A Problem of Race And Ethnicity

In response to this, an essayist wrote this:

Then the student called me a racist. He claimed I was picking on him because he was Latino, and that I wouldn’t be pulling him out of the class if he were White. . . . Was the student race baiting? You bet he was. He was making specious and unsupported claims of racial victimization in order to distract from his own obnoxious behavior.

. . . Just to be clear about the program.  These kids all come in for a one off session and there is rarely if ever any repeats.  I had never met the student in question before that day, nor had I had ever spoken to or about him before the incident.  This is a voluntary program for the students and I do not take attendence, so there was no reason to even say his name.   To my knowledge and belief, there was absolutely no reason for the student to make the claim he did other than for the reasons I’ve already stated.  End of story.

End of story indeed. For Night Owl, this Latino student’s experience PRIOR to attending his class DID NOT EXIST. The racism and bigotry that permeates our culture and our country DID NOT EXIST. The feelings this Latino student had about his own experience outside of that classroom prior to meeting NIght Owl DID NOT EXIST.

GET OVER IT is Night Owl’s advice. ‘Why do we need to consider the racism and bigotry of our culture and nation? I am not a racist. I am not a bigot. Sure I am white. But I am not a racist. I am not a bigot.’

This sounds like nothing more than someone sayng “I did not own slaves.” Why should I pay for it? Most of us are familiar with this line of thinking. It is what is used to oppose affiramtive action, civil rights laws, indeed most every program designed to address the race issue.

A lot of people believe that the problems of race are attended one by one, individually. On one level, this is true. But the notion that the institutional, cultural and national racism and bigotry of our country can be washed away without addressing what racism and bigtory have done to our current situation, that we can walk into a situation with a clean slate, is ludicrous to me. It is equivalent to saying you do not want to do anything about it.

It is not possible imo to remedy and address racism, sexism and bigotry even we do not face up to the hard truths about oursleves, our cultures, our society, our Nation. We can not pretend what has happened did not happen. We can not pretend we do not live in a racist, sexist, bigoted country.

Just as Night Owl should not have pretended that the Latino studet’s life started when he walked into that class, no one can pretend that we as a People in this country can pretend that slavery did not occur, that peoples were NOT subjugated, that Jim Crow, redlining, segregation, etc did NOT happen. That people are not out there argung TODAY that non-whites are less intelligent than whites.

It is true that Republicans, racialists and some idealists want to pretend the past did not happen. But it did. And it causes a lot of things to happen today.

It is my opinion that attitudes like the one expressed by Night Owl are extremely harmful to fighting against racism and bigotry. And while I am sure Night Owl is no racist, his attitudes lead to aid and comfort to racists and RACISM.

It is why I will continue to fight against those attitudes. I think it is important to have that fight.


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    • Armando on November 30, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    I am sorry Night Owl is leaving. But if the reason is because I have expressed my views about his attitudes on race, I have no regrets.

    I will not pull punches to spare anyone’s feelings. I have made my arguments based on the facts, what people have written and my own analysis.

    No one need agree but I am certainly entitled to express my views. And there certainly has not been anyone shy about criticizing me.

    My one objection to what was written about me involved a smearing sig line that dishonestly did not include weha was said to me by Night Owl. He called me a racist and a racebaiter. He, to date, has not retracted those charges.

    I also moved comments that wer hijacking a thread to the proper thread where bashing of me was ON TOPIC.

    I know that many are now embarrassed about the attitudes they demonstrated on race. To cover this embarrassment, they want to make this about me.

    I will not go along with that.

    The issue remains race, racism and bigotry in this Nation and among progressives.

    “Armando is a meanie” is not a response to the issues posed.  

  1. living in a position where so many others find you less than it tends to affect everything.  It tints our personal reality, particularly whenever we feel stress of some kind.  It is okay to reassure those around us who have been harmed that we are not of the “harming class”.  The harm exists, it must be addressed over and over again and people are worth it.

  2. that people dedicated to confronting racism ( not you specifically) will tell me to “get over it” when sexism is raised and tell me I am being “too sensitive” whatever the *&^%$ that means. I am always confused when folks don’t see that the assumption of superiority that guides racist statements guides sexist statements as well.

    I am perfectly willing to admit that as a white woman I am accorded certain privileges others aren’t.  

    • Edger on November 30, 2007 at 4:22 pm
    • pfiore8 on November 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    without them finding faith; maybe they say they believe in God, but where’s the reality of their own way there? people need to see their prejudice and see it’s real effects on other human beings in order to be converted. it has to be more than a mandate. it has to be a personal revelation.

    let’s use the words bias and prejudice instead of race or ethnicity or the other isms… people also have a bias against “fat” people. a zillion reasons for bias.

    Second, I agree with Night Owl’s premise in his example. I don’t think the “get over it” is the right way to illuminate the issue. But, imho, it’s not different than you telling people they are ignorant idiots for their views.

