Monday, September 14, 2009

Why yes it is

Recently CNN reported on a case in which a white man was brutally beaten up by up to 15 black men in what may be a racially motivated crime (The site has a picture of him with his girlfriend and the second one is a headshot of him in the hospital with a 3-inch gash in him head and broken jaw).

When I saw this on Feministing it was posed in the form of the question:
Should the people who killed a white man for dating a black woman be charged with a hate crime?

After a commenter asks could anyone possibly question if the black men that attacked a white man because he was dating a black woman someone responded with:
I think part of the problem is some have adopted the rational that

racism = prejudice + power

So minority groups cannot be racist.

Which is a sentiment I completely disagree with.

It is an intellectual slight of hand that allows some to justify or minimize their own hatred and racism.

Because if you strip away all of the social, a racist white person and a racist anything else in this country have a lot in common when it comes to whats in their heads and hearts.

Which brings up a good point. In the human rights area there are people who will in one breath go after anyone that dares to question the definition of the victimization of their own group but will in the next will turn around and define someone other group's victimization for them. And true to form it happens here:
Well, racism does = prejudice + power.

Outside of a few exceptional circumstances like this, when do Black men ever have power over White men as a group?


Sorry Steven, your race privilege is showing.

Talk about trying so hard to pat yourself on the back that you don't pay attention to your own ignorance.

This commenter it trying to call someone out on their race privilege by way of pointing out that black men rarely have power over white men. I suppose the point here is even though these black men brutally beat this white man to death those black men don't have real power in any meaningful way. Try telling that to the white guy that was beaten.

This group of black men saw that a white man was doing something that as a white man he "was not supposed to be doing". So in order to correct this they decided to beat him up. When a woman is raped by a man no one questions if he was exercising power over her and there's not much different here. In beating him they were trying to exercise power over him and for the time of that beating (and possibly after) his life was in their hands. The fact that this exact circumstance does/has not happen/ed very often or not as often as the vice versa does not matter. Those black men chose to target him because of his race (and to some extent his gender).

In short I really hope this goes to trial and by all means it should be prosecuted as a hate crime. For all the people that want to push for hate crime legislation push for it to protect ALL people, not just the ones you deem worthy of protection.


womanistmusings said...

Racism does equal prejudice plus power. Whiteness has the ability to act systemically in ways that people of color do not. What most people omit is that it does not preclude that people of color exist with prejudice. A distinction needs to be made between the two, to recognize the ways in which the effect of racism and prejudice differ. This man was terriby beaten but it did not change the overall power imbalance between POC and Whiteness yet when Whiteness portrays all POC as criminals utilizing the media the social understanding of color then becomes criminal. It is the different between making a supposition and having said supposition realized.

Danny said...

Even if you go with that those black men did exert power over that white man they beat up. It's not power on the grand scale of society and that is what bothers me about trying to add power to the mix to the definition of an -ism. Whether intentional or not it comes off as trying to erase the individual and act as if it does not matter.

I have no qualms about discussing systematic vs. individual because there are differences but those differences do not mean that one is racist and the other is not. Both are racist with different circumstances.

And speaking of power look at what this attack may do to this individual man. This beating may scare him from dating outside his race. This beating could very well turn him against black people and make him a racist, at which time people will then be chomping at the bit to call racism.

Yes there are people that will try to use this attack as proof that "black men are just violent thugs" but to try to say that the attack is not racist sounds like an attempt at sparing the emotional charge of having their actions called racist.

Meadester said...

I'm against hate crime laws in general. If you violently attack someone who never threatened or deliberately provoked you that should be enough to get the most severe form of punishment applicable to the crime. Whether the motive was bigotry, money, pleasure, or simple relief for boredom, no trivial excuse for hurting another human being is better than another. That said, of course as long as we have hate crime laws they should be applied consistently.

Whether or not people without power can be "racist" (or "sexist", or whatever) is a semantic word game played by and for the benefit of professional victims and those who gain power by encouraging them. Rather than getting sucked into it, I say this: whatever terms you want to use, all people who hate others based on immutable characteristics are, regardless of their own immutable characteristics, equally despicable.

Michelle said...

Regardless of what the definition of racism is, this should be classified as a hate crime because a hate crime is legally defined as a crime targeted towards a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation. It does not require that the action be "racist," simply requires that a violent act occur towards someone BECAUSE of their race or other inclusion in a group.

Danny said...

Precisely and this type of "debate" is exactly why trying define this action or that word was racist based on the whos in the situation instead of the whats is a bad idea. If he was beaten because he was white then that fits the race criteria of a hate crime.

Danny said...

Well Meadester I'll at least say that I have more respect for a position against hate crime legislation period than a position that calls for picking and choosing who is protected under them based on who instead of what.

Beste said...

It is an intellectual slight of hand that allows some to justify or minimize their own hatred and racism"

So true.

Danny said...

Precisely. One of the biggest things about feminism is that men have no place trying to define the suffering of women. But for some odd reason some of them have no problem swooping in and define suffering for everyone else. And do you notice they do it by comparing it to their own? But I comparing oppressions?

aych said...

For all of the calls on the Left for a "national dialogue" about race, they sure as hell like to shout "RACIST!!!11" an awful lot as their standard operating procedure. It's like background noise at this point.

Racism = Prejudice + Power, does it? Oh! If only the formula weren't so dubious, facile and sloppy.

And the contortions that these people need to go through sometimes? Jesus. Remember the nutball who shot-up the Holocaust center a few months ago and kiled a black security man-- Was that a hate crime? Absolutely. Against Jews? Against blacks? But never you mind all the museum goers of all races who might've been killed in the hail of gunfire as well. Decisions, decisions...

aych said...

No, wait. I think I got it now...

A group of black youths in a predominantly black neighbourhood deliver a severe beating to a kid of a different race because he had the effrontery to date a young black woman. This is not racist, nor even moticated by racial hatred. It is (only) a severe beating.

And, furthermore, the real racists are not those who'd deliver beatings to prevent mixing of the races, but those who'd take issue with the labels being affixed to the description above!

Heads I win/Tails you lose. Gotta love it.

aych said...

"So check me out-- here I am in an alley with two Glocks, my switchblade and my whole gang. We're ready to kick the ass of anyone who strays into our turf... but we STILL don't have any power??

What a rip-off, man!"

Danny said...

That does touch on the problem aych. For some reason people have come to start defining an -ism by who is committing the action rather than what action is committed.

aych said...

I think the "some reason" boils-down to one question: Should we treat individuals as members of a group or should we treat them as individuals?

Do we talk about blacks as a group versus whites as a group? Or do we look at the individuals? Feministingers and friends argue that individual blacks and whites should be treated as members of the racial groups to which they belong, while opponents argue that we should treat individuals, whether black or white or whatever, as individuals regardless of the color of their skin.

This seems a good point to ask which of the above positions sounds to be a less racially-motivated form of categorization.

Phantom said...

This has obvious parallels with feminism. Were you aware that feminists say almost exactly the same about sexism?

i.e. women cannot be sexist because sexism = predjudice + institutional power, and "men have all the institutional power".

Of course common sense and most dictionaries says that women can be sexist.