Tags: African Americans, American Bigotry, bigotry, black, communication, Confronting Myths, current-events, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, ethnicity, European Americans, FORSETTI'S JUSTICE, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, white
People from famous writers to Supreme Court Justices to presidents and even to everyday people have acknowledged the fact that America continues to be separated by color, and try as we may, little progress has been made to bridge that gap. Certainly, strides have been made to bring the two groups together, but nothing seems to work for very long. The fact that ethnic bigotry was instituted at the very beginning of this American experience and continues today underscores its strength. The social conditioning of Americans to respect the power and privilege of skin color manifests itself in everyday life in all of our society’s institutions. Why cannot the gap that separates the two groups be filled? Actually, it can be filled; we just have to decide that we want to come together as one unified un-bigoted nation.
When a group of European Americans was asked if it were possible would they like to live their lives as African Americans? They were asked to raise their hand if the answer was yes. Not a single European American raised his or her hand. Why? Two reasons come to mind, one is that European Americans realize the privilege and power they experience because of their skin color and do not want to lose anything. Another reason is that European Americans know how American society treats African Americans and they do not want any parts of that treatment. These two questions also represent the reason many European Americans do not like to talk about race. One question that these two reasons bring to mind relative to European Americans is since they know how they feel and know how African Americans are treated in society, why do they not speak out against it as unjust and unfair? One answer is a lack of effective communications between the European Americans and the African Americans.
One of the main points of contention involving effective communications between African Americans and European Americans is the fact that they have different perceptions of reality. The European American cannot tell the African American how to address his problems because he does not perceive the problem as does the African American. For example, the problem involving a lack of good relations between the police force and the African American community is that the police still have the perception of bigotry and fear towards the African American. For them, the remedy for this problem is more troops and more training—for African Americans that is the wrong answer. The actual remedy would be an education that replaces the bigoted image of the European Americans towards the African American community to one that embraces all people as part of the human family. By doing so, the development of organizations that work together for the betterment of the communities can be constructed.
Unfortunately, many European Americans believe that their perception of reality is fair and just; they are mistaken. Society has conditioned them to see people of color as inferior and European Americans as normal and superior. No one has to teach them this bias; our society in all its institutions continues to reinforce this concept. When all the suggested solutions offered by European Americans continue to view two separate groups of people, then that is not a solution. The first order of business in resolving a problem is to recognize and understand the problem. If the problem is perception, then that is the first problem to resolve.
Blame and criticism for different perspectives should not enter the discussion, only the fact that they are different and must be made acceptable to both sides. Since society has conditioned European Americans to assume superiority as normal, not pretentious, they need to be shown that their view is biased. Achieving that particular accomplishment will be extremely challenging for as Dr. Robin DiAngelo noted in her study of white fragility that: “It became clear over time that white people have extremely low thresholds for enduring any discomfort associated with challenges to our racial worldview.” She added that “We [European Americans] can manage the first round of challenge by ending the discussion through platitudes—usually, something that starts with ‘People just need to,’ or ‘Race doesn’t really have any meaning to me,’ or ‘Everybody’s racist.’ Scratch any further on that surface, however, and we fall apart.”European Americans generally consider any effort to connect them to the system of ethnic supremacy as very unsettling and an “unfair moral offense.”None-the-less, the challenge must be made if any positive change is to be expected in replacing ethnic bigotry.
Another concern that bears consideration is the ethnic bias that is so deeply embedded in some European Americans that almost any challenge will prove ineffective. In an articles entitled “The dark rigidity of fundamentalist rural America: a view from the inside,” published in FORSETTI’S JUSTICE, ALTERNET( 27 NOV 2016 AT 09:40 ET) the writer noted that this group of people has their own way of viewing life in general, which differs from the way urban people see life: “Another problem with rural, Christian, white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white God made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.” The writer was writing from his experience as a resident of rural America.
From the nature of the above quote, and the deeply fixed notion of a racial identity, no amount of facts, evidence, proof or explanations will replace such a bigoted mindset. With all the changes taking place in our society and the world, the charade of races by color is not long for this world. The sooner European Americans and people of color can begin to see each other as belonging to the same family of man the sooner all the confusion and myth-believing concerning race can be replaced. The changes will take place regardless of one’s beliefs in a race, but being aware of the facts will help the transition occur smoothly rather than with great difficulty. The changes can only begin in earnest when the lines of communications that are free from ethnic bias are established.
Tags: African Americans, america's race problem, American Bigotry, black, black codes, Caucasian, coming to grips, developmental changes, ethnicity, European Americans, facing the truth, Hispanics, Hitler, Martin & Zimmerman, personal identities, Prejudice, race, race identity, Race in America, slavery, Supreme Court, tooth fairy, white
Many Americans do not know that society is experiencing growing pains. The pains come from the fact that the time has come for developmental changes that require a coming to grips with reality. What this coming to grips with reality means is facing the fact that the myths of a black race and white race are no longer important or necessary. However, the process facing the truth is not an easy one to experience; consider what a child goes through when he or she discovers the truth behind Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Those myths we can readily recognize as myths because as children we outgrow then at a relative early age. The myth of race is a different problem because many Americans do not know or accept the fact that races of man is a myth. Society has so conditioned the minds of so-called white Americans to a place of power, privilege and prestige that trying to undo the damage is like removing heat from fire. America is moving towards a society of diverse citizens where race will play little or no role in personal identity. Unfortunately, too many European Americans (whites) cannot bring themselves to let go of the white race identity.
