One of my subscribers, Nanette Massey, penned a reply to a recent post, “Layer Upon Layer: Uncovering Bias.” Nanette lives in Buffalo, is an activist and writer, and has conducted workshops there and in Rochester on bias and racism. I asked her permission to publish this as a guest post, and she agreed:
Hi Frank. Been reading your posts and I appreciate that you are a white man who is consciously on the path looking at white supremacy and where you fit in it. Two thoughts I want to leave here.
You talk about how combating internal racism and implicit bias in white populations takes daily effort and consciousness. That this is true is a real testament to the potency of the brainwash socialization job that’s been done, not just to white people, but to all people. And we really have to start asking ourselves why that’s so and who it benefits. That’s the million-dollar question. Then we can focus on what it’s really going to take to see change.
I often marvel in my head while I’m standing at the front of the room leading my own workshops “Wow. These white people had to pay money and carve out an entire afternoon of their time to hear me say ‘treat all people well just because.’ That’s the society we live in.” And to do simply that is a day-to-day, ongoing struggle. When you really, really think about that—damn!
Moreover, black people have to put just as much energy into fighting the negative messages we’ve been given about ourselves. Ibram X. Kendi said “internalized racism is the real black on black crime,” and I’ve come to agree with him wholeheartedly. Racism has torn from all of us our very humanity. Our belief in ourselves as good people, and our belief in others as simply inherently worthy. And that is why combating it is important. Not just to “help those people.”
Secondly, I read a piece online recently about Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility that was subtitled: “Robin DiAngelo’s idea changed how white progressives talk about themselves—and little else.” I attended a workshop months ago that was entitled “How To Respond To Racist Remarks.” I sat in because I thought I was going to witness how white folks are arming themselves to be defenders for non-white people and I wanted to affirm and amplify their efforts. The whole afternoon turned out to really be about how white SJW’s (social justice warriors) can take care of themselves and their feelings while being about “the work.” I busted out in a huge fit basically saying “how is any of this about helping non-white people????”
People just thought “poor dear, she’s ‘triggered,’” and my entire point was lost.
Too much of white folks’ musings and ruminations about race only lead in a circle back around to—-themselves. The whole point of white folks contemplating their conditioning and their role within white supremacy is supposed to be to un-condition yourselves SO THAT YOU CAN NOW GO OUT AND BE OF REAL USE IN DISMANTLING WHITE SUPREMACY AND RACIAL INEQUALITY. I submit that it’s not enough anymore just writing and talking about what looking at these issues has helped you see about yourselves as white people.
Non-white’s struggles and suffering…we are not your whetstone upon which to sharpen and improve yourselves. We’re real people out here getting shot at by the cops, denied for home loans, being turned down for jobs because it’s too difficult to pronounce our name, getting short changed on our children’s education because municipalities don’t see the point in installing great teachers and “throwing good money after bad”—and being gaslighted and blamed for our lot in life produced by the impact of those actions. I don’t mean to put you on the spot personally, this is for all the white people reading this who see themselves in your meditations. If your realizations are producing out here in the 3D world more than just new awarenesses about yourself, I’m not seeing it here. I don’t just mean what meeting you’ve been to, what committee you signed up for, what other college educated blacks you sit around talking with about racism (because only listening to other blacks who possess “the” socially approved bona fides further buttresses white supremacy). I mean black people whose lives have been improved measurably for your change of mind. Black people sitting at your dinner table bringing the real baked macaroni and cheese. Black friends who just call you up to say hey, or whose phone calls you return with urgency because you recognize their needs as fellow human beings are as urgent as yours.
As I read this over, I guess I’m just re-saying what Howard’s been saying to you forever. Where are all these new awarenesses showing up in life where the rubber meets the road?
“Where’s the beef?”
Sunday January 26, 3:00 – 5:30: “Race, Racism and Church.” Workshop presented by Rev. William Wilkinson and Rev. Alan Dailey, at St. Anne’s Church on West Henrietta Rd. For details call John Kapusta 914-456-1454.
Wednesday February 5, 9:00 – 12:00: “Taking the Road Less Traveled: Hidden Byways of Unconscious Bias” workshop presented by National Coalition Building Institute. Details here.
Wednesday February 26, 6:00 – 8:30: “Defined by Others: A Theatre-based Exploration of the Social Implications of Identity” Facilitated by Impact Interactive, presented by Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester/Levine Center to End Hate. Details here.
Saturdays, March 7 & 14, 8:30 – 1:00: “Sacred Conversations – An Invitation to Be an Antiracist” Workshops sponsored by Church of the Assumption and Church of the Resurrection in Fairport. Additional information: Sacred Conversations Invitation 1.10.20.
March 26-7 and April 16: William H. Shannon Lecture Series at Nazareth College: “Neighbor with Neighbor: A Call to Solidarity, ” and “Puerto Rico & Charlottesville”. Details here.
Subscribe to The Minority Reporter, an excellent newspaper with news and opinions of interest to Rochester’s minority community and their allies.
Check out the array of events including workshops offered by 540westmain.org
Tuesday January 27, 6:00 – 8:00. General Meeting of the Rochester City School District Racial Equity Advocacy Leadership Team; open to the public. This group is finalizing a plan for racial equity to be presented to the School Board. Meeting at 131 W. Broad St.
