All Articles Tagged "white people"
Editor’s Note: James Baldwin said to be conscious and Black in America is to be enraged most of the time. And sadly, those words are still true for many of us. In addition to the deeply depressing and unjust news headlines, there are the hostile situations we deal with everyday. For many of us, these incidents happen at work. In a culture where we spend more time working than with our families, these environments, with ignorant and entitled White people, can be everything from tiring to infuriating. In our new series, “Working While Black,” we compile some of those stories and share them with you, as a way to let you know you’re not alone, to offer advice on how to navigate these situations and hopefully to keep you from losing your mind, your temper or your job.
Earlier this week after dining at my favorite restaurant in the city I proceeded to the bathroom before heading home. As I waited for the next available bathroom stall, I observed a very strange interaction between a Black bathroom attendant and a white female tourist.
While in the bathroom stall, the white woman yelled out that she didn’t know how to flush the toilet and asked the attendant for help. The woman opened the stall door and the attendant pointed to the toilet flusher knob and told her to push it down. Instead of following directions, the woman squatted beside the toilet, looked at the toilet flusher knob and then up at the attendant and said, “Um, I don’t know how.” Exasperated, the attendant rolled her eyes, entered the stall and flushed the toilet with no problem. As soon as the woman heard the toilet flush, she broke out into a smile and told the attendant “Oh you must have the magic touch!”
Afterward, the attendant handed the woman two sheets of paper towels to dry her hands but instead of taking it, the woman held her hand out, waiting for the attendant to dry her hands for her. When the attendant didn’t oblige, the woman sheepishly smiled, took the paper and dried her hands off herself.
Although the duties of bathroom attendants vary by establishment, usually they supervise the restroom to ensure no fighting or drug use takes place. According to a CityData.com thread, those who’ve worked as bathroom attendants stated their duties also included: keeping the bathroom clean and providing perfume, mints, feminine hygiene and other miscellaneous products that customers need. Depending on the bathroom size, a bathroom attendant may or may not turn on the sink faucet for you but will always provide you with paper towels.
Although they are in a customer service position, I’ve never seen a bathroom attendant act or be treated like a personal servant. This foreign woman’s behavior was just another reminder of how classism and race influence the treatment of those in the customer service industry, especially people of color. After college I worked at Ann Taylor in the Upper East Side section of Manhattan in New York City. The clients were usually older white women who frequented the store quite often and they would purposely ignore me and refuse my help until they learned I was a college graduate and loved to shop where they shopped (i.e. Lord And Taylor, Nordstrom, etc.). I assumed the latter made me more human and relatable to them — the same reason I connected with the bathroom attendant, we were the same. Since she was an older Black woman I treated her the same I would my mother and aunts. I assume for the white tourist though, the attendant was just another customer service employee who is supposed to do her job —being subservient and respectful.
I really wish White people would stop trying to make the N-word conversation happen.
And I really wish that Black people would stop indulging White folks, who try to make The N-Word conversation happen.
To get to the point: there are more racialized issues worthy of our attentions and thoughts: like police brutality, like the eviction rate of poor Black women, which rivals that of mass incarceration of Black men; like the prison pipeline, which has our children caught up, like how young Black girls and boys are penalized for speaking out more than their White girl and boy counterparts; like 18 to 1 cocaine to crack disparities; like Voter ID and other draconian, restrictive laws meant to keep Blacks specifically from voting; like racial profiling; like who brought crack cocaine into the community; like why hasn’t there been a Black bachelor or bachelorette yet…
In short if White people were really interested in conversations around race, they wouldn’t waste their time on the dated and really irrelevant “issue” around Black people using The N-Word. They would be having real conversations about the above mentioned (well most of them). But White people don’t want to talk about racism, instead they want to talk about Black people.
Like Piers Morgan, former CNN host and current unemployed alien overstaying his work visa, who writes into the Daily Mail UK, tsk-tsking American Blacks for using the word:
“I understand this, and empathise.
It’s the same ironic reason many gays call each other ‘f****ts’, why supporters of an English football team called Tottenham Hotspur, which has a large Jewish following, call each other ‘Y*ds’, and why some ardent feminists like to use the word ‘C**t’ with impunity.
I get it.
But I don’t like it.
And this is why: it doesn’t work. It has the complete opposite effect to the one that I imagine everyone who does this imagines it will have.
Far from ‘owning’ these words, seizing back control with the use of them, I believe it merely serves to empower those who wish to deploy them abusively – and encourage them to continue doing so.
Your average dim-witted, foul-mouthed bigot – and there are plenty of them as Twitter can attest – thinks: ‘If they use it, why can’t I?’
