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Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA
Racism in the USA
When Simon deleted Shroomy's posts in the [Deleted] thread, it popped to the top of the list. I re-read some of what I wrote in the thread. Of course my comments about racism in the USA and its change over time, were based on my own observations.
I have been almost entirely insulated by my race and social class from personal effects of racism. A black friend once pulled a knife on me and held it to my throat when I quoted the governor of Florida, as I intended to comment on what the governor said, but there have been only a small handful of such incidents over a long lifetime.
Night before last I ran across a video of an interview of Roger Wilkins. He was the nephew of Roy Wilkins, the long serving Executive Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Roger was an Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He went on to a career in journalism, sharing the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize for the Watergate story with Woodward, Bernstein and Herbert Block. He was a distinguished professor of American History at George Mason University for years. He was born 5 years before me, and died in 2007.
As a highly accomplished black man he personally experienced racism constantly, throughout almost all of my lifetime. Here's his interview:
Richard, I'm not able to watch the attached video at this moment but wanted to share what I wrote for my Blackout Tuesday Instagram post a few weeks ago:
We the People still absorb racism from elements of our culture we love and hate: our parents, their media, our government. It is insidious as we are exposed even from the first moments of our life, as children we know no better, we see this hate as truth. As youth we began to find a new truth; we find friends whose ideas open our minds, we discover music which opens our ears, and some of us discover a vehicle for change in a strong voice.
We the people must not forget that this evil lives in us all, that the institutional racism most allow as a normalized fault in our culture can only serve to sever communities and cast those marginalized into despair; any wonder they must rage when we push them down, when we kneel on their dignity.
We the people must not forget to fight, less with our fists though, but with our minds and heart, with the strong voice, the pen, and in this ugly age rally together with stranger, friend, and family; march proudly forward to a future we desperately need.
You there, step forward with pride and own this franchise those before have died in honor so you might fulfill a better destiny, make truth that all are created equal. Here take this humble strip of paper and make your mark indelible for all humanities hope, and vote so that:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity...
I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy, doesn't have to be fast, should have some meat on the bones, can be raw or well done, as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.
I’m glad you’re pushing the conversation along instead of retreating from it.
It’s been my frustration, point of anger, in the flamenco online world that there has been a denial of racism or efforts to explain it away. So that’s each persons opinion. But the events of the past three months have revealed a lot about racism, I think now people are more ready to think within terms that they made miscalculations about how much racism injected into politics. It’s a big part of politics.
I don’t feel vindicated for being angry about it in the past few years, but it’s a good that finally some people lije yourself are reporting that it’s real. More real than most white Americans will acknowledge. They hide it behind the politics of a so called ‘oppressed white working class’ - now after the murder if George Floyd it’s difficult to not see the white bias for what it is.
I’m a bit hopeful that from now on if the subject of racism is brought up in flamenco circles it won’t be brushed aside by the white men who make money by making guitars. The truth is many white guitar makers are either a bit racist, extremely racist ( I could give you names) or shy from conversation about race because they don’t want to offend potential customers.
It’s time to stop doing all that because it’s making money off the back of an art form kept alive by a minority people who’ve suffered racism and oppression. To think because you’re white and non Spanish you get a pass on making money at flamenco because you’re above the conversation and don’t want to offend buyers is increasingly going to be the wrong attitude.
There’s nothing to debate, racism is pretty entrenched in America and white people are not ones to decide if it exists or not. But I can tell you it’s been vastly underestimated. Unfortunately we’ve recently had proof.
So a debate isn’t necessary, it’s recognizing that it’s there that’s necessary. And there’s a lot of denial going on.
I was walking down the street about 5 years ago and this old lady was in her car on the side of the road. She saw me from about 30 feet away and jumped up in her seat and hit the power lock doors and hunkered in her seat like I was going to steal her purse. She was scared.
Then I thought, yeah that’s how a normal not doing anything aggressive black guy in the US feels crossing the parking lot at a grocery store in the white part of town. Put a dozen of those together in one day and the potential for police brutality and that’s probably the anxiety level of a black guy working in the white side of town.
I am. Besides, it's only natural that conversations would reflect the concerns of foro members, and the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of Americans on here. I would probably bring up some French domestic issues every now and then if there were anyone here to discuss them with.
That said, it's not easy to tell where the boundaries of this discussion are being drawn. In the previous thread, I had pitched in a bit only for Shroomy to ask why we were bringing up racism in other countries. He wanted to talk specifically about the US. Estebanana on the other hand is speaking of "white and non Spanish", which implicates many more of us. So it's not clear to me at all whether I should contribute to these discussions or not. I do think that if we're going to discuss ethnicity as it relates to flamenco, it would be a shame to view all of it through a US-specific cultural prism.
As for what is going on in the US, there's not much I can say really. All I have is my impressions as a foreigner. I can say that, while I used to follow US news (not just US, but it's one of the countries I have some ties with so I made a point of keeping abreast of the news), I've now almost completely stopped, other than getting the big headlines. Trying to follow it was just a source of confusion and anxiety. It felt like watching that last Star Wars movie: if there is a plot anywhere in there, it takes considerable effort to dig it up, as it is buried under rapid-fire and seemingly disconnected action scenes with too many large explosions to count. I've also come to understand that my opinions simply aren't welcome for American friends who used to be of similar political leanings as I am and with whom I used to be able to talk politics. Part of that is that I am less concerned by Trump per se than I am by this looming new "cold" war, and I personally don't see Trump as any more hawkish in this regard than the other contestant for what is essentially becoming a throne. That disconnect makes sense I suppose: I am concerned about what effects trends in US politics have on the rest of the world, and my American friends are obviously more concerned about the effects it is having domestically. It seems to be bad enough over there that, for all intents and purposes, they have restricted their circle of empathy to their borders, and the farthest I can get them to go is "kids in cages". Beyond that, black lives don't matter to them. Not right now.
