Whites go out of their way to avoid talking about race…

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…and that backfires by making them seem racist to black people. Those are the findings of a new study, "Seeing Race and Seeming Racist? Evaluating Strategic Colorblindness in Social Interaction," just published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. As the press release explains:

White people – including children as young as 10—may avoid talking about race so as not to appear prejudiced, according to new research. But that approach often backfires as blacks tend to view this "colorblind" approach as evidence of prejudice, especially when race is clearly relevant.

These results are from two separate sets of experiments led by researchers from Tufts University and Harvard Business School. Their findings are reported in the October issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the September issue of Developmental Psychology. Both journals are published by the American Psychological Association.

"Efforts to talk about race are fraught with the potential for misunderstandings," said the studies' lead author, Evan Apfelbaum, a PhD candidate at Tufts University. "One way that whites try to appear unbiased is to avoid talking about race altogether, a tendency we refer to as strategic colorblindness."

In one study, 101 white undergraduate students were paired with either a white or black female partner who pretended to be another participant. The pairs were presented with 30 photographs of faces that varied in race, gender and background color. Each white participant's objective was to guess which of the photographs the partner was holding by asking as few yes-or-no questions as possible.

Even though asking about the race of the person in the photograph was a sound strategy for completing the task, white participants were far less likely to do so with a black versus a white partner. Moreover, when the black partner was the first one to have a turn asking questions, whether she mentioned race had a dramatic effect. White participants whose black partner asked about race mentioned race on their own turn 95 percent of the time. When the black partner never asked about race, white participants only did so 10 percent of the time.

"There was clear evidence the white participants' behavior was influenced by the precedent set by their partner, but especially when that partner was black," said Samuel Sommers, assistant professor at Tufts and co-author of both papers. "Whites are strategically avoiding the topic of race because they're worried that they'll look bad if they admit they notice it in other people."

The researchers also wanted to see how outsiders interpreted such interactions. In another experiment, 74 black and white college students evaluated videos of whites engaging in the photo task. The results showed that whites' effort to appear colorblind backfired. Black observers rated whites' avoidance of asking about race as being evidence of prejudice. What's more, when the researchers showed silent video clips of whites from the study to another group of individuals, those whites who avoided asking about race were judged as less friendly, just on the basis of their nonverbal behavior.

"The findings suggest that when race is clearly relevant, whites who think that it is a wise social strategy to avoid talking about race should think again," said Apfelbaum.

Even children appear to adopt this strategically colorblind approach. In another set of experiments, 101 white children between the ages of 8 and 11 were asked to perform a similar photo task. The children were told that asking as few yes-or-no questions as possible would mean they would get a higher score on the task.

The results showed that the older children, ages 10 and 11, avoided asking about race more than the younger children, even though this led them to perform less efficiently than their younger counterparts on the task. In a control version where all the faces in the photos were white, the older children outperformed the younger children, as expected. "This result is fascinating because it shows that children as young as 10 feel the need to try to avoid appearing prejudiced, even if doing so leads them to perform poorly on a basic cognitive test," said Kristin Pauker, a PhD candidate at Tufts and co-author of this study.

The authors associated with both studies said their findings offer several important implications. "Our findings don't suggest that individuals who avoid talking about race are racists," Apfelbaum explained. "On the contrary, most are well-intentioned people who earnestly believe that colorblindness is the culturally sensitive way to interact. But, as we've shown, bending over backward to avoid even mentioning race sometimes creates more interpersonal problems than it solves."

For me these results ring true. I confess that I am usually much more comfortable talking with strangers from a different ethnic background about racial issues if they bring up the topic first. (On the other hand, some of my black friends tell me that they get very tired of having to "speak for the race" when racial issues come up in their encounters with strangers from other ethnic groups.) Finally, one other oddness that I have noticed is that some news reports at least used avoid mentioning the race of suspects even though it is clearly a relevant characteristic for identifying them.

The whole study is available here.

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  1. I am predicting a 600, no, 6000 comment thread. I’ll be back to let you know what I’m having for lunch.

  2. Damn your quick fingers sage, damn them!

  3. If you talk about race, then you’re a racist.
    If you don’t talk about race, then you’re a racist.
    Makes perfect sense to me.

  4. “Polite folk don’t want to talk about these things because you people are so easily offended.”

  5. There’s just no way to make the jungle bunnies happy.

  6. Knowing how to operate is a racially or culturally diverse environment is a learned behavior, and a misstep can be really embarrassing. It’s a set of skills, and people without those skills are understandably reticent to walk into what is, as far as they’re concerned, a minefield, and they don’t know how to spot the mines.

  7. Did anyone expect this to turn out differently?

  8. That’s right joe, if you know that anything you say will be construed as racism, then you’re just tactless.

    cracker,
    you’re satirizing, right?

  9. Strike another blow for victim/identity politics. Ya cracka eatin’ crackas!

  10. anarch,
    not really

    On another note, I’m just waiting for some troll to explain that this is why we must stop illegal immigration.

  11. you’re satirizing, right?

    If you gotta ask, I failed.

  12. If you gotta ask, I failed.

    So what’s the answer?

  13. That’s right joe, if you know that anything you say will be construed as racism, then you’re just tactless.

    joe hates the fact that he’s white, but that doesn’t make him a racist. It just makes everyone else a racist, and he’s a moron, so you’re going to get about as far as bailing out the Gulf of Mexico to get him to see things any other way.

    On another note, I’m just waiting for some troll to explain that this is why we must stop illegal immigration.

    Is it fair to chum the waters for the predicted 600 no 6000 comment thread?

  14. this is why we need to stop illegal immigration

  15. “That’s right joe, if you know that anything you say will be construed as racism, then you’re just tactless a racist.”

    This is the first age in history when people routinely get offended by the efforts of other people to be considerate.

    Proof, if proof were needed, that people can bitch about absolutely anything.

  16. I’m just going to not say anything and see how people take it.

  17. I’d probably ask the race question in the photo guessing game, but I admit I’d be uncomfortable doing it.

    In order to boost the comment count, let’s play a drinking game.

  18. @ herodutus: To what forms was condescension restricted before the French Revolution?

  19. Of course, white folks bitch all the time about how blacks get offended whenever they mention race, but they’re not the only ones. Us half-indians (from the Americas, not India) can’t say shit either.

  20. On a more serious note
    Herodotus,
    I don’t think joe was claiming that people are racist, just that everyone who (often rightly) fears that anything they say concerning race will construed as racism, are tactless.

  21. My fave of all is televised boxing. You might have two fighters, one with a rich dark chocolate skin, and the other as pink as my bunny slippers.

    But if the have the same color trunks, why, there’s no way to tell them apart! So we go to the shoes. And if they’re both wearing red shoes? ID them by their shoelaces. And so on.

    C’mon guys. Say what you see fa crise sake. Who is actually offended by the obvious?

  22. ?especially when race is clearly relevant?

    That is a pretty fair definition of racism. If you find a racial difference relevant it means you’re going to treat someone differently because of race.

