Some of My Best Friends (and Family) Are Racists

Editor’s Note: I don’t often share very personal stories, but I think there is something instructive in this story, so I am prepared to deal with the blowback.

I remember an argument I had with my mother a few years back. I had brought my boyfriend, a black man, who I had been dating for 4 years, to a family picnic. At the picnic, my grandfather and his wife refused to shake my ex-boyfriend’s hand because he was black. I knew something like this was going to happen, as my maternal extended relatives had made numerous bigoted comments going back to my childhood. I felt terrible for putting my ex in that situation, and I felt terrible that nobody in my family stood up and said something. They pretended like nothing happened. I was sobbing and furious, and he and I left the picnic soon after. We stopped at a fast food place, and he said, “I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before. I’m so glad we left.” I was glad to be gone, too.

After leaving I had an over the phone discussion with my mother, where my mother suggested that it was unfortunate that we left because my young cousins were crying. They liked and missed my ex and could not figure out why he had left. Her tone suggested that my ex and I were responsible for my cousins being upset, and perhaps, if we came back, they would stop crying. I remember being furious with my mother’s reaction, and I blurted out, “They should be upset. Racism hurts people. The fact that they are crying is a good thing. Hopefully, when they grow up, they will remember this so they don’t ever treat people that way.”

Later that evening, my mother and some of my aunts and cousins who felt bad about the situation came over to my apartment. I guess it was their way to try to make up for not saying anything at the picnic. They brought my younger cousins, so they could actually talk to my ex and hopefully feel better. At some point, they tried to tell me how my grandfather felt uncomfortable, and he felt like everybody was looking to see what he would do, and he made the claim that this was why he and his wife refused to shake hands. They also reminded me that my grandfather was notorious for being an abrasive person outside of his racism. But I wasn’t having it. To me this was all bullshit. Racist bullshit. Yes, he had been an asshole on other occasions, but this time he was a racist asshole.

I had listened to him and some other relatives in my extended family say pejorative things about blacks and Latinos for years. These offensive comments ranged from using the word nigger, to talking about lazy “colored” people, and making all kinds of statements about Mexican migrant farmworkers. It was rare for anybody but me to challenge this, and I didn’t even do it every time. In fact, it reached a point where people didn’t saying these things around me anymore because they knew I would get mad.1

The next Christmas my father and brother showed their solidarity with my ex (and me) by refusing to attend any events that my maternal grandfather attended.

I half forgave my grandfather and his wife even thought they never apologized and most likely they weren’t sorry for what they did. I’m not exactly sure how my ex dealt with this in the long run. By the time I saw my grandfather again, about 2 years later, I was no longer is that relationship. I had recently found out my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and I sat at the table and bit my tongue, while trying my best to act friendly. I know my mother, who felt torn over these events, was happy to see me sitting at that table, and I cheered when I saw him again 6 months later, and he announced his cancer had gone into remission. But I can’t lie. I was happy to be living very far away from him; I knew I didn’t have to confront this issue over and over again.

In my first month in New York, he suffered a severe stroke and heart attack. He suffered a great deal for a month or two, and then he passed away. I was sad that he died, and part of that sadness was with the fact that he never confronted any of the pain he visited on others. That racist incident defined my relationship with him over the last few years of his life. It’s really hard to remember the jokes he made when I was a child, before I knew or understood the depth of his bigotry.

This incident didn’t only change my view of him; it still lingers in the background of the relationships with many of my relatives. Some people may believe the lesson in this story is that you should make up with your loved ones before they die, but I don’t see it that way. I didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t want to expend any more emotional energy fighting an uphill battle. It would have been nice to get an apology for my ex and myself, but the odds of that happening were slim. To me, the lesson is that racism destroys relationships. It makes, otherwise decent people, turn a blind eye to suffering. The theory that says many white people don’t care about racism because it doesn’t effect them or their loved ones makes sense until you realize that in many cases loved ones are either perpetrators or inactive bystanders when racism is directed at their loved ones.

Racism is so insidious that it anesthetizes people to suffering of others (even others who they care about). It destroys empathetic reactions to human suffering. The victims of racism are expected to be the “bigger people” while the perpetrators get the “Get Out of Racism Free” card. Even when they know racist behavior is wrong and harmful, many white observers of racism suffer from moral paralysis. Rather than doing what is morally right, they do nothing.2

Moral paralysis is learned. It is not something that you are born with. This is actually why I was happy that my little cousins were crying when we left that picnic. Even though they didn’t quite know what was going on or why this situation was bad, it showed me that they hadn’t quite learned to be immune the suffering that racism causes. I hope, nearly 10 years later, they still get upset in those situations. I hope they have the courage to respond to bigots inside and outside our family. It may be the more difficult path to take (as I can attest to), but it’s the right one.

  1. I’d like to think that some stopped because they had a change of heart, but I’m not so convinced. []
  2. I’m not saying that it is easy for people who observe racist behavior to speak out. In these cases of family racism, there are often long protracted battles where people choose sides, which is not easy to do when you love someone but don’t love their behavior. Personally, I chose to withdraw rather than lobby for support. Partly, because I knew I was right; partly because I had been fighting on this issue for years prior to this; and partly because I didn’t expect to get too much support. In fact, I suspect that the amount of sympathy my partner and I received would have been inversely related to how much lobbying we did. []
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149 Responses to Some of My Best Friends (and Family) Are Racists

  1. 101
    Mandolin says:

    Okay, so if I’m reading you correctly, then a McGuffin, in the context in which you’re using it (there are at least two valid ones), is a plot point that appears to provide conflict before a reversal occurs revealing the real conflict.

    So, for instance, in The Wizard of Oz, we could say that the struggle with the neighbor who wants to take away the dog is a McGuffin, in that the real conflict in the piece is Dorothy’s later journey to go home. The conflict over the dog never manifests, although to someone seeing the movie for the first time, the first few minutes might suggest that the major conflict in the story will deal with that.

    The dog itself is arguably a McGuffin. There are two people who are seeking to own it.

    So, arguably, in this story, we could say that Rachel’s relationship with her boyfriend was a McGuffin — in that the relationship produced the circumstances that create the main conflict of the piece, which is between Rachel and her own grandfather.

    [The boyfriend himself is not a McGuffin. He is not an object that everyone wants ownership of. (At least, not in the piece. He is in this conversation.)]

