Desnee Flakes's Blog

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Desnee Flakes

Desnee Flakes
Location
Aiken, South Carolina, US
Birthday
December 04
Bio
I am a recently employed activist who has been writing all my life about the issues that mean the most to me. My interests lie in politics, parity, race, and history. I believe that each of those things are interconnected and that only when we look straight at something do we actually see it. My politics are left of center, and I don't rely on any movement to define where my center is. My father taught us to measure others with the same yardstick you measure yourself.

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JANUARY 17, 2013 2:48PM

There I Said It!!

Rate: 16 Flag

I don’t like White people. It came to me as I was watching The Secret Life of Bees. Everyone will walk away from the book or movie feeling something different but, what I walked away with was Black people have nurtured White people and placed ourselves in harm’s way for them repeatedly. I see very few White people having that spirit. My best friend is White she rarely calls me and she doesn’t do anything that requires her to go out of her way for me.  I think the only reason I still call her my friend is because she helped create my Goddaughter. I realize too that she may read this and she may become offended, but I honestly don’t understand how one becomes offended with another about their behavior. I’m merely giving voice to how I feel. Even that relationship is complex for me because although my love for this child is boundless the detached relationship I have with her parents reminds me of the relationship of the mammy with their young White charges.

 Don’t get me wrong there are many White people with whom I have a genuine affection, respect, and love for. Our friendship isn’t about the color of our skins, and yet for many Black people and I include myself here it (everything) is about our skin.  That isn’t a self created reality it is a reality created to emotionally imprison the Black self. White people don’t realize they too are imprisoned by their elevated status.  When I say elevated I can hear the I’m broke, unemployed/underemployed, or drowning in debt responses that tell you we are the same.  But if you and I were both digging the same ditch in the blistering sun and the White (and often Black) boss had a job that would place one of us in the shade the odds are better than 75% that I would still be out in the sun. But I’m increasingly finding it harder to overlook behaviors that appear selfish, racist, and or downright ugly.

I have been in an industry for well over 30 years and there have been a number of my peers who have advanced well beyond me. I often wonder do these friends ever question why I haven’t moved any further in my career. I also wonder do they know the reason but dare not say it aloud because that would somehow diminish what they have accomplished?  Do they become comfortable with the disparity because the alternative is to be uncomfortable with how easy it is to close one’s eyes to the iniquity? Do they just not think about it at all?  The shame of that beyond the innate compulsion to treat us differently without even thinking about it is many of us have been inculcated or indoctrinated so well that even when we do it to each other we use justifications that are centuries old.  And we use them just like everyone else does.  That is pretty powerful hoo doo when you can turn a person on the race from which they sprang so completely they use the royal “we” including themselves in a group to which they can never fully belong. Ask Tiger, Michael Jackson, and OJ about that one. This is who the character of Stevie (Samuel Jackson) in D’Jango Unchained represents.  By the way I thought it was his most powerful performance since he played the junkie in Jungle Fever.  The Academy and Golden Globes didn’t see either character as a stretch perhaps because many of them know, love, and appreciate some Black who is so unaware of their own condition.  They also didn’t pick Leonardo DiCapprio, my feeling is that is because White people have tricked themselves into thinking this character no longer exists or that while he would be prize worthy in a Nazi uniform he/she is quite unacceptable in a slave owner’s outfit.  But only because he/she is an uncomfortable reminder of a past most don’t want to remember.We live in a world that has White people going so far as to want to change the very nature of history of slavery. That isn’t new of course, because it was part and parcel of the institution itself.  White people then called slaves, (who literally built the South and connected it to the West) and later sharecroppers lazy and shiftless. White Republicans today use the same language to describe the first Black President.  He, like Stevie, has done as much to the rest of us when he told an NAACP audience that they need to take off their house slippers and get off the couch. Interesting dichotomy that General Powell called that the language of slavery when ascribed to his party members, but wasn’t offended or at least never voiced it publically when the President used virtually the same language addressing a largely Black audience.

Right about now someone is highly offended that I have lumped all Whites into this group.  Well welcome to the world where all Hispanics are hard working and just wanting to make a better life for themselves. Sound familiar; is this something you’ve said about all Hispanics as if it is the God’s honest truth? Or how about when you see a group of young Black men standing together do you whisper to your friend “let’s cross the street” without thinking for one minute. Maybe you feel that way because unlike Hispanics, Blacks for hundreds of years have been associated with negative behavior or attributes.No behavior that we have exhibited can compare to the hundreds of thousands of Blacks that White people raped, tortured, mutilated, and killed. Nor can you compare our behavior with White and Hispanic peoples who practiced slavery then wrote laws to amalgamate their populations, disarm us, and fool us into thinking our rights are equal to your own.  Buying that assertion is akin to a person attending a party and wearing elephant dung on their head; a great many of the other party goers are going to avoid you, some will be curious about you, and a few will be attracted because you are bold enough to wear your difference. While the odor is different you do become accustomed to it and you realize it isn’t going to kill you, plus the person wearing it is interesting on a number of levels.