  23. When the same study was conducted in England, race wasn’t as much of problem. However, when a red-headed person was included in the picture set, every participant asked the yes-no question, “Is he a ginger wanker?”

  24. I think the reason for hesitation for whites mentioning race initially is that they just don’t know how a black person perceives the issue. Is the person an old-school victimologist? Are they cool about talking about race? Letting them make the first move removes the fear of running afoul of their disposition, whatever that may be. I have found that being frank about what you mean is generally the best policy (when I was a boy colored was considered polite – now they tell me it’s not so polite, even though I still hear older black folks use the term).

    About a month ago a black woman lawyer told me she thought a lot of white people were just plain fake. I told her I couldn’t agree more!

  25. Knowing how to operate is a racially or culturally diverse environment is a learned behavior, and a misstep can be really embarrassing.

    Oh crap! I know of an eighteen year old raised in a liiy white suburb (high school .04% black) who had no real problems* relating to people of all races when injected into multi-racial working and social environments.

    You can get along with others or you can make excuses about why you can’t.

    * An occasional misunderstanding, but I’ve had those with Presbyterians as well.

  26. Lenny = White
    Carl = Black

  27. “, one other oddness that I have noticed is that some news reports at least used avoid mentioning the race of suspects even though it is clearly a relevant characteristic for identifying them. ”

    It’s okay cause bigots like me just assume the perp is black. Duh!

  28. An occasional misunderstanding, but I’ve had those with Presbyterians as well.

    Why don’t you just come out and say Skinflint when that’s what you mean, Punk?

  29. I played 20 questions a lot as a kid. Yeah, I’d have asked race right after sex if the numbers (say 30% minority) indicated it. It’s all about winning the game.

  30. I’m just going to not say anything and see how people take it. – “Franklin Harris” (probably an alias to hide the real racist behind the name)

    Spoken like a true racist. I betcha yur not gonna vote for Obama either, are you! We all know there is only one reason to not vote for Obama, and it’s not because you are inclusive.

  31. OT

    This is unfortunate. Link in name

  32. Unfortunate, yes, and not entirely OT.

  33. I don’t think US whites are so hesitant with other races or nationalities. My perception is that white folks wouldn’t hesitate to mention race or nationality if the experiment were conducted with say, an Indian or Filipino.

    Your average honkey would say “the picture is of an Indian guy” or “it’s a Filipina” or “the person has Asian features” without thinking twice about it.

  34. I don’t say much o’ nothing when I run into those neeeegrooooes, but they seem to get pissed anyway.

  35. This sounds like a situation where people have been confused about what they are and aren’t supposed to say, and it doesn’t help if they learn that their best intentioned efforts to not offend are perceived as offensive. Those who thought they were being sensitive who learn of the results of this study will likely be angry, or at minimum frustrated, that they still don’t know what the correct thing to say in that situation is.

    I have fewer problems with this than many who grew up under similar limited-diversity circumstances. There’s a distinct difference between using race in a strictly visual description than in a more general desription.

  36. An occasional misunderstanding, but I’ve had those with Presbyterians as well.

    Why don’t you just come out and say Skinflint when that’s what you mean, Punk?

    LOL. (fucking Scotch-Irish twits)

  37. Luckily for me I don’t give a shit whether somebody is going to get offended. It seems I was taking the right tack all along!

  38. @ herodutus: To what forms was condescension restricted before the French Revolution?

    ?

    I admit that I don’t understand this question at all.

    Condescension is a universal component of human interaction. But this ‘it offends me that you are trying not to offend me’ business does appear to be a distinctively twentieth century thing.

    Herodotus,
    I don’t think joe was claiming that people are racist, just that everyone who (often rightly) fears that anything they say concerning race will construed as racism, are tactless.

    I am afraid that I can’t claim to fathom the mind of joe. I was simply using your statement as a pretext.

    I personally seem to have far fewer problems than many white people seem to have dealing with black people. Perhaps because my parents were hardcore civil rights era Democrats who were local organizers for the Poor People’s March. Perhaps in spite of this. Perhaps because I have actually been a poor person who lived and worked with many black people over the years, rather than being a dork from the suburbs for whom blacks are an abstract category until they get to college.

    My god, a serious post.

    I am really going to have to avoid this place, it is starting to suck me in.

  39. Funny, I’ve never found “black people get offended whenever you mention race” to be a true.

    I guess it’s just a matter of how you do it.

    I can say I’ve seen my share of clueless white people who can’t understand why what THEY said made the room go silent, when everyone else was talking about race, too. Hi, Other Matt.

  40. Those who thought they were being sensitive who learn of the results of this study will likely be angry, or at minimum frustrated, that they still don’t know what the correct thing to say in that situation is.

    The best thing to do is to just come right out and have a frank discussion about race from the get go. The white person should say to the partner something like “OK, I am white and you are black. I will do everything in my power to keep from offending you. Now as we play this game would you prefer that I mention the race of the person in question, or no? Because either you want it, you got it, big guy! You the man and you get to make the call! What’ll it be, brotha?” They eat that shit up, I swear.

    But this ‘it offends me that you are trying not to offend me’ business does appear to be a distinctively twentieth century thing.

    Maybe in earlier days people had legitimate grievances to worry about.

  41. Blacks become more abstract after college.

  42. I think the most interesting part of this was that even without the sound, the participants were perceived as racist. The problem might be as simple as that a lot of white people, including myself, want so badly to not be seen as racist that we end up acting really uncomfortable around people of another race, which makes those people feel uncomfortable. I remember not thinking about race at all all through elementary school, and starting to think of it as something significant right around the time I realized that racism exists.

  43. Yes we do avoid using race to identify. It’s because we’ve been taught our whole lives that this is wrong behavior.

    That became really apparent to me just a few weeks ago when I was trying to tell a black friend of mine who I was talking about. Finally, he clued in and said The Black Guy? and I realized that I had danced around that obvious characteristic to avoid offending my friend. Now I know better, but it still feels strange.

    A friend I’ve known since seventh grade is MEXICAN! When we were kids lots of people would ask him if he was MEXICAN. He’d always say, No, I am ORANGIAN (pronounced OH-Range-E-An). I was born at St Joseph Hospital in Orange, Ca.

    Wonder if he still does that or if we’ve all got polite enough to stop asking.

  44. “Maybe in earlier days people had legitimate grievances to worry about.”

    “Blacks become more abstract after college.”

    Man, two thread winners in a row!

  45. Avoiding mentioning race, at all, is sort of like avoiding mentioning a big old hairy mole next to someone’s nose. It’s only polite to avoid mentioning that.

    But, you see, people don’t like it when you imply – if if silently – that being black is sort of like having a big old hairy mole next to your nose.

    Hence, “efforts to be considerate” that involve treating someone’s race as something horrible and unmentionable are likely to backfire.

  46. Just so everybody knows that “cracker” is not “Cracker’s Boy”.

    I would never say anything so racist.

    As the study shows….