    Also, the term McGuffin, which is usually used in like mystery writing (although we SFers have co-opted the term), is really only applicable in terms of fiction. It’s a contrivance, constructed to draw the audience’s eye in one direction while the magic hand of fiction creates a different plot.

    It’s often said that if we were to actually live our lives in the way that people live fiction, we would all have referential schizophrenia. Our lives don’t fit neatly into boxes with plot arcs.

    Analyzing personal essay with the tools of fiction can lead to some bizarre constructs. We can’t necessarily expect that one’s experiences will fit into the shape of story, with balanced plot arcs, manifesting Samuel Delany’s rule that everything mentioned once must be mentioned twice.

    Are we to read Jo Ann Beard’s _The Boys of My Youth_ as though all her relationships are a McGuffin leading up to the shooting incident that is at the center of the book? Or Mary Karr’s _Liar’s Club_ as though all the bizareness of her childhood is merely misdirection leading up to the molestation, around which she seems to structure the text?

    Life moves like this. We meet someone. We don’t know how their lives play out. One incident triggers another. Our focus shifts. Our memories do the same.

    That sounds awfully bloodless, because an analysis of these things is necessarily bloodless, because its an abstract discussion of what kinds of structures are usable in memoir. If your objection was to the structure of the piece, then we’d be talkign about it on that level. Your objection is not to the structure of the piece.

    Your objection is that the structure of the piece in itself demonstrates racism, which is only viable if we accept the idea that for a character’s relationship not to be the focus of the story is inherently objectifying. You’re condensing the concept of “not focused on in this story” (which you’re condensing with McGuffin, IMO) with “treated like an object,” and I just haven’t seen you support that textually. I haven’t seen RJN support that textually, either. The most I’ve seen either of you do is point to a roughly written transition.

    Further, you (and not RJN) are arguing that the piece is structured in a way that is so incontrovertably racist that a reading of the text as racist is necessary and inarguable, and proves something about Rachel and her life about which you will accept no different explanation.

  2. 102
    Mandolin says:

    I don’t know why we need black people at all when there seems to be enough white folks at least willing to own the copyright on the facsimile.

    OK. So, this feels addressable. Is the whole essay about white people’s experience with racism another form of white people wanting everything but the burden? (Or in this case, wanting a facsimile of the burden?)

    I dunno. Maybe. Certainly, it shouldn’t be the center of the discourse about racism.

    But it’s also a time-honored tactic, isn’t it? Down to Frederick Douglas trying to argue against slavery by saying “it makes white people corrupt and sinful?”

    Pam @ Pandagon often talks about trying to find ways to get white people to talk about racism, and how and where it exists, and not to hide behind a facade of “Oh, I just don’t know about that.” Most of Rachel’s work — here, academically, and at Rachel’s Tavern — seems to be addressing the ways in which racism affects its primary and real victims.

    In a forum like this one, which she rightly addresses as majority white, it seems like part of the goal is not just to raise awareness but also to get white people involved in the conversation. People often say whites have to take control of racism, and I agree with that assertion. For many of us white people that means that we’ve got to deal with it in our own families.

    Rachel’s assertion that we shouldn’t forgive it is an oddly important first step. Racist acts like these are unforgiveable, certainly absent a genuine reformation. But the narrative that children should forgive everything — from racism to sexual abuse — is extremely strong.

    We often hear that patriarchy hurts men, too, particularly those men who don’t conform to gender roles. White supremacy hurts whites, too, particularly those whites who don’t obey the lines our culture draws about race. Effeminate ittle boys who play with dolls are bullied, and white women who marry and raise children with black men are targetted as race traitors.

    Those experiences shouldn’t be the main part of the dialogue, but I don’t know why we would refuse to talk about them, or why talking about them is inherently racist or sexist.

  3. 103
    Mandolin says:

    I’m rereading the above posts, and I think I may have gotten confused on something.

    I agree that it’s psosible to read the post as if Rachel was being paternalistic when she put her boyfriend into the situation at the picnic. That objection makes sense to me, and it feels rooted in the text.

    What I don’t feel is supported is the assertion that the text, by introducing the relationship between Rachel and her boyfriend sketchily and then moving away from it, is therefore objectifying.

    It is the willingness of people to move from either of these readings to various assumptions about Rachel and her relationship which, to me, demonstrates hostility to white women in relationships with black men, because the assumptions are part of the stereotypical narratives about such people in such relationships.

    If I’ve assumed anyone is arguing something they aren’t, you have my apologies.

  4. 104
    Ampersand says:

    Nanette writes:

    That said, there are problems with the original text. I’ll just repeat that. There are problems with the original text.

    I think this is true. You, Michelle, and RJN have persuaded me that the original text is problematic and can be read as racist, because it ends up sounding like Rachel’s ex is impossibly naive and wasn’t forewarned at all. Ideally, Rachel would have written the post in such a way as to foreclose that reading (for example, by making it clearer that she had her boyfriend had discussed her family’s racism before deciding to attend the picnic). With hindsight, I suspect she wishes she had written that bit more carefully.

    But although I think criticism and questioning of Rachel’s text is appropriate and fair, questioning while assuming the answer — and while being absolutely close-minded to the possibility that one might be wrong about anything — is not fair. I don’t think you’ve done this, but Ed and Jolly Wacker certainly have, and Michelle to a certain extent has.

    The condescending and insulting tone with which some comments have addressed Rachel (see Jolly Wacker’s most recent comment, for example) really bugs me as well.

    When person after person (seemingly most of color) who reads it comes away with issues with what it is saying it might be best not to assume that they are all racist against white women who are in interracial relationships with black men.

    I don’t think that everyone who has had issues with what Rachel wrote is racist against people in i/r relationships. I certainly don’t think that about you.

    I do think the level of hostility and condensation that has been directed against Rachel in some (not all) of the critical comments suggests that something more than wanting what the boyfriend knew beforehand clarified, and a question about structural approaches to whites telling stories in which a POC is a supporting but not main character, is going on here. Maybe that’s prejudice against i/r relationships; maybe it’s something else. But just because you apparently don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not going on.

  5. 105
    Jolly Wacker says:

    You do not regard the boyfriend as having been objectified, therefore he does not meet your standard for a McGuffin.

    We differ on that point.

    [The boyfriend himself is not a McGuffin. He is not an object that everyone wants ownership of. (At least, not in the piece. He is in this conversation.)]

