Eventually, we will conquer every form of bigotry

This post is a continuation of the discussion from “I’m not chocolate dot com.”

Yes, it would make for a better world faster if black people could somehow overlook the need to organize on the basis of race. But I have some understanding about why there remains a need for them to do so. And I’m inclined to be indulgent in a way that I’m not to posters who go by names like “nagin is a racist.” I don’t believe that black people are inherently lazy, but I do believe that they’ve been somewhat conditioned to believe (by their own leaders as well as current reality) that they’re still getting the short end of the stick. Some people, faced with that perception of reality, react by trying to prove the perception wrong. Others react by succumbing to the apathy that perception can generate.

Eventually, we will conquer every form of bigotry, of that I have no doubt. People of my generation may even now be raising the generation that definitively rejects racism, sexism, homophobia, and every other major form of bigotry. Or we may be raising the generation that raises the generation that does that. But it’s going to happen, and it’s going to be a change for the better.

I would like to say that I’m free of bigotry, but the reality is that I’m not. I grew up without the exposure to other races and cultures necessary to think in a post-bigotry language, much less live a post-bigotry life. Because while I wouldn’t necessarily preclude dating a black man, or an asian man, or a person of faith (any organized religion), I would always be translating, so to speak, in my head from the way I was raised to the way I want to live. Because translate is all I can do.

More after the break…

In the same way that I never “got” foreign languages in school, in the same way that I just couldn’t think in german or spanish or latin, I know deep down that I don’t really think in a post-bigotry language. I think my bigoted thoughts and I chastise myself and then I say the things I want to say and live the way I want to live…but it’s something I have to do consciously. It’s a continuing effort, like reading or writing or speaking a foreign language is. I think in English and I think in bigot. And then I translate.

I’ve said before that I’m selfish. And that is absolutely true. I want to exist in that post-bigotry world. This…this is only words on a screen; they’re meaningless if, in my real life, I did nothing to make them a reality. But if I didn’t, they wouldn’t even exist, because how could I value them enough to write them down? And so I work to overcome my own limitations, my own prejudices, and my own bigotry, all of which I possess in abundance.

Here’s my favorite story from last week: a guy I know, who owned a coffee house, sent me text message telling me that I was cool as shit, thanking me for doing karaoke at his coffee house (for no pay) and helping him stay in business longer than he would have if I hadn’t, and telling me that he hoped karma would repay me. But in reality, I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to do something that I love and give people that I love the opportunity to do something that they enjoyed. But if it weren’t for this one guy putting his neck on the line to open this business, I wouldn’t have dozens of people to love, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or the desire to give them something in thanks for taking a stranger from someplace else and making him feel alive, welcome and cared about.

I look at New Orleans post-K and think that there’s an opportunity for a whole lot of that sort of mutually beneficial exchange. And it’s happening all over the Gulf Coast right now. You don’t have to look hard to find it. I hope it sticks, and that people look at one another with just a little more respect and a little less cynicism than they used to, and that everyone is just a little more sympathetic to the way that other people might experience the subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices and realities that negatively impact their lives, and that they react to each other with a little bit more empathy and compassion.

20 Comments so far

  1. NO_Doc (unregistered) on January 24th, 2006 @ 7:42 pm

    OK, Joe I think I probably owe ya TWO beers after that post. It takes a big man to look at his own faults and lay them out on the table like that. I will be interested to see if any of the more opinionated people who have posted on this site are ready to rise up to this level of discussion…

    That said, I think it is scary for each of us to look at our own prejudices. Especially when those prejudices are based on ignorance as opposed to fact. I met a black guy once who, for the first twentysomeodd years of his life, had only seen two white people in all those years. They happened to be two of the NOPD officers who had come to arrest his older brother for assault and battery. When his brother decided to run for it, they and several other officers jumped on him, handcuffed him and dragged him out to the cruiser to go to jail for a year. The image stuck in his head of white people in general was that of his big brother (who he of course thought was cool) with a bloody nose being dragged off between two big white guys not to return for a long, long time. Not exactly an image to conjure up racial harmony. But that was all he had to make judgements on. One of the biggest shames behind the poisoning of New Orleans East is that it accidentally ended up a relatively balanced interracial community. Kids of different races could grow up playing football, basketball and just running around with each other. That promoted a cross-race tolerance and understanding that is severely deficient in most of New Orleans and America in general. I’m not saying it was Shangri-la, but most of the people I knew who grew up there pretty much had at least one or two friends of another race (white, black, yellow or whatever). I know I have my own issues with prejudice and preconceived notions; I hope I can face mine honestly and try and move forward despite them.

