Unpopular Truths According to That Teowonna - Truth #1
When old people die, racism will die.
A very close older white friend asked me the other day why everything seems to be about race. She asked why we (all of us as a people) just couldn’t get over the racial thing. I told her just as calmly as I am telling you, “When old people die, racism will die.”
It’s no secret that I feel a little differently about racism than many other black people. If you catch the PA Bennet Show, a daily radio talk show on 620 AM on any given day of the week, you will hear me say in no uncertain terms that I think black people perpetuate racism just as much as white people do. Even more so, I think that old black people and old white people are the main catalysts of enduring racism. While both deny it, both carry hatred in their hearts and BOTH refuse to let racism die. That’s why I believe that when old people die, racism will die!
Younger people, and I define younger as 36 and below – because I am 36 – have a different perspective and outlook on racism. That is primarily because we are younger… we have not lived and experienced the same things older people, like my mother and her mother, have experienced. Therefore, we do not see racism in many of the things that older people do. For example, when the New York Post chimp cartoon compared the stimulus author to the primate Travis that was gunned down days before, I was one of only two people at my birthday party that felt the political cartoon was not racist. The other person who shared my feelings was a 23 year old.
Each of us is a product of our past. I understand why older people, black and white, feel the way they do… especially black people. It is completely understandable. But the problem is even though many may not recognize it, they propel their feelings and experiences onto the younger generation, saying they are “enlightening us!” Actually, what they are doing is trying to skew our perception based on their experiences. That’s not fair. That’s not fair to the innocence of younger generations.
Older generations: you should not expect the younger generation to live our lives as if we have lived yours… as if we have experienced what you have experienced. Think about that for a moment… that's rather profound. Yes, I agree that I am completely blind to a lot of the hatred and discrimination that you have experienced. But isn’t that why you fought, and marched, and sat in... so that I wouldn’t have to experience that hatred and discrimination? Now that I live as if I haven’t experienced it, many of you are angry and call me ignorant and an ingrate. Neither of which could be further from the truth.
Because older people on both ends of the racial spectrum (black and white)have come out of an era of unabashed racism, once they pass away (and I really do mean that in the absolute most respectful manner possible), the younger generation, who have not experienced racism in quite the same way, will begin to impart their views and ideals onto the world, without the looming veil of racism.
Have you noticed that young children do not see race? Have you noticed the increased level of interracial dating that is going on today? Have you noticed that America is getting browner and less black and white? When is the last time you went to a high school sports game and observed young people? When you go, you will see young people, black and white, co-mingling in a way their parents never had the luxury of experiencing. This is proof that younger people do not see race like older people do. This is proof that as older people pass away, the racism of the last 200 plus years will slowly pass away as well.
Now, don’t get me wrong… there will always be discrimination. But I believe it will be based on class, and not race.
I know racism is a hot topic these days, especially in this day of Professor Gates/Sargeant Crowley, Joe Wilson, town hall meeting, and the blatant disrespect of our first black president. But I am very optimistic that in my lifetime, even more significant changes and progress regarding race relations will be made. I am even more hopeful for the future of our children. Edit
I wish it was that easy but the older people you are talking about are or have raised children and imparted their beliefs on their children.
I know that things are changing but if we are completely honest, racism has adapted with society. There are fewer lynchings and cross burnings but read any of the comments that are posted on any internet news channel. If the article is about any person of color, watch how quickly and viciously the issue of race is brought into the conversation. All these voices aren't older people.
Look at the differences in the following areas. Racism is still going strong.
I would love for racism to die with us old ones but I don't think it will. Even today, the advertising industry is wrestling with how to become more diverse. Let's not fool ourselves, discrimination is a direct result and indication of racism. A person holds or has racist views or beliefs but when they act on these beliefs or views it becomes discrimination.
I share your hope. I simply think we cannot ignore racism away. Delete Reply
You know, I don't think racism is ever going to die. I see racism as an effective tool for those in power to maintain existing power and gain more. The powerful use racist constructs in a systematic way to keep the rest us off balance, focusing on what amounts to be pure silliness if you step back think about it. But it has worked like a charm from the time of slavery to the present.
People are relatively the same despite their skin color. We all hurt, fear, love, feel, laugh, hope, and persevere in some area of life. King was on to something when he brought up the economic disparity between the haves and have-nots. He called racism out as the smoke screen that it was. And that anti-racism / economic equality talk led to his assassination.
Did you know as of 2007, that 10% of the U.S. population controlled 81% of the privately held wealth in the country? Check out http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html. Division, compartmentalism (is that a word?), bloodsport competition for limited resources, and selfishness are some fruits of racism. The entity controlling those resources has the leverage. It is in their interest to maintain the status quo. It is essential that we, the bottom 80%, never realize that we are being…had, took, hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok! So here enters racism, a systematic set of distractions.