    Of course there is ownership over the man. The entire arc of the story pivots on the ownership over the idea of the ‘black’ man. Who he is and what he represents to white people, and the actions these white people take or do not take when claiming ownership of him.

    The article in the end; what is it? It’s a white woman’s advocacy for the cause against that big bug-a-boo, racism. Individuals at the receiving end don’t even rate much of a mention, except that the ‘black’ man was left empty handed (as usual)—and of course those darling little white children who weep with knowing but unknowing tears. Don’t forget the children

    (“Weepy kids gets them all the time,” she had left behind scrawled on a Post-it).

  6. 106
    Ampersand says:

    Jolly wrote:

    But poor, poor, Rachel. Whatever could she have done? That Big Daddy! Racism is like a cancer on the soul… And the little chilluns should not be afraid to speak right in the face of EVIL. Blah, blah, blah. [...] had Rachel the guts, let alone the intellectual grace, to introduce herself first as a coward and then, and only then, as a Person of Guilt™.

    (Edited to add: And in earlier posts: “Mary Sue breakdown” (an obviously sexist insult, in this context… it also shows ignorance of what a “Mary Sue” character is, since an explicitly autobiographical character cannot be a Mary Sue by definition); ““Pretend,” curiousgyrl? Who are you? Rush Limbaugh?,” etc. Also, Jolly, your complete unwillingness to engage in any self-reflection when you are told that you’re being sexist suggests that you aren’t serious about being in discussion here.)

    Jolly, please read the moderation guidelines. If you aren’t willing to forgo making personal attacks, then please don’t post here at all. (Edited to add:) If you’re not willing to make some positive contributions to the discussion — as I believe others, including those critical of Rachel, have been trying to do — then go away.

    I am not in any way saying that criticism of Rachel or any other poster here is forbidden. There’s a distinction between criticism — even harsh criticism — and attacks.

  7. 107
    nobody.really says:

    Like others, I’ve found much of this discussion baffling. I’d like to thanks Jolly Wacker for stating his (?) position so clearly. I never disagreed with the substance of his remarks. Now I think I’m understanding more about the affect as well.

    I hadn’t really thought about it before, but now that you mention it, I expect stories of white guilt are more salable than stories of black experience. We all want to see something to relate to in a written work, and let’s face it – whites are probably a bigger share of most audiences for English writing than blacks.

    I hadn’t really thought about it before, but now that you mention it, I bet this is damned frustrating to people who want to see more focus given to black experience. I can imagine people might repeatedly read a title that leads them to expect to hear something about black experience, only to be fed another story about white experience (of guilt).

    This is the sort of stuff I love about this blog. Thanks again for those insights, Jolly Wacker and others. You’ve managed to pry my eyes open a little here.

    That said….

    I’m sensing that we’ve entered one more round of the Do-you-blame-whites-for-benefitting-from-white-privilege? discussion. Rachel S. is white. She wrote about her experience of an intra-family conflict in which – Jolly Wacker correctly observes – a black man plays a catalytic role but is not the center of the action. Rachel S. could have written a different story. She didn’t.

    Is there anything wrong with this? Does Rachel S. owe some duty to incorporate someone else’s experience into a 10-paragraph memoir?

    Admittedly, there’s little in Rachel S.’s post that alleviates the problem that white guilt is more salable than black experience. But even if Rachel S. had attempted to write her entire post from black experience, it would not have changed that dynamic. I sense Rachel S. has become a lightning rod for entirely justified frustrations that really have little to do with her.

    Perhaps the greatest fault with Rachel S.’s post, then, is that it raised expectations in some readers that the post will focus on black experience, and then does not fulfill that expectation. That’s something I’ll try to bear in mind in future writing.

  8. 108
    Silenced is foo. says:

    @nobody.really

    Or it could cause a chilling effect. If white bloggers can’t discuss their own, personal experiences with anti-black racism in an open manner without a bunch of people jumping down their throats for choosing to use their own personal perspective instead of trying to discuss someone else’s, then do you think they’ll continue to discuss them in the future? (whoa, run-on).

    It’s a hard subject to talk about. Making it harder to talk about, when people are AGREEING with you (saying, roughly: “yes, these people are doing a bad thing by being racist, and yes, I’m ashamed for not speaking up”) is not going to further your cause, whatever it may be.

    There’s idealism, and then there’s pedantry.

    Or will they allow the discourse to become yet another insulated echo-chamber of the internet?

    Frankly, I’m quite disturbed by the backlash that Rachel’s post received.

  9. 109
    Jolly Wacker says:

    The first paragraph was intended as a mocking follow-up to those who raised questions that sounded like: what would Rachel do? The error is mine in not framing it soundly.

    As to the second—I know, I know—we’re supposed to feel sorry for Rachel.

    I guess that’s it.

  10. 110
    Jolly Wacker says:

    Ampersand, I suppose in the same vein that someone here could ascribe the “hostility” directed at the author’s story by a certain commenter to, oh golly gee whiz, maybe a philosophical aversion to those afflicted with jungle fever (The guys got issues with white women. It must be that! It just has to be that!), I can ascribe literary terms to a character called Rachel, who, coincidentally enough, dons the traditional guise and manner of all those Harriet Beecher Stowe readalike heroines so many trees have laid down their lives for.

    The sun’ll come out…tomorrow, tomorrow… meanwhile, 155 years later: “Oh, look! The latest sequel in the Mary Sue and the Great White Hope series is out. I wonder how she gets away this time”?

  11. 111
    Ampersand says:

    Jolly: “As to the second—I know, I know—we’re supposed to feel sorry for Rachel.”

    Willow: You think I’m boring.

    Oz: I’d call that a radical interpretation of the text.

  12. 112
    Myca says:

    The sun’ll come out…tomorrow, tomorrow… meanwhile, 155 years later: “Oh, look! The latest sequel in the Mary Sue and the Great White Hope series is out. I wonder how she gets away this time”?

    Wow. You . . . you are very banned.

    Unless Amp disagrees, of course.

    —Myca

  13. 113
    michelle says:

    Rachel wrote: I’m not so sure that this argument breaks down neatly along racial lines. Nobody know what Ed’s race is, and Jolly Wacker insinuated that he is white (but wasn’t totally clear). It’s only Michelle who has asserted that she is a person of color, and Richard, who is a white guy, is supporting some of her contentions.

    Actually, I have not asserted this. Because it is not true.

