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Demystifying the Catch Phrases In Race-Related Talks

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posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 02:18 PM
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After reading some of the threads in regards to race-relations on the board, it is fair to investigate some key phrases that have been used in terms of discussing issues and sources about race in America. See if these phrases ring a bell:


1)"They are 'whining' and 'crying' about race."

2)"They are embracing victimhood".

3)"I don't see a color. I don't see skin color."

4)"You have too much of an emphasis on color. I do not."

5)"Everyone is a member of the human race."

And the biggie:

6)"You're playing the race card."

Where do these phrases come from? Do they have an ideological basis in America? And why are the often repeated without any thought about who generated these comments?

I think that on an ideological basis, it is fair to investigate and bring out these reasons why such phrases continue to be used. Now, this is not to blame anyone for using these phrases. Otherwise, this will be simply dealt with on a research basis. With that, perhaps everyone has some good ideas about why these phrases continually are used and why they are popularized whenever true discussions about race are brought up.

I do have an idea on one accord: these phrases, imho, are politically motivated in order to keep the status quo of the majority in tact. There is a benefit to keep these phrases in circulation because there is an effort here to reframe race-relations so that they are rendered null. And the reasons why these phrases are used is because there is an investiment in making it easier to avoid racial issues all together. If they were truly dealt with, then Americans would have to come to grips with its racial past and present.

However, I will bring some sources in to help demystify these phrases because they have been studied by others. And I hope that the members here will also bring their sources in to widen the discussion fruitfully.


Please feel free to give your ideas about why these phrases are used and why in some circles they are "effective."




[edit on 13-3-2007 by ceci2006]




posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 02:25 PM
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5)"Everyone is a member of the human race."

That's pretty easy to trace.

The idea as "race as a type" is something, Michael Banton wrote about. It came from the idea that Humans (Caucasian, Mongolian, Malay, American and Ethiopian) all had different origians and different evolutionary histories.

When this theory was challenge the idea that everyone is a member of the human race, came into play. It is the one most Social-Scientists and Biologists now use. They replaced the term "race" with "ethnicity" which now is used for different groups, even if they share the same "colour skin".



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 02:45 PM
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Originally posted by Odium
5)"Everyone is a member of the human race."

That's pretty easy to trace.

The idea as "race as a type" is something, Michael Banton wrote about. It came from the idea that Humans (Caucasian, Mongolian, Malay, American and Ethiopian) all had different origians and different evolutionary histories.

When this theory was challenge the idea that everyone is a member of the human race, came into play. It is the one most Social-Scientists and Biologists now use. They replaced the term "race" with "ethnicity" which now is used for different groups, even if they share the same "colour skin".


That is a fair explaination. And yes, in a social science perspective race is not a "biological" construct. However, it is a "political" construct. So, ideologically speaking, when a phrase like "We are all human beings" is used, it could be seen one of two ways:

1)That the person speaking actually believes in the fact that we "are all human beings"(i.e. biologically we are all the same without the ideological trappings).

2)That the person speaking is ideologically indoctrinated with such thinking by certain political groups as a way to write off the certain events in past and present society when it comes to race.

There are plenty of other reasons as well, but it is rather interesting to read into the context in which this phrase is used when it comes into play during race-related discussions. And when this is used, it is especially important to keep in mind the origins of establishing racial constructs and why they were introduced into society's manner of thinking.

Thanks for your comments. They have given me some food for thought.




[edit on 13-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 03:31 PM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
1)"They are 'whining' and 'crying' about race."


This phrase isn't just brought up when talking about race. This phrase is used when discussing almost any subject. People whine about losing the election, they cry about Democrats being in office. They whine about the reason we're at war. They cry about Bush doing whatever it is that he does.

Whether it's about one race or another or one one political party or another or one religion or another, people complain. "Whine" and "cry" are just other words for "complain". So, specifically, when it's perceived that some are complaining about another race (which seems to happen here) they're going to be accused of whining or crying about race.



2)"They are embracing victimhood".


It's a perception, an opinion. If you really want to know what it means and why people say it, and where it comes from, read this thread:
www.abovepolitics.com...



3)"I don't see a color. I don't see skin color."


When people say this, I think they mean that skin color isn't that important to them. In other words, they don't look at a person and see a "black", they look at a person and see a person. The person may have red hair, green eyes or brown skin, but that's not what they notice when they look at a person. Believe it or not, it's very possible.

It's the same as saying "When I look at a woman, I don't see a "blonde", I see a woman who deserves respect." I don't understand the objections to such comments.



4)"You have too much of an emphasis on color. I do not."


Again, it's a perception, an opinion. Some people are very focused on certain things. Others are not. It's not a big deal. It's an observation that being black is foremost in your mind and it's very important to you. That's fine. Being white is not important to me, so I don't focus on it. I don't put emphasis on a person's color because it's as important (TO ME) as their hair color, their gender, their bone structure or their marital status. That's ALL secondary to who the person is.



