What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

OMG---Am I Being Called A Racist AGAIN??????

Cynthia Ruccia



In 2007--2008 as the staggering sexist tirades escalated against Hillary Clinton as she ran for the Democratic nomination for president (yes it happened----check out the first two videos in the right column for those of you who need proof), people like me felt a growing anger. The sexist insults and jabs kept coming unabated. It turned many of us from mild-mannered regular people into furious warriors not content to just sweep it under the rug. While each of us felt we were alone, we learned soon enough that there were millions of us, and together we spoke up, spoke out, and made our feelings known.

In return, three main things blew back at us. First of all, we were screamed at to shut up, that we would lose our right to an-----ABORTION if we kept speaking up. HUH???? What in the world was that all about? By pushing the envelope and going outside of the accepted script, we laid bare the worst fears of Democratic women whose fear of losing reproductive freedoms superseded everything, including the sexist assaults on the woman who could have become our first woman president. We've been fighting into that wind ever since, and the dialogue is changing in surprising ways.

The second gust that blew back was the one from scolding women who told us over and over that we were making fools of ourselves, and to shut up and sit down at the back of the bus. HUH???? It was infuriating to many of us to have our concerns shouted down by the tut tutting mothers who tried to get us to "behave." As the saying goes, "well behaved women seldom make history," or some such thing. Those scolds come onto this blog and usually sign themselves "anonymous" because they are too chicken to identify their scolding selves. They can go take a hike as far as I'm concerned.

But the third evil wind that blew back like a cyclone into our faces and souls was that we were called racists for objecting to the sexism. RAAAACISTS, they said. You are ALL racists on blog posts and comments and to our faces. RAAAAAAACISTS.

We were the first wave to receive this ugly chorus and it surprised and stung. Because it wasn't true. Well, soon enough everyone who disagreed with the president was being called a racist, and soon enough we were under the bus with lots and lots of company. Why even the "first black president" Bill Clinton was a racist, an unbelievable charge. I remember doing a Mary Kay party one night with an African American group of ladies (I have been an Independent Sales Director with Mary Kay for 26 years and yes, I drive a pink Cadillac), and while I was rinsing out the washclothes in the kitchen, the women were sitting around the table almost screaming about the horrible things Hillary and Bill had done to blacks and how if Obama were murdered the Clintons would have his blood on their hands. Really------that's exactly what happened. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and maintain my professional composure. Shortly after that night, I "came out" with my grievances and ended up on The O'Reilly Factor and did alot of other shows for a few months. One of the ladies from that night sent me a horrible piece of hatemail, and another demanded her money back and asked what kind of person I was and she would never ever buy Mary Kay products again. Well that's really her loss because we have just come out with a phenomenal new product line for women over 50, and she's going to miss out. Wrinkles to her!!!!!

What has prompted my piece tonight is this article from the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates that has really disturbed me. I've read various reactions to this piece on The Crawdad Hole and another by Robert Stacy McCain on his blog, and they were interesting, honest, and exasperated. While I've also felt exasperated, this article has haunted me for different reasons.

First of all, I HATE being called a racist. I'm not a racist. I'm just not. But I'm sure getting pissed off for being accused of being one as many are these days. The bar for being called a racist has become very very low.

Secondly, alot of what is called racist is really just part of the human experience that everyone goes through. As I always say, no one gets a free pass in this life. We all suffer for a wide variety of reasons, but being human means we all will suffer. I understand that it can be difficult to sort it all out sometimes, but it needs to be sorted out. What good does it do to call white people racist because they don't agree with you. Some whites ARE racist, but many if not most are well-meaning people who may be a little ignorant, but don't have the dark heart of a racist within them. They need to be educated, not berated.

You know, I have been a woman and a Jewish one at that all of my life and I could make the case that it's not just blacks who have suffered ignominously. For part of my life, as a female I was still considered legally someone else's property and didn't have the right to sign a contact. Women live a life of derision every single day, if you want to look at it that way. Why even the African-Americans have equal representation in the U.S. Congress which is more than you can say for the women of the U.S. who are 51% of the population but only hold 16.8% of the seats.

And growing up as a Jew in a smallish Ohio city I remember all of the places I wasn't allowed to go because I was Jewish. I remember being chased around school and being taunted regularly as a "dirty Jew." We even had a swastika burned on our lawn one summer. My father's family had a chain of department stores, and my Dad managed the one in our city, and even though we had money and could have joined any golf or country club, my Dad, a golf  lover, had to travel 40 miles to find a golf course that would let him play on it. And of course, since the holocaust of World War II happened less than 10 years before my birth, my generation has had to suffer the main shocks of the aftermath of that attempt at the genocide of our people. And yes, I have white skin which may confer some advantages on me. I have also acquired an Italian surname and I look Italian, and people assume I'm Italian so I hear some amazing things being undercover. You just wouldn't believe the anti-Semitic remarks that are still made. Or maybe you would.