    I am white. White female Jew lesbian if those other pieces are relevant also.

    I made deliberate and ongoing decisions to not do the ritual “I am white” statement either on its own or as part of the writing in various comments (plenty of places I could have put in we or us), which now I am thinking were wrong decisions. I figured — possibly incorrectly — that people who were attending would perceive that I am white; we aren’t as “stealth” and “raceless” on the internet as we like to believe. And I have been getting tired of the various rituals of white anti-racist internet declarations because I feel something fake in them somehow.

    But anyway, that seems like bad and wrong decisions on my part, because now in Rachel’s mind I am the only person asserting I am a person of color, while others who are very clearly (IMO) speaking from the subject position of people of color … aren’t?

    Because there are various people in this discussion who have very clearly IMO spoken from the actual subject position of people of color and offered perspectives critical of what Rachel is doing, whether or not they have “asserted” anything on Rachel’s terms.

    It seems to me that Rachel is reading comments to find a way to defend against critics. So she just doesn’t see a lot of what is being said, especially by the people of color engaged in this discussion, and is in that way protected from a lot of what is being said. I don’t mind saying I made a bad decision in not naming myself explicitly as white.

    I take responsibility for the situation with my own posts, my wrong actions and decision. But also, why would Rachel “not see” the people who are actually people of color and speaking from that space? I feel like there is a problem with that invisibility that comes from Rachel’s lack of paying attention to what they wrote.

    And I will also say this: I have been noticing that white people’s responses to me in this discussion show an embedded (even if unconscious) understanding that I am also white and thus “deserving” of certain kinds of respect and attention.

    And even when I said to Rachel: My initial comments are only relevent in the context of what other people have been saying in their criticisms, please listen to what other people are saying.

    We white people do this little dance, we recognize each other culturally. Example: I have been taken far more seriously (and mostly treated less violently, with the exception of Sailorman) by other white people than have the people of color speaking in this discussion. I do believe this stuff maps below the surface among white people. Example: the way Richard is using my comments and asserting his authority in doing so. Example: Rachel didn’t do to my comments the “quoting way out of context and just ignoring the rest” disrespect that I feel she did she did to comments from two women of color earlier in the discussion.

    I have also had the privilege of being more .. I don’t know what the word is, not having to choose so carefully what I say on one side or another of the spectrum? … than people who aren’t white have. And, I have been more vocal maybe because — while this discussion hurts me directly on some levels given how I actually feel/experience some of the white cultural dynamics, it doesn’t hurt me directly on others.

  14. 114
    Jolly Wacker says:

    Hmph… never took to Buffy. One of the few, apparently.

    Added:

    Though, if it counts toward cultural brownie points, I did take to reading Twisty regularly—until she got bored, that is.

  15. 115
    joe says:

    You know, in a lot of ways this follows the pattern of
    White person says something
    POC says it’s racist and offensive
    White person says they’re not racist and it’s being misconstrued
    Other say intent doesn’t matter and that POC own the decision of what is racist
    White person (and those that agree with them) get defensive

  16. 116
    michelle says:

    And you know what? About this ban of Jolly Wacker (if the white man agrees of course)?

    I would prefer that you ban me too. In fact, in reality, I wish that you could ban me and let him continue engaging and stop hassling him and listen to what he is actually saying. If he would be willing to stay in this discussion, can you do that? Seriously, can you do that?

    Because as I see it, he is doing some very important stuff here and calling things out in a way that is much much better than I have done.

    Example: This obsession with protecting the white women: he’s calling it, consistently and well.

    Because the truth is: WE DON’T REALLY NEED THAT PROTECTION.

    It is a lie.

    When white people claim that we need special safe space to examine our and other white people’s racism — it is a self-centered, self-involved self-referential LIE and at some deep level: we know it. It is a way to evade reality and more importantly to control what is going on. Ooooh, poor us, we need safe space or we will CONTINUE BEING VIOLENT TO YOU SO GIVE US WHAT WE DEMAND BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T WE WILL CONTINUE TO HURT YOU!

    Seems to me that I haven’t reacted like Jolly Wacker because of my position as white in this thing. I have been disgusted with the stuff he is correctly and incisively calling out, but didn’t go there because I felt exhausted just thinking about it and didn’t want to deal with the shitstorm of bullshit that would surely follow. Poor me.

    IMO Jolly Wacker has done a seriously positive service to this discussion and … acted and spoken consistently from a clear refusal to protect whiteness and the white woman. And so he is banned. And I think that is nasty and wrong. Ban me because I agree with what he is doing here.

    Disgusting.

  17. 117
    Silenced is foo. says:

    @michelle

    You miss the point. It’s not about a safe space for white people. It’s about flamewars. I’ve taken some very unpopular opinions on this forum (since, even though I’m a liberal, I have some minor MRA sympathies) but the only times I get threatened with banning is when I start actually making offensive, personal comments. That is far more than can be said for most liberal forums.

    In other words: Jolly’s not being banned because he’s taking shots at Rachel’s story. He’s being banned because he’s making offensive comments.

    Seriously, this forum is a lot better than some. Want to get banned so fast your head will spin? Go say something controversial at Pandagon.

  18. 118
    Myca says:

    What Silenced is foo (Dude, what a name) said is essentially correct.

    This is not a forum in which to flame. Furthermore, because of the sensitive nature of all of this, I think there’s been a hell of a lot more leeway here than there would be in many discussions.

    And Jolly already had a warning (post 106) which he chose to ignore.

    Many many people who disagree with Rachel are free to continue posting here. Jolly is not some kind of martyr, he was just sort of being . . . jerky.

    —Myca

  19. Mandolin:

    You’re condensing the concept of “not focused on in this story” (which you’re condensing with McGuffin, IMO) with “treated like an object,” and I just haven’t seen you support that textually. I haven’t seen RJN support that textually, either.

    I just want to be clear: I did not make this claim. All I have claimed is that I can see how the roughness in the text can lead to the “treated like an object” reading. What I actually wrote was:

    When I read this, I too was taken up short by the very sketchy picture we get of the boy friend. Not because I think Rachel was somehow obliged to reveal details of his life, or to speak for him, or to somehow turn him into the center of the story, but because in a story that introduced itself as being about an argument between Rachel and her mother–and, therefore, by implication about Rachel’s relationship with her racist family–we get bits of information about the boyfriend that begin to present him too (and by extension his relationship with Rachel) as subject of the story, but then he disappears.

