So, been a while since we’ve talked about Halstead. This, frankly is a good thing. He’s left polytheists alone and ceased trying to kick us out. So bygones can…well, be gone.
So the Article I’m looking at to day doesn’t have that much to with Halstead the man. But he’s making an argument I’ve been hearing a lot lately and frankly, it’s a good opportunity to have this out. Namely that the previously held solution to ending racism isn’t any good (i.e. we see people for their deeds rather than their skin color and basically be “color blind”) and instead we need a new meathod which is all about…judging people by their skin color.
So…basically, in order to end racism, we have to become racists.
I bring you Halstead’s Bursting the White Bubble of Colorblindness
Bellona’s tits it’s gonna be one of those….
The White Bubble
My entire life, I have lived in a bubble — a bubble of white privilege.
Where did I put those headache pills….
My first encounter with the issue of race was in the second grade in Louisville, Kentcky. I went to school in a predominately white elementary school. My teacher, Mrs. Smith, was Black, though. I remember her teaching about Black history during Black History Month. One day, as we lined up to go to recess, one of my classmates cut in front of me, and I called him the N-word. This was completely out of character for me. Ironically, I think I had learned the word from Mrs. Smith. The whole class, including Ms. Smith, heard me, and I knew I had done something very bad. I didn’t get in much trouble though, because the other kid was white. Clearly something had been lost on me.
You don’t say.
I will note the irony, here. Kid learns racial slurs in a class about the history of racism. So in focusing on race…Halstead was taught language of racism. I have the feeling this is just going to be a continuing irony here.
My best friend at the time was Mrs. Smith’s son, Terrance. He was also in my Cub Scout den. My mother would later tell people that I didn’t know that Terrance was Black. She told and retold this story with a great deal of pride. You see, I grew up at a time (this was 1982) when the ideal was to be “colorblind”. Of course, I knew Terrance had dark skin, but I really didn’t know what that meant for him. I was taught that we should be “colorblind”, which meant treating Black people like everyone else, and that being “colorblind” made me a good person.
Well, yes, yes it does. Or did, as the case may be. I mean, you judged him as a person, by his deeds and he was your best friend. And yes, color blindness was a big thing in the 80’s and 90’s. Of course your mother was proud and shared that story. She was probably a good, progressively minded person proud that her son was engaging in the politically correct behavior of not being a racist.
Of course, do you know where we got the idea of Colorblindness? Why, Martin Luther King Jr. A black man, who said we shouldn’t judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their hearts. But apparently, listening to the leading voice of civil rights and mending race relations is a terrible idea.
Sorry MLK, ‘fraid it’s the dust bin for your dreams.
The next year, in third grade, I was “bussed” to another school — a predominately Black school — as part of an attempt to integrate the school system. Parents of white children who were transferred to the Black school were mollified by the fact that their children were going to be participating in a gifted program — which was considered a privilege. So I rode a bus full of Black kids to a school full of Black kids and then went to class in a classroom with all white kids. So much for integration.
Throughout all this, I continued to hold to the ideal of colorblindness. What this meant was that, whenever a Black person passed through my white bubble, I would make an effort treat them like a white person. Each time I did this, I felt a certain amount of pride — as if I had done something exceptional, as if treating people equally were not the default, as if I had somehow done the Black person a favor by treating them like a human being.
First off, you treated them like you would a white person. Interesting choice of words. But hey, you were treating them as your equal (even if your words hint you didn’t think of them as your equal). And honestly, if as a kid Halstead felt this way…I can really only blame his parents for this “top down” view of equality. But whatever, Halstead treated black kids the way he treated white kids…sounds like equality to me.
But I will note the rather racist tone here. “white bubble,” “like a white person” “did them a favor.” Yeah….
I went to a high school in southern Indiana which had one Black kid among 500 students — and we all felt very proud of ourselves for treating our token Black student well. I then went to Brigham Young University, which is about as white as you can get, racial justice just was not a part of my post-secondary education. I continued to believe that I was colorblind and that the remaining work of racial justice was about getting other people to learn colorblindness too.
