Monday, March 19, 2007

Negro Law: Can We Still Guilt Trip White Folks On Slavery?

Over on okayplayer today:

I can remember a time when a white person could be getting too big for his britches and a black person could always say, "Hey dude! Slavery!" It would automatically cool things down and give everyone proper perspective: Don't anyone start feeling too high-and-mighty because I could be like any of you, if not for slavery.

But nowadays mentioning the 300 years (or is it 400 now?) of oppression you've endured doesn't carry the same wallop. White people are so damn comfortable now. Everyone's casually dropping the n-word in movies and television. Britney Spears shaved her head during Black History Month like it was nothing. Caucasians are rapping on youtube like their great-great-great grandparents were slaves whose descendants were so disenfranchised all they could do was effuse street staccato poetry over African rhythms to entertain people and empower themselves. It's crazy.


Negro Law: Can We Still Guilt-Trip White Folks Over Slavery? [okayplayer]


  1. freynolds3/19/2007

    the oppression you speak of ended a little over 40 years ago. my mom had to ride in the back of the bus and drink from a colored only water fountain. i am part of the 1st generation to come after the civil rights movement. it is completely and utterly ignorant to think that 40 years can erase 400 plus years of oppression

  2. Where is the evidence that Whites have ever felt guilty about slavery? Bring it up and most will say "Look where you'd be in Africa if we hadn't enslaved you. You ought to thank us!" Of course the role of Europe in Africa is ignored. I see a Holocaust memorial in DC and an official state apology for Japanese internment but I'm not aware of anything similar for slavery or the genocide of the indigenous.

    The above commenter is correct too. I don't know how you got on OKP. I think the site has officially jumped the shark.

  3. Tracer Bullet3/19/2007

    I prefer to use the phrase, "437 years of oppression." And, frankly, I'll use whatever I can to get ahead; I'm just a po' black man in a white man's world. If women can wear short skirts and tight sweaters while complaining about sexism, then I can damn sure make a buck off the enslavement of my ancestors.

    But yeah, like Wu-Kung says, the people who know this don't need the guilt-trip (though sometimes it works). For the others, they're too oblivious for to feel guilty.

  4. You need to make a permanent link for this, because it's great.

  5. I think most whites feel pretty guilty by association, trip or no trip. Slavery ought to be remembered, no doubt. Maybe not in a job interview (but let me know how that goes because I have a Native American ancestry I’ve been meaning to dust off), but perhaps in line at the DMV? We need to remember these things so maybe we won’t do them again. Even though, of course, we will. Because we suck. All of us. Yes, even you, TAN, although I think your post proves that you have above-average-sized balls.

    A little guilt trip helps get things going sometimes, but real progress is when social change runs on a more sustainable fuel.

  6. Yeah; as far as history goes, I mean, you can't ignore slavery and we shouldn't... but as a black woman, I also say that people need to stop blaming other people for their problems and just work it out for themselves, dammit! That's what I'm doing, and there are plenty others out there doing the same, luckily. There are too many stuck in plight, and for the most part, its their own fault... just my 2 cents...

  7. Hey, there isn't an RSS feed for! :-(

    So, I made one.

  8. all of what you say is true!

    scott - that's very hot-like-fire of you. I'm not good at that stuff, but will look into disemminating the info etc. etc. thanks!

  9. tenpin3/21/2007

    Ann Coulter's jumped the snark. Anna Quindlen said so.

  10. Just let me know, I can give the code to the Okayplayer web people.

  11. Britney Spears shaved her head during Black History Month like it was nothing.

    Are you trying to claim that's somehow offensive? boy, that's really grasping at straws looking for something to be offended at

  12. Anonymous6/21/2007

    Well, I've wondered about a million topics you've covered on your blog (which I really love by the way, I'm a lurker) but since I'm not officially a minority race I don't think I'm allowed to talk about any of it.

    I'm about 14 different nationalities depending on which family members I ask. I look 'mostly' white. Sorta. I grew up thinking I was native and was really pissed when I realized I was a white girl and my parents just hadn't thought to mention the everything-else in us.

    So I'm thinking maybe like, 42.7% of me could feel really mortified about slavery, and some 5.12% German in me could feel just damn bad about Nazi history, my Northern Irish could still be pissed off about the bloody Brits, and God knows my Cherokee would still hold a grudge if it wasn't all too stupid and pointless to bother with, and of course, if my ancestors hadn't refused to be on the white soldier's "rolls" so I could get free federal money for being way more colored than all the snow white people around here getting funded for being like 1/256th native because someone somewhere is just damn sorry for all the good it does (and speaking of 'assimilated', I do think Reagan wins the award for the most insulting way to present a valid point to a racial group with this comment about the natives and how the government "should not have humored them" (!)).

    I can't figure it out though; how am I supposed to feel about this stuff. It's like college. I could've afforded it if only I'd found the body part that officially qualified for the kind of funding I needed. Which would have only led to the creative dilemma of what percentage of my scores I could legally inflate and could I choose the subject please, so it's probably better it never came to that anyway. I grew up in such a boring little town that I didn't even know racism was an issue until I was an adult. My heroes were Bill Cosby who my dad was crazy about, Aretha Franklin and Thelma Houston, and I never did get why people didn't think a white girl should sing soul since they were just as much my influences as anybody else's. Time marches on though and I notice that seems to be common in today's pop. Assuming it still qualifies as music outside the hint of pseudo-soul that sneaks in.

