Southern Whites And Our Racist Heritage

Ya know, a comment I just wrote was so darn good, I think I’ll turn it into a post! More on why Obama’s speech was an important one:

Yes, it was an important speech. We southerners especially have endured horrendous situations in each and every family over racial matters, whether we are black or white.

I watched as a child, for my entire childhood, still do for that matter, as my mother and stepfather struggled to overcome the racism and hostility and hatred and ignorance espoused within their own families.

It wasn’t so much “espoused” though; rather, it was simply a way of life. (I could, at this point, insert a picture of my mother as a child, flanked by a retinue of black servants, but it would be too embarrassing for everyone involved.)

But my folks were stronger and wiser than most. To use some old counter-culture verbage (see, it is good for something), they tuned-in in to the times and the messages rumbling around the rather limited cultural sphere they could have just stayed hunkered down in all through the 60’s. 

They chose instead to open their hearts and their minds in every possible way, and to look for a new way and a new path on which to raise their own children.

I admire their bravery and their courage every day of my adult life, as being  “products” of the deep, deeply segregated South, the road to enlightenment for an average white person in the South was also a severe and brutal path, and one that included ostracism and estrangement for their beliefs and convictions from the very people they loved the most.

I think too of stories told within families of the Civil Rights era, such as the one my stepfather tells of how, in the mid-60’s in Columbia, S.C., he approached a well-known, black civil rights organizer he chanced upon in a bus station. As he walked towards this man, he put out his hand so that he, my stepdad, could shake the civil right’s leader’s hand as a way of thanking him for his courageous work in such violent times. The black man flinched and jumped backwards; in South Carolina in the 60’s, a black man was expecting to be beaten by any white person who would approach him.

Thus, I remain grateful for my mother and my stepfather’s foresight and understanding, and a capability for sheer, old-fashioned open-mindedness with which to understand the moral imperative needed of them, and from within them, to overcome what was no less… their entire culture and heritage.

51 comments

  1. juliobarrios says:

    Give me a break. The whole reason he gave the speech was to give himself some political cover for attending a “church” with a pastor that makes Louis Farrakahn look like Gandhi.

    I’m not responsible for what my relatives may or may not have done. A good bit of them were immigrants who were handed Union uniforms as they got off the boat.

    I don’t feel this burden many white liberals seem to be carrying as they stampede to vote for Obama. It appears as if they believe a vote for Barack will exonerate them of the daily guilt they carry for being white. It’s enough to make you feel sorry for Hillary.

    If Obama wants a shot at winning he needs to send Michelle out of the country. I don’t think this country (well at least the swing voters) is going to have the stomach for is a President, and first Lady, who have achieved an enormous amount success and yet still carry massive chips on their shoulders. Hard to shed crocodile tears for a Harvard grad.

  2. Bill Simon says:

    Dang! And here I thought mentioning “race” in this race was racist.

    Where TF are Konop and Rugby and their incessant screaming about anyone daring to mention the political race MIGHT actually be about “race”?

  3. Rogue109 says:

    Bill:

    Don’t worry, Bill. You can’t even make a posting regarding SpaceyG without having it automatically deleted. I’ve tried to post twice on this blog entry and have had both deleted.

  4. Donkey Kong says:

    Great post, Spacy.

    Reminds me of the time four weeks ago during an interview when I was all but charged of being a racist (after all, aren’t all white kids at southern public universities racist?!?!?)

    Interesting thing is, while at the moment I wanted to leap across the table at the gentleman, I found two redeeming aspects about the experience:

    1) He was more likely than not just testing my ability to articulate my thoughts in a stressful and tenuous situation than he was determining whether I am in fact a racist (i.e. you can never prepare for this line of questioning — in fact, I believe its illegal to ask such questions or presume racism, though I’m not certain)

    2) I found my ability to articulately and genuinely respond without a hint of anger encouraging

    That said, I am still very disappointed that the question was brought up. It seems our ability to transcend race in America has plateaued a bit…

  5. boyreporter says:

    Seems like ole julio needs some anger management classes. Look behind that defensiveness, julio, and try to figure out where all the ire (jealous of a Harvard grad to start) comes from.

    The whole race issue in this country is both simple and complex and doesn’t really lend itself to exposition in brief posts. But the topic does get the blood flowing when julio and company think that maybe a black guy might have some smarts and gumption and be able to put smart-ass white folks like him to shame. But wait, there is no shame for folks like julio (judging solely by his posts).

    Now’s a good time to ask again: When are you Soutern Republicans going to apologize for being in a party whose regional success is due to former segregationist Democrats who were too bigotted to stay with the national party?

