“We Don’t Respect You Either,” by Alpha Unit

This is Alpha Unit’s response, or possibly rejoinder, to my piece, We Don’t Respect You. I actually encouraged her to write this. I think it’s great!

I’ve heard that Whites don’t respect Black people as a race. I think my great-grandparents got the same memo, which got sent along to my grandparents and parents, too.

To Black people, that’s like someone telling you that the earth revolves around the Sun.

Suppose that for one reason or another you ended up being owned by someone. Someone who saw you and treated you as if you weren’t really human. The fact that they saw you that way didn’t make you that way; you had all the human emotions and instincts they did. But this person can’t or won’t acknowledge that. How do you respect this person?

What about being in a situation in which you nominally have your “freedom,” but the people who run everything make damned sure you don’t really get to exercise it? They’re putting all kinds of barriers in your way to make sure you can’t exercise most of the freedoms they do–because, to them, you’re just not ready for that yet, and so it is for the common good that you stay in your designated place. Do such people get your respect?

While you’re in this situation, you and those like you are subject to freelance violence and you don’t have any recourse. If you irritate an employer in some way, he has the right to strike you, or even beat you. If you commit some serious breach of social “etiquette” you can be called out of your home and taken for a ride somewhere and taught a lesson, if you know what I mean.

If you really piss some people off, you’ll find yourself swinging from a tree. Or burned alive. They’ll bring the kids, too, and have the kids pose and smile in front of your corpse.

You’re supposed to respect people like that?

A lot of things have changed, but some things never change. Not seeing you as really human–that one hasn’t gone anywhere. One of the things I’ve noticed is that White people will say things to you that they wouldn’t stand for anybody telling them. Like where you belong.

In general human beings just balk at being told where they belong. Ask anybody who’s ever worked with children. Adults don’t like it, either, even though most of us are disciplined enough to handle being told “Sit here” or “Wait here” or “No Admittance.” But I think White people take for granted that they belong wherever they want to be at the moment.

To this day White people won’t hesitate to tell you where you belong. Decent, law-abiding Black people belong in dysfunctional, violent Black neighborhoods with all the other Black people–you know, to be a good example to them. Or Black people just can’t handle the pressures of modern life, so they belong in less challenging environments. (Should they be accompanied by all the slow, incapable Whites?) If White people have decided you don’t “belong” somewhere, they really get pissed about you being there and acting as if you do.

Black people know all this. We understand how White people operate. We have come to recognize the sense of entitlement that White people have to all kinds of things–including our respect.

White people talking about how they don’t respect Black people as a race? As if any Black person gives a damn.

28 Comments

Filed under Alpha Unit, Blacks, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Guest Posts, Race Relations, Race/Ethnicity, Racism, Sociology, White Racism, Whites

28 responses to ““We Don’t Respect You Either,” by Alpha Unit

  1. Youth

    The “we blacks have the hardest life of all the world and all whites openly hate us” attitude is the main reason why most poor rural whites consistently vote Republican. They may not benefit from Republicans much, but they definitely don’t want to be in an alliance with people who call them racists and consider them to be the cause of all evil.

    • alpha unit

      What do you think of the fact that White people don’t respect Blacks as a race?

      • Petra Elster

        Dear Alpha Unit (loved your nick btw),
        I just want to side with you and say that all this closed-group-mentality is really getting old. Race is a word that has become overused as an argument for a lot of empty accusations and also for getting undeserved privileges. If a person identifies him or herself with a group, he or whe must be prepared to face the consequences of being associated both with the best and with the worst examples of that group. I really think it is best to be an individual and stand for yourself. For instance: I am white and blond. There is the dumb-blonde stereotype. I do not identify with it. I don´t care if anyone calls blondes stupid as a group (says more about the intelligence of the speaker anyway). I do not know statistics on this matter. Maybe there are a lot of dumb blondes I do not know about running around being moronic and building up bad reputation for all blondes worlwide! I have never been introduced to the stupid-blond commitee, so I would not know anything about that. All I know is my IQ score. I do not respect people because of their race but because of who they are. Some black people I respect, others I don’t. Some white people I respect, others I don’t. I do not think that this is a good way to put the question, because it immediately assumes that it is a fact that all whites do not respect all blacks on a race basis and that is simply not true. I get asked race-based questions a lot lately (we can all thank PC for raising “race-awareness” and reminding all people how much and why they hate each other so much) and the questions usually imply that I am racist before they are even asked. PC is wild here in Brazil, ruining all decent communication efforts. When i was a child and teenager, no one ever asked me one single race-based question. It wasn’t an issue. Nowadays it´s epidemical. Everybody wants to know where everybody else stands on race. PC has reinstated racism and is apparently working hard on turning everybody into a full-fledged hardcore racist.
        I wish for the day all of us can finally drop the “race” thing and move towards more productive ways of dealing with interpersonal and social problems – human respect included.

