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Forum nameOkay Activist Archives
Topic subjectJumping in...
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=30834&mesg_id=30929
30929, Jumping in...
Posted by Nettrice, Tue May-17-05 11:42 AM
>A black man can understand the 'white' component of the
>dynamic (because it is a world wide system?!) but a white man
>cannot understand the 'black' component of the dynamic.
>It simply makes no sense.

I think the real issue for some white folks is how to come away from the system in order to see their privileged place in it, as well as how it is for others (ex. Black people). This is harder than you might think. For lack of a better example, I just watched an episode of Good Times and Michael was considering moving out, with a white girl (both college students). His mother, a single Black mother in the projects, was quite upset and not just because the girl was white. The girl's WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant-like) parents came over and immediately tried to act Black with exaggerated gestures and speaking slang incorrectly to show they were "down", much to the dismay of the Black people in the room. The disconnect came with the assumption that being in the projects or among Black people required acting "Black" while the Black people were expecting them to be themselves (WASP parents).

The reason Black people can understand the "white component" is because they have been trained up in it since entering the world as children, the same as white folks. Usually, Black issues are not a part of this early and ongoing training/experience. It is left out or marginalized, stereotyped even more so than the WASP experience. So how else can white folks know about Black issues? There is more of a benefit to behaving like one who is white and, therefore, more privileged. Thus, for many Black folks, theirs is a very symbiotic existence. Black folks learn how to "switch" while white folks are able to be themselves and not have to adjust in the same way. Many white folks are unable to see a difference or divest from their "class-and-whiteness" privilege.

"The understanding of one's historical and privileged position requires a great deal of political clarity. However, political clarity can never be achieved if one accomodates to a position of ambiguity that usually suppresses one's ideological contradictions."