Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Friday, November 21, 2003  

Revisited: Racism in interracial relationships

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The fact that a person is in an interracial relationship does not mean he is not a bigot. I've usually observed this situation among a minority of white man/nonwhite woman couples, though I am sure it can occur the other way around. The dominance of men, particularly white men, of most First World societies may be why the phenomenon relates to such pairings. After all, women, perceived as property through much of history, have often been considered as the spoils of war, slavery and other forms of dominance. So, there is a perverse logic in white men being able to 'possess' women of color and treat them any way they like.

The issue of holding racist beliefs and engaging in interracial relationships recently arose in regard to a revelation about very successful rapper Eminem (Marshall Mathers). The New York Times has the story.

The track is by Eminem, and it sounds like a free style, not a song. Like much of his best and best-known work, this rant castigates an untrustworthy ex-girlfriend. But in this case the ex-girlfriend is black, and the rhymes are full of crude racial taunts. "Black girls only want your money," he says more than once. And early on he lays out his conclusions in sweeping (and inept) language:

Black girls and white girls just don't mix
Because black girls are dumb and white girls are good chicks
White girls are good, I like white girls
I like white girls all over the world
White girls are fine and they blow my mind
And that's why I'm here now, telling you this rhyme
'Cause black girls, I really don't like.

Even before the news conference had begun, Eminem had released a statement acknowledging that the words were his but calling them "foolishness," the sound of a spurned boyfriend venting his "anger, stupidity and frustration."

The suggestion that Eminem, the most prominent white artist in a genre developed by urban African-Americans, might be prejudiced is manna to a magazine that has been hostile to him for years.

But the executives from The Source argued that this newly unearthed recording (provided to them, they say, by three white hip-hop fans from Detroit) is a mountain, not a molehill. Kim Osorio, the magazine's editor in chief, said, "These are racist remarks by someone who has the ability to influence millions of minds."

. . .In all of this, the main complicating factor is that The Source is far from a neutral observer. The dominating presence at the news conference was that of Benzino Scott, a less-than-successful rapper who is listed on the magazine's masthead as "Co-Founder and Chief Brand Executive." Mr. Scott has been embroiled in a feud with Eminem, and the dispute has spilled into the pages of the magazine.

The February 2003 issue included an illustration of Mr. Scott holding Eminem's severed head. The March issue kept up the attack, calling Eminem an "infiltrator" who has continued the sad legacy of the much-derided white rapper Vanilla Ice. In a roundtable in the same issue, Mr. Scott blamed MTV: "I believe MTV was like a male basically takin' hip-hop, havin' sex with her, pushin' her off, pimpin' her and after that havin' the baby by her. We all know who the baby is: Eminem."

However, if I didn't believe there was more to the matter of bigotry in interracial relationships than a volley shot over the bow at a rap star by a hip hop enthusiast who resents him, I would not be writing about the subject. I believe there is evidence of bias against people of color in interracial relationships whenever the premise underlying them is one of white supremacy. For example, among some racists the Asian wife or girlfriend is becoming de rigeur. Some troubling beliefs underlie the trend.

  • That there is a hierarchy of races, with whites at the top. Though considered inferior to whites, Asians are granted status in a few areas, including natural subservience, or, as bigoted blogger John Derbyshire has said, "femininity."

  • That because of the 'natural' talents of Asians in math and science, offspring of such a union will have superior academic ability.

  • That white American women no longer know their place as inferiors to men and Asian women do.

  • Each one of those assumptions reeks of bigotry. Yet, some women of color are willing to share the beds of white men who hold such views. In my experience, the women are usually shadows of their husbands, echoing their racist views. Some of them, including those involved in the so-called multiracial movement, see no irony in declaring their mixed-rate children white -- after all, white is 'better.' They believe in white supremacy, too.

    So, Eminem wrote the lyrics above to annoy a former American-American girlfriend. Does that mean he is a member of the 'racist white men who seek out women of color' fraternity? No. I suspect he thought making race an issue would be a way to irk the woman who had rejected him even more. It is disturbing that he reached for racism as a weapon when it was an individual he was angry with -- not black women, nor black people. I suspect he had some prejudice in his heart at the time -- and a lot of anger.

