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Racism in the South


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This is a touchy subject, I know. But I'd really like some feedback. I am struggling with this.

I had an altercation with a woman yesterday in a parking lot who nearly injured me driving like a maniac. She was violent and racist. I made a journal entry detailing the encounter. It wasn't until after I started writing about it that I came to the realization that the near accident may have been no accident, that she may have intended to hurt me. I say this because, before I had a chance to inform her how close she came to hitting me, she was already angry, and walking toward me like she was going to hit me. All I was doing was loading my groceries into my trunk from my cart, minding my own business.

I was born and raised in the south. My family was not racist, except for my Grandmother. I had firsthand experience with how irrational racism is. She was terrified of 'black people'. I remember trying to rationalize with her about it. It never worked. She was the only one in the family who had this problem.

Something very strange is happening in the south right now. It's been growing subtly worse over the last few years. I think it all started with the OJ Simpson trial. An alarming number of African-Americans applauded him getting off. The man murdered his wife, rather violently. I can't help but wonder how the same population would feel if he were white and his murdered wife were black. A growing population of African-Americans in the south are exceedingly hostile towards white people. I have had a few confrontations lately with some women who were driving in a rather dangerous manner and every time I was assaulted as a "white b****h." Um, am I delusional, or am I being discriminated against for being white? This happens every time. I'm not denying the existence of white-racists, but I'm not racist just because I'm white.

Now, with the last altercation, I was nearly injured badly by someone who apparently intended me bodily harm, a stranger, who wanted to take out her frustration about life on me, because of the color of my skin. I don't deserve this. Nobody does. How can we move on past racism if people continue to feel victimized by "the man" and take it out on others? Life is hard. I'm sorry but it's not my fault. Blaming someone else for your life's problems is extremely destructive. I just can't get this outta my mind. I live in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Most of my neighbors are friendly, some are not, like in any urban neighborhood. A lot of the kids are curious about me, because I am white. They are innocent. God only knows what they hear from their parents. I try to offer them a friendly, positive experience with me.

It's interesting how many African-Americans talk about how badly they have been treated by the "white-man" but statistics clearly show that the majority of violence done to African-Americans is enacted by African-Americans, not white people. And if the gripe is that the white man has all the money, then quit spending your money on the crap the white man peddles, like expensive cars, gold and designer clothing. If ya wanna hit the "white man" where it hurts him, keep your money. Don't injure an innocent stranger you see in a parking lot. That is not helping the situation at all. It's making things worse.

What can we do to heal racism? How can we stop this cycle of abuse? Anybody have any thoughts? I'm really having a hard time with this, very upset. Thanks.

63 Replies (last)

I am constantly amazed at the fact that racism still exists, but I've been in similar situations myself... I'm half Latina, half Caucasian. I live in a predominantly Latino city, so I look like a white girl here.... But when I go to other parts of the country, I don't fit in with the white population because I look Latina to them. I've had people exclude me or make rude comments both for being white and for being Latina, depending on where I am and who I'm with. It shouldn't surprise me anymore, but it still does, every time...

I moved to Mississippi a few years ago from a town in Colorado where the population was 60% hispanic, and the other 40% was everyone else combined.
I'd never had much interaction with blacks before, so it was a bit of a culture shock at first.
Now, though, I go to a mainly black church and have many black friends.

From my experience, I would have to wonder if you are somehow provoking people, because generally, you are NOT going to experience racism unless you provoke it.
Are you waving some idiot rebel flag around?
Do you have any rude or angry bumper stickers, or perhaps, something against Obama?

Perhaps I am wrong, but you may simply be seeing things as worse than they really are.

