Purposeful insults proclaim that the people using them don't want meaningful discussion. If you spit in someone's eye you are just looking for a fight. I could quote Mike Tyson here.

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Nov 7, 2022·edited Nov 7, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

It becomes almost comical when it's between groups that outsiders see as indistinguishable.

When I had learned enough Vietnamese to progress outside the classroom I got on a site where northern and southern Vietnamese were having a hatefest mostly over their dialects.

[There are two major dialects of Vietnamese, which is a tonal language, but to someone like me to whom the tones are just pronunciation rather than, as for them, at the very foundation of comprehension, switching between the two is effortless. By choice I speak the northern "dialect" because it sounds more educated].

These were people that not even other Asians could tell apart but for the way they talk and on this forum they were going at each other with just incredible hatred. Nothing at all to do with history or that war, just "you guys sound like cats fighting!"

The first time I worked up the courage to make my maiden voyage in the language, in a deli I had been frequenting for years, a man in front of me whirled around and asked, "How is it you speak northern dialect!" I was kinda proud that my pronunciation was good enough to be regionally pegged.

Edit: go 20 km outside the city and not even native speakers can reliably understand villagers, and *nobody* understands the dialect from Huế. The tones are literally backwards.

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"It becomes almost comical when it's between groups that outsiders see as indistinguishable."

Absolutely. I've been reading about India's "untouchables" recently. fascinating stuff. The idiotic minutiae we're wiling to divide ourselves over never cease to amaze me.

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The primary reason I detest “cis.” Just another way to bifurcate humanity.

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That's interesting. Thai, another tonal language has dialects but according to my wife they used the same tones (you'd change the meaning of the word if you didn't) but with a different pronunciation. That would seem like a puzzler except that you can sing in tonal languages without losing the meaning of the words (changing pitch without changing tones). She may be thinking of something different regarding tones than you.

The Thai alphabet serves as a pronunciation guide with high, middle and low consonants which when combined with certain vowels and tone marks give syllables a high, middle, low, rising or falling tone. They are not interchangeable without completely changing the meaning of the word. Yet there is a different "pronunciation" of a different kind. They also use different slang. She understands Lao, technically a different language, because to her it is just another dialect since she grew up hearing it. I suspect that it would be as difficult for you to describe the different dialects as it is for her. The thing is that Thai people from all regions can understand each other (maybe not Lao since they put Thai subtitles with Laotian shows on my wife's Thai TV channels). What you describe with the people in Hue is a real zinger.

I had a friend who was one of the first Marines to learn Vietnamese during the war (interrogator). He is no longer alive for me to ask if he needed a Kit Carson for places like Hue. Do they all watch the same TV?

People in Bangkok may consider themselves to be superior to people from people in the Isaan Provence but since I'm not on their chats I don't know if there is animosity. There "might" be something like what you are referring to. I don't know. Young assholes are what they are worldwide. After years in America, her Thai is noticeably changed enough for people in Thailand to notice.

I mention all this because your mention of people in Hue reversing syllables jumped out at me.

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Nov 7, 2022·edited Nov 7, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

The words for old (not people), tool, and penis are all cu with different tones. Poem and laborer, likewise. Transfer, trip, specialty, all chuyên with different tones.

It can be eerie. Go to a sandwich kiosk and ask for "banh mi" (bon me) without the right tones and she won't understand you. She sells one thing, she has sold one thing for thirty years, but if you don't do rising-banh descending-mi she will not understand, and she is not being coy. It's eerie.

I will say "xin một ộ bánh mì," please one ộ bread/sandwich, where the ộ is what is called a "measure word," a counter, with no equivalent in European languages, and while I could leave it out, using it shows that I can do better than pidgin, that I know the idiom. But that is being polite, most people would just say "một ộ." Old languages leave out a lot of words.

There are a lot of measure words, just like Chinese. That word ộ by itself means "umbrella."

Everyone understands the specific version of northern dialect spoken in Hanoi, the capitol. All news, all government announcements, airport recorded instructions, all Hanoi dialect. But they don't speak it unless they live there.

I had a friend from the USA in Saigon, now back in the USA, and when I met his girlfriend she spoke to my partner and I said "oh, you're from the north!" He looked at me with horror, "HOW DO YOU KNOW!!" I laughed and spoke to her again, "... but you aren't from Hanoi." Right again.

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"The words for old (not people), tool, and penis are all cu with different tones."

