Thursday, August 30, 2007

All inhibitions out the window: Part 2 (edited)

[If you would like to see Part 1, click here.]

A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want. -- Madonna

Can you believe I quoted Madonna? I have a love/hate relationship with Madonna and her actions. I pretty much can't stand anything she's done post her Erotica album, "The Girlie Show Tour". But her quote highlights the point I need to make in this post. And it sort of parlays into another point-- so bear with me in this verbose post.

I've come to a realization that "I don't care anymore." My goal as a standup comic is not simply shock value (i.e. Howard Stern, Sarah Silverman) but to teach, to open horizons, to offer new perspectives, and to force you (yes, you, the audience member, the blog reader, you) to finally (to use a trite phrase) think "outside of the box." This all may be construed as making you uncomfortable. Yeah, are you squirming in your seat, yet? Well, hang tight!

Change is the bane of many a person's existence. I, for one, revel in it. I like to be challenged, travel to new places, speak to different and interesting people, and hear and learn about new and innovative ideas. (Could I have used the word "and" any more?)

My motivation is to make you (the audience member) feel a little uncomfortable. To squirm in your seat--to have you go home after the show and, dare I say it, THINK!

So now I said it! Are you happy Madonna? I wrote it. I'm not afraid to say it. It's documented. It's now in the comedy ether! It's floating through the universe. It will happen!

Overall, I feel comedians are too passive. I mean, yeah, they get on stage and speak (that's fairly active). But they use comedy, the medium, simply to make people laugh.

To me that's boring. I think there should be more behind it.

Why not make people laugh AND have them go home thinking about what was said? Why not have a p.o.v. and express it?

I'm not saying it hasn't been done ever. But as of late, I haven't seen it.

The Daily Show does it everyday. However, I don't think The Daily Show steers their viewers one way or another. There's no bias with The Daily Show, which I believe is safe and passive. The Daily Show, like high school and college, should teach their viewers to critically think. I know that if someone rails against my comedy, at least they're thinking. At least they took the time to develop an opinion. I think the opposite reaction, eating up the message passively, is exactly what George Orwell was profiling in 1984 and Animal Farm.

In the world of Info-tainment, standup comedians are the ideal denizens. They can entertain people AND have them think, perhaps even motivate!

So let me tie this back to Madonna. Madonna brought sex to the forefront via music and via her performances. All her antics were personal and direct affronts to several cultures and people. And she changed the way people saw women---as smart, powerful, sexual beings. That I dig!

Kabbalah childrens books-- I don't dig. (But that's for another post.)

Comedians, now and have always been, in the perfect position to do a complete overhaul in entertainment and in society.

We are the mavericks, the leaders, the harbingers, the forerunners.

We are the barometers of society.

* * *

Recently, I was approached in a NYC subway by a man from Michigan. He was perhaps in his late 40s, early 50s and white. He needed directions. And me, being the opportunistic deipnosophist I am, happily gave them to him--but not without some form of compensation. Eventually, after he digested my directions, we sat down together to wait for the next train. I think to myself, "Take advantage of this situation to conduct an experiment."

Now I must let you know that I'm quite the eager conversationalist. And I'm ready to carry on with anybody who approaches, sometimes even against their will. Concerning all impromptu public encounters, I carefully select my words when speaking, glancing furtively at my listener always keeping him in mind while running my mouth. I'm very self aware during all of my conversations--all five senses overlapping and receiving signals. I'm forever taking into account the state of my listener. And I would my babbling as staccato--rambling but strategically punctuated with comfortable silences.

Now, I don't know Michigan. I'm not familiar--I've never been. But I have heard how down right conservative, highly catholic, and basically racist it is, from both black and white residents (former and current). (If you don't believe me, Detriot, MI is noted in the US Census as "the most racially segregated region in the country".

I do know about the ethnic makeup the distinct ethnic enclaves, and the vast, vast, vast, cultural segregation that takes place (i.e. Ann Arbor, Detroit, Northern Michigan.) I believe the Roman Catholicism plays a big role in the segregation. It's a highly Roman Catholic state.

And me, being the upstart I am, broached upon this controversial and undoubtedly uncomfortable topic with this man. A Thai girlfriend of mine in medical school mentioned that she has another East Indian friend who is currently living in Northern Michigan--truly a "sticking out like a sore thumb" situation.

I then recounted the story my Thai friend told me, about the East Indian's life in Northern Michigan, to this man. In a very matter of fact sense, he didn't really have an opinion. He did agree it was very Roman Catholic state and he talked a bit about how homogeneous it is in Northern Michigan. But he clearly didn't want to venture into any other avenues, where the conversation easily could have traveled in.

I even said the word, "racist." Obviously a word white people don't want to hear, partly because it's a heated word that creates controversy. And maybe because it's a slight bit accusatory. But I was tempted. I truly wanted to see how he would react.

Why aren't white people willing to say, "Yeah, that's racist area."? Or "Those are racist people."? Or, "Someone who is not white or Roman Catholic might have a hard time living there."? Why is that so hard to for white people admit? And remember that I'm super aware--of both his movements, and my tone. I made sure NOT to sound accusatory. Trust me. I was very innocuous and Seinfeld-ian about it: Why is it so hard to admit? Granted this conversation lasted a total of 3.5 mins. It was indeed long enough to get to the meat of the matter. He deftly avoided it and train finally arrived. We went our separate ways.

Why is it so hard for white people to admit?

I, for one, know that I get special treatment for being a woman, mainly from men, more specifically black men. I'm attractive, but I'm not THAT attractive. I rank maybe a 6.43 out of 10. (.43 instead of .5 because I don't wear my hair down as often as I should--and hence I get points docked.) But either way, I know I will always get a discount at the local pizza shoppe if I flirt with the manager, or if I wear a skirt that day. That is a form of privilege that I'm willing to admit to receiving. That's where "Ladies Nights" at clubs stem from. And within the comedy scene, women are catered to because there are so few of us. But I wouldn't receive that privilege, if I were not a woman. AND I'm willing to admit it. I acknowledge that!

Anyway, regarding the Michigan Man:
my main objective in this conversation was to get him thinking. After all, he's visiting New York, a seemingly diverse "melting pot." And he's riding the subway, which is what a lot of tourists skillfully avoid because of NYC folklore revolving around gangs. And he had the balls to approach me, a black female. He can't be THAT racist. Perhaps, he isn't at all.

With regards to the words "racist" and "nigger", I feel like the "R" word incites more feeling than the "N" word when used in front of white people. I think the "R-word" is the white person's "N-word"--the word that gets them all pent up and bothered. Calling a white person the "R" word seems to be an egregious and offensive act.


Who would not be offended by either term?

- Someone who is.
- Someone who isn't.

Here's a scenario:
You call someone a racist. There are two outcomes:

1.) The accused is a racist and is proud of it, but is wise enough not to say anything--and doesn't.

2.) Or he isn't racist, knows he isn't, and still doesn't say anything.

It's the latter, the fake racists, that I have a problem with. I assume this man fell into the latter category.

So why not say something? Again, it was a short amount of time, I am a stranger, and maybe his personality doesn't warrant discussing "hot button issues" with upstart comedians. Perhaps, that's the way he was raised.

