Rules For White People


From Jenée Desmond-Harris at The Root:

How Not to Derail the Dialogue on Race

If we’re going to have this “national conversation” again, can we set some ground rules?


So, if we’re going to have a “conversation on race,” I offer this nonexhaustive list of ground rules and reminders. It’s based on my hope that we can retire some of the predictable talking points and misleading themes that do nothing but derail the type of dialogue that’s been called for once again.

1. Talking about race isn’t racist. Don’t say that. Vilifying people who discuss race and point out racism — making them the bad guys — is one of the ways racism is maintained. So is acting as if “blacks suffer from racism” and “whites suffer from reverse racism” are equally valid points of view.

2. Yep, sometimes there are different standards for black and white stuff. You are going to get a different reaction for White History Month and Black History Month. A black person making a joke about race is different from a white person making a joke about race. To accept this requires letting go of the idea that this is really simple and thinking a little deeper about context and history. Please give up on the “But what if the races were reversed?” line of thinking. That type of analysis makes conversations simple, but it also makes them totally unhelpful.


4. Remember that while “race” itself isn’t real, racism is, and our country’s long and well-documented history with racism has very real, lasting effects. Therefore, being “colorblind” is not helpful because it cripples our ability to deal with the tangible effects of racial inequality in just about every area of life.

5. Black people shouldn’t have to fit your definition of what’s respectable to deserve equality or justice. It’s silly and unfounded to blame inequality caused by institutionalized racism on, say, sagging pants or rap music. If you want to celebrate black people who are educated and high-achieving and defy persistent stereotypes, great, but that can’t be a requirement for fair treatment. We got into trouble with this type of thinking when evidence that Trayvon Martin was a normal teenager messed up so many people’s impression of him as a sympathetic victim.

6. Don’t defer to people like Bill Cosby about their theories about black people, any more than you would defer to a miscellaneous white celebrity about how white people are doing. If you need guidance, look for someone whose background offers evidence that he or she had the incentive to spend some time seeking information and thinking critically in a professional capacity about whatever it is the person is discussing.

7. Individual racism and systemic racism are two different things. We should care about all the structures that maintain racial inequality, not just individual actors. (This is why it’s not unreasonable to jump from George Zimmerman’s impression of Trayvon Martin to racial profiling by police.) That said, individual acts can provide strong reminders about larger attitudes and problems. Ahem, Paula Deen. Ahem.

There are some others but I think you get the gist.

Imagine going to marital counseling and being told that only your spouse gets to talk. That’s pretty much what Ms. Desmond-Harris wants the rules to be. Patterico tried to engage her in a civil discussion on Twitter and she blocked him.

My rules are a little simpler:

1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

2. No one is entitled to their own facts.

3. You cannot tell other people what they think or want.

4. When you are not talking, listen.

5. If you disagree with someone, attack the argument, not the person.

6. Fix the problem, not the blame.

Obviously my list is “nonexhaustive” too.

I am encouraged to see more people speaking up and deviating from the politically correct dogma. Half a century ago we made a lot of progress on racism in a fairly short time. Now it’s time to finish the job.

So let’s talk.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
This entry was posted in The Era of White Guilt is Over and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to Rules For White People

  1. Lulu says:

    I think the catchphrase “national conversation on race” is a political ploy. Like you said it is not meant to be reciprocal and is more hectoring and lecturing by Obama and his minions. Before “a conversation” can happen ground rules have to be established. What can and cannot be discussed, how one looks at each other, good faith, non inflammatory language, etc must be agreed upon. Obama has blown these things to hell. Very few are listening because he cannot be trusted.

    I see attempts like this, by this person, as a way to salvage something for minorities out of his presidency. They supported him over another with a good track record to their detriment. He pays lip service to their concerns while enriching his wealthy backers. He makes symbolic speeches and does nothing. This is just another “pivot” from his abject failure on the economy, the middle east, bi-partisanship, and the enormous clusterfuck Obamacare looming over the horizon. He long ago poisoned the well.

  2. 1539days says:

    Another rule would be “Do not confuse facts with opinion.” There were so many wrong facts about the Trayvon Martin shooting that race hustlers got away with creating a narrative that almost got someone put in jail.

    Obviously, any discussion of race is different if you are a minority, even though “mixed race” is becoming the majority in America. Black people think about race more than White people. Because of this, White people defer to the default position of shutting up until they are directly accused of racism as a group.

