Monday, September 19, 2005

The race post

With, without
And after all, isn't that what the fighting's all about?

-Pink Floyd

I have utmost respect for Laura, but finally found an issue that we don't agree on besides guns. Don't worry, I'll convert her into a gun nut. Just give me more time.

She quoted a writer who talks about white privilege. Granted, every time I see a cop, I wish I was white. I've been harassed so many times by law enforcement for "walking while colored" it's not even funny. And middle-class whites think I'm exaggerating too, which really pisses me off.

"Well, were you wearing blue or red?"

"You wear blue and red all the time and you never get harassed, you heartless jerk. And no, I was wearing black."

Also, Sygyzy had an excellent post on his blog a few weeks ago that showed our American press showing a white couple who "found" some food while a black guy "looted" some food. So I'm not denying racism still exists and that there is white privilege. But I will say that class is way more important than race. It's not even close.

White privilege only works if you're middle-class or higher. You go into the bar and start talking about white privilege to a white guy who just saw his uncle, his brother, and his best friend just get Annakin Skywalkered in the latest refinery accident and you'll have an instant enemy.

I really like Roseanne. I know a lot of you hate her, but I like her. I remember her ranting once about how America is obsessed with race. Obsessed with it. Yet, nobody ever brings up class.

You and I will not have the same lawyers and accountants that a rich guy, regardless of race, will get. We might invest in stocks, they buy companies. We buy cheap, fixer-upper rental homes, they buy apartment complexes and hotels. We might rent a boat, they'll buy a yacht. We buy tickets to a basketball game, they buy a basketball team. We have to deal with the TSA idiots, they take their private jets. And "they" are of any color. "They" have more in common with each other than we do with one of "them" of their color, whatever it is.

I used to deliver pizza to a country club that costed $22,000 a year to be a member of. I got a chance to see what they looked like. A few of them even looked like me, but believe me, I'd definitely be more comfortable at a dinner table with the refinery folks I grew up with than them.

I remember one kid getting a Porsche for his sixteenth birthday and smashing it. No problem, Daddie bought him another. Now, I will readily admit, I'm privileged. I got a Ford Taurus with 250k miles on it after graduating college. My Daddie said if I could keep it running, I could have it. That's still better off than 90% of people in the world, seriously.

But when we keep obsessing with race and conveniently skip over the class topic, we're going to do more harm than good. I'm looking forward to the day when race and racism are reduced to humor, like on the Dave Chapelle show. I'm looking forward to seeing Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of when a person isn't judged on race, but on character. I'm looking forward to the day when nobody asks me my race, not my employer, not my school, and not someone with guilt who thinks he should feel sorry for me.

I'm looking forward to the day of discrimination, the way it should be. If you're American, you get a leg up in America over the person who is not American (it's the reverse right now, and I'll prove it in a later post). That's how it is in Thailand. How come it's the reverse of that here?

By the way, the white side of my family's doing considerably worse than the coloreds. It has nothing to do with race though, and everything to do with class. Let us not forget that all colors worked side by side in the coal mines and when the mines collapsed and a lot of the miners died, the owner would always ask if his donkeys made it out.


Blogger Scott said...

I watched the Mind of Mencia the other day, and I heard it was offensive, but I was appalled. The man was trashing white americans, then showed a few dumb ass crackers saying dumb ass cracker type things; the implication was the all whites thought the same way. Then he walks up to a white guy in the live audience and flipped him off. It was a joke. Ha ha ha. If it were me he'd have gotten that and a little more back in his face, because if I were doing that show, and I flipped off a colored man, the would CRUCIFY me in the court of public opinion. I'm literally sick of being muzzled, having to monitor every word I say in order to avoid the PC police. Racism is a fact of life, and we ALL do it. Nobody is exempt. Some more than others. I watched Crash this weekend that deals with this very topic, and what a phenominally done story, that points out the hypocrisy of all people who complain about being judged by race. I totally agree that class has more than anything to do with it, but race does too.