    Neither way works to lead to a better outcome.

    Because you, Armando, have no tolerance and i would say a big and in-your face prejudice and bias for what you think to be stupidity or ignorance in others. And, witnessed by the fallout from these last few days, that prejudice is just as harmful as any other.

    That is why, again imo, issues like racism need to be addressed personally and not as some big overarching societal thing. it all starts with us. the only way to undo these limitations is person-to-person. because most times, it seems to me, when we talk about bias or prejudice, it’s the others doing the damage. and we never realize our own part in this harm.

    it is also why gov’t has little impact. it can legislate the release of all slaves in 1865. but the worst impact to those freed was coming north, thinking they would be welcomed but were treated even worse. or forcing segregation… it didn’t really work because look at the efforts by those southern christians to be able to get vouchers for their kids and look at the really poor school districts… blah blah blah

    it has to happen in us… that these things are not good enough for our fellow americans. we need to franchise all people as AMERICANS…

    so maybe it’s time to take a look at your own prejudices and see the impact. then let’s talk some more.

    • documel on November 30, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Wow–we have a mini Ireland here, or Palestine, or India, or Serbia, or…  Once bigotry gains power, it doesn’t recede quickly–or ever.  The chip on the shoulder of the oppressed is tinged with fear and hatred of the oppressor; the air of superiority befouls the environment semi-permanantly (probably just permanantly).  

    My son has the only solution that I believe can work–pardon his French–“fuck ’em all.”  By this, he means we should foster inter-racial unions–blur the distinctions–have the Catholic marry the Protestant–the Black with the White–the Hindu with the Muslim, etc.

    The problem with this final solution is it doesn’t recognize that men are beasts.  They’ll always find reason to hate–always find distinctions.  Even here, the proudly left blogoshere, we over-react to unintentional pain.  Those old enough to have endured Vietnam remeber how the war dragged on because they couldn’t agree to a shape for the negotiating table.  

    Since bigotry is irrational, discussions of it become emotional and painful.  Many different sides to this rantfest are correct–and provocateurs are right and wrong.  Best solution would be for the participants to shack up for the weekend–who knows, my son might be right—for a change.

    • oculus on November 30, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I have a couple questions:

    Is the problem (1) Owl’s action in removing the disruptive sturdent from the test area, NO’s refusal to let the student resume taking the test, or (2) Night Owl’s statements here that Night Owl doesn’t take the student’s Latino heritage into ?  

    Query:  what would those here who are focused on the last element suggest a teacher do in this particular situation?

  3. …now it all starts to make sense (from someone who hasn’t the heart to read thousands of words from the last few days). Thanks Armando for the summary.

    I think basically everything you said in this essay is true. But I also think it misses something important, in that being marginalized fucks you up. Makes you crazy.
    Breaks your heart. So when someone says “could you please pick up that pencil” the response is “fuck you”. I agree with the observations about history and implicit priviledge, but in the end it’s always a real person right there.

    And when someone who has been driven over the freakin’ edge of “proper” behavior by their lives steps outside the bounds, there is no one specific response (re NL’s other diary on this topic, which I just read) which will suffice. Because everyone, everyone, has to learn to manage the chip on their own shoulder. And if one is a decent human being, one will help them do that — right then, as a person. By being present. By being clear about where one is acting as a representative of an organization or a set of rules, and where one is acting as a human being.

    Maybe this is just an angry tranny thing — I see people destroyed by their anger, their just, earned, suffered for anger. So that’s the issue that shouts to me, reading this, as much as the specifics of racism (though I agree with Armando, here). As things go further to hell, we are _all_ going to be increasingly on the outside, looking in. Misery and rage will catch in all our throats. And then what do we do with it? How do we treat each other? Ourselves?


    • scribe on December 1, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    After being fairly convinced, for some time now, that time spent on ANY blog was no longer a good use of my time and/or energy, and slowly detatching myself from blogsville..I check in here..and was caught like a big mouth bass, swallowed up  in this entire discussion.  

    My first cynical reaction was…”Well what else is new? Anywhere Armando writes, it ALWAYS  ends up being about…”ARMANDO! !”, and almost stopped reading early on.

    Then I saw the work NL has done here..and others, and how it wasn’t allowed to all just go KaBOOM!, followed by a mass exodus of frustrated bloggers, or at least a drawing of battle lines and alligiences which, of course,people would need to maintain for freakin ever..la de da de da..etc.

    So, here I sit, my Saturday morning plans forgotton, almost frozen in a seated position, because I was too fascinated by this discussion to even MOVE!

    NL..geeze! Way ta GO, pal!!!! Wow. To you and to EVERYONE who has hung in there, (yes, even Armando :), I just want to say thank you, for helping me further explore my own innards on these complex and difficult issues that I, too, continue to struggle with daily.

    Together, people really CAN get “better”. Yes, it is damned hard work.

    You all gave me a much needed dose of hope for us all.  

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