Let us clear the air with respect to the concept of races, especially the so-called black race and white race. These two races were created by the ruling class of slave owners for economic expedience. Taking the cultural, geographical, and personal identities from the Africans was a means of depriving them of any self-value and self-worth. At the same time, the ruling class gave to those lesser individuals of fair skin the illusions of hope and superiority because they looked alike, and that they might one day also possess power and wealth. In reality, the concept of race was to create a separation and conflict between the poor Europeans and Africans which constantly drew attention away from the ruling class and their activities. As society progressed, and the gap between the workers and the rulers became greater, the rulers used the Africans as a buffer to protect them from poor Europeans. The only thing of value the ruling class gave to the poor Europeans was the gift of a white identity.
After the Civil War, African Americans were given rights and freedoms the same as the European Americans. However, those rights and freedoms were short lived because most states began immediately to create and pass laws that took away those rights and freedoms; the results of the states efforts were written in laws known as “The Black Codes.” These codes were different for each state, but the results were the same—deprive the African Americans of all rights and freedoms. These codes also proved beneficial in promoting the idea of superiority of the “white race” by stipulating restrictions against African Americans that any European American could enforce legally. The most important thing of value for the European American was still his identity as a member of the “white race.” For example, imagine two sharecroppers working for the same landowner, both men are poor and uneducated. The landowner would favor the European American because he was white, and the white sharecropper would feel and act superior to the African American simple because of his color.
The value of a white identity started to change in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that separation was unequal. In subsequent years federal legislation began to eat away at what were once thought to be exclusive privileges for European Americans (whites). Today, a plethora of social activities and actions have challenged the once thought supremacy of European Americans; namely, the increase in ethnic minority populations, the increase in mixed ethnic marriages, the failure of the Census Bureau to define race so that the concept of race is on longer black and white, but blurred. The loss of the value of a white identity signaled by these changes in society has created fear, anger, frustration, and panic in some so-called white Americans. The problem for these people is finding a way to stop the changes from continuing, a problem they are beginning to realize is impossible to resolve. If America is to live up to its creed of liberty and justice for all,then the concept of race being black and white must be abandoned.
One of the contributing factors to the problem of race is the fact that too many Americans are ignorant, arrogant or stupid when it comes to understanding the fallacy of race. During the recent Martin and Zimmerman trial, many people raised the question of race, questioning whether race was involved. Let this next statement be perfectly clear, as long as European Americans identify themselves as white, everything they say and do comes from a biased ethnic (racial) perspective. For people to say they are black or white are a clear indication of the fact that they accept the concept of at least two races, one black and one white. Since science, technology, and even the Bible underscore the fact that all people belong to one race, the notion of more than one race must come from a lack of knowledge and understanding.
When a person identifies himself or herself as black or white, ethnic bias is embraced and promoted regardless of professions of colorblindness and justice. Many European Americans truly do not know how to identify themselves ethnically. Many refer to themselves as Caucasians, not realizing that Caucasians are not considered white or European. Caucasians did not exist until just prior to 1800. The name comes from the people who live near the Caucasus Mountains which are located in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; they are considered to be of Iranian ancestry. The same ignorance can be associated with European Americans who identify themselves as Aryans, which is another way of spelling Iranians. The myth of an Aryan nation or race was started during Hitler’s time to help promote his idea of a super race. This race is supposedly directly related to the Caucasian race. So, even if the idea of Aryan and Caucasian races was plausible, they would not be considered today as white in America. The Supreme Court said so in 1923, Thind v. United States.
At some point in the future, biased Americans who retain their biases by holding on to their race by color concept will find themselves at a loss for an identity. Race serves to separate, and separation served as a base for bigotry. As the country becomes more ethnically diverse, the social value of individuals will not be based on a so-called race. One wonders why some European Americans with a large degree of social influence continue to refer to themselves as “white” unless they are ignorant of the fact that by doing so they place themselves on the side of ethnic bigotry. One cannot say he or she is white without the implication of race. Once the race is associated with the color, the element of bias comes into play whether he or she is a bigot or not. The only way to avoid this situation is to stop using race as black or white, which will, by the way, change the perspective of the self.
Tags: American Bigotry, Spinning into Butter
The movie Spinning into Butter 2007) is both simple and complicated depending on how one views it. The simple approach is to take the movie’s story on face value and follow the development of the newly hired Dean of Students, Sarah Daniels, a European American, at the elite Belmont College. Daniels left an ethnically diverse college in favor of a predominately European American one because of the biases she developed at the former school. Unfortunately, she becomes challenged at her new place of employment when an African American student starts to receive hate messages. In essence, the simple story follows Daniels as she moves from one stage of prejudice to another.