But I really do feel more white people have a duty to welcome conversations like the one mentioned above. And also they should feel comfortable saying, "Yeah, I'm white and privileged because of it." Now where they go in the conversation after that is up to them. But I feel the first step to ending racism is to admit it, observe it, be conscious of it, and ideally work towards leveling it off. Of course, there's no incentive to someone losing power--losing privilege.

And also, if you're really not racist, then why not just come out and say it? Or make mention of it. Why can't you admit that perhaps a member of your family or other folks in your circle are--but you aren't. You're enlightened.

For someone to say, "Yeah, I'm a racist," at least you know they're bastards and they're being honest about it. They're basically nodding their heads and saying "Yes, I subscribe to that ideology." (Although, they probably wouldn't say it with such grace and eloquence.)

So that's why I feel 80% of the world is racist. Secretly racist, by not willing to say what's really on their mind.

Same goes with the N-word amongst blacks. I haven't figured out if I care enough about the word. I am in that minority that the term is directed. But I don't care because I know I'm not one. So I don't get offended when the word is used even when directed at me and coming out of non-black's mouth.

I invite your thoughts...Please comment...and send this article to friends...and invite them to comment.


Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.


Ha Ha Sound said...

Interesting post, very thought provoking.

And I just assume anybody not from NYC is probably going to be a racist (I'm kidding).

But as somebody who's Jewish, I can tell you that there's a tiny doubt in the back of my mind when walking away from a conversation (when I don't know the person well), wondering if that person's calling them a kike behind their back. I'd imagine that most groups probably have their own version of this.

And, as you know I've posted before, I think humor is the perfect forum to deal with topical matters (race included).

Anonymous said...

Hey Lucy,

So Madonna says if you say what you want you will get it? "I want to be loved, rich, and remembered." Hmm... Maybe it takes a little while to kick in.

"Rascism" is touchy for white folks because it has a lot of damaging power. If a Black person is called "Nigger" they will might feel bad, but that is about it. But if a white person is called "racist" in mixed company, it can quite literally affect a lot of people's opinion of them, true or not.

I listened to your recorded shows. Some feedback: The naked person story could use some polish. The first show, you had good timing on the "black girlfriend" bit - in the second you messed it up a bit.

Tyler Durden said...

I honestly feel that I fall in the 20 % that you describe as non-racists. The human race is so imperfect.

Steve said...

Call me a cynic but I think the human race's natural state of being is xenophobic. We judge with our eyes every single minute of every day and the only way of "thinking outside of this box" is to make ourselves aware of it and confront it. You're right to use comedy for this. It's the perfect forum. It breaks through personal barriers and melds people together, if even for a little while, into a cohesive whole. People can be swept along with a new idea while laughing which can on reflection make them re-address their traditional beliefs and old ways of thinking. Hope that doesn't sound like I'm talking out of my arse.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Stand-up comedians can and do use satire to comment upon socially and politically relevant issues.

Also, I think it is well within the rights of white people, as citizens of a free country, to say or not to say clearly that they are not racists. It is not fair to say, in my opinion, that it is their 'duty' to say that they are not racists, if they are not. I mean where could this lead to, in a manner of logical progression? Would they be asked to wear badges saying "I am not racist!"?

I state this even as, being a practising Sikh, I have always been at the receiving end of discrimination, here in India, which is actually supposed to be the country where my faith originated.

Beth said...

Hey Lucy! You are networking girlfriend!! Love that!

There are ALOT of racist, red-neckpeople where I live....and I'm married to a Black guy. I think if he wasn't a cop, people would look at him differently...what if he was a garbage man or sold drugs?! ;)

I like your blog!

Mood Indigo said...

I think there is a third category of racist - the ones who are, but don't realize it about themselves. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I'm not racist, BUT..."

On the comedy front - I'm all about comedians who make me think. What I don't like is comedians who rely on swearing and sex jokes to get laughs - because to me (while swearing and sex jokes can be funny), that's what props the majority of them up - and most of them aren't truly being funny, they're using things that people are used to laughing at and getting their laughs that way. Almost any other approach gets a big thumbs up in my book :)

Michael C said...

You have a great blog here and I have already bookmarked it for daily visits!

Thanks for stopping by mine.

lioux said...

¡Hola, Lucy!

david hayes said...

I'm not sure where to begin to comment.

On your first point, I agree wholeheartedly. Comedy is a great medium to get people thinking, and it's great that you're trying to do that.

On the racism thing, I would also agree with mood indigo that there's really a third category of people who haven't really thought through racial issues, and would deny being racists without fully considering how they feel about it.

There's also a good book Lawrence Blum called I'm not a racist, but... in which he really examines all the nuances that are commonly called racism, while pointing out how inaccurate that descriptor can be. You should check it out if you're interested.

Finally, I have to say that from what I've seen so far, I really like your blog. I look froward to coming back and poking around some more.

Leslie said...

I don't think people, generally, know what they think. Whereas, I think people used to not express opinions for fear of "offending others in a 'social' situation", I just don't think people know who they are, therefore can't express an opinion.
And that was a gross generalization...

Matt-Man said...

Hey Lucy Girl,

While I do agree with much of your post Lucy, I think people should be more actually referred to as bigots. Especially because they dont like things and people. With most people, race, religion, and class, arent thought of as much as a pre determined ruin as they are a stereo typical handicap. If that makes sense.

I want to thank you for stopping by my site and for turning me on to your site. Please stop again and I will be sure to stop by your site as well....Cheers Baby!! (Yeah, I know the baby remark was Sexist ; ))


Lucy said...

Ha Ha sound - Thanks again, Ha! You hit the nail on the head! The whole idea behind the blog (and my comedy) is to get people thinking and ultimately talking. Because there's a lot left unsaid, and we leave it to the media to fill in the blanks.

Trevor Record - Calling a white person racist is seriously damaging, that I know. But what I'm asking is for white people to speak up instead of being tolerant. I think a lot of white people are afraid to speak up when ANY conversation revolves around race. I have die hard group of white friends that are bigger more motivated defenders of race than I am. When they see a glimpse of intolerance, they nip it in the bud. And they echo the same resentment often uttered by minorities. All I'm asking is that they speak up, even if they are racist. Let a sista know! What's the harm in that?

thanks for the feedback on the audio. I still haven't caught my stride. I'm building up the confidence on stage...s..l..o..w..l..y... It takes time. It's a craft, after all.

Tyler Durden - the problem is I think most people think they fall into that 20%, when really they don't deserve to be in that end of the ratio. (Not saying you don't fall into it. But you can feel free to bust my balls later on Google chat.)

Steve - I think as children we are TAUGHT to be xenophobic. We are taught to fear everything. And we especially see it in the media (news broadcasts being the worst propagators.) And race is one of those many things we are taught to fear--to never broach upon, for fear of hurting someone's feelings. We need to create discourse and communicate, or else this disease, called racism, will just carry on from one generation to the next.

Sidhusaaheb -
Obviously your badge analogy is blowing it way out of proportion. But I do think keeping quiet is exactly what happened in 1917/1918 with Stalin and the 1930s/1940s with Mussolini and Hilter. People kept quiet, even though they disagree. And keeping silent is in essence agreeing with majority. I think it's dangerous to keep quiet. It's called GROUPTHINK.

Beth - More power to you, girl! I think for as long as this society has been thriving post-Civil Rights, we are decidedly lacking in the number of mixed-race couples.