    CB

  47. Blacks become more abstract after college

    When I was in basic training there was a double standard as to how whites and other minorities were treated and how blacks were treated. It wasn’t Jim Crow but black guys wives were never called Susie Rottencrotch and not one black guy was ever belted by the DI’s.

    On a related note, my kids were colorblind until recently. They paid little attention to the physical differences of blacks or other minorities.

  48. Knowing how to operate is a racially or culturally diverse environment is a learned behavior, and a misstep can be really embarrassing.

    IME, the missteps are usually on the part of the hyper-sensitive receiver.

    I’ve worked in just about the most diverse environments possible: huge law firm, conservative think tank, performing arts .org, to name a few. The worst *ism I experienced was at the hands of the black, neo-middle-class legal secretaries who thought that every non-?ber praising statement was a slur of some kind.

    THAT was a minefield, one to be avoided at all costs, as you would never win no matter what.

  49. I had no idea that Guess Who? had so much to say about race relations.

    “In older variations of the game, a player could win from the first move if their opponent’s character was ‘Anne’, the only African-American, and the first player made a question based on skin color.”

  50. Kids tend to be colorblind until Middle School. I.e., the black kids all sitting together at lunchtime shows up around seventh grade, but not before.

  51. I suspect the results of the experiment would be similar if you had full body photographs, and skinny participants were paired with fat ones. Few of the skinnies are going to ask whether the person in the photograph is fat in that situation.

    And joe, I’m sure you, being a Democrat, know immediately upon meeting a black person for the first time whether it’s OK to talk frankly about race with them or not. There’s no need to condemn the rest of us for not having that mind-reading ability.

  52. JW,

    Do you think it’s possible that there were, in fact, other missteps, but the ones performed by black people were the only ones you noticed?

    When I see these statements that racism exists only in the minds of black people, and white people are picked on and oppressed, it makes me wonder.

  53. Man, two thread winners in a row!

    What a condescending gesture. You gave it to me only because I’m a cripple.

    TWC: “colorblind”? You insensitive of something?

  54. Where all the white women at?

  55. I don’t say much o’ nothing when I run into those neeeegrooooes, but they seem to get pissed anyway.

    Yet another thread winner.

    Mrs TWC’s grandmother says it jes’ eggsackly lack thet. Neeeegrews.

    Funny thing is that despite being a refugee from Arkansas, she isn’t racist.

  56. Tulpa, being able to get through life without people thinking you’re racist is not, in fact, evidence of paranormal abilities.

    Why are you “talking frankly about race” with people you just met, anyway?

  57. Everyone’s a little bit racist
    Sometimes.
    Doesn’t mean we go
    Around committing hate crimes.
    Look around and you will find
    No one’s really color blind.
    Maybe it’s a fact
    We all should face
    Everyone makes judgments
    Based on race.

  58. We colorblind crippled dorks can’t handle tags. But it would be rude for you to point that out.

  59. Closed italics tags.

  60. You stupid, non tag closing fuck.

  61. WTF? My tags is all screwed up. Or did the Sheriff not close his?

  62. It wasn’t me. It was society!

  63. It was suburban dork.

  64. Of course we self-censor around other races and the opposite sex. Hell, we self-censor around other people that we are just alike. Do you think I tell my friend her baby looks like Ed Asner after a three-day bender?

  65. TWC: “colorblind”? You insensitive of
    something?

    Sorry, I don’t know what you mean. [shrugs]

  66. Sherrif, I would take it kindlier if you’d refer to me by my rightful title of Phlegmatic Country Squire.

  67. Why are you “talking frankly about race” with people you just met, anyway?

    Did you even read how this study was conducted? The people trying to identify the photographs had never met each other before. So, you’re expecting white people to start talking race with black people immediately after meeting them.

  68. Sorry CB, I forgot about your handle.

  69. Chromatically challenged, if you would.

  70. Does each poster really have the power to contaminate his successors?

  71. Did you even read how this study was conducted?

    Yup. And I also know that you weren’t involved in the study, which means your statement And joe, I’m sure you, being a Democrat, know immediately upon meeting a black person for the first time whether it’s OK to talk frankly about race with them or not. There’s no need to condemn the rest of us for not having that mind-reading ability. wasn’t about your experience in the test.

    So, you’re expecting white people to start talking race with black people immediately after meeting them. That’s sort of the point here – asking “Is he black or white?” isn’t talking frankly about race. Asking that question in a context where the person’s race is clearly relevant, and only asking what race someone is in order to identify which person you’re talking about, isn’t remotely “frank,” and isn’t remotely offensive.

  72. Does… the person look exactly like you?

  73. There’s no need to condemn the rest of us for not having that mind-reading ability.

    Where, exactly, did I condemn you? What I actually wrote was that it was understandable.

    Somebody – a whole lotta somebodies, actually – has a chip on his shoulder.

  74. The “exactly” part is great.

  75. The problem might be as simple as that a lot of white people, including myself, want so badly to not be seen as racist that we end up acting really uncomfortable around people of another race, which makes those people feel uncomfortable.

    I think this is exactly right. The other day, I was going through the airport and the TSA agent was laughing and joking with the passengers as he checked their tickets and IDs and he just said, “Sir” and was visibly uncomfortable after he saw my ID and he waved me through (I have a pretty Arab name). I think he was afraid to be accused of racism if he pulled me aside. It made me really uncomfortable and I wondered, “WTF was that about.”

    In comparison, in the same airport, on a different trip, the TSA agent saw that my ticket was flagged, looked at my ID and said, “Mostafa?” I responded, “Yeah, it happens,” and we both had a good laugh on my way to the extra search.

    Comparing the two situations, I’d take the latter over the former because even though I didn’t get searched, it was a more uncomfortable experience.

  76. I remember when I was a suburban dork, and took an American history class with a black professor. He was making a point about the social construction of race, and asked the auditorium full of freshmen and sophmores, “What color are people from Africa?”

    DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

    You could have heard a pin drop. “Come on, I’m not trying to get you in trouble.”

  77. Maybe the white kids who didn’t ask about race were perceived poorly because they started asking questions about other physical features they believe black people to have.

    “Is he black” is a lot better than “Does he have a nose like Bill Cosby?”

  78. Do you think it’s possible that there were, in fact, other missteps, but the ones performed by black people were the only ones you noticed?

    When I see these statements that racism exists only in the minds of black people, and white people are picked on and oppressed, it makes me wonder.

    I never said that they were the only ones I noticed. I had plenty of redneck friends growing up who said all sorts of racist things. I was usually able to get through to them eventually as to why what they said was wrong.

    I grew up in neighborhoods with substantial poor black populations. I’ve been exposed to the DC area black culture most of my life. That doesn’t mean that this reduced the number of misunderstandings between whites and blacks, actually quite the opposite. It was mostly a source of general friction growing up, but I had plenty of blacks I knew and was friends with. Racism wasn’t an issue for us and in fact the differences, and the recognition of them, is what made things work in those cases. hell, we usually used them to insult one another, as guys typically do.

    But, we weren’t talking about overt racism, but missteps. I’ve witnessed only one overtly racist act in the past decade or so, and that was from a older jew directed at a Vietnamese woman. I was pretty taken aback.