  6. SpaceyG says:

    What’s plateaued is the typical PP commeteer’s (you aside DK, of course) ability to NOT go hysterical over the concept of someone with a vagina posting far more timely and articulate posts than they could muster-up in a lifetime of trying to do so.

  7. Donkey Kong says:

    Doug,

    Erick is only the front man. The Tanalach conspiracy supports it, and that’s all that matters.

  8. Donkey Kong says:

    “Give me a break. The whole reason he gave the speech was to give himself some political cover for attending a “church” with a pastor that makes Louis Farrakahn look like Gandhi.”

    I lean towards agreeing with you here, julio, but the effect of the speech may be the same, regardless of his motives/true beliefs. And, hopefully, that will push our country in the right direction.

    Just a thought, but would American blacks be so conspiratorial in their views of the government and power if they finally saw that race is not a barrier to the top position, arguably, in the world? This may help.

  9. SpaceyG says:

    Yeah, hugs all around ’cause I really need to go get my nails done. And shop for cute new spring dresses too. As if I hang around in a place like this all day… jeez.

  10. Rogue109 says:

    What’s plateaued is the typical PP commeteer’s (you aside DK, of course) ability to NOT go hysterical over the concept of someone with a vagina posting far more timely and articulate posts than they could muster-up in a lifetime of trying to do so.

    No, SpaceyG, what’s plateaued is you thinking that everyone is racist and sexist.

    Who is the only one who keeps pointing out you are a woman? YOU.

    Who is the only one who throws their family under the bus and says they are racist? YOU.

    Maybe you should get over your gender and race…everyone else already has.

  11. Holly says:

    boyreporter,

    If you’re a Harvard grad, I think you got cheated on your way to “intellectual elightenment open-mindedness.”

    That said, I really enjoyed this post, Spacey, and DK’s comments as well. It’s a hard topic because all of us – no matter where we’re from – experience some sort of preferences. I was told just this week that my accent was a “problem.” (I wish I was making that up.) While that’s not racism, it’s indicative of how all Americans struggle with some sort of acceptance of a different group, no matter how slight.

    I’ve never been asked if I was a racist before, but I think the worst realization that I ever came to was when I was in the classroom. I tended to be more lax on my black students than my white ones. Why? Well, at 21, I thought I was being accepting of their circumstances because clearly they weren’t behaving or performing at the same level as the others because of their background/personal struggle/situation.

    And then I realized that was just as bad as thinking they were intellectually inferior, which they weren’t. I am ashamed of having held that belief. All races are equal and should be treated as such. We’re never going to get past race issues in this country the way we’re tackling the problem now on a national level, and I honestly think Obama’s speech didn’t end up tackling that problem in an effective manner.

  12. John Konop says:

    Donkey Kong and Rogue109

    You guys have many valid points, but I do think the speech did open up the dialogue. And did hit on points I can relate with in my life.

  13. Roy says:

    I think Spacey ‘s brought up a good subject. While things are better, and times have certainly changed since I was a kid, there still is this underlying mistrust between races.
    And Julio, you maybe competely right regarding the reasons Obama gave the speech, I don’t know, but I myself think he should disassociate himself from Wright because of the remarks, I think alot of people do. But the sad fact is racism still does exist, not to the degree it did years ago, (thank God!) but I still see and hear it. And it should be our ferverent hope one day most everyone could care less about someone’s race, religion, ethnicity, personal life, whatever, and see them for the qualities that make us all human beings.
    Spacey, I remember a sermon at St. Phillip’s years back, (maybe Dean Candler) the dean of the cathedral challenged us all to look inside of everyone we came across that week and see God. That should be something our whole planet should try sometime.

  14. Donkey Kong says:

    John,

    I think you misread my post. Sorry if it was a bit confusing. I think the speech was useful regardless of Obama’s motives. It was helpful in and of itself, even if Obama’s motives were purely political. I think its a great issue to be debating on a national level.

  15. Rogue109 says:

    You guys have many valid points, but I do think the speech did open up the dialogue. And did hit on points I can relate with in my life.

    John Konop: Fair enough. If his speech did help you in some way, then that’s A-OK with me.

  16. Rogue109 says:

    SpaceyG is female?

    Evidently so, ProfG. She makes it a point to bring that up with every one of her tantalizing blog entries where someone dares to disagree with her. Indeed, in her mind, the merest hint of disagreement with her is the surest sign of sexism and she wraps herself in that position rather than actually debate ideas and beliefs.

    Her way of thinking seeks to ridicule those who criticize her by accusing them of various misdeeds and unenlightened thinking when the true sexist is the one she gazes upon in a mirror. And whenever she meets an idea that is in contradiction to her view, she cannot conceive of a credible manner by which to reply other than to cry the piteous tone of a woman under siege by an allegedly cruel world which seeks to silence her not for her beliefs, but her gender.