5)"Everyone is a member of the human race."


This has been explained very well by Odium. I would never assume that the phrase automatically carries the ideological trappings that might be present in someone with a racist mindset. Sometimes, you just have to trust that people are saying what they mean from their heart. People are basically good.



And why are the often repeated without any thought about who generated these comments?


Whenever I have used the above phrases (or similar ones) no one else generated them. These aren't some "fallback" phrases in the handbook that people look up when in need of just the right phrase. I generated them because it's what I felt or thought at the time.



With that, perhaps everyone has some good ideas about why these phrases continually are used and why they are popularized whenever true discussions about race are brought up.


They're used for the same reason that any phrases are used. It's what people think.
You can bring all the sources you like to the table, but I don't need to be told why I say the things I do. I already know why.
And so, I would guess, do most people.



these phrases, imho, are politically motivated in order to keep the status quo of the majority in tact.


See? You assume the most negative motive. And that's just not the case.



And the reasons why these phrases are used is because there is an investiment in making it easier to avoid racial issues all together because if they were truly dealt with, then Americans would have to come to grips with its racial past and present.


I don't see people avioding racial issues. They may not be interested as some of us are, but that doesn't mean they're "avoiding" anything. Try not to judge people's motives so negatively.



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 05:38 PM
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Here are a few sources that will begin to pin-point the origins of the much oft-repeated phrase of "playing the race card". Used ad nauseum by pundits, politicians and Americans alike, it has become a staple and almost a cliche when it comes down to discussing issues about race.

The race card is rather interesting because it is used to dismiss experiences, information and sources that are race-related. So, where did it begin?

Tim Wise points out a few facts in his article:


Turning Injustice into a Game of Chance: The Origins of Race as "Card"

First, let us consider the history of this notion: namely, that the "race card" is something people of color play so as to distract the rest of us, or to gain sympathy. For most Americans, the phrase "playing the race card" entered the national lexicon during the murder trial of former football star, O.J. Simpson, back in 1995. Robert Shapiro, one of Simpson's attorneys famously claimed, in the aftermath of his client's acquittal, that co-counsel Johnnie Cochran had "played the race card, and dealt it from the bottom of the deck." The allegation referred to Cochran's bringing up officer Mark Fuhrman's regular use of the 'n-word' as potentially indicative of his propensity to frame Simpson. To Shapiro, whose own views of his client's innocence apparently shifted over time, the issue of race had no place in the trial, and even if Fuhrman was a racist, this fact had no bearing on whether or not O.J. had killed his ex-wife and her acquaintance, Ron Goldman. In other words, the idea that O.J. had been framed because of racism made no sense and to bring it up was to interject race into an arena where it was, or should have been, irrelevant.

That a white man like Shapiro could make such an argument, however, speaks to the widely divergent way in which whites and blacks view our respective worlds. For people of color--especially African Americans--the idea that racist cops might frame members of their community is no abstract notion, let alone an exercise in irrational conspiracy theorizing. Rather, it speaks to a social reality about which blacks are acutely aware. Indeed, there has been a history of such misconduct on the part of law enforcement, and for black folks to think those bad old days have ended is, for many, to let down their guard to the possibility of real and persistent injury (1).


The Phrase Finder Has This to say about "the race card":


Play the race card
Meaning

To attempt to gain advantage in an election by pandering to the electorate's racism. Also, more recently, to attempt (by a black person) to gain advantage by accusing another (usually a white person) of racism.

Origin

This term is now more often used in the USA than in other countries, but was coined in England in the 1960s. It alludes to the playing of a trump card in card games like whist.

Following an influx of immigrants into the UK in the 1950/60s there was known to be a degree of racist discontent amongst the (largely white) indigenous population. Reputable politicians avoided acknowledging this openly and there was an informal gentlemen's agreement not to benefit electorally by pandering to this racist element. Peter Griffiths, the Conservative candidate in an election for the parliamentary seat of Smethwick, was accused of using the slogan 'If you want a n****r neighbour - vote Labour', in an attempt to capitalize on the electorate's fears of being 'swamped' by immigrants. He was said to have 'played the race card'.

The more recent meaning, which refers to someone attempting to gain advantage by drawing attention to their race, became commonplace in the USA around the time of O. J. Simpson's trial for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Several US newspapers used the phrase to describe the tactics of Simpson's defense lawyers. For example, this piece by Roger Simon in The Daily Herald, October 1995:

"Why was playing the race card necessary in order for O. J. Simpson to go free? Because it was the only way for the defense to deal with the massive physical evidence against him."


This interpretation of "playing the race card" comes from the Center of Race and Race-Relations from the University of Florida:


Playing the Race Card

Dean Robert H. Jerry II emphasized the need for candid conversation about socially constructed categories including race. “Words matter,” he said. “Language is powerful and significant. As lawyers, we use words everyday and need to use them with precision and accuracy, or else we create stereotypes, half truths and misrepresentations.”