9/19/2005 9:42 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Right ON!!
I think my disdain for celebreties stems from this class issue.
I can't stand that celebs are plastered on the cover of any given magazine and they are gloating about how wonderful it is to be a mother and how they managed to lose all their "baby weight".
How can you preach to me how to be a wonderful mother when you have a nanny, a dependable car (because it's brand new), a personal chef, any amount of baby supplies you need and a personal trainer to help you "lose the weight"?
I want to see the story of a mother of four that adopted her nephew because her sister was a crack addict and they live in a crappy apartment with no car and hardly any money to buy food. I want to read how she pulled it together and persevered and her kids are succeeding in school and they attribute their positive attitude to their mother because she was always there for them and she never complained.
Because those stories are real and about the true qualities of a mother. That's why I watched Roseanne--because it was reality. I hated Home Improvement, Full House, and all those other shows about spoiled children that run the house.
I hated Married With Children, though. That was a little too stereotypical and condescending.

9/19/2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Scott - My investment partner keeps saying PC will be the death of us all. I'm trying to get him to write a blog because he explains it better than I do.

Excellent example. The whole white privilege thing really alienates the white working class, who I've always seen as being in the same boat as me.

Well, not anymore though. By a combination of hard work and a lot of luck, we're pretty well-off now. But you know what I mean.

That double standard that you mention pisses me off.

As for Crash, I'll have to see it.

Sadie - Yes! That's why I hate them too. They get all holier than thou and it's easy for them when they don't have to do real work. I work ridiculously long hours and still find time to cook, mow the lawn, and spend some time with my family. Those !@#$%^& celebs pay someone to do all that stuff and try to crucify me for having to deal with reality.

And that's also why I loved Roseanne. Her hubby could have been me. I love them for their strenghs and their flaws. There were times when they were just too tired to deal with the kids' bickering and they didn't resolve their issues every 30 minutes like some Hollywood fantasy family.

Married with Children took it to the opposite extreme. I watched it though because back then, I had the hots for Kelly.

9/19/2005 10:41 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

YEs, Yes, YES! I agree completely and damnint you just premepted a future blog post of mine. (grumble grumble gripe)
Race is much less the issue than ecenomics. I hate listening to some pundit use "the under priveledged" and "people of color" as synonyms. (When did white stop being a color anyway????)


9/19/2005 10:53 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

"And "they" are of any color. "They" have more in common with each other than we do with one of "them" of their color, whatever it is."

I couldnt have said it better.

9/19/2005 10:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I don't disagree with you on this. Race and class are usually difficult to separate but when each is held constant, the other can kick a person when they're already down. For instance, a poor white man still has a leg up on a poor mexican man or a poor white woman. And holding race constant, a middle-class black man is better off than his poor counterpart. The problem comes in because class is in large part, socially determined based on many criteria and the systemtatic exclusion of entire groups of people from fully achieving the "american dream".

The problem with focusing exclusively on class is that it denies the reality that those who have the real power in our society are not only rich, but are also white, male and heterosexual. There are very, very few people with a lot of power in our society who do not fit this mold.

I also disagree with you on wanting to have "just americans" because generally what that entails is someone attemtping to become as close as one can to the white, male, heterosexual, protestant norm as they can possibly get - thus negating important parts of their identity and heritage, but also excluding, systematically, those who cannot attain that ideal.

What we truly need to ask ourselves is, why must there be a hierarchy? Why must one group dominate over another? Why can't we all truly become the "melting pot" and all have a say in what we value as a society?

9/19/2005 12:26 PM  
Blogger Spexial said...

class is in session..come grab a seat and check it out...

9/19/2005 12:56 PM  
Blogger Levi Nunnink said...