They hear African-Americans say the N-word to each other and claim victory: ‘See, that’s what they even call themselves!’
It’s the twisted, horrible mind-set of the wretchedly ignorant.”
Right. So what he saying is that if the last rapper among us gave up the word today, White people would find no other justification in using the word against us? I think not. Not even a little bit. I never dropped a single N-Word in front of the last White person, who called me a “nigger.” Nope, she took initiative to do that on her very own. Anyway, Morgan wrote some other stuff on the “issue,” but why bother? We heard these arguments before.
In fact, White people have been trolling Black people for decades with this jive about the dangers of our usage of The N-Word. Most recently, the Washington Post ran a multi-page, interactive article about its usage. The article even featured an video clip interview with a current Klu Klux Klan member, who provides us some insight on the proper context for the word. Talk about a shame tactic! For some strange reason, White people are obsessed with the word and more importantly, getting Black people to stop saying it. And they are shocked and appalled when we don’t.
And although the conversation is well past the point of redundancy, there is never a shortage of Black folks, from rappers to journalists to actors to Black intellectuals, ready to jump in the fray and defend our right to use the word. Like Rapper Talib Kweli, who writes in a piece for Medium entitled “Nigga? Please:”
“After Morgan writes that blacks are aware of the history of the word nigger, he writes that blacks “enjoy the freedom of being able to say it now in the knowledge that it’s become taboo for whites to do so.” This is the true heart of the matter for white folks who get upset enough to write op-ed’s about blacks who say nigger. They want to say it too. They see it as a “freedom” that we “enjoy” that they can’t. As if they don’t enjoy enough “freedoms.”
And then there is Rebecca Carroll, contributing writer for the Guardian UK, who writes in the piece, “Can Black People Really Stop White People From Using the N-Word?:”
“I don’t use the word – and I don’t belong to a country club, either. But I know from experience that, even when I go to great lengths to avoid saying it or writing it, some white person is just going to say the n-word anyway. They don’t need me to use it to feel entitled to use it; they just need me to provide the context for it.”
And then there is everybody’s favorite Black intellectual (including yours truly) Ta-Nehisi Coates, who first took his outrage out in the essay directly to Morgan, via Twitter. And then he followed it up with a retweet of an old column of his on the topic(because every Black writer worth their Black card has an piece in their archives dedicated to The N-word), where he highlights a literary devise used by many English speakers to comprehend words with multi-definitions and usages called “context. More specifically, he writes about the literary wonder of the world:
“As I’ve explained before, the meaning of human language changes with context. That is why you may call your wife honey, but I probably should not. That is why Toby Keith referring to himself as “White Trash With Money” will never be the same as me accusing Toby of being “white trash with money.” That is why Dan Savage proposing a column entitled “Hey Faggot!” will never be the same as me seeing Dan Savage on the street and yelling “Hey Faggot!” This is how humans use language, and it is wholly consistent with how black humans use language. The effort to punish this use, like all respectability politics, is an effort to punish black humanity, is racism.
Granted there is nothing wrong with their responses. In fact, everything they said in response to Morgan’s pitiful justification for why racist White folks feel compelled to be racist, was dead-on and exact. But the mere fact that anyone in the collective Black community is wasting any energy responding at all to this nonsense is what I find most irksome. I mean seriously, who gives a flying F-word, what White people think about how and why we use the word? It’s not like they are most affected by its usage?
Or maybe they are impacted by it – just a little?
I do have a theory. Basically, White folks, who most have a problem with Black folks in particular using the N-Word (as we are still waiting for the open letters to their White brethren chastising them from bringing up The N-Word jokes at the country club and NASCAR tailgating parties), are probably the same folks, who want Black folks to “get over it.” The “it” being slavery or segregation or just current day racism in general.
As such, White folks feel some kind of way about the N-word, not because of some well-meaning intention of saving Black folks from ourselves, but rather they hate the reminder the word conjures up. For the most part, The N-Word serves as a reminder of slavery and Jim Crow and the Black Codes and other racialized violence committed against Black people. It is also a stark reminder that institutionalized and systematic racism still exist, as aforementioned above. Therefore, when White folks hear brown folks say The N-Word, it makes them feel guilty about the very real fact that Blacks are still treated as second class citizens in this country – and worse, like niggers.
It’s sort of like the how that one ex-philandering husband feels every time his wife brings up in an argument, all the times he cheated on her. It wouldn’t even matter if the cheating occurred a decade ago or if the husband has begged her forgiveness a million times over. It wouldn’t even matter if the argument wasn’t even about anything relationship-related, but rather toast. He would be like, “How many times Mildred do I have to tell you I like my toast lightly brown?” And Mildred would say, “How many times do I have to tell you Herman that if you want your bread a certain way, get that hussy to toast it for you…” Well maybe not exactly like that but I’m betting that is pretty close how White people feel about The N-Word.