“The implication of “the race card” has become an important symbol in the United States,” one, according to Professor Malavet, “deserving critical discussion as it represents an effort to still debate on racial issues and promote White privilege.”

The phrase “playing the race card,” in its modern usage, emerged during the O.J. Simpson trial and was used to describe the defense strategy of attorney Johnnie Cochran. Jeffrey Toobin coined the phrase and referred to it as an “incendiary defense” and “that monstrous allegation.” For Toobin “playing the race card,” was an illegitimate attempt by Cochran to inject race into criminal trial proceedings; a strategy that, Toobin believed, would agitate people to riot.

“Why do people of color need to talk about race?” Professor Malavet asked “Because otherwise we are abandoning the field to the neoconservative idea of colorblindness which, in fact, masks entrenched racism and entrenched hierarchies of race.”

“When is it appropriate to raise race? Just about all the time,” Professor Malavet continued “The most pernicious aspect of the use of the phrase “the race card” is that it is intended to silence legitimate debate.”


People of color are not the only ones who “play the race card.” Whenever race is manipulated in such a way as to tap into deeply held emotions - fear or favor, love or loathing - for the purpose of garnering support or cementing rejection, that is “playing the race card.”


There will be more explaining its orgins in a future post. What does everyone think?




[edited for racial epipthet]


[edit on 13-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 06:21 PM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
And the biggie:

6)"You're playing the race card."


If this is "the biggie", why did it just "appear"? Nevertheless, I'll give my input on it, too.



The race card is rather interesting because it is used to dismiss experiences, information and sources that are race-related.


Sometimes, no doubt, but certainly not always. It's used in many ways.



Playing the race card is an idiomatic phrase, referring to an allegation raised against a person who, the accuser feels, has unnecessarily brought the issue of race or racism into a debate so as to obfuscate the matter.
...
it refers to someone exploiting prejudice against another race for political or some other advantage.
...
There is no limit to possible constructions, and similar phrases have also been used, such as "Playing the religion card", "Playing the anti-Semite card" (or in German: Auschwitzkeule), or "Playing the cancer card."
Race Card


When I have used the phrase, it's because it was my perception or opinion that someone brought race in where it was unnecessary. That's it. It's simple. If a person doesn't get a job because he's not as qualified as someone else, and he accuses the employer of racism, he's playing the race card.

It's not something only used by black people. ANYONE can play the race card! In fact, if a white person gets passed over for a job and the company hires a more qualified Hispanic guy, and the white guy blames it on Affirmative Action, they have just played the race card!

If I hold my purse tight to my body and a black man accuses me of being racist, he has played the race card, because I always hold my purse tight to my body.


The race card isn't owned by one race or any particular minority. Anyone can play. There's no dramatic and sinister meaning for the phrase. It's just a matter of perception.

From your last source:



People of color are not the only ones who “play the race card.” Whenever race is manipulated in such a way as to tap into deeply held emotions - fear or favor, love or loathing - for the purpose of garnering support or cementing rejection, that is “playing the race card.” The so-called runaway bride “played the race card” as did Justice Clarence Thomas in his use of “high-tech lynching” during his confirmation hearings.


Exactly! And like it or not, calling people race-based names in the middle of a discussion of race is also playing the race card. Perhaps to poke a jab at someone else. It's bringing in personal racial implications (as Clarence Thomas did) where it's unnecessary.



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 11:49 PM
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USA's DeWayne Wickham writes about Johnnie Cochran's legacy when the lawyer passed away recently. He had some very interesting things to say about "playing the race card":


Spare Cochran legacy of 'race card' label

The truth, however, is that Cochran didn't play any race cards; he just tried mightily to expose their existence. The first race card to affect the Simpson case was played 12 years before his murder trial got underway. That's when Los Angeles police officials allowed Fuhrman to stay on the job after he told a department psychiatrist about his strong dislike of blacks and Hispanics. Another race card was played by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, which presented Fuhrman as a credible witness in the Simpson trial just weeks after he was accused of tampering with evidence in another murder case.

The charges in that case were dropped on the very day the lawyer filed a motion accusing Fuhrman of destroying "exculpatory evidence." Simpson's jury wasn't allowed to hear anything about that case. They also didn't hear Fuhrman take the Fifth Amendment when he was asked whether he'd been truthful in earlier testimony, had ever falsified a police report, or planted or manufactured evidence against Simpson. That testimony occurred outside the presence of the jurors.


Even so, Judge Lance Ito refused to suppress the incriminating evidence that Fuhrman claimed to have found at Simpson's estate.

Johnnie Cochran never played the race card in Simpson's trial, but he did respond to those that he was dealt. And that's as it should be.


So, why was this phrase popularized in the media to the point that it trickled down into the vernacular of everyday Americans? And does its use frequently target African-Americans?