There’s a lovely photo floating somewhere around of a bunch of college kids giving an award to two of their fellow students simply for being black. It’s about as cringy as it sounds.
A Vicious Cycle
And then I moved to northwest Indiana — which is a highly segregated place. I live less than 15 miles from Gary, Indiana, which is now predominately Black, but my town is predominately white. Actually I live right on the border of two school districts. One street over is another school district, which sits between my town and Gary. The houses on both sides of the street are identical. Anyone driving through would assume we are part of the same neighborhood. And yet on one side of the street, there live lots of Black people, and on my side there are virtually none.
I really started to think about this odd arrangement when I recently heard that a school in Gary had been chronically without heat. Classes were frequently cancelled due to the heating conditions, and even when the school was open, students were wearing their coats, hats, and gloves to classes. Interestingly, the school in question was actually opened in 1923 to house Blacks, so they couldn’t integrate the city’s white schools. And this was not the only school in the city that had to close due to heating problems. I was appalled by this situation and struck by the fact that this would never happen in my kids’ school district. Why is that? I wondered.
I’m sure you’re going to come up with some racially charged reason aren’t you?
The answer is: systemic racism.
Why do my kids never have to wear their winter coats to class? Because they always have heat in their school. Why do they always have heat? Because I live in a wealthier school district. Why do I live in a wealthier school district? Because we pay more property taxes. Why do we pay more property taxes? Because our houses are nicer. Why are our houses nicer? Because we can afford to live in nicer houses. Why can we afford to live in nicer houses? Because we have better paying jobs. Why do we have better paying jobs? Because we got more vocational opportunities. Why did we get better vocational opportunities? Because we got better educations where we didn’t have to worry about the heat going out.
And that has what to do with systems or race?
So, because the school with heat is in a wealthier district that pays more taxes (and thus has more money for maintenance), this is some how…racism? Or because Halstead has a nicer house this is…systemic racism? Okay, so a poor school in a poor district which can’t tax as much has problems paying it’s bills, that’s just economics, that has nothing to do with racism. But there’s pleanty of white majority school districts out there with the same problem.
Actually, no, no circle. Stating that because someone’s school is in poor repair means they have no chance is bullshit. Heck, we’ve had presidents were homeschooled in log cabins. Countless “Self made men” literally started as beggars on the street as children. Truthfully, the climb up is hard, but the climb is not made impossible simply because your school isn’t in the best repair.
Non-Racism vs. Anti-Racism
Of course, there are other factors that come into play in this system, but you can see how it is vicious circle. And what’s interesting is that there is no explicit racism in this system — and yet the system itself is racist. It is racist because it systematically underprivileges Black children. Assuming we have a finite amount of resources for education, my children receive a disproportionate share of that pot. And the reason is because they are white. And I contributed to that system when I very consciously chose to purchase a house on one side of the street rather than the other.
No, the reason is because you are Rich.
You have more money, so you buy a nicer house and you pay more taxes. This has nothing to do with your race, your children’s race, or the races of those people in the poorer school district. If your children receive a disproportionate amount of the “pot” it is because you also pay a disproportionate amount into that pot.
Also, what kind of messed up logic is: “There is no racism to the system, but the system is racist anyways.” That’s like saying a vending machine is racist because more people buy sprite than coke, because the sparkly clearness of the sprite looks more refreshing or something. The system treats everyone equally. Go to school, learn your lessons, take in what money you can to spend on what you can afford.
No one had to call another person the N-word for this system to perpetuate itself. In fact … and here’s the key … my “colorblindness” actually contributes to the perpetuation of this racist system. Being “colorblind” renders me blind to the role of race in the scenario described above and a thousand other micro-systems like it.