  20. 120
    Silenced is foo. says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman

    The only relevant piece of information on the boyfriend is that he’s black. Why? Because this story isn’t about the victims of racism, it’s about a perpetrators of it. And the only thing that is important to the perpetrators about that boyfriend was his race. If he were tall or short, talkative or quiet, athletic or nerdy – any of those things – would it have mattered to the grandfather and his wife?

    That’s the point. This was an anecdote about what racism looks like from the POV of someone who is close to a racist person.

  21. 121
    Mandolin says:

    “Seriously, this forum is a lot better than some. Want to get banned so fast your head will spin? Go say something controversial at Pandagon.”

    That’s basically false. If you have more comments about moderation, here or elsewhere, head to the most recent open thread.

  22. 122
    Mandolin says:

    You know, in a lot of ways this follows the pattern of
    White person says something
    POC says it’s racist and offensive
    White person says they’re not racist and it’s being misconstrued
    Other say intent doesn’t matter and that POC own the decision of what is racist
    White person (and those that agree with them) get defensive

    Yup, it does follow that dynamic.

    I’m sensitive to that dynamic, and aware of it. I am making a particular choice to go ahead and go with it, because in this particular case, I think the conclusions are bullshit and racist in themselves.

    Michelle,

    Jolly should have been banned the moment that he implied Rachel had “jungle fever” with the polishing a lawn jockey shit. If I hadn’t been worrying that this was the dynamic that you speak of, I would have banned his ass then. Instead, I’m banning his ass now, even though I’m not the white man. (Myca, however, is a white man, so your crack is silly.)

    “Jungle fever” “polishing a lawn jockey” etc. etc. are all racist comments according to my interpretation of the dynamic Nora of The Angry Black Woman describes in this post which contains comments like this one:

    At least within black communities, don’t black people ultimately have power? And if we choose to use that power to attack other oppressed minorities in our midst, are we not then ourselves… racists?

    Interracial couples are — as interracial couples — a minority that faces oppression. They are capable of being targetted by racist comments, and here, they have been.

    That is not to say that there can’t be thoughtful criticism of interracial couples, and the people who are in them, but when that criticism is framed through phrases like “jungle fever” and “polishing another lawn jockey,” that criticism crosses from interesting analysis to barriers of racism and acceptable discourse.

    Your criticism of Rachel’s essay has not crossed those boundaries, so you will not be banned unless you do so.

  23. 123
    Mandolin says:

    Oh, and Jolly,

    You’re banned. Please don’t attempt to post here again. Have an interesting journey through the intertubes.

  24. 124
    Nanette says:

    Sigh. I may actually start from the beginning of all this (including the original text) and explain some of the problems I have both with it and the comments, in an orderly, easily grasped manner. Maybe. But first….

    “Jungle fever” “polishing a lawn jockey” etc. etc. are all racist comments according to my interpretation of the dynamic Nora of The Angry Black Woman describes in this post which contains comments like this one:

    No. Ban Jolly Wacker if you want… it’s your site (well, yours among others), your rules, moderation policies and all the rest… but why not do it on your own, simply because it seems to you (and whoever others) the right thing to do? I am assuming you think Jolly Wacker is a person of color? I do too, but don’t know for sure. Regardless, it’s very bad form to use the words of a woman of color – again, the one short paragraph, out of a very long and complex essay, that apparently fits what you felt you needed, in your mind, for justification… especially considering the fact that the very next sentence states:

    Framed that way, the answer is a clear yes. But as Ignatiev, Zia, and Tatum’s books all illustrate, that’s the wrong way to ask the question.

    If one is going to do that though… use the words of one person of color to justify actions against (or for, for that matter) another person of color (if that is indeed the case), it’s always best to make sure one has a clear understanding of all the dynamics involved. Or you run into making appalling mistakes, like this one male feminist who – for 25 years – used a throwaway line by one famous woman of color – which he did not understand in the least, though he thought he did – about how she’d faced more sexism than racism in her life – to justify dismissing the lived experiences of women of color regarding racism and sexism.

    I find this “people of color are morphing into the oppressors” thing – especially when it comes to white women involved in relationships with non-white men, as they are the real victims of oppression – interesting… but I must confess, I’ve always associated it with H***t and CM and so on. I had no idea that that sort of feeling was so widespread.

    In my experience with people who have issues with interracial couples… and admittedly my experience with this type is limited as, for the most part, in my family and friendship circles interracial couples are quite common and unremarkable… but anyway, when there ARE people with issues, it’s normally persons of one ethnic group going after the person in the relationship that is of the same ethnic group. They may or may not be rude to the person of the other color/race whatever, but both the main concern and the main antipathy is usually saved for the one doing the “betraying of the race” or whatever.

    Where this sometimes changes and more of protective thing kicks in, (and this is both with people who do or do not have issues with the relationship itself), is when it looks like the person with the least outside power in the relationship… in this case, it would be the black man in the midst of a partner’s hostile white family… is both being treated as… a sort of faceless prop in a story as well as someone who was unprepared for the situation they found themselves in, with little concern for the affects the incident had on them.

    That this was not actually the case was not at all clear in the original story, and is only marginally apparent in the subsequent comments, and is (in my view) the basis for most of the pushback against this recounting and anger at the story itself, some of the later comments and so on. Not necessarily that there are issues with the idea of a interracial relationship (although there may be that as well), but that the of color partner is being treated shabbily. Or so it may have seemed, before all the context was supplied.

    I have problems with the story even with all the context but at this point I guess it doesn’t matter much.

  25. 125
    Mandolin says:

    [Comment deleted. On reflection, I'd prefer to allow discussion of my moderation decision to go on without me. Have at.

    --M]

  26. 126
    Ampersand says:

    Michelle wrote:

    And I will also say this: I have been noticing that white people’s responses to me in this discussion show an embedded (even if unconscious) understanding that I am also white and thus “deserving” of certain kinds of respect and attention.

    Actually, no, it’s just the opposite. I’ve been assuming you’re a POC, and frankly would have responded much more critically to what you’ve written — specifically regarding your refusal to seriously acknowledge that you may have internalized racism regarding interracial couples — had I known you were white.

  27. 127
    Ampersand says:

    Nannette, just for the record, I had kind of thought Jolly was white, but then I thought Nanette was a POC, so clearly my guesswork on this thread is pretty lousy. The truth is, I have no idea. (I’m not saying I’m “colorblind,” just that in this context, with only text on a screen to look at, I don’t know people’s race.)

