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Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Subtle Racism...

As a woman of color living in a hyper-segregated city dominated by a white male culture, I get blasted by subtle racism all the time. So often in fact, that I quit corporate Milwaukee making good money as a well respected computer programmer to work in politics first and now in non-profit progressive activism for a substantial pay cut. It's worth it to be able to work on my passions without the subtle racism looming over me daily.

I remember being told by a white male boss that he wasn't racist because "I hired you didn't I?".

I'm mixed race white and black. Although I went to Harambee and was raised back and forth between Milwaukee's activist African American leaders and liberal white activists throughout my childhood and teen years, I don't have an accent. It serves me well and that also infuriates me.
I was told once that I was "okay" because I wasn't "really black" by a white friend. Another told me that I "at least act right". Parents in Shorewood encouraged their children to hang out with me because I was "polite".

Teachers adored me because my writing was "proper" and I was "articulate". I have never been on a job interview and lost the job because I am "actually smart".

I don't take these "advantages" for granted, in fact many times in my life, I've been angry that my friend next to me in class, at work, or in line was treated differently because they spoke or looked differently than I did...

It's why I do what I do... I've often remarked that at least in the South the racists don't hesitate to tell you how they feel. There's something honest about open racism. Knowing who you're dealing with like the DA in Jena seems almost easier and less insidious than the subtle racists we face daily in Milwaukee.

In the North, political correctness has driven racism underground. No one WANTS to be considered racist around here, so people like Charlie Sykes play MLK speech segments on their shows and then turn around and say "those people don't raise their kids right".

The Bradley Foundation pretends they are "fixing the school system by introducing competition" and create a program like school choice that steals our tax dollars for the sake of corporate profits, using a few black children as poster kids for the dismantling of the public school system for the rest of the black community and put their kids in suburban and nearly all white private schools.

Our supposedly "liberal" Democratic mayor wants to "control crime" with anti-loitering policies that give our openly racist police department free reign to round up children of color at will. Now he wants to put 30 police officers IN OUR HIGH SCHOOLS to "control crime". As if Wisconsin doesn't have the highest juvenile incarceration rate in the country already. Let's not fix the problem with more teachers and family supporting programs that actually work, let's just lock up MORE kids. It couldn't be that MPS is only graduating 28 % of African American males and that same group has a 60% unemployment rate. It has to be that we need to lock more of them up. What ever happened to finding the root causes and solving those?

Mayfair Mall doesn't want black kids walking the halls, just the white suburban ones and so they set "youth hours" enforced at their own discretion.

It truly boggles my mind. Something is truly wrong with this city and subtle racism is the most insidious tool used to keep it wrong.

O'Reilly was wrong and what's worse is he doesn't even understand why.

It's time we call people on their subtle racism.

We are not "good blacks" and "bad blacks". We are people with different backgrounds and life experiences raised in a variety of cultures under the fabric we call America. The thread you were raised under should never determine the way you are perceived in life.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking out. I am being helped to recognize my attitude of privilege and superiority through reading internet postings, forwarded to me by a friend who, herself, suffers from the covert racism here in AZ. My friend is the most incredible person; it is so unjust. I know change is possible. I hope the suffering will end through changed white's attitudes, education, and having the issues of racism daily in front of our faces.

Thanks again. Judy Russell

:) said...

I am fat, and people often start talking to me about diets within 10 minutes of meeting them. They assume that my attitude to my fat is negative, and that I am unhappy, that fat is a symptom of my lack of confidence.

If they knew me for longer they would find I have tried more diets that they can think of, when the people around me made me feel bad about my fat. Now that I have realized that their attitudes about fat are bigotry, I feel much better about myself (of course they think this is 'denial'). I am a very confident and happy girl.

I found this well set out set of signs of racism ( http://academic.udayton.edu/race/01race/race02.htm )( what do you think of it? ), and got to thinking that fatism is very like racism. People are brainwashed into thinking that fat is unacceptable.

Being a white South African, I measure my attitudes about race against my experiences as a fat person, and I hope it makes me less ignorant. I wish, though, that the expectations of my behaviour, from all the races, would be standardised. I think we would benefit here from having an openly proscribed set of behaviours... like don't wear white after Labour Day, kind of thing.

In terms of being fat, I agreed with what you said about the Southerners... rather to hear the fatism so that I can help dispel the ignorance, so that the fatist can become more self-aware. Here we are just not addressing the race issues and everyone is doing it by trial and error in an inconsistent environment. The good news is that the young people seem to be pretty consistent, those I have met anyway - their attitude is, "What's the big deal? Get over it."

Crawford's Take said...

I have also been thin, morbidly obese and my current somewhere in between...

The discrimination when I was morbidly obese (actually diagnosed that by a doctor) was horrible!

I was told by a boss once after an hour and a half of praise of my excellent work that my "appearance was lacking towards the end of last year. You know, your clothes weren't fitting and stuff, but although it seems to be improving, you are not eligible for a raise based on last years evaluation because of it. We'll continue to monitor your progress and at the end of the year we'll take another look at your compensation provided your appearance continues to improve".

Not exactly subtle...

My job was to sit in a corner and write websites all day everyday out of the eyes of the public and seated by myself. Hardly like I was a fashion model...

This was 4 months and 40 pounds lost into the weight loss program in which I lost a total of 100 pounds over a two year period of time. I quit the job shortly after that comment finding a job where being skinny wasn't a prerequisite for a raise.

The overweight discrimination is especially applied to women (although men do have similar problems if they are morbidly obese), and gets worse the younger you are...

There is a direct relationship between any stereotypical racism and the subtle ways people are marginalized and I want to thank you for putting another face on this issue of subtle attacks on people. The way you are looked at when ordering anything but a salad in a restaurant for example or at a job interview.

I knew something was different about the way I was being treated once I had gained the weight, but didn't REALLY notice until after I'd lost it, then I remember being really ticked off at everyone for a few months as the subtle mean things said and done stopped and I knew it was truly not me people responded to, but how I looked... Took a while to get over that...

I am SO happy you've found peace with the body God gave you and hope others will too.

After years of struggling with my weight, I've found a comfortable happy medium where I can remain active and still eat reasonably and my body seems most comfortable where I am right now.

Besides! Real women have curves... ;)

Crawford's Take said...

I love the link to the article btw... Very well written and suggest others go read it!

dandelioness said...

When you are overweight you have an opportunity of losing weight, but when you are Black you will never be White. I say do away with the whole concept of "White"--to stop it being used as a priviledge and a "subtle" racist advantage in America. http://www.racetraitor.org/