I feel you on that one sunshineeyes...I'm multiracial too.spainard...of Moroccan descent and I am contastantly plagued mby not being enough "fill in the blank" in different neighborhoods.  I always got made fun of by the black kids growing up because I talked so "white" and then made fun of by the white kids because my ahir wasn't stick straight, but still tanned and sometimes burned liked them and they didn't understand why.  Then dating...ugh!  I wasn't like black women or dark enough like them to date a real black man, and they never attracted me much anyway, I dated prodominantly white guys and was in a couple relationship where the guys were racsit against others, and it made me feel uncomfortable because I wondered how they felt about me, being so different.   My children are half asian and I only wonder what they will  have to go through when they grow up.  When we go out now, people ask me if I speak english befor ehtey ask me a question and I figured, I dont look mexican do i?  Or they think I'm puerto rican.  but instead of finding it offensive sometimes I see it as a compliment.  Out world is not the purest, which I think is great...there is no supremacy of any one race, and the more we amalgimate (spelling?)  the more we will all look different.  Of course we can never escape form racisms, but we can only do our best not to teach our children to hate, and then one day hopefully, it will not exist.  Love knows no color lines and we should all accept that and live life! 

You have to understand, In the south, there are confederate flags everywhere. There are mentions about how sherman was the devil and how Robert E. Lee was an angel everywhere here. The confederate flag is a symbol of pride for us, pride to be southern and it does not necessarily mean that we are racist because of it. I've seen african american people with confederate flags. It's not unusual to have a confederate flag in the south. Mspw, where are you from?

It seems to me that racism is a clash of cultures, but often motivated by different things.  To my mind, the African American scenario isn't far removed from Canada's First Nations People - both were subjected to unfair treatment based on the belief that they were an inferior species.  Ridiculous to even contemplate in this day and age, but the history is there, and we're dealing with cultures who have been subjected to horrific, unfair and unjustifiable treatment for generations.  It's well and good to say "that was then, this is now", but generations of oppression take generations to overcome.  It wasn't that long ago that segregation was a reality in the United States, the cultural cleansing of aboriginal peoples  was practiced by the Canadian government.  Those aren't wounds that heal quickly, and some degree of mistrust and anger is to be expected. 

Having said that, innappropriate behavour is innappropriate behaviour, and I'm sorry that you were subjected to such an outburst.

Note to dietcoke - we have our very own "Robert E. Lee" up here in Canada - Louis Riel - still a hero to some, a traitor to others!

Split

I completely understand why you're frustrated - its not fair that people automatically take out their hate for "the white man" on you. It's racism, plain and simple, and they are wrong.

I do see a slight flaw in your post - I swear I'm not trying to attack, I'm just stating my opinion. Black-on-black crime is a major problem, but lets face it, African Americans have been mistreated by this country in many ways, and the consequences of that are evident today. Fixing the problems, including the financial ones, isn't as easy as shifting what you spend your money on, though it undoubtedly will help. And when you say "Don't spend your money on expensive cars and designer clothing," I may be projecting, but I think you might be thinking of the rappers out there that push excess and the people who strive to be like them, which does not represent the African-American community as a whole.


I am in no way justifying this in any way, I merely want to shed a light on why people are still so angry. There are still a lot of problems - for instance, it was proven that many banks around this country, when adjusted and controlled for income, disproportionately gave more sub-prime loans to African Americans and Latinos than other races, the loans that are now crippling people and the economy. Possession of crack (a drug used primarily by African Americans), a cheaper and diluted form of cocaine (a drug used primarily by Caucasians), carries a heavier minimum jail sentence; cocaine is the more potent drug, and yet it takes possession of twice or more of the drug to equal a crack sentence. I could go on and on, but this reply is already too long, lol.


In reality, this country mistreats the poor no matter what race you are, and since African Americans are disproportionally poor and have to deal with the added stress of systemic racism, it seems too much to bear. So they get angry. Now, like I said earlier, I'm not condoning the anger, I'm merely explaining it. And though you have faced a lot of that anger, I think there are just as many people who aren't mad about the "white man", but just the inequalities themselves still faced today.


Being the "white black girl" gives me added racist joy from African Americans and Caucasians. There have always been black kids at school that pick on me and say that I'm trying to act white merely because I have friends of different races and primarily listen to rock and pop, while I always encounter some white kid who thinks that they can say racist things in front of me because I'm an "exception." Yay.


Just a question: where do you live in the South? I live in Atlanta, which isn't as bad as things were when I lived in Augusta, GA...

It's happening everywhere, unfortunately.  A few years ago, up here, way up in northwestern Ohio, we had an issue about a black neighbor and a white neighbor.  I don't know how it came about, but the neo-Nazi's made a trip to Toledo to confront the black neigbhor.  This, of course, caused a huge riot in Polish Village.  Vehicles were damaged and a few buildings were destroyed.