The whole point of this mini-tirade is that I have learned that most people are good, and some of them are just ignorant. And if you want to tar all of them with the brush of hatred then you will live a very small, very embittered existence. What good does it do to call people racist, anti-Semitic, or even sexist? And when it comes to these isms, unlike other things, if it smells like racism, sexism, it isn't always what it appears to be.

I found Coates assessment of who is racist very convoluted, and I was shocked to see him call things racist when they clearly weren't. I mean when Joe Wilson blurted out "you're lying" at the President during the State of the Union, the last thing I thought of was that he did it because he is racist. On what basis was that racist? It could have been called alot of things-----rude, nasty, whatever. But racist? On what proof----because he is white and from South Carolina? There is a very short memory of the taunting that Bill Clinton or George Bush had to put up with that in some ways was much rougher than what President Obama has to deal with. I think that some of the garbage goes with the turf.

When the big country club in my small city finally decided to take Jews, my Dad was the first one they gave membership to. I was a teenager and a rebellious one at that, and I refused to go. My mother told me that we HAD to go because these people were trying to mend their ways and we had to encourage them. I grudgingly went with them. But you know, she was right.

As a nation, the vast majority of white people want to get past our burden of racism, and it doesn't serve Coates and others to constantly scream racism under every rock and around every corner. To tar all of us with the same broad brush has the opposite effect. People will be awkward as they shed their history of racism. But it would serve him well to encourage that growth, not to discourage it by calling everyone a racist whether they are or not.

And I would like to say also that I am still pissed off about how we Hillary supporters were made to feel racist because we cared about the sexism. SOMEONE has to keep watch on the sexism. But that doesn't make us racist----not by a long shot. And it is stupid to reduce the whole thing into what is worse, racism or sexism. They both stink. This isn't the "ism" olympics.

Which bring me to the cautionary tale of this whole sordid mess. We will also have to show some enlightened restraint about who we call a sexist. People like Coates and others have shown us how diluted we can make our cause if we don't exercise some caution in that area. We need and want as many people as possible fighting sexism along with us. We may have to encourage some who say and do stupid things. There are teachable moments and teachable people. We just have to be wise about it. And I'd like to say that I've rarely read such a beautifully written piece about the agonies of racism. That doesn't change the fact that Coates went overboard in calling us all racists.


59 comments:

  1. What is this Dem. platform anyway?:
    Uteruses and women's parts, abortion, raaaaacism, free contraception, raaaaacism, abortion, tax the rich, abortion, Romney is rich, abortion, free condoms, raaaaacism, amnesty for illegals (sorry, undocumented immigrants), abortion, Mrs. Romney's horse, tax the rich, raaaaacism, and....abortion.

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  2. CertifiedAnkleBiterClingstoGunsandReligionAugust 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Yes, you are being called a raaaaaaacist, yet again already. Here are the names we have all been called if we don't totally agree with the President. And yes, I've been keeping track of them for 4 years:
    "ankle biter peasant angry mob moron raaaaaacist troublemaker evilmonger astroturf stupid disruptive rightwingnut Indy hick Neanderthal kkk applicant K street Lobbyist hired mob un-American Nazi-loving brown-shirt bitter clings to guns and Bible homophobic xenophobic redneck teabagger irrational extremist whacky maverick fire-breathing nut job just want to see you die bigot nativist Islamophobe mosque basher psychopath nuts whacko fruitloop flat-out crazy paranoid unwashed ignorant illogical subversive unhinged fanatic loon enemy coward exterminationist captive to my fears don't think clearly hater scared moonbat flat earther birther carny barker full of extreme rhetoric and vitriol desperate and dangerous with a sloping forehead goofball weasel destructive child Walmart shopper low information voter fragger (baby-kidnapping) terrorist extremist suicide bomber bomb throwing democracy threatening Al Qaeda (Christian)Taliban hostage taker jihadist ignoramus destructive child delusional ignoramous economic terrorist tyrant hobbit real enemy maintaining states rights and slavery going to hell put party before country son of a bitch barbarian at the gate apocalyptic cult zombie mis-information voter extremist small governm ent posse type callous bigoted tool bozo motherfuckers bitches freeloader, squealing pigs"

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    1. You forgot "dried up pussy brigade women's studies set lesbian"

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    2. CertifiedAnkleBiterClingstoGunsandReligionAugust 24, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Sorry. However, these are the sweet labels I have personally read/heard, so to be totally honest, I only put what I personally have seen/heard. I have had people send me many others. Yours are indeed perfectly fitting. However, feel free to add these and use all as your signature too. Also take a look at this--a friend of mine put this website up, using my signature: http://www.argate.net/teaparty/

      Note: Squealing pigs: Biden's very recently.