    We all have our own problems of ‘lost in translation’. I will never completely ‘get’ someone who grew up black, in poverty, without a father figure, surrounded by crime and educated to a 3rd grade level. The reason is so little of our experiences are common to us both. Without a number of common experiences to draw upon to help us relate, it is hard to come together and embrace each other as ‘we’. It becomes much easier to go to ‘he’ and ‘I’, ‘them’ and ‘us’. Once these subtle lines are drawn, they color every additional step as the relationship grows (for better or worse). It is much easier to take an antagonistic position to a ‘them’ than it is to take the same position against a ‘we’. So, gradually the relationship becomes more and more antagonistic as the differences are accentuated and the similarities are suppressed (sometimes subconsciously). I think we were in one of these nasty feed-forward cycles in New Orleans where every perceived slight by one class/race against the other class/race lead to a retaliatory action by the other class/race. I just wish there was an adequate forum to bring large numbers of individuals of different classes and races together to try and start to understand each other better and realize that we are not each other’s enemy but rather each other’s neighbor; we live together because we NEED each other, not just because we HAVE to. We need to present a common front to the nation in order to get things moving in the reconstruction process. I agree we have a great opportunity right now to show some love to some people who desperately need it. I hope we all take the time.


  2. Laura (unregistered) on January 25th, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

    First off… I would like to say in defense of myself that I am really not a racist. I did not come to your website to stir up problems or to step on any one’s toes. I am just like the rest of you – searching for answers to (yes, what could be mistaken as racism) questions that cause battles within myself. I apologize if the title I choose offended you Joe. I should have chosen more carefully and upon reflection I DO understand how you would take offense. However you also said things that caused me to feel offended and thus the large ball began to run down hill. And Nagin’s comment offended me. That’s what started my whole inner battle. I do not live in New Orleans… I do live in Louisiana. The area I live in has a lot of racism and goes both ways. I have black friends, Hispanic friends and white friends. The same goes with my children…We are not racist. I have made it a point over the past few days, to just smile and say hello- how are you- have a good day…. Genuinely make an effort to put forth a hand of friendship… and you know what… more than half of the black people here in my area…. snubbed me… or were just flat out rude… like how dare I speak to them… It is things like those instances that make the conflict stir up inside me…. When I was 24 – a single mother and working my ass off to take care of my child.. No child support.. Nothing.. A measly $6.00 per hr income… $ 300.00 per month in child care costs + regular bills, rent, utilities etc…. I had a black friend at work that was in pretty much the same situation I was….(if we would have had any cents back then we should have become roomates ! ) Anyway, she had gone down and filed for food stamps, etc… I thought – shoot… I need the help too.. We had been eating grill cheese for a month and not much else…. But I decided.. Because.. I am a very prideful person that if I could just get help with child care costs I would be okay..I could survive. And you know what ? I was turned down. I was told I made $20.00 too much per month ! But my friend had gotten on it. The lady that I had spoken with at family support was a black lady and from the moment I had walked in her office.. I knew she was not gonna help me.. Because I am white. I know that was the reason because she just had that attitude about her.
    Also let me say also for the record here, I grew up poor, with no father around myself and most the time we lived in high crime/poverty areas. We had no money and little food. My mother worked and went to school. I was home alone at 8 yrs old. I however have not let my problems from the past hold me back. I don’t dwell on the past.. I picked myself and moved on and survive today just like I will tomorrow. There are other stories I could tell but my time is limited. The questions in my mind regarding racism against whites are valid.. Not blind accusations based on ignorance or anything else… I guess what makes me angry about it all is the fact that mostof the black people I’ve encountered (not all mind you & I’m not trying to offend) seem to think that discrimination does not happen against whites. It does happen…. So I apologize for stepping on toes.