The complicated view comes in a number of approaches. We can looks at the entire story through its theme, bigotry. If we follow this approach we will have to consider the five major areas of concern: the European Americans Dean of Students, the European American faculty and administration, the defiant African American student, the African American news reporter, and the student body with representatives from different ethnic groups. When we take this approach we discover that biases exist in all the groups. Each group has its own challenges of bigotry to confront.
Another complicated approach to understanding the story is to look at it as an expression of American society and its approach to dealing with the nature of bigotry. This approach seems to provide more food for thought. For example, the movie’s title comes from the story of Little Black Sambo. Although this story was initially about a young African boy, a series of cartoons were created featuring an African American boy. The cartoons represented a negative stereotype of African Americans symbolized in the character of Sambo. American society found the dehumanizing and belittling of African Americans quite entertaining. Why? Because seeing in full view the demeaning and negative qualities created in the cartoons and exhibited by a little stereotyped character gave the European Americans a sense of self pride and importance, even a feeling of superiority based simply on their skin color. The fact that America enjoyed the negative stereotype of African Americans underscores the lack of value placed on being African American. The movie captures European American attitudes and the variety of expression they takes in society.
Bigotry, biases, prejudice, discrimination and ethnic hate are common practices by European Americans toward African Americans even though they were not always outward and obvious. All are included in the movie with the exception of racism. Sure, the words race and racism are used, but they do not fit because most intelligent and rational people know that racism is an illusion created to divide and conquer ignorant people. The human race is composed of many ethnic and cultural groups, but only one race. Therefore, racism cannot exist in isolation; bigotry, biases, prejudice, discrimination and hate can be confined to individuals.
Bigotry knows not color, gender, religion, culture, because it belongs to the individual. In the movie we observe the characters from the five areas aforementioned expressing and exposing their form of bigotry. Daniels does not understand that what she is experiencing and reacting to is not caused by the students, but by her own ignorance. We see this clearly when she tries to talk a Hispanic student into being identified as one groups rather than the one he embraces in an effort to give him a scholarship. The scholarship will make the college look good, but at the student’s loss of identity. He finally rejects the scholarship; his identity is too high a price for him to pay. The Dean never really understands this.
The militant African American student reacts to what he believes is a lack of acceptance as a human being by the school and the students, by posting the ethnically sensitive comments and creating the other acts that call attention to the bigotry he knows exists, but the school and students are hiding. He wants to bring out the bigotry in full view. He sees his challenge as a contest in which one wins or loses. He loses.
The African American news reporter is an opportunist. He understands the situation of bigotry at the college and wants to capitalize on it. He would have enjoyed the publicity he and the college would have received if the claims of bigotry had been forth coming. When his chances for national television, and a possible move up, are destroyed, he loses interest in the story and moves on.
The school’s administration and faculty as represented through several characters show a total ineptness in not only recognizing the problems of bigotry, but also in knowing how to address it. Although they are supposed to represent the educational and intellectual elite, they are exposed for their arrogance and ignorance. The epitome of their ignorance and ineptness is shown when the Daniels is told to come up with a ten point plan to solve prejudice on campus. They are so ignorant that they fail to perceive their own ignorance.
Finally, the students expose their bigotry in an open forum, but otherwise hide behind the mask the militant student tried to expose. They are products and representatives of American society. In attending an educationally elite college they are encouraged to feel more than special and privileged; they are elitists with feelings of passive bigotry. A quote at the beginning of the movie mentions that one never forgets how he or she is made to feel, that sentiment is underscored in the movie through a number of students.
Although the movie presents the many sides of bigotry, it never comes close to addressing avenues of approach to understanding it. What becomes apparent throughout the movie is an unwillingness of any of the symbolic characters to address their bigotry. Why? Because they are stuck in their cultural box of race and fail to see that the box is the major problem.
The college via the administration shows the least intelligence regarding ethnic bigotry by suggesting that it could be resolved with a number of rules and student interaction. As the intellectual leaders they should be the ones addressing the problems for themselves. However, they never realize that they are ignorant of the problem and their superior attitudes will not allow them to listen to anyone they feel is beneath them.
Spinning into Butter is an excellent teaching tool for educators who operate outside of the “race box.” The problem of bigotry cannot be honestly or accurately addressed using the language of race, black and white or any stereotypical or generalized language. Seeing the problem of bigotry fully while in the “race box” is not possible, so the perspective must change in order to fully appreciate the opportunity to learn teach and learn.
At the movie’s conclusion, Daniels is seen going back to Chicago and the ethnically diverse school she left for Belmont. The suggestion is that she now understands her bigotry and what it means to be an ethnic American of color. Unfortunately, she does not get it–bigotry is not addressed from the outside in, but from the inside out. The movie does not address or resolve anything relating to bigotry. Each major symbolic character stays in his/hers/their corner of the “race box”—they are so at a loss to try and get out because they all accept the status quo.