And some Black folks too. Let’s be honest, some of us have a hard time dealing with the realities of our racially unfair and unjust society. That’s why you got Black folks trying to be colorless and claiming their half-Irish and Cherokee grandfather as proof that they are not really Black. And just like White folks, you also have some Black folks, who have no problem admitting they’re Black but still won’t deal with the realities of racism out of fear of losing whatever little privilege they have if racism were dismantled – but that is a conundrum for another essay.
Point is, White folks pressed about The N-Word don’t give a damn about our mental health. But rather it is their own guilt that most vexes them. And this is why I feel that now on, every time one of them bring it up, we should ignore them. It’s not our jobs to make them feel better about their privilege or to even explain our oppression. In fact, if they keep bugging you about it, You tell them, “don’t F-Word worry about it? Worry about the conditions that created the N-Word and the role White folks, your people, have in dismantling that.”
We don’t know when Vines became about white people vs. black people, but this new meme is everywhere…
Neither one of them called 911…
From The Grio
Rawcus, a newcomer to rap, is an Atlanta emcee who released the music video to his song “White People Crazy” earlier this week.
It has to be seen to be believed.
Over a southern trap beat, Rawcus spits sing along lyrics about white people (name checking Walter White, Miley Cyrus and “half” of President Obama) and all the “crazy” things they do.
Throughout the entire video, Rawcus and his friends watch viral clips of Caucasian people doing silly and dangerous stunts ranging from kissing dogs on the mouth to jumping off the roofs of houses.
Humor based off racial stereotypes can be potentially offensive, but the YouTube comments left for Rawcus’ video appear overwhelmingly positive.
Read more on this new song at TheGrio.com
You would think, knowing just an ounce of American history, would lead people to the conclusion that white people shouldn’t be using the ‘n word.’ But you know what they say, common sense ain’t all that common. And for this reason, comedienne and “Community” star, Yvette Nicole Brown, caught flack for saying in a reference to Paula Deen that white people should never use the ‘n word.’ Brown made these comments during NBC’s broadcast of their New Year’s Eve show, “A Toast to 2013.”
And some folks, white folks, took offense, even going so far as to call Brown a racist.
For 2014, maybe we should revisit the word racist and make sure everyone has a very clear definition of what it means to be this type of person.
Brown’s statement certainly didn’t need any more clarification but I guess she wanted to expound a little bit. So she posted this letter on her Facebook page.
That pretty much sums it up right?! But apparently, one Facebook user still took issue with Brown’s letter, replying:
“It’s 2014, not 1960 get over it already.”
Luckily, Yvette responded appropriately.
“What horrible price are white people currently paying Melissa Hammersley? Are their wages or chance of career advancement affected? Do their children lack opportunities? Is it impossible for them to get a fair trial or equal jail time for the same crime? What has been SO hard for white people since Slavery times that black folks should allow them the right to use the N-word freely? I’m baffled.
I’m sorry you, in particular, are struggling so hard with the idea that its use is NEVER acceptable by caucasians in particular but I have now completely tired of your contributions on this topic on MY page. Feel free to continue raging against the unjust treatment of blacks towards whites and the “get over it-ness” of it all on YOUR page. God bless.”
What else is there to say. That pretty much covers it right? The most poignant piece for me was Brown saying that she can’t understand why white people even want to say it and furthermore if they do, they should ask themselves why. The realest of talk.
I was just on Tumblr when I stumbled across the image above. Underneath the caption reads:
When white girls say we cant grow hair, I be like…
My initial reaction was “Boom!” Then I chuckled. What white girl would say, to a black woman, that our hair can’t grow?! That would be bold as all hell. And just as soon as I was about to dismiss the comment as being funny but unrealistic, I thought about my middle school homeroom teacher, Mr. Litts.
Now, before I share the comment Mr. Litts made about black hair, I have to tell you I don’t mean to totally piss on his life and legacy. Mr. Litts was a pretty cool dude and a great art teacher. He solicited students to paint murals all throughout the hallways, he let our homeroom class do a dance at our school’s pep rally; and so we would look cool while we danced, he personally airbrushed t-shirts with our nicknames on it. (Ya’ll know airbrushed t-shirts were everything back in the day.) He dee-jayed all of our school dances, complete with a fog machine. He was very passionate, genuinely cared about us, his students, and I’m sure he imparted some wisdom I’ve since forgotten over the years. Good man. Great teacher.
