Opening Dialogue On Race & Politics

UPDATE: There are simular discussions taking place on Insanelysane's blog and Cobb's blog. Check them out.


I had an interesting exchange with Chatter about race. At the end of the exchanged we both agreed that it is a conversation that needs to take place. Generally, my race discussion takes place on Dell Gines' blog but I'm going to start discussing it here. I have a post in the oven about catch phrases conservatives should not use but for now I'm going to open the floor for your opinion.

Don't be afraid to voice your opinion folks. This is never easy to talk about and feelings do get hurt at times. But we do need to take this topic out of the hands of media heads, politicians and media whores and put it in the hands of the people. Because in the end, we are the ones that have to live and work with one another.

Conversation Starters

1. What is your opinion on the current race relations in America?

2. What are the reasons for the disparities that exist between the black and white communities?

3. Do you believe that structural racism exist?

4. What is your definition of the "victim mentality" and do you believe it is a legitimate hindrance to the advancement of black people?


I am going to play the Oracle and allow you to ask me any question on the topic of race. It could as mundane as one of the "why do black people...?" to something more serious.

Ok, the church doors are open


24 Responses to Opening Dialogue On Race & Politics

  1. TheOneandOnlyInsanely Says:
    Read my blog for some of the answers to these questions.
  2. Rell Says:
    uh-oh, James is speaking for his entire race again -- lol why do we always have to do that?

    "Rell, Why do black people..."

    i'll get you my answers to that later...
  3. James Manning Says:
    I doubt I get any questions but I was thinking about Paul Mooney and thought it would be fun to throw it out there.
  4. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    I actually already had a question I was planning on asking you so this works out well. What is your take on all the corruption in Louisiana? Maybe that is out of your realm but Katrina has highlighted how poor the people are that live there. And yet democrats completely run the place and all these people are living in unspeakable conditions.

    As I was starting to hear about the corruption I remembered watching that movie with Dennis Quaid. "The Big Easy" where they show the whole police department is on the take and some corrupt cops are involved in killing drug dealers.

    Blanco and Nagin both seem to be incompetent and yet when I mentioned to someone who used to be from Louisiana about voting them out he said it was unlikely because of the corruption.

    So anyway, since I know very little about all of it was just wondering if you had a take on it.
  5. Cynthia Says:
    LMC: I'm originally from Louisiana and it is a very racist and corrupt state. I've been saying for a long time, that the Democrats are not really for black people either. Some of the most horrendous policies for blacks occurred under the Democrats.

    The city of New Orleans has a serious color problem and that means white vs. black and light skin blacks vs. dark skinned blacks. Nagin used to be a Republican and he switched parties and somehow got elected because black people traditionally vote between what they think are the lesser of two evils. After hearing some of the things New Orleans residents said about Nagin, it is clear that he didn't care much about the darker skinned black people of New Orleans. Nagin is what many black people would call an intergrationist Negro who bears watching with one eye at all times.

    Just to show how bad Louisiana is, in 1995 - one of my cousins were talking to a white woman at a bar and this white man came from behind and hit him in the head with a pool stick. After he fell, the white man kicked him in the head with his cowboy boots and split opened his skull. The doctors gave my cousin a 10% chance to live and consequently, he suffered some brain damage and can't work as a result of the incidence. This is the Louisiana I know. It is racist, segregated, color struck, and in the place I'm from on the bayou, they don't even hire blacks as nurses or doctors in the local hospitals and most of the blacks are noticeably living worst than their white counterparts.

    A white man I know went to school in New Orleans and visited a town closed to where I lived, he said he had no idea how racists and backwards some people in Louisiana were. However, this is the Louisiana I’ve always known to exist.

    We can bury or heads in the sand and believe the Dems care about black people, but the reality is their policies haven’t really helped us in my opinion.
  6. Zoozan Says:
    Is structural racism what we call Institutional racism in the UK?

    Institutional racism was defined with the case of Stephen Lawrence "the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin, which can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantages minority ethnic people."

    here is more about the lawrence case, where the police failed to provide a service in the murder young black man
  7. James Manning Says:
    Chatter, I am not familiar with all of the corruption aspects of Louisiana politics but in general I think everyone knows that New Orleans has been a cesspool of corruption for a long time. But I don't think that is a white/black issue but an issue of competence and good old fashion honesty.

    It has always been easy to take advantage of poor people because many poor people are not politically astute nor do that follow the ins and outs of how their government operates.

    But lets take this one step further. When people mention the corruption of New Orleans, Gary, IN or Washington DC - is it fair to say that there is a presumption that black people are incapable of running an effective government. That we are inherently incompetent? Jesse Lee Peterson actually stated this in a forum that he moderated and Joseph C Phillips had to check him on it.