Even when I was in school, race was an issue.  I went to a school where a majority of the people were black and they really did not care for some white people.  Whenever a problem arose in class, they would blame it all on the teacher because they're "white and don't understand," and were racist.  There'd been several times while walking the halls I was confronted by someone ready to kick my ass for walking on the same side of the hall as them.  I belonged on the other side.

And now whenever I ride my bicycle through Polish Village to get to work or to get home from work, I'm confronted by people who tell me I shouldn't be there, it's not a place for white people.  I apologise, explain I used to live there when I was little and was only trying to get to my job.  I've had one person tell me to not go down a street again and I've had two people instruct me towards a "safer" route because there were meaner people a few blocks ahead.  I've also had a guy stop me and offer me a slice of pizza, though.

It really does happen everywhere.  Racism towards black people, white people, tan people, yellow people, blue people, and every colour in between.  The only thing we can do is carry on our lives with an open mind and an open heart, to teach our kids to do the same, and to discuss matters with our friends.  Maybe they're racist, maybe they're not.  Maybe they'll go from being afraid of other colours to not being afraid by your example.

Getting hurt by someone who doesn't like you for anything is always a risk.  We shouldn't have to live in fear.  Keep pepperspray on hand and try your best to be polite to people regardless of how they feel about you.

Betty--I was laughing about that too, what does Obama have to do with this post? Why did you say what you did? There was no need for Obama to be brought into this (so what's that say about you)...Not to Betty but to the person that wrote that...

---Second, I agree with Fact that I think the OP needs to take a look at herself and see what she did (some self-reflection) Were you maybe making a face or something when the lady was passing by and you didn't mean to? What were you doing? I think we are so quick to blame the other person but we are slow to look at ourselves and see what might have caused it. I think and 100% agree that racism does still exist , in some places it's more evident then others. No you may not have been the person that caused or did a racist act but you look like them and Yes just because you may be "white" it does mean that you have more priviledges  than your fellow black man and probably always will. I think one thing that people forget is slavery wasn't that long ago people, segregation wasn't that long ago...It can't just all be erased. And you expect everything to be all hunky dory. And you also can't say that all black people feel the same way or all white people feel the same way..That's why I say to do some self-reflection---It's a one person at a time kind of thing, there's a lot of hurt and a lot of crimes still happening in this country because of race..Take Los Angeles Blacks vs. Latinos...and look at other places such as the JENA 6. Racism is still alive and will always be. But it starts at the individual level to fix it. So my question to the OP would be, how did you handle the situation? Individual level people

Racism has been around for a long time and will sadly always be around too. That's what makes me laugh, why is it only seen as racist when done/said by a white person.....I was on a thread the other day which really annoyed me all about white this, white that (none of it good) and I just thought you know if I had written that and replaced the white with black there would have been all sorts of repercussions.

I really don't know what the answer is or if there even is an answer. To say that it is a class thing....well I'm not too sure, there are plenty of white people living below the poverty line too....

My own personal experiance is that many have a bigger chip on their shoulder about their colour than anyone else does.....almost like they blame us because they weren't born white.......

\Because white people have always oppressed black people and continue to .......White people are in the major positions in this country...White people are the majority of doctors & lawyers--Haven't you ever heard of the good ole boy system (it's all about white people)...There is a term coined White privilege--and do you know what this means? It means that just because you are white that you get treated a certain way. So for example, say if you go in a department store and the white sale lady may help you out but she is eyeing the black woman that came in because she thinks she might steal something just because she is black (is this the case in every situation..No..but does it occur..Yes)....Another example, is , say if you apply for a job against a very qualified black woman--well guess what, you may not meet the qualifications but just because you are White you are more likely to get the job over the black woman..Am I just pulling this info out of nowhere? No, there are all kinds of statistics out there on this--It happens...

Original Post by skyeskye:

I moved to Mississippi a few years ago from a town in Colorado where the population was 60% hispanic, and the other 40% was everyone else combined.
I'd never had much interaction with blacks before, so it was a bit of a culture shock at first.
Now, though, I go to a mainly black church and have many black friends.