    Trayvon Martin and Stand Your Ground was a way for the race industry to go back to blaming White people for everything. White people reached a saturation point and then had to talk about race. Looking in from the outside, we can see that Black people are way worse to Black people. The race industry doesn’t like that and starts blaming Whites for Black on Black crime. Then the inevitable “because shut up” occurs and White people wait for the next race-baiting incident.

    • Lulu says:

      Zimmerman was put in jail at first. Then his bail was jacked with to put him back in jail to appease the mob. Without the kindness of strangers contributing to his legal fund, which infuriated the race baiters and crooked prosecutor, he would have been incarcerated in jail for over a year. This is one of his strongest arguments of harm in a malicious prosecution case against the state of Florida. It also got a district judge thrown off the case by an appeals court.

      • Klown says:

        If GZ was locked up that whole time it sure would have made plea bargaining easier

        • Lulu says:

          That is why they did it. This prosecutor is notorious for overcharging and they getting plea deals. That I think is why they were so shitty in court. They always get pleas by manipulating discovery and overcharging po’ folks.

  3. yttik says:

    Great post, myiq. You sure got some skillz.:)

  4. Does anyone else see a big disconnect between black’s discussing race and white’s? That black’s seem to only talk about the two, while white’s seem to be discussing all races? We are not really dealing with the same topjc.

  5. Lulu says:

    State and local public retirees soon to be dumped onto Obamacare exchanges which will explode the cost to the federal taxpayers. That will improve state and local budgets so much that they will then send current employees into the exchanges I predict. Those public employee unions sure do look after their members./s/ Crooks and idiots the lot of them.

  6. driguana says:

    Great post! Regarding #6, it is always helpful to have a conversation with someone who is actually willing to “converse”. It may not be an easy task to find such a person, especially since most people feel immediately inclined to argue or staunchly defend their own points of view. I like what Bill Cosby had to say about race relations….Ben Carson, too. If you have access to someone of another race who is willing to talk, then talk…find a comfortable, non-threatening venue and have a good time. Avoid protests and vile, race-baiting, prog, tv shows!

    We have a lovely, Haitian man who takes care of our yard for us….he has been doing so for 9 years. He is always willing to talk, either in French or English, and yesterday he, my partner and I had the most informative conversation about the differences in how African-Americans and Haitian-American see our education system and work ethics….quite revealing.

    • elliesmom says:

      I’m always dismayed when Bill Cosby is dismissed as “just another celebrity”. The man has a PHD in education- not the honorary kind, from UMass Amherst. The kind of degree you have to show up and do real research to get. When he talks about the effects of a community eschewing education, he’s talking about something he’s studied in depth.

      • Klown says:

        He grew up in Philly in the 40’s and 50’s – when segregation was still unofficial policy in the North. His mom was a maid and his dad was in the navy so they weren’t rich. He dropped out of high school and joined the service. Then he went back to school and got a college degree.

        It was when he was working his way through school as a bartender that he got into comedy. He first became a star in 1963.

        The man knows what he is talking about.

  7. gxm17 says:

    It’s impossible to engage in meaningful dialog with these people. And by “these people” I mean the white folks who adhere to these race “rules” like biblical commandments. A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to a blog post about the Zimmerman trial and although I didn’t agree with the writer, it was well written and made some interesting points. But one thing that really jumped out was the writer kept referring to GZ as white. This stand-in aspect has always frustrated me. It’s like these folks don’t even see George Zimmerman.

    So I posted my one and only FB comment on the the trial saying that although the article was thoughtful and well written, I found it problematic that, in an article the author himself describes as a semiotic analysis, he kept referring to Zimmerman, a brown man, as a “white guy.” And that it would have been interesting to explore how a brown man was made into a representamen for white racism. Shortly after I posted my comment, a white woman responds and says that she doesn’t think it matters that GZ “identifies” as Hispanic other than he might have been “more aware of his actual white privilege.”

    Seriously. I was dumbfounded. It’s like my words are some foreign language to her. I didn’t know whether to thank her for reiterating my point or scream in all caps: He doesn’t have white privilege, he has brown privilege! In the end, I decided to drop it, because if you can’t talk to these people, screaming at them certainly won’t help either. Sorry for the lengthy comment but that’s been bugging me for days.

    • yttik says:

      Sometimes it’s a bit like living in the Matrix, gxm. Or falling down the rabbit hole. Sometimes you wonder if everybody drank the blue kool aid and you somehow accidentally got the red one. Such is the power of dogma, propaganda. It resists reason, facts, truth. Loyalty to the cult is the most important thing and if necessary, you’ll bend reality to meet your ideology.