Let's see how it has been used:

Tony Snow commented on the "race card" when interviewed about a negative ad toward Harold Ford. Being an old pundit for Fox Radio, it is no surprise the Press Secretary would use this cliche in such a racially-charged way:


Snow: With Black Candidates, ‘There Is Always An Attempt…To Attribute Something To The Race Card’
Full transcript:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold, call me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Harold, call me. There’s a cute–I would say sexy, most people would say that–white woman, naked–naked–on the screen setting up a date with Harold Ford who is an African-American. In American society–you went to school in North Carolina. So did I for a year. Do you think in any part of the country that is not playing on racial sensitivities?

SNOW: I don’t think so. I mean, maybe I’m just quaint in this day and age. But no, I think there is always an attempt when you have got an African-American candidate to try to attribute something to the race card. But no, I don’t.


Snow's comment proves that whenever the "race card" comes up, it is mostly attributed to Black people, if not their leaders (which ties into the "screaming" or "whining" about race phrase).

This is an interesting view of the "race card" (which still attributes a perception that only Black people use it), but it says some really fascinating things:


What Does the Term "Race-Card" Mean?
What is this "race card"? Something that black people carry in their back pockets and use when it's convenient? Some magic card to protect blacks from injustice? Some "ace in the hole" for this poker game of a life we play in the land of the free? I'm checking my wallet. I don't have one. I'm asking my neighbor who was stopped by police so that they could ask if the Lexus he was driving belongs to him, and nope, he doesn't have one either. I checked with my mother who was passed over (again) for the promotion she deserved, and her wallet too was card-less.

[...]

No, this "race card" is no magic "save me" card. It's no trump card. The "race card" is a term created by the media-the same media that portrays racial discrimination as imaginary, as a smoke screen used by black people, as a haze that doesn't exist except to fit black people's own selfish needs.

The reality of it is, there is no such thing as a race card. Racism is real, and its depths are only reached through experience. Racism has many faces. It's about race. It's about power. It's about superiority. It's about a false caste system. But in its purest form, it's about greed and money. In a society where five percent of the population owns 80 percent of the wealth and intends to keep it that way, the rich keep working class white and black folks down by making them think it's the other race's fault that they don't have riches. We can understand how a person in the media can be tricked into using this term if he or she has never experienced racism firsthand. But when a black person uses the "race card" term, it is pretty surprising.


And then, here is this explaination about "the race card" and the effects of what it feels like when someone accuses another of "using it":


The Race Card

The race card is, in my experience, used to avoid the reality that racism actually exists, and commonly used by people who have never personaly experienced racial discrimination. It is also an indicator that the person who is accused of playing the race card is somehow holding onto a victim - like mentality. "Racism is over," they cry. "We live in a multicultural society. How can you say that racism exists?" In other words, 'shut the f#$k up. We don't want to hear you bitch about it because then we'll we have to take some ownership.'

[...]

Is no one is allowed to have a dissenting opinion? That smacks of imperialism and a sense that minorities should remain silent and greatful as to not wear out their 'welcome.'

While society has grown in leaps and bounds, there is still resistance to open and frank conversations about race. Tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of colour still feel resistance in voicing their opinion and relaying their experiences in a forum where it will be heard and addressed. It is not to conjure up 'white guilt' - whatever that means - or suggesting that everyone should apologize for the behaviour for a few - but to be able to speak up on issues and incidences that affect them. By speaking up on issues of racism, not only is it a way to let other's know that it is a resisting factor in terms of equality and access to goods and services, but it also liberates the person who openly speaks about either a personal situation or a systemic one. After all, everyone deserves to be treated the same as everyone else, so if you aren't wouldn't you speak up?


Well said. And it definitely makes the accusation of the "race card" more complicated than it is made out to be.




[edit on 14-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 14 2007 @ 09:04 AM
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I would like to bring in one more perspective for everyone to share. This is a very interesting piece that discusses the implications of the "race card" and its impact on race-related talks:


Political Correctness, the "N-Word" and the Race Card

Discussions of race relations often branch out into new discussions of political correctness, and often catch phrases such as "race card" are brought up. I often wonder about the terms, politically correct and race card, because increasingly I am seeing a sort of backlash to racial sensitivty in the media. What is worse, is the backlash seems to be self-righteous - now saying that one is "politically incorrect" is a badge of honor, as if being politically incorrect is somehow brave and a sign of independence of thought. What is worrying about this growing antagonism to civility is that there seems to be some false consensus that "racism is over," and so now we are allowed to be looser with our words and actions.


[...]

The "race card" phrase is something that I also cannot stand anymore. It's not a particularly imaginative or clever turn of phrase, and the issue of the "race card" is that the person who is often calling someone on the "race card" is White. Let's face it: White people will probably never know the full extent of racism, so it is a bit disingenuous for Whites to trivialize or diminish the feelings of a person of color - as a friend of mine once explained to me, "I don't know if when I'm walking in a store, the salespeople are looking at me because I'm cute, or because they're worried I'm going to steal something...I just don't know." The idea of not knowing is what I'm trying to highlight -- if Black people aren't sure when they're being discriminated against (and they live their lives full of episodes of discrimination), I think it's a bit presumptuous for Whites to dictate how people of color should react.

