<![CDATA[Whiteness Project - Blog]]>Tue, 15 Mar 2016 13:35:26 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Where Do we go from here? ]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 06:05:39 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/where-do-we-go-from-here


Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance.  It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.  The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans.  White America would have liked to believe that in the past ten years a mechanism had somehow been created that needed only orderly and smooth tending for the painless accomplishment of change.  Yet this is precisely what has not been achieved.......These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races.  Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook.  He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough.  Each step forward accents an ever present tendency to backlash. 

                            - Martin Luther King, Jr. Where do We Go from Here, 1967
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<![CDATA[NYC Greene space Event - "Off Whiteness"]]>Wed, 10 Jun 2015 19:10:13 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/live-greenspace-event-off-whiteness
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VenugopaI am doing an live radio event in New York at The Greene Space with WNYC's Arun Venugopal *next week* June 16th, and it's all about white people: what role they serve in the broader racial debate, and the many ways in which whiteness is now being questioned, targeted and sometimes re-asserted. In addition to me, the panelists include Hot 97's Rosenberg (a white guy at the center of the hip-hop world), civil rights organizer Michael Skolnikand diversity consultant and non-white person Verna Myers.


You can learn all about it, buy tickets and stream it here. I hope to see you there.



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<![CDATA[My McKinney Pool]]>Wed, 10 Jun 2015 18:37:21 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/my-mckinney-pool



At this point over 10 million people have watched the video of the McKinney, TX Police Officer Eric Casebolt violently throwing a 14 year-old girl to the ground and then pulling his gun on a group of unarmed teenagers who were attending a party at a local community pool.  The McKinney Police Department condemned the officer's behavior and Casebolt has resigned, but the images of black American kids being driven from a community pool still haunt - not just because the officers actions that are outrageous, but because it is always upsetting to be reminded of our shameful history of officially sanctioned segregation.

American municipal pools have long been racial battlegrounds. Jamelle Bouie of Slate Magazine this history breaks down the integration of Americas public pools in an excellent article "Our Segregated Summers" which is worth a read if you want to understand why this video why this video has gotten so much attention.

My first racial epiphany came at a Boston Municiple pool when I was a kid in the 1970s.  One summer when was a counselor at the Central Square YMCA I took group of campers, who were mostly Black and Puerto Rican 10 and 12 year-old boys, to the North End to swim in the public pool.  As the kids were changing in the locker room I was surrounded by a group of men who told me: "if any of those niggers go in the pool someone is going to get seriously hurt". I was 14 at the time, and I remember being at a complete loss at how to explain to the kids why we could not go swimming in a public pool. The experience was devastating, heartbreaking and humiliating, and fundamentally transformed my view of the world and my place in it.  I did not know it then, but that moment also set me on path that more that three decades later led me to the Whiteness Project.



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<![CDATA["If they Just stayed on their own side, things like this wouldn't happen"]]>Mon, 18 May 2015 22:21:55 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/if-they-just-stayed-on-their-own-side-things-like-this-wouldnt-happen


Although it is unpleasant at times, I think it is instructive to hear people speaking honestly.  I do not believe that this man represent's the majority of South Buffalo, but pretending that a significant portion of the white community does not harbor deeply racist views is not helpful.

Racist New York Man Talks OPENLY On The News . . . He Really Gives ZERO F*CKS!! (Wow . . . It Racism Is CRAZY In Buffalo New York)

Posted by Mediatakeout on Saturday, May 16, 2015



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<![CDATA[A Lost Opportunity]]>Thu, 23 Apr 2015 20:48:50 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/a-lost-opportunity
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The whole Ben Affleck/Skip Gates Story is both troubling and instructive. Some good articles that describe what happened can be found here and here, and some idiotic commentary from CNN here — the short version is Affleck asked that a scene that revealed that he had a slave owning ancestor be cut from Henry Louis Gates' popular PBS series “Finding your Roots” and Gates complied. (After conferring not with PBS, but with Michael Lynton the head of Sony Entertainment) Why would a man who’s mother was a Freedom Rider, and who has serious liberal bonafides, be ashamed of a relative who lived lived over  hundred years ago?  I think that it speaks volumes about the complex nature of white Americans’ relationship to the past.  It is almost as if acknowledging the realities of the past somehow calls into question the legitimacy of the present, and our place in in it.  You are not responsible for your ancestors actions, only your own.

The really disappointing thing, is that the cut scene told a compelling story of how one family evolved over time - slave owners to freedom riders in just a couple of generations - that could have stood as a evidence that real and substantive change is possible.  Gawker got its hands on the show's transcript, and the full article is really worth reading, but here is the scene that was cut from the show:

NARRATOR:
AT THE SAME TIME THAT ALMON WAS TRYING TO OFFER THE BEREAVED SOLACE... ANOTHER OF BEN’S ANCESTORS WAS LIVING 800 MILES DUE SOUTH. WE LEARNED THAT HIS LIFE HAD ALSO BEEN FUNDAMENTALLY AFFECTED BY THE CIVIL WAR—BUT FOR VERY DIFFERENT REASONS. THIS MAN WAS BEN’S THIRD GREAT GRANDFATHER, BENJAMIN COLE, AND HE WAS LIVING IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA AT THE TIME.  COLE WAS ONE OF SAVANNAH’S MOST PROMINENT CITIZENS—A WEALTHY LAND OWNER AND THE SHERIFF OF THE ENTIRE COUNTY.

AFFLECK: That’s amazing. I got a…we have a house in Savannah.

GATES: Really?
AFFLECK: Yeah.

GATES: Did it ever occur to you that you had deep roots there?

