October 06, 2004

NOT SEEING THE FOREST DUE TO THE TREES

Not seeing the forest due to the trees is one of the most profound and true analogies of life. What it essentially says is that our perspective of the whole is blocked by the reality that immediate surrounds us. Just because a patch of forest, that may be our environment, is green, does not therefore mean that the forest as a whole is not baran losing foliage. The forest may be receding, succumbing to the expansion of the desert, while the forest inhabitants and dependants are oblivious to this fact.

When we look at race relations and attitudes today, most white people cannot see the forest due to the trees. The reason being is that some blacks have managed to integrate and find tolerance, if not acceptance, into the world and lives of white people. Thus, these relations become trees that have the focus of many whites and block them from seeing the totality or “big picture” of the racial forest. Hence, they assume to be true for the whole what is true of the piece of environment that they exist in. Few individual lives and experiences can be viewed as a microcosm of the whole. Consequently, white’s view of reality (the big) picture, is often distorted from obstruction.

The same is true for black people. Contrary to what many whites think, Pan African or Militant blacks such as me are well aware that there is, and always has been, good white folks. In fact, the vast majority of black folks know that there are good white people in this world. Many of us have the pleasure of interacting with them and some even have intimate relations with them. However, does our experience with good white folk make us assume a less defensive position? Do we now believe that white racism is no longer a legitimate obstacle to our status and success, because we cannot see the forest of white behavior and attitudes because of the good whites in front of us?....most certainly this happens.

There are many white people, like one of our welcome commenters, who is more concerned about saving the reputation of the white race from the stigma of being racist, than they are about helping blacks offset and rise from the curse of white racism. They come across with personal stories about their black friends and how they treat all people as simply people because they do not see color. The effect of such rhetoric, whether by intent or coincidence, is that they come across “white people” as apposed to a “white person”. In other words, they come across as a tree representative or a microcosm of the forest of whiteness. Thus, they use their personal experience to in an attempt to invalidate the claim or theory that blacks are still held down by contemporary white racism, which is illogical because one cannot contradict the whole by what maybe true of a part.

Black and white relations are helped and hurt often by personal interracial relationships. I think we obviously know how it helps, but few take the time to realize that such relations can often distort or obstruct a truth of the whole that is not true of a part in on lives. Furthermore, once the race get together, they rarely talk freely about race out of fear of offending or alienating their friends or relations of another race. Thus, you never really get strait talk about race, in interracial groupings and conversations where people know each other.

I am not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bath water by ceasing inter racial relationships and friendships, as some most absurdly would have suggested that I am alluding to. I am just trying to have an honest analysis of the reactions to certain actions, from a human nature perspective.

I believe that whites need to spend more time working on self introspection and changing the mindset of white folks, rather than on changing the perception of blacks concerning whites. Good white folks can do far more good performing missionary work with bad white folks, than by coming amongst black people to show us that all whites are not racist. It is like the white missionaries to go to Africa to help out the poor people, while teaching them Christianity and the blue print of righteous living, in their opinion. However, far more could be gained if these missionaries could convince their governments to not only cancel these nations debt burdens with there host nations, but repair the damage done to them from years of their demand for slave, colonization and cold war policies.

If there are any people who truly are afflicted with not seeing the forest due to the trees, it is the Africans. When you see Africans starving or in need of Aid, you generally only see white faces there to help. However, this works to blind the Africans to the fact that it was the European who demanded slaves, who colonized their nations, who created the borders and boundaries that cause so much infighting, and who propped up and supported dictators during the cold war, all of which sum up to be a major contributor of the continents current problems. Yet, most see white people as saviors…due to the Aid workers and missionaries.





11 Comments:

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You certainly are correct, Noah, that many of us (myself included) sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees. Part of why I want to read a blog like yours, and your comments, is because otherwise, I would have no way of knowing what a person with your sorts of background and experiences thinks. And, unless I do learn that which is outside my regular "world" - I will not know.

You and I, however, do view race very differently. I don't like to make sweeping generalizations about ANY race. Period. There are tens of millions of people - billions around the world - who belong to one race or another, and in my mind, it is simply impossible to find many statements that really apply to all - or even most - of them.