    But missteps are another matter. This is a breakdown in communication at one end or the other. The black guys I grew up with would pretty much blow off what they perceived as racism even though it pissed them off, one way or another, but many of the black women were nuts about it and very vocal. It was no-win.

  79. When you’re raised from birth to believe that you and all your anscestors are the sole responsible reason for several hundred years of segregation and slavery, when you see someone essential tarred and feathered because they said something considered racially inapproriate, when you see an acadmic discredited because he dared to suggest there might be biological differences in race, when you see some guy on televison get fired because he used the word niggardly….well you tend to err on the side of caution and just avoid the subject all together.

  80. “What color are people from Africa?”

    “If you mix them all together, sort of dulce de leche.”

  81. JW,

    I had plenty of redneck friends growing up who said all sorts of racist things. Sure, sure. That stuff is tough to miss.

    But you probably don’t have actual rednecks with vocal opinions about black people working at your law firm. A lot of dynamics involving race and gender and ethnicity and class play out very subtly, so it’s easy to miss them if it’s not your ox being gored.

    I still catch myself interrupting women more than men, for example.

  82. On a related note, my kids were colorblind until recently. They paid little attention to the physical differences of blacks or other minorities.

    My kids were like that too, until about 3rd grade. Whites are a minority in this school (6%!) and they notice the differences. We try and play them down and tell them that skin color doesn’t matter, but the cultural differences are harder to get past.

    Skin color is one of the first descriptors they pull out of the bag when describing another kid to us. God knows that’s not anything we taught them.

  83. “Black observers rated whites’ avoidance of asking about race as being evidence of prejudice.”

    What the piece does not say is whether black observers rated whites who did ask about race as evidence of prejudice. Is it damned if you do and damned if you don’t or does it really matter?

  84. From last night’s “Little Britain”: (elderly southern lady)

    “I remember when I was young, a nice neeegrow from our town ran for mayor. Some folks were all upset about it, but he went ahead and ran anyway. And you know, he was elected mayor of the town………..of course, later we found out he was also a Jew, so we shot him.”

  85. Skin color is one of the first descriptors they pull out of the bag when describing another kid to us. God knows that’s not anything we taught them.

    My little darling recently came out with “I don’t want to touch So-and-so,” a black girl in her class.

    Ah, parenthood.

  86. “You look very exotic. Was your dad a GI?”

  87. But you probably don’t have actual rednecks with vocal opinions about black people working at your law firm.

    Well, actually we did. It created a certian amount of friction, but nothing serious.

    A lot of dynamics involving race and gender and ethnicity and class play out very subtly, so it’s easy to miss them if it’s not your ox being gored.

    No question, which why I think that trying to codify interpersonal relations is largely folly.

    But you’re missing my point is that there didn’t have to be any racism at all involved to be a problem. It was a matter of perception, nothing more.

    Strangely, I’ve noticed that blacks from the south are more likely to be much more tolerant of these situations than blacks from the north. I suspect than southern genteel culture has more to do with that than anything.

  88. Is the same true for women? Do they get offended if you [i]don’t[/i] stare at their breasts?

  89. JW,

    No question, which why I think that trying to codify interpersonal relations is largely folly.

    Right, people sometimes try to think about these things in terms of rules, like there is some set of allowable and forbidden terms and expressions they can use. Is “fried chicken” ok? How about mentioning that someone is black?

    And then, when following those rules fail utterly to ensure smooth going, they get frustrated. It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t! This whole concept of racism is just a setup to make white people feel bad! It’s all just a double standard to persecute me!

  90. JW,

    Well, actually we did. It created a certian amount of friction, but nothing serious.

    Let me ask you: if you noticed this, do you think the black secretaries didn’t?

    And if they did, might there be a connection to their being overly-defensive in their dealing with other white people?

  91. When you’re raised from birth to believe that you and all your anscestors are the sole responsible reason for several hundred years of segregation and slavery

    was anyone really raised like this?

  92. “I love Martin Luther King Day. Let’s kill four more niggers and take the week off.”

    This little gem nearly triggered a riot at my high school. On Martin Luther King Day. We all went home early because the school officials had already suspended 12 or so students for fighting. One kid got his face grated off with the louvers of a locker vent. Most of us were bewildered. Racism was just sort of an extreme hobby that a few had, and got the shit kicked out of them for.

  93. Avoiding mentioning race, at all, is sort of like avoiding mentioning a big old hairy mole next to someone’s nose. It’s only polite to avoid mentioning that.

    There are all sorts of things that one avoids mentioning. Not all of them are defects. Breasts, for instance. The less familiar you are with someone the less sure you are of what you can say to them.

    But, you see, people don’t like it when you imply – if if silently – that being black is sort of like having a big old hairy mole next to your nose.

    Ah, but there are many things that silence can mean. If someone assumes it means something offensive, that says more about them than the silent person.

    Hence, “efforts to be considerate” that involve treating someone’s race as something horrible and unmentionable are likely to backfire.

    If someone is looking for a reason to be offended they will find one. You can piss people off by saying ‘have a nice day’ the wrong way. The question is why people worry so fucking much about offending hypersensitive minorities while not worrying at all about offending hypersensitive suburban dorks.

  94. Skin color is one of the first descriptors they pull out of the bag when describing another kid to us. God knows that’s not anything we taught them.

    Odd how that works out. I used to live with a chick who had two girls that just flat hated Mexicans. Ma was a bleeding leftie and I certainly got nothing against M/A. But the girls experiences at school had shaped their prejudices. The girls are long grown and they keep in touch with me so I know that they’ve mellowed. However, they still harbor some of that old hostility. Even the deadhead one.

  95. My little darling recently came out with “I don’t want to touch So-and-so,” a black girl in her class.

    When I was 19 I hadn’t switched doctors from my pediatrician yet, so I went to do so and was sitting in the waiting area with a woman and her probly 4 year old daughter. The little girl kept asking me a lot of questions and was extremely cute. Eventually she went and looked through the window of the door into the exam rooms and saw the nurse and she was immediately like “Mommy mommy! I don’t want that doctor!!” And her mom was like “why not? what’s wrong?” and the daughter said “I don’t want a nigger doctor!!!!” and the mom was immediately like “oooooh no sweetie we don’t say that don’t say that!!!” [take her home later and explain “we don’t say that out loud in public, honey”]. when the nurse came out she was like “well don’t you look cute, what’s your name?” to the daughter and took her by the hand back to the exam area and the girl looked fit to break down in tears. Kinda funny for me observing it, I just pretended like I didn’t hear.

  96. Right, people sometimes try to think about these things in terms of rules, like there is some set of allowable and forbidden terms and expressions they can use. Is “fried chicken” ok? How about mentioning that someone is black?

    No, but people are complex enough individuals that a large subset of non-atypical interpersonal behavior is always going to fall outside of the rule set.

    Let me ask you: if you noticed this, do you think the black secretaries didn’t?

    I’m sure they did. But these are 2 different situations I’m talking about.