    With all due respect, do you disagree that for someone (I think white, but I could be wrong) to refer to an interracial couple with terms like “polishing the lawn jockey” is offensive and bigoted?

    In retrospect, I think I should have banned Jolly immediately for that comment. The only reason I didn’t ban Jolly right away after that comment was that he was criticizing Rachel, and I tend to give our critics — especially people who are probably criticizing us from an anti-racist or feminist POV — more leeway than I give posters in general.

    I’ve gotta go draw now, but I’ll check in with this thread tomorrow.

  28. 128
    Nanette says:

    [Comment deleted. On reflection, I’d prefer to allow discussion of my moderation decision to go on without me. Have at.

    –M]

    I missed whatever was originally there… bummer.

    If any part of the above is directed towards me, however, I wasn’t actually discussing your moderation decision. In fact, I tried (and apparently failed) to make clear that whatever the site policies were are what they are, and up to the moderators, whether I approve of them or not.

    I was going to restate what I was discussing, but I see it’s still there in the comment up above, so… no need.

  29. 129
    hf says:

    Hell, at this point we might as well have another flame war about generalized tactics for changing an oppressive system. (Or anarchy for that matter.)

    Just for clarity, do you mean to say that Rachel could have avoided this if she’d explained why her relationship with her now-ex-boyfriend did not objectify him, and that it makes sense to demand this?

  30. 130
    Nanette says:

    Nannette, just for the record, I had kind of thought Jolly was white, but then I thought Nanette was a POC, so clearly my guesswork on this thread is pretty lousy.

    See? This conversation gets more confusing by the minute! People are having their colors changed with alarming frequency. I am a Black woman, so poc for sure. I don’t know Jolly in any other way other than this thread, but here I got the impression that he was a person of color. I could be wrong. I knew Michelle was white from the beginning. And have mostly just assumed that everyone else was too, although as it’s a long thread I may have forgotten someone.

    With all due respect, do you disagree that for someone (I think white, but I could be wrong) to refer to an interracial couple with terms like “polishing the lawn jockey” is offensive and bigoted?

    It can be, for sure. I don’t know if he is white or not, I would find it more offensive if he was, in one of those odd race quirks. I don’t use terms like that and I think they are unproductive but there are definitely Black people who do if maybe not in the same way. I tend to think that when he did use that term he was reacting, again, to the original text where things were a tad murky. My first thought was that he was reacting strongly out of personal experience but again, I could be wrong.

    Here is what he said:

    Had I been him I would have been appalled by your casual disregard for my dignity, your childish need for affirmation from your racist family, and then, while walking out the door, told you to go polish some other lawn jockey.

    Had the situation been as it appeared in the original text, I may have done the same thing (in so many words). So, while I winced a bit, I did not consider the use bigoted or offensive (well, actually, I think it was meant to be strong and offensive), as I assumed he was speaking of himself and what his reaction would have been (or maybe had been) to a similar situation to how Rachel’s situation (with no context but the original text) seemed.

  31. Silenced is foo:

    The only relevant piece of information on the boyfriend is that he’s black.

    I don’t know that I will have the time to continue to be part of this conversation, but I have to say that you have just made michelle’s and jolly’s point for them much more powerfully than I think Rachel’s original post did.

  32. 132
    Nanette says:

    Well, since I am clogging up the comments, I may as continue on…

    Just for clarity, do you mean to say that Rachel could have avoided this if she’d explained why her relationship with her now-ex-boyfriend did not objectify him, and that it makes sense to demand this?

    Rachel could have avoided all this in a couple ways, in my opinion.

    1)Not put the boyfriend in there at all. He’s not central or even necessary to her main theme, which is the relationship between non racist white people and their racist families.

    2) Put the boyfriend in there completely. This does not mean center the story around him or write oodles of words describing him or his feelings or whatever…. it could have been something as simple as:

    “I had brought my boyfriend, a black man, who I had been dating for 4 years, to a family picnic. Over the years we’d discussed my racist family but we still weren’t prepared for what happened. (The picnic event). ”

    Actually, I don’t know how she could have handled, in the telling, the aftermath, as that is one of the things I have issues with even with the context – she doesn’t know what, exactly, it was that was the worst thing that happened to him, or how he dealt with it in the long term.

    It’s a personal story and the essay is not about the relationship or why this seemingly wasn’t talked about afterwards, plus she wishes to protect his privacy and not speak for him, so it’s not an easy situation. I would have opted for leaving him out completely, I think.

  33. 133
    hf says:

    …how?

  34. 134
    hf says:

    Wait, you don’t mean she should have exhorted us to show courage and challenge racist relatives without giving the personal story?

  35. 135
    Nanette says:

    You don’t think she could have exhorted people to show courage and all that without the personal story? Now that I read it again, maybe not, as she is using that incident to show why all the other stuff happened.

    In that case, then the answer would be to put him in completely.

    [added] That would have taken care of at least one part of things, anyway.

    Just as an aside, I wanted to answer one of the questions above, on what she should have done or what people should do when they have relationships with people of color, and also have racist relatives (or something like that).

    Hope is not a plan, as someone once said. In my opinion, if you are going to invite a poc into a known hostile environment, no matter how much you might hope that good manners or something among the racist faction will win out, I wouldn’t plan on it.

    I (being an old woman and wiser now) will not enter into any similar situation without a few things happening first… The relatives (friends, coworkers, etc) are informed that I will be there, know I am Black, and are informed that either they can be decent or (we will leave, so and so will disown you, whatever).

    This not only lets me know that I am important enough in the scheme of things to be afforded this courtesy, with complete backup, if I am willing to endure the hostile family for a time, but also puts the onus for the success of whatever event on the racist family members (friends, etc).

    (this may come thru twice… I am trying the editing thing for the first time)

  36. 136
    mythago says:

    Want to get banned so fast your head will spin? Go say something controversial at Pandagon.

    Wow. I’ve said lots controversial at Pandagon, up to and including really vitriolic arguments with Amanda, and I’ve never been banned.

    Maybe I should try trolling? Is that what worked for you?

  37. 137
    Paul R. says:

    Let’s say that Rachel had written the identical essay except that instead of being black, her boyfriend was Jewish and her grandfather was so antisemitic that he refused to shake the Jewish boyfriend’s hand (this all assumes, of course, that Rachel and her family are not Jewish, which may or may not be the case).