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  3. Cynthia,
    I feel your pain at being called a racist. I agree with Certified (above), and the campaign platform analysis above. I am at the point where I feel I've been called a racist so much that it washes over me now. I guess I have embraced my inner racism. The words don't affect any more.

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    1. it has been tough handling all of the blowback, particularly the racism charges. I particularly hate the idea that I as a white person am racist if I talk about race. There's alot to be learned from this example.

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  4. It is possible that all the recent claims of sexism is washing over people just as much as the claims of racism. I certainly would not want to embrace my "inner sexism"

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    1. not sure exactly what you mean, but there is much to be learned as I said above on how to handle the charge of sexism and the kind of restraint needed to be more effective. I think it's important to validate someone's efforts to not be sexist even if they are being clumsy. Even a baby has to learn how to walk by falling alot at first.

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  5. Are there any real world examples of these clumsy people who might be sexist but are just confused? Is Akin one of them? I respect your position but I have never seen one identified; at least not when it comes to sexism.

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    1. let's leave Akin out of it. He's simply a moron.

      I would approach your inquiry from a different perspective. For those of us who find ourselves engaged in this fight against the effects of sexism, I'm simply suggesting that we hold our fire before we start calling people sexists or calling something sexist. a knee jerk reaction or a blanket indictment isn't always wise. That's all.

      And I have seen people called sexist who vigorously deny it. In those cases, it is worth hearing them out as to why they aren't sexist, and maybe point out what they did that could have been taken that way. At least it's a teachable moment instead of turning someone who could be potentially sympathetic into a more hardened antagonist.

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    2. Anonymous -- I can give you an example of what both you and Cynthia mention here.

      For years, there has been a lot of pressure on Augusta National to admit women members. Recntly, they did admit two women -- Condi Rice and somebody else whose name I don't know. So, this is an example of somebody (okay, a club) trying not to be sexist but being clumsy at it.

      But, I also think that it is a "knee-jerk" reaction to automatically call Augusta National "sexist" because they didn't admit women. I happen to think it is perfectly healthy to have "gender-specific" private clubs and schools.

      When I quit smoking 10 years ago, I was 60+ pounds overweight and I didn't want to gain any more. I was afraid to join a gym because I didn't want men judging me based on how I looked or how I worked out. So I joined an all-female gym and started working out. I lost 60 pounds and have never picked up another cigarette. I don't think that would have happened if I couldn't have joined an "all-female" gym. I don't believe that my gym is sexist because it won't admit men.

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    3. exactly Kathy----sexism is a very nuanced subject (as is racism)and there is no one size fits all. congratulations to you for quitting smoking and losing weight!!!! You have alot to take pride in!!!!!!!

      I have been thinking more about the Atlantic article by Ti-Nehisi Coates, and although I was disturbed and extremely frustrated by what he said, it is good to have these kinds of discussions. One thing that never seems to get mentioned is that white people need to be talking about the racism too. It's just that many blacks feel that we don't know anything about racism, and in this they would be wrong. We've all suffered and had difficulties, and honestly, the white POV in 2012 rounds out the picture. How are we ever going to get past it if we get shouted down every time we try to do the right thing?

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  6. I respect your point of view on sexism but please remember that Akin is not just a moron; he's also a republican candidate for the senate.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend - can cost a warrior more than he or she may gain.

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  7. Cynthia,

    I'm watching from afar this year. Not going to throw my heart and soul in, like I did for Hillary.

    And... yes.... I am SICK TO DEATH of being threatened with back alley abortions. And even sicker of being called "RACIST."

    The Dems have lost me forever with that BS. I now poll as "independent" And... if they keep it up I will also register that way.

    SYD

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    1. I am with you on the SICK TO DEATH of being called a racist. I no longer care. And the minute someone uses the word these days I shut them out. I see far more "racism" coming from the African American Community than headed towards it.

      I believed that we must, as a gender, fight for women's rights until we had the same rights as everyone else. After all we weren't given the right to vote until many years after black men were.

      I want women to have all the rights they are entitled to have. But I am also tired of the feminists who seek to make us constant victims. Sometimes it isn't sexism or any other "ism". Sometimes people just don't like us or believe we are competent or worthy or whatever.

      I was a Democrat for many years and I'm deeply ashamed of that. I was too partisan to seek or find the truth.

      I am now a committed Independent and see both sides of a very tarnished coin.

      Call me a racist if that's all you've got. But don't call me a feminist because that's just a female liberal. And I'm not that either.

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    2. SYD----it's hard to get worked up in the same way as 2008. I'm an Independent too, but you know how things work here in Ohio. Both my husband and I wanted to vote in the Republican primary and we did. So I am technically registered as a Republican, but am in my heart a total Independent-----and I love it. No more having to adhere to a blind orthodoxy.