Friday February 7, 7:00 pm: Poor People’s Campaign meeting, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 141 Adams St.. Features nationally-renowned preacher Dr. William Barber. Details here.
Meet with your County Legislator to discuss the City/County relationship in general. See sample questions and contact info at my prior blog City/Suburban Divide in Living Color.
Support minority-owned businesses, e.g., these restaurants:
- Caribbean Heritage – 719 S. Plymouth Ave.
- Unkl Moe’s BBQ and Catering – 493 West Ave.
- B+Healthy Fresh Food Market – 442 Genesee St.
- Brooks Landing Restaurant – 904 Genesee St.
- Livie’s Jamaican Restaurant and Import Market – 375 Chili Ave.
3 thoughts on ““Where’s the Beef?””
Thank you for continuing your work. I’ve noticed that recently your articles seem to be attracting fewer and fewer comments. I imagine the novelty has worn off for many who were consistent commentators previously. Hopefully they are still reading, and much more importantly, hopefully they will decide to ACT (constantly, and collectively soon), which really is very doubtful. Again, Dr. Robin DiAngelo does a superb job of explaining (via the video at the link below) why they probably won’t: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jin7ISV85s .
With regard to Ms. Massey, I appreciate the “plug” that she offered at the end of her article. I think she knows that I also appreciate her efforts. Yet, I’m critical (not destructively so), but instead for purposes of encouraging her to move toward actually helping lead and/or push white folks into ACTION, as opposed to merely providing them with just another chest-thumping-experience regarding so-called “participation” in anti-racist work,especially since they are paying money to receive it. I think she also knows that I am critical of some of her positions relative to, as Dr. Ibram Kendi would say, “how to be an [EFFECTIVE] anti-racist.” This article contains examples of the latter. I’ll just outline a few (again not for destructive purposes), but instead to encourage all of us to become better/more effective at leading and/or pushing, not only white people, but everyone toward calculated, strategic, non-gradualistic ACTION.
1) In the process of attempting to teach about the Tripartite Beast And illness ( http://minorityreporter.net/the-tripartite-beast-and-illness-of-individual-institutional-and-structural-racism/ ), I ALWAYS caution against deployment of abstract rhetoric of any kind — because its use frequently adds to confusion, which is particularly important for those who are genuinely struggling to gain crystal-clarity regarding the nature, essence, and functioning of the beast. For example, after pointing out the obvious fact that “combating internal racism and implicit bias in white populations takes daily effort and consciousness [as representing] a testament to the potency of the brainwash socialization job that’s been done, not just to white people, but to all people” — the next thought is — “we really have to start asking ourselves why that’s so and who it benefits.” WHY??? Why do we need to ask ourselves such mind-boggling, stupendous questions, and where does the idea come from that doing so is necessary in order for us to “focus on what it’s really going to take to see change.” Whether intentional or not, such nonsensical, and perhaps rhetorical suggestions seem almost like a stalling tactic. That is to say, unless we’re acting like hear-no; see-no evil-ostriches, we already know “what it’s really going to take to see [SIGNIFICANT, MEASURABLE, PERMANENT, ANTI-RACIST] change” in our lifetimes (as opposed to the abstract, distant, bye-and-bye), e.g., a critical mass of deadly serious people working constantly and consistently, in accordance with agreed-upon strategies and tactics — aimed at achieving a very specific, clearly defined goal(s) — period.
2) The following idea is not only dangerously-rhetorical in nature, but, with all due respect, and yes, I really do mean it — it also represents classic, bleeding-heart, liberal gibberish: “Racism has torn from all of us our very humanity. Our belief in ourselves as good people, and our belief in others as simply inherently worthy. And that is why combating it is important.” WHAT???!!! The quote does NOT square with objective reality. For example, one of the most cogent points that Dr. DiAngelo makes via the above-referenced video is that MANY white people see themselves as “good people,” and therefore, in their confused, twisted minds — cannot possibly be racist. More importantly, the idea that “racism has torn from all of us our very humanity” leaves me speechless. The operative term is “all.” If this was true, it would be time to pack up, and just forget about change.
3) Since I was mentioned at the end of the article, I want to be crystal-clear that my questions and beliefs about “where the rubber meets the road” — has little to do with “Black people sitting at [white folks] dinner table bringing the real baked macaroni and cheese [and/or] Black friends who just call you up to say hey, or whose phone calls you return with urgency,” etc… . All of that sounds like the sorts of things that I think Dr. DiAngelo has in mind when she declares that “being nice is NOT going to solve racism.” Instead, when I talk about the rubber meeting the road” — I’m referring to those (white, Black, or otherwise) who are willing to join with others (constantly and consistently) to engage in agreed-upon strategies and tactics aimed at achieving a very specific, clearly defined goal(s). All else is merely super-hyper rhetoric and noise.
And thank you for taking all of us further toward real action. The criteria you describe are specific and challenging – and go far beyond our (white peoples’) tendency to stop at “insight” or “knowledge” or “intention”!
I’ll add that, even though comments have slackened a bit, the list of subscribers continues to grow, and the stats for the site show a consistent actual readership at 50-60%, which is quite high for blogs.