    Would anyone be claiming that her essay itself was antisemitic?

  38. 138
    Bonnie says:

    Want to get banned so fast your head will spin? Go say something controversial at Pandagon.

    Au contraire.

    I myself have engaged in controversial, extremely heated, and also vitriolic exchanges at Pandagon. Not banned yet.

    The decision to ban, either here or there, is multi-faceted.

  39. 139
    Mandolin says:

    Nanette,

    I’m sorry I misread you.

    As to using the quote from Nora, I hear your objections. I felt that her words have helped to inform my theories about what I see as JW’s racist responses here. I did not feel I was misrepresenting Nora on the basis of what I’ve read of her considerations of racism, but it wasn’t necessary to embed the quote, and I apologize for doing so.

  40. 140
    michelle says:

    The only relevant piece of information on the boyfriend is that he’s black. Why? Because this story isn’t about the victims of racism, it’s about a perpetrators of it. And the only thing that is important to the perpetrators about that boyfriend was his race. If he were tall or short, talkative or quiet, athletic or nerdy – any of those things – would it have mattered to the grandfather and his wife?

    That’s the point. This was an anecdote about what racism looks like from the POV of someone who is close to a racist person.

    This — the relentless perpetrator POV, the way it is there and subtley persistent and continued to persist in the defensive responses to the criticism — this is a big part of what got to me about the story and the responses. Like, in the gut got me.

    I think there is a difference between having white people at the center of the room under serious critical scrutiny, and supporting white people’s POV at the center of the assumed reality of what is going on.

    And if there is some feeling out there that white people under scrutiny (as perpetrators and people who should take responsibility) is or requires the same thing as white people’s POV at the center, then … well, yuck.

    That is ugly nasty stuff, the white cultural POV — endlessly self-referential, aggressively centered on the concerns of the white self like no one else matters, hierarchical and exclusive (ignoring and/or trivializing the existance of other people’s humanity and experiential realities), defensive, and objectifying.

    I have a gut-level experientially based thing about the subtle relentless ways that the white cultural self operates to claim and maintain the center — the most-human, the most-real. The white cultural self-defense tactics that can seem (to some) good and polite and smiley and friendly but are actually none of those things, are actually ugly erasures and … I still don’t have the words. Anyway, I feel this as a form of quiet but real violence — right or wrong I feel it like that.

  41. 141
    Ampersand says:

    Nanette, quoting me, wrote:

    Nannette, just for the record, I had kind of thought Jolly was white, but then I thought Nanette was a POC, so clearly my guesswork on this thread is pretty lousy.

    See? This conversation gets more confusing by the minute! People are having their colors changed with alarming frequency. I am a Black woman, so poc for sure.

    I meant to write “but then I thought Michelle was a POC,” but I wrote “Nanette” instead, presumably because my brain had decided that this conversation needed to be even more confusing. Oy.

    As for the rest of your comment, what you say about the use of “lawn jockey” in that context makes sense.

    But I also think the reading that this was an extremely insensitive use of bigoted language to bring up common prejudices against interracial couples, also makes sense.

  42. 142
    Ampersand says:

    And if there is some feeling out there that white people under scrutiny (as perpetrators and people who should take responsibility) is or requires the same thing as white people’s POV at the center, then … well, yuck.

    There’s a big difference between thinking that putting white people under scrutiny will occasionally include autobiographical pieces by white people talking about their own experiences of being white in a racist society, and thinking that it requires it in all instances.

    The idea that white people should never talk about whiteness in an autobiographical fashion, which is where your critique leads, is not useful and merely encourages white people not to talk seriously about racism. I think racism is about white people, just as rape is about men, in the sense that racism is mostly perpetrated by whites. I’ve talked about rape from the male POV for that reason (for example in this post), and I think it’s valid and necessary for whites to talk about racism from a white POV, too.

    To say otherwise — to say that only blacks may talk about racism in autobiography (which by definition centers the author’s POV) — is to unfairly take the burden of opposing racism off of white people, in my opinion.

  43. 143
    Silenced is foo. says:

    @Richard Jeffrey Newman

    I said “relevant” not “important”. The story mostly was about a racist’s person’s reaction, and, shock-and-surprise, racist people don’t care if the black guy has any other characteristics besides race. So, other attributes weren’t relevant. [Needless snark deleted by Amp.]

    We also didn’t hear much about the grandfather’s wife, who was also described as racist. Does this mean that Rachel is sexist? No. It means that her reaction wasn’t as relevant to the story as her grandfather, who is a blood relation and thus it is more destructive to her family if she has a feud with him, so his opinion is more relevant.

  44. Silenced is foo:

    I said “relevant” not “important”.

    And precisely how does this not make michelle’s and jolly’s point?

  45. 145
    nobody.really says:

    This — the relentless perpetrator POV, the way it is there and subtly persistent and continued to persist in the defensive responses to the criticism — this is a big part of what got to me about the story and the responses. Like, in the gut got me.

    I think there is a difference between having white people at the center of the room under serious critical scrutiny, and supporting white people’s POV at the center of the assumed reality of what is going on.

    And if there is some feeling out there that white people under scrutiny (as perpetrators and people who should take responsibility) is or requires the same thing as white people’s POV at the center, then … well, yuck.

    That is ugly nasty stuff, the white cultural POV — endlessly self-referential, aggressively centered on the concerns of the white self like no one else matters, hierarchical and exclusive (ignoring and/or trivializing the existence of other people’s humanity and experiential realities), defensive, and objectifying.

    I have a gut-level experientially based thing about the subtle relentless ways that the white cultural self operates to claim and maintain the center — the most-human, the most-real.

    Again, I think michelle and others make some thoughtful and difficult-to-express points. I can’t help but think of others who have wrestled with the challenge of how to describe the challenges created by a world view to people who share that world view. “[Men's world view] is metaphysically nearly perfect. Its point of view is the standard for point-of-viewlessness, its particularity the meaning of universality, its force is exercised as consent, its authority as participation, its supremacy as the paradigm of order, its control as the definition of legitimacy.” Catharine MacKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: Toward Feminist Jurisprudence,” 8 Signs 635, 638-39 (1983).

    And again, notwithstanding the merits of these points, I don’t share michelle’s dismay. I sense I’m hearing insights about the dearth of stories from a black viewpoint combined with insights about the limits of story-telling in general.