      KenoshaMarge-----great to have your voice here. You always speak the truth loud and clear and I've missed you!! "I was too partisan to seek or find the truth." Yes, that nails it for me too. Also "both sides of a tarnished coin" as that sums it up well. I am still hopeful that the word "feminism" can mean something. Call me Pokkyanna.

      But in the end KenoshaMarge and SYD----I ask my friend K this all of the time. Were we as bad as the Democrats we now criticize for blindly following like robots, or has the party also moved to a place where we can no longer be? What say you both?

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    3. oops---Pollyanna. But you know, it looks like "Porkkyanna" LOL!! It kind of has a ring to it!!!!

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    4. That's okay Cynthia, I am more of a "Porkkyann" and a "Pollyanna" anyway. ;)

      I wish that feminism could mean something to all of us again someday. All meaning women. Left and right, black and white and all the lovely shades in between. Women working together to make a better world for themselves and their children.

      Not women working to become equal in that they lower themselves to less than decent men.

      What equality seems to mean to far too many women these days is the freedom to allow their body, the body they insist belongs to them alone, to be used by any horny young stud that comes along. We should think more of ourselves than that. Although it's a good deal for the horny young men.

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    5. kenoshamarge-----this vision you paint of all of us women being united is beautiful!! A person can always dream.....

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    6. I dream that dream too Cynthia. But that dream runs into reality with a bunch of women parading around dressed as vaginas for heaven's sake.

      I always dismissed as irrelevant any many who's being began and ended with his penis. I feel the same about these women and their vagina costumes or diaries.

      I am far more interested in what's between a person's ears than what's between their legs.

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    7. I hardly am a prude, but I really don't like seeing those women parading around as vaginas. They look like they're doing it strictly for shock value to rebel against their parents. That's fine, of course. Free speech is free speech. But I can't see that it helps women on any larger level.

      I loved how you put it----well done kenoshamarge!!

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  8. Great post. Being called a racist just makes me laugh since I'm a mixed race mongrel.

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  9. Many here asking "What is the Democratic platform?" Here are two ways to make up your own mind:

    Tonight on Hannity (Fox News, 9 pm) Video, "The Hope and Changy Thing"

    More important is "2016: Obama's America"
    http://2016themovie.com
    producers of Academy Award winning Schindler's List and other notable films

    This week it tops The Bourne Legacy and Expendables 2 while just in 169 theaters nationwide and now being distributed to more weekly.

    You want to add an interesting read from a friend and hard-working Hillary campaigner such as myself interested in women's rights go to Amazon.com and buy "Admit the Horse" by Paulie Abeles. It is labeled as fiction but many Clinton people will recognize it with great familarity! Keno..I am with you as I am being called a racist in my own neighborhood in Virginia because I am campaigning for Romney.

    It was put this way, "You are a racist because you are old (?) and now in the 1%... why else are you doing it"...

    Many "uninformed voters" who see things one way and only one side of the coin!

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    1. There Is One More Road To Cross.......wow that kind of shorthand "racist, old, in the 1%" really helps things doesn't it.

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  10. I am sick of the whole racism thing too but there seems to be some white people guilt thing that it plays to on the east coast. I am white and my first relative in the states was a teenage Scottish boy who was first forced to be a soldier in his home country, captured when his country was defeated then transported and sold into indentured slavery here in the USA. My people were poor and uneducated farmers who would have 10 kids and raise 4 of them. They never owned anyone and were owned by others. So you can shove this whole fiction that black people are the only people who were brought here against their will as cargo and who experienced hardship and were sold to others. There were a lot of horrors that went on in our early history and I see no point in reliving them when we have the option to move forward and create a better place for everyone. However if they start handing out reparations payments I will be in line for mine.

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    1. what an interesting story Bes!! You don't hear so much about the indentured slavery part of our history...

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  11. I see this from a different angle - as a lifelong whitey righty from Texas I got used to being called a racist and all the other ists a long time ago. I remember talking to my Dad during the welfare reform debate of the 90's about my being so confused as to why we were being called racists for being for it - when everyone we knew who was on it was lazy poor WHITE trailer trash. That's when he explained to me that it was just a tactic, didn't have to make sense, and I might as well get used to it because it was a weapon of the left that was here to stay. Along with things like - if you don't support certain social programs being run through the government you want children to starve to death, the elderly to freeze to death, the poor to live on the streets, and you were just too selfish to share your riches (which we didn't have) with anyone else.

    So when 08 happened I wasn't surprised at all. But it was so painful to watch others have to experience it all for the first time. It also made me realize just how used to it I had gotten. When the media or the Dems started calling me racist I just heard Charlie Brown's parents "mwa mwa mumble mumble mwa mwa."