Instead, I like to qualify everything, even if I am talking about race. That way, I have much smaller subsets, and what I say has a higher likelihood of being true.

I'm assuming that I am your "welcome commentator" (and thank you for telling me I am welcome!) If so, please let me tell you that I do not see myself as trying to convince ANYONE that "whites aren't racist." SOME whites assuredly are - and though I don't know the exact numbers, any is too high a number.

Do I think that the number today is much less than 50 - or even 20 or 10 years ago? Yes I do. Does not, however, mean that it's gone completely - or, as you so often like to point out, that there aren't parts of our society (like our judicial system, particularly dealing with illegal drugs) that IS unfair to minorities.

For a while, I had a reader at my blog who first was VERY angry with what I was writing.... then softened some when I tried to understand what he was saying... and then he got angry again and left. But, at one point, I asked him what he wanted of me, as a white person. What did he expect me to do? Was there ANYTHING I COULD do that would make him think I was not a racist?

He really didn't know what to say. "No one has ever asked me that before."

When I say, "I think that blacks ought to do this or that," I do not mean to be preachy. Sorry if it sounds that way.

I only say it because I do care what happens to my black neighbors and friends.... and I say it because, much as I would like to see it happen, I do not think that racism will ever die completely. So - if people are waiting to be successful and get on with their lives until racism dies.... they may, very sadly, have a long, long wait on their hands.

Should we try to change white racists? YOU BET! I don't have that much power over it all - but I try to do what I can, in my own small way.

Anyway - this is turning into a very long comment. My thoughts for now....

Peg K

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

“I like to qualify everything, even if I am talking about race" Peg-K

Can you qualify this statement of your concerning the number of white racist?

"Do I think that the number today is much less than 50 - or even 20 or 10 years ago? Yes I do."

And while you are qualifying this, you should be mindful, Black folk do not care to rid the white community of its racist ideology per se, we simply want their racism to stop affecting us. Little Billy working in the corn fields of Nebraska and hate Black folk is not a threat, however Billy Father that works downtown Nebraska City in a bank where Black men and women apply for loans and allow his racism to spill over into his decision making is a problem and pose a threat to the upward mobility of Black men and women in Nebraska City. Black folk know we will never rid the white community of its belief in white supremacy; we simply want it to stop spilling over into our lives and having an adverse affect on us.

 
At 6:32 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

I assume Peg K assumes white racism is simply the product of intent. One can be a racist, even when void of conscious intent. The reason being is that when one is ignorant, they are in a state of the absence of knowledge. Hence, one who has an absence of knowledge about the effects of their actions or behaviors can’t really say that they are not racist.

What do you call a person who attempts to PRESERVE the effects of racism? If some locks another in a cell, unprovoked, and hold them against there will, the person who did so obviously is in the wrong. However, how morally different is the person who has access to a key, but refuses to provide it to unlock the door?

A person like Peg K can talk about not being racist, while acknowledging that past and present racism existed. However, what Peg K and others refuse to offer and accept is an OFFSET of white racism to negate the effects upon black people. That is the refusal to provide keys to the cell. The refusal to provide an OFFSET to white racism simply preserves the effect of white racism, which is racial inequality to the benefit of whites. Anyone who acts in such a way to create or preserve racial inequality and the state of white supremacy is in my calculus a racist.

Too many white folk have the wrong understanding of what constitutes racism. There is too much focus on their part on emotions and intent. The new racism of whites comes from their intransigence concerning offering an OFFSET or NEGATING FORCE that serves as the equal and opposite force of white racism, thus creating racial equilibrium. It is unacceptable to most whites that white be randomly discriminated against as an offset to random racial discrimination to blacks. Thus, what this says, by default, that it IS acceptable to whites to leave blacks with the burden of white racism, without an offset. How is such a conclusion not racist…when one has put a premium on not accepting racism against whites…but allowing the effects of racism against blacks to keep us unequal?

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

Interesting points...

