Monday, November 27, 2006

Rooting Out What Ails "Kramer"

Hat tip to Susan Pizarro-Eckert in Kramer gets Krazed.

She asserts his mental health status ties in with unconscious racism. I don't get behind that in quite the same way but what I do think is we all need a lot of listening to. In that process all kinds of nasty stuff will show itself. But it's just nasty stuff stuck to our minds and we can rid ourselves of being within its grip. Since, as a society, we don't have access to, or don't use these kinds of listening sessions, the nasty stuff just blurts itself out at weird times. I doubt Michael expected that racist shit to come out of his mouth. I don't know him so I don't know for sure.

What I do know is most folks of European heritage spend a lot of (possibly unconscious) energy hiding our racist conditioning. We try hard to. We don't want to hurt anyone. It's easy to see the white supremacism we are steeped in. And it sucks. (And we do hurt others in spite of how hard we try not to.) So these sessions which I propose give us an appropiate place to process and talk about racism. We can show the ugly stuff there in a big way. It doesn't have to pop out when we're tired and cranky or when we feel just relaxed enough to make a big blunder.

As the writer I've quoted and others suggest, talking about race and racism is so important. A conspiracy of silence leaves many of us in denial about the existence of racism at all. It isn't hate crimes of KKK groups who keep mostly white folks in positions of authority in this country. It's well-intentioned folks like you and me.

What can be done? There's not one answer to that. What I offer people is information on the nature of human beings and how we heal.

I'm just in love with this writing. I've only read the first and ninth pages but it is definitely worth a full read ... Derald Wing Sue writes:

Jack Dovidio and others (Dovidio et al., 2002; Jones, 1997; Ridley, 1995) have identified certain features of modern racism that allow people to remain oblivious to its existence. It is often subtle, indirect, and unintentional. It operates outside the level of conscious awareness. (my emphasis)




Dovidio concluded that the consequences of unintentional and unconscious racism are great and account for most of the damaging impact on people of color. Educational curricula that pathologize the lifestyles and cultural values of minority groups, a health care system that provides inferior treatment to people of color, the loss of languages and cultural traditions because of attempts to ā€œcivilize the Indians,ā€ and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in WorldWar II for national security reasons were not thework of White supremacists. The fact that White males occupy 80% of tenured positions in higher education, 80% of the House of Representatives, 80% to 90% of the U.S. Senate, 92% of Forbes 400 executive CEO level positions, 90% of public school superintendents, 99.9% of athletic team owners, and 100% of U.S. presidents is not because of White supremacists. These statistics are even more glaring when we realize that White men constitute only about 33% of the population. Thus, I pose these questions to you: Where are the people of color? And, where are the women?

I submit that it is not White supremacists who create and control the tools that result in such unjust and damaging disparities. It is people we elect to office, teachers who educate our children, business leaders who carry out the policies and practices of their corporations, government leaders, law enforcement officers, physicians, dentists, construction workers, our family, friends, and neighbors. It is you and I! In general, the contemporary form of racism is many times over more problematic, damaging, and injurious to persons of color than hate crimes. These results are not because of the overt racist but to well-intentioned, educated, moral, decent, justice-loving churchgoers; well-intentioned people like you and me.

Racism is deeply embedded at the individual, institutional, and societal levels. It acts as an invisible veil making it difficult for well-meaning White people to see how they or their institutions discriminate. On an individual level, most of us tend to experience ourselves as moral, decent, and fairminded. We have strong egalitarian values and believe we are nonprejudiced. We find it difficult to realize or even acknowledge that our actions or belief systems are prejudicial and discriminatory. Because we are generally well intentioned, we find it painful to consciously acknowledge our own racism. Thus, we engage in actions that aid us in self-deception. That is why open dialogue about race and racism is so difficult.We are fearful that whatever we say or do will be perceived by others as racist, homophobic, sexist, or bigoted. No wonder we have so much difficulty talking about race or racism. No wonder we collude with one another to avoid discussions of race and racism. I contend, however, that our fear goes much deeper than that. Our greatest fear is realizing that our unconscious and unintentional biases have aided in the oppression of people of color! What we need to admit is that all of us have biases and stereotypes. None of us was born wanting to be a racist.We took on these attitudes and behaviors through a painful process of cultural conditioning that taught us in many overt and covert ways that certain groups are lesser than others and they deserve inferior treatment. (my emphasis)


So ... listening exchanges, panels and general discussion groups acknowledging the insidious and ever-presence of white supremacist conditioning among everyday average well-intentioned white folks like you and me can help root out the thinking that puts the bulk of the resources and positions of authority into the white, male, population in this country, imho.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Will said...

I think you are spot on here.

"A conspiracy of silence leaves many of us in denial about the existence of racism at all. It isn't hate crimes of KKK groups who keep mostly white folks in positions of authority in this country. It's well-intentioned folks like you and me."

This is exactly what we readers need to see over and over.

Keep up the good work. Keep your life in balance

6:54 AM PST  
Blogger Sea's Blog said...

thanks will, have a good day.

8:02 AM PST  

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