    And if they did, might there be a connection to their being overly-defensive in their dealing with other white people?

    I dunno, maybe it’s different in Boston, but in DC, certain sects of the black culture is very thick with suspicion towards whites. YMMV whether or not it’s justified.

    But seriously, do you really think that you’re riddling me with epiphanies with this line of questioning?

  97. herotodus,

    There’s “avoid mentioning,” and there’s “not bring up.” And then there are different circumstances. As opposed to someone’s breasts, the mention of someone’s race is, in a wide variety of circumstances, not considered a segue into something inappropriate. That somebody is black or white or Asian is not really in the same category as their having big or small breasts.

    Ah, but there are many things that silence can mean. Right, it’s all about the circumstances. In this circumstance, mentioning skin color would have been just identifying someone’s physical features. Contorting one’s self to avoid doing to – enough that people watching without sound could pick up on it – means discomfort with the subject of race. What does it say about both the white and black viewers that they picked up on that discomfort, and many interpretted it as prejudice?

    If someone is looking for a reason to be offended they will find one. Oh, absolutely. Look at all the whining on this thread. Some people just can’t get through the day without being offended.

    But that’s really not what’s going on here. You’ve just decided that whenever someone is interprets an ambiguous behavior as indiciating prejudice, it means they are “looking to be offended.” Which is great, because then we don’t have to think about any other reasons for the miscommunication beyond bad people looking to start fights.

  98. “I love Martin Luther King Day. Let’s kill four more niggers and take the week off.”

    Well, at least the guy who said it wasn’t afraid to bring up skin color, like a racist.

  99. My little darling recently came out with “I don’t want to touch So-and-so,” a black girl in her class.

    Why do you think she said that?

  100. But seriously, do you really think that you’re riddling me with epiphanies with this line of questioning?

    Seriously, I think we’re just having a conversation. Defensive much?

  101. joe, when your kid says that she doesn’t want to touch another student, you breathe a sigh of relief that she won’t run afoul of the zero tolerance policy.

    And then you tell her not to touch any of the other students either.

    And for god’s sake, don’t let her share her aspirin. Or peanut butter.

  102. “You look very exotic. Was your dad a GI?”

    Yet another thread winner.

    Out here in La La Land, where there are huge numbers of mixed marriages, we have lots of very exotic looking younger people.

    I know it’s RACIST to notice, but the whole complexion (heh)of the culture has changed in the last forty years.

    Some of those girls look quite exotic. The kind of exotic where when they bend over you forget your name and your eyes glaze over. I don’t pay much attention to the guys. Sorry.

  103. TAO,

    Probably because she is broadly uncomfortable with anything different – you should see us trying to get her to try foods she doesn’t remember – and hasn’t had a lot of experience with friends who skin looks like that.

    As far as I can tell, she’s over it by now.

  104. Well, at least the guy who said it wasn’t afraid to bring up skin color, like a racist.

    Perfect rule-based thinking. So, come one, is it ok to bring up race or not? I thought it was ok, and now you’re telling me it’s not!

    This is all just a trick to screw white people.

  105. My little darling recently came out with “I don’t want to touch So-and-so,” a black girl in her class.

    Might not have been because she was black. Kids surprise you at how they get around the barn sometimes.

  106. I know it’s RACIST to notice…

    It’s not racist to notice.

  107. TWC,

    It’s an Office quote. Micheal says it to Rashida Jones. (She’s Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton’s daughter.)

  108. As is “I don’t care if someone’s black, white, Asian, Latino…or some sort of halfsie: I don’t like criminals.”

  109. Seriously, I think we’re just having a conversation. Defensive much?

    No, not really. I’m just starting to give you that look I get when you start condescending.

    I don’t think it’s absurd to state that some people’s experiences and upbringing, right or wrong, have given them a distorted view of race relations and expect to see racism everywhere.

    You’re just going to have to take my word that I’ve been through it more than a few times.

  110. you should see us trying to get her to try foods she doesn’t remember

    Boy howdy!

    My kids had such broad cosmotarian tastes in food, now they wouldn’t touch an avocado for love nor money.

    Odd thing is, they’ll try food at other people’s houses that they used to eat at home and now ignore like the plague.

    The House Blond: Oh, Daddy, the chicken enchiladas at Hailey’s house were so good. I love chicken enchiladas. How come we never have chicken enchiladas?

    TWC: Because you hate chicken enchiladas.

    Big Sigh.

  111. Here in Montana, talking about “race” usually means talking about American Indians.
    And if you don’t toe the liberal line by admitting that you’re a white, genocidal, imperialist devil, then there’s a good chance you will be beaten to within an inch of your life — especially in certain areas of the state.
    So for me, not talking about “race” isn’t a strategy for avoiding uncomfortable conversations, it’s a strategy to not end up in the emergency room.

  112. No, not really. I’m just starting to give you that look I get when you start condescending.

    Oh, ok. Just as long as you aren’t being defensive.

    I guess we’re done here.

  113. Ahh, thanks Sugar, jest not enuff time in the week to take in all the good shows.

  114. Should we be talking about this?

  115. Odd thing is, they’ll try food at other people’s houses that they used to eat at home and now ignore like the plague.

    Or as school! Seriously, school food? I think it’s about seeing all the other kids eating it, and that indicating that it’s ok to eat.

  116. I want joe the liberal to come to belly up to the bar in Browning, Montana, and start talking about race. Joe the liberal, even though he is probably in ideological lockstep with the folks in the bar, would likely not escape with his life.

  117. Wah wah wah. Sure, Jamie.

  118. “Whites are strategically avoiding the topic of race because they’re worried that they’ll look bad if they admit they notice it in other people.”

    Exactly. They are not trying to be polite. They are trying to avoid trouble.

    Not really the same thing.

  119. Sorry, I can’t stand it, but I have to ask… if you don’t participate in this thread, are you racist?

  120. A lot of dynamics involving race and gender and ethnicity and class play out very subtly, so it’s easy to miss them if it’s not your ox being gored.

    And just as easy to mistakenly perceive racism or insensativity* where none exists. My response in these cases is “give me a friggin’ break!” or the always effective, “I an soooo tired of this shit”. The you get on with whatever social interaction you’re doing. Far too many people, well meaning ones, idiotic ones, overly sensitive ones, chip on a shoulder ones, and I’m proud becuase of an accident of birth ones (a subset of idiotic), place far too much importance on both race** and politcal correctness.

    Don’t be shy and get the hell over yourself.

    * I don’t ask you to be “sensative” towards me and my unique problems. Don’t expect me to be “sensative” to yours.

    ** This goes for religion or lack thereof as well.

  121. Why would somebody belly up to a bar in Billings, Montana and start holding forth on the subject of race?

    If eschewing that habit defines not talking about race in your mind, you’ve got some problems.

  122. Wah wah wah. Sure, Jamie.

    Come on, tough guy.
    Browning, Montana. MapQuest it. Bitch.

  123. Sorry, I can’t stand it, but I have to ask… if you don’t participate in this thread, are you racist?

    Well, you are now, Charlie Paul!