        • Alpha Unit

          Hello, Petra.

          Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your last sentence, in particular. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • He’s right in a sense.

      I can’t speak for the poor rural Whites, but most of them are not real wild about Black people. Around here though, Blacks are just sort of off the chart. No one thinks about them because there are hardly any around. Most vote Republican because that is what everyone else in town is doing, or due to fundamentalist Protestantism.

      The “cultural hegemony” in those places is very rightwing and Republican, and if you don’t go along, you’re made to feel like a real weirdo for not being a reactionary like everyone else.

      OTOH, a lot of us, me included, weary of Blacks endlessly pointing their fingers at us and calling us racist. We try so hard to move beyond this, to be non-racist or anti-racist, and it’s like the Blacks just keep calling us names and moving the goalposts. It’s like we can never be good enough.

      It’s immensely frustrating especially now with all this shaming of Whites for every little “racist” thing that we do or say. A lot of Whites are starting to get mad and get our backs up and say the Hell with this.

      Especially when the effort does not seem to be reciprocated. Are these folks demanding that Whites reduce their racism reducing their racism against Whites, or against anyone? Nope, not really. There’s nothing on the other side of the mirror. There’s no complementary effort on their part.

      I also think this shaming is counterproductive. Whites are reacting to the shaming with denial and obfuscation. Now that racism is a cardinal sin, everyone just denies that they are racist yet keeps on doing whatever they are doing.

      This blog is set up in part to allow people of all races to be honest about their racism, to the extent that it exists. Either confront and it and do battle with it, or simply embrace it and decide you don’t want to change. I have “racist” feelings, some of which I struggle against and others of which I simply embrace because I think it’s true or I don’t feel like changing.

    • Yeah, AU, I just talked to my Mom on the phone. She’s basically a liberal, non-racist sort of person who looks disgusted if you tell a racist joke. But she agreed with me: We *don’t respect Blacks as a race*, it’s true. She said it’s due to their behavior, but then you get into the merry go round of the “why” debate. She also agreed with me that we respect Arabs, South Indians, Amerindians, Hispanics, Polynesians and NE and SE Asians. But Blacks? Nope.

      She also agreed that traditionally White man Indian woman and White man Asian woman is just a natch thing, and it’s due to these women being perceived as more submissive (= feminine) than White women. White man Black woman goes on, but it’s always been surreptitious and undercover, the kids were often illegitimate and abandoned to the Black community.

      Also it was heavily regulated, often by stringent laws. White man Black women is not such a “natch” thing as the other pairings.

    • alpha unit

      I’m not disputing what he says about these rural Whites.

      What I’m trying to point out with my question to him is something I have noticed continually here. People can come here and say pretty much anything they want about Black people. They criticize Blacks freely and insult Black people, if they so choose.

      Typically, someone like Youth won’t say a word if Black people are being badmouthed. It’s okay, apparently to talk about us any way you like.

      But as soon as a Black person responds, or criticizes the behavior of Whites, the same silent White person suddenly speaks up sounding offended.

      This is an example of what I mean when I say that White people just don’t see us as really human–that is, with the same capacity for feeling they do.

    • I think you make an excellent point, AU. I see this on here a lot.

      They don’t mind it when people attack Blacks, that’s just fine. They just get upset when Blacks start fighting back.

    • tulio

      Most poor rural white ARE racist. I think you have it backwards. Blacks don’t vote Republican because they know that the Republican party relies on the votes of people who hate them. Google up “southern strategy” if you need further clarification.

