along the lines of “they’re all poor, uneducated criminals.” Not true, and not helpful either.

    Kate,

    My father’s graduate students were from all over the world. Pakistan, India, Africa. Obama’s father looks exactly like one of my father’s graduate students. They all got their PhDs. They were in my house socially from the time I was conscious enough to remember. I loved them like cousins or in some cases like a brother or a sister.

    However, knowing that skin color means nothing doesn’t change the fact that if a local black gang takes over the local mall after dark you need to think twice before going there. If you think that your friendly demeanor will always get you through I’d think again.

    Reality can’t always be parsed into a socially pleasing package.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I live in Maine now, so it’s the local white gang that takes over the local mall… or the closest equivalent thereto. Generally speaking, the people to avoid are young men, especially underprivileged ones…

    I’m not trying to deny the reality of violence and crime in black communities. Violence and crime are on the short list of what makes African American life so precarious and grim, even for people who are doing their best to work hard and raise their children according to reasonable moral codes (e.g. the Mom who grabbed her kid out of the mass of rioters).

    Zafar: It’s well intentioned, sort of, but incredibly self obsessed.

    If I take the title “Ferguson Theology” seriously, and try not to be self-obsessed, I’m left with WWJD? It’s hard to believe that Jesus would either say “to hell with them, they have no work ethic” or “the most important thing isn’t healing the cripple, it’s removing the paralysis you’ve always sensed in yourself…”

    • #25
    • July 29, 2015, at 8:04 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Jimmy Carter: Tell Us what program is absent after all these years and trillions spent?

    Yes—exactly! What program, what improvement are you suggesting be made, Amira Sakalla?

    You didn’t think I was advocating more welfare, did you, JC? Not me. I’m pretty down on welfare, for reasons you and I would probably agree about; lots of money being spent to make lives unhappy, unhealthy and boring.

    I think Karen is right; there is despair over the conditions that still obtain in too many black communities, bewilderment that this is so even though race relations actually are better and things aren’t as segregated as they once were (NYPD is not all-white, Baltimore is Baltimore, Obama is president…) and maybe a longing to be able to speak with the kind of clarity MLK could bring to bear… but everything is too complicated and muddled for that.

    after all these years and trillions spent…whiskey, tango, foxtrot? as DocJay would say!

    The homilies are so passionate and at the same time so ineffectual; middle class theologizers (Amira Sakallah is one of them) preaching to middle-class listeners in a recognizably American moral idiom: well intentioned, sort of, but incredibly self obsessed.

    • #26
    • July 29, 2015, at 8:38 PM PDT
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  27. Karen Inactive

    Kate Braestrup:

    Jojo: We have made no progress as far as I can tell in race relations for over thirty years.

    No. There’s been progress.

    Karen :

    This is where I keep coming back to, in my usual, relentlessly-this-world-ish way; I don’t want young black men to be killed. Not by other young black men, not by police officers, not by anyone. Karen, from your experience, did you gain a sense of what America as a whole might do to improve things?

    All kids need structure and boundaries. They crave it, as you know. They need to feel safe to thrive. I was in charge in my classroom, and they left their issues in the hallway. They soon become very protective of the security of my classroom. The kids I taught had very unstable and uncertain lives, which I think breeds hedonistic behavior. I remember how grumpy some would get on Fridays because there was a good chance they wouldn’t eat anything substantial until Monday. What’s missing from so many of their lives is a dad, and for some a mom. So many being raised by overwhelmed extended family, or they are wards of the state. They need connections with trustworthy, caring adults who believe in them, and who won’t give up on them when they mess up. How does America do this? Seek ways of establishing and strengthening connections with these kids and their families, I guess.

    • #27
    • July 29, 2015, at 8:52 PM PDT
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  28. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude Post author

    Karen :

    Kate Braestrup:

    Jojo: We have made no progress as far as I can tell in race relations for over thirty years.

    No. There’s been progress.

    Karen :

    This is where I keep coming back to, in my usual, relentlessly-this-world-ish way; I don’t want young black men to be killed. Not by other young black men, not by police officers, not by anyone. Karen, from your experience, did you gain a sense of what America as a whole might do to improve things?

    All kids need structure and boundaries. They crave it, as you know. They need to feel safe to thrive. I was in charge in my classroom, and they left their issues in the hallway. They soon become very protective of the security of my classroom. The kids I taught had very unstable and uncertain lives, which I think breeds hedonistic behavior. I remember how grumpy some would get on Fridays because there was a good chance they wouldn’t eat anything substantial until Monday. What’s missing from so many of their lives is a dad, and for some a mom. So many being raised by overwhelmed extended family, or they are wards of the state. They need connections with trustworthy, caring adults who believe in them, and who won’t give up on them when they mess up. How does America do this? Seek ways of establishing and strengthening connections with these kids and their families, I guess.

    One problem with “check white privilege” is that some of those caring, stable, trustworthy adults are going to have to be white.

    • #28
    • July 29, 2015, at 8:58 PM PDT
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  29. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    Kate Braestrup:One problem with “check white privilege” is that some of those caring, stable, trustworthy adults are going to have to be white.

    True confession time: mentally, I check out the moment someone starts mentally masturbating about “________ privilege” in my presence, because:

    1. It’s embarrassing and they should keep it to the privacy of their own head.
    2. The whole point is to make it possible for everyone to attain ________ privilege, which has never been accomplished by anyone “checking” their own.

    Do I have things, including immaterial things, that others don’t? Without question. Did I earn all of them through my own actions? Don’t be ridiculous. They are part of a cultural inheritance, and people who want to share in them would be best off participating in the culture that passes them on.

    Several years ago, my son thought he’d share a funny cartoon with us. Unfortunately, it was an episode of The Boondocks. I don’t think we got halfway through it before insisting he turn it off, and explaining carefully that we were no more willing to watch such vile propaganda than we would be a KKK rally. Hatred is hatred; lying about the motives of an entire race is racism; and it doesn’t matter what color the skin of the racist is. Toxic sludge like The Boondocks will never help a single black person—as you’ve said, not because racism doesn’t exist, but because this response to it is self-destructive.

    • #29
    • July 29, 2015, at 10:07 PM PDT
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  30. Guruforhire Member

    “White privilege” is morally equivalent to “[offensive racial epithet that makes people recoil, and no, we don’t care if the President said it, it is still not appropriate here.]”

    There is no good faith usage

    • #30
    • July 30, 2015, at 12:14 AM PDT
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