But in this particular story, Mr. Litts let his ignorance hang out. The details are fuzzy right now but he was telling our homeroom about one of his pieces, a painting or something in which he had depicted an African American subject. As he was telling us about the painting he got to the hair. As he’s describing the texture of the hair he said, (I’m clearly paraphrasing as this was over a decade ago.) “You know, black hair is thin and short.”
He said it so quickly, the room, comprised of mostly black 8th graders, didn’t have a chance to challenge him. Mr. Litts was the type of teacher you could challenge but this was a lesson that was going to take far more time than our 30 minute homeroom would have allowed. Instead, we all just tore our faces up and looked around the room at each other, silently asking “Can you believe this dude?” I shook my head, thinking it really didn’t bother me. But since I’m talking about it over a decade later, it clearly did.
The rest of that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Litts’ words. I knew I had thick hair and a lot of black folks had/have thick hair. But I also had a perm the time. And though my hair was still thick, the perm made it look thinner and in some instances broken and unhealthy. I thought perhaps, in the midwest, before folks started wearing their hair natural…again, that was the type of black hair Mr. Litts was familiar with. But then I thought, naw! Just as there were times when my hair was thinning, there were also times when it was thick and luscious, majority of the time actually. Even if Mr. Litts hadn’t paid attention, he’d surely seen blacks in the ’70’s when the afro was in. And if not that, he had to have at least glanced at Oprah on the tv everyday, for all those years. Back then, I really didn’t know, could not figure out how he could say that.
Today, I can see Mr. Litts was just underexposed to black folk, even though he spoke to, taught and is still teaching predominately black students everyday. I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I know there are plenty of black folk there but that’s because I’m black and I hang around black people. Sometimes it catches me off guard but every once in a while, there will be these glaring reminders that a lot of white folk are largely clueless about our lives. That can be good, bad, annoying etc, but it just is what it is.
But anyway, I bring all of this up to ask you has a white person ever told you, you can’t grow black hair? If this has ever happened to you, did you take the opportunity to educate them or did you just shake your head and walk away?
Tim Allen took heat on Sunday for his insistence in an interview released over the weekend that “the ‘n-word’ is worse to me than n*****.”
The comment came during an interview the “Home Improvement” star sat down for with the Tampa Bay Times last month. The conversation took place on the same day news broke about Paula Deen’s admission during a deposition to using the racial epithet. Allen argued that the taboo against white people saying the word was itself a damaging practice.
Eric Deggins, the Times reporter who interviewed Allen, explained:
For him, the criticism that keeps any nonblack comic from using the word is a step backward from the days when [Richard] Pryor and [Lenny] Bruce were breaking comedy boundaries by purposefully using street language in ways middle-of-the-road comics wouldn’t dare.
“If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist,” Allen argued, “then how can ‘n*****’ be bad coming out of my mouth?”
Allen also insisted that the an unfair double standard was at play.
I do a movie with Martin Lawrence and pretty soon they’re referring to me, ‘hey, my n*****’s up.’ So I’m the n***** if I’m around you guys but 7 feet away, if I said n*****, it’s not right. It’s very confusing to the European mind how that works, especially if I’ve either grown up or evolved or whatever, it literally was growing up in Colorado, with Hispanics and Anglos, that’s all I remember.
According to Deggins, the comedian did not censor his use of the word, but rather said it freely several times in “talking about how using racial [s]lurs feels from a white guy’s perspective.”
Read more at BlackVoices.com
You may noticed ever since Miley Cyrus appeared in that animal costume “twerking,” the dance has garnered nationwide attention. There have been articles on several major news outlets including the Today Show who did reports on the “dance craze.” Even the “famous grandmothers” imitated Miley twerking something. And as you might imagine, it’s just as terrible as you would imagine. And now that white folks have grabbed hold of twerking, we think there are a few things they need to know.
Yesterday, we gave you the beginning of our updated list of white people black folks love. Here’s the rest.
Sarah Jessica Parker
“Sex and The City,” need we say more? We ride for Miss Carrie Bradshaw and her fabulous fashion and her struggle to find a good man, and her love of Cosmos. She’s our white sister girl in our heads.
Two years ago we made a short list of white people black people love — shout out to the best man on that list, Abraham Lincoln — but now it’s time for an update. We know the world is multi-cultural now and everything isn’t seen in black and white anymore, but you can’t deny that there are some lily white Caucasians that black folks have taken and adopted as our own. Whether it’s a singer who sounds soulful or a designer making bags we can’t live without, we absolutely adore the white people on this list.
Oh and part 2 to come tomorrow!