So why is there still racism and why will it continue to thrive? Because racism is making some folks really wealthy! There are folks out there that are strategically and tactically manipulating our psyches with nonsense and perpetuating fear and distrust between us. They use schools, media outlets, politics, government, law enforcement, courts, financial institutions, businesses, and environments as channels for racist activity.
The bigotry and racial discrimination that we often associated with racism misses the larger system in which racism actually operates. Frankly, until a better model comes along to trump the economic advantages of racism, it will be here to stay. Delete Reply
While I admire your optimism, I don't think I can agree.
Old people have been dying for years and racism is still alive and kicking. Even with a black president, you still have Congressmen showing his contempt for blacks and you still have people (YOUNG people) joining white supremacist groups because they feel threatened by the "advancement" of blacks and Latinos.
Children don't see race because, in my opinion, their young minds haven't grasped the impact race can have on how they perceive people. In my opinion, children may be racist per se, but they may not know there's a name for it (unless they grew up with self-proclaimed racists). As I've experienced, once children move into middle and high school, they tend to gravitate towards people who look like them. Why? Well, it's simple. As you get into your teenage years, you become more self-conscious about fitting in. So, you surround yourself with people who look like you for some sort of protection.
Your reasoning behind this "rise in interracial dating" among young people and seeing people "co-mingling" amongst different racists is quite simplistic, in my view.
As a person who has been in an interracial relationship for six years, that does not inoculate one from racism. I know people who've dated people of a different race and still harbor negative feelings towards their mate's race as a whole.
And this "co-mingling?" Sure, you can "co-mingle," but that also doesn't mean you're cured from the disease of racism. I live in the South and people of different races co-mingle (your word, not mine) at sporting events all the time. Again, that doesn't mean people still don't have a negative feeling towards other races.
Once again, your optimism is wonderful, but I'm just not seeing this change you are reporting to see. Delete Reply
Sorry Teowanna! You my Girl and all, but Derek, The New Black Woman and Mark HIT IT ON THE HEAD!!!! I too admire your optimism - but I don't see what you see. GOD knows I wish I did. I also believe that racism will never die. In fact, it may get worse (co-mingling and interracial dating notwithstanding - until Jesus comes. Delete Reply
Ya'll know what: Racism MIGHT not die... and YOU are the reason! That's because you are helping to perpetuate it by refusing to see life beyond it. And when you don't see life beyond it, your actions, perhaps inadvertantly, perpetuate it!
Don't get me wrong... I know that racism will not die completely once people over 36 die... older people do teach their children. But the truth is if the racism is not your reality, but that of your parents, you will naturally begin to discount it. Just like racism is significantly more discounted than it was 100 years ago... and 50 years ago. So, even though parent pass it down, it will diminish with their children... and their children''s children. Racism WILL die. I don't expect you to agree with me... that's why this is an unpopular truth... but it a truth, none the less! Delete Reply
No, my actions do not perpetuate racism, my existence does.
Just like women dressing sexy do not perpetuate rape, black folks do not perpetuate racism. I can be as loving and accepting as I want, and a racist will still hate me because of nothing more than my skin color.
I have worked jobs where my simply "having the nerve to work" was enough to enrage some of my co-workers. Never mind that I was professional and productive, two of them felt that blacks do not belong in advertising. How is that my fault? Did I cause them to hate me? No, they got there on their own.
"See beyond it?!" You have no idea what I see. I work in advertising, and I see the day when there are blacks in every creative department of every major agency. Talk about looking "beyond."
We old folks have always seen beyond. It is the only way we could get up and face the day. We had HOPE before it was a catchy slogan. Delete Reply
I'm sorry, but I take offense with what you're saying. Like Derek said, my actions don't perpetuate racism; it's who I am that perpetuates racism.
I work in the journalism industry and I'm always "seeing beyond" race and looking past people's inherent stereotypes towards me. I've also "seen beyond racism" by living with two white people, which I have been doing so for more than two years.