    What can be done in regard to black, Hispanic and Asian women who allow racist white men to exploit them because of what I suspect is low self-esteem? Since people's relationships are private, not much. Women tempted to enter into such liasons will have to figure out why they are not a good idea for themselves.

    posted by J. | 9:57 AM

    Tuesday, November 18, 2003  

    Courting the conservative black voter

    John Hawkins at Right Wing News has written an entry that breaks with conservative orthodoxy. He suggests Republicans court African-American voters who are also conservative. (Yes, there are such people.)

    The GOP Needs To Reach Out To Conservative Black Voters

    As a party, the GOP does a lousy job of reaching out to black voters. Maybe we run a few commercials here & there or the President gives a speech at the National Urban League and we go, "See? We made the effort. 90% of the black vote is going to go to the Democrats no matter what we do, so why bother doing more?" Folks, that is the wrong attitude to take and it's the biggest reason why the GOP only pulls about 10% of the black vote every four years.

    Contrary to what popular opinion seems to be, I believe there are a significant number of black conservatives out there. I say that because about 30-40% (more on some issues) of blacks tend to come down on the conservative side of almost every issue you can name -- even on things like reparations & affirmative action. Given that most people tend to vote in clusters (i.e.: If you are against gun control & affirmative action, want less welfare, & are anti-abortion, I can guess that you're also going to support tax cuts and I'll be right most of the time), that means that roughly 1/3rd of all blacks should probably be voting Republican.

    So the real question to me is; why are so many blacks either not voting at all or voting for a party (the Democrats) that is by and large out of step with what they believe? I have a theory about that and I think it can best be explained by telling a little story about a conversation I once had.

    I used to work with a guy named Euwell. We hung out and talked about a variety of things and one day the talk turned to politics. Euwell told me that he thought welfare was a trap for black people that kept them down, he was tough on crime, he was against Affirmative Action, & he thought reparations were a joke. In short, he was very conservative - yet he told me that he voted for Democrats. When I asked him why, you know what he told me? "Republicans don't want black votes. We're not welcome in the Republican Party."

    John goes on to make some proposals.

    . . . When there's a black community struggling with lousy public schools, the GOP needs to help them fight for school vouchers. If there are people in a largely black inner city struggling with crime, we in the GOP need to step up and demand that the police do what it takes to make those neighborhoods safe again. When black businesses are having trouble keeping their heads above water, the GOP should be championing tax cuts and cutting regulation to help them get back on their feet. We can't continue to use, "well they're not going to vote for us at election time" as an excuse to avoid getting involved.

    Unfortunately, I don't believe most of his suggestions are workable. Public schools exist for a reason - most parents can't afford to send their children to private schools. Minority parents, who are disproportionately poor, are even less likely to be able to afford private schools. Vouchers? $250 isn't even a dent in private school tuition. I agree that the police should be responsive to crime anywhere. But, there is a long history of police either ignoring crime in black neighborhoods, or worse, harassing the residents to the extent they come to be resented. Until more cops are trained in community relations, John's hope is a pipe dream. Affirmative action has been the one thing that actually helped African-Americans (and women, Hispanics and Asians) get a larger, but still small, piece of the economic pie. The Republicans? They oppose affirmative action.

    And, a word on the neo-Confederate movement, which John alludes to. Considering the events of the last year -- Sons of Confederate Veterans' spokesman Trent Lott's demotion, the election of a Republican governor in Georgia because white conservatives thought he would bring back the Confederate flag as the state standard and the defection (in all but name) of Zell Miller to the GOP -- there can be no question that the neo-Confederate movement is part of the Southern Strategy, which has been anti-civil rights from its inception. Other than a few dupes, African-Americans are not going to parade around under the Confederate flag that has come to represent much of the GOP in the South.

    To attract more black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish voters, the Republican Party would have to change its positions on the issues. Education. Healthcare. Affirmative action. Taxation. Perhaps the war in Iraq. Sugarcoating unacceptable positions won't work because, contrary to cant, most people of color are not stupid. Africans-Americans don't reject the GOP because they don't know what it stands for, they reject it because they do.

    John Hawkins likely means well in urging recruitment of blacks to the GOP. However, he needs to help change that party into one not hostile to the interests of most minorities first. Instead, he seems to expect people of color, who are out in society living with inequities every day, to behave like conservative white men with dark makeup on. That rarely happens, which just might explain why the GOP fails to attract the majority of minority voters.

    posted by J. | 7:07 PM