Why I hate white ‘anti-racists’

Subtitled: ‘No comment’ to the article title

A recent news article mentioned that a Kent State undergraduate received notice from the FBI that an opinion piece of hers had attracted the attention of a white nationalist internet group. In “I am not a white bitch,” [link broken, read full text here] senior Beth Rankin complains about being “ostracized” for being white. She claims she wants to be “united” in the “fight against prejudice.”

The problem is that the black people are being mean to her. No, really! And undoubtedly that’s what’s stopping her from being a good anti-racist.

But read through Rankin’s piece, and you see the condescension, the arrogance and the privilege that too often are the hallmarks of the “white anti-racist.”

First, Rankin believes that she should be welcomed everywhere and is shocked to find that is not the case. She attended a Black United Students event four years ago and it is still fresh in her mind:

From the moment Justin and I entered the ballroom, the tension was palpable. We received puzzled stares from students sitting around us, and though we couldn’t put a finger on why, we felt incredibly unwelcome. I left feeling uncomfortable and unable to make sense of what had happened.

Many white people are unaccustomed to being the minority in a group. They are used to being made to feel welcome, and are shocked and dismayed when this is not the case. They conclude, as Rankin did, that it is because of racism!

She goes on to write that she confronted members of the Black United Students:

“… but that’s racism …” we were told that as the majority, we were unable to feel racism. We just couldn’t understand.

Two years later, I was forced to understand.

She was “forced to understand” because on two separate occasions she claims she was called a “white bitch.” By black people.

Because she experienced two or three acts of prejudice, she now claims to understand racism. And it apparently stung her deeply. Not only did black people not welcome her at their university event, but she was told that she might not have the life experience necessary to understand a viewpoint and people were mean to her to boot!

I would laugh if it weren’t for the fact that so many discussions of racism end up with white people similarly claiming all the air in the room for themselves. Once during a discussion of systemic institutionalized racism, a white man talked about the racism he too had suffered. He talked about how black people were racist too. And when asked what he was referring to, he said a black boy had thrown pebbles at him once when he was walking down the street.


At another community meeting convened to discuss problems of racism in the schools, a white woman took up a large portion of time while she cried. She said that she had tried, really tried, to be nice to black people. But sometimes they were mean to her.

And of course, people of color should be extra-nice to white people who deign to come and help us out with our “plight.” We should give them cookies and be very grateful. Because of course, racism isn’t their responsibility.

Unless, of course, their feelings have been hurt. “Racism” is an issue to white people when they believe that they have been on the receiving end. For example, why did the FBI contact the writer of the original article? Because she had received attention on the St0rmfr0nt website? How often are people of color threatened there? Has the FBI contacted them as well? I don’t recall ever hearing about it before, but maybe racism isn’t important unless it’s reverse racism. You know, racism that is going in an unexpected direction. That’s why they call it “reverse” racism–because it’s not supposed to happen that way.

Additionally, racism really isn’t the problem of white people. So give them cookies for wanting to help out, y’all. Cookies are what they want, but they’re not always going to get them. As writer Kil Ja Kim notes:

… white people need to be willing to have their very social position, their very relationship of domination, their very authority, their very being…let go, perhaps even destroyed. I know this might sound scary, but that is really not my concern. I am not interested in making white people, even those so-called good-hearted anti-racist whites, comfortable about their position in struggles that shape my life in ways that it will never shape theirs.

But you get the feeling instead that they want to hold hands with us and sing “Kum Bah Yah.”

Good heavens! Don’t those black people understand that they should be grateful that a Well Intentioned White Woman like Rankin has come to tell them what racism is all about? Because she knows it more intimately and has a deeper understanding of it as a white person whose life has been affected by racism.

This is just one of the arenas in which white people demonstrate their inability to relinquish their dominant position. So even when they want to do anti-racist work, they replicate racist behavior. Rankin writes as follows:

So this is what I say to you, current members and leaders of BUS: Tell me again. Tell me again what your goals are. I certainly hope they differ from those expressed to me in 2004.

Tell me what you are doing to reach out to non-black students who support your cause. As a straight girl, PRIDE!Kent has always welcomed me to their meetings and functions because they knew I supported their cause. I want to be able to attend BUS functions and feel the same love.

Racism is still a problem in this country, and it will never be solved if we continue to divide black from white. I have been called names and ostracized for the color of my skin, and I have been ridiculed for sharing my life with a man who is not white.

Got that? She demands to know BUS’ goals, and she “certainly hope(s)” that they are different from what she heard in 2004. Because an organization formed for the empowerment of black students should be held accountable by a white woman. And because the great problem of racism in this country is centered around the racism directed at white people.

Got that? The single greatest problem of racism today is the fact that black people are mean to white people. You can see this is true because black people are the CEOs of all the big corporations. They tend to own the majority of the wealth in the United States. They tend to get better education and go to better schools. And not only do they have all these privileges handed to them, but they additionally get to be mean to white people and nobody ever gives a damn about it! Except Beth Rankin, who is fighting tirelessly to end racism against white people.

(While you have the cookies out, give her one for having a non-white boyfriend! Because that’s so open-minded! Really, she picked a boyfriend of color when she probably could have gotten a white one.)

She repeats this demand in the comments: “What are you going to do about it?”

Kim addresses this as well:

Now I am sure that right now there are some white people saying that non-white people cannot understand what is going on, that we do not have the critical analysis to figure stuff out, or that we have fucked up ideas. This is just white supremacist bullshit because it is rooted in the idea that non-white people have not interpreted our experiences and cannot run things ourselves. It is also highly elitist because it assumes that only those who have adequate access to institutional and educational resources (whites) are able to understand reality. It also assumes that there are not internal conversations within and between our communities—which I do not think white people need to be privy to or participate in—in which non-white people struggle over these contradictions, debate about our own visions for society and how to go about achieving them. In short, this perspective by whites that non-white people cannot be in control of our own destinies is rooted in a paternally-racist approach to non-white people.

So if you want to call yourself a white anti-racist, start by giving up your privilege. Of course, this is a trick request. Because the privilege isn’t even visible to you. Yet it, and you, are sucking all the air out of the room.

Edited to add: Apparently the “discussions” about race in the campus paper are part of a series called “The Changing Face of Prejudice.” Really! IANMTU!™

You can read the full piece here.

141 thoughts on “Why I hate white ‘anti-racists’

  1. Firstly, she’s not afraid, even though educated Blacks who stand in solidarity, should be feared. A group of Black people who resist a White person is scary.

    She went to that BUS event to see Russell Simmons.

    Every “non-black” student, who was not black so probably not members of the group and therefore not the most informed source on the group, gave her the deal on the group- assumptions.

    The goal was black-owned, black-operated businesses and universities.

    … but that’s racism …” Well, if it is, then this country’s White folks are racist because there are thousands of White owned businesses and almost all universities cater to the “majority”.

    The writer states that her article is not intended trash Bus, but to “start a dialogue”, yet most of the article is spent doing just that.

    And of course, Blacks must explain themselves. Should people just call someone a White bitch just because they’re somewhere one would not expect a White person to be? No. Do i understand why it happens? i do.

    It always gets me, the outrage and surprise White people feel when confronted with the ruins of their privilege and destruction. She does not “want to hear their voice”. She wants to hear an apology, she desires appeasement.

    And why do White people assume that just because they sleep with someone of color, they are then an authority on racism or the issues of people of color?

    And if she really supports the equity of all people, why can’t she do it in her day to day life rather than assert herself into BUS?

    And how come when Black people express anger and distrust of White people, it’s division? We did not construct the division, nor spend centuries fortifying that division. We are trying to break it down and each time we chip a bit away, someone writes an article about reverse racism. (i liked your statement on reverse racism. 100% accurate.)

    Sorry i wrote an essay.

  2. I do think she has suffered (re:To her dismay, though, the organization posted fliers around campus that depicted a KKK-clad figure in an ”Uncle Sam wants YOU” pose next to her name, which appeared to connect her to that group.)

    But other than that, her complaints seem silly. You will not know what it’s like to be the only one of your own skin shade in a room until you experience it.

    I think your post is dead on. I never knew about white privilege until about a year ago, I think. I am 32. I grew up thinking racism was not as bad as it was because I grew up in a colorblind (not color aware, is that the correct term?) family. I have always known that you can never know what someone else has been through.

    I also hate the term reverse racism. I, also, while listening to KATIE COURIC’S NOTENOOK last night, about MLK JR., and how a bunch of streets in the US are named MLK Jr and maybe someday blacks and whites can co-exist there someday, because obviously, there are no other races in this world besides white and black, wanted to barf.

  3. It’s easy to see why Stormfront would appreciate Beth Ranken’s article and why some people would call her a “white bitch”.
    She sounds very much like the kind of logic that they employ.
    I read some of the comments after the article. The president of BUS made an open invitation to a meeting and Beth Rankin made this response:
    ,,,And I am opening it up to every single student, staff, faculty or interested party that agrees with me – or disagrees with me – to come to the meeting as well.

    No matter what your skin color or side of this argument, come to BUS’s March 25 meeting. Let’s create a real dialog. Let’s try to see things from every perspective. I believe in the power of communication. I believe we can understand each other better.

    I’ll see you March 25.

    Beth Rankin
    rankinel@kent.edu >>>>>>

    She sound like she is now in charge of BUS,
    uspuring the president’s invitation to the public with her own invitation.

  4. Wow, just wow. Kathy’s comment about Beth just sends it all to the next level. I bet you she’s nothing wrong with her behavior either because she is trying to do something and stop racism. Her sense of entitlement is beyond ridiculous. Everything is about her. She is a complete narcisist.

  5. Ten bucks someone sees the title of your post and says “Oh well fine then, apparently we can’t do anything right anyway so we’re just going to stop trying!” with much flailing of the arms and crocodile tears.


  6. But these are not really anti-racists, not even if they claim to be. They are white liberals who don’t want to take the next step beyond their feelings and egos. They haven’t even done Racism 101 if they don’t know the difference between racism and prejudice.

    It’s a hard road and cookies and praise won’t sustain us if we truly want to be allies.

  7. Pingback: links for 2008-04-06 at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  8. *standing ovation*

    That said, I do have to give her credit for one thing. Most white liberals sit on their hands for hours asking “how can ‘we’ recruit more women of color?” when they really should be saying, “why don’t we join the projects PoC are already leading?” She didn’t really try to do the second, but at least she showed up — which is an important step

    As a white ally, I’ve just spent the past five minutes trying to remember if I ever did anything this oblivious. I’d like to believe that I haven’t, but I’m sure others would disagree — especially when I first became interested in racial justice issues and didn’t know who Mari Matsuda was yet.

    Just out of curiosity, do you know of a good blog discussing how genuinely well-intentioned white people can become effective white allies?

  9. Robert J C Young opens his “Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction” by defining a postcolonial perspective as one based on an understanding of what it feels like to be the only black person in a room full of white people. As a white Muslim, I have been in the reverse position at mosque, and it can sometimes feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, I’ve been grilled because “white journalists and indeed academics have ‘posed’ as Muslims”, but sometimes it’s just because Muslims in my region of the UK tend to go to all Muslim schools (due to white flight) and hence the only white people they have known have been cops and teachers (who are not infrequently racist). So I take it on the chin and try to understand how my community feels in the context of their lives without judging prematurely.

  10. I think many people here are quick to label her because of her response to what she feels is racism.

    Why the need to call her a white bitch? Why is she a bitch at all? I’d be interested to know how much of her story she’s exaggerating or cherry picking in order to advance her point, but I agree with her sentiment.

    Too often black people look at all white people as evil racists who are responsible for everything bad that has happened to them and their people over the years. This divisive kind of logic is not going to help us move forward in this country, and it’s not the kind of ideology Dr. King based his movement on back in the 50s.

    Okay, yes, as a white person it’s ridiculous to act like your world is caving in simply because you for ONCE had to deal with walking into a room and not seeing anyone that looked like you. It’s a natural reaction for a group of people to be at least uncomfortable with outsiders.