I think I've done my fair share of "seeing beyond racism" and I'm sure many of your readers have done the same. Delete Reply
That Teowonna, what do you suggest we do to stop racism? Should we refuse to answer "equal opportunity" questions? When people ask what we are, as they always do, what should we say? When someone calls me the "n" word, should I just pretend that they aren't talking to me? I'm not trying to be funny; I am asking serious questions, here. Delete Reply
Everyone: What I have tried to explain (evidentially unsuccessfully) is that black people DO perpetuate racism. Some perpetuate racism by carrying it forward in their own way... amongst their own family… within their own communities. When you call something racism that actually may not be racism, you are perpetuating it. When you have a 5 year old child, and you point out the differences between black and white, whether consciously or not, you are perpetuating it. When you have a 21 year old person who got turned down for his first job and you insinuate that they didn’t get it because he was black, you are perpetuating racism. And everyone one of us have at some point or another used racism as a means to justify why we were not as prepared as we should have been… why our credentials were not as on target as they should have been.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many valid situations in which black people are discriminated against because of race. But there are many in which we are not… we are just not well prepared… or maybe, just maybe the other person (in cases of employment) was just a little more qualified or had more of what the hiring party was looking for. It doesn’t diminish the person. There will be times when he will have more of the hiring person is looking for.
I understand that may be a difficult concept for many black people to grasp or accept, but that really does carry racism forward. I think many of us are conditioned by the older generation to look for racism… thus perpetuating it. For example, black people have a hypersensitivity to monkey images. Remember the healthcare reform monkey cartoon by the New York Post? Many black people were all over that. My questions was: why would you look at a monkey and automatically assume the cartoonist was talking about President Obama? Why do you see yourself in a monkey? I looked at it as Travis the Monkey that was gunned down the day before. Black people have a serious issue when we deem every reference to a monkey to be a reference to us. I understand the history, although I haven’t lived it. For that reason again, I stand by what I said originally: once the older people who continue to hold that deep racial resentment in their hearts (both black and white) no longer exist, racism will continue to diminish and ultimately die.
If you felt insulted by my comments, I’m sorry that you feel this way. My comments were not meant to be insulting but this is not the first time I have come under fire for having a different opinion. I am a forward thinker and refuse to allow the past indignities color my future. I only wish other people would do the same. Delete Reply
I have already answered your question. Racism will ultimately die out when people who have first-hand experience of blatant racism pass away. Again, I mean that in the most respectful manner. Within the next 35 years, racism will lessen significantly. I’m talking about people who had to sit in the backs of buses, drink from separate water fountains… were not allowed to go to the beach of their choice… those who have suffered unspeakable indignities. Because these people have first-hand experience of racism, they allow it to color many aspects of their lives. They see it where there may be another explanation.
Meanwhile, I think we can begin to eradicate racism by stop making everything about race... stop seeing racism everytime things don’t go our way. When you have a situation that appears to undeniably be racism, ask yourself, what if it really is not? What if there is another explanation? What if?
Yes... answer questions about race, yes be offended when someone calls you a nigger... Delete Reply
ThatTeowonna, you still didn't answer my questions. When we apply for jobs, it asks for "race," should those of us who are trying to end racism refuse to answer that question? If someone asks me if I am black or African American, should I say, no, I am black? You have pointed out the error of "our" ways, now, be a woman and "woman-up"--help us find some answers to these issues. If you are correct, we have to think differently. I do not describe people by "race" or "color" as a rule; I have all kinds of friends of all kinds of religions and backgrounds; and sooner or later people want me to "define" myself and my identity. If you are correct, even to define myself as a woman could be a problem--I have heard from time to time people complain that someone lost an opportunity or job or whatever because they were women, etc. What do you suggest?
What kind of people are you hanging around that they are always talking, obviously, crazy talk? I have to say that I don't hear people complaining about race the way that you are explaining. Perhaps this is a problem only in your particular circle, and if that is true, maybe you need to get some new friends. Delete Reply
Anonymous, I don't see where I said anything that should cause you to question whether you should answer questions about race or not. I answer those questions and don't have a problem doing it. Maybe there will come a time in which those question will not be asked... I don't know and am not all that concerned with it right now. ASIDE: When you complete your household census next year, you will notice the number of races that are listed... more than ever before. People are proud of their heritage and want to define for themselves what they are. I personally call myself black... not AA, but people have their preferences. You can look at me and see that I am black... and a woman.
I've never insinuated that it's a problem to identify yourself as a woman or black. What in my blog suggests that?
Here is the problem... people take my views to the extreme... out of context... draw conclusions that I didn't intend. That happens often... I guess trying to discount my views, and maybe even me as a person.
If someone complains that they didn't get a job because they are a woman, all I'm saying is that may or may not be the reason they actually didn't get the job. I think people, especially black people look for reasons why they were not selected... i'm a woman... I'm black... they are threatened by me. Maybe, just maybe, you were not the best candidate that time.
About my circle of friends... Did I say people around me ALWAYS do anything? If I did, I apologize. Nobody "always" does anything. Again... you are taking my views to the extreme, out of context. Race is not an everyday conversation of mine or my friends, but it does occur; I'm sure with your circle of friends too.