    It seems to me that the issue of past-slavery just detracts from the 'real' issues of current racism though. I mean, even if I were as lily-white as my half-czech little girl, I didn't personally enslave anybody, so I get a little cranky about being considered responsible for it just because on the whole I'm a mostly white chick. I think it just makes most whites defensive and maybe for good reason when slavery comes up. I mean like WTF am I supposed to do about it? Not like anybody asked ME if it was ever a good idea ya know? Women have had a bad time in many ways but I don't resent men for it.

    On the other hand, there's a lot of BS that goes on in the modern world that is likely a side-effect of past slavery; women have issues just like blacks have issues and many other groups of people of course, so I can at least empathize, even though sometimes, not being in the spotlight myself for race, I'm completely oblivious to the diss until someone points it out to me. I think that kind of thing oughtta be called out x10 in every situation, because that's the real deal facing people right now.

    You once wrote about Texas. I lived in Texas for about a year. I worked at Lockheed Martin, a huge gov't contractor down in Fort Worth. When I began they took me on a tour of the whole plant, which had thousands of people working in various jobs. And when we got back to my dept. area I asked my boss, bewildered, "How come all the black guys are security and janitors and all the engineers are white people? Do black people not get engineering degrees?" He looked like he was going to faint and changed the topic. Apparently my california upbringing didn't sensitize me to what you aren't supposed to say. (Bummer for the job title/salary for them of course, but at least it meant I had some hunky dudes worth flirting with on the way through the checkpoint gate every morning.) I think THAT kind of thing is a 'lingering side effect' of slavery, for a variety of reasons, most so subtle they are difficult to address directly.

    But I don't think slavery as its own issue is worth playing poker with in the first place.

    And while I'm addressing about a dozen different blogposts in one comment, just a tip: oral sex is WAY more fun on average sized men and completely unworkable on large men. The blacks-are-bigger thing is probably a myth ya know? I have cousins who are black (my family is like a walking United Colors of Benetton ad) and they once admitted that far as they could tell, wasn't much diff between them and the other dudes in the locker room. They all felt like they were morally obligated as a Proper Black Guy to have something worth writing songs about too, but I suspect that's as much an urban legend as the one about asian women being very very tiny inside, that the young korean and vietnam war soldiers often believed, but anybody who's seen porn can testify these girls could handle a volkswagon so unless they're genetic freaks that's probably hogwash too.

    Aw shit. Now I have to post this anonymously because I talked about oral sex, which just wouldn't go well with any of my blogs, except my high protein lowcarb weight loss blog ha -- well never mind!

  13. Anonymous10/27/2007

    My family originally came her after being kicked out of their home country for speaking out against their government. They packed up their bags, left for the colonies, and stayed put in a small area close to the NY state border and almost never left. For quite literally centuries they've been little more than poor farmers until my mother's generation.

    Personally, my immediate family had lived in some not so pretty places, for the majority of my childhood, we had been on welfare, getting food from local food pantries, etc. I could tell you stories of children getting allowances in food stamps, or having to steal pocket change to feed yourself lunch. My mother's boyfriends ranged from selling pot, to using coke, and one OD'ed on heroin.

    It's not easy to pull the slavery card out on me and make me feel bad. My family's never had anything to do with slavery in the US, and your skin color doesn't necessarily matter to end up in a bad situation like that.

    To be honest, skin color, sex, gender, sexual preference... None of it matters. The slavery card defines African Americans as former slaves just as much as it makes white people feel guilty. It just reinforces the roles we play in that situation. Does your skin color make you somehow superior to me? Should mine give me superiority over you? Of course not. It's absurd to think so. So why bring it up? Accentuating differences begs for comparison.

    It's better to have a sense of humor and treat it as being as absurd as it it, and laugh it off.

    Rich or poor, good or bad, the sun shines and the rain pours on everyone equally.

    Please excuse me for remaining anonymous however. I'd rather stay unknown.

  14. Anonymous2/18/2008

    for the low price of a few images of "black" men cavorting with white women on "scrubs" thanks to distinctly JEWISH, ---not the white people who enslaved your unassimilated predecessors, then didn't pay or employ except as sporting bucks or refrain from slandering in globalized media 's--- multiculturalism TAN is chomping at the bit to run over Oprah and Tyra to the front of the bus where he will find a bus pass and a thank you note from the man's accountant. assimilated into a welcoming throng of pictures of friendly white people, TAN is in heaven.

  15. Anonymous3/20/2008

    Well, the people today can't do anything about what happened 400 years ago (and no I am not white FYI). That's like a woman holding something over her man's head for something that happened years ago too. Can't go back and change it, it is what it is. Get over it and move on.

  16. Anonymous2/20/2009

    I feel zero guilt about slavery since I had zero to do with it and have zero tolerance of it. What I do feel guilty about is the failure to hunt down the gangs destroying so many neighborhoods. I feel guilty about the failure to hunt down the fathers who impregnate, then abandon their responsibilities.

    You'll notice this guilt is directed at issues that are happening today... issues that can actually be changed.


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