I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to this one. My conversations with Ray are among those I’ve been most keen to share here. There are a few reasons for this.
First, he represents a certain type of black thought that I don’t come across too often online. He’s an older guy, his views forged in a time when race relations were very different to today.
Second, we have a number of conversations, and each of them reveals a different facet of his mindset and who he is.
And third? Well, I like a good dust-up from time to time. And Ray certainly isn’t afraid of confrontation.
Ray commented on my article, Anti-Racism Is Becoming Troublingly Racist. He didn’t have much to say about it in general, but he took issue with one particular line:
The same people who have taken terms like “white supremacy” and diluted their meaning to the point that we’re losing the ability to differentiate between benign ignorance and true hatred.
It all is! And there is no differentiation between these things
“There’s no differentiation between benign ignorance and true hatred.”
My go-to strategy when somebody says something utterly ridiculous, is to ask them to try again. Hyperbole has become the lingua franca of the internet, especially in comment sections. Some people need a little nudge to remind them that it’s possible to speak like a normal human being.
I know you don’t believe this. Care to explain what you’re actually trying to say here?
Sure, no problem. Ignorance, true hatred, white supremacy all do the same things in this society. Covert & overt racism results in the same thing. It goes on and on and on.
Yes, I believe these things, and am not someone who merely looked them up in a book. I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement. I experienced some of Jim Crow. I believe more in what Malcolm X preached than what MLK did. They were all needed for what took place, but guess what? Ignorance, white supremacy, AND hatred took out all our leaders. The entire movement was attacked on many different levels & groups of people.
Conversations about racism often end up referring to things that happened sixty years ago. And there’s a good reason for that:
The things that happened sixty years ago were f***ing awful.
Black people who grew up during the segregation and Jim Crow era will have a different view on race relations to those of us who grew up afterwards, and in many cases there’s not much that can be done about that.
What’s more, it’s perfectly understandable.
My views on race are more progressive than most older black people I know. And that’s precisely because of the battles they fought. So while I disagreed with Ray here, I wasn’t about to judge him.
I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement. I experienced some of Jim Crow. I believe more in what Malcolm X preached than what MLK did.
Ok, fair enough. I haven't lived through what you've lived through so I'm not going to judge your anger. But if you can't see the difference between ignoracnce and hatred we don't have much of a foundation to move forward on.
There's so much injustice in the world that we're all ignorant of. It's not because we hate those we don't understand, it's that our lives are full of our own concerns. This isn't hateful, it's human. If we want others to learn about us, we can't be angry at them because they don't already know. At least that's how I see it.
If you think this is angry, I would wonder if you've got some anti-black sentiments going on inside of you. This isn't angry ... this is me being real. If you're not upset about the state of this country, I would wonder the same thing about you. Inner hatred is far more pervasive than what you think is external anger. I served my country for people's freedom to be assholes to us? NOT HAPPENING without strong sentiments from me and 'not on my watch'.
Are you conscious of what's going on, how many house negros are running around out there vs. field negros, etc. I'm actually a great guy, with a great sense of humor. I am just tired of nonsense, bullshit, and going in infinite circles. Time to move forward and try something that a great many Black people are afraid to try. I own a Pro-Black business that is definitely not all about me, and I'm an international mentor & chosen father of many. If that's all about myself, then I'm the man on the moon. LOL
I. AM. REAL.
It’s telling how quick some black people are to accuse any black person who disagrees with them of “anti-black sentiments”. As I said, I understand that Ray’s experience is different to mine. I understand that we might disagree on certain things. But calling me anti-black is a serious test of my patience.
If I wasn't upset about racism I wouldn't be spending my time writing and speaking about it. I wouldn't be fighting it. Our aims are the same, we're just disagreeing about how to achieve them.
I said anger because if you can't see the difference between ignorance and hatred, the only explanation I can see is that you're blinded by anger. I might be wrong. I don't know you. I'm not even going to dignify the suggestion of "anti-black sentiments"
The question isn't who is most upset, the question is, what do we do about the problem? I haven't said a word about your character, I haven't suggested that you're not a "great guy". Again, it's the amount of projection you're doing with a guy you literally know nothing about which leads me to feel that you're angry.
Be real. Be true to yourself. That's the best any of us can do. Just don't assume that that automatically means your opinion is correct.
I saw the content and commented. I don't have to know you to comment. I pay to be here, write a few articles myself, and that is our right all over this platform.
I don't know if our aim is the same. I'm not trying to appeal to white people anymore; I'm strengthening Black people and them alone. We will force (or trick) them into getting what we need to thrive again. I did that on my own, and am now paying it forward to teach others how I became successful without their permission and with trickery.
I run across very few Blacks that I disagree with as much, and some of it happened in their comments when they went on the attack. This is a debate, not an attack.
In the end, you're still stuck on correct/incorrect, right/wrong. Get your head out of your ass, dude, and be real. You want inclusivity? Go for it. I think that is a 'wave' and one that will result in ZERO happening for you and for us.