So there I said it and some will actually read this with insight and understanding that not all White people are White people, or all Hispanics are Hispanic people, or all Blacks are Black people. But you will perhaps learn that certain behaviors can make you the problem in your racial or ethnic group. And it is your job, responsibility, or obligation to learn to recognize and change them. The alternative is you can own them with great pride.

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You make a point here that I first saw in James Baldwin, which makes him one of the greatest contributors to the conversation about race. At a time when it was all about to go down, he said racism wasn't so much a problem for blacks as it was for whites.

He didn't win a lot of friends with it from intellectuals on any side. By attributing a conscience to those for whom race is a significant identity, he challenged everybody to take a deeper look. I think that's what you are doing too.
I don't like White people much, either, and Black people scare me. Some white people and black people are OK in my book, for the most part. But then I'm a curmudgeonly geezer, so I don't like anybody very much. But I do like this post.
I know this is somewhat racist but I find black people to be superior, as a whole. I feel more love for black people than other races, because to me, black people seem to have more charm and soul. I salute your honest essay. These are your perceptions and some may be right. But, i just gotta say that not every white person is the same(as you already know) and I would like to give you a big hug.
A lot of excellent points here. It's a sad world that we live in. I've been to diversity classes at work (a university) but I must say that you clarify the points in a much better way than any of the instructors did.
The people who would benefit most from this insightful and bold essay will be the very ones who read your first sentence and dismiss YOU as the racist. They are the "White People" who refuse to understand and own their assumed righteousness by virtue of their birth and the paint jobs they came equipped with. That is the same relatively small but excessively powerful group who are dragging this country backward and essentially fostering a new version of the same old slavery. It is frustrating as hell. We will never be able to move past this stalemate until the collective white community accepts it as fact.

Lezlie

Lezlie
You've given me a lot to think about. And some soul searching to do.
You are right, but it is about our culture. Superficial and materialistic cultures seem to be less empathetic. People, in general, are hard-hearted, and even family ties are much weaker than any other country in the world.

More importantly, the main reason for racism in whites in America is our distorted, fraudulent form of Christianity, the most obvious example or which is Evangelicalism. It is the underlying cause of almost everything you complained about here, and almost everything that is wrong with this country. Excellent piece. R
Yes, you said it. Wish more people could be this honest. This country will never heal until we do.
As a White woman, I'm glad you said it. I wish more Whites would read this, think, evaluate, assess, and change. That won't happen, not anytime soon, and maybe not in our lifetime. I don't doubt for a second that you got passed over because of your skin color and that is unfair in a way that I know I cannot comprehend as a White person. With this essay, maybe more people will talk and then it's more likely that one day we will begin to hear and become aware, and then perhaps change can begin.
And you have the double whammy of being marginalized by white establishment–black, and a woman. Wait, an aging woman–triple whammy. I share the other two with you, so am not unfamiliar with the silent steam. If we want to be friends, really, we have to acknowledge our race, your anger and my regret, with care and respect.

Like you, I am troubled by our president's fence walking, although he seems to know better than I ever would how to look at many perspectives with equanimity and reason. I admire him for this skill, since it is so beyond me, and I want to slap some of those smug perspectives silly, or worse. I get your disappointment in him though. When a woman makes it to a high political office and acts like an ass, a bigger ass than a man, I am embarrassed and angry. Why should I expect women to be wiser and more capable than men? That is my own deluded bias.

Anyway, great to see you here again, and hear your frank candid voice.
Thank you all for reading the post not reading into the post. For letting it marinate so that you could taste it completely. We have to have an open and honest discussion or we will be stuck in this tarpit forever.
Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.
Dag Hammarskjold
Yes, but my God, a black president. What would Martin and James say?
A Black President who hasn't tackled the issue of poverty, I would think they would both be very disappointed. I know I am.
Yes, of course, he was always going to be the last to be able to represent blacks if he was going to become president of white Amerika. You know that. For you, it's the symbolism that is the victory unless you want to perceive it otherwise. You know that too.
I respect what you said. I'm white and I don like "us" much either.
Desnee, is there a way to bridge any of these things and have a friendship? I felt the way to understand each other in any way is to live next to each other, work together, raise our kids together. When I am around my black colleagues or neighbors I feel it's rude or stupid to pretend I know what their struggles are. When I see someone treat them differently I listen and acknowledge it, I don't turn my head but truthfully I don't know what to do. Some of the woman I work with, I would like to extend it to friendship but they never seem open to it probably for the reasons you state above. Tell me what should be the proper responses, it seems there is such a barrier to developing friendships which I think will be our only way to move forward on a personal level.
Rita, good question because I think a really big part of this is that most Americans don't understand our collective history. When I speak of how I feel loving my Goddaughter I should have said that she calls me Auntie and this is really from a bygone day. It is what Black women were regularly called by the White children they raised and who later turned their backs on them. As I said it is very complex because I love this child and want her to think of me as a family member who will always be there for her. But I am conflicted because when she calls me this in public I silently cringe wondering if their are older Southern Black women who find it offensive. There are no easy answers to the dilemma of race we just have to muddle through forge real friendships, speak up when we are offended by something our friends in our own race say and hope to change one mind at a time. That my friend is all we can do is hope and act on a personal level.