Faheem & Noah,
I'm at the point of telling those "good" Whites that the things they say - like acknowledging current, persistent racism - MUST be of some consequence. They must mean something. They must account for something. Something more than just Lip Service which, once we view the Contradiction In Terms that Noah spoke about - how Whites can accept racism constantly effecting Blacks "There's Only So Much I Can Do..." ... YET ... are adamant that something must be done about Affirmative Action because its "reverse racism", etc.

That alone shows that statements like PEG K's are nothing but vain and idle talk about something they (and I do and will generalize because so many... TOO MANY... Whites fall into this category) have made little or no effort to quantify, let alone qualify.

Yes!! PEG K... if you dare say, "There is still racism" and acknowledge that it exist in the criminal justice system, etc. That must mean something. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, talking about how many less racist Whites there are today is NOT a consolation when racism still exist.

But, as Faheem ask you... How can you qualify that?
By what standard do you prove that? By what definition of racism do you conclude that?

It would seem that to Whites Like You, if there is no Slavery Or No Segregation then there is automatically by the absense of those oppressive regimes (The 1st & 2nd WHITE SUPREMACY REGIMES, I call them... We now live in the 3rd)... there is little racism structurally/systematically - and even little or shall we say significantly less individually - in "White" [American] society.

Well, you can spout off MYTHS all you want and believe in them as you like but in order for your comments about racism today to be of some consequence you have to actually quantify racism today in and of itself. Comparing it to the other eras or other WHITE SUPREMACY REGIMES (note, again, we still live under WHITE SUPREMACY which you and most all Whites have very little to say in opposition to) only goes to evade actually quantifying today's racism.

And this idea and focus on Whites as individuals is flawed and beside the point. Who cares whether you are 'racist'??

Blacks talking about racism isn't about you, personally, PEG K! It's about business... Never Personal.

It's about the business of WHITE SUPREMACY.
White Supremacy that doesn't have to have you sign on as a Card Carrying member. The White Supremacy enshrined in the Constitution and whole structure of American society and so-called Democracy.

[[ So - if people are waiting to be successful and get on with their lives until racism dies.... they may, very sadly, have a long, long wait on their hands. ]]

That statement right there firmly places you in the easily generalizable group of almost ALL Whites.

Tell us where (or what) are all the signs of "waiting to get on with their lives" among your Black neighbors and friends...

QUALIFY THAT! QUANTIFY THAT!

[[ When I say, "I think that blacks ought to do this or that," I do not mean to be preachy. ]]

That's one thing Blacks have forever been telling Whites to cease and have directly said that is something indicative of your RACISM!

First, its ARROGANCE. Arrogance to assume what you have. Second, nothing but IGNORANCE. Ignorance because your assumption has NO basis.

That Arrogance Of Ignorance (as I call it) is nothing but a by-product of your presumed WHITE SUPREMACY. Why?? Because when you give UNSOLICITED "advise" you are assuming:
[1] That you know something Blacks, in this case, don't know (eventhough you admitted you don't know much...); and
[2] You are assuming that what you can think up in your White Mind... your admittedly "lack of knowledge about the Black experience" White Mind... can come up with something better than what has occurred within the Black Mind or political consensus... BASED ON WHAT??

Nothing but WHITE SUPREMACY... some belief that you are superior even when you have no reason to think you are would make you feel like you could give advice or comment with some authority, let alone accuracy on "What Blacks Need To Do".

So, that's one small thing YOU CAN DO!
Get that stuff out you mind. Shut your mouth until you know for a fact your assumptions - "waiting" - are based on something other than what you want to believe in order to feel comfortable with your racism and this countries undying WHITE SUPREMACY that most all Whites support.

Now, when you really want to know what Whites can do and what someone like me expects then... come and let's talk. But if you're really so arrogant to think that its Blacks that must do some changing in order to fix their situation caused by White Racism (and, consequently, Whites don't have much of any responsibility to clean up THEIR MESS! - you should have a long list of WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO DO THIS AND WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO DO THAT... and simply not "hating" is not it...), then you should openly own your WHITE SUPREMACY because what you propose is for Black people to perpetually acquiesce to the historical One-Way Street of White Supremacy.

It's Black people who must change and not Whites.
You don't expect Whites to, but you expect it from Blacks.

As Tim Wise says, "racism is a white problem, and a problem that *all* whites must address."