    I do agree we should all be more careful labeling anyone with an "ist". It doesn't mean I don't think we should call it out when it is blatant, but there are soooooo many really nasty obvious cases I wish we could stop reaching so hard for the ones that take four pages to make the case. If it is worth labeling someone with an "ist" IMO you shouldn't have to reach for things like "implied ism" or "code words" etc. And I agree that just because someone isn't up to date on all the latest PC rules for what you can and cannot say - they are not necessarily an "ist". They could just be busy living a life instead of sitting around waiting for someone to say something they can get pissed off and feel victimized about.

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  12. It is clear that a lot of pent-up views on race need to be heard and expressed. It is also important to recognize the grand canyon-sized gaps between and among women that keep them from unifying.

    "left liberals" and the potential liberal women allies are gone.

    "I am sick of the whole racism thing" and the potential AA women allies are gone.

    "the dream act is just glorified amnesty" and the potential hispanic women allies are gone.

    "prochoice women are pawns of the liberal dude folks" and all the prochoice natural allies are gone.

    as a boring white male it is incredable how big the fighting is between women. It seems to overtake any effort at unity. This article for example does not seem to even consider bringing AA women into the unity of all women.

    the fact is, to win, women need the majority of women from all of these groups to be a true political force - in my admittedly limited knowledge opinion. The frustration I see on this and other blogs though admittedly understandable and justified are counterproductive this far out from the source of that frustration. It might be better to organize, organize and organize some more until these intense disagreements are secondary to political achievement. That cannot be achieved by continued expressions of anger at subgroups of women whatever their race or political views.
    respectfully.

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    1. Hi Ryan---Nice to see you here!!! I so agree with you and with Bes. I wrote a piece on that very subject a year ago

      http://womenwintoo.blogspot.com/2011/08/trouble-in-sisterhood.html

      Women have been sliced and diced, divided and conquered so effectively that we don't even see that if we all got together, we'd be a voting bloc to contend with. The powers that be are much happier keeping us at each other's throats.

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  13. Actually I think what keeps women from unifying is

    Feminist leaders who are not pro woman, have sold out regular women to the political parties, mostly to Democrats.

    Corporate Media, Feminist Leaders and both political parties have developed and sold the fiction that if women can't unite behind the most divisive issue of the times, abortion, they can't unite at all.

    Authentic women have not had a way to communicate with each other since we are excluded from Corporate Media and the political parties. The internet and blogs are changing this thankfully.

    Organizing your own active voting group is a very good way to gain power with the political parties who run the country. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats have any principles what so ever, they simply blindly seek power. If you can deliver them a pile of voters they will do what ever to accommodate them. That is the only reason Republicans accommodate the right wing woman oppressing bedroom police. If a pro woman movement could deliver them a bigger number of votes they would switch loyalties in a second. The Democrats have taken women for granted for so long they will unfortunately have to loose big time and dig themselves out of a powerless pit before they are able to take women's issues and votes seriously. Even then they will be reacting to their own pain at loss of power rather than having any true understanding of said women's issues.

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    1. I'd add that since women have had such a small piece of the power pie, we've had to fight each other for small crumbs. We've been conditioned in many ways to see each other as competition and adversaries. It will be hard to break this habit. Once our piece of the pie is enlarged in proportion to our numbers we might make some progress.....

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    2. I think you hit the nail on the head!

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  14. I'm not saying you do this, but people often inject race and gender when it is entirely unnecessary. I was also a Hillary supporter (and I'm a white man). In 2007, one of my female friends asked me who I wanted to see win in 2008, and I told her I thought Hillary was the best choice. She said, "So you think it's finally time that we have a female President?" I don't honestly know whether I had thought about her gender, and explained that I simply thought she was the best choice. I really could care less about her gender; she was just smarter and better prepared than any of the opposition.

    Similarly, I think many of Obama's supporters, both white and black, support(ed) him based on race. I never was a huge fan of his, but I did support him in 2008. Again, it had nothing to do with race or gender. I felt, and still do feel, that he was the best choice among the available options. I think the Presidency is far too important to be about race or gender - we should just elect whoever is best for the job.

    This year I will be voting for Romney/Ryan. I've been critical of Obama when I disagree, and I think he's been a pretty poor President. He could have been worse and I think we've had worse, but I don't give him a pass or feel he deserves special treatment because he's black. I hate being called a racist because I'm not too happy with him. I wasn't too happy with Bush, either, but no one seemed to care about that.

    I'm glad to see that you, and others, are starting to speak out about all this "racist" stuff. It's only making matters worse, and I really don't think we'll have true equality until we start holding everyone to equal standards, and that includes our President.

    As an aside, I did think the coverage of Hillary was sexist. I was really surprised - I think Obama got better coverage than he should have (and think that's likely due to race) and I guess I would have expected Hillary to get positive coverage because she's a woman. Quite frankly it made me rethink how we view race and gender in modern America. I'm sure there's still tons of anti-black racism, but on average I'd say it might be an advantage (at least for Obama and probably educated people who happen to be black), whereas apparently on average, society still doesn't treat women equally. If we got nothing else out of that election, at least it helped bring the understanding of prejudice into focus, at least for some of us.

