No, No, No...What Do You Want From US?

...Seriously, what do you want from us? It seems that you’ll always be dissatisfied. I know that I’m using a variation of what the Unapologetic Mexican calls the insatiable martyr wite-magik attack. Still, since we will always be wrong if we don’t do as you wish, tell us what you want. You say that you simply want us to listen to you and acknowledge all of our unearned privileges and flaws. I cannot help but suspect that you want far more than that.
...you seem to be another complainer who beileves[sic] if it were not for the presence of whites, the world would be a swell place.
It's sad that even when WP try to be friends with POC we end up making them feel more alienated. It sounds like just being around us is a no win situation for everyone. It seems like those girls had good intentions but nonetheless contributed to your desire to withdraw to more familiar surroundings. I wonder if there is a way for white people to behave that would be considered acceptable by POC, or if just being white and human at the same time produces a negative effect no matter what.*
"What do you want from us?"

Funny...I was just going to ask you the same damn thing.

How many times have I seen this question from white commenters on POC/social justice blogs?  Here's a hint: I've stopped counting.

One, this is ridiculously self-indulgent.  It puts white people people on the "giving" pedestal; i.e., What do you want?  What do you want us to give you No, you can't have that.  No, not yet.  It's too soon for you.  We don't think you need that.  We think you need this instead.  We think you need that.  You don't know what you're asking for.

Uh...seriously?  Black Americans recall their parents' generation hearing something similar during the whole Civil Rights Era.  My parents' generation, and several ones before them, recall being told something similar by the British, French, German, Dutch, and Portuguese.  Young whites have absolutely no clue how narcissistically racist they sound when they go onto a POC's blog of their own volition (or in the case of SWPD, go onto a blog entitled friggin' Stuff White People Do) and write this bullshit.  Seriously?  I often liken a blog to a maison.  What type of person goes into another person's maison (a complete stranger's, no less!) and asks that idiotic-ass question?

Heaven forbid you point it out, though...'cause then you're "just being mean" and calling them a racist (or a drapto) to dismiss and discredit everything they say.  It has absolutely nothing to do with their own behavior or decision-making skills.  Their racism is your fault and you'll have to pry admission of accountability from their cold, dead fingers.

And two, this is a classic case of white people asking the wrong questions during racial discussions.  *shakes head*  Typical, typical, typical.  You know...questions like, "Why do you hate us?" instead of "What's it like to experience such and such?"  Or questions like, "Why can't I say nigga?" instead of "What does it feel like to hear non-black people say that word?"

You know...they want to stick to the self-serving questions.  Ego-stroking questions.  Self-victimizing-but-in-a-glamorous-way questions.  Because that's their whole purpose for coming on POC blogs (or emailing POC personally) - not to "learn" or "understand" anything about someone else, but to serve themselves - a similar approach to the one used in creating white guilt fantasy flicks (not-so-coincidentally, mind you).  So whenever I read this question from a white commenter or reject it in my comment moderation queue, my first thought is, "Uh...no, no, no, no, no - what do you want from us?"

I mean, shit...you came to talk to me.  You could have gone to any other blog in the 'sphere, but oh, no...you came to chat with me.  So...what do you want from me?

Be honest when you answer that, now!
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*This last sentence will be discussed further in a later posted...stay tuned.

Comments

  1. Right!

    I think what they mostly want is for you to make them feel better.

    Me? I want you to keep being so insightful and original. I don't THINK it's merely or mostly because that would make me feel better. It's so I can keep listening.

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  2. I think what they mostly want is for you to make them feel better.

    So you theorize that this line of questioning stems from genuine insecurity, rather than clueless arrogance?

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  3. I don't know... I kind of think it has a lot to do with clueless arrogance. It just reminds me of a toddler having a tantrum. The toddler feels totally justified in his or her rage and they're totally unable to see reality for what it is in the moment.

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  4. The first commenter...definitely. The second two got a bit of whine going on as well.

    *shakes head*

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  5. Here is one answer:

    What Should White People Do?
    by Linda Alcoff

    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/alcoffwhitepeople.html

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  6. I have the same feeling about this as I do about American politics - and of course the two are related. As a progressive, because the status quo is SO far from what I want, I have much to complain about. But then something like the HC Bill comes along, which even the allegedly super-liberal Dennis Kucinich signed onto, and that's not good enough (and it wasn't - fuck that HC bill).

    But I think...what would a world of a progressive's making even look like? Could we ever be satisfied, or with each gain will we notice something else that's wrong? It's easy not to consider it now because we're so far from that reality, but we wouldn't even be fighting if we didn't think such a world were possible. But what the hell would it look like?

    Same thing with white people and racism and privilege and all their other nonsense. Let's say they were to authentically emulate the work of Tim Wise on a massive scale, or to take Alcoff's words as their life's guidelines. Wouldn't we just discover some new way that they were being condescending or guilty?

    The question of "what do you want from us?" is a stupid one for all the reasons you mention, Moi, but maybe we POCs should be asking ourselves this question? What is it that we want from them? Because clearly we want much - and justifiably so.

    Or maybe the real question is: Is there any conceivable way that white people can redeem themselves? Is what Macon is doing on SWPD enough? Can we count him amongst the honorary "good white people" now? What, really, would it take?

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  7. @ Godheval,

    IMO we don't want anything from them, i.e., nothing that they can "give" to us. We want WP to act like decent human beings - respect physical and verbal boundaries, not use hipster racism, not invade/bomb other nations, and not feel entitled to the resources in other lands.

