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08:52 am: Found In Translation

Here is a useful translation key for all of us for speaking on the race subject in the future:

Colorblind:

New use:

Not-Colorblind: sensitive to the problems others may experience that you do not experience.

Colorblind: Thinking of other people as just like you without noticing significant differences.


Old use:

Not-Colorblind: A restaurant owner in Arizona instructs his waiters to wait on whites first, then blacks, then Mexicans.*

Colorblind: The restaurant owner instructs his waiters to wait on all customers in order of their entrance into the establishment.


*--I used this particular example because a friend just described to me having seen this happen repeatedly where she lived.

 

Folks who use the new meaning: please keep in mind that those of us who have not heard you speak before do not mean what you mean by the term colorblind. We don’t mean “Seeing everyone as ourselves without consideration.” We mean “Not treating people like dirt because they are a different color.”

 

If you take the time when you open a conversation to explain this idea—a very interesting idea and worthy of discussion—your chances of succeeding in getting your point across goes up substantially.

 

Now, a word to the Rudeness Buffs—while the idea “you aren’t owed politeness” is interesting and a rather clever way of justifying anger and bad behavior—the opposite is true, too. A person does not need to interact with someone who is not polite.

 

So…any comment to this post that is phrased politely can stay. If you want discuss ideas, you are very welcome here—no matter what your idea.

If you want to insult people, you shall have to do it somewhere else.

 



Comments

[User Picture]
From:marycatelli
Date:August 17th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
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I think your first definition needs a little work.

Someone who is alert to the possibility that someone else may have, say -- tragically lost family members is being "sensitive to the problems others may experience that you do not experience."

As death doesn't discriminate, I don't think we would call that colorblindness.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:August 17th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
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That is one of my problems with this whole thing...shouldn't we be senstive to all the problems people around us might be suffering that we are privileged not to have to suffer?

But, technically, you are right. The word race should be in there somewhere. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:bradrtorgersen
Date:August 17th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)

Excellent

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Lamplighter, this is an EXCELLENT post.

Excellent!!
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From:noahdoyle
Date:August 17th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
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So, under the suggested New Use, 'colorblind' is now bad?
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From:arhyalon
Date:August 17th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
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Yeah...that's what we learned from this last week of excitement. Apparently, the new anti-racism movement hates the term.
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From:ccr1138
Date:August 17th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
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That's a very interesting observation on the evolution of meaning. It makes sense that the definitions of race-related words and concepts would morph along with society's changing attitudes.

I am a white chick with pretty much every privilege in the world except maleness, and I grew up in a small Southern town where bigotry was very much a part of everyday life. It's been a long road to enlightenment, but I'd like to think all people of goodwill can get along and cut each other some slack when our understanding or handling of situations is not perfect.

As a society, we've evolved enough to leave the old, overt racism behind. It still exists, but it's rare and scorned by most thinking people. A lot of folks today aren't old enough to remember when there were such things as white-only water fountains, and black people had to step off the sidewalk and tip their hats when a white person walked by. I remember this time, so to me, the "colorblindness" of society today seems enormously changed for the better.

But racism hasn't been eliminated, just driven underground -- into private conversations, private thoughts, or the subconscious. I have relatives who will brag about having excluded blacks from equal housing, who send their kids to a private school or join a country club just to avoid people of color. One of my best friends from high school still talks as if it's 1950 and mixed-race babies are something to be whispered about in shocked tones.

It boggles my mind that people who consider themselves Christians can treat any of God's children as inferior by birth. It's sickening, and it's one of the main reasons I moved far away from home and would never move back.

Anyway, yeah. Back then, in the Dark Ages of race riots, desegregations, Selma, and MLK, the goal was colorblindness in the old sense. We've mostly achieved that. Now we have to work on the new colorblindness. But we'll get there. Like MLK, I believe we SHALL overcome and reach the Promised Land one day.

Unfortunately, we will always have rude, selfish, stupid people among us -- of all races and creeds. You are right to refuse conversation with such people. Jesus said, "Don't cast your pearls before swine." It's a waste of time and energy to try to convert true bigots. I've learned that the hard way.
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From:starshipcat
Date:August 17th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
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I agree completely that there's no use trying to convert true bigots. The best we can do is isolate them and remove from them the power to act upon their beliefs and to pass those beliefs to others.

That said, one of the most impressive things the Civil Rights Movement did was the way in which they sold their message to the Silent Majority of Americans who weren't virulent racists, but for whom racism was just Part of Life. The brave men and women who quietly but firmly stood up to racism and sought to exercise their rights were able to get the Silent Majority of white people of good will to see that no, this evil wasn't just Part of Life, it didn't have to be, and it could be changed, resulting in the isolation and removal from power of the real virulent bigots, and thus to huge social change.

Unfortunately the current approach has a strong potential to alienate that Silent Majority, to have the very group of white people of good will who is most needed in the fight to change the invisible, informal racism instead end up alienated, either with their backs up because they feel falsely accused or cowering in a corner because they're afraid that anything they say or do can get their heads bitten off for not being perfect the first time. I'm working on an essay drawing upon the known sciences of psychology, sociology, linguistics and information science to demonstrate the problems. But what really worries me is whether the failure of the current approach will result in a reassessment in the light of those sciences, or if it will be blamed upon racism upon the part of the people who aren't getting involved, and then to a witch-hunt for secret racists rather like the searches for "spies, saboteurs and wreckers" in the old Soviet Union when Lysenko's charlatanry in agriculture led to crop failures.
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From:arhyalon
Date:August 17th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
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Gar! Anyone know exactly what I do to accept the "screened" comments? I hit the "screen/unscreen" button...but nothing happened.