I agree so much and it's funny 'cause I was just thinking about this and the Katrina victims. People who are trying to cast that as a race issue are missing the problem by miles. The problem isn't that people are black the problem is that people are poor! The poor people suffered in that situation and, oh yeah, many happened to be black.

9/19/2005 1:13 PM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

"People of color can never be wealthy. They can be rich, but not wealthy. Well, what's the difference, Chris? I'll tell you. Shaq is rich. The white man that writes his checks is wealthy"
- Chris Rock, Never Scared.

9/19/2005 1:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"That's how it is in Thailand. How come it's the reverse of that here?"

I meant to comment on this before and got sidetracked. You can't really compare Thailand to America - Thailand is a very homogenous country. America is more akin to a Balkin or Central Asian country - having to deal with multi-ethnic identities than like Thailand. I'd take my life here any day over the life of a rural woman in Thailand who is twice as likely to be infected with HIV if she's married than if she's not - why? Because the men screw around with hookers... not exactly what I'd want my life to look like.

9/19/2005 1:29 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Laura - That was just a criticism I have of the way Americans are. We're always looking out for those people over there, and we keep giving away what we have, like a lot of our jobs for instance.

Sygyzy - I saw that. Although I disagree with Rock, I do think he's funny. Keep in mind he said that the difference between rich and wealthy is rich is the black athlete who's making $10 million a year. Wealthy is the guy who writes his checks.

Is not Michael Jordan writing those checks now? I could also name a black inventor who would be considered wealthy by Rock's definition. They're out there, and there were black folks at the $22,000/yr country club I delivered pizza to. By the way, that was '94 money. It's probably 40k a year now.

Levi - The people in New Orleans who lost everything were primarily black. The people living in the boonies in Lousiana and Mississippi who lost everything were primarily white. Since it's hard to get a news camera out in the boonies, the press gave the misperception that it was mostly blacks who lost everything in that hurricane.

That said, it sucked for everyone. I feel bad for the good folks who lost everything regardless of what color skin they had.

Good points.

Professor - Occupation paying bills? isn't that all of us? ;)

Laura again - Not necessarily. We could still have Oktoberfest in October, Cinco de Mayo in May, and St Patty's day. I don't think being "just Americans" is forcing anyone to lose their heretige, and frankly, if you give me another reason to celebrate, you'll be on my good side.

It's important to realize that just because the majority of the super rich are white in this country doesn't mean all white people have privilege. Savage is white (he's a regular poster here and a personal friend of mine) and he's had just as much trouble with the cops for doing nothing as I have, because of his white trash background.

Poor whites are not only overlooked in this country, but they're the last people who it's politically correct to make fun of. For the record, when I mentioned leper colonies, the majority of the lepers in the Lousiana colony are white. How do those folks have a leg up on a poor Mexican?

Also, the folks I've seen with elephantitis (sp?) were mostly white, poor, and from the South. I did see one black lady though. None of these people will be getting high paying desk jobs any time soon.

I really think white privilege only applies to middle-class and above. Poor is poor, and poverty sucks, regardless of how much melanin your skin produces.

You and I do want the same thing. We both want equal opportunity. It's just we see who has a leg up differently. I see it almost entirely as class now, very different from how it was fifty years ago.

Chris - Thanks.

Exmi - Yeah, my old university was full of those pundits. Looking forward to seeing your upcoming post.

9/19/2005 2:00 PM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

ZS - Sorry, I don't agree with your semantics. Rock said "Shaq is rich, the white man that writes his paychecks is wealthy." I saw it on Friday, again. I think we all know how much Shq makes. Hundres of millions. Does not matter. The white man that writes his checks still makes more.

And I am sure there are black people at the country club. That does not prove anything more than they could afford the $22k annual fee. Even a benchwarmer on the Lakers could afford that.

That is a big difference between being rich and being wealthy.

9/19/2005 2:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"For the record, when I mentioned leper colonies, the majority of the lepers in the Lousiana colony are white. How do those folks have a leg up on a poor Mexican?"