  124. Why would somebody belly up to a bar in Billings, Montana and start holding forth on the subject of race?

    It’s BROWNING, Montana. And the subject of race will be unavoidable, because the first thing the folks will ask you is what the fuck a honky-ass white boy like you is doing in their bar.

  125. MapQuest it. Bitch.

    Unless yer too chicken.

  126. When you’re raised from birth to believe that you and all your anscestors are the sole responsible reason for several hundred years of segregation and slavery

    was anyone really raised like this?

    Uh, yeah. I got over it.

  127. And the subject of race will be unavoidable, because the first thing the folks will ask you is what the fuck a honky-ass white boy like you is doing in their bar.

    You poor dear. Non-white people are so mean!

    Your problem, Jamie, is that you take a situation like that, where non-white people behave like that, and blow it up into a stereotype of race relations in toto.

    What was somebody saying about people being overly-sensitive, and assuming racial hostility in circumstances where there is none, based on previous experiences in different situations involving very different people?

  128. Wine Commonsewer,

    On a related note, my kids were colorblind until recently.

    Interesting point–I think all children are completely colorblind, e.g. having dark skin is no more significant a difference than having blond hair instead of black.

    Racism and all the behavior that accompanies it, is completely learned behavior.

  129. Going into a situation where you assume any mention of anything touching on race is going to lead to a fight, and girding your loins in preparation, is a good way to have your pre-existing assumptions confirmed.

  130. I know this isn’t exactly the same thing, but when I’m dealing with someone who is clearly uncomfortable discussing a particular quality that I have, rather than get offended, I usually try to do something to make them more comfortable. Most people aren’t bad people for being uncomfortable bringing up something that they think you might be sensitive about.

    Now, for those students who didn’t ask about race (if they also were identified as looking uncomfortable) even after their black partner went first and asked about race…. they might actually have some racist tendencies.

  131. Racism and all the behavior that accompanies it, is completely learned behavior.

  132. honky-ass white boy

    that’s cracker to you son.

  133. what the fuck a honky-ass white boy like you is doing in their bar.

    I ended up in an Indian bar in Fallon Nevada with several half drunk marines. The Indians weren’t much impressed to begin with, but things got pretty dice when Ken Brotzman started doing verbal impressions of flaming arrows flying through the air. He was good and it was dam funny, but I got the hell out of there just as the first tomahawk split the door frame.

    Truth is, I wasn’t comfy to begin with, but I was young. Today, I’d skip it altogether.

    By the same token, there’s this bar in in Tonopah, all white cowboy hats that arrived in white Ford pickup trucks. Didn’t much get too cozy there, neither.

  134. Interesting point–I think all children are completely colorblind, e.g. having dark skin is no more significant a difference than having blond hair instead of black.

    You know about the common experiment of having a third grade teacher tell her students that blue eyed kids are smarter and better than brown eyed kids, and then watching them create a little Jim Crow society?

    link

  135. Reading the summary of this study about white’s avoiding mentioning race, I could not help thinking of Neu (there is no such thing as race) Mejican.

  136. Then how do you know?

  137. Your problem, Jamie, is that you take a situation like that, where non-white people behave like that, and blow it up into a stereotype of race relations in toto.

    There is very little in “race relations” among Indians and whites in Montana. The only thing that MOST Indians will accept, if there is any dialogue, is the presumption if white racism among whites. There is absolutely no talk – zero – about Indian racism toward non-Indians.
    BTW, you don’t have to walk into a bar to feel more than unwelcome in Browning and other Indian reservation communities. I just used a bar as the most extreme example.

  138. Is the same true for women? Do they get offended if you stare at their breasts?

    Staring at a woman’s breasts while holding a conversation with her is a quite different thing than looking at her across a room.

    It is amusing to watch a woman who wears clothing obviously intended to emphasize her breasts get offended when men notice her breasts. My observation is that she is not actually offended by men looking at her breasts, she is offended by insufficiently attractive men looking at her breasts.

  139. wayne,

    “Race is socially constructed” is a different point from “There’s no such thing as race.”

    We perceive people with dark skin and kinky hair as being in a different race than our own, while we do not perceive people with light skin and semitic noses as being a different race than use. 100 years ago, we would have. That’s because which biological characteristics are used to define races and racial boundaries, and which ones are not, are socially determined.

    The value of dollar bills is socially determined. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.

  140. “But that’s really not what’s going on here. You’ve just decided that whenever someone is interprets an ambiguous behavior as indiciating prejudice, it means they are “looking to be offended.” Which is great, because then we don’t have to think about any other reasons for the miscommunication beyond bad people looking to start fights.”

    I have just figured out what makes you so annoying. It’s the way you assume you know your interlocutors motives and judge them based on these assumptions.

    You’re like Tom Tomorrow, except that you manage, somehow, to be even less funny.

  141. It is amusing to watch a woman who wears clothing obviously intended to emphasize her breasts get offended when men notice her breasts.

    My experience is that women get REALLY offended when you pat their tits and say, “Nice hooters.” They get all huffy.

  142. Well, Jamie, if that’s true, that sucks.

    But consider that this was not a study that took polace in Bowman, Montana as you describe it, with Anglo and Indian people.

  143. It is amusing to watch a woman who wears clothing obviously intended to emphasize her breasts get offended when men notice her breasts. My observation is that she is not actually offended by men looking at her breasts, she is offended by insufficiently attractive men looking at her breasts.

    Yup, I am familiar with the withering look that comes from the hot chick that has caught my attention.

  144. herotidus,

    I have just figured out what makes you so annoying. It’s the way you assume you know your interlocutors motives and judge them based on these assumptions.

    Project much?

    You do realize that you just wrote this accusation immediately after you wrote If someone is looking for a reason to be offended they will find one, right?

    Please, tell us more about reading motives into other people’s behavior.

  145. We perceive people with dark skin and kinky hair as being in a different race than our own, while we do not perceive people with light skin and semitic noses as being a different race than use. 100 years ago, we would have. That’s because which biological characteristics are used to define races and racial boundaries, and which ones are not, are socially determined.

    Eg. Irishmen and Italians not being considered white throughout the 19th century. Blacks who speak Standard American English and do well in school derided by peers as “acting white.” In America, white just means normative.

  146. I think all children are completely colorblind

    Seems to be the case. My kids notice now (at 10 and 12) but it’s like noticing that the Orange Tree blooms in January and the nectarines are ripe in July.

  147. Anglo

    As a half mic, half dago you should know that not all whites are “anglos”.

    Some spic in Arizona called me an anglo once, I had to educate him that the English were fucking with my anncestors long before Columbus thought about sailing to the west.

  148. My experience is that women get REALLY offended when you pat their tits and say, “Nice hooters.” They get all huffy.

    Yet another thread winner.

  149. joe,
    We have a Native issues reporter at the paper here who does really good work.
    She’s Native, because if she were white, there is no way she’d have access to Native bureaucracy and government, not to mention the trust of most Native people. The tribes would simply view here as another white devil out to write stories about alcoholism and corruption on the “rez.”
    Consequently, we end up printing a lot of stories about “what do Indians think about Obama” or “how do Indians view” such-and-such, race reporting that lumps all Indians together without any regard to individuals.

