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the white anti-racist community

November 12, 2008

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Colorblindness reforming

by Jeff Hitchcock

National and worldwide opinion agrees President-elect Barack Obama ushered in a historic moment of change last Tuesday. But people differ as to the details.

I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the retreat of colorblindness as the dominant mode of thinking about race in the United States. The irony is that since John McCain took him to task last July 31, Obama ran one of the most perfectly colorblind presidential campaigns in recent memory. But Obama is not colorblind, as his April speech on race unquestionably demonstrated. As President-elect, he has shown a comfort level with racial identity many people of color evince, but white people seldom understand.

Colorblindness has always had two sides, either as an ideal shared by people of all colors, or as a white cultural mechanism for suppressing recognition of racial injustice. Under the guise of colorblindness societal actions, including governmental policy, maintained the advantages of whiteness. Few white people cared to distinguish one type of colorblindness from the other, although the difference was always apparent to people of color.

Now the President can tell the difference. The stealth policies of white advantage, couched in the language of colorblindness, will lose their cloak of plausibly deniable racism.

White supremacists have already declared Obama's election a boon to filling their ranks. Colorblindness is no longer sufficient to address white interests, they proclaim. Racial justice activists also have an opening now to advance race conscious views. In between, the vast colorblind middle that has governed racial discourse for over a half century is beginning to dissipate.


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Some reaction

One black president might do more than thousands of educators, a teacher envisioned, and the immediate reaction made his prediction seem plausible. The African American community senses a need for change. Civil rights leaders ponder the future. But racism is still here, some say. For now, the celebration is enough. Americans feel encouraged about the future of race relations (Article 1, Article 2).

What about white people?

Many white voters welcomed the opportunity to vote for a black candidate. Others felt torn. White fears ran amok and some politicians worked them to the hilt. Ultimately whites sided with the Republican candidate, but the black Democrat won more white votes than his white predecessors. The Republican Party may find whiteness is not enough. Following the election, some white people remained fearful and others elated. Is this how Republicans express white guilt? After a lifetime of witnessing racial injustice one white activist finally glimpses a smidgen of pride.

Dare we discuss our dire fear?

As Barack Obama walked out to face the crowd in Chicago on election night, many people quietly feared for his life. He seemed so vulnerable, alone surrounded by a vast sea of people. Two white supremacists have already been indicted in an assassination plot. The McCain-Palin campaign stirred the pot. The prospect of Obama as a target is not something new. Security experts have been on the case for some time. Let us pray for their continued success.

Disparities and hate continue

Model minority myth exposed in study of Asian residents in New York City. Florida high school keeps Klan leader's name. Hawaiian tourism official resigns over racist emails. Hate crimes are on the rise. Hispanic civil rights activists are being targeted. A Florida boss claims racist signs were a joke. A Rabbi complains sentencing of two cross burners in New York was too lenient. Two Sikhs are attacked in New Jersey. An anti-immigrant law of a local Pennsylvania town faces Federal appeals court. Los Angeles police practice racial profiling. Palo Alto, CA, police do too. Cuyahoga County, OH, gives white people benefit of the doubt in plea bargains.

Ralph Nader's nadir

On election night Ralph Nader wondered publicly if Obama would be an "Uncle Tom." Even Fox News felt this was questionable. Lest there be any doubt, people of color elaborated. Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center summarized Nader's past uses of race. Krsta Keating of Revolutionize yo' Block let Nader know he didn't have a pass, and blogger Bint Alshamsa called him an "attention-hog," giving him one of her "Special White Woman Awards."

International News

The world celebrated Obama's victory. Reactions varied. In Malaysia one pundit saw a colorblind victory. Others saw lessons for their own country, and the end of white supremacy. An Indonesian writer questioned whether Obama was "black," given his mixed heritage. Another saw the end of racism in the United States. An Australian writer took Obama's identity as a black American at face value and lauded the historical moment. An Australian talk show host played wild and loose with images of lynching. The Prime Minister of Italy came under fire for calling Obama "suntanned." The first lady of France acted with more decorum, calling on France to end its own racism.

In other news, racism rears its head in the Malaysian electoral process. An Australian court hands down a sentence that antagonizes the Aboriginal community. In South Africa, a white employer pays for her racism, but the man she targeted says not enough. Cyprus celebrates color in the Rainbow Festival. Britain asks Spain to act against racism directed at British Formula One racing champion. His father decries the abuse. Irish white supremacists erect racist posters. Racism in Italy comes under public scrutiny (Article 1, Article 2).

White supremacists

Obama's ascendance has given fuel to white supremacist groups (Article 1, Article 2). A Philadelphia racist skinhead remains unapologetic. White supremacists infiltrate the military while the chain of command practices "don't ask, don't tell." David Duke's planned conference caused consternation. The hotel cancelled. But Duke planned to go ahead anyway. A California policeman loses job for racist photo self-portrait. White supremacist murder suspect arrested in Oklahoma.






Archival footage: 1950s government film encourages "integrated" office (Part 1, Part 2).

Black/white progress uneven in social and political spheres.

A history of race in the USA: Interview with David Roediger.

Ronald Reagan and race.

A history of race in the American courtroom.





Asian men resent Asian women for dating Caucasian males.

Are gay men in India enamored with whiteness?

Anti-racist Parent considers what to do why your 6-year-old hears Obama wants to kill babies, and your white supremacist nephews get in your 1-year-old's face at family gatherings.

And what about when a white 17-month-old calls black people "doggie."

White parents adopting in Ethiopia advised to do it surreptitiously.

Obama's victory brings joy to daughter of racist icon George Wallace, others.

Thanks for being a white ally. Hmmm...

Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like, shows deepening analysis of white people during interview.

White anti-racist Shelly Tochluk discusses a key moment in her anti-racist development.





Interesting take on the customary presidential portrait gallery.

Fascinating snippet from Cartoon Network's Sealab 2021, naming whiteness.

Is all that is cultural in New York City white?

Barbie, in her many manifestations.

Did Jus Rhyme (of AR-15) get a press agent? (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4)





"America mourns the death of Joe the Racist," by Min. Paul Scott. OpEdNews, November 10, 2008.

"Racism 2.0," by Michael Fisher. The Assault on Black Folk's Sanity, November 8, 2008.

"Good, and now back to work: Avoiding both cynicism and overconfidence in the age of Obama," by Tim wise. Racialicious, Nov 5, 2008.

"We still aren't in a post-racial society," by Fred McKissack. The Progressive, November 5, 2008.

"Five ways we talked about race and identity this election," by Latoya Peterson. The American Prospect, November 4, 2008.

"I am a racist," by Abby L. Ferber. Huffington Post, October 30, 2008.

"Asians against white supremacy," by the Editors. Jalan: A Journal of Asian Liberation, September 21, 2008.




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