Mood Indigo - thanks for the thorough read. I agree about your new category, "..the ones who are, but don't realize it about themselves..." But they are so hard to pin down in an argument. It's so difficult to get them to fess up and say, "Well, yeah, I guess I'm racist." I just lumped them in with the "Fake racists" with the idea that they want to say something. Because that's what usually happens in those conversations. They stay silent with the rest of them.

michael c - thanks M.C. We'll definitely be close blogger buddies in the future.

lioux - thanks for the very close read on the topic. much appreciated.

david hayes - that book you suggested sounds fabulous! I'm already browsing for it!

Leslie - thanks for the comment. I do agree there are people who just don't know. But think about it this way. Most of those people, "who just don't know," probably never had to face a situation where race was a central issue. (And I'm not talking about Rodney King and O.J. Simpson.) I'm talking about the discussion near the keg-stand at a frat Halloween party where one of the frat brothers decides it would be funny to dress up in black face. <<===Yeah, that was 2006, people. Not 1960!

I agree that people don't know who they are. But I don't agree with them not being able to express an opinion. If you don't know, ask somebody. If I hear a word, but I don't know the definition I look it up. If I'm presented with a hot button racial issue at some party, I ask questions so that I can form an opinion. Seek out answers so that you can be prepared and have an opinion for the NEXT time. Passivity is not the answer, especially if you're indecisive. Like I always say, "Pleading Ignorance is not an excuse."

Jessica Morris said...

thanks for stopping by! I shall have to try your suggestion with the cereal :) I love soy milk, so that won't be a problem!

Rhonda said...

What an evocative post.

I have a diverse ethnic group of friends and hear stories often of how it feels for them in the area we live. My me sad.

Racism is everywhere.
What about the way people look down on the poor or homeless.
But that's a little different.

I do not think any race is superior and has a right to rule others.

Thanks for sharing.
I'll be back.

Finn said...

I like the way you think, darlin'. I love it when comics make me think. Intelligent comedy, to me, is always funnier than fart jokes.

The racism thing is hard; I think a lot of people who aren't really racist fear they might actually be in some small way. Carlos Mencia did a bit on his show where he got people in the street (of various races) to imitate a person of another race. All the stereotypes came out, even when the person was imitating their OWN race. I think many people are afraid that because they recognize the kernel of truth (highly exaggerated) in stereotypes, they may be racist.

Does that make any sense?

Thanks for stopping by my blog today; you can pick my brain any time.

Peter DeWolf said...

I always felt that The Daily Show skewed democratic. Though maybe that is just the audience.

Or me projecting.

mks said...

I really enjoy your blog and The Daily Show is my favorite although I do think it does have a Democratic bent to it - has been for a long time. Thanks for stopping by my blog - the dog that you loved in my header is my dog - she is not that young anymore but she is a great dog! Thanks for stoppingby my blog too!

Michael C said...

That would be great!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting points about passive comedy.

In live in the UK and I think we have a fair few controversial stand-up comics Bremner, Bird and Fortune (they're a trio) tend to get very political and have a standpoint.

There's also a Muslim woman who does stand up comedy in her hijab and abaya and constantly pokes holes in the Muslim way of life.

Her name escapes me though.

We have a show called Have I Got News for you which is like The Daily but not quite. It's a political show.

Comes on every week and reviews the political events of the week but there is a host and it is a stand off between a journalist/politician and a TV comic who are joined by guest contestants and they tend to be politicians, journalists, famous medical consultants etc.

The show has been hosted by a Tory politician, a comic and a car show host.

You can see a couple of episodes on YouTube.

Nate said...

Noticed you at Barry's blog (Liberal Backslider) leaving a comment, thought I would check out your blog. You love junping into the dangerous waters don't you. I love that in a blogger. Anyway, being a white male, if I were a racist, my adopted black son would be very surprised. I don't see race or sexual orientation, anymore than I see the clothes people wear. Trust me I don't pay attention to clothing. Unless there is something interesting to read on it. It was not always this way for me though. I grew up without ANY color. Within 200 miles of my home, there were maybe 100 people that weren't white. Excluding the two indian reservations. So, when I went to larger cities, and first came into contact with their cultures, it was in the inner city. Didn't make a good first impression. In the north where I grew up. Racism is much worse than it is now where I live in the south. I worked the innercity of Minneapolis-St Paul, the Twins Cities don't ya know. Knew alot of people that worked in Detroit's inner city. Racism is very bad there. From the black community. They hate white people. White people don't really think about the black community much in either city. But the blacks are mean spirited. Here in the south, Atlanta, race really isn't even noticed. In the county I live in. It has a large hispanic community, black community, asian community, a good number of Arabic, and just about anything else you can think of. Were all too mixed together to even worry about it. Right now, I think a gay black man at work really regrets that I am hetrosexual. My wife thinks it is hilarious. I love the guy, he is wonderful. I give him attention, he loves to give it back. I don't think that he would be my type even if I were gay. He told me he likes some violence in his love making, and that really ain't me. Anyway, started rambling I apologize. Its just that I don't think about race anymore at all. People are just people, I judge them by the content of their character, nothing else.

Neal Asher said...

For me, being in that class of people in Britain who are considered ‘institutionally’ racist by the ‘liberal elite’ here simply by location, gender and skin colour i.e. I’m white, central English (Essex) and male, this whole issue is forever annoying (I was accused of being racist not so long back because of a blog post, when in reality I was having a pop at religion). The liberal elite don’t seem to realise that the result of this attitude, and their lamentable adherence to ‘positive discrimination’ and ‘multi-cultural inclusiveness’, is that where it does not stir up racist attitudes, it is racism in itself. We had a case here just recently of a white English woman being unable to get a job with the Environment Agency because first she wasn’t one of the other global racial types, but also because she was the wrong sort of white in that she wasn’t Scottish or Welsh white. This is racist – employing people by race rather than by ability – it also inclines ‘white English’ towards racism when otherwise they wouldn’t even consider it. However, on the whole you find non-racist white English not reacting naturally to people of other races simply because they’re frightened of the accusation of racism, and avoiding talking about it all because they know they’re walking into a conversational minefield.

Mel said...

HI Lucy! Thanks for stopping by my blog! "the Canadian" is my code name for my husband, because .. well, he is Canadian. :)

Where I is live is a backwards and racist as you can get. I never been to Michigan but I know its bad here in South Carolina. I am from Richmond Virginia where it doesnt seem to be as bad as it is here. I think larger cities are more tolerant than small towns.

I love the Daily show!

buffalodickdy said...

You're right, you don't know Michigan. Western Michigan is heavily Protestant(Reformed, Christian Reformed, Baptist.etc.) Has Catholics throughout the state, but certainly no majority. The U.P. Has alot of Lutherans due to Nordic roots. Detroit is segregated, as anyone that can afford to move out of it did (Blacks and Whites!). They have the worst school graduation percentage of anywhere in the State. Detroit and its suburbs represent probably 2/3 of the population of the state occuping less than a tenth of the land,the rest is distributed farmland and forests. To the rest of the state, there is Detroit, and then there is Michigan...
Oh yeah, I'm currently trying to find the address of a black guy I work with who just had surgery- I wanted to send him a get well soon card....

Lucy said...

Jessica Morris - Glad you liked the tips, Jess. Come back, again. I would love to hear your opinion about the post.