AFFLECK: No, it didn’t. It didn’t at all. I had no idea I had any southern roots at all, so this is remarkable.


NARRATOR
COLE OWNED A LARGE FARM IN GEORGIA AT A TIME WHEN SLAVE LABOR HAD MADE THE STATE THE CENTER OF THE SOUTH’S COTTON KINGDOM. WE WANTED TO SEE IF WE COULD LEARN HOW BEN’S ANCESTOR FELT ABOUT THIS PECULIAR INSTITUTION.  AND FOR THAT, WE STARTED WITH THE 1850 CENSUS.

GATES: This is the slave schedule of the 1850 Census. In 1850, they would list the owner of slaves in a separate Census.

AFFLECK: There’s Benjamin Cole, owned 25 slaves.

GATES: Your third great-grandfather owned 25 slaves. He was a slave owner.

THESE HOLDINGS PUT BENJAMIN COLE AMONG THE SOUTHERN ELITE.  ONLY ABOUT 10% OF ALL SLAVE HOLDERS OWNED 20 SLAVES OR MORE.

AFFLECK: God. It gives me kind of a sagging feeling to see, uh, a biological relationship to that. But, you know, there it is, part of our history.

GATES: But consider the irony, uh, in your family line. Your mom went back fighting for the rights of black people in Mississippi, 100 years later. That’s amazing.

AFFLECK: That’s pretty cool.

GATES: That’s pretty cool.

AFFLECK: Yeah, it is. One of the things that’s interesting about it is like we tend to separate ourselves from these things by going like, you know, oh, well, it’s just dry history, and it’s all over now, and this shows us that there’s still a living aspect to history, like a personal connection.

By the same token, I think it’s important to recognize that, um, in looking at these histories, how much work has been done by people in this country, of all kinds, to make it a better place.

GATES: People like your mother.

AFFLECK: Indeed, people like my mother and many others who have made a much better America than the one that they were handed.


On another front, Gates actions are troubling from a journalistic perspective.  I have a long relationship with PBS - they have both funded and aired a number of my films - and I take my responsibilities both to the network and their audience extremely seriously.  It is hard for me to imagine a scenario where I allow, or PBS would allow, a subject to drive content. (Unless it was part of the conceptual framework of the project)  Gates was right when he said "Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand."
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<![CDATA[CAn you overcome your PAst?]]>Sat, 18 Apr 2015 13:33:04 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/can-you-overcome-your-past
Two stories of childhood from Milwaukee:
 
Recovering Racist

Seeing Black People for the First Time

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<![CDATA[Are millennials tolerant racists?]]>Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:13:30 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/are-millennials-tolerant-racists
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A fascinating article by @SeanMcElwee who crunched the data on millennial racial attitudes. Key Graph:

"The fact that millennials perceive themselves as uniquely tolerant may make them more likely to practice or accept discriminatory behavior. “A representative panel of Americans interviewed immediately before and after the election [of Barack Obama] reveals a roughly 10 percent decline in perceptions of racial discrimination,” Nicholas A. Valentino and Ted Brader, wrote in a 2011 study in the journal Public Opinion Quarterly.

But the dramatic change in perceptions was clearly symbolic. Valentino and Brader found that “declines in perceived discrimination were associated with increases in negative opinions of blacks and heightened opposition to both affirmative action and immigration.” A large body of research supports this finding. For instance, a 2009 study by Vincent Hutchings found (PDF) “scant evidence of a decline in the racial divide” from 1988 to 2008 on policies that would alleviate racial inequality. Even more startling, Hutchings noted, “younger cohorts of whites are no more racially liberal in 2008 than they were in 1988.”

Read whole thing Here 

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<![CDATA[I am a redneck and I love America]]>Mon, 13 Apr 2015 16:40:38 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/i-am-a-redneck-and-i-love-america
Like a lot of people, few days ago I started seeing a video titled “I am a redneck and I love America” popping up on my Facebook feed.  In it, a self-identified former racist calling himself Dixon White sits in a pickup truck and talks about the evils of racism and white supremacy.  When I watched the video I fell hard for the dude.  The cognitive dissonance of an overweight (sorry Dixon) good ol’ boy in a F-150 decrying the evils a society built on white supremacy in a thick southern drawl makes for compelling viewing, and, as of this writing, almost 1,000,000 youtube viewer agree with me.  Not everyone was so enamored.  People quickly discovered his real name and background and went after him hammer and tongs.  I was curious so I tracked him down and gave him a call.  I will be posting an interview with Dixon soon, but I for now, here he is:


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<![CDATA[Does Sexual Orientation Trump Race?]]>Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:33:48 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/does-sexual-orientation-trump-race
"People would see me as a gay man before they see me as a white man".

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<![CDATA[What do We Lose When we Lose Jon Stewart?]]>Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:20:19 GMThttp://www.whitenessblog.org/blog/what-do-we-lose-when-we-lose-jon-stewart

Will Daily Show viewers pay as much attention when a black host talks about race?
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The Daily Show's new host Trevor Noah.
I spoke with VOX's @jdesmondharris about Trevor Noah about this this:

Jenée Desmond-Harris: There's a broad consensus that having a black man host The Daily Show show is positive for television diversity. But I'm interested in getting your thoughts on how the incisive commentary on race and racism-related headlines that The Daily Show has become known for will be received from a biracial/black host.

Whitney Dow: White people hear other white people much more clearly when they speak about race than they do people of color.  Even the most culturally aware. They go into this default position of listening to people complain versus recognizing that race is something about them. The big Rubicon you have to cross with a white person is that they're having as racialized an experience as anyone of any other ethnicity — they think when people of color talk about race it's about an experience outside of themselves.  Read Full Article

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