    But there’s no reason to push away people who want to understand, who want to help, who want to be a part of something good. When are black people going to learn to stop pushing away white people who at least are making an ATTEMPT to “get it”.

  11. Damn. The post is right on, nothing to add, and lots to make sure I keep in the forefront of my thinking.

    Kathy’s comment pretty much puts the capper on everything you’ve said here — Ms. Rankin apparently feels it’s her right to be there and be comfortable, even if it that means horning in and snatching the reins. I have to wonder how much and what kind of “anti-racist” work she’s been involved in, with that mindset.

    I appreciate Sue’s comment as well.

  12. Hi everyone…I really don’t want to upset anyone, I just want to know how I too can fight racism. I am oppose racism strongle and I also happen to be white. I would hate to be one of the “white ‘anti-ractists'” discussed in this article. I want to help not hinder in the fight for eqality. Is there anything anyone can suggest to help me to be aware of white privilege? What can I do to avoid only focusing on white people (thought, obviously I already try to include all perspectives)? Thankyou (I really just want to help).

  13. Just out of curiousity….how is calling someone a “white bitch” any less racial or racist than calling someone a ”black bitch?”

  14. But really are you surprised? Do you really think that if colonisation had gone the other way and blacks had enslaved whites that they would just hand over power and privilege? Are you that naive?

    Every racial and ethnic group wants the best for them and theirs. I don’t see the ANC handing over power or jobs in South Africa, or the Swapo party in Namibia.

    This kind of article really pisses me off. Yes there is white privilege (and black victimisation), but you post these tirades about anyone who goes looking to help your cause. Sure Beth Rankin has no clue, but from your article all that appears is that you want a ghettoised society. Black universites, black businesses etc for blacks, lets not mix with the arrogant and oppressive whites (or Asians, or Indians). Ok, fine have the segregation you so ardently desire, but don’t then complain that whites have no understanding of your perspective.

  15. When Dr. King walked down the street, a few brave white men walked with him and were shunned in their communities as a result – Check the photos if you do not believe. Were they in the wrong? White priviledge??? This may be an example of pretentious social black priviledge and excatly the type of self-righteous, self-loathing that holds many African Americans back in an already racist reality. Positive projections. Fight the Power. One Love. End Racism in America. Stop blaming the past and focus on rising up now. Anyone with you is with you. We have enough enemies. Q: Do my nephew and niece differ from me because they are black or because black and white society say they do? Some blacks have white skin and don’t fit in. Let’s begin again, where my brother is my friend and we all blend in. Rankin is a little off, but Han stay on…and HE WHITE!

  16. everyday feminist:

    check out some of the articles here for a primer:

    and a good beginning article is “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh: http://seamonkey.ed.asu.edu/~mcisaac/emc598ge/Unpacking.html

    i found a link to this through racialicious, so i’m not sure whose blog i’m on, but i want to say thank you. i’m a college student trying to be a white anti-racist, and i know i am guilty of some of the attitudes exhibited by Ms. Rankin. this post was really informative for me, thank you.

    luce: speculating on what would have happened if blacks had colonized whites is irrelevant. i don’t think the author is implying that PoC are somehow inherently morally superior to whites and would not have developed a similar power structure in some alternate universe. what *is* important is acknowledging the oppressive white supremacist power structure that currently exists, and simultaneously destroying it while working towards creating an alternative that promotes equality.

  17. It’s not all right to be racist in response, I agree with this idea.

    However I disagree with how this has been delivered. I think you need to go back and put yourself in someone else’s shoes because right now you aren’t wearing them properly. Damn uncomfortable isn’t it? Racism. Not being wanted, UNCOMFORTABLE!

    That’s racism, but you are ADDING to the racism, not fixing it. What I got from this article was “white people are facing racism, wahh! Reverse racism! They should just hand away their trust!” Welcome to racism. No one should suffer it, but racism happens and it still happens today!

    Myself, I went to a predominately white school, faced racism, had food thrown at me because I wasn’t white, gotten into fight over my colour of my skin and but I left high school with majority white friends. I made the choice to fight for my ideas. Crying about it solves nothing. Oh, I neglected to mention I got hosed in my own community for befriending white people, being told I was giving up the colour of my skin and my heritage. OH MAN RACISM! Doesn’t it suck! BUT Who gives a fuck about my story?

    But what I’m trying to say is Rome was not built in a day nor can all the racism one is afflicted with merely disappear. Just because one is willing to reach out and change things, you might only change five people.

    Yes, that’s right! You gotta work small and build up.

    These black people have bad experiences with white people who think they can come in and change things. (LOL, history.) But it must be addressed that calling someone a “white bitch” is right. I would have broke out a crowbar and smashed their faces in. I have friends–loved ones–that are half-white and white they are not bitches and I will not tolerate racism AT ALL.

    But in the end, myself, I don’t see why they should trust her. Trust has to be earned before there is friendship and friendship is commitment. Even if she has good intentions, she has to prove it. That’s why they say she has privilege! They have had to prove their own worth too. Everyone has to struggle, but instead of changing their ideas they called her a white bitch? Did she deserve it? I do not know her. I hope she didn’t.

    If she’s soooo trying to be anti-racist should shouldn’t take that shit either! That’s racism!!! Everyone deserves respect, that’s what anti-racism should be.

  18. Err… And what I said about adding to the racism should be explained, yeah. This article is causing people to mistrust white people more because it makes a non-white reader feel alienated (LOL racism) and treated as if their trust, respect and friendship is something that is free, when it is untrue going both ways. Racism still effects everyone today.

    A merry-go-round of racism!

  19. The words “hate white” in the title adequately establish the author as not only a racist but a hypocrite.

  20. I love it when people listen in on other people’s conversations and totally get the wrong end of the stick.

    For all you white anti-racists who want advice, I have this to offer: listen. think. question. think. listen. think.

  21. Thank you Robin for the articles and sinoangle, I think i’m gonna have to have a think about “listen. think. question. think. listen. think.” for a bit…but yeah, thanks.

  22. I think this situation is a great example of white privilege and also misguided and what I like to call vulgar nationalism. The B.U.S. clearly has some misguided notion of what it means to be a progressive/radical black centered organization. Yes, fight for the rights of black students on campus, yes, set up black cultural events, yes campaign and shout at the top of your lungs against injustice. But prescribing to some sense of this comical anti-white mantra helps no one. I don’t see anything wrong, per se, with black economic nationalism. What I can’t get down with is being part of an organization that can’t explain the difference between supporting black entrepeneurs and black businesses and excluding whites. I think there was a major case of wires getting crossed, a so-called anti-racist white woman who can’t unpack all of the shit she carries in side her, and a group of self-important black campus leaders who are trying to act like some stokley carmicheal caricature.

  23. Always gotta love the “you’re racist for pointing out actual racism” and “stop holding on to the past” defensives. On a good day they’re hilarious to read.

    But the best of all is the “watch your tone” moment some have given to the author. Oh and there’s the one who’s all defensive because “hate” and “white” are in the same phrase.

    Like I said, I’m having a good day. So I can laugh at those people*.

    The article has it right: racism only does become an issue for whites [collectively speaking] when they think it’s harming them.

    Ooga boog! Reverse racism! Ooga booga! Be afraid!

    *tongue firmly in cheek

  24. What this comes down to is that on an individual basis, nobody, of any color, likes to be judged based on their race/sex/nationality only. This girl is being incredibly dense and offensive, but you can’t blame her for feeling hurt to be called “white bitch.” I know that some theorists say this kind of invective isn’t actually racism (becuase it’s not coupled with the same history and power to do harm) but I think that’s irrelevant on the level of the individual. It hurts and it angers to be judged on the basis of your race, period, no matter what race you are.

    That said, the truly well-intentioned, non-narcissistic white anti-racists would take this as a learning experience about what it feels like to be judged on the basis of race, as well as a little window into the black anger that’s the unavoidable counterpart to white racism, instead of as license to mount a campaign about how she’s been so discriminated against…

  25. very well written and put together article. it was a bonus to realize half way through that i was at the “community meeting” you spoke of and had completely forgotten that entire ridiculous situation… i guess i blocked out a lot of thing about that institution post-graduation… I am very curious who wrote this article. I’m glad to see you’re still winning victories… shoot me an email, i’d love to catch up.

  26. I think that a lot of people who were offended by this article are the people he is referring to.

    He is trying to get you to see the schema that when someone of color does something bad to a white person that it is usually concluded as racism, instead of just the point that they may not like your presence because you just might suck. Maybe she could be a big nerd. Maybe she is dating someone that makes other people jealous.

    He is trying to portray reverse-racism in its essence that these issues are not only small, but are concluded to be racist because it is the easiest devaluation of a person who could use that to show ignorance.

    On top of that, he is showing that she says she has a right to be welcomed, she has a right to understand the other group’s values toward the next semester etc. I see her point, because there is a lot of condescension at my school toward white students in black groups. But the fact is racism is based on generally not being welcomed into activities ALL THE TIME!

    His point is that she has one brush in with a couple of black people who don’t like her and it hurts her deeply and its racist and something should be done. Its not that what she is going through is not racist, but its the fact that the magnitude doesn’t merit all of this attention, nor does it merit this type of defense.

    It is the equivalent of when you play a football game and a players on the other team are playing dirty. They are getting penalties and our players are getting beat up. Then one of our players make one dirty play, and the game is forfeited. Sounds ludicrous? Well it is, because that it what she is pretty much counter-playing against the union.

    If anything, she should make an attempt to get the attention of the Black Student Union, but she doesn’t understand racism. To be honest, she does understand racism, but if that is racism then what black people go through is uber-uber-duper-silly-racism. That is my new word. She has never been a part of uber-uber-duper-silly-racism, so I don’t think she is there to understand it.

    What she goes through, walking and receiving stares from a bunch of people, is what a lot of black people go through ( including within their own race) every day of their lives. Ever day of their lives. Every day, they are the minority. Everyday, someone is watching them. Everyday, although they are welcome, they are socially so uncomfortable from everyone else’s uncomfortable feelings that its a vicious cycle of sadness and a loss of self-esteem.

    Do you remember when you were bullied in high school? Or when the most popular girl didn’t like you? Or you didn’t get invited to the Sophomore Semi? Multiply that feeling of alienation times every group you meet for many times a day, every day, for the rest of your life. That is uber-uber-duper-racism. And it does suck more when white anti-racist do say they feel that, because their evidence is paltry and they tend not to understand SINGLE ACTS OF RACISM. What she has gone through, I probably have gone through at least 70 times a semester.

    I like the article. I think she does deserve her point and that her fellow black brethren should be more open. But she needs to understand that 1) They may not like her regardless of her skin 2) There will be places you will not be unwelcome, and no amount of intelligence, attractiveness, or charisma will change that and 3) This form of racism happens to minorities on so many levels that one instance is the equivalent to a basketball free throw. Has almost nothing to do with the entire game.

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  28. No, no point proven, no flailing arms. Just exasperation at the limited conception of “white” and “black” that come across. Having received racism from both blacks and whites (and Hispanics) and being neither black nor white but a mixture of both, I thought I’d weigh in. But don’t you see the hypocrisy of “hating” whites- racist or not? Or labelling someone a “white” bitch, (she couldn’t just be a “bitch”?) or “white” trash. Reverse racism goes both ways.

    How about you all expand your perceptions a little. We are individuals, not colours, unless you are happy to live with such a limited notion.

  29. Luce – try reading the rest of the site instead of jumping on your high horse and to a host of limited conclusions. You never know, it might expand your perceptions a little.

  30. luce,

    Speaking for myself, yes, i am an individual and want to be treated as such and strive to treat others as such.

    Having said that, i must also say that i am an individual of Color, and to overlook that swipes away at my experience, my view and an intregal part of who i am. i want to be recognized- fully.

    This is one article being discussed here. Still, to simply ignore issues of racism and inequality instead of confronting them, discussing them and learning from this does not help anyone really, does not move us forward in understanding and fixing the problem of racism.