    • tulio is right. Most of them are racist. Of course. It’s not the same as the rich and corporate guys who vote Republican but then make excuses for or deny the party’s obvious racism and appeals to White racism. Those guys are voting R out of economic interests and I don’t know what they think of the Republican strategy on race. Poor rural Whites actually support the racist policies of the Republicans. They don’t see anything wrong with it.

  2. tulio

    Robert, I think there is truth to what you are saying. I’d never thought of the whole thing about whites respecting blacks. As much as I’ve thought about racism and race-relations over my life, the respect issue is one aspect that I haven’t really explored, so I’m glad you have forced the issue and gotten me to ponder it.

    I remember during the election when Obama was doing pretty poorly in states where there were a lot of working class rural Democrat whites who normally vote Democrat but were switching over to vote Republican, they were trying to figure out what was going on. One thing that they said is that many whites simply don’t even know that there are people like Barack and Michelle Obama. They have very little interaction with any prosperous, educated black middle class(who tend to be urbanized) and that many of these rural whites simply can’t connect or relate to such people.

    Myself, I just don’t worry too much about this stuff, I’m main concern is how people treat each other as *individuals*. People are always going to have collective opinions, some good some not so good about people as a group, but I think most of us have the ability to judge people as individuals. I can’t think of very many instances in my life where I felt I was disrespected for being black. But then don’t really exhibit any negative black stereotypes so that may have something to do with it. Despite group impressions, there are always going to be black people who are very likable, and there will always be non-blacks who are very unlikable.

    • I can’t think of very many instances in my life where I felt I was disrespected for being black.

      This is great. This is the way it ought to be. All White people ought to treat you like that. It also shows that you don’t deal with a lot of racism in your daily life, but then LA is a pretty liberal and PC place. You know I lived in Southern California (mostly Orange County) my whole life until age 33, right?

      I think the thing is, yeah, we don’t respect Blacks as a race, sure. But then those of us who are decent on race, who are non-racist or anti-racist or try to be like my Mom and I, we do deal with Blacks on an individual basis or at least we try to. One of my Mom’s friends, who is a White lady around 75 years old, has been dating a Black man for a long time now. My Mom thinks this is awesome! They came up to visit a while back, and I was up there at the time. I met the guy, and he’s as cool as can be.

      And my nephew went in the Army and married a very light-skinned Black girl in there. They came to visit the family and everyone was really cool to them, plus she was a really cool person. My Mom thought this was really cool too.

      I don’t know if she reads this site, but 25 years ago, she was not so liberal about such stuff, that’s the best way I can put it.

      So, yeah, we diss the race, but the better of us make room for tons of exceptions. *Any Black* who acts like most of the White people we know is in like Flynn pretty much.

  3. tulio

    I will say though, that sometimes, the stereotypes about blacks had their advantage. In school, when people had line up and pick who they want on their team, the black guys always got picked first! But I sucked shit at sports, even the Asian guys were beating me in basketball, so I was always a big let down.

  4. randy

    well, the slavery stuff you invoke at first, that’s not modern and is a bad place to start. you didn.t really see that stuff with your own eyes. your grandparents did and told you about it, that’s about 80% as good, good enough for me but really not enough to argue.

    i’d like to ramble a bit…i think some of this anti-black sentiment is neurological…maybe a lot of it. i notice a lot of black on black violence. chalk up some (significant) percentage to “most crime is committed against people familiar to you”. but skin-color itself might contribute. check out the book Mind Hacks.

    one thing from that book…there is an involuntary reaction which depends on the color of the prop. if someone brings a dark object into your field-of-view quickly, you WILL dodge it. a light colored object does not provoke the same response. i think it’s relevant.

    maybe dark skin just triggers some deep-seated reaction. i think it plays a part in attraction, i already said that, i think it probably extends beyond that.

    • alpha unit

      I see what you mean about slavery. However, Black people still blame White people for enslaving their ancestors. As you know, groups can hold grudges against each other for centuries.

      What you say about dark skin triggering a reaction is interesting, although it would probably apply mainly to people who aren’t used to dark skin, I’m guessing.