    Laura


  3. BDD (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

    yea me too seaching for answers is why is it that the people misplaced in hotels that they dont have to pay for have yet to find a job its been a few months now?????? Answer that. I know the answer they think hey why work when i get this for nothing and half of them had that before the storm even hit. And yet the still do nothing to better them selves but wait on hand outs…


  4. Joe B. (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

    I can’t answer that question. If, however, half of them (to use your number) were just relying on exclusively wefare income before the storm then there’s no point in including that half in the discussion, since they wouldn’t have been trying to find jobs pre-K either.

    As for the rest, I don’t have good numbers for how many have not found any employment, temporary or otherwise. I also don’t know how easy it might be to find a job that would enable someone to travel back and forth to New Orleans to deal with their own property, if they were a property owner. How much time is reasonable for something like that, and how long might it have to continue if your intention was to rebuild. Meanwhile, some obviously can’t outright live in New Orleans right now, we haven’t straightened out all the trailer issues. I can see why it might be difficult for some people to juggle a remote job and a rebuilding or renovation project at the same time.

    There’s other legitimate reasons, I’m sure, that people can’t or don’t find work during this period. If you’re in a local hotel, maybe you don’t have a job because you can save enough insurance money by working your own renovation or rebuilding project to pay yourself what you’ve saved. I know a couple of people who did that, my parents included. But, seeing as how Dad is self-employed, and the business isn’t there to turn down at the moment, it made sense.

    And some, I’m sure, are taking the opportunity to do nothing. But I don’t know why.


  5. BDD (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 12:47 am

    yes thats what iam talking about the ones doing nothing and then turn around and cry racism just to keep getting the handouts so they dont have to work. i mean come on you gotta get a job just to get back on your feet and help your family get through this tough time but i dont see them doing that. I see them taking advantage of the sitution as they did after the storm hit by looting stores and taking plasma tvs etc…. (no way of using it). its just sad to see are tax money going down the drain instead of going to a real cause. meaning of real cause is people using it to get on there feet not using it as there life time income. But it will go on that way cause the NAACP and others will make sure of that. But if it was all whites they would have been out on the street after Christmas cause we dont have people to back us and you think the NAACP would help even knowing they are a civil rights group for colored people so that means all. But you and i know it only means BLACK witch in my book is pure racism. They want equal rights but then again they want more rights then any other race and that again is racism but you want here that from the media hell no its a double standerd. They want to be number one ahead of all races. Just like ray nagins comments. if that was a white mayor he would have been fired and labled a racist on his resume for life. But blacks get a free pass. So my other question is where is the EQUAL RIGHTS at for all races. Seems to me its only for one race and that being Black all others mean nothing. And thats 100% BULL. BUt thats goint to change in the future cause the past 40 years the Democratic party has done us wrong and now the tables are going to turn again. The democrats have showed there true colors and what they really stand for and thats destroying this country. If they cant win at the poles they will atack you personely no matter how they hurt your family but as long as they win and thats not how you play the game.


  6. BDD (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 12:50 am

    Iam going to prove my point.


  7. Joe B. (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 9:54 am

    Actually, you’re proving the point that I’m going to make right now:

    The connection between ignorance and race problems is provable and undeniable.

    “So my other question is where is the EQUAL RIGHTS at for all races.”

    You’re right. White oppression in this country is out of control. I mean, first they don’t let us own other people; then they tell us we can’t put black people in the back of the bus or make them drink out of separate water fountains (which means that now white people can’t even use that shit anymore); now they can sue us if we just don’t hire any of them; hell, blacks have all the rights and white people don’t have any left.

    Fuck, I don’t know how I didn’t see that. God, I’m an idiot. Here I’ve been being oppressed by the blacks and the NAACP (and the Jews, maybe? Am I being oppressed by them, too? — shit, and those Asians, I bet their involved, too). Holy fuck, I’m in way deeper than I thought. This is terrible. I can’t even get unemployment benefits or social security or disability because the blacks are using it all up! What happened to my right to be a lazy sack of shit?

    LOL. Man, did you even read all of both threads? This one and the previous thread, I’m not chocolate dot com?