    Also, prejudice and racism are two different things.

  31. Nope, I have read other excerpts on this site and I am disappointed. I thought I would find a lively and nuanced debate about the complex issues of race and prejudice, but no, it seems to be devoted to bashing “whites” especially women. Also I think it is fair to judge this article as a stand alone, on it’s merits.

    What limited conclusions? It is extremely limited to use a label like “Black”, are you referring to African Americans, Nigerians, Brazilians? Are your issues those of peasant farmers in Western Uganda? Or of inner city, second generation Moroccan Parisians? Can you really be so narrow minded to use a label like “White”? Do I fit that notion? My paternal grandmother was Irish, my paternal grandfather Jamaican– how do I fit into your narrow definition?

    Where is your discussion of intra-African oppression and violence as is currently occurring in Zimbabwe and Kenya? Or are you content to merely limit the scope to the simplistic and reductive focus on white versus black?

    You say you want to be recognised fully, but when this person, Rankin tried to do this, she was excluded and berrated for attempting to do so.

    I don’t ignore these issues, but to truly combat them there has to be a much more honest and frank approach than this prejudice (and yes, I know the difference between prejudice and racism) towards anyone who attempts to understand black culture and oppression.

    Maybe it is a different culture in America, but there will never be, can never be integration while there is intolerance from all sides.

  32. From what i’ve read on this blog, Black Americans are the Blacks referred to. And in the United States, i believe it is different. i was corrected a few days ago when i said i believed being of color in any part of the world would bring the same type of experience. i now realize that there are many nations in which People of Color experience social and material equity.

    Another thing Americans are- self absorbed. ;)

    i understand what you are saying, or i think that i do, or wish to, but in regard to Rankin’s article, i am not so sure that she wanted to be recognized, but instead thanked and praised. Now that’s just what i got from the article. P’raps, in her heart she is sincere, but if that is so, would she not realize that for many People of Color, that may be difficult to see? There is a deep mistrust there that may cause folks to question her motives. That is something i am currently working on- my suspicion of others’ intentions.

  33. i’m sorry, this will be all.
    i think.

    i have to correct myself in saying Americans are self absorbed.
    Instead i will say that i am self absorbed.

    And something came to me just as walked away from my computer and that is that Rankin is almost surely recognized fully in every other place she has gone because that is how privilege works. i think that is most of her outrage. In the BUS setting she was not recognized or appreciated as she was at the LGBT gathering and could not fathom why.

  34. “We should give them cookies and be very grateful.”

    I laughed out loud when I read that.

    Carolyn O’ Grady has a great essay called “Seeing Things as They Are” about anti-racism. One of her suggestions to white anti-racists is to not automatically expect to be included in every group or movement, regardless of your intentions. I’m assuming it’s harder for those with white privilege to shake the sense that they can navigate any space they want and be welcome.

  35. What limited conclusions? These are the ones I read:

    “you want a ghettoised society. Black universites, black businesses etc for blacks, lets not mix with the arrogant and oppressive whites (or Asians, or Indians).” “the segregation you so ardently desire”

    Why are they limited? Because you ascribe to the author of this blog post, and to the other contributors to this blog, intentions and motivations that correspond to an extremely narrow view. That narrow view is not ours, as you would see if you read more than one or two posts.

    So whose narrow view is it?

    Many of our readers have found that by simply listening and thinking they have developed greater understanding; greater understanding that may have led them to conclude, for example, that “Black” is in fact a much more inclusive term than African-American, for it does indeed embrace the latter as well as Nigerians and those Brazilians who are indeed black (and not those who aren’t).

    c, the Black people usually mentioned in this blog are not necessarily African-Americans. Indeed, as you know, the people mentioned in this blog are not always black, and are not always American. They do however all live in the (predominantly white) “western world”, where they are the visible minorities. As are we.

    So no, luce, our issues are not those of peasant farmers in Western Uganda, but they might be of inner city, second generation Moroccan Parisians. (Haven’t done a post on them yet, but have done a couple on Muslims in Quebec and in the UK). It is not that we do not have an opinion on Zimbabwe and Uganda, it’s really that as non-Zimbabweans and non-Ugandans, our uninformed opinions count for zilch in the overall scheme of things. Where we CAN make a difference is in our own societies, those that we know.

    “Can you really be so narrow minded to use a label like “White”? Do I fit that notion? My paternal grandmother was Irish, my paternal grandfather Jamaican– how do I fit into your narrow definition?” How do you see yourself fitting into this definition? Does that have anything to do with why you relate to Rankin?

  36. Thanks, sinoangle.

    And i realize that this blog- this blog that has helped open my mind and heart, given me some comfort, encouragement and many needed kicks in the @$$- is not just about Black Americans, but many races in various circumstances and the many aspects and practices of racism.

  37. All right, I left a couple sarcastic comments earlier, but here’s what I seriously think:

    The use of the term “minority” in reference to skin color is itself racist. It only looks at a person’s race and disregards economic conditions, educational background, etc. In many ways luce is quite right. The fact of the situation, though, is that for now we’re stuck with labels like black and white, and even our government makes a point of categorizing us by our race.

    This having been addressed, I can say for myself that I am a white male who has lived in all-black communities such as the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn (Bed-Stuy) and black neighborhoods of Memphis, etc. I’ve also hung out with blacks in mostly white neighborhoods, and I have on occasion seen vulgar racism from whites directed toward them.

    I have experienced racism from whites myself, because I have a beard and they mistakenly assume I’m either Jewish or of an Islamic nationality. I have experienced ardent racism from Hispanic Catholics because they think I’m Jewish… man, those people aren’t shy about it, either. I have to say, though, that most of the racism I’ve experienced has been from blacks who resent whites.

    The problem is that while there has been a huge push in the last fifty years to inculcate egalitarian values in white children and teach us to be accepting of other races, there hasn’t been a similar campaign to teach black children to be accepting of whites. In fact, there’s been the opposite: a strong push to teach blacks that they need to unite and struggle against the white majority for economic betterment.

    So what Beth Rankin didn’t understand is that she was walking into a “war council” where she was the enemy… she was thinking the way she had been taught, that race doesn’t matter, stereotypes are evil, prejudice of any sort is a crime, etc.

    Eventually society’s going to figure this problem out and things will change, but for now the best we can do is try to understand each other’s point of view.

  38. Where do I begin, this is so rich. The entire article is laced with so much irony and humor (I’m being sarcastic). As bizarre as some of the White characters behave/response, it speaks volumes to the psychosis of socio-political and cultural dominance. For any human or group of humans to degrade to the place of belieiving in their inherent entitlement to dominate, must require the pre-existence of a profound spiritual brokeness, that shows up more like the ‘arrogance of fear.’ While it may be comforting to spotlight the mayhem of racism, let us not forget that the same paradigm that fuels racism also fuels all other “isms.”

  39. I can’t help thinking that Rankin’s very obvious attitude problem might have had something to do with the friction from the start.

    I had a college roommate, a very liberal guy, very up on equality talk, who was always discovering “racial tension areas” in nearby middle-class Black neighborhoods. Finally I walked with him once and found out why: he would plow down the middle of the sidewalk with his head in the air, practically pushing folks aside like he owned the place. It would be rude anywhere, and this wasn’t even our neighborhood. So, yeah, I felt there was tension … when he was around. At some point he suddenly confined himself to white neighborhoods. I guess somebody finally said something to him.

    I dunno, jeepers, Rankin pulls stuff like this, saying that the Black student organization is more powerful than white organizations like, um, I’m drawing a blank … say, the University itself? And but … so it’s a mystery to this kind of person why anybody might not like to have her around?

  40. It’s a fair point, but let’s face it… she went someplace where she was the least important person in the crowd. And she still stuck around till the end. Doesn’t exactly compare to your primadonna sidewalk sociologist, does it?

  41. But don’t you get it? She’s trying to help you! What’s wrong with you people? Surely you should be commending her! What’s that…? You don’t need white women to arrogantly assume that they will single-handedly change the whole system of racism that you have been struggling against all your life with a wave of their (privileged) magic wands? Well. So much for showing gratitude. And she even went out of her way to find a black boyfriend.

  42. If it’s any consolation, I don’t like white “anti-racists” either. I consider them to be traitors not only to the white race, but also to America itself. Since these white, soft-headed, overindulgent, overly-permissive liberals have been calling the shots in this society (ever since World War II), America has weakened considerably. Our economy has gone down the sewer. We are far more vulnerable to our enemies than we used to be. We have seen an escalation in crime and terror throughout America and in the world at large. The moral fabric of this nation has been torn to shreds by these whites who call themselves “anti-racists.”

    I also happen to think that there’s some humorous irony in the fact that a white liberal anti-racist goes to an all-black event, and she doesn’t expect any problems whatsoever. Obviously, somebody must have hoodwinked her into thinking that America was a “tolerant” and “color-blind” society where people are accepted unconditionally, regardless of race, color, creed, or nationality, and where everyone is “equal.” Somebody must have filled her head with a lot of claptrap about blacks being “just like everyone else.” That was probably her expectation, but if she had come to us, we would have told her the truth.

    The behavior she saw among the blacks at this “BUS” event should have been expected. If she had gone in with eyes open, she would have realized that this is just the way black people, and no amount of white liberal sweet-talk will ever convince them to change. There will never be any reconciliation between the races, so there’s no point in even trying.

    Let’s just separate the races now, before it’s too late.

    Since the white anti-racists can’t seem to break out of their malaise and complacency, I don’t see that there’s any other choice.

  43. Eye,
    Your position that white anti-racists are traitors does not make any sense. People who truly love America value the ideals that we have not yet lived up to.
    My suggestion to you would be to focus on yourself, your own actions, and the ideals that you hold dear, and reflect on how you can make America a better place.

  44. Unwelcome is the reason why whites don’t tread into the ghetto. Ghettos were the housing is the same as the white side of town, just made dirtier and scarier by those who reside within. Same units. Same plumbing, same tap-water. 25 percent or less of the rent of the white neighborhood with Cadillacs in the parking spaces.

  45. Why are we obligated to keep trying?

    What do we, as whites, get out of it? What’s in it for us, aside from more crime, terrorism, war, moral decline, and economic collapse? Anti-racism is not a very good deal for white people, so that’s why we must abandon it.

    I feel no obligation to pay for the sins of my ancestors, nor should any other white person feel such an obligation. Our obligation is to ourselves and our posterity. Nothing else is more important than that.

  46. I understand your viewpoint, but your argument is a bit of a stretch. Your argument forgets the simple truth that two wrongs don’t make a right. It is not okay for black people to be rude to nice white people, just because black people are not the majority race. You can stretch it as much as you want, and I will still understand your viewpoint. I even agreed with you at many points in your article, because I am mixed race black and white which enables me to truly understand both sides of the isle. But, as much as I want to agree with your argument, the conclusion that I continually reach with my objective analysis, is that two wrongs don’t make a right. It is impossible to objectively prove that a friendly white person should feel good about getting treated like shit by black people who the white person is trying to help. Similarly, it is impossible to objectively prove that a friendly black person should feel good about getting treated like shit by white people who the black person is trying to help. You are basing your entire argument on the concept that white people are ON AVERAGE the majority race with the most power in this society. Okay, fine, but what does that have to do with trying to justify one race treating another race like shit? Who cares who the dominant race is! Shouldn’t everybody be nice to everybody? It sounds to me like the gay pride group had the right idea by treating the nice heterosexual white lady with respect, regardless of her innate feelings of domination towards homosexuals. That is extremely presumptuous and rude to even think that about another person who is trying to help you. You don’t know what is in their mind. Just because they are a member of the majority race, doesn’t mean they are proud to be a member of the majority race. I am often times ashamed to be a member of this arrogant nation that thinks it is so much better than any other country in the world. When I traveled over seas, I didn’t even want people to know that I was an arrogant American. But, based on your argument, every American traveling over seas should feel dominant towards people of other nations and therefore be happy when they get treated like shit by the “inferior” foreigners? Your argument forgets about the principle of EMPATHY which causes people to feel bad when imagining how another person might be feeling bad. Where is the empathy in your argument?