I. AM. REAL
When a conversation isn’t going well, especially online, one of the clearest signs is that the two of you start talking past each other more and more. The person’s frustrations with previous arguments start to come out, and all of a sudden, you’re defending yourself from accusations that bear no resemblance to anything you’ve said or done. That’s usually the point where you should cut your losses.
Ok man, it doesn't even feel like you're responding to the things I'm saying anymore. Nothing I've written suggests you shouldn't comment, or that you don't have a right to. I WANT people to engage.
I'm not trying to appeal to white people. I'm pointing to a problem that can only harm black people. I'm saying that focusing on trivialities (whether it's white people or black people focusing on them) can only divert attention from the issues that matter. I'm saying that segregation was a shitty idea when racists wanted it and it's STILL a shitty idea if "anti-racists" want it. I'm saying that performatve gestures like posting black squares on Instagram do nothing more than give people an opportunity to pat themselves on the back for achieving nothing.
I couldn't care less about the skin colour of the people who can see these points. I just want more people to see them.
But sure, keep writing "I AM REAL" in all caps. I'm sure that will get us all where we need to go.
Why are you so rude, Steve? You can't take criticism of your piece? I just don't believe segregation is a mistake, given how we're treated in an integrated society.
There is no need to be condescending. You can stop talking to me, because you keep attacking my character. That's how this went OFF topic!
I do more than write, man. What do YOU do for us or them besides write? If you want to attack character, I can tear you to pieces, because you're not being real about this.
I have to admit, I burst out laughing when I read this reply. I mean, can we just take a moment to marvel at the lack of self-awareness here?
A wonderful feature of online conversations is that every word is right there. No worries about misremembering something you said in the heat of the moment or forgetting the exact wording of somebody’s statement. I went back and checked for these “attacks on his character” and came up empty.
Are you kidding me?! Why am I rude?! That is some next level gaslighting my friend. Why don't you take another look at your replies? You've been nothing but aggressive, condescending, and practically accused me of being a racist. Now you're questioning what I do for black people and threaten to "tear me to pieces" Sure. I'm the one that's being rude.
I do not care to integrate with these fools anymore, and don't care who thinks that is wrong. I'm focused on empowering Black people, not others. We're the ones on the bottom of the heap of society. You think talking to them will change that? GOOD LUCK!
I do not care to integrate with these fools anymore
Yep, you made that clear right at the start. What did I say in response? "Fair enough". Is that me being rude? I disagree with you but I don't expect that's going to change the way you live your life. If you want to talk about it, I'm here for that. If you don't, that's fine too.
Personally, I think the options are a) that we figure out how to live together or b) some degree of eternal struggle which I'd rather our kids and grandkids weren't having to fight. That means WE have to achieve something. I also think that option b) legitimises the idea that we are irreconcilably different because we have different quantities of melanin in our skin. This is just as ridiculous to me as the idea that we can't live together because our hair is different colours or our eyes are different colours.
We are all human beings. That's the foundation for everything else I believe. It's possible for us to get along, even if we're too stupid and hateful and stubborn sometimes to realise it. You might think this is naive. Maybe it IS naive. But I'd rather be wrong about this than right about the idea that we're doomed to be at war with each other forever,
Ray then linked a few articles from civil rights leaders about racism. Strangely, none of them supported his point. For example, he linked MLK’s famous American Dream speech which includes this passage:
We will not seek to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage thus abrading justice. By adhering to this method, all of the Negro people in the United States, all of the colored people of the world will seek democracy for everybody. They will not to seek to substitute one tyranny for another. But I am convinced that black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men but God is interested in the freedom of a whole human race and the creation of a society where all men can live together as brothers, and every man will respect the dignity and the worth of human personality.
Everybody knows King’s “I Have A Dream Speech”, but fewer people know this one. It’s among my favourite things he’s ever said. Not a great match for Ray’s ideology though.
So, I could go on and on citing great men who know what time it is for Black people. I disagree with your premise, and it's as simple as that. If you attacked white people as hard as you're attacking me, maybe we'd be getting somewhere in this very odd conversation. You could agree to disagree, but you'd rather say a bunch of stupid things to be RIGHT. Well, you're not.
What is it that’s not getting through your head?! The first thing I did in our conversation was agree to disagree. It’s there in black and white. You can go and read for yourself. My tone with you was nothing but non-confrontational.
I’ve not characterised your arguments as stupid, I’ve not questioned your commitment to fighting racism, I’ve not threatened to “tear you to pieces”. I’ve not told you to “get your head out of your ass.”
ALL of this has come from you, then you have the have the laughable lack of self awareness to call ME rude? Ha! I’m not attacking you at all. All I’m interested in attacking in this context is racism.
That was the end of round 1 with Ray. To be clear, I really didn’t want to fight with him. Not only do I understand why he’s angry, he’s exactly the type of person I want to talk to.
If I’m missing something, it’s people like Ray who’ll help me see it. If anybody can convince Ray that antiracism doesn’t need to be a battle between “them” and “us”, it’s somebody who respects what he’s been through but has been lucky enough not to have experienced the worst of it.
Still, a gap in experience that large is never going to be resolved in one conversation. Luckily, this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from him.