  8. BDD (unregistered) on January 28th, 2006 @ 3:52 am

    like i said i just proved my point by your remarks joe as you are implying iam racist for speaking the truth. And if you like to start at the top of it Blacks owed blacks and used them as slaves and sold them to whites. Whites gave them there freedom back.
    You need a course in history and like i said thank you JOE for proving my point as you exploded yours…


  9. mikemartin (unregistered) on January 28th, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

    I will say Joe, I agree with the above poster, You sound racists to me as well.
    After rechecking what I wrote earlier, I did look and review in 2 West. Civ History books the following

    Only 1 % of the colonists owned slaves, the other 99 percent didnt, they were either endentured servants, or farmers, and as time continued, came to the cities because of industrialization

    Over 95 % of slaves went the “southern route”, further south of what was to become the US

    These areas were the islands, parts of mexico and south america, especailly Brazil. Again, numbers were in the millions compared to only 4 % that went to the U.S.

    I dont know what more to say Joe than this. I, as a vanilla flavored person, was saddened and upset at Nagins comments. I found them to be offensive. I also found his comments 2 months ago, about Hispanics taking over N.O to be offensive as well….guess that makes me a racist then for being offended by his insensitive comments?

    Oh well…..

    I m through kicking this dead horse to death…..
    Take care and have a nice day…….


  10. BDD (unregistered) on January 28th, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

    Mike Martin we whites are not allowed to be offended
    by comments made by blacks. Adn if you are then your a racist. I too was offended by Ray Nagin and his racist comments but as you know by now its ok for them to do so. Its a double standerd as i said before. And its getting worse day by day.


  11. Joe B. (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    There is no double standard.

    You can find Nagin’s comments offensive, if you want to. And you can go off the deep end and start complaining about white oppression, too. When you dogo off the deep end and start complaining that white people don’t have equal rights, you can expect that most people will reach the conclusion that equal rights is not what you have in mind.

    Like I said, Mike, you can spin the slavery numbers any way you’d like, but no amount of spin can excuse either slavery or the near-century of open racial injustice that followed its demise.


  12. Laura (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 10:07 am

    That was the point I tried to make from the beginning. White’s were and are discriminated against. I was feeling kinda alone for a while there.. I am tired of it.. and tried of feeling that as a white person I stand alone…We don’t stand together as the black comminity does.. we need to. I am not racist but I am proud to be white… I think if blacks can stand up for theirs.. we should be able to stand up for ours… and if that is not suitable.. noone should be allowed to have any sort of groups or organizations that promote or sponser one particular race.


  13. NO_Doc (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

    BDD, one of the problems here is that people are mixing up class and race issues. If you have a low paying job and can’t afford good housing, that is a class issue. However, because so many people of a particular race (African-American)(side note: whoever came up with this racial designation is a #($_#)*%; it drives me nuts! Call it ‘of African heritage’ if you don’t like ‘black’ but mixing the names of two nationalities to get a name of a race??? Geez!) were in a particular socioeconomic class (poor) that the distinction began to blur between race and class. This led to the ‘race card’, one of the biggest trumps in American society at present, being played over class issues. I would refer you to the discussion at the end of http://neworleans.metblogs.com/archives/2006/01/im_not_chocolat.phtml, I think that we all need to move forward with the way we deal with each other, but that sitting here and stereotyping people won’t help anyone but the politicians that get elected off of the friction between races and classes. What we need is to promote better governance in general, not advance some of us at the expense of others. But until whites stop looking down and start reaching down to help up to an equal level and blacks stop demanding equality and start putting in all the hard work necessary to get there we will be stuck having discussions like this ad infinatum.


  14. Laurie (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 5:55 pm

    Now how can any one be offended by “Chocolate Man?”

    He’s so cute, sometimes!!

    Laurie


  15. Laurie (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

    O.K. I’ll blow, again!

    Black, white, yellow, japanese, and polynesion are Not different races!!

    On an important side note: If you were born in America, you were born American!

    Simple, actually.

    Laurie


  16. BDD (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

    Laura you are right. And as it is now they used the class thing as a justification of racism….Blacks get what they want when they cry racism. Blacks can say racist comments and have no one to answer to. Blacks have there own groups, TV Station (BET) have there own so called civil rights group (NAACP), there own polical party (Black Culkas) Even now have there own racist group (Black Panthers) Now people you can look the other way about this issues and say they mean nothing that’s great that only means your a bigger far left liberal they you thought you was. Put people like me who see this on the news and on the street on a day to day base know that there is now EQUAL rights for blacks the blacks want to be in the front of all races and that is not going to happen as long as iam around! Iam a white male and iam also proud of my race. But for saying that iam labeled a racist. Buts its ok for blacks to do the same things and that’s a double stander. (Do as I say but not as I do)! What’s have rights to be proud of there race and should also get a month to there race and other races also. But then the blacks will cry racism as they do every day. O well it will never end. And people who say it’s not a black and white thing are kidding there self’s. When it is and always will be!