  47. @ From the Eye of the Storm: Are you serious or was that a satire piece? Okay, obviously it was a satire piece. It started out seeming serious, but then the conclusion at the end was so completely rediculous that it must be satire. Wow, that was a really good satire! You really had me going! :)

  48. April 8, 2008 at 6:18 pm


    Kudos to lessthancharmed! This was such an excellent comment that I felt compelled to copy it into this comment so nobody has to scroll up to read it again. One of the best things about this comment, lessthancharmed, is that it illustrates how it is possible for Rev. Wright to be a good person who was able to say the things he said. I wish the main stream media was as open minded as lessthancharmed!!!!!!!

  49. Wow, there are a lot of hateful black people posting comments on this article. I am half black half white, so I have spent my entire life of 33 years not even having an ethnic group of people to identify to. I can count on my fingers and toes all the half black half white people I have met in my entire life. So you would think, based on the logic of this article and the logic of many comments here, that I should be horribly depressed and oppressed and treated like shit constantly from being such an extreme minority, right? WRONG! My life has been extremely boring in terms of racial tension, because I have just always seen the good in everybody. I always assumed that people have good intentions. If anybody treats me bad, regardless of their race, I just assume they are having a bad day. I have not had the luxury of being a member of an ethnic group that is in plentiful supply, and yet I seem to be experiencing less problem. How is this possible? I think everybody should just live their life as if everybody is the same race. It has worked for me for 33 years, so I am confident that it will work for you also.

  50. I think everybody should just live their life as if everybody is the same race. It has worked for me for 33 years, so I am confident that it will work for you also.

    The only problem with that is that pretending there aren’t differences between different ethnic groups – from cultural differences to the way they are systemically treated by a white patriarchy – doesn’t actually mean that there aren’t differences. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away, in other words.

    I am a halo person myself (mixed), and for twenty years I considered myself colourblind. Only in the past three have I been able to see how much that blindness really crippled my understanding of myself, my heritage, and my place in society. So your confidence means very little to me, although I’m glad you’ve found a path that works for you.

  51. Sara no H. ==> Think about it. If you are capable of ignoring the problem and living a happy successful life, then there really isn’t that big of a problem. Think about it. If everybody lives by that strategy, then after a few generations there really won’t be a problem anymore. That is one option. OR, we can just keep nit picking every little possible evidence of any sort of possible problem, which will cause 10 times longer for the problem to go away. Racism is not one of those types of problems that you can just fight until it goes away. Fighting just makes people more racist. Look at the civil war! Racism is one of those types of things that you have to just ignore until it goes away. If you do not have the luxury of ignoring, then you have to fight a war, but if you are capable of living a happy successful life while ignoring the small evidence of racism around you, then eventually it will go away on its own. Does that make sense? :)

  52. Opposing Viewpoints: You wrote “Racism is not one of those types of problems that you can just fight until it goes away. Fighting just makes people more racist. Look at the civil war!”

    I really hope that this is a joke. My head hurts.

    How did the abolition of slavery (i.e. an outcome of the civil war) make people MORE racist in our society? You don’t think that slavery is the ultimate expression of systematic, institutionalized racism? Furthermore – there are quite a few of us in this country who have the luxury of ignoring racism. What do you think is perpetuating our racist status quo?

    Exactly. Your strategy of going about your “happy successful life” with your eyes screwed shut to the realities around you is what actively reinforces a racist system – one that you benefit from. Nothing has ever changed through just ignoring the problem.

  53. Opposing Viewpoints: Yes, that does make a twisted sort of sense.

    If, as you say, you have the luxury of ignoring the problem to begin with. I don’t have that luxury. No other poc I know have that luxury. So far, the only people I know who do have it are very well-off poc and white people. In fact, being able to ignore the problems racism causes is pretty much a hallmark of white privilege.

    Racism isn’t a “small” problem by any means, unfriend. It doesn’t help that racists like you are out and about trying to trivialise the sufferings of others simply because you’d rather live in Disneyland.

  54. Sara no H.,

    I’m a bit mystified that you referred to Opposing Viewpoints by saying “racists like you.” When you falsely label someone a “racist” when they’re just trying to be honest and open up some dialogue, it only exacerbates the problem.

    “Racism” (for lack of a better term) is not an either/or condition. It exists by degrees. Most people are probably a “little bit racist,” but some people are a lot more “racist” than others. If we were to quantify “racism” on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the “least racist” and 10 being the “most racist,” then I might be at 8 or 9 on that scale, whereas Opposing Viewpoints might only be at 1 or 2 on such a scale. And yet, in your eyes, we would be exactly the same. You don’t seem to be able to understand the varying degrees of difference at work here. It’s not an either/or condition.

    But I don’t think there’s a single person on Earth who would be completely non-racist. EVERYONE is a little bit “racist,” I think. It’s just human nature.

  55. everydayfeminist, I recommend this reading:

    Paul Kivel: Uprooting Racism
    subtitled How White People Can Work For Racial Justice

  56. Dear White People:

    Black people do not owe white people an open invitation to participate in groups or activities that are for black people and sponsored by black people.

    Black people do not have to be nice to white people, not even you, fair anti-racist white. You, above all white folks, should understand from whence such pebble tossing, name-calling vitriol might come.

    I can’t believe the petty, trifling bullshit that hurts white folks feelings. Honestly, are you not just a bit ashamed?

    If you are not ashamed, you have been severely mis-educated, and that is not all your fault. But your job is to get educated. By reading, and by shutting up, and listening. Shut up, and listen to what these people who have called you a bitch are telling you. Be humbled. You are not the answer to the problem.

    A very short list: Lynching. assassination of beloved black leaders, red-lining, all sorts of discrimination that white people never had to deal with. Day to day racist bullshit. Creepy compliments like “you are so articulate.” Institutionalized racism (which actually comes from white people, yes, people like you good hearted anti racists that continue to hide out behind words like ‘institutionalized” and “structural’ (whew, that takes the heat off me!)

    Having genuine relationships with black people-and i don’t mean a love relationship with one black person-is a way to find out if you are welcome to join groups of black people. See if black people, especially black women, accept you, like you, find you worthy of being friends. If you can’t get along with black women, go figure out why that is before you try to bust in on the black Student Union. Ask your black friends if it’s appropriate for you to attend. Just ask, because your friends will tell you the truth, and when they do, listen to what they are telling you. They might have told you” your are gonna be called a white bitch. You are going to be questioned.” Your good black friends will ask you some questions. They will, if you are lucky enough and good enough to have earned their trust and care.

    Why should they care for you and trust you? Really? What have you done to earn that?

    As a white person in a black group, you suddenly might realize that you are visible. Seen as white. treated as suspicious until you prove, through shutting your mouth, listening and taking some shots and realizing that you deserve them (yup, ya do, even if you never owned a slave and read Harriet Tubman’s biography when you were 10.) Looked at with suspicion, the way black folks are looked at by white folks. Questioned. Black people are owed some answers, don’t you think?

    For you to answer questions, you have to prepare by searching your soul, questioning yourself, re-educating yourself and listening to your black friends. Then figure out if your participation is needed. It won’t be needed at every event, function or group. Be humble, accept, and keep on with the re-education.

  57. I don’t think that white people can understand what it means to face the world in darker skin but some of us honestly want to end the division and have true equality. I think “white” needs to be decentalized as “normal”. The minor racial ills that most white people refer to are ridiculous when compared to slavery and the struggle that is still going on for true equality. The idea that we are all going to magically sing songs and hold hands is silly but hate on any side of the issue is an impediment to solving the problem. I grew up poor and am still poor, in fact my family has been poor for generations so while I don’t understand the priveledges that white people are given I can’t deny what I have never been privy to. I tell you this not in the hope of sympathy but simply to explain my lack of understanding of “white priveledge”. I don’t under rate the intelligence of those with darker skin than mine. And although I cannot understand the anger that black people seem to direct at all white people I acknowledge it. I must say I object to being held responsible for crimes I didn’t commit. I have seen it over and over said that white people deserve to be put down and mistreated and that’s wrong no matter how you try to justify it. Some do yes, but not soley based on the fact that they are white. I can only veiw this issue from my own upbringing and try to be open to the veiws of others. I don’t think black people should be nice to white people just because if they don’t it would hurt our feelings. In fact I always feel the urge to be nicer to black people than to other white people because I don’t want to be mistaken for a racist and I know that attitude is shaped by the fact of racism and I hate that. I guess we need the black community to tell us how we can heal or at least begin to heal the gaping wound that SOME white people caused and are still causing. I don’t think its right for someone to hate me simply because I was born with light skin anymore than I would hate another for the darker shade of theirs.

  58. Learn a lesson, white anti-racists: You will never be accepted by these people. They are the racists. Fight them, not your fellow whites.

  59. She can never understand, she should simply have learned she over stepped her bounds. She gets called white bitch; I get called Nigger…. and Cracker, and Uncle tom, Grey, White Boy, etc…. I get insulted and I just flip them off and leave she shuld have figured out that going to a minority group wouldn’r be all “Hey Sister” and warm cookies.

    I think whites don’t really now what racism is either, they have some vauge idea but don’t really know squat about it. Does that not mean she has gotten some negativity for being white, no; but that is expected when someone is in a place where there are some who have been discriminated againist when they went to a all white place and got some looks and some word were expressed.

    I believe she knew what she was getting into and wanted to write about it to get on some whites heart strings on reverse racism.

    JH ^ you must be so blissful

  60. Day-to-day black experiences confirm the premises that white racists exist in society and actively indulge in racist behavior. White racists would not allow a black person to attend their organization meetings. Look at the exclusive enclaves of corporate organizations, university systems, the judicial system for more evidence of racial exclusion. If such people are tolerated in America then why not black racialists who don’t want to include a white person in their meetings. Does not exclusion of blacks in the former groups not amount to “white ghettoization”, if yes, what is wrong with “black ghettoization”. Fear of division of society must not come into the way of representing a just cause. A debate by Rankin about one or two stray incidents that convey personal perspectives on racial relations would have sabotaged the goal and larger cause that the BUS meeting was held for in the first place.

  61. A lot of people have raised valid points about what’s wrong with Beth’s attitude, but there is still no excuse for anyone to call her a “white b—-.” If they wanted to create an all black haven — which is personally legit, see the Malcolm X era of the Nation of Islam or Steve Biko’s defenses for all black anti-apartheid movements, that’s fine, but they can’t do it in that way. I also think that like Malcolm we have to give whites excluded from minority havens a way to still get involved with movements. We can’t ask them to subvert their privilege, deny them a forum to do so, and then not tell them how they can use their efforts.

    Eye of the storm — how can you judge all blacks by the actions of the few who called Beth something inappropriate? Furthermore, everyone isn’t a little bit racist — that’s the excuse racists use to make racism seem normal and unproblematic. People who are “a little bit racist” cause huge problems because they end up denying jobs, credit, housing, or education and even justice to other people.

    Heather, yes, black people, like all people, do have to be nice to white people and all people. Being black doesn’t exempt you from being nice — being people means you have to treat fellow humans with civility. Even when explaining to whites why they don’t have a place in a black haven you have to be kind.

    Uh, han, how are blacks “blaming the past” for any reality that doesn’t have a direct correlation to their present day status.

    A.H.H. I see you are half and half. I’m four races, which is why I take umbrage with your comment that you see both sides. No matter how many races you are the only perspective you have is your own — and there are no single white or black perspectives to have access to. Furthermore, I know of people with my same mix of four races and since we all look and are perceived differently, were raised differently, and have different relationships to different heritages and communities, each of us have wildly different experiences. One thing that drives me crazy about Obama is his racist belief that being mixed race gives you superior insight.