Sigh.

Er...never mind.

Edited at 2009-08-17 07:57 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:hsiuism
Date:August 17th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
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If you take the time when you open a conversation to explain this idea—a very interesting idea and worthy of discussion—your chances of succeeding in getting your point across goes up substantially.


As a woman of color, It is not my responsibility to make sure you understand my meaning. As the target of direct and indirect, personal and systematic racial discrimination, I do not have the time to take the time. It is you who have the luxury of taking the time. If you are genuinely and sincerely dedicated to educating yourself about race and racism, it is your responsibility to take the time and listen until you understand my meaning.

If you are entering into the conversation already convinced that white people and POC are on equal terms of owing and not owing, then you have already missed the point.

Feel free to delete this comment or leave it up. I just wanted to say this to you: I'm glad you're trying to examine your privilege(s), but it is something for whichyou, who have the time, are responsible.


[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:August 18th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
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> It is not my responsibility to make sure you understand my meaning

It is your responsibilty if you wish to speak with me about the subject--especially if you were apearing on a panel in frontof a mixed audience, many of whom, like me, had not heard the second meaning of the word before.

>but it is something for whichyou, who have the time, are responsible.

This is one of the most prejudice comments I have ever heard a person say.--you are making the judgement that my life, which you know nothing about, has extra time in it in comparison to your life, based on what? My skin color?

My skin color governs my free time?

Not my job? Not my family situation? Not my number of children? Not the fact that two of my kids are austic? Not where I live? Not my financial situation?

My amount of free time time is governed by my the color of my skin?

If you want me to have an opinion--so that I will treat you better than you imagine I am currently treating you--you had better taken time and energy to explain your point of view.
[User Picture]
From:bradrtorgersen
Date:August 18th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)

Can she ever ask a question?

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Yes, but can she ever ask a question if, after prolonged consideration, she still doesn't understand or requires some kind of clarification? What would your personal response be if you and Lamplighter were in the same room having this conversation in-person?
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From:dirigibletrance
Date:August 18th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
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It isn't her responsibility to do anything other than be kind, courteous, and helpful to you just as she is to everyone else.

I'm a Latin American, by the way, and I've also experienced racism, both direct and indirect. I've been denied service at places of business, and been passed over for jobs because of my race, because some particular folks decided to be douchebags and judge my as unworthy of their time because I look like I'm from south of the border (or did, at the time, when I was getting alot more sun and working outside).

Even so, having had that experience, I still think you're demanding more of Jagi than you really have the right to ask. It sucks that people have treated you badly and made life harder for you, I certainly have not enjoyed those moments in my own life. However, Jagi wasn't one of those people, as far as I know. She does not bear the guilt for the actions of others.

I do not believe in collective guilt or group guilt, it does not exist. Individuals are responsible for the wrongs that they inflict.

I carried some anger towards those individuals, and to this day I do still tense up a little bit whenever I'm around people who are obviously rednecks. But I don't paint that onto all Anglo-Saxon people, because that would be unfair and, regardless of what I have been through, unjust.

Suffering injustice does not grant you the right to likewise treat others unjustly.
From:beastlysleeping
Date:August 18th, 2009 06:10 am (UTC)
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Isn't the point of all conversation to make oneself understood or, at least, to learn something from one's interlocutor?
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]
From:intheyear2004
Date:August 18th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
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"If you are genuinely and sincerely dedicated to educating yourself about race and racism, it is your responsibility to take the time and listen until you understand my meaning."

Really? Why should *I* dedicate my time to solve your problems? What will *you* do about my problems? The way I see this is that the ones having the problems - however unfairly - are the ones who'll have to make the first effort in solving them and to alienate people able and willing to help your cause surely isn't an effective way of doing so.

Uh,sorry, arhyalon, for butting in like this. Have read your journal all of yesterday and couldn't help myself.
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From:jordan179
Date:August 18th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
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If you take the time when you open a conversation to explain this idea — a very interesting idea and worthy of discussion—your chances of succeeding in getting your point across goes up substantially.

As a woman of color, It is not my responsibility to make sure you understand my meaning.


As a human being who wants her argument to be taken seriously, it is extremely important that you make sure that we understand your meaning. Otherwise, our appropriate response is to either ignore you or to point and laugh, "Look at the silly lady!"

Get this straight: being "a woman of color" gives you no special rights nor responsibilities. You're just a human being -- like the rest of it.

I'm sorry if you find the prospect of merely being human, rather than some transcendant being with telepathic melanin, to be too scary.

If you are genuinely and sincerely dedicated to educating yourself about race and racism, it is your responsibility to take the time and listen until you understand my meaning.

Well, all I can say to that is ...

Floogle. Argle bargle wishwash. Snerd. Very zamly.

As a white male of Jewish descent, a dense bone structure and poor distance vision, it is not my responsibility to make sure you understand my meaning.

Oh, and you owe money on the licensing fee for your invisible pink unicorn. Pay up, or the invisible sheriff will show up and pretend to cart you off to imaginary jail.

If you are entering into the conversation already convinced that white people and POC are on equal terms of owing and not owing, then you have already missed the point.

ROFL!!!

So, if we treat you as a human being equal to us, but no better, then we've "missed the point?"

That, frankly, is a point I can be happy and proud to miss.

And in conclusion:

Flargle. Oogle boogle BOO!


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