And with that sentence, you've convinced me not to try to learn Vietnamese😅 Beautiful country though, I spent a month there a few years ago.

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Nov 8, 2022·edited Nov 8, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

Aside from the rapidity of speech the tones are the only obstacle. No plurals, no conjugation, no declension, no adverbs, and the grammar is all subject-verb-object.

Want eat what?

Want eat noodle.

Pronouns are a little weird as the rules of deference are a lot more complex than how-low-do-I-bow as in Japan. The same word can mean I, you, and he in the same sentence but it's usually pretty clear. Two twins know which was born a few minutes before the other and address each other differently. But there are defaults for most cases, "friend" being a near-universal one.

Some people pick up the tones easily, but in Cantonese it took me six weeks then between one minute and the next I got them, exactly as I started using the middle and ring fingers of my right hand to pick guitar strings. Vietnamese took a year, but once I could do the northern tones the southern were easy.

Other people simply can't fathom them ever. In my first class we had two Chinese students and I figured they would get Vietnamese tones much faster than they rest of us. If anything it took them longer, because as I said before the tones are at the foundation of their listening. For me they're just pronunciation.

But .. Vietnamese is an unearthly sounding language. Even though I can speak and be clearly understood, I can read most signs (not newspapers, they are hard), I can still barely understand spoken Vietnamese, unless I talk to northerners and then I get about half of it. Listening to southerners I may as well be trying to understand Hindi.

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While I was there, I saw it as a beautiful place I would like to visit after the war (never did). I was in the area that the US military designated as I-Corps (mountains and valleys). Sadly, in places those mountains looked like the surface of the moon from helicopter rides due to defoliant, artillery and bomb craters. Hopefully their natural beauty has been restored, assuming that the effect of Agent Orange is shorter lived on plant life than on the local population and veterans. And there are the damned mines.

Pronunciation gives me fits where "I said that" "no you didn't" is my world. The Thai language also has some embarrassing word meaning changes due to tones.

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"After years in America, her Thai is noticeably changed enough for people in Thailand to notice."

American Vietnamese everything is different. Vietnamese food is better in the USA with a few exceptions. Ice cream is kem here, ka-rem in the USA. There are some dishes I can get in any Vietnamese restaurant in America but have never seen here.

Most American Vietnamese fled the south so you don't hear much Hanoi dialect. And in places with a lot of Vietnamese people are not shocked at a white person speaking it. In 2017 I went into one and asked for a table for two and nobody raised an eyebrow.

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I once asked why even 3rd generation Vietnamese people in the US Speak English with a Vietnamese accent. They reached their children Vietnamese first. For the most part they feel displaced I'm America.

Food is a different thing for Thai food. In restraints in the US you mostly find Bangkok Thai food. Good but I prefer the variety from my wife's provence. Some of it is actually Lao and it is all a bit different. The misty glaring difference is that Bangkok Thai food is often sweetened with sugar, something my wife would never add. Even desserts are naturally sweetened with fruits rather than sugar in her meal preparation.

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American Chinese food isn't Chinese at all/ I thought I was eating it all my life till a Chinese took me out to eat. A whole new world.

Thai food is closer. Sometimes it's recognizably Thai, sometimes very close.

There *is* no Americanized Vietnamese food. Different dishes, yes, different species of fish. but it's Real Asian Food.

That's why decent Vietnamese noodle houses are packed with Asians from everywhere. Because phở may not be the same as the Chinese dish it comes from but it feeds the soul.

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The Asian grocery stores that we frequent are Vietnamese owned. Most of the stuff is common. The big exception is that the various curry pastes are uniquely Thai. I prefer Thai curries to the ones from India. An exceptional appropriation made their own.

Our Vietnamese friends, like us, cook smelly Asian varieties of fish on the back porch to not smell up the house. We have a two-burner propane camp stove for that. It's too cumbersome to do that for the hot peppers so our kitchen often seems to have received a visit from SWAT, but that dissipates more quickly than some of the fish varieties we cook. The Vietnamese markets are our fish markets.

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I was crushed to learn that the grocery I shopped at twice a week for years, Viet Wah ("Vietnamese Chinese [people]") shut down a few years ago. When my partner moved in with me we went there and spent about $100 to stock the pantry.

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Speaking of comical, standing at a hotel bar in Helsinki I had a conversation with a man speaking the queen's English and a man speaking Cockny. We were able to communicate but we may have sounded like we were speaking three different languages to a non-English speaker.