  62. I know it’s pretty after the fact, but since the remains a popular post I thought people might want access to BUS’s response http://media.www.kentnewsnet.com/media/storage/paper867/news/2008/04/14/Opinion/What-Makes.A.white.Bitch.A.Hero-3321920.shtml

    Quotes: On March 26, BUS held a meeting to discuss the issue of racism on campus. At this meeting, it was exposed that all of Rankin’s alleged encounters with former BUS leadership were gross exaggerations at best. In her column, she cites Teddy Harris and DaMareo Cooper as racists; however, at the meeting she hailed them as allies.

    We do not promote or condone hate-speech or discrimination of any kind.

    She did not want to spark a conversation about race. In fact, she stated on KentNewsNet.com that her original intent was to bring to light “the fact that group [BUS] members, leaders and supporters have been notoriously racist over the years … and still to this day.”

    The thing you fail to mention in all of this is that none of the people who called you these names were members of the Black United Students executive board. If someone in the audience of the Third Eye Blind concert called one of us the n-word, we wouldn’t write a column implying USG is a group of racists.

    When Beth gets threatened, the Akron Beacon Journal runs a front-page article. When our president gets threatened, it gets deleted from history like it never existed.

    It is an elitist attitude to think you are doing us a favor by taking time out of your day to help the minorities. But help us how? The same way the Christians helped the savage Native Americans repent their pagan religion and embrace a new god? The same way the Europeans helped the ancient Africans become civilized, even though they had been intellectually enlightened for almost 10,000 years.

    If you really wanted to help, you would have done then what you are doing now: Tell those people you are not a white bitch, but in fact someone who cares about helping advance people past these racist ideals.

    Stop promoting the ideals you THINK you are fighting against.

  63. *winces* There should be some kind of trigger warning on that comment thread. Warning: ignorant racist brats ahead …

  64. I am a white woman who is married to an Asian man. Sometimes I get rude stares from white men. It’s not all in my mind. I once had a white man roll his eyes when I mentioned that my husband is Filipino. Why do some white men (not all white men) just some, have a problem with white women marrying outside of their race? And why are black women criticized for marrying white men?

  65. brave one – some people believe that race mixing is wrong.

    Some people believe that they are pure bred 100% white or black. It defines there life that they stay in their own race and as a result of that “belief” they live to is as a code, but when they see others who have mixed race relationships, they are angered by it, because it is against their choice to keep their race, “pure” so to speak.

    Needless to say the world is diverse, this is the opinion of some but not of others, their opinion is not important if they try to hurt you, ring the police.

  66. WOW! This article just hit nail on the head… I am not Caucasian but i have extremely fair skin light eyes and hair….. I went to an almost all black school and was also called a conceited “white bitch” “white devil” oh and my favorite “cracker”. This happened up to the time I moved into a better school district and went to school with mostly white people… I was in heaven!…. I had never felt as if I belonged until that time. Their are many people (mostly blacks) who say white people are racist but from personal experience it’s definitely the other way around…. I have met more black people that have made disgusting racist jokes against whites than vice versa.

  67. Just another example of how we can’t change society’s heart. We have laws, but as everyone should know….there’s always a way to “get over”. My husband is black and I’m white. After 15 years of marriage….I finally see why he says “you will never fully understand how it feels to be black, because you aren’t.” He’s so right. I think it has made me see more of what a privilege it is to be white. And yes, we play “the game” of “You stay home while I go and see about this apartment for rent.” “You stay in the car while I go in and see if they have a bathroom.” Unfortunately, it works. Because I love him and my children, my spirit is broken by racism. But I will never know how it feels to be black….never.

  68. As a white person and an educator, I’ve found that it is hard for white people to be open to learning about racism and personal change when the words we use don’t resonate with the lived experiences people have. By this I mean that the ignorance white people carry about racism is not “experienced” as a “privilege.” There are no privileges or rewards for being ignorant. Ignorance ALWAYS brings a negative consequence in terms of failed relationships, violated values, loss of self understanding, lost opportunities, etc. Even when people don’t know that they have lost these things, there are real problems with talking about those losses as somehow reflecting “privilege.”

    I think it’s more helpful to talk in terms of expectations and in terms of “entitlement.” Often people don’t know what their expectations are until they are violated. When that happens, it’s natural for anyone (regardless of their key identities) to feel threatened. We can have compassion for that experience and still challenge the expectation.

    Racism is too big to fight with our identities. We need to fight it with all our humanity.

  69. It’s interesting to note that the more narrow minded comments here, seem to make more assumptions about the race of the author of the article, the author of the website, and the race of the different commenters so far.

    I agree completely Gail. “Racism [or any -ism] is too big to fight with our identities. We need to fight it with all our humanity.”

  70. “It’s interesting to note … the different commenters so far.”

    As if to say, that this person must be of this race, because someone not of that race couldn’t possibly think or feel that way.

    The people who are making these assumptions are, I would say, somewhat unaware of aspects of their own humanity.

  71. Excellent essay. I was cringing at the ignorance of the Beth Rankin. I remember getting an invitation from the Black /LatinoStudent Union to join them. I have a Hispantic last name, and it is my real name, but I’m whitey mcwhite. She made a fool of herself for sure.

  72. I am a white man. And I can say that my negative viewpoint towards racism and my identity as an “anti-racist” does not come from any kind of racism that happened to me. Never have I ever felt negative feelings towards me because I am white or really truly felt what many people of color feel on a daily basis. The closest thing to racism that has happened to me is being told I can’t dance or rap with my friends at home because I’m white. Sure, this is annoying, but it’s never out of an angry place in my black friends’ heart, nor am I exposed to enough negativity towards my skin color that I feel distraught by such comments.
    So I have taken this stance: I don’t subscribe to my label as a white person. Nor do I feel some type of connection with other people of the white race because of my skin color. I don’t identify with all other white people because I am my own person and everyone else is their own person. So this is one of the main reasons why I guess I consider myself an “anti-racist.”
    To me, I think being anti-racist is comparable to being ant-murder. It is easy to find racism in society and the terrible effects it can have on people, just like it’s easy to see that murder in society is terrible as well. Therefore, as a human being, I see no choice in the matter. It’s common sense to recognize and oppose racism.
    I think that this essay lumps all white people together:

    “Racism” is an issue to white people when they believe that they have been on the receiving end.”

    Not true. I have never been on the receiving end of racism, yet I still recognize that it is a terrible thing in the world and a cause of much human suffering.

    “So if you want to call yourself a white anti-racist, start by giving up your privilege.”

    I’d be wiling to do that if it would make any difference. But what difference would it make? How would it enable me to oppose racism more? It would actually make my viewpoints more self-centered with an overtone of vengeance because it happened to me.

    Beth Ranklin’s biggest problem is her issue with racial identity. She considers herself an exception to most white people in that she cares about the problems of people outside her race. The problem with that is that she doesn’t see herself as a fellow racism-fighter, but an exceptional ambassador of her race who should be lauded for breaking from what can be considered the “norm” of her the white race.

    But the main issue I have with this essay is that it views all non-racist white people as self-entitled ignoramuses who aren’t aloud to reject racism.

    My view on this is that I consider myself a fellow human on this earth who is passing through this lifetime with everybody else. Being born with white skin was something out of my control. This doesn’t mean I share personality and mental characteristics with all other white people on earth. I merely look the same as them. The effects were that I haven’t experienced racism head on like many people of color have. But I am a human that cares about other humans in danger. Just as much as I oppose murder and want to prevent it, I oppose racism and also want to prevent it. So I wish that being a white “anti-racist,” I don’t feel any sense of righteousness other than I believe in what’s right. I don’t feel any entitlement or that I am special by any means. I just know I am a human being who opposes unfair treatment to other human beings in any form. And racism is clearly such a form of unfair treatment.

  73. clarification: “by giving up my privilege” i took that as meaning that I would face racism myself. I don’t consider myself privileged because I am white.

  74. Don’t know if someone else mentioned this yet… but the way she writes about her boyfriend in the beginning sounds as if he is also white. Which means the partner of color that she shares her life with is fairly new (less than four years). Hmmmmmmm…. I dunno, that just makes me wonder somewhat so I just decided to glance at her myspace (it wasn’t hard putting her name into search and getting it). It was interesting looking through her friends as the only non-white friends seemed to be one latin male, one perhaps part-black, part-white girl, one black man, and Barack Obama. The rest are all white.

    Interesting… but not surprising.

  75. Finished reading through all the comments finally. Wow, what a range of people… what a range. It must be the wonder of the internet.

    First off, this article was well-written and successfully analyzed the article it was based off of. You know you did a good job when you get so many different comments sparking so many conversations.

    There is so much I could respond to… but right now, I will just think and read.

    Thank you for writing this.

  76. Only people with the worst lots in life get to complain, don’t you see? There’s a threshold for when racism should be something worth fighting against, and when its acceptable. Duh. Because “black” persecution is much more common and historically, much much worse, than any prejudice against “white” people, any white person who is judged by the color of his skin should just suck it up. White people should expect to be ostracized by black people because other white people ostracize black people all the time. But wait, if one event of being ostracized for your race is no big deal (depending on the race, it seems), then why is it a big deal when it happens all the time? I guess ostracizing/calling people names because of their race isn’t a big deal. Thank you blog! You’ve taught me a great lesson. I wonder if violence is also acceptable.

    I’m sickened by this. We are all human beings. We are diverse but we all deserve respect and love as humans. If you’re not willing to give it to everyone, then you don’t deserve it from anyone.

  77. Oh, a question! As a white person, is it okay if I call a black person a name if they try to be friendly to me? I mean, seeing as they’re of another race, our experiences are obviously too different for us to relate to and respect each other. I mean, shouldn’t the black person expect disrespect, even if we’ve never met before, because of our respective skin colors?

  78. Matt, Thanks for providing examples demonstrating how white supremacy has negatively impacted our ability to think critically and eroded our ability to empathize. You held up a mirror to my face. Uuuggh! If you want an answer to your question that you will actually believe, start doing your own research. (Refer to step #1 of the 12 White Steps)

  79. Please comment only if you have something new to add to the discussion. If you’re just going to interject one or more of the WHIB comments, don’t bother. They pretty much are all covered above.

    Also, please note that if you come on an anti-racist blog and the first thing that makes you really angry is what you perceive to be racism against white people, your priorities are fucked up.

  80. I think it’s important to realize how out of control our circumstances are. We’ve all inherited this earth from our parents and are stuck on it, stuck living with the challenges around us. We’ve all been born looking different, in different situations, with different skin colors, with different opportunities. And it’s fucked up. We are all born equal, but this world fucks with us. It hands us unequal opportunities. And here we are. No one here has experienced the roots of our problems, we just face the perpetuation of them. People have to face racism on a daily basis, but they have no idea where these stereotypes and prejudices really came from. And it’s almost like those inflicting racism on others don’t know either. We’re all sort of born into this racist and differentiating world and are forced to find our place and play our part. We don’t even know the reason why we’re doing it, because these ways of thinking didn’t come about in our lifetime; these racial views have been around for centuries. So as a white person, I have been given a skin color that gives me privileges that I never earned, I never worked for. It just so happens that being born into this world as a white person exempts me from facing a whole lot of shit being flung from assholes around the world. Which is really fucked up. So how do I approach this situation I’m in? There’s the option that many white people take, and that is to play into the racism of the world and ignorantly walk through life without a clue of other people’s problems, very often perpetuating negative stereotypes. But no. Us rational thinkers notice these people in society, and how wrong that path is. So I have option 2. I like to call this George Carlin’s way out. Carlin divorced himself from humankind and went through much of his life watching the rest of his species stupidly play into the mainstream system we call society, never questioning a thing in their lives. He didn’t identify with nearly anyone in the world and considered himself an individual and an exception to what society calls “normal.” I like to build my life upon this principal. So I go into every situation without the feeling that I am “white.” I look upon people as best as I can as each one an individual, not a member of some bigger group. I say “as best as I can” because society has programmed us to realize differences and makes us cast people into groups, to the point where it’s almost instinct to do so. But for the very most part, and I mean 99% of the time, I go into every situation judging people, as MLK Jr. would say, by the content of their character. You might say this sounds cliche and unrealistic, but that’s what the cynics say. The overwhelming fact is that we are all truly individuals, and must recognize this in the world around us. We must unprogram ourselves, just as George Carlin did, from society and judge everything we see on an individual basis. So we can’t say that because I’m white I can’t be anti-racist. And actually, I could give a damn about people that tell me I can’t. Because I will be anyway! I must stress that this does not piss me off nor do I few it as a major issue of discrimination that this article lumps all white anti-racists together. I don’t have to experience racism head on to oppose it and realize what’s really going on in other people’s lives. If only everyone could just view themselves and everyone around them by their true individuality, obviously the world would be a better place. Do I consider myself special for my viewpoints? No. I consider myself rational. I consider myself as someone with a perspective on life that’s closer to the right perspective. Or at least I hope. I see my sole purpose in life to make others happy, and to serve others. This is why I’m studying to be a schoolteacher. I have a duty to serve my fellow human beings on this earth and to recognize the beauty in everyone. And that, is why I walk this life, rejecting the notion of racism.