There... you have your answer and if you want to obfusicate over every last (insignificant) individual White person being "non-racist" then we know you're not at all being earnest with your self-professed "concerns". All we are lead to do is conclude that they are nothing more than your self-interested quest to preserve, maintain and prolong White Supremacy.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger shannon said...

I agree. Whites can talk about how they aren't racist all they want, but I won't believe them unless they actually try to do something about it. There are millions of things they can do from merely educating themselves and calling their white friends on racism to fighting racist laws. With all the time they spend lying or whining about how it's hard work, they could have done a lot of things.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

You made important points Nmaginate: One: that whites falsely set the template or benchmark or racism based upon past racism, thus ignoring the Neoracism of today (which they are guilty of), which termed the 3rd stage. (see stages of grief for analogy). Two: That whites can acknowledge racism but offer nothing to offset or cure it. Peg K lamented in another comment that there is not much she can do about white racism. Thus, if she cannot stop whites from being proactively discriminating against blacks, she does have the power to counter it with being proactively discriminatory in favor of blacks. If good whites would tell bad whites that their discrimination against blacks will compel them advocate discrimination in favor of blacks, then they would be more inclined to stop, because it defeats their purpose and goal.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

From the FAKE PRETENSE and Statements Made With No Real Meaning Or Consequence Department:

" I would have no way of knowing what a person with your sorts of background and experiences thinks. And, unless I do learn that which is outside my regular "world" - I will not know. " - PEG K

Peg, again, you are NOT showing that you are seeking to learn when you in reality are seeking to comment and/or offer your unsolicited opinion or advice. If you feel you need to learn something, then there must be a consequence of your learning. You quest for learning, in exactly the 'admirable' sense you present it, must be born out in practice - i.e. there must be a "I LISTENED and learned this" product that goes along with your claims. And, if there is hardly any proof that you have LISTENED intently and haven't distorted what you've heard into what you think you heard (or was expecting to hear or what you heard someone else or what you hear even when a statement never explicitly says what you think).

The fact that you PUKED OUT the idea that (some) Blacks are "waiting for racism to be completely wiped out in order to get on with their lives"... (puked, because you regurgitated what so many Whites presume - i.e. a thought strictly drawn up within their own minds...) is proof that you are not and have not been LISTENING. And, I doubt you ever really will. You have no intent to learn because you would have long since picked up on that. You actually would have long since question the very idea of how you came up with such an idea.

If you had learned anything by actually listening... you would have known that perhaps the only place you hear that kind of idea is amongst you fellow White Americans. Matter of fact, if you had be LISTENING... you would have had no reason to use the term *IF* in presenting the idea as if it was salient or indicative...

IF you have listened and learned you would have been in touch with that part of you that would make such an unfounded leap in logic to even begin to assume that Blacks are "waiting".

Again, RACISM IS WHITE PEOPLE'S PROBLEM.
To the extent that you, like so many other Whites (only a few are an exception), expect Black people to jump through hoops as a matter of course; deal with racism 'since its not going away anytime soon' as a matter of course; "Do as you say" as a matter of course because you're only offering gracious advice out of "geniune" concern; etc., etc. only goes to show that want the burden of racism and the historical inequities to stay firm entrenched in the Black community with your only prescription - being the 'fair minded "good" White person you are - that Blacks must overcome in spite of racism you admit still exist, essentially approving of the persistent forms of racism since, as we can see, you have not outlined what it is Whites are suppose to do...

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

It is indeed a strange phenomena in that white folk as individuals will admit and state boldly that racism is still a problem and at the same time say there is not anything they can personally do about it, but they have no problem protesting against programs put in place to offset the affects of racism today and America's racist past. If they work as hard against racism as they do against those programs put in place to offset it, this would indeed be a different country.

So as these white folk are running their mouths about ending affirmative action and saying what needs to be done to end what they see as entitlements, they have no idea how to stop white racism nor are they trully interested in stopping it but they are all sure it still exist.

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

I do not know what black person would be stumped by what she feels was a profound question “what are whites supposed to do?”. Such as is disingenuous and rhetorical. Does any one of them actually believe that we believe they are themselves at “wits end” in regards to what they are supposed to do? Moreover, dumfounded to the degree that they must seek the advice and direction of black people to help guide them? I mean…one must believe in black racial inferiority if they think we are credulous enough to think such a question is sincere.