That link is to a book titled “The New Jim Crow” and talks about how our justice system is racist because more blacks end up in jail after they commit crimes. Of course, white people are arrested and jailed when they commit crimes as well, because that’s how that system works. You break the law, you get caught, you go to prison. But some how the system is racist because….more black people choose to commit crimes…or something.
But okay, let’s take this apart.
Colorblind: Man commits crime. Man is caught. Man goes to jail. System works.
Colorsight: Man commits crime. Man is caught, Man goes to jail. Man was black, system was out to get man because system is racist.
And Halstead would have us believe the latter is the superior way of viewing the world.
Hey Beckett, you gonna call for this mother loving racist to be banned off of Patheos? I mean, since racism is terrible and should not be tolerated under the Pagan Umbrella. Might wanna work on getting this racist out of here!
Not many people are ready to embrace the “racist” label, though — it’s constructive, I think, to recognize that there is a third category in addition to “racist” and “not racist”: “anti-racist”. So the question becomes not whether we are racist … but whether we are anti-racist.
You know what, I’m just getting honestly confused here. First it’s bad to be a racist. Now it’s good to be a racist…as long as you admit you’re a racist? But it’s okay to be a racist, because you’re owning up to your racism so that you can stop racism with…more racism.
Also, if this “anti-racist” thing works anything like the “anti-fascist” thing, hell no. It’s nothing more than calling the other guys racists/fascists and then doing to them everything you claim they’re doing to someone else.
Check out the short video below, and consider the strange fact that we are comfortable, indeed proud, of not being racist, but no one would be proud of being non-rapist. People easily embrace being anti-rapist; why not anti-racist?
(*I’m just putting the link in the quote.)
At this point, I was thinking we were supposed to be pro- but it seems no one can make up their damn minds about this stuff.
Also, I suppose I would be proud of being a non-rapist. I mean, never really thought about it, because I generally don’t think about going around raping people. In the same way I’m proud to be a non-thief, or other non-criminal. Sometimes I wonder if I’m really proud of being a non-killer though…
Also, the reason people are so easily embracing things like be an anti-rapist is because rather than control their own actions, they want to be proud of controlling the actions of others. Much like Halstead here is proud to be an anti-racist going around lecturing people about how they shouldn’t be racist while…openly admitting he is a racist.
Beware the man lecturing he knows what is in the interests of the “public good” indeed.
Being anti-racist means we are actively working to fight the kind of systemic racism describe above. Being opposed to individual racism is easy. Nobody likes the KKK. But fighting systemic racism is hard — not just morally, but heuristically. It’s not just a question of making the right choice, but of see that there is a choice in the first place.
The Gods preserve me from moral crusaders.
Okay, so the ‘system” is “racist.” Now, the system is by all accounts “colorblind.” It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, asian, latino, anything. You come into the system, you get an economic lot to start with and you rise or fall based on your choices and the choices of others with that system. If you break the law, you are punished. If you are wealthy, you can buy nicer things. If you go into a voting booth, you can vote. Doesn’t matter what your skin color is, you have one of these options you have it.
This, then, is the system that Halstead would have replaced. Instead, what Halstead is arguing for is a system that judges people based on their race. So let’s say someone is black. They should be given special privileges because of their race because “black people have it worse.” Let’s say someone is white, they should then be denied certain things because “white people have it better.” So if a black man breaks the law, because the law is “racist” against black people, he should not be put in prison for this law breaking because that would “Be an act of systemic racism.” A white person goes into a voting booth and his vote then should count as half the vote of a black man, because “white people have it better, and they are a majority of citizens, and the system racially privileges their more numerous voices.”
That is the logic here. We judge people based on their race and aid or hamper them according to their skin color. Let’s see, what was the definition of racism again?
Why “Black Lives Matter”?
And this brings me to “Black Lives Matter.” Some people wonder why we can’t just say “All Lives Matter.” The reason is that “Black Lives Matter” is an anti-racist statement; whereas “All Lives Matter” is merely a non-racist statement. “Black Lives Matter” calls for not just a shift of morals, but a shift of perspective — a shift from being color-blind to being color-conscious, conscious of the myriad ways in which color results in privileges for some and prejudice for others. Saying “All Lives Matter” is not overtly racist, but it helps perpetuate a racist system by obscuring the role that race plays in those systems.