When my wife first started learning English while in Thailand the reference books were English English and she did notice the differences with American English. She was a maid and cook for an American USAF Major who paid for her to go to language school and that's what they had fifty plus years ago. It got her into the American community.

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Based on a discussion we had here last week re what to call race if not race (since we do have differences) I'm working on an article about replacing 'colour' words with flavours, since they sound a lot friendlier. Also, they make racist talk sound a lot stupider :)

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Yeah, I'd call race, "the mistaken belief that people can be meaningfully categorised based solely on the colour of their skin." I admit, this doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

But as I said in our other conversation, that's different from *describing* a person by the colour of his or her skin.

If you were to say, "Steve is the black guy over there," there'd be absolutely nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. But if you said, "Steve is the member of the black race over there," you're saying something very different. And if you said, "Steve is the 'chocolate' guy over there," I'd roll my eyes and probably never take you seriously ever again.😅 Although you're right, that does make racism sound even more stupid.

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My article is tongue in cheek but the point is, we can't get away from 'colour' conversations, there's too much baggage still to be dealt with. We're not in a position yet to be 'colour-blind' and maybe we never totally will be; we categorize people, which is not always a bad thing...even 'stereotyping' isn't he worst thing in the world, it's helped us survive an often-hostile world. Friendlier words make race discussions sound less threatening since, as I point out, we all pretty much have positive associations with good tastes - whether it's desserts, potato chips or pizzas. And *no one* wants 'vanilla supremacy' - it's just too boring by itself!

#ChocolateLivesMatter :)

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"My article is tongue in cheek but the point is, we can't get away from 'colour' conversations, there's too much baggage still to be dealt with."

Yep, absolutely. Again I'm baffled at how you think I'm saying anything different. It's just that "race" and "colour" seem so synonymous in your mind that you can't see they describe two different things. So when I criticise the long debunked concept of race, you seem to think I'm saying we can't acknowledge that people have different coloured skin.

It would be ridiculous to deny that demographics with different coloured skin have had different life experiences in America and in most of the world. And it's impossible to talk about that without talking about skin colour. All good so far.

But one of the clearest paths to changing the attitudes that lead to these problems is having more people wrap their heads around the fact that just because our skin is a different colour, it doesn't mean we're different types of human being. Just as, as I've said many times, we don't treat people with different colour hair or different colour eyes as if they're different types of human being.

We don't lump all blue-eyed people together as a "race." Most people would consider that ridiculous. But you can still say, "John is that guy with blue eyes." It's equally ridiculous to lump all white-skinned or brown-skinned people together. But you can still say "Nicole is the white woman over there."

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In my mind, they've always been interchangeable terms. Maybe you and others have a deeper understanding as to what 'race' is (or is supposed to be). When people said, "Race is a social construct," I thought of race as the colour/other minor differences between all of us and I'd respond, "Race isn't a construct, the values we attach to it is." Because yeah, we choose to attach arbitrary values to certain ways people look, but eye colour isn't one of them, nor is hair colour. So when we talk about 'racism' we're often speaking about discrimination against people with different skin colours; 'antiracism' is fighting bigotry & discrimination against other 'colour' groups. Scientists talk about 'ancestry' and that's a much better description of the concept formerly known as 'race', but then what else do we call it? No one seems to know. Anyway, you got a mention :) https://nicolechardenet.substack.com/p/race-is-a-social-construct-but-color

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Nov 9, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

I given Emilio credit. He DID climb down, after he clearly misread you. That alone makes him a 1%-er on Medium! :-)

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Yep, 100%. It always tops up my faith in humanity when people make an obvious mistake and recognise it.

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Nov 8, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

Grace. What a wonderful and neglected concept. Thank you.

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Nov 7, 2022·edited Nov 8, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

The tangent conversation that Chris and I are having brings to mind something that may be of interest and a possible story for Steve.

The Vietnamese people who fled to the US after the war are in a state of living in a place they don't feel as their home, and not by choice, but they have a common tongue to maintain common culture. The people brought to the Americas during trans-Atlantic slave trade came from different countries/tribes with different languages, so they had no such common tongue. Lost roots within a lost homeland leading to the near nonsensical "African"-American where and Egyptian or Libyan is not what people are thinking of, but they are African.

I notice that 23&me lists an increasingly large number of sub-Saharan ancestries. Not races, but ancestral homelands, more useful for this purpose. I wonder how many "African Americans" are interested in, or using this resource to find where in Africa their ancestors came from?

