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 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.
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.)
John goes on to make some proposals.
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