    I'm just pointing out some of the undercurrents that exist in racial discussions.
  8. YGTBSM Says:
    Cynthia - When you talk about burrying our heads in the sand about Dems caring about Black people, are you restricting those comments to NO, the state of LA, or are you speaking on more of a national scale. My question is, why do you think Blacks vote overwhelmingly (90% at the national level) for Democrats?
  9. James Manning Says:

    I think Cynt is talking about NO in general but her phrase could be easily transfer to national politics. The Democrat party is full of crap but there is a thing about dealing with the devil you know. Black people do have a place at the Democrat Party table and we are in position to impact policy decisions. Politics is about money but black people have made some gains working with Democrats.

    The Republican Party has two things going against it. One is historical and the other is its allegiance to corporations and Religious groups. it is that second allegiance that is lost on many Republicans. I'll discuss that in another post. You will find it interesting.
  10. Diane S. Says:
    1) My feelings about the current race relations in America are that we stand at a point of critical mass. Meaning that I believe racism is reaching a horrific boiling point, and confrontation on the issue is inevitable. It's a coin toss on who is gonna win.

    2) The reasons for the disparities that exist between black and white communities are so vast and complex I feel inadequate to address them, but for starters, white people are offered a million opportunities that black people are not, quality education, professional opportunities, freedom from violence and crime, a history of freedom and deeply imbedded cultural racism in which they never question their right to... well, anything.

    By cultural racism, I'm talking about those who somehow missed the Bus of the civil rights movement. The whole thing just passed them by, and they remain in their little white supremacist worlds, oblivious to it all, and completely secure in the "rightness" of what they believe.

    Case in point: While in college, I had an elderly white woman for a neighbor. I walked by one day and she asked me for a ride somewhere. I was raised to treat older women with extreme respect. Old lady needs ride: old lady gets ride. So, as I'm driving this woman back from the drugstore she tells me her car is broken down and she is waiting for her brother to "send his nigger" over to fix her car. I just about had a heart attack. Not just at her use of the "N" word, but at the horrific use of the possessive before it. If she had not been an elderly woman, and that respect for elderly women had not been so deeply ingrained in me, I would have thrown her out of my car. Instead, with my grandmother's ghost looking over my shoulder, I just took her home. She got out of the car, I drove the half block home, got out of my car, and threw up in the parking lot.

    3) I know that structural racism exists. Man it is everywhere in Texas, and not just in Jasper (where that poor young man was lynched). It exists in the sort of legal representation given to minorities who are accused of crimes. It exists in the economic and professional opportunities which are closed off for black people. It exists in the education offered to black children, which is not even close to the education offered to white children, it exists in the prejudice of the presiding judges of the courts, it exists in the policies and practices of the law enforcement officials. It is everywhere.

    4) I've known a lot of people with what I call "victim mentality", but frankly most of them have been white women. To me, "victim mentality" is being so vested in seeing one's self as a victim that one will consciously or unconsciously manipulate a situation so that they can feel victimized by it. Since that's where my head goes with those words, it has no bearing on racial equality.

    Let me be clear: that is just where my head goes with those words. I haven't thought about "victim mentality" as part of the racial equation, and I'm simply confessing my complete lack of qualification for commenting on it.


    Okay James, you asked for it. (Smile). Mr. Black Man there are lots of lily white liberals like me who loathe racism, are willing to put our bodies on the line to stop it, who speak up (except to old ladies - and that's a personal hang up) and speak out (except to old ladies, again a personal hang up), yet a lot of black people find us annoying at best, and "the enemy" at worst. Why is this?

    In Alice Walker's first book, "Meridian" she takes this on through one of her characters who is mimicking a white woman asking pretty much the same question, and the character says, "What do we want of you white folks? Commit suicide!"

    Would black people prefer that well-intentioned white liberals like me just butt the hell out?
  11. Dell Gines Says:
    You probably know where I stand on most of these but hey, let me take a crack at it anyway.

    1. What is your opinion on the current race relations in America?

    I think there is much avoiding of the issue of race for a variety reasons, and as a result much of the dialogue is done through sound bites and op-ed pieces as opposed to truly sitting down and dealing with the issue.

    Secondly, relations will never improve until power structures change, since that ain't happening soon, on a 'macro' level race relations will remain stuck in neutral, but may improve slightly on an interpersonal level.

    2. What are the reasons for the disparities that exist between the black and white communities?

    Racism. That is easy. Like I always say, racism is AIDS it doesn't kill you, it just creates the environment that destroys your immune system so other diseases or ills can. We can expand on that later.

