Author Topic: is 'white guilt' dead?  (Read 14020 times)

Offline Hypestyle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 5964
  • Intellectual Conqueror
    • View Profile
    • Hypestyle's Homebase
Be Kind to Someone Today.

Offline Godheval

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 127
  • Philosopher King
    • View Profile
    • Godheval.net
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2009, 06:58:36 pm »
Wow, that guy really doesn't pull any punches, does he?

I always feel a certain ambivalence when people criticize "white guilt", because on the one hand it could be criticizing the phony self-appeasing type of armchair activism or the wealthy who donate to those "poor little disadvantaged minorities".  But on the other, it could be a lash out from racists who are critical of white people who are at least trying to take a stand.

I suppose, putting things in perspective, that Carter and Dowd's comments are "lazy and weak" when compared to the civil rights movement, and certainly District 9 is more a sci-fi movie than a social commentary, but...they still have their place.  It's not D-9's job to mobilize a movement to fix segregated South Africa, and I think it was important for Carter and Dowd to call people out the way they did.

Do those things come from white guilt?  Maybe.

I'm just not so sure that that's so bad.

Better guilt than denial.  Right?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2009, 07:03:47 pm by Godheval »
Godheval - Writer, Philosopher, Dreamer, Idealist
http://www.godheval.net

michaelintp

  • Guest
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2009, 11:36:22 pm »
Perhaps Godheval should be informed that the Vox Populi section of the Forum was created for a reason?

Offline BarbaraB

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 313
    • View Profile
    • my site
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2009, 12:07:14 am »
I wonder...How bad is white guilt? Especially when it comes to say, a group of wealthy white folks starting an organization to pay for the education of underprivileged African American kids.

One of the problems I can guess at would come from the tendency of some people to believe that the "playing field" has been leveled once a minority has been the recipient of money, an opportunity, a pep talk etc.

Perhaps Godheval should be informed that the Vox Populi section of the Forum was created for a reason?

What are you talking about?


Offline Godheval

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 127
  • Philosopher King
    • View Profile
    • Godheval.net
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2009, 12:17:48 am »
I wonder...How bad is white guilt? Especially when it comes to say, a group of wealthy white folks starting an organization to pay for the education of underprivileged African American kids.

One of the problems I can guess at would come from the tendency of some people to believe that the "playing field" has been leveled once a minority has been the recipient of money, an opportunity, a pep talk etc.


I think the main argument is about motive.  WHY is the wealthy person paying for the underprivileged kid's education?  When it comes to "white guilt", the question is whether or not the person is acting for self-satisfaction, rather than purely in the best interests of the other party.  Is it to disprove any idea that they are racist, because surely a racist would never help a minority child?  Or worse, is it to prove to themselves that they are not racist?

The danger is that white guilt acts as a placebo.  It allows a person to convince themselves that they've done all they could for the problem of racism, even though they haven't really done anything.  And when we consider that image and social propriety are especially important amongst the wealthy, especially as it pertains to networking, then the act of charity serves a practical purpose as well.

To whatever extent an act of charity or kindness or justice is more about the benefactor than the beneficiary, then I think it's bad.  Acts of good will need to be done for their own sake.

Also, there's tacit racism in some acts of white guilt where they are predicated upon the idea that the "disadvantaged" are incapable of helping themselves.  It becomes about "reaching down" to help, instead of doing the necessary work to level the playing field.  One of the most poignant examples of this was the case of the "stolen generations" of Aboriginal Australians - where Aboriginal children were stolen from their families under the pretext that they were suffering under an inadequate and inferior culture, and raised by white families.  I'm sure those families felt that they were doing something good.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 12:25:30 am by Godheval »
Godheval - Writer, Philosopher, Dreamer, Idealist
http://www.godheval.net

michaelintp

  • Guest
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2009, 08:04:51 am »
Perhaps Godheval should be informed that the Vox Populi section of the Forum was created for a reason?
What are you talking about?

In the past topics of this sort would normally be posted in the "Vox Populi" section of the forum, not the "general discussion" section.  That was the function of the Vox Populi section, as a place to have discussions of potentially heated social/political topics.  I thought that Godheval, being relatively new to the forum, may not have known this.

If folks don't see any function for that section of the forum anymore, which appears to be the case at least with a couple, then ... fine, doesn't matter to me.  We should just do away with the Vox Populi section altogether then.  Though I always thought it was a good idea.

Offline BlackRodimus

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 831
  • You got me straight trippin', boo.
    • View Profile
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2009, 08:18:35 am »
Perhaps Godheval should be informed that the Vox Populi section of the Forum was created for a reason?

 ??? He didn't start the topic, though. Shouldn't you be saying that to Hypestyle?
"don't fight the power, be the power" - Reginald Hudlin

Offline Curtis Metcalf

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4515
  • One never knows, do one?
    • View Profile
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2009, 12:59:30 pm »
Perhaps Godheval should be informed that the Vox Populi section of the Forum was created for a reason?

 ??? He didn't start the topic, though. Shouldn't you be saying that to Hypestyle?
Or perhaps suggesting to the moderators that we consider moving the thread?
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2008
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 07:34:36 am »
White Guilt is a myth.

Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Godheval

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 127
  • Philosopher King
    • View Profile
    • Godheval.net
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 01:46:11 pm »
White Guilt is a myth.


Now you know damn well you're not gonna get away without elaborating on that one.  I'm interested.
Godheval - Writer, Philosopher, Dreamer, Idealist
http://www.godheval.net

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2008
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 04:49:16 pm »
WHITE GUILT is BS.