  81. James, you may reject the label of “white,” but you can’t reject the privilege that comes along with other people seeing you as white. Divorcing yourself from the reality of your race just comes off as an attempt to avoid your white liberal guilt. (Believe me, as a white liberal, I have a lot of experience with that.)

  82. Well yes, I think it is important to recognize the privileges that society hands me undeservingly as a result of my race. I am completely aware of how i can be seen by other people, and I have no expectations that they will necessarily be able to divorce themselves as well. But I have no guilt. Divorcing myself from the concept of race merely allows me to observe things objectively and to realize the big picture instead of asking, “why did that person treat me/him/her that way? race should have nothing to do with it.” I realize completely that for most people, race has EVERYTHING to do with it. But by recognizing how the system works and how I can remove myself from it, at least internally, I can see what I need to do to help people realize who I am, no matter what race they are, and build friendships and alliances without the confusing subject of race in the way. That’s all I really want: just to build friendships with the people of this earth and appreciate the good in people during our short lifetime on this planet. And to help anyone I can who is suffering. And race can be a major source of suffering in people.
    I look at things realistically, and recognize how I am treated differently from people of other races, but in recognition of that, I use that knowledge to break away from the norms and to prevent race from getting in the way.

  83. I think perhaps the ability to “divorce yourself from race” or to “prevent race from getting in the way” is in fact a sign of privilege. I can’t speak for PoC, but I can imagine that they must wish they could prevent race from getting in the way sometimes :)

  84. From this article it is very easy to assume and realize Ms. Rankin is a quint-essential racist who lives in a delusional world, “blissfully” unaware of her white-privilege. People need to understand that everything is white (commercial institutions, education, government, the media, etc) and the minorities are “allowed” in because it is now unlawful not do so. When you have a society that caters to one community only (white) this majority does not realize their everyday life has been carved and served for them. This is exactly why we need to have more black owned business, more black universities/school as well as more asian/latino/arab/etc institutions around. This is NOT racism, this is a solution to breakdown the barrier, the mold, the oppressing force of a majority that takes the racist system for granted. Of course this ambivalence toward our current racist system only yields the ability to use it to impose and maintain minorities oppressed.
    This Ms. Rankin is what you have yet to realize so next time you look in the mirror I recommend you remember this: You are NOT the minority, you have always been welcomed everywhere because you are white, you have accepted into school because you are white. You have a job because you are white. You have never felt oppression, hate, discomfort, alienation, harm, because you are white. Now let those who genuinely care and work for change do their thing, the last thing they need is a racist who thinks she is anti-racist.

  85. Things aren’t equal and they never will be. The world is a festering pressure pot of racist pricks selling their own agendas.

    I am poor white trash, my neighbor is an illegal immigrant in the same situation I am in daily asking himself the same questions I ask: how do I make a living, keep a roof over my head, and feed my kids and keep my wife from killing us all in hunger induced sleep derived temper tantrum.

    Apparently I have it better than my neighbor, I am not sorry for that. I feel for him because i know he gets fucked with daily, but other than being a decent human being what can I do?

    Not every white person is wealthy privileged jerk, but us poor whit trash aren’t going to bow down and apologize for sins committed by our forefathers-fuck that-I wasn’t even there dude! In never owned a slave, killed an Indian, or stole land from anybody, so back off. And ya I acknowledge people of color are still feeling the effects from these sins, but I can’t do anything about it.

    I want a world where everyone has equal opportunity, and everyone loves their neighbors, but it ain’t gonna happen. Resources are scarce, and survival is about who is more capable of competing in a hostile environment. If you look around, you will see poor folk are fighting among them selves (Blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanic & indigenous peoples)-if you want things to change stop arguing about stupid shit, and vote democrat. Stop thinking in terms of color, or culture, and think in terms of working class masses against wealthy elites-who are admittedly mostly rich white pricks-but they sure as shit ain’t doing nothing for me. I would love ton ramble on, but my six dogs just cornered a rat in the barn, and I don’t want them the knock over the stil next to my collection of hubcaps and license plates.

  86. Bigfoot, the fact that you and I lack class privilege doesn’t erase our white privilege. One of the benefits of white privilege is that we don’t have to see it. We can go about our lives, happy and ignorant, and call our white privilege hard work or luck, or call it nothing at all because it just simply is what we expect. Do fish have a word for ‘water’? Do they really understand what it is and what it’s made of? Have you read the White Privilege Checklist?

    By the way, I get the idea that when you mentioned Indians, you weren’t talking about India. One very simple way to reduce the amount of racism in the world is to actively try not to add to it. Actually listening to the concerns of PoC (especially re: race), instead of being patronizing and dismissive, is good too, as is talking to friends, family, etc. about racism when you get the chance, and not giving casual racism a pass. You have kids? You have a big impact on the way they look at race issues. That can be very good or very bad, depending on what kind of example you choose to set. None of these things cost any money, and none of them take much time; they do take a little thought, though.

  87. Hi , i am a mixed youth of 17 living in RSA my family is a a great melting pot of different races and ethnics , i have heard and taken part in talks of rasicism , neo nazis sites, black supremists and so on, i have yet to experience rasicism first hand which is most probably due to my living a sheltered life…it was a rude awakening i experienced….i never anticipated such anger, bitterness that was evident on these sites, it saddens and scares me….anyways how are some of these supremists gonna go about segregating the races when the world is well as far as am concerned becoming smaller and more diverse thanks to technology?

    my mother says “everyone has eyes , ears , a brain and a heartbeat just the same and therefore you are just as capable as anyone never think less of yourself or anyone “

  88. I don’t hate White people that much but I hate them for there stupidity in this world. I’ve been asking myself isn’t the US a free country a lot. Killing people because there different for you is like you hate what God created. And if you do hate that then you basically hate God. The Jews kilt Jesus? True, but did all the Jews who’s living today did it? The Black people need to leave? Well didn’t you brought them here? I hate Spanish? Well, don’t you think they hate you too? Heil Hitler? Did you know he’s Jewish and German? We all have something in common and that Humanity. So, why hate? If you actually met someone who has a different nationality you’ll understand there the same thing as you. Cause they got 2 eyes and you got 2 eyes and etc. So, why hate?

  89. Pingback: It’s Bigger Than Just You and Me « Irene's Daughters

  90. Wow…am I or anyone else supposed to be moved by the experience of one chic who walked into an event hosted by black people and felt uncomfortable? Are all those who gave her the “puzzled” stare actually guilty of racism at all? If a black chic walked into an all white event and got stared at strangely would Ms. Rankin think it the result of racism? What if those people did not behave the way the young woman has suggested? I dunno. She could be projecting her own feelings of insecurity around blacks…it wouldn’t be the first nor the last time such a thing has happened.

    This is reality for many people of color. SOME white people expect unearned trust, and loyalty from those they either consciously or subconsciously deem inferior to themselves. They know in one form or another how their membership in the collective authority affords them certain privileges. By choosing to deal with a person of color they are extending a little bit of that “privilege” to them. By responding in fear or confusion, or neutrality (etc…), you are rejecting it (and spitting upon that proud & upstanding American image) when you should be showing much gratitude. I had to add that part about “proud” and “American” because too many folks inject these words into their hate speech thinking that it’ll magically be regarded in a more respectful way and/or taken seriously. When POC don’t respond in the manner expected, those kind of people immediately assume the position of the upper and play the race card, the patriotism card, or accuse you of lacking humility (amongst other things).

    What’s more troubling than anything is the level of insult perceived by the accuser and their quickness to assume that YOU are somehow the problem. Even when you break the news to them that their conclusions are incorrect ,they suddenly cannot produce the mental resources required for basic reasoning. The walls go up…maybe never to come down again since the assumptions they had about ALL black people have now been confirmed. These folks are so full of themselves and their ridiculous Euro-centric, “white” American perception of “OTHERS”. The root of negative attitudes towards POC by “white” people is very well documented…as is the birth of the notion of “whiteness”. But reaching an understanding with these kind of folks seems very near a lost cause.

    There are a minority few who only add to this issue of the “uppity negro” reaction ( that’s what I’m choosing to call it). They are still operating off of that centuries old system where it was beneficial for a black to have a white person attest to their good character and overall value. They are the kind of folks who will literally bow down before EVERY white person of ANY age or stature, address them as authority figures, and go out of the way to make sure that they’re comfortable even when it puts them at a loss. We see these kind of characters all the time on the “big screen”. It allowed for some semblance of forward advancement back in the day. But for the rest of us things have CHANGEd… POC everywhere are embracing aspects of identity that have been lost or stolen and doing it their way. POC are proudly standing up to and looking injustice square in the eye rather than keeping silent and waiting for a better day. They are questioning the questionable, respecting those that deserve to be respected, and trusting of those who have earned it…It’s about basic human rights. I guess some people are not okay with that.

    You can’t be a real “anti-racist” person without ever confronting your own racism whether you are black, white, yellow, or red. It’s a hard thing to accept when your idealized self doesn’t match up with reality…but deluding one’s self only leads to situations like this that cause more harm to innocent people and detract from the cause of combating racism.

  91. Well, I like the article, however I am critical on whether or not this person is a little to anti white. I agree with her, because white people in general piss me off when they pretend to know what black people have been through, or to be truly correct, people who are descendants of the africans that were forced out of their home and brought to the americas to become slaves. I am mixed, african, native caribbean, filipino and spanish, all of which were forced into slavery by the whites, in my families case, the spanish. Do I know how blacks in america feel the racism, uhhhhh, YES. Every day, I walk down the street, every day I walk into a place with my dad, or anyone in my family, in New Jersey, in a part where there are mostly white people. When the cops are called to my house, sometimes they arrest me instead of the whites, that are trying to attack me at my home, simply because they don’t think i live there. Does any white person get treated the way colored people do? I don’t know, maybe in South Africa, but even then to a shorter extent. All I can say is, til a white person experiences a lifetime of the same shit non-whites in america, they should just shut their mouths when the tables are turned, it is natural. White people, are afforded more opportunities in life, not in every case, because of the inheritance brought upon them when they were never put into a different stage of human life, meaning, blacks/africans lost 200+ years + lost all connections to their original place of land, whites on the other hand had the choice of staying in their land of choice, and not forced to be treated like they were something below a human being. Almost all suburban white girls who are surrounded by nothing but vanilla with sprinkles on top in small towns, think that because they were in semi multi cultural towns, that they can just assume that the whole US is like that. I take offense to a white person acting like things like this don’t exist, because people who think they don’t exist, don’t think there is anything to change. ~from the eyes of a caribbean/filipino mix

  92. I like this article but the author does seem a bit angry. I’m guessing they wrote it when they were angry about something. I do that too and end up edited what I said just a little bit.