She needs to qualify that question by what she and others really mean, which is, “What are whites to do that is an option we are willing to accept”. BAM….there it is….the hidden and unstated constraint. What they are willing to accept is constrained by there desire to protect white privilege and status, whether by intent or by effect. In other words, white want to know what can they do that does not involve a sacrifice or giving up of anything on the part of whites, whether themselves or others. Hey, the can’t even accept the “Africa Town” proposal that requires nothing from them. Whatever we do to help ourselves and that manifest into black unity…immediately stirs their resistance…and yet…they cannot see themselves for what they are in effect…CLASSIC DENIAL SYNDROM. Hey….that why we have the VICTIM SYNDROM, in their eyes! The reason being that their DENIAL SYNDROM prevents them from recognizing what they perpetrate and the victims there of.

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger Scott said...

One of the reasons I hang around this blog is that you guys basically hope to do something for black people.

But the problem with you guys is that you have no plan. When people try to suggest a plan similar to what other minorities groups Jew, Chinese, Mexican etc etc have used to overcome white supremecy as you call it (I actually think that is a better description than racism for systemic racism). You basically yell at us that were are blaming the victim.

Well let me tell you something. NEVER in history has the meek every been given reperation for the damage they have suffered. The few pitiful attemempts at it such as the few dollars given to the japenese interment victims and the jewish survivors don't in anyway equal the crimes perpetrated upon them.

We have gotten a shit load from government activism etc. Well we have reached the point of diminishing returns. Yes a few black (actually a majority) have moved out of poverty.

Yes we need to close the wealth gap, but if you think your reparation check will close that gap you are wrong. Because that check will be income and not turned into wealth until we change our midset and learn how to master the system as it exist and is likely to exist in the near future.

As Malcom X said its tatical.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

SCOTT...

What are you talking about?

When you try to make a point...
Make sure you stay on point.

Making Cookie Cutter like On-Size Fits All comparisons with "Model Minority" groups whose situation does not compare to ours *FAULTY ASSUMPTION* only goes to show that the basis of your "plan" - to the extent that its based on thinking like that - is all the more flawed.

If you're too damn scared or so damn scared of White people and White racism/Backlash/Outrage then just say it. The basic "personal responsibility" and wealth building initiatives that I presume composes your "plan" are a GIVEN!! UNDERSTOOD! aka EVERYONE AGREES ON THAT!

Now, we see that you are like our White friend PEG K here - making unfounded assumptions and false correlations.

"If you think Reparations checks..."

SCOTT cite where anyone here have postulated that Reparations would close the wealth gap. Also, show me how giving the structural inequalities of White Supremacy a pass (WHITE SUPREMACY - aka a self-replicating system) by saying "We Need To [Just] Get Our Stuff Together" is going to close the wealth gap and HOW SOON will that happen under your "plan".

The plan is simple but only hard to implement when people like you are so willing to acquiesce to WHITE SUPREMACY.

White people tell you "this is the way it is" and that's what you accept. Like certain Negroes willingly accepted Slavery and at best "planned" to do whatever the White system allowed them to do via Manumission - aka Buy Your FREEDOM.

See... that's the freakin' oxymoronic mindset of those of you who think they have a "plan" but have nothing to say or nothing plan for how to attack White Supremacy.

"We Need To Get Our Act Together"

Yeah... And then do what. Let White Supremacy ride...

Look up the numbers SCOTT. Tell me how fast the Wealth Gap is gonna close as long as by virtue of the system set in motion White Supremacy continues to skim cream of the top of Black's "crop" via persistent racism and White Privilege where the Black reality mean having less but needing more... and for Whites having more but needing less.

There's nothing about that equation that says "We're Gonna Catch up." That is unless all you're really concerned about is yourself and a few select others...

My Ancestors didn't raise no coward!
Their spirit demand that we change this society.
Our legacy demands that. And there can't be a complete getting of our acts together because all that is tied to the White Supremacy you want to acquiesce to.

 

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