  150. Women also get all huffy if you ask them if they are women or not.

  151. Jamie,

    Are you under the impression that I’ve yet to observe that people in minority groups can harbor hostility to people of other races?

    Tell you what – you have one less thing to worry about. All set.

    But why does having an Indian Native reporter translate to your stories lumping all Indians together, and why would having a white Native reporter be different? I don’t follow.

  152. I think SugarFree wins.

  153. “Look. You are wearing a camo vest, steel-toed boots, a mullet, and you have a mustache. It was an honest mistake. Ow. Shit. Stop kicking me.”

    “When are you due? Ow. Shit. Stop kicking me.”

    “Where’s the ice cream I bought? Ow. Shit. Stop kicking me.”

  154. True story:
    I’m an arts writer. Two years ago, an Indian band came to town, only they didn’t give us any press materials. So we were unaware of their presence.
    The Native issues reporter, in a phone call with another Indian journalist, said into the phone, quite loudly: “Yeah, they didn’t write a story about the band. They just ignored it, as usual.”
    I, of course, objected.
    She kept playing that game on the phone, saying things like, “They don’t write about Indian bands here.”
    I began yelling at the reporter, and she got off the phone, went to human resources and complained about my behavior.
    Long story short: I had to sit down and have a “dialogue” with this reporter to save my job (in which she accused me repeatedly of racism), while she wasn’t even questioned about her behavior.

  155. But why does having an Indian Native reporter translate to your stories lumping all Indians together

    Because the Native reporter does not like negative stories about Native people, and writes from a tribalist perspective.

  156. The value of dollar bills is socially determined. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.

  157. “I freed the what?”

  158. Heh. The dollar’s plummet is socailly-determined, too.

  159. joe’s one of us! Who’d a thunk it!

  160. Oh, are you gold? See, I didn’t even notice. But now that you bring it up…

  161. Entomological specimen of color to you, Bub.

  162. joe,
    We’ve got it. You’re a racially sensitive liberal Democrat who holds no prejudices whatsoever and knows haw to navigate the racial minefield that is American society without ever misstepping.

    I, OTOH, have to say “give me a friggin’ break” from time to time. I think I’ll still disregard your self professed wisdom regarding social interactions with other ethnic groups.

  163. *Looks at six pictures, one of which is of an insect*

    *Looks up at 6-foot beetle sitting across the table*

    Uh…is the person in your picture…uh…bald?

  164. So, J sub can’t actually find anything to take exception to in my comments. But I’m still a terribe, terrible person, and therefore wrong.

    In other news, sun rises in east.

  165. joe asked about my mating habits! Not OK!

  166. See, joe, now you know what it’s like to offend hypersensitive people no matter what you say, based on who you are.

  167. You know, guys, if you keep saying that being comfortable in racially-diverse situations is a consequence of being a liberal Democrat, people are going to start to believe you.

    Party has nothing to do with this; I don’t know why people always drag it into the discussion.

  168. Oh, perilisk. I’ve been commenting here for seven years. “Now” has nothing to do with it.

    Still, I’m not going to stereotype all libertarians that way. That would just be foolish.

  169. The google ads for this thread are ads for autism.

    Just sayin’.

  170. Don’t be too hard on joe, J sub, he just thinks that all white people think alike.

  171. i think you’re all forgetting about the essential decency of the white man.

  172. So, to sum up, I think that white Democrats are completely different from all other white people.

    And also, that all white people think alike.

  173. This thread is interminable. I’m going to go get drunk.

  174. economist is living up to stereotype.

  175. What stereotype? Oh, right? That actually comes more from the Scots-Irish side of the family.

  176. Sorry, there should be no question mark after “Oh, right”.

  177. This thread is interminable.

    This whole thread could have been avoided if we had only invoked Fight Club rules.

  178. It was leftover pizza, btw. Canadian bacon and, uh, regular bacon. Get this, the pizza place called us back last night and said they were out of pepperoni.

    It was pretty good. Better than last night, anyway.

  179. Presbyterian, you sure are taking your sweet time about going and getting drunk.

  180. When are you due?

    A tax attorney I work with committed that mortal sin during a tax audit.

  181. TWC, isn’t the answer always April 15?

  182. So, sage, how was your lunch?

  183. Get this, the pizza place called us back last night and said they were out of pepperoni.

    If we had only been faster with the bailout…

  184. Full marks, JW.

  185. It was OK, thanks for asking.

    A little too much sauce. I’ve had worse, though. I can remember some slices where it squirts out the sides like napalm jets. Real fun stuff.

  186. “What color are people from Africa?”

    Well Theresa Heinz-Kerry, PW Botha, Zola Budd and that guy who played Baal on Stargate all seemed pretty white.

  187. Yes, yes, but the point he was making was about Europeans encountering Africans in the 1400s.

  188. Yes, yes, but the point he was making was about Europeans encountering Africans in the 1400s.

    According to the US census, Tunisians, Egyptians, et al are “white”. I am somewhat certain this was true even in 1400. Now if we are speaking of Sub-Saharan Africans, we should say Sub-Saharan Africans.

    If it really fuckin’ mattered, that is.

  189. I don’t give a fuck about race* or skin color or this thread, but I’m stopping by the joint to tell all you MST3K fans to download the new Cinematic Titanic episode, The Wasp Woman, from EZ Takes.

    *Fuck, that makes me a racist.

  190. J sub D,

    According to the US census, Tunisians, Egyptians, et al are “white”.

    That was his point, actually. And yet, for most of European and American history, Tunisians and Egyptians were most certainly not considered white.

  191. “So, you’re expecting white people to start talking race with black people immediately after meeting them.”

    Yes, I, for one, damn well am expecting white people, who really are not racist, to have no problem asking a black woman “is the person in the picture white” or black, or latino, or asian, or whatever.

    Ive yet to have ANY non-white person object to my using race when it comes to pointing out people at a party. Its only the white people who think saying, for example, “You don’t know Joe? Oh, he’s the tall black guy over there by the stereo” is even remotely questionable.

    Why would someone have a problem with this OTHER than that they are rightfully afraid that if they do not rigorously police themselves that something uglier might slip out by accident?

  192. Can I also just say that I’m loving the comments along the lines of

    “I’m not racist. It’s just that Black people/women are mostly hypersensitive, overly-emotional race-baiters with hair-trigger victim-complexes and I’m rightfully afraid that I will have my totally non-racist ass chewed out if I say the wrong thing.”

    The best satire is unintentional.

  193. Oooo! Oooo! I know how to play this game! We get to count how many black friends we have now, right?

  194. I recently described someone as “the black guy” to a black person. I immedieatly felt wierd, instinctive I think. But since the brother didn’t wallop me, I guess it is ok after all.
    On another note, last Saturday Color Analyst Gary Danielson described a Kentucky reciever as “not your typical white possession reciever”, I wonder if the bosses had a talk with him after the game.