  93. One question to Rathkin, getting stared at when entering a room of “Black” people Racism? What about the ordeals of the Blacks for centuries under the whites? What about the attrocities of KKK against Blacks and other Ethnic communities all over the world? What about the “Lynching”? The list goes on. And this “stupid white Bitch” wants to “reform” the world and demands it too. The whites think it as their birth right to be welcomed by other “coloured” communities according to their whims and fancies, without giving a single thought about what they did in the past to these people and they have the termity to ask the Blacks “to forget the past”. Just like how friendship is “earned”, forgivenessis too.

  94. I’m curious. I am Mexican-American and the daughter of two Mexican immigrants; Spanish is my first language; and I went to a school where “white” people are the minority, be they Caucasian or Anglo-Saxon. I’m also less than 5 feet tall, have a European name, have extremely pale skin, and have green eyes.

    People, as they are wont to do, would occasionally do something I didn’t appreciate – cut me in already long lines, intrude in on my private working space and be loud while fully aware of the fact that I was trying to work, and other such small, irritating things – and on occasion the people who did this were Black or African-American. Sometimes, when I asked them politely to stop or whatever, they would apologize and be nice and stop or give me back my place in line or whatever, and life would move on. Sometimes, though, they would claim I was being rude and mean to them because I was a “racist little white girl” and what the hell, I needed to find Jesus. (This last one was actually directed towards a white teacher, not me.) To some, because I was not pleased with their behavior as a human being, I was automatically racist, and they would in turn call me names and say things that they thought applied simply because I was pale and my surname wasn’t Gonzales and my English was unaccented. I wasn’t tell them to stop or not cut because they were Black, I was telling them that because it’s rude to do that sort of thing regardless of what color you are and I would be just as displeased if you were brown or yellow or red or purple or green. They’re the ones who played the race card, not me, and while I understand there’s a history of racism in the country, why must people be so quick to assume that people hate their race and not just their personality?

    (I feel people made this argument against the white girl, but I’m making it right back.)

    I don’t identify as white, but many automatically lump me in as one, and those who are less than kind to me about it don’t let up until I start speaking in rapid-fire, also relatively unaccented Spanish. What would you call this? Am I one of those white ‘anti-racists’ for treating them like I would anyone else, and for being a pale Hispanic/Latin American person? Because based on what I’ve read in this article and in the comments, I’m lost as to how this such an experience would be labeled.

  95. Wow, so now I feel like I should stop reading this blog, “Resist Racism,” because being a white person, I simply can’t. The funny thing is, I actually get that. I know I won’t ever really suffer from racism, (even on the days that, being an immigrant to the U.S., I am caught up in traps set for Hispanic immigrants), and that as much as I despise it, it’s not going to be the same personal hatred that a person of colour has. I get that no matter how much I educate myself, I will never be able to accurately imagine how pervasive and suffocating racism is every day for people of colour.

    So what if one day I decided to do more than just regret this situation? What if I read the news and hear that it’s now Confederate History Month in Virginia and instead of just wanting to throw up my breakfast I say, “That is the last straw. I’m going to get off my butt DO something.” Maybe I’m inspired by people like Viola Liuzzo who lost their lives fighting racism in the 60s. But instead of starting some useless “middle-class white liberals against racism” group, I want to join people who are already working on this problem, already fighting racism, and who, as the primary victims of racism, know a hell of a lot more about what to do than I do. What should I do?

    Judging from most of the comments above: sit down and shut up.

    I just want to point out that if, say, just 10% of white USians refused to continue to stay silent on the topic of racism, this would be a very different country for all of us. There are a lot of us who want to speak up. When we show up to events, we don’t expect to have anything other than our support to contribute. We know our points of view are tainted by privilege and that we are the last people you want to be making speeches or planning actions. We don’t expect to be patted on the head for being enlightened or brave white people (we know neither is true). All we want to be told what we can do to help.

  96. Racism is Our problem. A world wide problem. A pathological, systemic problem that will damage and ultimately destroy us ALL unless we address it head on. I encourage white people like me to understand that head on does not mean going to your black friends and talking with them about it, challenging THEIR prejudice, or expecting them to educate you about YOUR racism. It means first doing the soul-searching–examining yourself and your attitudes and behaviors and WORDS, that are at best, unhelpful toward the end of eliminating racism, and at worst complicating, exacerbating and PERPETUATING the damage; and second, third, fourth (ad infinitum) challenging/talking with your white friends about their assumptions, presumptions, attitudes, behaviors and WORDS–hopefully helping them to heal from the infection. With a tremendous wealth of information and discussion on a shitload of blogs like this one (which are conveniently linked here, thank you) if we do not go the extra 100 miles and educate ourselves, and come up with honest, viable answers to the questions we frequently ask black people to answer for us, then we cannot congratulate ourselves for doing anti-racism work. DO YOUR OWN WORK! Please. This is not a girl scout badge to earn on the backs and psyches of people we supposedly hold dear. This is work to save the world. It is difficult, sure, but it is nothing compared to how difficult it will be if we do not commit to stay on it. And it is NOTHING compared to the vicious, heartless, cruel institutions that deployed the bomb in the first place. Please understand that having someone call you a white bitch is not the same as having your family ripped apart, being bull-whipped, hung from a tree, etc. (ad nauseum). Lord, It is like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon–but it is vital if we want a healthy and whole world. But maybe if we commit to doing our own work on ourselves, we can graduate to a measuring cup. Thank you all for the above discussions–I have learned so much and continue to learn, and I realize that I have some apologies to go make, RIGHT NOW. I can’t call myself being anti-racist yet. I ain’t healed yet, I ain’t grown. I am working on it though, and I will do so till I die. Hope I get there. In the meantime I pray You all will stay with me and let’s try to keep our egos out of it. Blessings.

  97. AMEN, JULIA.

    TO the white folks (and perhaps others) who are complaining in these comments about feeling shut down or ostracized when attempting to ally themselves with justice movements or groups for/by people of color – really: shut up and listen. PoC’s movements/groups/student unions etcetera are not FOR YOU. You MAY or MAY NOT be welcome in them. It’s OKAY. There are social justice groups out there that will have you. There are others that may not welcome your presence. That does not make them racist (btw, y’all should know the basics before you open your mouths: RACISM = PREJUDICE + POWER. Without the power granted by centuries of systematic privileging of whiteness and oppression of brown folks, calling somebody a “white bitch” is just prejudice, at most.) Sometimes the work you have to do is, indeed, sitting down and shutting up. There are plenty of places where well-intentioned white folks can stand up and have their voices heard without thinking twice – you need to get over the fact that there are some places where this is not the case. If getting called names or not getting called on when you raise your hand is enough to dissuade you from trying to re-educate yourself and be an ally, well, it must not be that important to you.

    Rankin highlighted her sense of entitlement and white privilege when she demanded:

    “Tell me what you are doing to reach out to non-black students who support your cause… I want to be able to attend BUS functions and feel the same love.”

    I’m sorry, I obviously forgot that it is the duty of any oppressed population to reach out to the beneficiaries of that oppression and make them feel LOVED and BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES. Cookies for Beth! She went to see Russell Simmons!

    When commenters like James ask:

    “I’d be wiling to do that [give up my privilege] if it would make any difference. But what difference would it make? How would it enable me to oppose racism more?”

    Well, if you recognized your entitlement (granted by your white privilege) to feel welcome in any situation, to not have your motives questioned, to walk in, obviously ignorant, and have the hard work of decent-allyship done for you by those you are seeking to ally yourself with – you might start doing things differently. You might do the work to education yourself. You might even… sit down, shut up, and listen, without having to make yourself heard.

  98. Thanks Girly! Hey, first thing we do is to teach all white people how to spell privilege…P-R-I-V-I-L-E-G-E! Seriously though, thank you for furthering the discussion with some well thought out sit down/shut up! I am gonna follow your advice. Love, Julia “don’t want a damn cookie” Babb.

  99. I found the original post very interesting, as well as the comments. As someone who was involved in the struggle for equality in the 60’s and beyond, I want to say that I’m proud to see that the struggle continues in the hearts of my people. Though we are still miles from home. I do want to say to those who are white and are anti-racist, I know it is uncomfortable, but that’s what a struggle is. Uncomfortable. Stand against racism in the world around you. Don’t save it for when you come to a “black” group. There are many places and levels to battle racism on. Find yours and prove yourself. Fight the good fight. Just because we are all black doesn’t mean we are all going to agree on everything any more than whites all agree on everythiing. I’ve work over, with and around whites most of my life, being as I’ve lived most of my life in the south I don’t think a day had passed that the word nigger wasn’t mumbled just within earshot. If it was directed at me I’d confront the speaker, if not, I let it go. To my young brothers and sisters in this struggle, we do need to show more tolerance. Sure it feels good to strike back for all the indignities we’ve suffered, but we need to strike back where it counts. We need all the allies we can get because until we overcome, there will always be doors that are closed to us and we’ll need access. You can’t get mad at someone who hasn’t a clue. Our response should be to GIVE them a clue. They need to take baby steps because they are about to learn something that may negate everything they’ve come to know in this life. Anyway, lets not make more enemies. Let’s not take any shit, but let’s not make our own road harder.

  100. The problem with people like her is that she is one of those types that is “against” racism for the benefits. And when they finally realize they don’t benefit anything by being an anti-racist they go and show their true racist/ignorant colors.

    Its kind of like how you have a guy who claims nice guys finish last. The reason he finished last was because the girls saw through is “fake” nice behavior. A real nice guy doesn’t blame the girl or say nice guys finish last because they don’t. Only guys being nice for a reason (to get something) would say that.

    I don’t like anti-racist liberals (black and white) because they almost always miss the point of anti-racism. They either do it because they think they will benefit from it. Or Refuse to see the true extent of racism, and will often believe in the fallacy of a colorblind society (race does exist, and its not bad to celebrate differences).

  101. The girl from the post itself is a total self-centered bimbo, but speaking more generally on allies: it’s just… disheartening for those of us who consider ourselves allies and are trying to make a positive difference to be told that nothing can ever be good enough. Being aware of our privilege, being careful to consider all of the subtle connotations of situations that we might otherwise take for granted, doing our best to proactively operate outside of anglo-normative assumptions… none of that ever changes the fact that we’re still privileged whites. This post tells us to give up our privilege, but we can’t change the race we’re born with. Commenters say to sit down and shut up, but for those of us who are already making an active effort to be aware of the prejudice in our world, just shutting up seems resoundingly unhelpful, if not irresponsible.

    What are we supposed to actually DO to make a difference? If getting involved in the black community’s activism is self-aggrandizing and arrogant, and trying to treat the individuals we interact with as individuals, as opposed to members of a given race, is idealistic and ultimately meaningless, than what is a helpful action we CAN take? I get that expecting to be welcomed into any circle is evidence of white privilege, but is it really so egocentric to hope that our offers of assistance (as partnerships, not some self-righteous charity) would be accepted or refused in a friendly manner? I don’t expect a cookie and a pat on the back for effort, but I would appreciate maybe a little comraderie, or at least a grudging acknowledgement that at least we’re trying not to make matters worse.

  102. lulz, wow this is so typical. I couldn’t stop laughing through this shit. But there is a general decline of radical politics in white anti-racists that tried to filter out this elitist white think as more and more whites are embracing fascist ideas as a response to economic crises.