Rhonda - I agree, racism is everywhere. I don't like to be paranoid about it. In fact, I make sure not to let it rule my life. But I still think more of the majority (i.e. white people) have to acknowledge that it's everywhere, too, in order for anything to change. It reminds me of the Martin Luther King gathering in the Washington Mall. All colors, creeds, and ethnicities were represented--not just minorities.

Finn - Sadly, I think everyone is a little bit racist. But I think everyone has to make efforts and strides to become less and less racist, through curiosity and genuine want/need to learn from/about other cultures. That's the only way we're going to see a change. I venture to do this through comedy. I'm happy you like to comedy that makes you think, because you'd be surprised how many people are adverse to thinking.

Peter DeWolf - I once heard a Bill Moyers interview with Jon Stewart where the topic of The Daily Show's political stance was broached. He basically says, the Daily Show wants to remain neutral. I think that's fine for a media outlet such as Comedy Central. But I think it's too safe. Hence, the Colbert Report.

mks - Your dog is awesome. I have a soft spot for black labs and big dogs in general. See above response with regards to the Daily Show.

Michael C - Yes, it would!

Eman K. Harris - I would if you could give me the details behind that Muslim female comic. That sounds delectably controversial!

Nate - Yes, I think comedy is the perfect means to "jump into dangerous waters." I feel far too many of us "play it safe" with regards to basic social issues. Too many people hide from taking a stance and opening their mouths. People are far too passive. It doesn't help that we have iPods, flatscreen TVs, and SUVs to keep us distracted.

And that black gay male friend of yours must have good taste. (sultry voice) So what are you wearing, right now?

Neal Asher - I think being afraid of being called racist is not a reason to take a back seat. My resolve: Prove to people that you're not racist. And, yes, it's going to be a difficult task. You've seen other commenters on this blog mention how they are married to someone of a different race. Or how a commenter has adopted a child of a different race (rather than adopt one of his/her own). I'm not saying you have to take such extreme measures, but at least make an effort.

I think race only becomes an issue to white people when they have a touchy topic like this blow up in their face. But it should be a daily conscious effort, much like doing laundry, or fixing your hair. It has to move to the forefront--it has to be something they're presented with daily--like an exercise or practice in race.

Volunteer somewhere you normally wouldn't be--where your race isn't represented. Or write a blog post about your opinion on race and how the dilemma (your claim about the elite whites in the UK) you see developing could be rectified.

Personally, I think when I was living in the UK, the elite whites make a strategic effort not to associate with "others." There's an entire cast system based off of that in the UK, so strong that even bled into India/Pakistan's society, creating a caste system there. People talk about how easy it is to move up the ranks in the US socio-economically and how stark/drastic a difference it is in the UK. For that I am grateful to be an American. Why do you think Madonna moved there? She wants to be seen as "the elite of the elite."

The UK system is based off of hegemony and "what clan/group did your parents derive?" "What is your family seal?" You can't tell me that it doesn't somehow affect the racism in the UK.

Granted, I saw plenty of mixed-raced couples while living in the UK. Probably more than I've ever seen in the U.S. But it ends at the middle class. Why do you think Princess Diana was chased down in France? She was dating an Arab! Yikes. Please email me, I would love to discuss this more!

Mel - It seems there are pockets in the southern US that are vastly racist and backwards. Unfortunately, those small pockets seem to dominate.

The type of racism in the south is vastly different from the hidden/latent racism in the north. But it's racism none-the-less.

buffalodickdy - Since you're so adamant about my not knowing Michigan I'm going to head to the library and look up the recent Census.

Anonymous said...

Satire's a big think in the UK. Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister in the late 50s/early 60s, attempted to prove that politicians were above such humour by going to see the stage satire, "That Was The Week That Was", in person. As soon as one of the performers spotted him in the audience, he turned on his impression of the then-PM and began ripping it out of him. Macmillan was not amused.

I'm not sure about the US, but in the UK 'racist' is just used a term of abuse by the liberal left against those who dare to speak out against uncontrolled immigration, defend native culture, or show concern for the drastically changing demography. This attitude has now spread throughtout society. My own grandmother accuses me of being a racist.

Alexys Fairfield said...

Hi Lucy,
You make some very cogent arguments that show the depth of your thinking. I can appreciate that. I think the problem is that people are afraid of developing an opinion in the first place. They are so reliant on what others say that they accept it as gospel without further investigation. The evolving mind must question what is in front of it, seek to find the answer and fill the void with the journey of discovering it for themselves. Their is much joy in discovery.

As far as Madonna goes, she did get our attention and mangae to make a career out of it, but then she negated her power by doing her 'Sex' book which later embarrassed her. An intelligent woman never has to disrobe to be taken serious.

I think you're right comedians are defintely on the cutting edge -- the lunatic fringe of society and you all have the power to make us laugh and think. Through the years, I have learned a lot from comedians in general and gotten great laughs in the process. Keep doing what you're doing and I look forward to you breaking all the rules and landing that sitcom that is around the corner.

Gledwood said...

Stand up comedy must surely be one of THEE most intimidating things to get involved in ... at times... surely! you have a lot of guts to get up there and be funny on demand

someone once told me i "should be on television".....

... "then we could switch you off"

haw haw very funnee

many thanxx for your comment

i'm definitely getting that stephen king book it was at our local bookshop only the bookshop has CLOSED DOWN can you believe that... gotta find somewhere to order it from now

(public library service round here... well seriously you would not believe how dire it is at actually supplying useful BOOKS they seem to do EVERYTHING else like if you want a DVD in Turkish they'll bend over backwards to get it in for you but books...? hmmm bit of a problem for 'em those are...)

Gledwood said...

i used to really like madonna... but on reflection i think it was her strength of character i admired more than anything else...

also i love the like a prayer album
i'm breathless
ray of light

SafeTinspector said...

Michigan is actually a blue state with a Democratic governor, two Dem senators and whatnot.

The racial segregation is pretty stark and noticeable, although it is as much about class as it is about race, in my mind. Wealth flees the poor, the poor are stuck to wallow in what is left behind.

Catholic, eh? That's part and parcel of the ethnic thing. The Poles, of which there are a lot here, are Catholic. But the Greeks, Romanians, Albanians and others of whom we have many many of, are Eastern Orthodox. And, of course, we have more Arabs in the Detroit area than anywhere in America. Mostly Islamic.
Then there's the African American population, which is anything but Catholic. Not sure where you got the idea that Michigan is predominantly Catholic. (I'm lapsed Lutheran myself)

Daily Show unbiased? I think it may be, in some ways, unbiased politically. But Jon Stewart has a special bone to pick with hypocrisy and the abrogation of duty that the media has become so guilty of. I think his brand of satire does shine some needed critical thought on the events of the day.

Michele said...

Lucy, I'm finally getting around to reading your blog ... interesting. I was raised in a very small, all white town in Arkansas so you can imagine the racism that surrounded me. I grew up hearing the N word used as a common part of discussions, sadly even from my own family. It is a miracle that I grew up and got away from that environment ... and eventually converted to Judaism which I'm sure you know made my family very happy. Sadly what I saw/still see in that area of the world are people who were raised to be racist (not all people of course but a lot) and they have no idea how to be any other way. It makes me sad about society.