  195. When are you due?

    A tax attorney I work with committed that mortal sin during a tax audit.

    I actually made that very mistake about 15 years ago.

    The sister of a VERY gorgeous young woman coworker of mine appeared one day in my workplace. Thinking I would score some “sensitivity” brownie points with my luscious coworker I asked the sister, “so, when is the baby due…”

    With a withering expression on her face she replied, “I am not pregnant”.

    Needless to say, I continued to admire my beautiful coworker… from afar.

    My palms still sweat when I think of that incident.

  196. wayne, in a just world, it’s she who’d be embarrassed.

    But for that pesky French Revolution.

  197. I think for most white people, conversations about race have little if any upside, and all kinds of downsides (that whole minefield thing).

    So why start or engage in one? Even if your heart is as pure as the driven joe on race? I mean, that’s pretty much my take on the issue.

    Its the same reason I never compliment a woman at work on her appearance, in any way. The forces of “diversity” and “political correctness” have created an incentive structure that punishes perceived transgressions so brutally that no one is willing to risk crossing the line.

    Its RC’s First Iron Law at work: “You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.” There is little to no reward for white folks talking about race, and a world of potential hurt.

  198. RC Dean,

    I could not agree more with what you wrote at 5:31PM.

  199. RC Dean, just tell her she’s articulate. Worked with Condi!

  200. I’m not racist. It’s just that Black people/women are mostly hypersensitive, overly-emotional race-baiters with hair-trigger victim-complexes and I’m rightfully afraid that I will have my totally non-racist ass chewed out if I say the wrong thing.

    The vast majority of the adults who would give your kid a ride home from school are good people who wouldn’t dream of hurting them or taking them away. But it’s still not a good idea for your kid to randomly get in a car with a stranger.

    Most black people are cool about things, but there are a few who have Jupiter-sized chips on their shoulders about their race, and will use the smallest perceived slight to get a white person on the defensive. If you haven’t had this experience, you’re lucky, but don’t doubt that such people exist.

  201. The forces of “diversity” and “political correctness” have created an incentive structure that punishes perceived transgressions so brutally that no one is willing to risk crossing the line.

    I have a client who got a couple of sessions with HR due to a complaint from the secretary pool about her that went like this; (not an exact quote, because I wasn’t there, but…) “I’m nervous whenever she goes by because her energy is intimidating…!”

    She’s now looking for another job because she suddenly “got it” that no matter what her so-called energy she’s marked as having stepped over the line in a place with zero tolerance of intimidation/abuse.

    This is an otherwise PC, upper management, middle class, northeastern liberal… (her/race color not required for this story.)

  202. ooops… close after “intimidating…!”

  203. With a withering expression on her face she replied, “I am not pregnant”.

    All Tom (the attorney) got was the withering expression. After a long, pregnant pause, where me and the client studiously examined our shoelaces, Tom clued in and said, oh.

    It was bad too, because it wasn’t the auditor, it was he supervisor who Tom thought was all preggers.

    Worse, she didn’t look pregnant, she just looked hefty.

    I am convinced to this day that the remark cost my client at least five grand.

  204. Even if your heart is as pure as the driven joe on race?

    Yet another thread winner. How many is that? six, seven?

  205. I found it’s easier to acknowledge the 600 pound gorilla in the room right from the get-go, and if someone takes offense and tries to construe me as a racist when I’m not, fuck ’em. Don’t want to hang around people who you gotta watch every word you say.

  206. I think for most white people, conversations about race have little if any upside, and all kinds of downsides (that whole minefield thing).

    Bingo. RC nails it in one sentence.

    For evidence in support, I have only to offer this thread.

  207. I actually made that very mistake about 15 years ago.

    I did the same, but in my defense, she had an extraordinarily spherical pot belly that looked to be about 6 months along.

    Still, the faux pas stung.

  208. the 600 pound gorilla

  209. As a white American, I admit that I have some anxiety about causing inadvertant offense when talking to one of the, you know, whatever other sorts of people are living in the USA nowadays.

  210. True story: This is a time when I went out of my way to “not notice race” and, in retrospect, felt really stupid afterward.

    SCENE: The office.

    CHARACTERS: Me, and Lavada — the black secretary in our department at the time.

    ME: Last night, Andre wanted to know if he was supposed to throw away those boxes.

    LAVADA: Who’s Andre?

    ME: You know, the guy on the night-time cleaning crew?

    LAVADA: Andre?

    ME: Um … he’s maybe in his late 20s … about five foot ten … uh, has a goatee …

    LAVADA: I’m not sure …

    ME: Um … Real nice guy … usually wears a baseball cap … looks a little bit like Ozzie Smith …

    LAVADA: Black guy?

    ME: Um … uh, yeah.

    LAVADA: Oh yeah, I know who you mean!

    (Duh.)

  211. My daughter and I play the Disney version of Guess Who? all the time. It probably would never occur to me to ask about race because other attributes have a higher percentage of eliminating “suspects” — male/female, hair color/style, accessories, etc.

  212. I don’t understand how some of you people manage to operate in modern society.

  213. Wayne,
    Am I reading you right? Were you flirting with a woman that you thought was pregnant?

    Not that there anything inherently wrong with that, but that’s usually indicative that she may have been in a relationship within the past nine months. If you ever meet a attractive woman with a distended belly, talk to her about something other than her stomach. Within 5 minutes, she will usually mention:
    1. If she has a BF or husband.
    2. If she is pregnant.
    If she does not mention a BF or husband, you may presume that she has neither. (That isn’t to say that she is single, it just means that you won’t be considered a total jerk if you think that she is single.) If she does not mention a pregnancy, she is either not pregnant or does not want to talk about it.

  214. It has been almost 24 hours and no one has said “I am not afraid to call a spade a spade.”

    I am disappointed.

    Curtis–There are no black Disney characters, so why use race?

  215. Wayne,
    Am I reading you right? Were you flirting with a woman that you thought was pregnant?

    No. Sorry for the confusion. I was (sort of) trying to make time with the pregnant-looking ladie’s sister.

    Don’t worry. I learned my lesson in that incident. I don’t comment on the gestational probabilities of women anymore.

  216. I don’t understand how some of you people manage to operate in modern society.

    It’s easy Joe, we recognize a spade when we see one.

    There. Cleared that up, and satisfied Reformed Republican’s request.

  217. We perceive people with dark skin and kinky hair as being in a different race than our own, while we do not perceive people with light skin and semitic noses as being a different race than us.

    Who’s “us”, sucka?

    Interesting that joe speaks as a white, non-semitic person speaking to other white, non-semitic people.

    Racist!

  218. Reformed Republican | October 7, 2008, 10:53am |

    Curtis–There are no black Disney characters, so why use race?

    ———————–

    What are you talking about? Mickey Mouse, Minnie, all of the Mouse family; Pluto, Brer Bear, Uncle Remus, The Tar Baby, Goofy, and all of the Goof family. And those are just the ones I remember.

    All are BLACK!

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