But I have a question for you and The New Black Woman? It seems neither of you are giving my viewpoints any credit. You have even taken to attacking and insulting me personally. She called me naive and childlike in her blog... and you all but dogged my friends, saying perhaps I need new ones. Is this how you react to someone who has a different opinion? It's thinking like THAT that perpetuates racism. Think about it. Delete Reply
I believe racism will be with us until the end of time. It is not an American problem it is a mankind problem. I pray that this is not true but the evidence speaks otherwise.
Are we more tolerant? Yes. I cannot deny that. Does being more tolerant mean we are less racist? No. It means that society has forced those with racist beliefs to hide or suppress their public expression of their racism. Simply put they had to get smarter. They can't burn crosses or lynched but they can direct the negative portrayal of people in media or shape the qualifications for lending and credit. They can go online and spew their poison without fear of discovery.
I am not being negative. I embrace the message of a savior that says everyone can change, and I believe that with all my heart. But to believe in a savior, I have to acknowledge that there is a devil.
Dialogues like this are important because it forces us to think about what we believe and why we believe it. Delete Reply
I have to agree with new black women. That teowonna shows child like thoughts by saying racisim will die once old people die. I have spoken to young men and women that are under the age age of 15 and they see race. Old folks have been dying for 300 years but racism is on the rise, it might not be in white sheets but now it is in the board rooms and employment practices. I notice on your post you asked the other person how old they are, how old are you?? I am 40ish and feel like I am 30ish so age is not important. How many youngs folks have you spoken to about race and how they feel?? Delete Reply
I don’t know if this is the same anonymous or another, but I suppose it doesn’t matter since you chose not to leave a name and you views are basically the same. To answer your questions, yes, I do speak to young people about racism. But not just about racism in general. I ask them how they feel about particular ‘racial’ incidents… like the monkey cartoon… like the Professor Gates situation. And they in far less numbers than older people feel the situations are not racist. The fact that my young cousins bring white girls home as serious girlfriends speak to my theory that racism is diminishing. The fact that we have a black president, who was elected in astounding numbers by white people, speaks that racism is diminishing. The fact that my plave of employment has several VP's who are black and female speak that racism is diminishing. Gone? No, but diminishing. And it will continue to do so as time goes on and old people and old ideologies die. Has the level of racism changed in the last 25 years? What about the last 50? What about the last 150? I think we can agree the answer is ‘hell yes‘. That is due to the great efforts of the civil rights movement, I agree. But it is also due to the passing on of people who hold old views. Here is a challenge for you… you said racism is on the rise even though old people have been dieing for the last 300 years. Show me any evidence that racism has actually risen in the last 300 years. If you can show me that, I will release a blog tomorrow retracting my theory.
A word about age: In the race conversation, age IS very important… very important, in fact. Younger people have not experienced the same things that older people have. Therefore, they don’t feel the same way. You say you are 40ish, but you feel 30ish and that’s what matters. WRONG ANSWER in the context of this conversation. You may feel 30ish, but your experiences, which color your views of the world, are still 40ish.
I am 36 and have long identified myself as an independent thinker. I don’t automatically accept what the masses say, just to belong. I speak how I feel and what I believe. This same kind of independent thinking is what earned President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize this week. I’m sure many thought his policies and wanting to reach out across the religions, races and nations were childlike. Many thought his run for the presidency was naïve. But he did it. So all hail us independent thinkers! Delete Reply
Hot topic indeed! Although racism has definitely diminished, I feel it will always exist on some level. I'm not going to pin it all on older people though. Unfortunately, young people old enough to know better will sometimes believe racist stereotypes when they hear them. This nonsense gets passed down like a baton in a relay race. Some young people are smart enough to toss the baton aside, think for themselves, and judge people on an individual basis. Sadly, some of them will hang on to the baton and pass it down. As a result, the vicious cycle of racism will likely continue. Delete Reply
PJazzyPar: I respectfully disagree with you. Babies will not always be born with hoods and garb... trust me, it won't. As children get older, they less and less take on those beliefs if it is not their reality. Just like as white racists die off, the perpetuation of racism deminishes through the generations, when black people who believe so steadfastly in racism die off, racism will continue to deminish. This is demonstarted by the fact that racism has already significantly diminished over the past 150 years, 100 and even 50 years. Look at the difference in the generations.. how you feel about racism versus how I feel... how my chidlren will feel versus how you feel. Trust me... it will deminish... much to many black folks chagrin... I mean, who they gonna blame then? Delete Reply