    The fact that stories from a black person’s point of view don’t get enough attention leads me to conclude that black people’s stories should get more attention. It does not lead me to find fault with stories told from other people’s points of view, however flawed and partial their points of view may be. After all, are there any stories that don’t ignore or marginalize someone else’s experience? I’d be interested to hear a few titles. God may mark the fall of every sparrow, but oddly she didn’t include a list of these accounts in any of her published works.

    One white guy’s perspective: To know anything, you must it is necessary to know everything; to say anything, it is necessary to leave most things unsaid. The choice about what to omit is somewhat arbitrary. The need to make a choice is not. I don’t doubt that Rachel S.’s boyfriend would have told a different story than Rachel S. did. And I don’t doubt that his story would have been partial, too, albeit partial in a different way. I appreciate how commentors here can identify a list of subjects that went unsaid and unexplored in Rachel S.’s story. I don’t share the view that there was therefore something “wrong” with the story.

  46. 146
    michelle says:

    The level of active deceit in this discussion overall, coming from white people defending Rachel as oppressed, is appalling and horrifying to me. (I know I should not be so shocked and outraged because this is the way things go in this system, but I am an idiot because it always gets to me).

    Rachel and others are claiming she, a white woman, is a victim of oppression against interracial couples.

    In terms of actual concrete historical and current context: Oppression against interracial couples is a part and product of systemic white supremacy, intersecting with white patriarchy and other systems. It is not some interpersonally-generated independent acontextual ahistorical apolitical different pattern that just happens in families and bounded interactions and blog discussions.

    It has a historical context in things like miscegenation laws (as ONLY ONE EXAMPLE), it is linked strongly into the multi-mode gendered practice of racism against men and women of color, and whatever its mutations over time, it is a piece of white supremacy in intersection with other systems.

    So the way I see it, real genuine honest discussion using the concept of “interracial oppression” would need to include the actual context. And in this case, when we are talking about a white woman claiming she is being oppressed here because she was in a relationship with a Black man, honest context about how the system operates might include realities of how white men have used white women (and how some white women participated in this pattern in various ways) to provide a pretext for lynching Black men on the basis of their claimed violation of pure white womanhood.

    This is just one example, there are so so many other historical/contextual/current pieces that never ever would come up in how the white people here are talking about this thing they name/define as “oppression of interracial couples” because it doesn’t fit the twisted way they are trying to use this pattern to justify … protecting a white woman.

    This is what I see:

    In this discussion, the claim that Rachel is in victim status because she was in an interracial relationship has come only from white people.

    In this discussion, the claim that Rachel is in victim status because she was in an interracial relationship has served specific functions:

    1. It has flipped actual reality upside down and meshed with the white supremacist construction of white womanhood — making Rachel the white woman the “oppressed one” within white supremacy, and an individual who was speaking from the subject position of the Black man in her story a racist oppressor who must be banned.

    2. It has provided justification and rationale for Rachel to be defensive, thus rhetorically turning a pretty typical case of Wounded White Woman Syndrome into a virtuous fight against racism.

    3. It has given another white person, Mandolin, who is a moderator here at this blindingly-white-owned site, the opportunity to use another woman of color’s words about interactions *between people of color* to refer to how someone who is probably a person of color was racist against Rachel, who is white.

    4. It has done a whole whole lot of other things that I don’t have the time or energy to lay out.

    Like I said, the level of active deceit in this whole thing is appalling to me.

    In my view, there is no way to have a real discussion about anything when the active deceit level is so high, when the flow of bullshit is so constant, so relentless, that it is impossible to even name all of it.

    And while my girlfriend tells me that this kind of thing is just normal operating procedure in this shithole of a white/European cultural system, and while I know this cognitively and experientially, it seems I will never ever EVER get less shocked, less disgusted, less outraged by the shamelessness and relentlessness of the deceit.

    I wish there were some kind of accountability to the actual truth, actual reality, independent of what anyone wants to believe. I wish that you white liars who are saying whatever the fuck you can say to protect the poor white woman victim — just because you CAN say it — would be zapped by some truth deity each and every time you engaged in this deceit, each and every time you twist reality to conform to what you want things to be.

    Maybe that would at least tire you out a little and ease the flow of the bullshit. And I would welcome being zapped myself when I am not accountable to the truth.

    But it is not going to happen. Not going to happen, and you all with your rhetoric in this twisted funhouse mirrorworld space have apparently endless energy to keep up this practice of bullshit, and there are a whole lot of you who have been going on and on about this. This is not a real discussion where people are trying to understand something together, it is an energy-sucking pit of white-people-running-lies bullshit. Which I know isn’t rare on the internet — or in this society — but I am an idiot and can’t seem to stop getting shocked and outraged about it.

    I will not be coming back again to this discussion or this site.

  47. 147
    hf says:

    Seriously, go and check out that link. It would make a much more interesting flamewar, if we insist on having one.

  48. 148
    mythago says:

    honest context about how the system operates might include realities of how white men have used white women (and how some white women participated in this pattern in various ways) to provide a pretext for lynching Black men on the basis of their claimed violation of pure white womanhood

    And a discussion of how women are seen as property, and vessels. Here, ‘pure white womanhood’ isn’t really about the woman as a person. It’s about her value to white men.

    I don’t see that race and gender issues cannot exist at the same time in any discussion.

  49. 149
    Sailorman says:

    Aren’t there an enormous number of understandable and acceptable ways to have a conversation? And shouldn’t they be at least somewhat measured by their results?

    I can speak to another man about his sexist act in a variety of ways. i can try to interact with him in a “macho” way; I can try to bring the focus onto the personal experience of the woman he offended; I can do a mix or something entirely different. But in the end, what matters is the RESULT: are he, and I, made “better” with one option than the other? the process is relevant as it affects the result.

    It seems clear that Rachel’s essay probably has some intrinsic cost–it references the boyfriend in a way that some find objectionable. But cost is only one side of the equation. We also need to look at the intrinsic benefit. Is the essay helpful? Would it be more, or less, helpful, if it included all the modifications that some here suggest (or if it wasn’t written at all, as I suspect some would prefer)? Would it still convince some (more, fewer) people to fight racism; to look at new ways to take on their racist family members?

    Doesn’t that matter? A lot? Whites are the main perpetrators of racism; change in whites remains one of the very important ways to affect it. Doesn’t it?