JesseTheCat said...

Madonna I cannot stand, what a sellout.Like a high paid call girl, selling promises of sex and fantasy to adolescents and other wanna-bees.And in such a tawdry style at all. :)

I'm from Cape Town in South Africa...for many years it was a white dominated country where the blacks and several other ethnic groups had to live under the harshest of conditions and were treaded as inferior.The black political parties eventually got a chance to run the government and what has happened now?? The poor classes are still discriminated against, the black ruling class look after themselves,lining their pockets through corruption of all kinds...and ignoring the pleas of the poor and homeless.Sounds like a strange sort of Rascism to me.
I agree that comedy is a powerful tool in the fight against rascism,,its one way to deal with it.The poor and downtrodden have been laughing at each other and also themselves thru comedy for ages, guess its what keeps them ever hopeful.
Great blog, take it to the Max !!I will be sure to come back and visit again.You did a great job with it. :)

Kate said...

Really interesting post /

I am totally with ya on the change thing. I even enjoy moving! lol I crave new adventures. Its difficult with 3 kids and a spouse though... but I am doing ok! lol

As for Madonna and here quote... I admire her drive and like the quote! I think that if you think it... articulate it... dream it... you are one step to making it happen! I think you need to work for it too though! lol

I am no a fan of Kathy Griffin. I actually like her standup routines... its her personality in reality TV shows that irritates me terribly!

Beege said...

OK, this is the good stuff. I'm from Michigan, I'm white and I'm Roman Catholic. I don't like writing as a form of personal communication, I'd much rather be doing this face to face. As I'm sure you well know the words are only a small part of communication.

Your post has really made me think and coming across it wasn't a coincidence. I'm preparing a response to this comment because I believe the things you shared are very important. Too important for me to just write off the hip.

I'll have more coming soon and I promise it will be well thought out and as objective as I can get it. I'd love to sit and do it right now but I can't. I'll post it soon.

Lee Ann said...

Enjoying this...I will be back for more.
Thanks for coming over. Please feel free to drop on by need to call first! :)
Have a great Labor day!

J.R. Kinnard said...

Speaking as the Whitest guy you'll ever meet, I think 'privilege' is a bigger problem than racism. Most White folks, racist or not, are unwilling to admit how many advantages they enjoy because of their race.

I firmly believe prejudice is an evolutionary tool. Making assumptions about "others" is a fast way to guarantee safety. However, this doesn't absolve us of our responsibility to resist this instinct.

The desire to resist our instincts is what separates racists from non-racists.

Kitty said...

Hi Lucy, I like your post. You are making me think. Bravo.

"Anners" said...

Hi Lucy. My head hurts right now so I won't even begin to try to explain what I liked so much about your post.

Oh, and BTW:

* Madonna has lost me as rabid fan, but I will always appreciate her brain.

* Oh, and these comments are all very interesting to read.

* I can't believe people are still so racist because it's so GD pointless and dumb.

Bye now,



WDKY said...

Hi Lucy (my god - you get a lot of comments!).

Anyway, I thought that was a great post, and I also agree that the world of comedy is at the forefront of the fight to change peoples' perceptions and prejudices. Because let's face it, in the past it's done nothing but reinforce them.

Speaking as a white man who couldn't give a flying fuck about a persons colour or creed, I'm happy to discuss racism, bigotry and inequity wherever and whenever. In fact, I often do. And yes, people often squirm, but so what?

Syd said...

Racism is still around and it occurs in all forms of society. I live in the South but don't hear it among the people that I'm around. However, I know that it can be insidious and that can be worse in some ways than blatant. I despise any kind of prejudice. It just isn't acceptable to me. I'm glad that you stopped by to visit.

ZUBA said...

Hiya Lucy :)
Just finished reading yer blog back to the bottom of the page August 10.
I like yer style mate, good mix of funnies, intellectual discussion and insightful comments.
I really do believe comedians are a lot like artists. I mean to spot something mundane and turn it into something sublime is the craft of both comedians and photographers alike.
I know when I walk the streets I have to really empty my mind and focus on allowing opportunities to appear, sometimes I get nothing and other times I can hardly keep up.
There are also the missed opportunities, a moment of hesitation and the gold is gone.
I also used to be in bands and the same goes for that. Pardon the pun, but when you're really on song something happens that cannot be quantified or verbalised / theorised.
A good musical or comedic performance can have an amazing effect on the soul.
Keep up mate, look forward to more!

Memphis Steve said...

I think maybe black people overestimate how good it feels to be white, especially a white male. I also think that your statement assumes white racism, even when you try very hard to make it seem very neutral and non-accusatory. It's sort of like asking "have you stopped beating your wife?" It's a statement of bigotry in and of itself. It assumes you must beat your wife and it isn't even conceivable that you don't. That's how feminists treat men. That's how a lot of black people treat white people. They just assume we must be racists because we're white. Generally I find that people who assume everyone else is sexist or racist is themself a racist or a sexist, and thus they can't conceive of someone not being the same way.

If you want to get a white person to enter a conversation about racism, you've got to approach it differently. And you aren't likely to get very far with a stranger unless it's some PC kid who hasn't had an original thought in his life. You have no idea how it feels to be white, especially white and male. It doesn't feel good at all, contrary to what you might assume. Generally when men aren't happy, they don't talk much.

A friend of mine, as white as the driven snow, married a black girl. They came to visit Memphis and asked me if they should expect any trouble for being a mixed-race couple. I had assumed, because none of the white people I knew here cared if a white person married a black person, that no one at all would care. I didn't take black racism into account at all. After they had gone dowtown and walked all over Beale Street, they came to me and told me that they did indeed have problems with racists who didn't like mixed couples. He didn't say anything, by the way. She told me, and she said it was "the brothers" who had a problem with it and were a bunch of racists. It isn't surprising to me that my white friend didn't even mention it. If his black wife hadn't been there to talk about it, he would never have said anything about it at all. Not ever.

This may sound strange and you may not get what I'm saying here, but even so, I'll just say this. When you feel that you have a voice, that you are being heard and your complaints matter to someone, you speak up loudly. But when you don't, when you feel completely powerless and hopeless, you say nothing. Or you blog it to get it out of your system and then go back to saying nothing in your daily life. Either way, you put it out of your mind and think about it as little as possible because you don't believe there is anything you can do about it and it hurts. Thus, when someone asks you to discuss it, you really don't have much to say.

The Mushroom said...

The other day a friend brought up a semantic point. We were talking about a YouTube video of an older black man throwing epithets about Asians into his rant at a school board meeting, and I used the term "reverse racist" -- something I've heard white people use when it's a non-white doing the hating -- and he corrected me: racism is racism. We have this mistaken notion that only whites can be prejudice, like we own the monopoly on it. A black friend of mine clarified that some black people are even more racist than their white counterparts, the whites just don't notice it because they're staring at some other thing.

And another mistaken notion that anything unpleasant that one person can say or do regarding another person who doesn't look like them is racially motivated. No. There was a famous comedian (Richard Jeni, maybe?) who said they don't believe in racism because there are plenty of other valid reasons to hate someone.

Blah Blah Blah said...

I liked this post... it was long as ADHD almost kicked in...well, actually it I skimmed. I ended up only getting a portion of this post...but what I got...ummm, I liked.