  17. BDD (unregistered) on January 29th, 2006 @ 7:20 pm

    Laura you are right. And as it is now they used the class thing as a justification of racism….Blacks get what they want when they cry racism. Blacks can say racist comments and have no one to answer to. Blacks have there own groups, TV Station (BET) have there own so called civil rights group (NAACP), there own polical party (Black Culkas) Even now have there own racist group (Black Panthers) Now people you can look the other way about this issues and say they mean nothing that’s great that only means your a bigger far left liberal they you thought you was. Put people like me who see this on the news and on the street on a day to day base know that there is now EQUAL rights for blacks the blacks want to be in the front of all races and that is not going to happen as long as iam around! Iam a white male and iam also proud of my race. But for saying that iam labeled a racist. Buts its ok for blacks to do the same things and that’s a double stander. (Do as I say but not as I do)! What’s have rights to be proud of there race and should also get a month to there race and other races also. But then the blacks will cry racism as they do every day. O well it will never end. And people who say it’s not a black and white thing are kidding there self’s. When it is and always will be!


  18. mike martin (unregistered) on January 30th, 2006 @ 3:23 pm

    Joe
    Just recently, it was brought to the attention of the media, that the term “affirmative action” should not be used, that it makes some people upset. Obviously, we all know what affirmative action is, and what it has done. It allows individuals be a part of a program, job, school, etc that otherwise couldnt make it under set guidelines, rukles, SAT scores, etc….

    Blacks now want to say that companies should be diversified, that they should have a mix of people, etc..and if it means affirmative action was used to get certain people in certain jobs, places, etc fine, just dont use the term affirmative action, maybe state that it should be diversified…..
    This reminds me of how blacks that were seeking “refuge” from Katrina, became upset with the word refugee being used to describe them……people then seeking refuge arent allowed to be called refugees?
    Oh well,,,,,have a nice day Joe……..


  19. LaTanya S. (unregistered) on February 3rd, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

    I am an african-american woman. I believe that Nagin’s comments were absurd. He must be afraid that most of the residents who would re-elect him, no longer live here and that type of “crazy talk” would appeal to them.

    Has anyone heard about an ex-stripper who wants to run against Nagin in April? Someone mentioned it to me earlier, but did not know the woman’s name. She supposedly said that she wouldn’t object to legalized prostitution. As crazy as that sounds, she still may be the lesser of two evils.


  20. Ann (unregistered) on February 4th, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

    “Obviously, we all know what affirmative action is, and what it has done. It allows individuals be a part of a program, job, school, etc that otherwise couldnt make it under set guidelines, rukles, SAT scores, etc….”

    You apparently don’t. Candidates that are hired, accepted etc. via affirmative action are qualified for the positions in question. Affirmative action is designed to make an end run around the centuries of culutural bias against minorities (including WHITE women). If there are two /equally/ qualified candidates, a white male and a white woman, a.a. would give preference to the QUALIFIED woman. Same standard applies to race.

    BDD, your ignorance of the history of the country you purport to love, as well as the racism you spew, is appalling.

    1)The Black Caucus (which I think is what you mean, but it’s hard to tell) is not a political party. It is an informal group of Congressional members. There’s also a women’s cuacus, a Republican caucus, and a Democratic caucus in Congress.

    2)The NAACP was founded by WHITE people at the turn of the last century in an effort to combat the unconscienable treatment of all miorities of color – African Americans tobe sure, but also Asianas, Hispanics, and Asians.

    3)The Black Panthers have been a non-issue for 30 years. Then again, that’s apparently the last time you functioned in any sort of reality. (back when women and coloreds knew their place)

    It’s not racist to be proud of your ethnic and cultural heritage. It IS racist to use whatever power you gain from that heritage (in your case, your white skin and male gender) to attempt to deprive others of differing ethnic cultural heritages of their rights, God-given and constitutional. If that shoe fits . . .

    A.



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