Ahh, but see, now you're throwing in yet ANOTHER category. I said holding all other things constant. You're now adding disability and/or sickness. The intersection of various categories marginalize people even further - you're right that a white leper would be worse off than a poor, healthy mexican. Hold all else constant though - can you honestly say that a mexican leper would receive the same level of care as a white leper? Or would he be seen as even more "dirty" by virtue of not only his disease but also the social connotations of his race as being a "dirty" people in the eyes of many middle-class Americans?

9/19/2005 2:53 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Sygyzy - You know, that gets to the point of who cares though. I did a post on a guy who's "stupid rich," which means so rich he could be as stupid as Paris Hilton and still have money left over for the next generation. His net worth was around what Shaq makes in a few years.

Once it gets there, it gets at the point of just silliness. So the guy who writes his paycheck could buy ten lear jets and five islands in the Caribbean whereas Shaq can only buy three lear jets and two islands in the Caribbean. So what.

It's like when the Friends people complained that they only made $100,000 an episode. They won't be getting my shoulder to cry on.

Laura - I think when someone has a severe case of leprosy, the last thing they'd be thinking about is their race. :(

There's an old saying that goes the healthy man wants everything, the sickly man only wants one thing.

9/19/2005 3:17 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I think race is overemphasized because people like to believe that they are not racist. Some go to the extreme of verbalizing it, which makes them look even more racist. Also, race is more visible because people can choose to stay out of rough areas so they don't have to see lower class citizens. I'm not disagreeing with your premise that differences in class are more polarizing than differences in race, but just pointing out that people can avoid lower class and thereby avoid seeming prejudiced (until they open their mouths to speak).

9/19/2005 4:37 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

The "race" issue is pretty much only an issue for racists.

Most rational people recognize that the concept of class is much more important. It is an extremely important distiction.

Good post.

9/19/2005 4:38 PM  
Blogger Kunaxa said...

I personally think Race is a bigger issue because people are born that way, it's something they have no control of.

One can argue that 'class' or financial status is similar, but it really isn't. Sure, you'll have the trust fund, Paris Hilton type Born-to-be-rich folk ... but when it comes down to it, a lot of rich people (especially the ones who flaunt it/ overdoit) are indeed ones who came from simple/middle class backgrounds.

Race is much more a determining factor (and also much more of a detriment). For example, A racist person will throw their jones on an innocent baby with a "blank slate". It's a much more fundamentally rooted hate that is spewed.

9/19/2005 6:02 PM  
Blogger Liquidplastic said...

In the end my beloved Zombie, we must all agree to disagree --- for wisdom knows no age, and opinions are just that, opinions.

The secret to life is not to indoctrinate others to your beliefs, but to share them and seek out the commonalities of life – so that we may all co-exist in a world that has so much diversity of thought --- peacefully.

The proof is always in the pudding, and I, personally suffers from both; racism and class discrimination, add to that gender bias. Therefore you are neither right nor wrong, but rather you have a good argument and it’s been wonderful reading it again, with all the pros and cons that makes for a good discussion.

Gee, it’s always so refreshing to hang out with wonderful and intelligent young folks; it gives this old one hope for a better tomorrow.

9/19/2005 6:17 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

LP - It's all good. I am eternally an optimist who tries to see the best in people.

I have though seen a huge change in the years. In the 70s in Concord, CA, the cops helped cover up a lynching of a black man and got away with it. It was a big headline that four of them were active in the KKK. This is no secret, it was all over the papers.

Racism though has been through a steady decline in my lifetime. I remember people being bothered by me being mixed-race when I was a kid. Sure, there are still folks like that, but it's on a huge decline. Or maybe now that I'm a man, they're afraid to say it in front of me. Who knows?

I am personally thankful for different races. As you know from my taste in women, they're all over the map. If all women were 5'5" 135 pounds with brown hair and green eyes, how fun would that be?

