Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama: Racist Grandma Is A Typical White Person


Matt Guerin said...

Sad to say but most white people of his grandmother's generation have long been bred to fear and hold racist or quasi-racist views of people of colour. It's a fact. It's also a fact that 50 to 60 years of cultural conditioning isn't easy to overcome or unlearn.

America and Canada are still racist societies, and I'm saying that as a white man. People of colour still face subtle or not-so-subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice that white people simply don't face in North America and elsewhere. His comments didn't offend me, they seemed brutally honest. I would suggest we listen to his entire speech made earlier this week and put it in context if we wish to get a full picture of Obama's views on race relations and how we can overcome our small-mindedness to see the bigger picture and live together in peace.

Anyone can take little snippets from an interview and launch into a tirade, but I'm not sure you presenting a fair picture here.

Are all white people racist? Well to some degree, in our culture, yes. But so is every group toward other groups. There are different degrees of racism, of course. When I see a group of young black men clowning around and walking past me on the sidewalk, do I worry for just a split second that they may rob me or harass men? I hate to say it, but yes. Is that racist? Just a bit.

Anonymous said...

Matt: I addressed the "generational" defense in my most recent post. Obama was not talking about "typical old people" he was talking of "typical white people."

You say America and Canada are still racist societies, that's just wrong. You may say there are racist people in those societies, but it is wrong to say there is a white society that is racist. It's wrong because I'm white, and I'd be included in your stereotype and I've never been afraid of anybody who was a different colour of me, and I grew up in Surrey BC (It's one of the most diverse and "urban" cities in Canada).

Also your suggestion of listening to Obama's speech earlier this week is a clear example of bias. You may suggest listening to the full radio interview for context, but to listen to everyone of the man's speeches is an obvious example of your bias.

Also I have listened to Obama's speech, the one you suggest we all watch, three times in its entirety, as I made a previous video on the subject, and I know Obama never offered one solution to over coming the race problems in the US.

If you are accusing me of taking any comments out of context please illustrate where I did so and how I falsely represented what Obama said.


Anonymous said...

matt: I should also say being bias is not completely wrong, as really everyone is biased to their own point of view. I may be accused of bias as well, and that's perfectly fine, as long as evidence is pointed out.

Matt Guerin said...

We're all a little bit racist, Scott. You don't have to be from the older generation. We all have our moments of intolerance toward the "other." It's about experience and exposure. I've had many friends of colour for years, but I still have my private moments of intolerance. I regret them, but they happen.

A great article appeared in the Globe today on this very subject about a guy exploring his own inner racism. It's definitely worth a read:

America and Canada still have a large amount of racism, most of it subtle and unspoken, but very very real. Don't believe me - ask your average person of colour for their thoughts on this subject. Things aren't as rosy as you'd like to believe, sadly. Your reaction here seems to be sadly "typical" of many whites who seem to think racism is only openly "fearing" or "ordering black people to the back of the bus." Yes things aren't as bad as they used to be, but my black male friend still can't hail a cab in Toronto to save his life. I, myself, never have that problem.

Matt Guerin said...

Let me try that Globe link again:

Matt Guerin said...

Okay I can't seem to leave a link, so if you're curious, feel free to check out the article called 'Self-portrait of a racist' by PASHA MALLA in today's Globe. It's available online...

Anonymous said...

Matt: I have moments of intolerance too, it's not me being intolerant to a person based on their skin colour it's because I think the individual person is ignorant, or I think they are stubborn. I don't extrapolate those feeling onto the whole race. That's wrong.

Your argument of, "Well it happens" is a non-starter. So it happens for you and a few others. So you generalize people based on their skin colour, don't generalize that all people are like you, or even a majority.

You can't argue that all of America and all of Canada stereotype blacks and white like you do, first you can have no knowledge to base the extent of your argument, and second it can never be proven.

Now you grossly misrepresent me, and indeed falsely describe my position. You say I'm typical in seeming "to think racism is only openly "fearing" or "ordering black people to the back of the bus."
This is false because no where did I even imply such a thing.

Indeed the very fact that I acknowledged Barack Obama's grandmother as racist for only committing the lesser degrees of racism, (such as fearing black men and saying racist slurs) would directly contradict your false perception of my position.

It is my belief you like pigeon-holing people. You admit to your racial stereotyping, you stereotype all Americans and Canadians as racists and lesser racists, and you attempt to stereotype me.

I fully admit there are racists out there, but it doesn't make sense to say every white person is racist, or every black person is racist, or everyone is racist, because there are some and actually quite a lot who aren't racists.

