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Old 11-22-2006, 11:00 AM   #11
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

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It's OK Preacher, I don't mind having the discussion in the open, because when I write something like that I'm usually BEGGING for a followup; I'll write it to help promote some thinking, sometimes to help me focus my thoughts and sometimes to provoke others to examine theirs.

What I mean when I say "racist" isn't hate; I don't hate blacks. What I mean is the way white people especially of my age (and Gibson's and Richards', I'm 52, Gibson is 50, Richards is 57) view the issue of race. It is seeing "race of man" as more important and defining than "man". If you were brought up that way (and blacks of our age were brought up that way as well; EVERYONE was), that worldview is almost impossible to change. It was imprinted on you through subtle signs, culturally. And it is what allows you to use race as an insult. You wouldn't think to use hair color as a hateful insult; blonde jokes notwithstanding, you don't categorize people according to hair color.

The modern issue of race in this country is irrevocably tied to slavery and cultural domination, and that is what gives it its onesidedness; it's why the audience can yell "cracker" but Richards can't yell back "******". In a larger sense "cracker" has no meaning as an insult to someone who is in a superior position socially... and if you don't agree that that particular social stratification is real, I refer you to Chris Rock's routine where he tells the white audience that none of them would trade places with him, and he's RICH. "Naw, I think I'll stick with this white thing a while, see where it takes me." But "******" carries the weight of oppression, slavery, and inhumanity in the sense of people as chattel.

So as a late-middle aged white male, what can I do? The first thing I can do is not congratulate myself for conquering racism; that misunderstands the word. The fact that I treat people of all races equally in the way I conduct my life is not the same as having changed a life-view that was imprinted on me from birth. It does allow others the dignity and respect that they deserve as fellow humans, but it does not change the fact that I am aware of doing it.

In order to kill my own racism, which I did not have a say in acquiring so I can't have any shame in admitting, I can only recognize it for what it is, conquer its appearances in my everyday life, and not pass it on to my children. If you are younger, then it is likely that your cultural influences are less pervasive than they were for me and my generation, and that your parents have already watered down their poison; and you in turn will do what you can to dilute it for your children. We can only hope so.



Tom
Tom - we're having a similiar discussion on the Dan Patrick thread - I posted this in response to what Irvin said on the air during the Dan Patrick show -- his comment was real close to what Jimmy the Greek said back in the late 80s...


What Jimmy the Greek said is believed by many to be factual also - slaveowners did participate in selective breeding to produce the strongest workers - but that didn't make it a good thing to say on the air - people didn't worry about whether or not it was factual - they just ran him off the air and destroyed his career --

If an African American says the same thing ie Michale Irvin - they get a pass - they're both wrong to bring these things up on the air because they're hurtful to a lot of people - but the consequences are not the same for both -- Jimmy the Greek loses his career - Michael Irvin - gets a big laugh...
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Old 11-22-2006, 11:23 AM   #12
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

Yep, I saw that and I was going to include that in my answer but couldn't figure out a way to word it that wasn't clumsy. But the reason Irvin gets a pass is that he is speaking from the position of the aggrieved. Is it the same? Yes. Does it mean the same thing? No. Because the words aren't formed from the same cultural context. Irvin can say it and it is UNDERSTOOD as a joke; it is. JtG says it and it is understood as institutionalized racism, because it is. After all, a white man complaining about racism and how it affects his ability to maximize his life rings hollow.

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Old 11-22-2006, 11:41 AM   #13
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

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Yep, I saw that and I was going to include that in my answer but couldn't figure out a way to word it that wasn't clumsy. But the reason Irvin gets a pass is that he is speaking from the position of the aggrieved. Is it the same? Yes. Does it mean the same thing? No. Because the words aren't formed from the same cultural context. Irvin can say it and it is UNDERSTOOD as a joke; it is. JtG says it and it is understood as institutionalized racism, because it is. After all, a white man complaining about racism and how it affects his ability to maximize his life rings hollow.

Tom
I think the human condition will always cause people from different cultures, colors, religions, etc - to look differently at each other, but to say that institutionalized racism still exists is part of the problem and not the solution - in fact, we have institutionalized, legislated, and ajudicated (trying to sound like the reverends) the opposite ...the "institutionalized racism" you refer to has become more of an excuse for minorities than a reality (see every statement made by Bill Cosby for the last 10 years)- INMHO, your argument would have been true 30 years ago, but not now - does racism still exist - yes of course it does - is it still institutionalized? -- no
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Old 11-22-2006, 02:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

Well, I wrote what I did to make people think, and if it did that for you then it did what I intended. Thanks for considering what I said. I assume you are younger than I am; yes, racism will be less institutionalized for you than it has been for me. But for example, as long as people still get harassed for DWB (driving while black) it will still be there.