In the 60s, it was a big deal that Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo shared a hotel room together. Now on national TV, you see everyone gathering at the Quarterback's house for a bar-be-que and it isn't a big deal.

In the 60s, they made a big deal out of Kirk and Lietenant Uhura's kiss. Nowadays, very few people care anymore.

So we're not there yet, but we're definitely getting better.

CS - While race cannot be changed, class is a lot harder to change than people realize. It takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck to go up in class.

But you bring up the point of what to do with racism. That's a good question, and one I do not have the answers to. I really do think though that as a society, we do focus way too much on race while The Man is laughing his way to the bank. Let us fight amongst ourselves for the crumbs, which is always how it's been. I'd love to go beyond that.

Keep in mind, Homie the Clown got his chance to meet The Man, so it does happen. ;)

As I said though, people in one class are a heck of a lot more alike than people of another, regardless of race.

Is the white janitor in Mississippi who got his house destroyed by Katrina better off than the black mechanic in New Orleans who got his home destroyed by Katrina? I don't think so. Neither have insurance and neither one of them can get access to diabetes medicine for their mother who rents (or used to) a room from them. Looks like in both cases, they're homeless and mother loses a leg.

Joe - Agreed. Or it's an issue for folks with too much time on their hands. Funny thing is, the average working class bar has more diversity than the activist's coffee places.

Notta - Some go to the extreme of verbalizing it, which makes them look even more racist.

Yes. Or project their racism on everyone else.

9/19/2005 6:46 PM  
Blogger Kunaxa said...

I was looking forward to seeing how you'd address the reply to my comment - ha! and you pulled out the old 'CS'.

Ah, the little things.

9/19/2005 7:02 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

ZS: I agree - Leprosy is probably a bad example. But you have to agree that where race intersects something like class, that race is a factor.

And yes, class is a lot harder to change than people realize. Generally speaking, with very few exceptions, most Americans will die within the same socioeconomic class into which they were born. The so called "American Dream" does not exist for 95% of us, no matter how hard we work.

9/19/2005 7:08 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Laura - I'm not at all denying racism exists, it's just an honest look at race cannot be covered without looking at class.

You and I have a lot more in common than Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have in common with us. And a lot more doors are open to them that aren't open to you and me.

CS - I still check up on your site, hoping that just maybe you'd pop out of retirement for a day and write something. ;)
So I immediately recognized the avatar.

9/19/2005 7:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Exactly - one cannot be covered without the thinking of the other. Agreed there...

9/20/2005 4:41 AM  
Anonymous Michele said...

Hey Zombie, I didn't know you were a man of color. All this time I've been picturing you kind of pasty, with dark circles under your eyes. (I guess I'm imagining a "Zombie", and not a "Zombie-SLAYER".) Well, I guess now that I know, we can't get along, because you know what they say about Blacks and Mexicans. To show I'm just kidding, I'll leave you with a joke on both of us:
What do you get when you cross a black and a mexican?
A baby that's too lazy to steal.
Good post, and one I'll think about a lot today.

9/20/2005 8:38 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Michele - That joke was awesome! Thanks. You made my morning.

Yeah, I'm one of those people that people go up to and say "what are you?"

I just say American. I'm one of the few who still loves this country and is proud to be American.

Laura - Cool. I didn't mean any disrespect for you whatsoever. It was the author you quoted though, she had a way of getting under my skin. I even agreed with part of what she said.

9/20/2005 9:05 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

"While race cannot be changed, class is a lot harder to change than people realize. It takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck to go up in class."

This is so true its scary. The saddest part is that people actually believe that they go from middle to upper class, or lower to middle class just because of the things they have and the few 10's of thousands difference in salary. There is a huge divide between the upper class and the middle class, to list the differences is mind numbing.

9/20/2005 10:33 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Michele and I have speculated often on what the Zombieslayer looks like. Her comment made me laugh.
Good joke Michele and one that can only be comfortably told on THIS blog.
New post today, ZS?