I think the end of racism is something that I will not see in my lifetime, or my childrens' lifetimes. I do hope that eventually, our society will "get it right," and figure out how to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity that a truly diverse society holds --I believe that holding onto principles of civility and decency is something we should not try to combat, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that it would be the "brave" thing to do.


FYI



posted on Mar, 14 2007 @ 03:51 PM
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Ceci, I see ya, girl!

Thanks for bringing this issue up.
All too often, we see these types of phrases batted around in discussions of race. You know, this reminds me of an article I read on "color-blindness..." I'll post it sometime if you would like to see it.

Anyway, I feel like flipping the script from the past few days. What I mean is, I'm going to offer pure opinion, as opposed to the sources I've been citing in my white privilege thread, among others.


Originally posted by ceci2006
1)"They are 'whining' and 'crying' about race."


These people don't believe this is important. What "this" refers to here is racism, discussions about racism from non-white people, or both. The very use of those terms show this; if these were important issues/discussions, they wouldn't be called "whines" and "cries." The choice of these terms also reflects the mentality of some who use them. These people believe that non-whites are being childish with this type of behavior and/or childlike in their thinking (remember, it's common knowledge that kids whine and cry).



2)"They are embracing victimhood".


People who say this shift the blame from racial disparities in society to the people subjected to said disparities. These people are fully aware of these disparities, but would rather place fault on the people getting shafted rather than address these issues in society (thus maintaining the status quo, as you said). Their reasons for this vary.


3)"I don't see a color. I don't see skin color."


This also ties in with maintaining the racial hierarchies. The people who say this pretend that race does not matter in American society. This is also a buffer against the possibility that these people have racist feelings or beliefs.


4)"You have too much of an emphasis on color. I do not."


A stronger extension of the preceding comment. This comment faults people aware of the racial hierarchy for being aware of the role of skin color. People who say this attempt to shift the racism from the elements in society to the people aware of racism. More important, these people make themselves out to be free of any elements of racism, making them feel better as they ignore the racist elements of society.


5)"Everyone is a member of the human race."


A related phrase to phrase 3, but more encompassing. Note the absense of any race/skin tone related phrases. Though this is ENTIRELY true (races of people are more closely related than breeds of dog, which CLEARLY are all members of Canis familiaris ), people who use this in race discussions use this fact to deflect the racial hierarchies in society.


And the biggie:

6)"You're playing the race card."


A stronger version of phrase 1. Not only are issues/discussions of racism not important here, but people who bring them up:

Have an agenda
Are blowing the scope of racism out of proportion
Are saying things about racism because they sound good
Are covering up personal faults by blaming racism
Are just plain crazy/morons/liars

Either way, people who accuse someone of playing the race card are looking to get others to not listen to what that person is saying. In effect, it's a neat little way to cop out of facing the racist elements in this society. It's also a way to call the people accused of using the card racists for using the card, thus relieving the accuser of facing the racism in society, or even their own racism.

Well, that's how I look at the use of those phrases. What do you think, Ceci?



[edit on 14-3-2007 by truthseeka]



posted on Mar, 15 2007 @ 12:18 PM
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Originally posted by truthseeka
Ceci, I see ya, girl!


Hey, Truthseeka



Thanks for bringing this issue up.
All too often, we see these types of phrases batted around in discussions of race. You know, this reminds me of an article I read on "color-blindness..." I'll post it sometime if you would like to see it.


Please do. This thread needs as many sources as possible to entertain why these phrases are commonly used.


These people don't believe this is important. What "this" refers to here is racism, discussions about racism from non-white people, or both. The very use of those terms show this; if these were important issues/discussions, they wouldn't be called "whines" and "cries." The choice of these terms also reflects the mentality of some who use them. These people believe that non-whites are being childish with this type of behavior and/or childlike in their thinking (remember, it's common knowledge that kids whine and cry).


The sad thing when people use this phrase is that it pertains to nullifying the experiences and sources of people of color by connecting it to infantalism. To equate it to such, indicates that our arguments are "barely formed" and "not deemed" worthy for them to hear. The sad thing is that pundits (especially the Right Wing) use this language all the time to discount the ideas and opinions of especially people of color who are influential.

By using this language, "whining and crying" is used in the same pattern in the past that deemed "Black slaves" as being infantile and in need of being "looked after" because they could not survive on their own. In other words, the phrase itself is rather patronizing, to the say the least.


People who say this shift the blame from racial disparities in society to the people subjected to said disparities. These people are fully aware of these disparities, but would rather place fault on the people getting shafted rather than address these issues in society (thus maintaining the status quo, as you said). Their reasons for this vary.