Haltead you’re…you’re a bit late to this party. The whole thing with Covenant of the Goddess happened like a year ago.
Also…way to completely argue for racism here, Halstead. Yeah, I figured “anti-racist” was going to basically be racism disguising itself as non-racism, but you’re not hiding it all that well.
I highlighted that last bit for a reason. “Saying that all lives are important is an act of racism, because these particular lives are in fact more important than the others because…”
I believe in the power of symbolic speech. Words and signs are not enough, obviously. They need to be accompanied by action and inner transformation. But symbols have the power to effect the inner transformation that prompts action. “Black Lives Matter” is not just a statement, it is a symbol — a symbol of awareness of and opposition to systemic racism. For me, these three words capture the essence of anti-racism in a way that other statements and longer manifestos just can’t.
Yeah, because beating up white kids in libraries, harassing people at breakfast, taking over presidential campaign speeches, burning down neighborhoods, and killing cops are all wonderful ways to impress upon people that your lives are valuable, should be protected, and you are in no ways motivated by racial hatred for a group different from you, but instead wish to “remove a racist system.”
Can we please take a moment to remember that what started this whole business was a black man trying to kill a police officer and dying during the attempt? I just wanna remind everyone. Black lives matter started as a protest over the death of a man who was committing attempted murder. Yeah…
Real racist, that cop. How dare he want to live. Couldn’t he see there was an underprivileged black man trying to kill him? He really should have done the Color-conscious thing and let himself be murdered. Much Racism.
And it works because it brings race to the forefront of my consciousness, which has so long been trained to be blind to color. It speaks, not just to my mind, but to my heart — to those places deep within me, that I don’t like to acknowledge, where racist fears still have a hold on me. Even before I knew the difference between non-racism and anti-racism, the words “Black Lives Matter” had begun working on me, effecting an inner transformation, preparing me to commit to anti-racism.
Congradulations, you are now a full blown racist, Halstead. I’m even going to include his little picture here:
I would like everyone to note that the “anti-racist” and the “racist” both have roughly equal racial consciousnesses levels. Meaning, that both of them see the world through the lens of race and engage in racism. But let me make a quick edit here…
Ah, there we go, much more honest. See, our color blind Liberal falls very low in the race-consciousness category and in the Anti-Pro bias scale. She doesn’t see race when she looks at a person, she just sees a person. And she has no bias for or against her own “race.”
But Let us look again at the “anti-racist” and the “supremacist.” Both have equal levels of racial thinking. It is just that the “white supremacist” thinks his group is the superior group and that the other group is inferior, while the anti-racist group thinks that their races is the interior/evil group and the race they are not is the good guys.
Both groups, however, are completely racist, making value judgements about the worth of the other group based solely on skin color.
For the last several weeks at my local Unitarian Universalist congregation, we have been discussing systemic or institutionalized racism and Black Lives Matter. We are working toward a collective commitment to becoming an anti-racist congregation. This requires education about systemic racism and how we, in my predominately white congregation, participate in, benefit from, and unwittingly perpetuate that system. I am still learning myself. My hope is that, by the end of this summer, my UU congregation will have placed a “Black Lives Matter” sign in front of our church, as many other UU congregations have done, as a symbolic expression of our commitment be anti-racist — both in our communities and within ourselves.
For now, I will say for myself … Black Lives Matter.
And people wonder why guys like McNallen and Trump always have an ever growing number of supporters. It’s because people who are complete racists are going around converting other people to being racists, only “this racism” is acceptable because, well, “these people deserve it.”
I’m going to leave you with two videos. One is a legitimate video put out by…what i can only call “anti-racists.”
The second one is a “parody” video which shows you just how mother loving racist this kind of talk is.