9/20/2005 11:01 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Sadie - Tonight. Kind of getting slammed at work today. :p

Funny, maybe one day I'll give a list of everything I've been mistaken for and the ethnicities I'm aware of.

Chris - That would be a wonderful post. What it's like to be real upper class.

The middle-class has no idea what it's like to be upper-class. They think if you make six figures and put X amount into their 401k, in Y years, they'll be upper-class. It doesn't work like that.

Upper class folks have trust funds and their work entails sitting on boards of companies giving advice, or deciding which charities to give to in order to cut what little tax they pay.

I did a post awhile ago about an upper class kid I played soccer with. Wonderful guy. Smiles all the time, goes to church regularly, is in top notch physical shape, and vacations where and when he wants. Even if he had a coke habit and loved high class hookers, which he does none of either, but even if he did, he'd never be able to go through all that money he has. Never.

Middle-class on the other hand is one serious illness away of being bankrupt.

9/20/2005 11:14 AM  
Blogger Liquidplastic said...

I don't have anything to add or delete --- I just love these stimulating dialogue and I daresay, I am learning so much about the folks I co-exist with. It's refreshing!

But I have to admit, I didn't know the middle class existed anymore. I thought it was poorest, poorer, and poor.

9/20/2005 12:08 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Liquid: Your very close to absolutely correct. The middle class was done away with... I dunno for sure, but I'd say probably with in the last 20 years or so. I'd say the middle class could be better called the "endentured" class. As anyone who is middle class, is stained and tainted with never ending debt. The poor simply cant get loans to be endentured, but then again, the lack of wealth simply makes them a bleak statstic (aka, New Orleans).

Zombie: Yeah. I know exactly what you are talking about. Living life with "positive" cash flow must be absolutely exhillerating. I could only dream. Like, being superman.... could only dream.

9/20/2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I know what it would be like to be upper class. It would be like living like you knew you were going to die in 1 month... but living that way your entire life.

9/20/2005 12:16 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

It would be like living like you knew you were going to die in 1 month... but living that way your entire life.

Great way to visualize that point.

9/20/2005 12:33 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Y'all are too cool. Yup, it's all legalized indentured servitude. I currently owe The Man so much it's not even funny. Funny, when I wasn't middle class, I could only get credit card limits of $500.

I'll do my class post tonight. It's kind of bleak unless you're in the upper class.

9/20/2005 2:42 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Hey Z, will you answer a question for me? What is your race?

9/21/2005 5:46 AM  
Blogger Bo Salisbury said...

Sorry I'm late, sir ... I've been mired in futility. This is a wonderful post... I'm glad we're finally getting these issues out in the open. By the way, I'm colored... I just checked and I'm #EFC0B0 or 239, 192, 176 in RGB. And, if the truth be told, some of my best friends are #734A22 and #EFD995!

9/22/2005 5:28 AM  
Blogger clothosfate said...

"walking while colored"

That really got me...thats a damn good line. Damn good.

Another excellent post Zombieslayer, I can hear what you are saying and I agree. Class is of utmost importance when dealing with privilege.

This post made me think of a new moive I just saw called Crash. I think I will write a post on it. Once again you've inspired me.

9/22/2005 7:34 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Clothosfate - Looking forward to seeing your post. I still haven't seen Crash.

Bo - Well, now you know I'm a huge geek because I was busting up laughing at that. I remember the days of making web sites with vi and using hex maps to select background, text, and link colors.

Mel - It's a long story, so I sent you an email.

9/22/2005 9:28 AM  
Blogger Bo Salisbury said...

I'm happy I made you laugh... my wife married me, in large part, for my wisecracking. I fear she no longer finds me so amusing, so any laughs I can get are welcome.

Keep making me laugh and think... it's rejuvinating.

9/24/2005 7:49 AM  

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