Every year, every day, every minute, it is less. But it still has a long way to go. And yes, Cosby's argument is very persuasive when he states that blacks have not helped in deinstitutionalizing it, that they have come to depend on it and on the accomodations designed to overcome it. But if you think of it, that very fact means that it IS still institutionalized. I don't mean by the government, or overtly through things like separate facilities; I mean institutionalized in the way people treat each other and interact with each other.

Again, thanks for reading and considering.



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Old 11-22-2006, 03:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

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Well, I wrote what I did to make people think, and if it did that for you then it did what I intended. Thanks for considering what I said. I assume you are younger than I am; yes, racism will be less institutionalized for you than it has been for me. But for example, as long as people still get harassed for DWB (driving while black) it will still be there.

Every year, every day, every minute, it is less. But it still has a long way to go. And yes, Cosby's argument is very persuasive when he states that blacks have not helped in deinstitutionalizing it, that they have come to depend on it and on the accomodations designed to overcome it. But if you think of it, that very fact means that it IS still institutionalized. I don't mean by the government, or overtly through things like separate facilities; I mean institutionalized in the way people treat each other and interact with each other.

Again, thanks for reading and considering.



Tom
Actually, I'm pretty freakin old - I appreciate you being civil with a heated topic - I lived in South Africa for two years prior to Mandela's release (told you I'm old) - I lived in the townships (S African word for Ghettos) also spent time in Zimbawbwe and Swaziland - grew up in a school system that was forced to integrate - a lot of my feelings are based on experiences more than anything else - the reason I threw out Cosby's name is because I saw him speak in person a few years ago -and what he said was in direct correlation to what I had seen - it wasn't like he was discussing theories in a classroom - anyway, this is an issue thats not going away - I'm sure we will be discussing it again soon...thanks again for being civil
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Old 11-22-2006, 06:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

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moscas views support everything i have learned not only from my own experiences but 6 courses in sociaology and 1 in psychology.

this brings to mind the changes that our culture have undergone in just the past 30 years. im sure most over 30 remember the saturday night live skit with richard pryor going in for a job interview being conducted by chevy chase. "....DEAD CRACKER!" that was on national airwaves and was in the same tone as what richard michaels did in a club in front of several hundered people. noone could get away with that skit now.

big difference, Tony. that was a SKIT. unless Richards was doing an "Andy Kaufman", that was a REAL exchange. that wasnt performance like Chase and Pryor's was.
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Old 11-22-2006, 06:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

I thank you all for your intelligent replies. I will hesitantly continue for now... I am just really leary becausee it is usual for people to jump in and miscontrue things.

As I read through the posts, there is one overarching area which I think needs to be addressed. Interestingly, it has nothing to do with race. The result however, has everything to do with our discussion.

That area is the discussion of absolutes. Do we or do we not beleive that something is wrong, regardless of the circumstances. In this case, It is my belief that every human being is made amago dei (in the image of God). Because of that beleif, any remark, comment, or rant of a serious nature (I LOVE messing with the Bengal fans... Not sure they could read this post!) is anathema to me.

Furthemore, it is an absolute that right and wrong exist as polar opposites. Thus, what is right in one setting (properly defined) is not wrong in another. Let me put flesh on this. I beleive it is wrong to murder. Period. Now, yes, I am for the death penalty, but that is what "Properly defined" means, I defined the act as murder, the illegal taking of innocent life.

To the discussion at hand, I see the amago dei as an absolute, as a result, it is absolutely wrong to speak harm against it. To do so from any position of race is racism. Thus, a white person can be racist against whites. A black person can be racist against blacks because they are using race to deny or denigrate the amago dei.

As a result of this reasoning, I disagree that most whites in America are racist based on culture. For instance, do not beleive I am a racist because I see every human being as amago dei. As such, every human being is absolutely worth of my respect (until they act in a way which causes me to put up boundaries to protect the amago dei within me). However,
I also beleive that every culture has problems and sins intrinsic to thier own culture.

************************************************** ********

As to the specific problem of racism and black america, there is a number of issues which I have seen while pastoring an black church, but I will get into that later.