    Ironically, in many ways...we want them to leave us alone.

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  8. OMG you POC will always be dissatisfied. You mean we all aren't equal yet? I know that I!11!!! don't see colour. I treat eeeeveryone equally so whyyyy are you being so aggressive? The White man's burden just never ends does it? baaaaawwww

    Oh God, that physically hurt to type. The entitlement just burns.

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  9. But that's just it - a lot of them (the liberals, mainly) see themselves and their guilt and their "fighting for the cause" as being decent human beings, but in the process they're being condescending and even more of a problem because their racism is concealed by their ostensibly "good faith" efforts.

    So then, as you say, maybe they should just leave us alone. But they can no more do that than deny their privilege. As long as they are the ones dictating public policy, running the corporations, writing (or re-writing) history, running the schools, controlling the wealth, and so on...they are interfering in our lives.

    So we expect them to acknowledge that role as the dominant group and to handle their power and privilege with grace and compassion. But the way to do that is so immensely complicated, even for some POCs to understand (I'm speaking of myself here and my path to understanding the depths of racism) that I wonder if it's even possible for people who have never known anything other than privilege to understand it, or to act appropriately.

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  10. But that's just it - a lot of them (the liberals, mainly) see themselves and their guilt and their "fighting for the cause" as being decent human beings, but in the process they're being condescending and even more of a problem because their racism is concealed by their ostensibly "good faith" efforts

    That's because they don't feel guilty and being decent human beings has absolutely nothing to do with their agenda.

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  11. Oh you don't have to tell me of the epic failure of white liberalism. Even Malcolm was talking about that shit back in the 60s, and I'm sure many others before him. That's well established.

    But the question still remains - what is it that we expect of them? For reasons that I've already explained, "leaving us alone" isn't possible - so there is something they must do.

    I think that Alcoff (in that article, if you get around to it) has the right ideas, but the trouble is in decompressing all that high academic language into a simpler formula that regular white people can follow.

    Where are white people to find those guidelines? Wanting to be a decent human being should provide the incentive (why), but the "what" and the "how" are more difficult.

    So that I'm clear, I do not in ANY way intend to be an apologist for white people. My reasons for asking this question are entirely selfish.

    Everyday I have the thought "I fucking HATE white people" - and it's not just something that I shrug off as part of my daily routine. It creates a psychic burden for me, it makes me angry EVERY day, and I am TIRED.

    I want white people to get it right so I can stop spending so much of my energy hating them. And for the reasons I stated - about their power and control and mass-proliferation, I can no more just ignore them than stop breathing.

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  12. It amuses me how hard white people find it to treat POC humanely. Yet they insist that negative media portrayals of POC don't matter but where else do they learn in mass that we are inhuman.

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  13. "My reasons for asking this question are entirely selfish."

    Well, for one...thanks for the honesty.

    "Everyday I have the thought "I fucking HATE white people" - and it's not just something that I shrug off as part of my daily routine. It creates a psychic burden for me, it makes me angry EVERY day, and I am TIRED."

    As is to be expected.

    "I want white people to get it right so I can stop spending so much of my energy hating them. And for the reasons I stated - about their power and control and mass-proliferation, I can no more just ignore them than stop breathing."

    You are inspiring me to write a post about "Colorful Flight." If you're confused about that term...I'll explain later.

    I'm going take a clinical approach here, 'cause...that's just what I do.

    1) One of the first things I tell my clients is always to remember this basic truth: you cannot control other people's behavior. Because of this, you are not responsible for it. Whenever you get intensely angry about white people not behaving like functional, decent human beings, you actually harm yourself - not them.

    2) Detachment in all things, cheri. There are days when I find myself wondering how [some] white have managed to survive as long as they have, even with privilege. Like how they even tied their own shoelaces that morning. But then I have to remember, "That's them...not me." Getting worked up (as much as I think you might) about what other people do - by the way - is what got white people into so much trouble to begin with.

    3) To an extent, you can ignore white people - at least the toxic ones. You don't have to see white films, you don't have to marry into a white family, you don't have to live in a predominantly white city or go to a predominantly white school. You don't have to watch white shows or educate/associate excessively with your white acquaintances - you don't have to, and if it's wearing you out then simply don't.

    4) Never tolerate racism (which I don't think you do). Call it out. Make it clear you will dump your white significant other or stop speaking to your white friends if they try to gloss over/ignore/downplay/resign and embrace any racist issue.

    I'll shut up now.

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  14. It amuses me how hard white people find it to treat POC humanely.

    I find it more astounding than I do amusing, but I can see where you're coming from.

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  15. Part of the reason I don't just ignore it, is because I have this sense of justice - I can't just let them "get away with it" - which is what you're talking about in your fourth point. But it's like no matter how much I scream, I'm never heard. Yet I'm not about to stop screaming.

    I guess what you're saying, though, is that I should call it out without burdening myself. I haven't figured out how to do that, yet. I imagine at some point I'll just give up from being too tired of screaming.

    In the meantime, I play video games...

    ...only to find privilege manifest in the absence of protagonists of colors and gross misrepresentation of the extras that do appear...

    And the cycle begins again, because I can't ignore it, even in that to which I turn FOR escapism! Agggh.

    I'm done ranting.

    So...Colorful Flight?

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  16. Colorful Flight: when it is people of color - not whites - who feel driven to flee schools, neighborhoods, cities, etc.

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  17. ...I wanna flee the PLANET sometimes.

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  18. Why? WP are already a global minority and the majority of them aren't clueless white Americans.

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