Racist? I believe I subscribe to that ideology. LOL Am I ashamed of it...naw. Do I think it's a good thing...naw. Will it change...doubt it.
As long as I keep going into Banana R and get totally ignored by the sales people while those with less melanin, get all the help they need.
I relaize it's a little more complex and there is def a lot more to it... but...this topic is way to serious for me... you know I don't get down with all the serious talk.
I'mma floater...floating through life.

And woman! Don't come to my blog yellin' about me going to see other comedy shows when you haven't bothered to let me know when I can see you on stage!

Delton said...

Interesting stuff. Sorry it's taken me so long to find the time to comment here.

I hate dealing with racist people. I'm a white guy with a bunch of redneck Michigan relatives who I've stood up to on numerous occasions. I'm the person who broke free of the family to move to the Detroit area to get away from the small minded, bigoted, racist town I grew up in. I loved being exposed to other people, making friends of all backgrounds, both racial and otherwise.

As I said, I was exposed to my family acting in the typical racist ways, and as I grew, I began to speak up. My favorite comeback to my parents when they'd make a racist comment complaining about any minority doing X was always "There are plenty of white people out there who do X also. There are plenty of [whatever minority] out there who agree with you that doing X is a bad thing. Why do you insist on trying to classify it this way?"

I have worked with plenty of other races in various settings over the years and this has allowed me glimpses into racism from the other side as well. I always found it interesting how 1 particular black coworker I was friendly with would completely change whenever his friends would come by, suddenly saying things that he never would say if it were just us.

Anyway, racism can be an ugly thing no matter who's saying things and who's being put down. Somehow, we have to change the language. Somehow people have to come to a new realization where they start classifying each other as humans, some of whom happen to have a slightly different skin tone than others. Because really, that's all it is.

Lucy said...

Sam Tarran - Comedy can definitely rub politicians the wrong way. I honestly think comedy can be a threat to "the powers the be." Humor via ridicule unleashed on a statesman-yeah, that's cause for concern for anyone in power. One of the necessities of [absolute] power is respect. If the people you rule over don't respect you, then it could be difficult to enforce policy.

I'm not sure about the term of 'racist' and how it's used in the UK, either. It was a term I heard not often used when I lived there. (Perhaps, I didn't travel in the right places to be exposed to it.) The only real 'race-based' issue I heard about at the time, was the Stephen Lawrence incident back in 1993.

You are somewhat on the money with regards to liberals using the term, well... liberally. And yes, it is being used in the US as a crutch with regards to any claim against immigration, as well. But that's a whole other issue that I could write an entire post about.

Thank you for making your way stateside, Sam, and commenting on this little old blog. Every voice, especially internationally, is appreciated.

Alexys Fairfield - Yes, Alexys, I believe people are afraid to develop an opinion. But I also believe that stems from people never wanting to go against the group. Most people are afraid of standing out. They would rather remain silent even if they are deeply against the direction of the group--hence I mention George Orwell, and 'groupthink.'

Madonna had it going on at one point. I don't think she went wrong with anything she did that is sex-based. I think women should be more sexual and not be afraid of their sexuality. I think men need to be more sexual, too! (But I'm not saying towards women, like cat calls, but by being more comfortable with their own sexuality. It's dead sexy when men can embrace it, don't you think?)

I don't think American society should hide from sex. I make this case all the time: Notice which movies receive the 'R' or 'NC-17' rating in the US. In the US, they are the movies with most sexual content. In the UK and Europe, the films that get the stamp are violent movies--guns, killing, blood. Now which do you see as far worse? Fact: As human beings, we must to have sex to exist--it's human nature. Killing and violence--not necessary. And I know since you're the New Agey/Spritual type (no offense, I am, too!) you should understand that sexual energy is an energy that shouldn't be repressed, but rather explored.

Sex should be considered healthy and natural. And the minute you repress it, it becomes perverse and twisted. Why do you think we have all these pedophiles and sex maniacs? Do you think if these perverts been taught to be comfortable with their bodies and to be comfortable with sex, they would be as mentally twisted? Of course, it's not every case, but I definitely believe it's large percentage.

I think when Madonna took a back seat on sex, after she started having kids, is when she copped out. Who better to teach kids about sex than, Madonna? If not all kids, then at least her own kids.

I believe comedians have a prime opportunity to make people think. I think in my case there have been more authors than comedians that have made me think: Howard Zinn, Shelby Steele and I recently have been privy to John McWhorter's work. All these men study race and culture from a viewpoint that is relatively unbiased. (I suppose it could be argued that all authors are biased.) But they have new and different viewpoints with which to see the relationship of race and society. I encourage everyone to get their hands on their work. Email me and I'll send you links to their articles on line.

Gledwood - thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I used to think standup comedy was the most intimidating job, but now I'm thinking "Professional Bear-wrestler" is. (Do those guys get benefits? And is there a union?)

SafeTinspector - Thanks for pointing out the cultural makeup of the state of Michigan. I kinda wish you were there during the conversation in the subway, perhaps to help motivate our "Stranger-in-a-strange-land" Michigan man to speak.

The Daily Show I think tries to remain unbiased, but may be interpreted as having a slight lean left. I feel they don't state their viewpoint enough, or at least show how we can resolve the issues, much like Spike Lee brings the issue of race in America to the forefront--but Spike never says HOW we can resolve the issue.

The Daily Show hasn't been the same since Beth Littleford left. Her interview with Boy George was priceless!

Michele - You're a brave and wise one. To be able to speak up about such a caustic upbringing, with regards to race, I have a great respect for you. I'm sure those conversations between racist friends and family were filled with vitriol. (It gives me the shivers to think about it). You're also lucky and enlightened enough to see past race. I'm interested in hearing more about your story. Please feel free to email me. If you're willing, I would love to explore that with you.

JesseTheCat - Hmmmm... I don't know if I agree. (See my above comment in response to Alexys Fairfield) I don't know about style. I really liked the 'powerful' nature she exhibited. But at the same time, not many people talk about George Michael and what he did for sex in society. I love, love, LOVE his videos and music from the late 80s to mid 90s--I want your sex, Freedom, etc.

Again, I don't think we should hide from sex. Society makes us believe it's wrong. Perhaps, I'll make it the topic of another post.

Yeah, South Africa and apartheid is a whole other can of worms. I don't even know how to first approach that issue. There are so many levels of corruption, racism, and ethnic pride that make it difficult to find a solution without saying someone is playing favorites. It seems to me, based on what you say, greed is the main issue. I guess that's what happens in severely destitute 3rd world countries. (The funny thing S. Africa is very rich--gold, diamonds, etc. However, the money and power is being held by the few.) But this is simply an observation from an uninformed ignorant American. I would need a lot more history and general research in order to make an educated assessment.

Thank you for the compliments on the blog. I put all my energy into the blog (and my comedy) but your comments are needed to see any real change and progress. So thank you!

Kate - Most people fear change. I believe we really should embrace it. And I can see how that can stem into racism. When a person who is different, strange enters a new environment, that is change. So people fear and eventually learn to despise that person (change) who encroaches because he/she represents they aren't comfortable with.