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  15. Hi Anonymous----these times are certainly an education for all of us aren't they!!

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  16. "but on average I'd say it might be an advantage (at least for Obama and probably educated people who happen to be black)"

    Interesting viewpoint but I suspect not true in most cases. Just my thinking. But I do believe that AA folks have it together when it comes to supporting one of their own breaking a glass ceiling and they did just that in 2008. Can't blame them. I am very sure there were many women who voted for Hillary because she was a woman and would break the highest barrier; can't blame them either. Both are right and both are wrong I guess. But I suspect that women would have to close ranks in ways they have not done in centuries if not longer. You see women's blogs ripping each other apart over every kind of issue from abortion to rape to racism to religion to ethnicity and the divisions go on in an endless chain. An NAACP for women would be a huge advancement and maybe someday a female president.

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    1. Ryan---you have hit on the main problem that women aren't an effective voting bloc. We aren't at all together, something I think about all of the time. I've written about it too, but not lately:

      http://womenwintoo.blogspot.com/2011/08/trouble-in-sisterhood.html

      We women have been sliced and diced effectively, and are happily at each other's throats so that our natural advantage, our numbers, has been nullified.

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  17. Cynthia,

    Much as I deplore the kind of rhetoric that was used against Hillary Clinton during the '08 campaign, and as strongly as I feel about the oppression of women, I nevertheless fail to see just how Coates's piece in the "Atlantic" magazine "Fear of a Black President" points the accusing finger at any individual or group of individuals. Rather, his article seemed like a reasoned assessment of the limitations of the Obama presidency and the rhetoric that to a large extent shapes it.

    "Being" racist, as I see it, is far from just a simple state of being (even though many people seem to get off, strangely, on leveling this accusation at others). It's a complex dynamic, an interrelationship among different communities and institutions, with different histories.

    Cynthia, I note that you haven't cited any of Coates's *particular* sentence or words that you find particularly troublesome. You haven't used any quotations from his piece, you haven't parsed out any of these arguments, demonstrating HOW another side of the question might be formulated. Therefore, you end up doing the very knee-jerk thing you criticize.

    As a Jewish woman myself (growing up under somewhat different circumstances that you describe), I feel that I'm just beginning to understand the extent of my white privilege. It's huge. I'm quite sorry---our situation as American Jews (regardless of gender) doesn't compare in any way.

    But rather than enter into a competition about "who suffers more" (as one writer put it, an "Olympics of Suffering," which we Jews tend to excel at), shouldn't we direct more of our efforts at listening to one another and trying to understand the suffering of another person or group of people?

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    1. Nina---I'm all for being understanding of one another's suffering. As a matter of fact, we all suffer in this life, and being able to support one another is necessary for survival.

      I read the Coates article three times, and it is the assumed blanket indictment of "white racism" and the underlying assumptions that tar all whites is what frustrates me. The article made no effort whatsoever to distinguish one white person from another. It is just all "white racism."

      I am frustrated---it's too broad a stroke, and it is a legitimate criticism. It doesn't mean I am either a racist or unsympathetic for bringing it up.

      And that is that. I am not interested in taking the article apart and parsing it. I am not an academic nor was my critique intended as a scholarly dissertation which would require extensive footnoting, etc.

      I never said that the anti-Semitism I experienced every day of my growing up life was the same. I'm just saying that as a person with white skin, I may have a more nuanced understanding of racism than some whites who cannot imagine such circumstances.

      And honestly, Nina, we women have suffered as well being female. I've said all along that it is not an Olympics of suffering, but you kind of make my point. By making a legitimate criticism of an article, why do you assume that there is cruelty attached to it since it involves race? Your criticism turns the whole thing on its ear since your implication is that we whites can't possibly understand black racism so we should just shut up? That gets us nothing in the progress department. Just fear of speaking up because we are white and that makes us insensitive in some way? How does that progress the important dialogue that needs to happen?

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  18. I can only add that I deeply regret that nobody commenting here really seems to have cared enough to actually READ Ta-Nehisi Coates's article, and to try to understand what he's saying.

    Most seem to be responding to a divisive and inaccurate gut feeling.... "we're sick and tired of being called racists," etc., that they feel they've heard too many times before.

    It's not valid as an argument. Am I a prig to suggest that, as a common courtesy, actually READING the person we criticize, beyond a quick glance? Let's at least describe accurately what a person is saying.

    Criticism of a particular writer is, of course, legitimate. But tarring everyone who speaks against racism with the same brush is a colossal act of bad faith. Please do yourself a favor and read the article:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/fear-of-a-black-president/309064/



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    1. Wow so if we don't agree with YOUR assessment of the article we either didn't read it, are committing a "colossal act of bad faith" or didn't "try to understand what he's saying"? Don't you think YOUR assumptions are a little presumptuous? Just for your information - I did read it entirely, I am well enough educated to have understood the words just as well as you did, and my criticism of the article stands. It's crap.