    In truth, no one here cares about her gender but her. It’s her beliefs and philosophy that some like me take issue with. Unfortunately, she prefers to wallow in self-pity and the incorrect belief that some would dare to disagree with her because she a female when, in truth, some disagree with her only because they feel she is wrong.

    It is truly a shame, because over the last few weeks she has had some interesting posts but then she unleashes topics like this one…

    (Side note: has anyone else noticed that the blog comments are still on EST rather than EDT with the time stamp?)

  17. juliobarrios says:

    “When are you Soutern Republicans going to apologize for being in a party whose regional success is due to former segregationist Democrats who were too bigotted to stay with the national party?”

    It seems as if the Dems are always trying to box people into classes. I’m not a racist and prefer to judge people by their actions, intellect and personality. As a Republican I don’t feel any need to apologize over what other Republicans and Democrats may or may not have done in the past. On some level aren’t the biggots the ones who rush to stereotypically define other groups as biggots? I suppose that was an area Obama got correct in his speech.

    No jealously towards Harvard. I have a great deal of admiration for the folks who graduate from there. It just seems as if the Obamas have chips on their shoulders and I’m trying to figure out how they’ve been screwed by America.

    Seems as if a middle class kid from Kansas graduates from Harvard his wife ought to be proud of her country for that moment.

    Boortz had a great rant about this topic in the morning. His message was that each of us has relatives that have gotten a raw deal somewhere down the line.

    At some point you’ve got to let go. If you’re a high powered attorney making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, your husband a former law professor at University of Chicago and a current US Senator; at some point can’t you say, “Hey this country really hasn’t been so bad to us.”

  18. Doug Deal says:

    julio,

    At some point you’ve got to let go. If you’re a high powered attorney making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, your husband a former law professor at University of Chicago and a current US Senator; at some point can’t you say, “Hey this country really hasn’t been so bad to us.”

    “Not this time”.

  19. boyreporter says:

    Holly: Huh?

    Julio: Referring to Neal Boortz to bolster your argument tells me all I need to know, but if you think the black experience — okay, experiences — in this country are like those of white folks, all the lessons of history have been lost on you. But, then…Neal Boortz…I rest my case.

  20. juliobarrios says:

    boyreporter-

    I know, I know I’m a white guy and will never know how tough it is to be black. Are their racists still out there – sure, but why not ignore the idiots and more on.

    The overall country just isn’t that racist anymore. One need not look any further then the Obama’s for that evidence.

    It might surprise you to know there are white people out there who have had even more difficult experiences than black folks.

    For a guy that seems somewhat sanctimonious you tend to be very biggoted. Yes I listen to Neil Boortz, but you ought not try to so hard to define people into groups and categories.

  21. boyreporter says:

    Oh, and Julio, you don’t have to claim responsibility for others’ racist pasts in order to sign on with the larger group, but it tells one whose company you are comfy with.

  22. dorian says:

    Telling people not to think about race just makes them think about race more. Try not to think of an orange. Also, Obama’s black heritage doesn’t bother me nearly as much as his islamic heritage. But it isn’t politically correct to dislike them either. I mean just because muslims perpetrate 100% of the terrorism doesn’t mean 100% of the terrorists are muslim, right? Also, I’m wondering what a “christian” church is doing honoring someone from the nation of islam? Funny, I don’t remember Jesus preaching hate in the bible. I do remember Muhammed cutting off the head of infidels in the Koran. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Isn’t that what we are supposed to say now? But, I guess it is our fault, because of the crusades and all since each and every one of us is responsible for that.

    I’m going to eat some bbq pork and think about this a while. One thing about being a redneck hick, we have really good food.

  23. Bill Simon says:

    Rogue: LMAO

    John Konop: Where is YOUR outrage about Obama playing the verboten “race card?”

    Oh dear…I fear I may have just earned another rebuke from Rugby and Konop about how “racist” I am for observing that Obama might be black.

  24. Bill Simon says:

    Spacey,

    Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.

    Beyond that, it’s certainly fascinating how you seem quite obsessed with your own vagina. Why don’t you try to go knock Hollis Gillespie off at Creative Loafing so you can become “Ms. Vagina” of The Loaf?

  25. boyreporter says:

    Julio wrote: “It might surprise you to know there are white people out there who have had even more difficult experiences than black folks.”

    Say what? What’s another word for myopia?

  26. Bill Simon says:

    John,

    Ohhhhhhh…so, you still think what I said was “racist.”