Matt Guerin said...

Ever see the movie 'Crash'? If not, check it out. It's about how anybody, anybody is capable of racism or intolerance, how we can all be normal and think ourselves good, and for the most part we are good, but on occasion we can slip up, how frustrations can build up and lo and behold out pops some racist thought or comment we wouldn't normally believe. At least that's how I interpreted that film.

I suspect we're talking about two different things here. I'm talking about our tendency to be ignorant or unwilling to understand or cut some slack to people who are different. We don't necessarily do this all the time toward all different people, but it creeps up on occasion. It's part of being human. In that sense, this is what I think Obama was referring to when he used the word "typical."

You seem to be talking about more obvious forms of racism, only those that manifest themselves in dramatic, obvious ways. Maybe I'm wrong. But you seem to be saying most people don't have a racist bone in their bodies, and that to me can only mean you don't know many people, or your definition of intolerant or racist is a whole lot stricter than mine.

But if you are as perfect and non-racist as you say, if you've never had an intolerant moment in your life, than maybe I need to move to Surrey asap and start drinking the water you've been drinking. We all should.

Trying to paint Obama as some intolerant extremist who hates whites? I mean really? You ignore everything else the guy has ever said about race relations etc. and pounce on this one comment to make some kind of heavy-handed point. Not fair at all.

Anonymous said...

Matt: You previously said, "We're all a little bit racist" now you say "anybody, anybody is capable of racism or intolerance." Yes I agree with this new position, everyone is capable of racism.

On a particular point, you say "It's part of being human. In that sense, this is what I think Obama was referring to when he used the word "typical." Well I can say factually you are wrong on this point. Obama never said it's typical of all people to stereotype negatively, he said it was typical of a white person to do so about black people.

For the sake of discussion and to keep on topic, you also said, "I'm talking about our tendency to be ignorant or unwilling to understand or cut some slack to people who are different." The thing is this definition is unclear. It sure doesn't define racism, so I don't know what it is you're trying to define.

Ignorance, unwilling to understand, or failure to cut people some slack based on a difference is not racism. I could be ignorant to someone who is different and not be racist. I could be unwilling to understand someone who is different, but not be racist. I could not cut a black person some slack and not be racist. Your definition does not define racism.

First racism is about race, not some general difference. Second there has to be discrimination, or some form of hate based on that racial difference. Ignorance or an unwilling to understand means nothing, it only applies to racism when it supplies a fertile environment for racism.

Unwilling to cut slack does not mean racism either, as cutting slack means a bending of the rules or some established social guidelines. Only if there is discrimination in cutting slack does racism occur.

Now why did I bother examining your definition of racism, or at least what I took as your definition of racism? Because you broadened what racism meant to include matter that didn't even involve race, and even if I was to grant that's what you were referring to, the specifications you listed were at minimum incomplete.

If you consider the actual definition of racism, your sarcasm has no effect, and truly most people are not racist.

Racism- "1.a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races."

By this actual definition of racism, your position must be, not that people are unwilling to understand another race, but one of or a combination of the following: that Most Canadians and Most Americans occasionally hate or be intolerant of other races; Your position must be that most Canadians and Most Americans occasionally think black people or white people are superior; Your position must be that Canadians and Americans occasionally discriminate based on race.

It is by this that I argue most Canadians and most americans are not racist. If you leave your immensly general definition, and apply this definition, it is quite evident that if you do still believe most people are racist you hold a negative view of people.

You can be sarcastic all you want Matt. But I can safely say i have never hated a person because they were black, I never thought they or whites were superior, I never discriminated against someone because of their skin colour, and I never generalized a whole race.

It's not just racist to judge people on their skin colour it is literally stupid. A person's skin colour does not determine who the person is one iota.

Anonymous said...

Matt: Here is I feel a knock out argument- Barack Obama stereotyped a race. Stereotypes are wrong. Granting your position (for sake of argument which I don't believe is right) that people do make stereotypes, ehich nonetheless are wrong. Obama must therefore be wrong in stereotyping, no matter how correct he was.

Now you may suggest stereotypes aren't always wrong, and that would be a whole other argument.

Justin Socie said...

It's unfortunate that when there finally exists a politician who elevates the debate on the topic of race, and speaks to voters as if they are adults instead of treating the issue in the facile way that politicians normally treat it, that there are people like you and the people on Fox News who try to drag the debate down.

Anonymous said...

Justin: Instead of attacking my argument you attack me. That's a very weak route to take in any discussion.