This is part of the "blame culture" that fosters a lack of empathy while disparaging the experiences of people of color. I agree here with how you explained it, because you have stated what is primarily the case when it comes to people saying this. The problem with victimhood (which will be brought up later) is that in America, there is a trend in which Alyson Cole writes (to paraphrase) against anti-victimism. It seems to say that no one wants to hear about another's suffering. In fact, this inability to hear about suffering corresponds with a lack of empathy and conscience--especially when those who are against "vicitmization" do not want to identify with the sufferers.

Instead, they only want to nullify the experiences of the sufferers by establishing distance and sub-humanity. In essence, the "sufferers" in American society are reviled because they equate "vunerability" to "caring".


This also ties in with maintaining the racial hierarchies. The people who say this pretend that race does not matter in American society. This is also a buffer against the possibility that these people have racist feelings or beliefs.


I agree with you, here. This is especially part of the language afforded to colorblind rhetoric, presenting a convenient way to de-racialize experiences and render them unfathomable. It's sad, but when people use this type of language, it is also a way to reinforce a lack of empathy--especially for other groups outside the dominant culture.



A stronger extension of the preceding comment. This comment faults people aware of the racial hierarchy for being aware of the role of skin color. People who say this attempt to shift the racism from the elements in society to the people aware of racism. More important, these people make themselves out to be free of any elements of racism, making them feel better as they ignore the racist elements of society.


I think that the statement is also a cop-out due to the fact that there are some who equate racial identity with "racism". When thinking about this in terms of White privilege, the speaker has the luxury of thinking that "all people, their histories and their experiences" are likened to his/hers. Therefore, the experiences of the person of color are rendered just as invisible as the speaker's. I feel that this helps with the ability to hide the fact that disparities exist--unless they affect the speaker.



A related phrase to phrase 3, but more encompassing. Note the absense of any race/skin tone related phrases. Though this is ENTIRELY true (races of people are more closely related than breeds of dog, which CLEARLY are all members of Canis familiaris ), people who use this in race discussions use this fact to deflect the racial hierarchies in society.


You'll find no argument from me on this factor. I also believe, though, that this is used as a way to heighten the "invisibility" of whiteness and white privilege by turning the language from the Civil Rights movement on its ear. I also think that this phrase (along with "not seeing a color", etc.) is very polemically motivated because by not dealing with the social realities that happen in America, one can conveniently forget another's suffering based on the aspects of white privilege.

The lack of acknowledgement of the suffering afforded to people of color goes beyond the biological. It is political and socially motivated. It also helps to note that strains of denial also have its place when this statement is used. By denying that one "sees color", then they can deny that "racism exists". Thus, experiences of suffering afforded to people of color (i.e. representatives of a "visible" color) are rendered null and void.



A stronger version of phrase 1. Not only are issues/discussions of racism not important here, but people who bring them up:

Have an agenda
Are blowing the scope of racism out of proportion
Are saying things about racism because they sound good
Are covering up personal faults by blaming racism
Are just plain crazy/morons/liars

Either way, people who accuse someone of playing the race card are looking to get others to not listen to what that person is saying. In effect, it's a neat little way to cop out of facing the racist elements in this society. It's also a way to call the people accused of using the card racists for using the card, thus relieving the accuser of facing the racism in society, or even their own racism.


I agree. The "race card" phrase, as insidious as it is, also plays to aspects of denial. In fact, it also smacks of superiority. To paraphrase from one of the sources, that it gives some from the dominant culture the power to "dictate" how people of color should feel about race as well as "determine" their experiences. And by doing that, they reiterate their hold on power-relations, especially when this has to do with trying to gain the upper hand on race-related talks.


Well, that's how I look at the use of those phrases. What do you think, Ceci?


They are excellent assessments.
And they go hand in hand with your thread on white privilege. By discussing how these phrases are used can help to rewrite how race-related talks are conducted in groups that feature more than one race. It is also helpful to see if there are more phrases out there which suit this criteria because they are often repeated and do nothing but deflect race-related talks. And, it is helpful to note that they are also used in disparaging and demeaning ways without any lack of foresight about what they mean.

Thank you very much for contributing your two cents. I hope to hear more of your thoughts on this topic.



[edit on 15-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 15 2007 @ 05:42 PM
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3)"I don't see a color. I don't see skin color."

Pure bs, of course they can.

Companies who do work for the government and must submit equal opportunities reports on the ethnic composition of their work force are told to look at the employee for themselves if the employee failed to 'check a box' on his own.

(I used to collect and compile these reports and I'd been asked this question and this was the answer they got from my superiors.)

They're expected to see race with their own two eyes.



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 06:44 AM
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Originally posted by psyopswatcher
3)"I don't see a color. I don't see skin color."

Pure bs, of course they can.

Companies who do work for the government and must submit equal opportunities reports on the ethnic composition of their work force are told to look at the employee for themselves if the employee failed to 'check a box' on his own.

(I used to collect and compile these reports and I'd been asked this question and this was the answer they got from my superiors.)

They're expected to see race with their own two eyes.