  8. Klown says:

    The claws come out:

    Me: “Stupid cat, it’s too early for breakfast!”

    Catness: “Really? Okay, I’ll play with these curtains instead!”

    • elliesmom says:

      Ellie wakes me up every morning because she has to go out to pee. That’s Maxine’ s cue to demand breakfast. I used to think Maxine was really patient until I woke up before both of them and caught Maxine waking Ellie up. Smart kitty figured out her breakfast can wait until I feel like getting up, but I’m reluctant to risk not letting Ellie out.

    • Erin says:

      I see she is training you well. Fur child’s lesson plan for the day – it is never too early for breakfast or a manicure.

      • Klown says:

        Now she is punishing me by clawing up her brand new bed. She still doesn’t realize it’s a cardboard scratcher.

    • votermom says:

      You need some mice for her to chase when she gets hungry.

  9. yttik says:

    Here’s something for all the wealthy white people who allegedly care so much about racism to consider:

  10. Klown says:

    This one is for Helen:

    • helenk3 says:

      one reason I like traveling by train the people. yes you can get a grouch sometimes but most of the time the people make the trip fun.

      I remember coming back to California from Philadelphia meeting these two young men from the Netherlands. they were make a trip around the world. they were going to be in Los Angeles for 18 days. I told them some things to see and then got the on board service guy to tell them about places to go that grandmom’s are not supposed to know about. I gave them my address and phone # in case they had any trouble while here. several months later I got a post card from New Zealand from them .
      I do love traveling by train, I have met people from all over the world.

  11. Klown says:
    • Klown says:

      Don Lemon committed heresy. He agreed with Bill O’Reilly on a couple points.

      Now the mob has turned on him to rip him to pieces.

      • elliesmom says:

        “Your child has a great deal of potential, but his attitude and his behavior are getting in the way. If we could redirect some of that energy toward more productive behavior, we can see a really bright future. Is there some positive interest that might not show up in school that we could build on to get him where we all know he’s capable of going?”

        “All of you hate my kid.”

        • Klown says:

          I could never be a teacher. I could barely stand my own kids. People would freak out at parent-teacher conferences.

          Well, the good news is you don’t need to worry about saving for little Johnny’s college education. But you might start looking into vocational schools and drug rehabs.

        • Lulu says:

          I taught high school civics in a prison for five months. It was the last course necessary for their high school diploma before they could be paroled. I could kick them out if they were assholes. They all passed and acted like gentlemen. There was a guard in the back of the room with a shotgun.

        • elliesmom says:

          I really like kids. Their parents not so much. I once noticed behavior “consistent with being a drug dealer” from one of my students who I liked very much. Instead of calling the principal in who would have had to call the police, I asked to see his mom. I told her what I had seen, and suggested she might want to get to the bottom of it before someone else “noticed”. She called me every vile name in the book. Two weeks later he was arrested for selling under the bleachers at school. She came back and called every vile name in the book again for not making her “believe me better”. She reported me to the principal for not doing a better job of “protecting her son”. I stopped “noticing”.

        • piper says:

          How about this one “I don’t have time for your stupid homework, do it yourself.”

        • votermom says:

          I don’t understand parents like that. If I get a complaint about my kid in school, it’s my kid who will get the 3rd degree at home.

          But I go to teacher conferences and instead of complaints all I hear is praise. Teachers keep telling me they wish they could clone my kids. LOL.

          Actually I lie – there was a time in middle school/HS when my older kid was procrastinating on homework & projects & getting Bs instead of As. I think we have that fixed now.

  12. Klown says:
  13. Klown says:

    Re: Hillary – The Miniseries!

    It will either be a puff piece or a hit piece. Either way, meh.

    • Lulu says:

      I was tired of the Clinton soap opera in 1999. I’m still tired of it.

    • Constance says:

      Trying to clear their conscience for the way they led the pack of rabid anti woman “news” in 2008. I don’t watch NBC.

      • Lulu says:

        I think they will still try to make it anti-women even if it is about a woman. Know what I mean? I don’t watch NBC either.

  14. fif says:

    Don’t defer to people like Bill Cosby about their theories about black people, any more than you would defer to a miscellaneous white celebrity about how white people are doing. If you need guidance, look for someone whose background offers evidence that he or she had the incentive to spend some time seeking information and thinking critically in a professional capacity about whatever it is the person is discussing.