    3. Do you believe that structural racism exist?

    Structural racism is the most powerful form of racism, because it creates status quo power positions that keep the disparities we previously talked about in place. In addition it is insidious, every changing, and hard to get a grasp on.

    4. What is your definition of the "victim mentality" and do you believe it is a legitimate hindrance to the advancement of black people?

    If someone kicks my ass everyday and I have no power to fight back, I am a victim. So I think it is legitimate that we have a 'victim mentality' and it is not negative. However, what we do with that mentality often is what people criticize. So many times we run right back to white people begging them to fix a condition that they created, in otherwords we beg the very people who are whipping our ass, instead of taking that victimization like Jennifer Lopez in enough and doing some ass kicking of our own.
  12. James Manning Says:
    Ah... I will now place the Oracle hat on my head and answer your question, Diane.

    There is a fine line in being a counterpart in the struggle and condescending of the struggle. And many well intentioned white liberals have crossed the line from counterpart to condescending and have lost the respect of black people.

    Imagine if you will, a man ventures off into the jungle to “civilize” the heathens that reside there. In his quest to bring advancement to their lives, he rids them of their pagan gods, destroy their land to industrialize it and open their waterways to commercial trade rather than the fishing they are accustomed to. Eventually, the lynch the man and with is last breathe he ask the question, “Why?”

    Now, in his mind he was creating a means to make them prosperous. But in their minds, he was destroying their way of life. It is an extreme example but that is what happens with white liberal at times. Sometimes in their quest to makes things better they support programs and policies that actually make things worse.

    And then there is the Captain Save-A-Hoe mentality. Whereby they feel that if they don’t bless the peasants with their presence they will forever live as downtrodden heathens with no moral compass. Trust me, I’ve seen it.

    The Oracle says: To be down, you must be real. Press on my white sistah of the struggle
  13. Diane S. Says:
    Thank you oh Oracle,

    That I get.
  14. Cynthia Says:
    YGTBSM & James:

    I was speaking of the Democratic Party in general. In the 30's when the Democrats implemented the New Deal, we should have been included.

    If you look at how things work with this government, the Democrats give us these programs and as soon as the Republicans are in power, they take it back and then some. So, we take one step, and then the Republicans force us to take two steps back. We are the only immigrant group in this country who didn't voluntarily come here. We built this country and yet it is systemic racism that is preventing us from becoming whole. Look at what happened to the Black Wall Street in Tulsa (bombed by whites) or look at what happened in Rosewood, Fl (burned by whites). The Nation of Islam had farms in the 80's and I'm told those farms were poisoned by whites. It is these types of vicious and violent racial acts that have hindered our progress.

    Questions for "THE BLACK MAN"

    The bible says that Adam and Eve's sin caused the fall of man, and those sins have been past unto to each and every generations after that fall. If this is true, don't you think the sins committed against blacks by white forefathers should be past onto their children, especially since they have benefited from our ancestors labor although we are systematically being victimized on every front.

    Why shouldn’t we expect to get the same benefits from this government since after all we are citizens? If we do what Dell is saying (stop asking for help)why should we as a group expect less from a government that should benefit us too. Are we not worthy as a group to be treated or given the same courtesy and assistance as whites? It appears white people as a group (not individually) have a lot of hatred towards us, if this is the case, why do you think they won't just leave us alone and get the hell out of our way - then maybe would could do what Dell suggested and help ourselves?
  15. James Manning Says:
    Placing Oracle Hat on

    The sins of the father do visit the seeds. Since white people benefited from the free labor of black folks, then they do bear the responsibility to reconcile the disparities the exist in the black community.

    As to the question as why they won't get out of the way... simple my Chitown Sistah - white supremacy. There is no way to perpetuate the idea of superiority of race if every race of people excel when the playing field is level. Therefore, the deck must be stacked against black folk to reinforce white supremacy.
  16. Bullfrog Says:
    1. What is your opinion on the current race relations in America?

    Although we can look back through history and find alot of improvement, there is alot of work to be done as there still exists alot of racial tension between whites and blacks and even between blacks and hispanic and asian communities. I believe this is due to the fact that prejudice is still being taught culturally. I am only 31 years old and I remember my grandmother not letting me bring my black, mexican or asian friends in her house. And I grew up in "progressive" California. Ultimately, racial prejudice springs from the hearts of men who fear what they do not understand because they have not been exposed to it. This goes to human nature, we like what is familiar and hate what is unfamiliar which is why racism will always exist.

    2. What are the reasons for the disparities that exist between the black and white communities?

    If you are speaking of cultural disparities, then I would say history played the biggest role as blacks and whites, although living in the same country, share very different cultural backgrounds. Family traditions, ideology, life philosophy are passed down through families and friends for generations creating two distinct, paralell cultures. This also plays a big part in creating other disparities such as financial.