Beege - I already replied to your lengthy and thoughtful email. Thank you, again! I'm glad the post has made you think because that was my point. So glad you found the blog. Please feel free to write more on your initial reactions. And I encourage you not to only share your thoughts and experiences on the blog (of course only what you feel comfortable sharing), but also to write all your new thoughts down. If this blog incites new feelings, ideas, emotions, thoughts, then be sure to keep record via a diary, journal, or on the back of a napkin. But write it down--it's so important to share your story.

Lee Ann - Thanks, Lee Ann! But how does one contact you? I couldn't find any way of emailing you on the site. Feel free to email me so that I have your address in my Inbox. I hope you enjoyed your Labo(u)r Day!

J.R. Kinnard - Are you psychic? Are you reading my mind? Your statement is uncanny because it's exactly what I feel. Sadly, it's very true. I think a lot of white people don't want to admit that they have inordinate amounts of privilege in our society---and if they acknowledge it, then there's really no excuse.

Yes, prejudice is a evolutionary tool. If you're a CroMagnon man and you've encountered a Grizzly bear, witnessed the destruction the bear is capable of, the next time you encounter him, you're going to more wary. You're not going to walk right up to it, and pet it on the head saying, "Nice, Teddy." No! You would get killed.

Perfect example: The Dodo. This animal lacked the prejudice gene and now it's extinct.

The desire to resist our instincts is what separates racists from non-racists.

Now, this is where I disagree. This is where I have to make a distinction. Predjudice and Racism are two different things. One is necessary/evolutionary genetic trait whereas the other is taught and learned, and at same time can be erased and unlearned.

We were never prejudiced against ourselves as humans-- only racist. I'm going to quote from Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States, Chapter 3. -- Persons of Mean and Vile Condition LINK:

The context: Zinn is discussing the relationships between races and cultures during the early to mid 1700s:

It was the potential combination of poor whites and blacks that caused the most fear among the wealthy white planters. If there had been the natural racial repugnance that some theorists have assumed, control would have been easier. But sexual attraction was powerful, across racial and white slaves and servants ran away together, as shown both by the laws passed to stop this and the records of the courts...Mixed offspring continued to be produced by white-black sex relations throughout the colonial period, in spite of laws prohibiting interracial marriage in Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Georgia.

Kitty - You and Beege, both! Great! I'm glad you're liking it. I hope you make your way back.

"Anners" - Your head hurts? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause pain. But perhaps reading this like exercising a muscle. The first few workout sessions it hurts, but after while your muscles warm up and can eventually handle marathons. It's just a matter of getting things started.

WDKY - You and I both, dear! So why don't you join me on stage? And you can bring your bevy of multi-ethnic women.

Syd - I'm glad you stopped by and got a chance to put your two cents in, especially being from the south. I'm sure you have some stories within you. Be sure to stop back and let us know when anything else resonates. Don't be stranger!

ZUBA - Wow! You read all that? I don't know whether to be flattered or scared.

With regards to comedy and photography, did I tell you I'm a photographer, too?

I agree that a good piece of art can move the soul. And for that, I feel privileged to be able to enter the world of standup comedy--to be able to really make an impact!

Thanks for visiting! Stop by, again!

Memphis Steve - Well, according to your first statement you make, black people overestimating what is to be white, you should chat with J.R. Kinnard (above). You both are clearly coming from two different stand points.

I'm not saying it feels good to be white. I'm saying, 'do you realize that you have a privilege as a white person that others aren't privy to?'

Perhaps, my approach with the Michigan man was a bit obnoxious. And I admit in the post, it probably wasn't the ideal time or place for such a conversation. But my reason for doing it is because I know he's not having these conversations at home. I know he's not talking about those things on daily, weekly, or evenly monthly basis. (Going a year without speaking about race seems a bit absurd, but I'm sure it happens somewhere in the US.) I know this is an aspect of race that he's not presented with and probably not familiar with. And the statements/comments I'm receiving here from other commenters, saying that this post is "making them think", speaks worlds about how little this issue is being presented to people (white or black). I broached upon the conversation with Michigan man purely with the purpose of teaching him, which I know sounds arrogant. I aimed to drop that little nugget of info in his head with the hopes that it would spark some curiosity from within him. Why? Because I know no else is. And that's the same reason I'm doing standup comedy. Because I know no else is saying what I feel need to be said. Otherwise, I would gladly take a back seat.

Oh, and I'm not denying racism coming from the black end of the scale. I definitely know what is it to receive racists remark from other blacks. I know I will be criticized for what I will be saying because I'm talking about both and all races. And I know there are a lot of people who don't want to hear this.

I don't understand what you mean by the last paragraph. I live my blog. These are events that happen to me. At the same time, I'm progressive and seek to make people just as proactive as I am. (Hence, the conversation with this man.) I don't think we should ever take a back seat about what we feel passionate about. If your blog is a day to day account of your life, then, yeah, everything you write will be passive--"This is what happened to me." "This is what I observed." "This is what was said."

My blog is a living breathing animal. I take your comments digest them, go out into the world and onstage, combine them with my original views, recite them, observe the reactions, and then come back here to the blog and write about it. And the cycle repeats itself. It's a direct feedback loop--a perfect machine!

I think a blog is whatever you want to make it. I use it to keep the energy flowing. It never takes a back seat in my life.

You may feel differently about the use of blogs and only use it as an online journal, which is very normal and perhaps what it was originally set out to do. All I'm doing is taking it a step further by putting in the forefront.

Memphis, I invite you on my journey. If you so choose to, then feel free to come along. But brace yourself! You're in for a wild ride!

The Mushroom - Agreed. All people (despite the race) can have hatred and be racist. I think the 'owning the monopoly' on racism comes from the use of power combined with racism. It doesn't benefit a black person if he is racist. He still has to work twice as hard to achieve the same level as a white person. The cards aren't in the black person's favor. If a white person is racist, he can make decisions that can benefit himself and his race. Because again, we all have to admit, I don't care how PC and open-minded you are--white/caucasian is the dominant culture in the US. Here's a question that proves my point: How many Presidential candidates are white versus the number that are not? What's the ratio? This nation is built by rich white landowners. If you figured out how to build a nation, wouldn't you want your family and your ancestors to remain in power? The numbers are in white people's favor. That's not me being racist--it's just a staggering fact.

Blah Blah Blah - Sorry about the length, but when a hot issue comes up, every word is essential. So you're not a serious blogger? This post is too much for you? Well, there are other posts that are more light-hearted.

You state seeing me on stage is a pre-requisite before we can actually hang out? I wasn't aware. It might be a while before we hang out. Thanks for stopping by.

Delton - Wow, you're a regular vanguard! Are you sure you're not a comedian in the making? Talking back to the parents? That's defiant! But if we see others (even our family) doing wrong, aren't we obligated to speak up?

You mention your black friend that would act differently around blacks then he would with you (or around whites). Well, you must know he's not a real person. He's fake. Clearly, he hasn't become comfortable with who he is. And yes, racism from either side (black or white) is atrocious.

You're right, with regards to race, all it is is skin tone. This echoes my point I make with white and black slaves in the 1700s. Everyone procreated with everyone else. It didn't matter. (See above link in my response to J.R. Kinnard.)

Thanks for visiting, even with the delay. Be sure to come back again and recount to us more stories. (Those are my favorite.)

Princess Pointful said...

I'm a little late on this one...