    • alpha unit

      I can’t really know what my enslaved ancestors went through. I can try to piece things together with history and slave narratives and things like that.

      But some of this same history, including some of the actions of newly freed slaves, tells me that slaves generally felt about enslavement the way you or I would.

      I think this is a better response to your point.

  5. Interesting conversation. I’m concerned with tracing African history back way further than 600 years.

    http://migrationstoriesofnigerianigbo.wordpress.com/

  6. cursed

    Everybody respects large black men.

  7. cursed

    Alpha Unit.

    Also I might add that some black ladies move with a grace and beauty that no other people can rival.

    A lot white guys feel this way, but many of the putzes feel too inadequate to approach black ladies.

    • alpha unit

      Stop it. A lot of them feel that way?

      Gracious.

      My message to them: stop feeling inadequate. Approach. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  8. sasha

    all my life I had blacks hate/make fun of me because:
    1) I’m half white
    2) my mother is hispanic
    3) I’m a twin
    all through school it was hurtful, people would ask me stupid question like “would you date a black guy?” trying to imply that I might be racist becuase I’m half white, call me stupid racial slurs like spick/YT/cracker/chink/beaner/etc…, and say things like if I had been enslaving/killing/rapping everyone, and stealing land.
    I’m not a PC liberal, but I never thought of blacks as less human, not sure if I can say I respect them, as I really don’t respect any race. I’ve seen the good and bad in every group from a young age, and I guess because I’m mixed its hard to have a “holier than thou” thought pattern. As I got alittle older I noticed that I’ve subconsciously detached myself from any one group and constantly have a hard time relating to others.
    oh well.

    • Did it ever occur to you that the reason for your difficulty relating to others has more to do with the fact that you are socially inept, than it has to do with your heritage. For starters you are not the sharpest tool in the shed….how the Hell could people know what your mother is, or that you are a twin ???! I doubt that they would even know if you are half white, black, or painted pink. Half of anything means there is another half also!
      No Sasha….you’re a drip.

      • Toe Jam Football

        To dedsetmad (Mark Skinner)
        https://twitter.com/dedsetmad
        Well Mark Skinner, douche-bag from down under (Geelong AUSTRALIA), how would you know what it’s like to attend American schools..?

        Hell could people know what your mother is that you are a twin ???!

        I think you meant “How could” as opposed to “Hell could..” but you aren’t very bright are you…? Identical twins attending the same school..yeah, gee… how could anyone figure that out if their IQ was below room temperature as is apparently the case with you.. ? For everyone else it’s quite obvious when kids are identical twins. (Also pretty easy to figure out with fraternal twins since ones sibling would be the same grade and have the same birthday..)

        In American schools, kids are quizzed repeatedly about their ethnic background if they are racially ambiguous, for good or ill it’s quite common. Sometimes the reactions are benign or supportive, but sometimes there is bullying because someone doesn’t fall into a nice neat category… unfortunately Sasha’s story sounds quite real.

  9. sasha

    dedsetmad:
    Did I somehow offend you? I’m sure anyone who points out that you are not always the victim but just as mush the victimizer is reason to act like a drunk fratboy.
    How would my classmates know I’m a twin? lol, wow, and your calling me the idiot? Did it ever occur to you she would be in the same classes as me?
    I’m obviouly dark skinned and look hispanic, so those comments come naturaly from people like you. if they didn’t know I was hispanic, they would say things like rag head and chink.
    they see my father who is white, I had a non-hispanic last name and light colored eyes so they know I’m some white.
    If you can read, go ahead and re-read what I wrote, I mentioned classmates and I mentioned me not relating to them when I got older, not while in school.
    next time you want to call someone something (as your kind love so much and live off), read what I actually wrote.
    idiot.

  10. sasha

    p.s.
    when I said “constantly have a hard time relating to others”, I ment about race.
    when I was younger I identified as hispanic (indigenous american) and white, I dont really have alot in common with them as for culture to be either.

    so I’m guessing you think your so sharp, you got to call some a “drip” online today, have fun .

  11. alpha unit

    I think I understand what you are saying, sasha, as far as race is concerned. It’s a difficult issue, no matter who a person is.

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