    3. Do you believe that structural racism exist?

    I would say yes, not necessarily because I have witnessed it with my own eyes, but because I believe it's reasonable based on the presence of racism in this country and the world.

    4. What is your definition of the "victim mentality" and do you believe it is a legitimate hindrance to the advancement of black people?

    We can't always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to those things. I believe, and have seen, that some blacks are in bondage to this mentality that all circumstances that they find themselves in were thrust upon them by the establishment, society, and people who do not want to see blacks advance. If two kids grow up together in the world with the same disadvantages and one is successful in life while the other is not, then the unsuccessful person only have themselves to blame.

    Institutionalized people are a good example of the victim as they blame the penal system itself, and not their own actions for their incarceration. I have known many like this who never blame their own criminal act for getting them locked up, but blame their mother, teacher, the police, anyone but themselves for their problems. This person has no hope of rehabilitating because they only blame things they have no control of for their lack of success.
  17. Bullfrog Says:
    Cyn: Regarding your comment about original sin; we inherited the propensity to sin from Adam because he fell. It is in our blood to do wrong and that we cannot escape in our own strength. This is not to imply, however, that we are not personally responsible for our own actions as we will be held accountable for these. That being said, it is also not true that the specific sins of our ancestors are ours to make recompense for. There are verses in Ezekiel that speak of the seeds inheriting the sins of the father, but I believe this is specific to sins that are learned; for example, if I grow up with an alcoholic father, I am more likely to be an alcoholic due to the normalization of this act and my desensitization to it. This again does not excuse my alcoholism as "OK" or any consequences of it.
  18. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    James: I appreciate this open and honest discussion about all of this. So kudos to you for having the guts to do it.

    In being honest I have to admit that I must be somewhat naive on a lot of this. I have obviously seen racism but not to the degree that a lot of you are talking. I have lived in a lot of different places and know very few racists especially in the circle of people that I know. And the ironic thing to me is the only full-fledged racist in my cirlce is my father-in-law who is a complete liberal democrat.

    I guess I don't understand how whites still stack the cards against blacks. I'm sure it happens in some instances but where are the glaring examples of it? And why do so many of you see Republicans as not for black people?

    I am being totally honest when I say that I want it to be a level playing field for all of us. No matter what our race, gender, etc. I am a huge supporter of school choice which I think is one of the biggest things that could help poor children climb out of poverty. For the most part Republicans are for school choice and democrats are against it because of the teacher's unions. How do you feel about the school choice issue?

    Again I hope none of what I'm saying is offensive. I'm just trying to come at this to be honest and understand.
  19. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    Cynthia: Thanks for your take on Louisiana. It was very helpful. What do you think is a solution for that area?
  20. James Manning Says:

    I think your vision is blurred by our history. Since there are no signs on the door that says 'Negos Not Welcomed' and there are laws on the book prohibiting descrmination, then it is hard to see that it is still alive and flourishing.

    When asked the question, are there still racist in this country. The answer is obvious. yes there are. But take it a step further. Are these racist CEO's, managers, lawyers, judges, politicians, lobbyist, teachers, union reps, preachers and doctors. Well, yes they are. I would say yes. Then I go on to assume that their racist philosophy come into play in their professional lives. Maybe not directly all of the time, but certainly indirectly.

    Then you have to recognize the fact that racism is a part of American society. The system was structured with white supremacy in mind. So, until we dismantle the system, we are stuck with racism - even if those that maintain the system are not racist. I will give some example when I get to work. I have to get some breakfast right now.
  21. Cynthia Says:
    LMC: Believe it or not, I think this Katrina thing was a blessing in disguise because dispersing the people - I've always thought that this would be the only way things would change in LA. They need different types of people.

    James: This is the best discusssion I have seen on this topic. I really like all the different view points.
  22. James Manning Says:
    Cynt, I think it is a very good conversation. It should only get better as I present more.
  23. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    1. They largely suck, but there are pockets of genuine friendship that show that great things could happen.

    2. Black people and white people have taken vastly different paths to their current position. I don't buy the culture argument though, because I know too many successful Africans who have a much purer connection to that which supposedly alienates us from success in America. I think we just let integration kill our collective drive.

    3. There is absolutely no question.

    4. For me the victim mentality is the constant "woe is me" wallowing that people like to engage in when things don't go their way. It's less a black thing than it is an entitlement thing. You're likely to see it in people who have a very external locus of control. Given the history of blacks in America, it's not difficult to see why we might disproportionately suffer from it, but the reality is that self-indulgent whining knows no bounds - racial or otherwise.
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