      My opinion of the job Pres. Obama is doing is in NO way colored by his race. I am not offended by the color of his skin - only the thinness of it. He has been and thus far continues to be a horrible President who is simply BAD at the job. I would consider myself a racist if I did not point this out because of the color of my skin or his. Nobody (including me) had any trouble leveling very harsh criticism at Pres. Bush when they felt he screwed up. Why is it always race related when criticisms of Pres. Obama are made?

      And lastly - it seems to me that it is the left who continues to be obsessed with race and skin color - not the right. I do not bring it up constantly as either a defense or criticism nor does it come from pundits, commentators, or politicians on the right. It is always a retread of the left.

      Hmmm... Methinks they dost protest too much.
      And it's F*CKING BORING.

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  19. Is that the extent of your contribution, Thia? You're welcome to it.

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    1. Barring more expletives? Yeah that about sums it up.

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  20. Um…. Did anyone notice that Coates’s article was actually highly CRITICAL of Obama’s policies?

    Or is this yet another exercise in the ME, ME, ME, I, I, I, as Cynthia’s headline (and photo!) would suggest, the endless chatter that frequently passes some kind of discussion of racial politics?

    Someone is pointing their finger at ME. I am being accused of being “a” racist. How dare they accuse me of that? I’m a good person. I’ve suffered, too! ME, ME, I, I, I, I, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, I, I, ME, ME. Me.

    The terms of the “debate” here resembles the thousand-plus comments that follow Coates’s “Atlantic” article itself. What I sense in these kinds of conflicts (about the rhetoric of race) is nothing more than the bruised egos of some white people whose self-regard is predicated on being, or (more importantly) being perceived, as a “good person.” A good person who, after all, has themselves suffered, and wants (daggumit it!) acknowledgement for their own legitimate suffering.

    And so, after a perceived blow to their own narcissism, those who assert that the issue of race is overblown believe they can shore up their good conscience by running from themselves, and announcing in various ways how much they resent these “guilt” feelings----feelings that, in the main, they themselves have manufactured---and attributing these bad feelings to others who (they believe) “made” them feel badly about themselves: the Left. Liberals. The Left. Obama.

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    1. Nina---I have noticed that the latest attempt to discredit someone by name calling is to call them out for being a narcissist. That's hardly a constructive way to debate. Clearly we must have hit a sensitive spot inside you and for that I am sorry. But it makes it difficult to have any discussion if you're going to try to stop the conversation by name calling. I have not called you names, and I would request that you give me the same courtesy.

      You might want to get your own blog and write your own piece giving your point of view. It could add immensely to the conversation.

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  21. Look at the way you titled your blog entry, Cynthia:

    “OMG! Am I being called a racist AGAIN?????”

    Here’s the reality: we are ALL racists. Okay? How can we not be? We are born into an ideological system where racism forms the very groundwork for the politics of belonging, of citizenship, of inclusion/exclusion, for access to opportunity---indeed, for a nearly anything that symbolizes our national identity as Americans. We are all, without exception, racists, deny it (“I’m really not!”) as we might.

    All right. So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s have an honest discussion about things that matter. How do Obama’s policies impact an ongoing state of racial inequality that exists in this country (if you even believe that such a state exists?) What does Coates think of this? Do you agree, or disagree, and why? What about Obama’s seeming backtracking from his speech of April 2008, “A More Perfect Union?” What do you think about his firing of Shirley Sherrod? What about political and media rhetoric, as used by Obama or commentators on the Trayvon Martin killing? How can we understand the way language is used in different ways?



    Unless we can have an honest discussion, as adults, we can never hope to achieve a real understanding of the full panoply of issues that plague us. (And that, by the way, INCLUDES the very real problem of sexism and the oppression of women, Cynthia.)

    Get real, folks. We need to grow up. There’s more at stake here than bruised egos---yours or mine.

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    1. bruised egos, narcissism, "grow up"----------here you go again Nina. I think that there are some interesting points you are making, but it is hard to find them among this type of rhetoric. As I said above, I am sorry we hit a nerve with you, but these tactics of yours aren't helpful of a discussion of what's really bothering you.

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  22. I do agree with much of your thoughts Nina. Even if race was used the wrong way in the 2008 election by some folks. It seems counterproductive to use headlines like the one in this article to highlight an opinion or race; especially when unifying women is so important to achieve parity in politics. I wonder how an AA or Hispanic woman interested in joining with other women would see that headline. Would she even want to read more after seeing it. That's the question to ask when political unification is the goal

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    1. Ryan----I don't think that you can so lightly brush over the charges of racism that were and are being leveled even as we speak. It was an unfortunate by product of the 2008 election that has continued unabated.