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Yeah, I've come across a few black people who are extremely devoted to figuring out the details of their heritage. This guy (https://steveqj.substack.com/p/your-definition-of-white-supremacy) springs to mind. But beyiond a generation or two, most black people I know don't care. I think this is as it should be.

Most white people don't care about their ancestry beyond a generation or two. They're American or English or French or whatever it might be. I think it should be the same for black people. We're all better off looking forward than backwards.

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My grandfather came from Germany in 1912 and spoke with a German accent all his life. I never heard him speak a word of German, and his sons didn't know a word of it. My fluency comes from high school (my teacher was voted the best teacher of German in the USA).

When Chinese workers were imported to build the railroads in the 1840s they mostly came from Toisan Province. Nine generations later their descendants still mostly speak Toisan, or maybe Cantonese which is closely related. Major difference between Asian and European immigrants.

One driving factor could be as prosaic as their food. I know about 20 Vietnamese dishes that cannot be distinguished in English.

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My wife is an excellent scratch cook. Give her ingredients and she will prepare a delicious meal that you would identify as Thai food that is not on any restaurant menu. When she first came to America, the closest thing to an Asian market was Pier One Imports. Ready-made pastes and such didn't even exist back in Thailand, and we made everything the old way. A bottle cap nailed to a stick to scrape the meat from a coconut to make coconut milk since the canned stuff was not yet a thing for example. Zeus bless the Vietnamese entrepeneurs for making Asian markets a thing.

A little back in the day blurb for you. A department store was opening a "from China" department (sounds weird to young people, no doubt, but it was "exotic" in those days) and advertised to employ two young female Orientals (would be illegal today), and of course, pretty. They hired her and a young Filipina (straight black hair, high cheek bones and eyes with the epicanthal fold made you "Chinese" in the eyes of the average American back then). The other "They all look alike."

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I tend to agree with you about the issue of inflammatory words, but can’t we also make a case that people are lazily short-handing their arguments? “All men are trash” is perhaps less about condemning a group for their biology than it is about stating that a class of people cause most of the violence against women and the ones that don’t, do little to stop it.

It ends up getting condensed to the feeling it evokes, instead of taking the time to make the argument about why “all” men or whites or whatever get lumped together.

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Nov 8, 2022·edited Nov 8, 2022Author

"“All men are trash” is perhaps less about condemning a group for their biology than it is about stating that a class of people cause most of the violence against women and the ones that don’t, do little to stop it."

Right, I've made the point numerous times recently that men commit something like 99% of all sexual assault. But that's very different from saying that 99% of men commit sexual assault. I know that's not what you're saying, but that's the mistake that I think get's made here.

Just because I have the figures to hand, I made a similar argument about black crime recently.

Racists just loooove to point out that African Americans, while only 13% of the population, commit over 50% of the homicides. And this is, unfortunately, a fact. So they make the case that such disproportionality proves that black people are all criminals by nature.

But if you look at it a little more intelligently, you see that of the 46.8 million African Americans, even if every "black" homicide was committed by a different black person (i.e. there were no repeat offenders), that entire 51% of homicides is committed by 0.008% of the black community. It's very difficult to claim that something that only 0.008% of a population does is a representative problem for that group.

I don't know how sexual assault statistics among men shake out. But I'm pretty confident we'd end up with a similar situation. Even if the figure were closer to 1 or 2% of men. We need to be much smarter about lumping entire categories of people in with the evil actions of certain members.

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Yes, I agree we need to tease out the reality of violence when an entire group gets painted with the label.

But what happens when we add in “and says nothing to stop it”?

Black communities decry the violence in their communities. Groups are formed to address the problem.

Rarely do we see a group of men decrying violence against women. It is just not the norm. Silence more often is. I mean, can we name even ten groups, comprised of men, that formed to address the problem of male violence against women? I can probably name several Black groups formed to deal with Black men’s violence within their communities in my city alone.

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"But what happens when we add in “and says nothing to stop it”?"

Yeah, this is a fair point. I'm just not sure that sexual assault is the kind of problem you can form a group to prevent. I don't know of any groups by women formed for this purpose either. The groups that exist are generally for dealing with the aftermath, no? Maybe I'm missing something there though.

I've had this conversation a few times. Sexual violence is a problem caused by men. No argument from me. But I have yet to hear anybody come up with an idea about how to solve that problem. Because a) as I said, I think it's actually only a tiny minority of men who are guilty of it, and b) the men doing it know it's wrong. It's like people who murder or people who steal. How do you form an organisation to stop them?