Thank you for saying that. Because whenever there are race-related discussions, there are always replies that have said, "I don't see a color." However, the working theory from people who study this answer attribute this to equating whiteness to "invisibility". Although there is a lot to say about this notion--in which I will bring up in the next post--to paraphrase is that the "color-blind" theory proposes that some members of the dominant culture do not "see color" because it is validated all the time in social institutions, the media as well as in governmental policy.



[edit on 20-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 07:35 AM
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To continue trying to analyze the catch phrases in race (with more to be said about the race-card later), I would like to post a few sources on the color-blind theory. As I mentioned to psyopswatcher previously, this is the catch phrase that perplexes me the most because the notion of color is something that is "visible" and undeniable. However, in race-related talks, the "color-blind" theory has been used in such a way to avoid key aspects of race--especially when discussing issues of racial identity. This is not to speak for everyone. Nor, is it an indictment of every person who uses this phrase. This is strictly an analysis of how it is used, why it is used and what impact it has on race-related discussions.

Keith Walsh defines what colorblind racism means in the larger construct of society:


Color-Blind Racism in Grutter and Gratz
Bonilla-Silva first discusses the central themes, or “frames,” of color-blind racism: abstract liberalism, naturalization, cultural racism and minimization of racism.Bonilla-Silva argues that the frame of abstract liberalism relies on ill-formed notions of “equal opportunity” and economic liberalism to explain the racial status quo. The use of the “language of liberalism,” exemplified by the assertion, “I am all for equal opportunity, that’s why I oppose affirmative action,” allows whites to argue against all measures to eradicate de facto racial inequality, while seeming reasonable and moral.

Naturalization, captured by the idea that the current state of racial inequality is “just the way things are,” is a frame that whites utilize to explain phenomena such as segregation as a natural, and thus nonracial, occurrence. The cultural racism frame, illustrated in the comment, “blacks have too many babies,” explains the status of racial minorities as a product of cultural deficiencies. Finally, the frame of minimization, reflected in comments such as, “It’s better now than in the past,” or, “There is discrimination, but there are plenty of jobs out there,” downplays the significance that race plays in the progress of minorities in the United States. Bonilla-Silva contends that whites utilize these frames both independently and collectively to argue against measures to improve the status of blacks, while turning a blind eye to the reality of racial inequality.28 As the analysis below demonstrates, the Supreme Court uses two of these frames in particular, abstract liberalism and minimization, when it analyzes the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies.

Bonilla-Silva also discusses the style of color-blindness. In the post-Civil Rights era, public norms have changed. The linguistic manners of racism, Bonilla-Silva argues, have adapted to this change in a way that permits whites to justify white privilege in an age when overtly expressing such views would be unacceptable in most social circles. He argues that color-blind racism, like all other ideologies, has created a group of “stylistic parameters,” which provide it with a means of expression to the public. Thus, Bonilla-Silva describes the style of an ideology as the “linguistic manners and rhetorical strategies (or race talk)” that are used to express its frames and story lines. The style of color-blind race talk allows whites to adopt arguments that explain racial inequality without using racial epithets.

Bonilla-Silva focuses on five specific elements of the style of color-blind racism. First, he points out that whites avoid using offensive racial language when engaging in color-blind race talk. Second, Bonilla-Silva provides an analysis of the “semantic moves” whites rely on as “verbal parachutes” to remove any risk of sounding racist.38 Third, Bonilla-Silva explains the role that diminutives play in whites’ racial discourse.39 Fourth, he illustrates how discussion of racially sensitive topics often produces incoherence in many whites.40 Finally, Bonilla-Silva explores the role of projection in the articulation of the frames and story lines of color-blind racism. This final element of color-blind race talk, exemplified by Justice Thomas’s opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, plays a significant role in the debate over the use of affirmative action.

Finally, Bonilla-Silva examines the story lines of color-blind racism. He asserts that with the advent of color-blind racism, new anecdotes and personal experiences have developed that perpetuate minorities’ new, but still second-class status. Bonilla-Silva argues that during discussions about race-related issues, whites often insert these stories, such as “I Did Not Get a Job (or a Promotion), or Was Not Admitted to a College, Because of a Minority,” to “provide the emotional glue and seal of authenticity needed to validate strong racial claims.”Indeed, in his majority opinion to Gratz v. Bollinger, Chief Justice Rehnquist relies on similar story lines to invalidate the University of Michigan’s race-conscious admission’s policy. Color-blind racism, in all of its forms, is particularly important in an area such as higher education, which, as the next section demonstrates, continues to suffer from racial inequality.


