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« Live at the Oprah Show! | Main | Black women want their heads rubbed, too »

September 22, 2009



Racism is based on cluelessness. It's not always intentionally meant to be mean spirited but it is always steeped in ignorance.


So this person wants to refer to a black person as a monkey, and that's supposed to represent UNCONSCIOUS racism?

Sorry, the story makes no sense as told. Think about it.


Hey MarkB -
I see what you're saying. But the thing is, I don't think this kid knew that the "black person as monkey" image is a racist one. I know it sounds crazy, but, as the story was told to me, he was totally clueless. Like, he just thought it was funny. So I'm wondering, does his supreme ignorance make him racist?


Sorry, not that naive, he asked first to see the reaction of the individual. Why don't you test/vet him. For example, I have a white acquaintance that likes to use the phrase "thats ghetto". I started using the phrase "thats suburban" for every situation involving cheating or theft or superiority. Guess who pulled me aside to voice her displeasure. That's when I hit her with my feelings about the that's so ghetto phrase. Her response? "Oh!". Whites aren't clueless!!!


Yeah, it was a racist remark and the guy who uttered it would probably be distressed (or annoyed) to have it pointed out. This country is so steeped in racism that we hardly notice it, or we deny its presence when it smacks us in the face. Just look at what's happening to our President and the vigorous denials that the thuggish citicisms of whatever he does these days has anything to do with his race. [I note that Obama is biracial. But everybody refers to him as Black, as in "our first Black president. In other words, many people still unconsciously accept that "one drop" law.] Consider also how our other "first black president" linked himself to some pretty racist campaigning on behalf of his wife, and firmly denied there was anything racist abut it. Racism, American-style, is the air we breath. And it has been this way since Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 when, as a consequence of the uprising, the colonial governments began establishing the infamous slave codes, versions of which persisted into Jim Crow, and persist even now in this MIT MBA student's notion about how to illustrate our President without speaking his name.

I wonder if it'll ever be the case that we'll see and talk about each other as just people.


If there were a Black person in the group, I wonder if the student would ask him/her that question. Probably not.

Also your post makes me think about that scene in "Corina, Corina" with Whoppie Goldberg when the White little girl said to her Black friend that she (the white girl) thought she was a n****er lover. So maybe she was clueless, BUT the Black girl was offended and looked to be younger than her white friend.
I can't believe that cluelessness is possible when it comes to race in the US --- certainly not for a grown-up, like the grad student you describe in your post.


In sociology it is taught that racism is defined as the belief that one race is superior or inferior to another race. There is a difference between racism and prejudice. The distasteful "monkey" comment is definitely prejudiced, but it is only racist if he uses this an excuse to feel superior to blacks, which we simply don't know for sure.



I disagree. "Prejudice" IS "racism" when a white person behaves the way this student behaves. I say this because he is the beneficiary of centuries of all kinds of asymmetries (legal, educational, social, economic, etc.) with respect to every non-white group in this country. And the asymmetries have been provided for him by our government. How could he not be aware of our history, and not "feel" a sense of entitlement and superiority?


here's my question: how the fuck does monkey make you think of Barack Obama for charades? I'm going to say slightly racist.

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