From my experience, I would have to wonder if you are somehow provoking people, because generally, you are NOT going to experience racism unless you provoke it.
Are you waving some idiot rebel flag around?
Do you have any rude or angry bumper stickers, or perhaps, something against Obama?

Perhaps I am wrong, but you may simply be seeing things as worse than they really are.

No, it is that bad.  I am a liberal activist.  I have no bumper stickers on my car.  I am not racists, for God's sake!  You are right, generally I wouldn't experience this sort of onslaught of racism.  It's started happening since I moved into this neighborhood, intown.  It's an urban area, used to be quieter, but things have changed.  No, I'm not seeing things worse than they are. I've been in this state most of my life and I can tell you things have changed.  I really think it's due to the economic problems in our country.   Ppl are getting angry and taking it out on one another.  I suppose it appears to some ppl that the whites who own most of the money & political power in this country are doing a poor job managing it all.  I would have to agree.   But it's certainly not my fault just because I share their race.  I am constantly mistreated in public by ppl, not always black ppl, but it's always black ppl who play the race card, not latinas or asians.  I am dumbfounded by it.  I want the hate to heal.  This is just festering and terrible. 

booster1: I cannot be held responsible for the horrors of the African-Americans.  All I can say to you is that racism is never right, despite who appears to be victimized.  I am not hurting anyone unloading my groceries into my car.  I didn't deserve to have my life endangered.  I stood up for myself.  In your post in my journal you asserted that I should have just let it go.  You also asserted that I must have provoked her as well as called me racist!  You don't know me.  I appreciate your offbeat extrapolation of what you perceive as a possibility of how it went down, but you are sorrowfully wrong.  I was abused as a child but I don't go around taking it out on women who have children just because of how my mother treated me!  That is insane.  I sympathize with the plight of the African-American person.  I am not the enemy.  Violence begets violence.  You cannot justify racism on the basis of racial discrimination.  That is equally insane.  As long as you think someone else is to blame for your misfortunes you have given your power away.  A lot pf ppl do this and blame a lot of other ppl for their misery.  I just wish ppl could heal.  Hurting me is not healing. 

I do see a slight flaw in your post - I swear I'm not trying to attack, I'm just stating my opinion. Black-on-black crime is a major problem, but lets face it, African Americans have been mistreated by this country in many ways, and the consequences of that are evident today. Fixing the problems, including the financial ones, isn't as easy as shifting what you spend your money on, though it undoubtedly will help. And when you say "Don't spend your money on expensive cars and designer clothing," I may be projecting, but I think you might be thinking of the rappers out there that push excess and the people who strive to be like them, which does not represent the African-American community as a whole.

-armorrow

I hear you. I have African-American friends so I know not everyone is like that. I just wish fewer ppl would not identify so strongly with symbols of material prosperity. It's an American epidemic, not solely allocated to any particular race. It's a cycle that keeps the poor poor and the rich rich.  It happens more often in economically challenged households. It just so happens to be that African-Americans have been much poorer in America, historically. The poor white ppl in Acworth do the same thing. I am in Atlanta too, and as I have said, it wasn't always this bad. I will contend that Atlanta has the worst drivers in the country. I have driven all over. I don't really know why that is. I tend to correct some ppl in traffic, not argumentatively, but I will honk my horn if someone is, say pulling out in front of me and I have to slam on my brakes. But it's almost always a black woman who will get verbally racially abusive. Lots of ppl get nasty in traffic. That's not my contention. It's racism. I don't understand why that has to figure in. I have been called a "white b***" twice this month. I suppose it's hard for a lot of ppl to get by these days. It's hard for me too. I guess, some ppl think that, if you're white you don't have the same kind of probs. It's just not true. I'm not going to get into my sob-story here. Suffice it to say, I've had a rough ride this lifetime. So I don't buy the excuse that an African-American woman has it worse than me. You speak of subprime mortgages. I know all about what's happening. But get this, I couldn't even get a subprime! So misfortune is relative. This is my point. Get to know me before you make a broad assumption. I acknowledge full and well I can be a b****, but the race thing is just nasty. There's no call for it. Like I said, how can a wound heal if it keeps getting used as a battering ram? I want that to heal. How can we accomplish this?