    I advise you to get better educated on the subject rather than falling prey to the politically-correct crowd on what is “racist” and what is not.

    Go on Wikipedia and look-up the names of George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and J.B. Stoner.

  27. Rogue109 says:

    Well, all in all, I think we’ve made a lot of headway with this blog entry from SpaceyG. What have we established and resolved? Just to name a few things:

    1. SpaceyG is a human female who comes from a bigoted family.

    2. John Konop and Bill Simon aren’t going to kill each other.

    3. Boyreporter has successfully identified the “Word Of The Day”: myopia.

  28. Rogue109 says:

    Bill:

    If that were the case, we’d have to get her on “Coast To Coast AM” with George Noory tonight! Big ratings would, no doubt, be the result…

  29. Dave Bearse says:

    Dorian:

    I’m at a loss as to how muslims perpetrated the terrorists acts of Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph, Ted Kaczynski et al, even though they weren’t muslim?

  30. bowersville says:

    “SOUTHERN WHITES AND OUR RACIST HERITAGE”

    Another attempt by a liberal to put all southern whites on a guilt trip by lumping all of us into one collective stereotype.

    “We southerners especially have endured horrendous situations in each and every family over racial matters….”

    By your own words your family appears to be bigoted and racist. You do not reflect my family history and values. So own up to your own family bigotry and don’t even try to speak for me.

    I’m not buying into your guilt trip.

  31. Rogue109 says:

    bowersville:

    You have taken issue with the great SpaceyG! By doing so you are now 100% sexist and racist, regardless of your gender and race.

  32. SpaceyG says:

    Seems I slept through yet another tornado. Now that I’m awake, I really should be rehearsing that Helen Reddy “I Am WOOOOOOOOOMAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” number I’ve got planned for Peach Pundit Idol.

  33. Donkey Kong says:

    Hmmm…

    boyreporter, the problems in the black community in America are certainly pronounced, but I think it has as more to do with their socio-economic plight than race. Here are my thoughts, take it for what its worth. I’m very busy so I’m writing this freestyle and won’t be editing…i hope it makes sense.

    in general, the overwhelming majority of poor people i know and have talked to (of all skin color) see something fundamentally different about the very rich from themselves. somehow they are just different people and what made rich people rich is they got their breaks, not that they learned the skills and character traits necessary to succeed. this belief provides a disincentive to learn new skills and disciplines in order to succeed, because to them leaders are born, not made; rich people were born rich, and those that weren’t, were born ambitious and brilliant. as a result, they are disincentivized to push hard for their own personal development as needed to thrive in our rapidly changing world. this, IMO, is the #1 reason why poor people stay poor.

    blacks are far, far more likely to buy into this belief because the rich people are not just rich and seemingly fundamentally different than they are, they even look different. it makes it this much harder for blacks in poor areas to realize they are no different, fundamentally, than the rich and successful people up the street.

    black people in the “ghetto” don’t expect to leave. that is the only life they know. they are taught as a kid conflicting ideas — you are just as good as the white man, but we can’t compete with the white man. the negative part of this belief is taught not by words but by actions. by these parents failure to engage culture on an intellectual and material level. don’t get me wrong — i understand many of these people are just trying to get by. but i must wonder, if all blacks were raised as clarence thomas was by his grandfather, would our divide between rich and poor still have such a clear racial parallel.

    some view the solution as more government. clearly this alternative has failed. more government creates more reliance. greater reliance only exacerbates the problem, as the very problem itself is the view that fundamentally the poor are different from the rich. government programs tell those who adhere to this view — YOU ARE RIGHT: POOR PEOPLE ARE SO FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE RICH THAT THEY CAN’T MAKE IT ON THEIR OWN, that they must have the support of others. In general, I oppose the size and extent of our welfare for this reason — it not only fails to address what IMO is the greatest reason for poverty, it exacerbates it.

  34. Rogue109 says:

    Now that I’m awake, I really should be rehearsing that Helen Reddy “I Am WOOOOOOOOOMAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” number I’ve got planned for Peach Pundit Idol.

    Wait, SpaceyG. You’re a WOMAN? Why haven’t you mentioned this before?

  35. John Konop says:

    Donkey Kong,

    I would add Billary demonstrated their plantation mentality with their race baiting campaign they ran against Obama. I disagree with Obama on many issues, but I give him credit for his Bill Cosby style tough love speeches to the black community. People like Billary and Spacey feel more comfortable throwing scrapes out of guilt than focusing on creating equal opportunity for all. Our constitution does not guarantee results only opportunity, and when the government passes legislation that attempts to equalizing results instead of opportunity that only creates more problems and resentment among people, which fuels this issue.

    Very good post!

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