      And I stand by what I wrote.

      You may be new to the observation that women aren't united. It is an old topic, one that is highly frustrating. But to suppress the free speech of people in order to promote unity is a little off the mark. I know you mean well, and I am thrilled that you have joined this conversation!!

      The disunity of women serves society well on a multitude of levels. As I mentioned above, as long as women are divided, we can't use our obvious advantage, our superior numbers, to take our rightful place at the power table.

      Women have so much more that unites us than what divides us. We just haven't figured out yet how to put that together. I am about to turn 60 in a few weeks (whew----a real moment for reflection!!! Or is age just another number?? LOL!!), and I remember a short period of time when it seemed we women were mostly on the same page. But it didn't last long because we became divided. We haven't recovered since.

      Ryan---I really have enjoyed having you comment here, and I hope you'll come over again from time to time and add yourself to future conversations. I really like your approach to positive solutions and your forward looking thinking!!

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    2. Ryan I suppose it depends on who this individual AA or Hispanic etc woman is. If it were Condi Rice, Mia Love, Angela McGlowan, Star Parker, Nikki Haley, or Susana Martinez - just to name a few - I'm sure they would love to read the rest of the article and would agree. This is why I'm always ranting against the tendency to homogenize people into collective groups when you start playing racial politics. That is yet another thing that I found offensive and annoying about the Coates article. You miss that people, including women of color, may have a wide variety of opinions and beliefs on any topic. Not to be too hokey - but you can't see the snowflakes for the snow. And no the irony of using that particular example did not escape me ;)

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  23. Yes.

    Sometimes people forget that racist policies affect women of color disproportionately. Not all women are white, after all.

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    1. I have to agree with Thia----this slicing and dicing of our identities gets to be extremely counterproductive. How far are we going to take it and for how long are we going to be hyphenated American? While it may give us some understanding and compassion, it can also be used as a cudgel. As Confucius said, everything becomes its opposite.

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  24. If we will agree, Cynthia, that our nerves have been hit, then I believe you are equally obliged to " 'fess up' " to what's really bothering *you.*

    I never implied that you or anyone need to "shut up" about the issues Ta Nehisi Coates talks about. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    And he wasn't pointing his fingers at you *personally,* nor at Stray Yellar Dawg, nor Sweetgrass, nor Thia, nor Certified, nor anyone who takes umbrage at being called "a racist".....as if they were somehow the target of a PERSONAL attack by Coates and other writers. That's not what it's about. I ask, as Coates does, that we look at racism as a SYSTEMIC issue.

    And without this, we won't get any further toward addressing the oppression of women as, likewise, a SYSTEMIC issue. We can, as you mentioned, enter a thoughtful discussion about racism without compromising our commitment to fighting sexism and other ills.

    Moreover, one needn't be an "academic" to respond thoughtfully to Coates's article. He put a lot of effort into writing it, in my view, and it deserves to be treated with respect, even if you disagree with some (or most) of his points.


    I didn't call you names, either; and I believe that reducing a body of thought to a caricature impedes discussion as much as anything.


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    1. Nina---my "fess up" is what I wrote in my piece.

      You really seem stuck on the whole narcissism angle. "White racism" is a pretty broad topic to be dismissed as such. I'm only saying (and I can only speak for myself, not any other commenters), that many people of good will struggling to come to terms with the whole ugly heritage of racism, don't need to be included as white racists when they are struggling, no matter how imperfectly, toward being better people. And to be broadsided by such accusations is imho a mistake. But it is a very very prickly difficult topic, and the only way to get past it it to keep trying to talk about it.

      I thought Coates' article as I said above was beautifully written. He is very thoughtful, and I respect him for that.
      I just as I have said, disagree about the entire blanket subject of "white racism."

      And I'm sorry to belabor the point, but I believe you called me a narcissist which is name calling. And you also told me to grow up, a bit of name calling in its own right.Anyways, since I'm about to turn 60 in a few weeks, I'm about as grown up as I want to be. :)

      And I stand by my statement that I've now made several times. I've written the piece I wanted to write, and I stand by what I said. If you want to write your own blog piece the way you think a piece should be written, by all means do it. You might make a valuable contribution to the conversation by doing so.

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    2. I think someone who feels the need to name-call to point out how they disagree with an opinion is the person that needs to grow up. I thought your article was very good. It was what "you" wanted to say.

      If Nina wants to "say" something different that's fine. Go say it.

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    3. why thanks kenoshamarge!! On another topic, I'm really looking forward to hearing the women speak today and tonight at the Republican Convention Mia Love, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Kelly Ayotte, and of course Ann Romney. There are wonderful women on the Republican side of the aisle, and I only wish that women from both sides can bring themselves to appreciate these terrific women.

      and of course I'm looking forward to hearing from Mr. firecracker, Chris Christie!!!! He's such a fun speaker.....

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