Last edited by Preacher; 11-22-2006 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 08:28 PM   #18
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

sumo, thanks for your input coming from a place where "institutionalized racism" is meant literally, as it was in the US.

Preacher, I can understand where you are coming from. I understand how laying down amago dei as a first principle gives a logical structure for how to deal with the issue.

I can't change a lot of things, but I will change what I can. I can pass righteous thinking on to my daughter, and I can stand against racism when I recognize it. If it really has to happen one person at a time, and if sometime it's one step forward and three back, well, I still think you have to always take that one step forward. Again. And again. I know that my own experience isn't universal, and seeing just a couple different points of view here shows just how true that is.

Now, I have to ask: how many black fans are here at SF? And, would there be any point to any of you helping me understand this issue, or would it be pointless and would discussing it be more like taking a step backwards, that any true progress must be made in real daily life?

And, if there are NO black fans here at SF, isn't that an illustration of how racism stratifies and segregates our society? After all, here on the internet no one knows your race, your sex, your age, your education, unless you disclose it. I'm not asking this as a leading question, I'm asking it as a genuine question that requires some thought (ie, I don't know the answer and haven't formulated a guess yet).

Tom
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:26 PM   #19
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

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I'm not so sure he's done. The public memory's gotten a lot shorter--Trent Lott is back in the Senate Republican leadership after just four years.

I don't think he has any business doing standup comedy anymore. If you let a heckler get to you that badly, you shouldn't be in the business. As far as his career...what career? He was already a has-been.

I agree that he shouldn't do standup. He doesn't have the ability and needs to give it up.

Interesting reference to Trent Lott. I think that is part of the problem. To my understanding, the reference of Trent Lott had NOTHING to do with racism, until it was twisted for political gain. In the end, it does the same damage as women that claim rape/sexual abuse for financial gain (probably 1 percent.. maybe 1.5.. I am not saying it is widespread...)

The problem is... those are the cases that end up being big... and when they blow up.. like the Kobe Bryant case... those cases overshadow the real cases and cast just a little more suspicion on all claims of rape... sadly. The Trent Lott issue, IMHO, did the same. Racism was pushed to the place were 40% of the country saw it as a political ploy for party gain, hurting those people who actually were dealing with REAL race issues. Hurting them because after many people saw what happened to Lott, they didn't want to talk about racism.

I think if this nation wants to get serious about stopping real racism, we must de-politicize it.

Last edited by Preacher; 11-22-2006 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 11:02 PM   #20
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Default Re: Kramer (Michael Richards)

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Originally Posted by Mosca View Post
sumo, thanks for your input coming from a place where "institutionalized racism" is meant literally, as it was in the US.

Preacher, I can understand where you are coming from. I understand how laying down amago dei as a first principle gives a logical structure for how to deal with the issue.

I can't change a lot of things, but I will change what I can. I can pass righteous thinking on to my daughter, and I can stand against racism when I recognize it. If it really has to happen one person at a time, and if sometime it's one step forward and three back, well, I still think you have to always take that one step forward. Again. And again. I know that my own experience isn't universal, and seeing just a couple different points of view here shows just how true that is.

Now, I have to ask: how many black fans are here at SF? And, would there be any point to any of you helping me understand this issue, or would it be pointless and would discussing it be more like taking a step backwards, that any true progress must be made in real daily life?

And, if there are NO black fans here at SF, isn't that an illustration of how racism stratifies and segregates our society? After all, here on the internet no one knows your race, your sex, your age, your education, unless you disclose it. I'm not asking this as a leading question, I'm asking it as a genuine question that requires some thought (ie, I don't know the answer and haven't formulated a guess yet).

Tom

Here's one black fan, and I have to say that your perspective is different from many of those I've heard. My personal feelings on race are along the lines of Bill Cosby, but very few of us actually speak up about it because we have a tendency to be shouted down and ostracised for daring to have a different viewpoint. Black racism is the "dirty little secret" in America - it is very deeply ingrained in a lot of our society and many of them are pretty open about it. In fact, the worst racism I have ever experienced or seen has come from other blacks - some of them in my own family. There's no question that we've made a TON of progress in race relations over the years, but I can see some regressing in the future if nothing is done about the clear double-standard that exists when it comes to racism (this incident is a prime example of that double-standard, IMO), and start cleaning up our own back yard, so to speak. Some may argue that some of that "regression" has already begun given some of the responses I've seen on other message boards on this subject.
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