Mark Halstead discusses the definition of color-blind racism:


Colorblind Racism

(6) Color-Blind Racism: Color-blind racism is the type which most closely corresponds to what is commonly called 'unintentional racism.'... What is it that makes color-blindness a type of racism rather than merely a misguided form of action? I want to argue that color-blindness not only leads to undesirable outcomes (the disadvantaging of black people by ignoring or marginalizing their distinctive needs, experiences and identity), but may also involve racial injustice. It is not a new idea (indeed it can be traced back to Aristotle) that there can be injustice in treating people the same when in relevant respects they are different, just as much as there can be in treating them differently when in relevant respects they are the same....When a color- blind approach is adopted to any social policy in this country, white people are usually able to dominate because the common experiences are defined in terms which white people can more easily relate to than blacks and which tend to bolster the white self-image at the expense of the black....Color- blindness falls down because it is based on an idealistic principle (that all people are equal) which may be valid sub specie aeternitatis but which fails to take account of the contingent facts of racial inequality and disadvantage in our present society. (139-55)



[edit on 20-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 08:02 AM
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In a article about the lexicon afforded to color-blind racism, Eduardo Bonilla Silva continues discussing the impact of what is said and why it is said--stretching his study of "color-blind" linguistics further:


The Linguistics of Color Blind Racism

Color blind racism’s racetalk avoids racist terminology and preserves its myth through semantic moves such as “I am not a racist, but,” “Some of my best friends are ...,” “I am not black, but,” and “Yes and no.” Additionally, when something could be interpreted as racially motivated, whites can use the “Anything but race” strategy. Thus, if a school or neighborhood is completely white, they can say “It’s not a racial thing” or “It’s economics, not race.” They can also project the matter onto blacks by saying things such as “They don’t want to live with us” or “Blacks are the really prejudiced ones.”



[edit on 20-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 09:35 AM
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Originally posted by ceci2006

6)"You're playing the race card."

And why are the often repeated without any thought about who generated these comments?


Perhaps because only a "scholar" would be inept enough to not know that playing the race card comes from playing a "trump card". Anyone even vaguley familiar with cards knows that a designated trump card automatically ranks over any other card.

When applying it to race, it is meant that the person is trying to use the issue of race to automatically rank over any other argument that one may have.



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 09:54 AM
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Originally posted by phoenixhasrisin


Perhaps because only a "scholar" would be inept enough to not know that playing the race card comes from playing a "trump card". Anyone even vaguley familiar with cards knows that a designated trump card automatically ranks over any other card.

When applying it to race, it is meant that the person is trying to use the issue of race to automatically rank over any other argument that one may have.


Well, I play poker and a little whist. But I thought you knew that already.


Thanks for your contribution, though. More information is good information!


[edit on 20-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 10:27 AM
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Sorry, I just don't get the point of dissecting and defining commonly accepted terms. I also don't understand why you are suggesting that these commonly known and used terms take on different meaning when used in a racial context.



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 10:32 AM
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Originally posted by phoenixhasrisin
Sorry, I just don't get the point of dissecting and defining commonly accepted terms. I also don't understand why you are suggesting that these commonly known and used terms take on different meaning when used in a racial context.


That's fine. However, there are other people who do. And I hope that there are others who are genuinely interested in trying to find out what the lexicon is behind these catch phrases.


I'd especially love to know after being bombarded with these phrases a few million times in race-related discussions.


[edit on 20-3-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 10:56 AM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
However, there are other people who do. And I hope that there are others who are genuinely interested in trying to find out what the lexicon is behind these catch phrases.

Really? Where are they? The few people that have responded have given you standard definitions for the terms as they are used and understood. Perhaps a couple of courses in language and etymology would help you out in this regard.


I'd especially love to know after being bombarded with these phrases a few million times in race-related discussions.


Fair enough, it just seems like if you thought about it enough you could figure out the basis for the usage of those terms. People are sick and tired of the divisions of Race, plain and simple. Almost to the point that yes, they don't even want to talk about it. Is this "right"? I don't know, but it is what it is.

If you ever have the mis-fortune of working for a large corporation you are going to have to get used to the phrase "moving foward", and it might help in race related discussions.

Sorry, but I can think of no other way to describe most people's feelings on race, and race related discussions.



posted on Mar, 20 2007 @ 11:04 AM
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Originally posted by phoenixhasrisin

Really? Where are they?


Beats me. Harassing me about it doesn't help, though.



The few people that have responded have given you standard definitions for the terms as they are used and understood. Perhaps a couple of courses in language and etymology would help you out in this regard.


Would you like to teach them?


Fair enough, it just seems like if you thought about it enough you could figure out the basis for the usage of those terms. People are sick and tired of the divisions of Race, plain and simple.


Again, to follow your lead, who are these people?


Almost to the point that yes, they don't even want to talk about it. Is this "right"? I don't know, but it is what it is.


Fine. There are people who don't want to talk about it.


If you ever have the mis-fortune of working for a large corporation you are going to have to get used to the phrase "moving foward", and it might help in race related discussions.


Well, you know what you can do. Start your own race threads and demonstrate this. All the while this is happening, I will continue to search out what these phrases mean. Thank you for your advice, though.


Sorry, but I can think of no other way to describe most people's feelings on race, and race related discussions.


Well, again, to follow your lead, are you trying to speak for white people? Or non-white people?

[edit on 20-3-2007 by ceci2006]





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