  103. Beth Rankin is not a white anti-racist. She is an arrogant, narcissitic child. She is utterly blind to white privilege, so therefore she has no understanding of race in America. White people have no right to expect anything from black people, least of all acceptance. When I started out I thought maybe I’d get some. I got way more than I deserved, and I’m grateful for the generosity. I don’t do it for that, though. I do it because I’m ashamed to the core of white racism. I don’t know whether black people need white anti-racists, but white people sure as hell do. I don’t preach to black people or tell them how to behave. That’s above my pay grade. I stand with them in speaking out about the injustice of the system. I inject black history into my classroom year-round, even though I teach English. And I say this to anyone who ever thinks about being a white anti-racist: don’t do it for the cookies, because you don’t deserve any. do it because you should be ashamed of what your ancestors did and what your contemporaries do. Thank the gods for your true black friends, and understand that you aren’t on the inside and you never will be. You will have to prove yourself with every black person you ever meet (that includes the readers of this blog–you don’t have to like me or agree with me), through the use of respect and humility. NEVER joke about race as though you are an insider, because you aren’t. And NEVER ever do what this arrogant, ignorant child did: Demand nothing of any person whose ancestors were brought here in chains to provide free labor to enrich white people; whose grandparents and parents have experienced segregation first-hand; who by and large have been forced to live in crowded, underserved urban areas and forbidden from moving into white suburbs; who are forced to attend substandard schools and to this day denied opportunities taken for granted by any white person. Sure, some white people have it bad–but no white person has ever suffered racism, which was invented by whites in the 15th century to dehumanize blacks in order to steal their labor. I don’t exist to fix black people; I exist to educate, and possibly torment, white people.

  104. “I don’t expect a cookie and a pat on the back for effort, but I would appreciate maybe a little comraderie, or at least a grudging acknowledgement that at least we’re trying not to make matters worse.”

    As kindly as I can, I say to you: no, you don’t deserve any recognition for not being a terrible person. You try not to make things worse because if one is doing the opposite, then one is probably an assh*le. Maybe it would make your life easier, but whoever told you doing the right thing would be easy or comfortable obviously wasn’t very bright.

    Regarding this: “… white people need to be willing to have their very social position, their very relationship of domination, their very authority, their very being…let go, perhaps even destroyed.”

    An inherently frightening idea, but as an occultist I can say the idea of having to sacrifice identity, self, ego, power or authority to make things better has been a theme in many major religions and mythology for millenia. The few who are willing to undertake such an ordeal, however, are left with the question: “how on earth do I go about doing this?” The answers I’ve heard vary greatly, but I’m always interested to hear more.

  105. Damn! Every conversation I find online about white privilege (and what, if anything, white people can do to help non-white people get freedom and justice) ends with someone asking how to give up their whiteness, privilege, power, etc., and I never find an answer to that. I’m ready to do it. Fuck my privilege. I admit I have it. I’ve always had it. I used to have more economic privilege than I do now, but I’ve never had to deal with racial discrimination (systematic or personal) that could have made that downturn even worse. Privilege has bailed me out of some tough spots, but I figure I’m capable of working through shit on my own. I’d rather give up conveniences and struggle if it will help non-whites get equality in political power, economics, etc.

    It seems to me like the whole “white” “race” is going to have to be taken down a peg or three before we can all move up together. That’s okay by me. Shit, we go around committing genocide, putting people in concentration camps/ethnic ghettoes/reservations, dropping bombs on brown civilians all of the world… I’d say we NEED to get taken down a peg. I’m not the most educated on this subject, so I hope I’m not out of line here. I grew up in Alabama in a nice little conservative Christian white middle class bubble. It wasn’t until a few years ago that bubble burst, and I’ve been learning a lot of things I was never properly aware of. That’s not an excuse for any screwed up attitudes I might still have, just introducing myself.

    Like most white folks with no personal experience of this kind of discrimination, I’m a bit mixed up as to whether I should join an organization and become an activist, just try to clean up my own back yard and do whatever little things I have the opportunity to do, take up arms, or just stand out of the way. I suspect, as a white person, it might not even be my place to make that call. I should probably be listening to people of color?

    Blech. Just saying things like “non-whites” and “people of color” makes me feel weird, like I’m lumping together a vast number of people from diverse cultures on the basis of what they’re NOT (white) as opposed to anything they have in common. It makes me feel gross and dirty, but if I’ve spent my whole life benefitting from the oppression of other people then I guess I am gross and dirty.

    I’ll keep researching and try to come up with a solution about how to give up whiteness, but if any of you think of anything I can do (or refrain from doing) feel free to respond here or hit me up with an e-mail.

  106. While I think that people of color does lump together a vast number of people of incredibly diverse non-white cultures/backgrounds, I think it makes sense to put that term for our communities here in the U.S. because that’s how we can collectively dismantle racism. We can’t do it alone. As to being a good ally, I think this article just really hits the nail on the head: https://lizziesliberation.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/the-white-privilege-of-white-anti-racists/

    It’s a great article that’s worth reading. The danger is in having white people “translate” for POC’s. We have to lead our own movement. I’m sure Ms. Rankin thinks she comes with the best intentions. But she doesn’t realize, it’s not about HER. Another great link: http://theangryblackwoman.com/2009/10/01/the-dos-and-donts-of-being-a-good-ally/

    btw: GREAT blog!!

  107. “She goes on to wrote that she confronted members of the Black United Students”

    Really? See anything wrong with this sentence?

  108. oh dear. wanting to get involved for her own means and validation i feel. poor her. must have been so difficult for her to be the only white person in a room, get a grip women! one moment of feeling oppressed.

    I’m a anti fascist but I do not know what it is like to experience real racism and would never claim to regardless of any prejudice comments I have received.

    The world isn’t black and white for fuck sake! people are bitching about/abusing the polish living in our country – they are white and are receiving this disgusting treatment.

  109. Pingback: The Moment I Decided I Had No Obligation To Play Nice With Adoptive Parents As A Class « Joy’s Division

  110. I’m white and i have to say I agree with this post. I know i won’t ever know how exactly black people and other minorities have suffered and feel when racism happens, because i have never been in their position. I can’t just imagine how it feels to have people judge me due to my skin color…but I know how it feels to be discriminated/hated/judged because of something i was born with and had no control over. For example, sexism…I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but i don’t think a guy can ever really feel the anger and annoyance when women are treated like animals, killed, seen as second class, discriminated against, SIMPLY because of the fact they were born a female. And it annoys me when some guys say stupid stuff like ‘oh well if you want equality then there should be no rule that guys cant punch girls’ or when they whine about how they “have” to pay the food bill when they take someone out on a date, etc. And i agree with the “dominant position” thing…its so much easier to whine about “inequality” and “discrimination” when you’re seen as the dominant person in society.
    And then there are the stupid jokes. Now, i have no idea what is feels when someone jokes about my RACE, because for some weird reason, my brain doesn’t really register a racial insult towards me as being THAT offensive…i have no idea why. I mean, i certainly don’t like it, but it doesn’t make me po’ed the way it does for when people joke about my gender (probably heard of ‘go back to the kitchen’ or ‘go make me a sandwich’). Most of the time it just slightly annoys me and i guess i’m getting more and more desensitized to it…:/ but other times it really makes me angry. And then theres the part where *some* guys (keep in mind im not generalizing every guy, because there are some really nice ones out there) don’t “understand” why we get so offended, cuz “it’s just a joke” and how they say “us guys aren’t offended when u make a joke about us”. Well, of course u don’t because society makes it seem like males are in the dominant position, and really, to be honest i don’t think there are any real insults to guys only. I mean, a*shole, idiot, bi***…etc. is used to insult both genders…but the only insult i can think for guys only is “chauvinist”…:/ and that’s not even an insult imo.

    And I think i can understand in a way how racial comments and idiotic jokes feel. It’s so easy to say “its just a joookeee” when you’re the “dominant one” in society..
    Sorry if i turned this more into a gender thing, but i just wanted to point out how i know what it feels to be discriminated against something you have absolutely no control over. And i have so much respect to minorities and black women out there because you have to go through double the problems and take sh*t from racists and sexist idiots.

  111. why is it that the white people who object the most to predigest views towards people (all races) have never lived out side of theyre white world. Come live in my shitty apt complex where crime is everywhere and tell me that you still feel the same way. I promise you wont live here for 6 months and still have the same views.

  112. You people crack me up, as if being of color in today’s day and age has given you some kind of wonderful insight in to the mind of a white person, simply because she is trying to understand and be nice. I am a white male who was in a Bi-racial relationship long before most of you were even born and have had to deal with Blatant racism directed at my wife and kids through most of my life…was it ever directed at me?? rarely but only because I had the audacity to marry someone I loved back in a day who wasn’t white. I don’t get that kind of attitude so much today as I did back then. It is not uncommon for my daughters to complain about incidents they experience from time to time but as they have matured into adults again it is less and less. My grandchildren seem to be happy and doing wonderfully in their lives as well. Maybe it is just because they had a gramps like me to guide them in how to do things or maybe just maybe racism at least in certain areas really isnt as bad as it was in the 60’s and 70’s….while most liberals have a quilt complex that is many miles long and will bend over backwards to try and placate anyone or anything not of their color. I have no such compulsion, If you arent willing to listen and at least be nice to people who are trying to be nice and understand you, you certainly arent helping the problem your just making it worse….I could care less if you ever talked to me one way or the other but most of you who are Bitching about white people being fake and giving them cookies should at the very least start listening……

  113. A successful black man is scary? Why? Because whites expect him to give in to their opinions about blacks while they take over situations but when they see that at a given moment they are unable to make relatable assumptions and or affirmations they flight with dismay in finding a comforting solution to restack their false pride within with such ignorance and acceptance of social and or historical restraints.
    Advice: A successful black man should be seen as an easier-than-most not successful black people to interact with within professional settings because they have gone through much similar situations that your successful whites have been through. Take him for a pro, that one which he is, He is much less different from those successful white pros. However, if it be that you’ve been a racist for centuries, you gonna have to work at it to get to feel comfortable with all kinds of races…The importance of this is not to be able to find means of access to all types of resources but for becoming a different person from who you have long been, an ignorant person—maybe by default, a negative person to self and or others….etc…

  114. colors, etnicities, religions or ideologies are not important. Human should live like a forest, free and brotherlike

  115. I don’t understand how a white person could expect to be welcomed in a black space. I don’t understand how they can think they’re experts. The most frustrating thing for me is knowing that I will never understand. That’s pretty small when compared to the advantages of being white. I stil have my shameful self-indulgent moments where I wish I were black just to be able to empathize and not just sympathize. Black people know what it’s like to be white in the sense that they see the white experience everywhere. It’s all you ever see in the media. They live life as racialized people and are exposed to the white experience everywhere.

  116. I don’t see what the point is of claiming that white people are incapable of working against racism. If we were to believe that, why would we even try?

    I simply don’t believe that a room full of people were mean to her just because she was white. There must have been something about her attitude, some show of privilege that she visibly did that evoked the response.

  117. Ha ha haaaaaah! This was a great post. I laughed a lot through it because so much of it is true. This part is golden —-> “I would laugh if it weren’t for the fact that so many discussions of racism end up with white people similarly claiming all the air in the room for themselves.”

    Yes you’re spot on. White people are like that but I think it is because of Christianity and the idea of sin. White people constantly try to save everyone instead of living and letting live. My home country is Sweden and we assimilated a huge indigenous population of Sami (northern reindeer herders), forced them to embrace our culture etc because we felt “sorry” for them.

    These days I live in Bangkok and I keep meeting white people who talk about saving the poor Thai’s because they are not embracing our western values. Well, fuck those people.. And fuck anyone who loves racial stereotyping. The problem with the white anti-racists that you talk about is probably that they don’t approach a black person like they would approach a white person. And that is MAJOR racism. Swedish people are great at doing that too with Muslim immigrants.

    For the rest of us, its time to band together and fight against the backwards-striving racists and lead by example. No countries, no borders, just people. White people are really good at complaining these days about immigration. I hope western Europe gets flooded by more immigrants and I hope Europeans start flooding the rest of the world. It is only by mixing races that we can stop having races all together.

  118. I’m a white person and I want to do the right thing. I’m not offended by verbal attacks on white people and I want to be on the right side, but it seems like this piece is telling me to stay out of it because I can’t understand.

    I believe that it’s not my place to say what the movement should be doing and I should be following the lead of the people who actually suffer the oppression, but surely I can just be a body, add to the headcount. I don’t know how to give up my privilege.

    Should I really just stay out of it? I worry that being passive is a way of siding against the movement.

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