    So I guess Bill Cosby’s PhD in Education is irrelevant in her world? And we’re not supposed to single out Cosby as a valid p.o.v. but Paula Deen is ok? Contradictions to suit your own bias much?

  15. driguana says:

    Just read that Jackie Chan died in a fall from a 12 story building during a stunt he was performing.

  16. driguana says:

    This is guaranteed to brighten up any blue Monday….

  17. Klown says:
  18. Constance says:

    I am not participating in any sort of conversation about race and I don’t care what liberals think about that. The whole topic bores me. It is just a bunch of bitching and the conversation never advances. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we did not have slavery, some areas of the US did and they also had indentured servants but these guilty classes of people need to stop smearing their guilt on all white people. When my family suffered poverty, exclusion and little education for being red necks and white trash I don’t appreciate being lumped in with the guilt of white elitists for their past behavior.

  19. Constance says:

    I really like Klowns rules for conversation. I might print them out and post them some place like the refrigerator door or across from the toilet and see what comments I get from the family.

    • Klown says:

      My personal favorite is #3. I hate arguing with “mind-readers”. Just tell me what YOU think. I”ll express my own thoughts.

      (I actually said that last bit to my ex. She replied “I think you’re an asshole!”)

      • Constance says:

        Don’t get me started! I’ve been sitting here trying to type a response based on my relationship experience but I think it’s best not to go there.
        And I think you’re very charming most of the time Klown.

  20. Klown says:
    • insanelysane says:

      Of the things she listed, going bra-less is hardly the greatest offense.

      I’d fire her for several of those things.

  21. helenk3 says:

    what ever happened to take care of our troops. pentagon harasses citizens to shut down charity for deployed soldiers.

  22. helenk3 says:

    hanoi jane still has not learned ” you do not give aid and comfort to the enemy” do not plan to see movie

  23. helenk3 says:

    they just do not get it or seem to want to understand they deserve to be treated with respect not contempt

  24. helenk3 says:

    as long as there is money to be made on racism, it will not stop. the sharptons, and the jacksons and the backtracks make a good living off it.
    as long as shouting racism keeps you from being responsible for your own actions people will embrace it. blame whitey is so much easier then damn I have to use the brain and body God gave me to make a good life for myselt.

    what would happen if it became politically correct for employers or teachers to say ” hey place the race card on your own time. you are here to do a job or you are here to learn”?

  25. catarina says:

    Hillary and Barack are meeting today over lunch.
    Benghazi burgers, perhaps?
    What difference does it make?

  26. swanspirit says:

    I really like this post , and I see it as The Hypocrite Highlights !
    If some people in the black community do not realize that they have have hamstrung their own youth by including “gangsta ” lifestyles and cultivating a profoundly anti – white ( education, language,music and success ) attitude as essential parts of their culture , then why bother talking to them.
    The people who are willing to have the conversation without asinine ground rules are the only ones worth talking to , and the only ones with any credibility , at this point , and these are the people who have to take over the conversation , and steer around the idiots stuck in racist points of view . They are part of the problem .At minimum it should be pointed out they are a huge part of the problem , and don’t have any creative solutions .

    And if the Clintons are ticked off about the Weiners , oh well , too bad and boo hoo hoo . They are not upset about the comparison , they are upset about the reminders , and The Way They Were ; the memory of which they are hoping to relegate to the dim and distant past , but Weiner keeps that ugly reminder fresh and current .
    I hope Weiner keeps right on pushing his increasingly impotent campaign, much to the detriment of the degenerate democrats and the delight of the opposition ! Someone should send him some Viagra !

  27. Klown says:
  28. Klown says:
    • DandyTIger says:

      I keep hitting my head against my desk, but I still don’t see WTF he’s saying.

      • swanspirit says:

        That tweet is definition of tortured sentence structure , tortured grammar , and logical fallacy .

        • Lulu says:

          It is self important twaddle. Veins. Elitism. The past. Historically (redundant). Keeps going.
          I think he may be what he is describing. Is he an Obama speech writer?

    • Carmelo Clandestine says:

      I quote Russell Baker:

      “The young cult of sociology, needing a language, invented one. There are many dead languages, but the sociologists’ is the only one that was dead at birth.” 😛

  29. Pingback: And Inconvenient Conversation on Race | Days of Change

  30. John Denney says:

    Hmmm, to whom should i give more credence: Al Sharpton or Ben Carson?

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