I actually do research on discrimination... and one of the more telling quotes I have ever heard, and that does seem to be particularly true in this day and age is that no one self-identifies as a racist. They just think they are right about their particular issue (how can I be racist if x-group really is y?). That's one of the things that makes it such a stubborn thing to change.

a blue eyed girl said...

Hey Lucy great post! I think you are right, many white people do not like the word racist! My Father and Grandfather would never use that word, nor would they admit that they are racists, but of course they had no problems throwing around the words "nigger" or "spic". I feel comfortable using that word, because it applies to many people I think! What has pissed me off in the past was a situation I was involved in once in when I was working in a store where a customer (she was black) pulled a price tag off of one item and stuck it on another item to get it for cheaper. When I called her on it she said "Oh, it's because I'm black you say that"! I got angry because first of all, people of all colors do such things, and second, it had nothing to do with her being black, it had to do with her trying to pay less for something. Never mind the fact I had a black boyfriend also. But am I supposed to explain it to her so she realizes I don't think that way? You know, I really don't think she believed that statement when she made it I think she wanted me to question myself so I would give her the lower price. But at the same time, she also knew nothing about me, I was just an anonymous white person who may have been prejuidiced, after all its not like I walk around holding a big sign that says "Hi, I am not a racist I date a black guy so don't accuse me" hahahaa. :)

a blue eyed girl said...

A lot of people are "secret" racists, too these are the people who act totally cool when working with or interacting with people of different colors and cultures and then when that person is not at home, they refer to black people as "niggers" or say phrases like "smelly indians". I spent three weeks in India this year, and guess how many of my "educated" friends asked me such questions as:
"Do your friends stink? Do they use deoderant"
"Did you see any "Untouchables"? Do they look different than other people there"?
"Do your turban wearing friends ever wash their hair"?
Keep in mind some of these questions were asked by Teachers!
Btw, I hate using the N-word, I used it in this comment and the above one also because you used it and I felt like I could. But now looking back at it in this comment and realizing I can't edit it out of my previous post its bothering me I used it! Now I'm thinking, did I offend her? I can barely bring myself to say that word out loud unless its followed by "quote unquote". Man I could go on and on with this topic. I bet you are regretting asking me for my opinions now huh? ;) Cheers! I'll definitely be staying in touch!

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Lots of comments and great blog, Lucy! My two cents--sometimes people don't like to HAVE to say they are not racist because if they HAVE to it means there is an assumption that they ARE. Does that make sense? They don't want to have to be defensive.

I agree, though, that we don't talk about stuff like this openly enough. Here in the DC area, it's like walking on egg-shells sometimes. Like, will you be offended if I refer to you as black? That's what the forms say. But do you prefer African American? That's what PC says. Shit, it's hard being "white" sometimes with all that white guilt and trying to prove you aren't NOT racist if people assume you are.

Me...I'm not racist. I'm just stupid with my mouth sometimes. And I find all people funny, which I guess some can construe as racist. Never my intent,however. Just my perverse sense of humor. \

Lewis said...

You know, my favorite part of this whole post was the use of the word "deipnosophist." I don't even know what it means. Ahh....growing up in Idaho had it's positive side.

Anonymous said...

ummm I agree with youI would rather someone be upfront about their racial views than be a closet race hater and pretend they aren't.
I think many people are put off by the word racist, we tend to think of it as prejudice taken to the extreme.
I would suggest perhaps using the word prejudice instead when asking a person how they feel about another race and you might get a more honest answer or at least open up a dialog.
Let's also remember prejudice or racism goes in both directions and I would assume there are African Americans who are prejudice to white people. I know in the past there was prejudice by African Americans to Hispanics and Jews. One only needs to recall Jesse Jackson's infamous "Heinytown" comment.So this is a problem which exists in all walks of life.
We need to talk about these things with one another and address those things which we don't understand about one another, get it out into the open and then I think we can move on.
We are all born brothers and sisters, regardless of our race.
We share commonality in our humanness being members of the human race.

whatsername said...

So why not say something?

...Here is my take. As someone who has grown up in a very white area of California. My father worked in San Francisco and interacted with everyone, black, white, homeless, he really didn't care. He also had (has?) a rather embarrassing habit of calling everyone "brother" which I always felt would be seen as negative by people of color, but I really had no basis for that...

You're white, you grow up around white people, you're familiar with the way white people interact together. That's your daily life and basic frame of reference. Your interaction with (mostly black) people of color usually comes through TV. Sports, movies, news, whatever... Michael Moore pointed this out in Farenheit 9/11 I think, about the way the media portrays black people? It's very alarmist, you're always hearing about black criminals, growing up this leads you to believe a lot more blacks are criminals or gang members than there actually are. Same for Latinos, when it comes to the gang members thing.

So you grow up, you learn A LOT about racism (in CA anyway) about how horrible it was (not really IS). You're like, "my god, how could anyone act like this?!" And this becomes your perspective of "racists." Now, since you don't believe "colored people" should be at different drinking fountains than you, you think you're not racist. Nope, not at all. Perhaps you buy into some stereotypes, but that's not racism! As you grow, perhaps you become more politically aware, you start seeing Sharpton or someone arguing for every little thing being racist, and you think to yourself, wtf is he talking about, that's not RACIST! That's not crosses burning on lawns!

Say you go to college, you learn things from a white perspective, but you don't even realize it, because it's fucking school, school (esp college) is suppose to open your mind! And it is! (In some areas). You see classes, "Latin American History," "Race and Gender" and you think, naw, I'm not Latino or Black or Asian, I don't see how these things apply to me. And you don't take them. You continue to have a probably universally pretty white perspective on your education.

(BTW this is pretty much a recounting of my life :P For better or worse).

The reason we get so defensive when we are asked to analyze what might be privileged, what might be RACIST, about our perspective on life is because we simply can't stand to think that we're anything like THOSE people. The KKK is racist! Not me!!

Honestly, it can be really hard, especially at first, to realize that a label that applies to people like the KKK might apply to you as well, or at least to some things about your perspective on life. And you don't want to have an open discourse about it because for instance (my experience) say the black people (few) you have interacted with is at your job and they are way more rude to you than any other group that comes in (true story, don't know what it is about some black women in my area). When you have had so little experience with people of color in general, it's hard not to take those few experiences as more than they are. From these experiences, and seeing things on the news, perhaps you think you might get yelled at, or the shit beaten out of you for trying to have an honest discussion about racism with a person of color (more black people though for me...again from experiences at work, this black lady almost came around the counter and took a swing at a white coworker of mine for such stupid reasons, but that's a long story).

So, you don't want to be seen as racist (a serious blow to self image) and you don't really want to get in an argument. So you just stay silent, out of fear one or both will happen. Of course, the truth is that being yelled at, or being called racists, really isn't the end of the world. And being yelled at can even be productive! But it's still an intimidating situation.

So, yah, that's my take... But you know, as a feminist, I want men to take an interest. I want them to be open to talking with me to learn how they might be privileged, and I won't get mad at them for being so and not realizing it. But I bet they think I will. And so one day not very long ago I decided to give people of color the same benefit of the doubt and just jump right in on the blogs I found. I picked feminist women of color because I basically figured at least we had some things in common, we're all feminists right? It's been, interesting, trying, hard, thought provoking and intimidating...But no one should be comfortable all the time, it means we're not learning. I do think other white people (and men in general) can come to the same place. But it isn't easy.

And that's my take...