What an honest, open and respectful thread.  Kudos.

If I might add another topic for discussion?  Is it possible that the terms "racism" and "reverse discrimination" are (ironically) being indiscriminately used?  And to the detriment of those who truly are victimized? 

If this woman had forcibly confined you to her vehicle, driven you to Africa and sold you and the next 10 generations of your family into slavery, I might be willing to concede that the incident was at least based in discriminatory pay-back.  As it is, maybe she was simply rude and aggressive - and from my experience, those traits have no social, geographic or cultural boundaries.

Just a thought, 

Split 
Original Post by splitrail:

What an honest, open and respectful thread. Kudos.

If I might add another topic for discussion? Is it possible that the terms "racism" and "reverse discrimination" are (ironically) being indiscriminately used? And to the detriment of those who truly are victimized?

If this woman had forcibly confined you to her vehicle, driven you to Africa and sold you and the next 10 generations of your family into slavery, I might be willing to concede that the incident was at least based in discriminatory pay-back. As it is, maybe she was simply rude and aggressive - and from my experience, those traits have no social, geographic or cultural boundaries.

Just a thought,

Split

Yea, I would agree, but she insulted me on the basis of my race.  If I had done what she did to me it would have been considered racist.  But, let me be sure I'm understanding you here, what she did to me was not considered racist?  And btw, nobody owned her as a slave.  If we keep making excuses for violent behavior it will never end.  Like I said, I don't go around insulting mothers because my mother abused me.  I don't think anyone has the right to abuse me on the basis of my race nor do I have the right to abuse anyone because of my past.  Perhaps she was just upset and angry, but why does race have to come into it?  Did she feel she needed that in order to feel justified in arguing with me?  She didn't, not by my account.  But I think that is the issue at hand, the need someone feels to play the race card when making an argument.  It's not necessary.  Confidence in one's stance is all that's needed.  Confidence and humility. 

I still maintain that she, at least subconsciously, intended to hit me.  That assumption is not based at all on race.  It's based on how she was acting as soon as she stepped out of the vehicle.  She was already angry and fighting.  I never got to finish my sentence.  That, along with the racial name-calling is what leads me to believe I was assaulted on the basis of race. 

I am a confident, attractive, well-postured, healthy white woman.  I am not demure, by any means, but I am not rude.  I can be intimidating to someone who is less confident because of my posture and the way I hold myself.  I'm sure this plays into it.  If I were a demure thing I wouldn't have said anything to her.  If I were a demure thing, I wouldn't have been an activist. If I were a demure thing I wouldn't have survived my life.  It's part of me.  And I take full responsibility for it.  I can take an argument and I can handle being wrong.  I expect the same from others.  So, I guess it's my fault if I'm disappointed in people. 

Original Post by splitrail:


If this woman had forcibly confined you to her vehicle, driven you to Africa and sold you and the next 10 generations of your family into slavery, I might be willing to concede that the incident was at least based in discriminatory pay-back. 

 Actually, the vast majority of slaves traded into the Atlantic slave trade were caught by Africans to be sold to Europeans.

Anyhow, I can't really comment on the original topic as I have never felt discriminated against by black people. I do get harassed in some stores though because I look like I have no money. The doubt the difficult woman you dealt with was actually trying to hit you, although it is entirely possible she was trying to scare you.

I wasn't judging you mspw - I was simply suggesting that you not judge her on the basis of the colour of her skin - which is precisely what you're accusing her of.

I'll concede, she insulted you on the basis of your race.  But she didn't infringe upon your basic human rights or in any way limit your ability to be an equal and contributing member of society.  In fairness, you must admit that you prejudged her based upon your perception of her socio-economic status.  In your journal, you refer to her "monstrosity of a vehicle", a "massive Silverado with a king cab".  You then infer that she attempted to enlist the aid of the security guard "being black, like herself".

At the risk of being judged judgmental (I'm getting really good at these ironic statements!), I feel that you had a perfectly valid and justifiable complaint against an apparently careless and incredibly rude woman.  A complaint which you muddied by bringing race and economic status into the discussion.

With all due respect,

Split
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