It's important for us to be able to deconstruct our ideas and figure out where we got them from. A claim I have made: white people need to learn not to be racist- they can do this by reading books.
Assumption: White are influenced by our racist society. Why I think this is true: Observation: I note that whites tend to use the same excuses for their bad behavior. I do not think these excuses are independently generated. History: In my study of history, both black and white, I have noticed many ideas that white people today use that have their roots in older ideas. The idea that blacks are always less intelligent than whites(used liberally in the assumption that blacks don't deserve to go to college) comes from the scientific racism of the 19th century. (see Gould, and others for a discussion). The idea that blacks are poor because they are lazy, bad people has its roots in Social Darwinism, and also Calvinism, which sometimes included the belief that rich people were favored by god. The Moynihan report paved the way to blame the problems of black people on single black women, and our 'bad culture'- this is the root of the current meme that instead of improving schools, blacks are a lost cause anyway, because one kid said that some other kid was 'acting white'.
Other influences: Dawkins' theory of memes- ideas that spread in a way analogous to natural selection. Family influences: I note that I am influenced by my family, and analogize that whites are also influenced by theirs, and by the families of their friends.
Assumption: Whites can improve their behavior
Why I think this is true: Observation: I see some whites that are less racist than other whites. The variation in levels of racism leads me to believe itÂs not inherent. Also, on the internet, I have seen conscious efforts to become less racist- I perceive the people who have gone through these efforts as less racist. Also, when whites do things that I feel are racist, they are all voluntary actions- like opening your mouth and saying something stupid, or refusing to read a book. I can stop myself from saying stupid shit, so therefore, I think whites can do this too. History: Through books like How the Irish Became White, and White Men Challenging Racism, I have seen the argument advanced, with primary sources and evidence, that racial attitudes, and who is or is not ÂwhiteÂ has changed. Also, in White Men Challenging Racism, white men work against racism, and I felt a personal feeling of admiration for these men.
Assumption: Whites should change their behavior.
Why I think this is so: Personal feeling: White peopleÂs racist behavior is very annoying to me, and is personally hurtful. Evidence of harm: It seems to me that white racist behavior harms black people. I think this is true because of studies seen in books, such as Racist America, which explores the effects of racist policies from the start of America to the present day or When Work Disappears which explored the deindustrialization of the ghetto, and white flight. There is also the famous name-resume study(hey, why don't we change our attitudes towards the names rather than worrying about whether our names are 'acceptable'), the study of driving while black I saw recently, and also, the Hurricane Katrina problems, which were inflected by the traditional problem of black 'crime' being highlighted.
Other black people's reactions: When whites do something racist, either by ignoring blacks in stores, saying something stupid or saying the n word, other blacks talk about it in raised voices, use sarcasm or rude language to describe the racist, and generally seem frustrated.
Logic: If whites can change their behavior, and prevent the stress(which is bad for your health) and damage caused by their behavior, it seems that things would improve.
Observation: White racist behavior seems to happen despite the personal characteristics of the black- regardless of whether the black is polite or rude, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, whether they are assimilated or non assimilated. Also, white racist rhetoric tends to contradict reality- such as
whites are oppressed, we don't have any power', when statistics indicate that whites hold most senior management positions and most political positions. It's like there's a bubble that won't let reality in. Whites are also isolated from blacks, and so even if every black person acted in the way that white racists said would make them not be racist, it is likely that their beliefs would still persist, despite the reality.
Axiom: The people who create the problem should fix it, not those affected by it. This is because I can't change your attitude, but you can change your attitude. If your attitude is fucking shit up for other people, don't waste time making excuses, you have plenty of time to change your attitude if you have time to make an excuse. A personal feeling here- people who want others to change their attitudes for them seem lazy to me, and lose respect. Through observation, I note that black people who suck up to white people like that stupid Rev Peterson don't seem to change white attitudes, and through history, I have seen many attempts to change white attitudes through hard work and assimilation fail (see Booker T Washington, also Forgotten Readers) thus, maybe if whites tried to change thier attitudes, we'd see more progress.
Assumption: Whites can change behavior and attitudes through the use of books. experience: I've learned a lot of things through books, and have changed my attitudes. Observation: I have noted people discussing ideas that they have gotten from books, and they seem really educated and enlightened. Also, whites showing less racism seem to have read more, and have more information about how the world actually works, and what actually happened historically.
Assumption: Whites are like blacks, except for with a different culture and history. That's just an axoim. Oh, and at P6's place, the old heads try without success to make a resistant white see sense.