One thing that did strike me when I was following it all is just how profoundly Christian the framing of the issue was, for many of my white (white-ish? ^^) friends on the "antiracist" side. There's some irony there. Because of my upbringing and the psychological scars it left on me, I almost instinctively recoil from that kind of framing. In fact, I saw a lot of my own psychology in Wilkins's face and tone when he was talking about, not the material facts of racism, but that overall sentiment of being told that, because of who you were born as, you hold no value. Your only value is whatever is granted to you by the powers at be. To me this matter a lot. I don't think you can truly and healthily value those who seem different if you don't even value yourself to begin with. And so I think that if white Americans only use antiracism as yet another Puritanical stick to flog themselves with to exorcise some imagined innate evil, it won't lead to the outcome most of you are striving towards.
"Anything you do can be fixed. What you cannot fix is the perfection of a blank page. What you cannot fix is that pristine, unsullied whiteness of a screen or a page with nothing on it—because there’s nothing there to fix."
In the previous thread, I had pitched in a bit only for Shroomy to ask why we were bringing up racism in other countries. He wanted to talk specifically about the US.
A discussion about racism, whether limited to the United States or as it exists in other countries as well, is worthwhile.
I would like to comment on your quote I have cited above, though, Piwin; not to belabor the previous (deleted) thread, but to set the record straight about what Shroomy was up to. Shroomy's primary aim was not a discussion of racism. Rather, he initiated the thread, and continued throughout, as a direct, personal attack on me, on Ricardo, and on others, as being "racist," and having a "racist agenda" which he manufactured totally out of his own fevered imagination.
The thread lay dormant from January until Shroomy resurrected it again just this month, July, and continued his rant, again stating I had a "racist agenda." Shroomy misrepresented and falsified my statements and opinions throughout, apparently to make himself appear morally superior to others. Nothing wrong with being morally superior, but it should not be based on misrepresenting others' positions. Ironically, he ended by calling the Foro too "toxic," when in fact his statements were what rendered the thread toxic.
I want this discussion on racism to continue and do not intend to bring up Shroomy again, but I want to clear up any misunderstanding of what Shroomy was up to for those who may not have read completely through the previous (deleted) thread.
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, With the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here, Who tried to hustle the East."
And so I think that if white Americans only use antiracism as yet another Puritanical stick to flog themselves with to exorcise some imagined innate evil, it won't lead to the outcome most of you are striving towards.
It’s impossible to discuss things nowadays for fear you will trigger a perception of alignment with an ENTIRE platform of bull shyte. The hypocrisy with this specific issue in USA is gargantuan. It extends past USA borders of course, last time I tried to point that out I was shut down. People are border line lunatics about this issue, like they can’t understand reality and their place in it. The folks bent on pointing their finger or cel phone of superiority at every racist action they perceive going on, would do well to stare long and hard at the mirror first. How about put you fingers down, put your damn phone down, and TALK to the people you HATE. You’d be surprised what you might learn. Oh, but no, can’t do that. These people I don’t like or understand or agree with, they were born that way. Really people?
Daryl Davis documentary tells the story and approaches the ONLY real solution. If people want to talk about the problem please watch that and let’s discuss seriously the section of the film where he interviews the black youths in Baltimore.
Meanwhile enjoy this and the majority of comments on this performance:
If you vote, you are “racist” because you always vote against another persuasion.
From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
"Definition of racism
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2a : a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles b : a political or social system founded on racism
3 : racial prejudice or discrimination"
This is more the way I use the word.
When I vote for one party or candidate, it is not my intention to oppress or deny the dignity of the other candidate or party, nor do I feel that being on the losing side devalues me personally in any way.
The thread lay dormant from January until Shroomy resurrected it again just this month, July, and continued his rant, again stating I had a "racist agenda."
A by no means negligible part of the problems of rational discussion is that racism means different things to different people:
“Racism” is a term not only used very loosely by many, but also a term for which a more precise definition is not easy to achieve. In various usages, the term applies to the ideas of (1) those who have an animosity to those of another race, (2) those who believe that people of another race are genetically inferior, (3) those who believe in discriminating against people of another race, out of sheer self-interest, and (4) those who believe that people of another race or ethnic group are less capable, or have other undesirable traits, as of a given time, even if for non-genetic reasons. Those who believe all these things at the same time provide the clearest examples of racism. But all four notions need not go together and often do not.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures, p. 364
This seems to me more specific and useful than Merriam-Webster.
Paul, Thanks for introducing Thomas Sowell into the discussion. Thomas Sowell's work is always interesting. Sowell is a Black economist and social critic at the Hoover Institution who does not always march in lockstep with the "politically correct" narrative and zeitgeist.
Another very interesting Black academic is John McWhorter, who is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where he teaches linguistics, American studies, philosophy, and music history. He is the author of a number of books on language and on race relations, and, like Sowell, often departs from the "prevailing" narrative and zeitgeist, whatever it may be at any given time.
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, With the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here, Who tried to hustle the East."