It's a buzz phrase white racists and conservatives use to deligitmize the activities of people who're trying to balance the scales somewhat either personally or on the large canvas.  People don't feel guilt for things they did not do.

it is also a phrase used by black racists to deligitimize the activities of any white person they deem not to be acceptable but who is otherwise benign. Bono working to get Third World Debt forgiven is  either an example of "white guilt" or of a fantastically rich and well known celebrity trying to do something decent in the world. I'm going with the latter because I'm not a moron.

It wasn't guilt that turned the tide in the Civil Rights struggle. It was a combination of the work of a minority of decent human beings- whites included- coupled with the shame of the slim majority of Americans for what the country WAS ACTUALLY DOING AT THE TIME. Those two groups made up and CURRENTLY MAKE UP, the majority of Americans. Most humans, in fact, fall into the "basically decent" category.

You will grow old, die, be ressurected, grow old and die again before you find a real example of behavior based upon "White Guilt."

Never happened. Never will. It's a myth.
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10032
    • View Profile
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2009, 05:35:42 pm »
Finally summoned the strength to read that stupid ass article. 

Co-sign Redjack...this jerk who wrote the article is basically attacking white people who dare defend black people's humanity.  f*ck him.

Offline Godheval

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 127
  • Philosopher King
    • View Profile
    • Godheval.net
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2009, 06:10:49 pm »
Finally summoned the strength to read that stupid ass article. 

Co-sign Redjack...this jerk who wrote the article is basically attacking white people who dare defend black people's humanity.  f*ck him.


I dunno.  While I interpreted it as overly cynical, I wouldn't call the article stupid, nor would I dismiss white guilt out of hand.

I agree with a lot of what you say, Redjack, about how white guilt is used by conservatives, but I'd characterize its use on the other side as the result of cynicism, rather than racism.  And it's certainly not limited to black ideologues, as the writer of that article is white.

You've acknowledged that people's motivations fall across a spectrum.  Some people do good out of a genuine desire to do so, others because they have something to gain, others for image advocacy, and some - although probably less than are accused of doing so - out of guilt.

But white guilt is a tough term to pin down.  It's not, as you say, actual guilt over something they did not do (like personally create socioeconomic inequality), but a regret over the state of things.  And this is where I think Barbara's question was coming from - is this kind of guilt a bad thing?  If it motivates them to do good, then it is the end that matters, not the means.

I have read criticism of Bono from cynics - not attributing to him white guilt, but inauthenticity.  They suggest that his actions may in some way be an exercise of convenience.  But, even if Bono is a total hypocrite as that author suggests, the fact remains that he is doing good work. So it would not be fair to his beneficiaries to disrupt that on some ideological grounds.

Anyway, getting back to white guilt, I think it is a real phenomenon - and I think I describe real instances of it above - but it may be something that is overstated.  I think dismissing it out of hand is intellectually lazy.
Godheval - Writer, Philosopher, Dreamer, Idealist
http://www.godheval.net

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2008
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 08:29:47 pm »
No. Accepting buzz phrases designed for political purpose and used to shape opinion despite their being wholly fictional and inaccurate is intellectually lazy. Political people depend on that laziness.

One of the problems with being part of an ethnic or social minority is one often thinks everyone in every group sees the world through that filter. We are Black in this society, therefore WHites must see themselves as a monolithic group linked by skin color. It sounds good. it fits a lot of anecdotal experiences and lines up with large periods of our past.

However whites, on the whole, do NOT see themselves as a collective but as a collection of tribes. Europe is broken into nations based upon those tribal groups still and, even here, we find very little in the way of people describing themselves as "white" (unless they are KKKers). Here we have hyphenates. Itallian. German. Jewish. etc.

In order for something like collective white guilt to exist, White people have to exist as a monolith.

They don't.

Ergo, no possibility for collective guilt.

Lazy enough for you?


Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

michaelintp

  • Guest
Re: is 'white guilt' dead?
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2009, 11:25:15 pm »
The entire article misses the point.  Sure, some folk go overboard and take offense at the slightest thing, like the satire on SNL, where offense is probably not justified. [Not watching SNL, other than the Sarah Palin satires, I have no way of knowing].  If that's all the guy would say in an article, that would have been fine.  But he's going way beyond that. 

I was prompted to read the article when I saw Reginald's short and sweet critique.  I agree ... How in the world can anyone say that a film that presents bigotry in a bad light is nothing but a reflection of "white guilt?"  How 'bout viewing such a film as being nothing but a reflection of basic human decency?  And what is wrong with films, books, or other forms of popular entertainment that reinforce the notion that bigotry and prejudice are not only wrong, but shameful, and that those who engage in them should be negatively stigmatized in our society?  Seems to me that such films serve a valuable social purpose, in helping to mold attitudes in a positive way.  So ... what's wrong with that? 

Sheesh, sounds to me like author has issues.

Regarding Redjack's point, above, I agree.  I don't know anyone who describes himself or herself as "White," as a form of identity. Talking about the "white people" that I know, they identify with aspects of who they are that are meaningful to them: their profession, their religion, their passion (as an artist, human rights activist, whatever), maybe a few their European ancestry [though I don't think that is as common in L.A. as on the East Coast or Midwest, as we don't have major enclaves of European ethnic communities in L.A.].  But I don't know anyone who thinks of himself or herself as simply "White."  If you ask a lotta people in my community, "What are you?" they will say, "I'm a Jew."  But if you ask most of my white colleagues in my office, "What are you?" they'll answer, "I'm an attorney."  They sure the heck won't say, "I'm White."   :P

Of course, as a human being, one can and should oppose injustice, and so on.  That goes without saying.  Which is why the article is so lame.