I'm not being glib here. I'd love to write about any methods that have shown results. I've genuinely given this a lot of thought myself too. I just don't have any answers unfortunately.

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Off the top of my head, I know there are groups for male batterers to help them stop from reoffending. I think there may be some campus groups where male students walk women to their cars a night.

There are also numerous groups formed by women to both prevent and deal with the aftermath of male violence. RAINN, NCADV, groups that talk to high school and college kids, Take Back the Night groups.

So, my point is that men are not spearheading this. And if over 25% of women experience male violence, it cannot be just 1-2% of men who are doing this. It has only been recently that we have talked as a country about how having sex with a woman too drunk to say no is rape.

I know men who have done this. They did not consider it to be rape. They were not “criminals.” Many of them were frat brothers or football teams. So, I think it is a different situation than dealing with murdered or thieves.

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"And if over 25% of women experience male violence, it cannot be just 1-2% of men who are doing this."

Yeah, I'd have found it equally difficult to believe, until I crunched the numbers, that 0.008% of African Americans (at most) are responsible for 51% of homicides in America. I expected it to be pretty low, but I had to re-check the figures numerous times before I could convince myself it was *that* low. The type of man who would do something like this isn't likely to stop at doing it to one woman.

But look, no part of me wants to quibble with you here. Or minimise the efforts that are being made to deal with this problem. And especially not the problem itself. Education about consent is incredibly important. But the reason I made the comparison to murder or theft is that there is already a huge amount of messaging in society telling men that rape is wrong. Not to mention the law of course.

These men do what they do *despite* the messaging. Not because they honestly didn't realise that having sex with a woman who has passed out is wrong. I think those men you're talking about absolutely know what they did is wrong. They're just not going to admit it out loud.

Again, I'm not trying to minimise sexual violence in any way. Or deny that it's infuriating that more men don't step up in some way to deal with it. Even if that's just when they see something happening in front of them. My issue here is simply with broadening responsibility out to everybody who shares a particular trait with the person causing the problem.

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I appreciate the dialogue. I admin a group on FB called Headstrong Lesbians and this is our goal, too. Good dialogue exploring contentious topics, not making each other the enemy. Allow others to feel valued even when we disagree with them.

Keep up the good work, Steve!

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> “'All men are trash' is perhaps less about condemning a group for their biology than it is about stating that a class of people cause most of the violence against women and the ones that don’t, do little to stop it."

Just because You don't see men marching in the streets for "anti-violence" doesn't mean they "do little to stop it," right?

> "instead of taking the time to make the argument about why “all” men or whites or whatever get lumped together."

You should read more of Steve QJ. He frequently makes the case obvious "why “all” men or whites or whatever get lumped together" is FALSE from a number of angles.

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I see at least two distinct kinds of bigotry: the defensive and the nonchalant.

Yes there are successful and educated people who are raging bigots but in the USA white-on-PoC bigotry is overwhelmingly from failures; people who for want of intelligence, education, or achievement-orientation are low on the income ladder. They know they're "not much" so they need someone to regard as even lower because they can't turn off the TV long enough to read a book or go to night school. Their bigotry is a defense to keep their inferiority at bay.

Then you have the Israeli variety, a deeply held conviction that they really are the master race and that others are beneath them. There is a widely held view among the settler movement that the killing of an Arab (or any non-Jew) doesn't count as murder. A few years ago a very popular book called "The King's Torah" (https://jewishcurrents.org/the-kings-torah-preemptive-murder-of-non-jews) laid this out explicitly.

These two varieties of racism are amply distinguishable. The nonchalant variety is not defensive at all.

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I remember reading one of Richard Wright's books when I was in college and he described his grandmother hating on the Jews. She called them 'Christ killers' and I was really disgusted. One thing that has bothered me since I was small was people from disadvantaged groups hating on people from other disadvantaged groups. I said to my mother, "Geez, everyone's gotta have someone else to shit on." You'd think a half-black old lady in 1940s America would have a little sympathy for Christianity's buttmonkeys for two thousand years, right? No.

I thought it was appalling that women who described themselves as feminist were racist; that black men who pissed and moaned about racism nevertheless thought all women were 'bitches'. It bothered me in the early '80s to learn how young black men were the number one killer of young black men; twenty years after civil rights was in full swing and this is what King and others died for? So ignorant assholes can pop each other off in the streets and blame racism? I still have sympathy for He Who Must No Longer Be Named and his (in)famous Pound Cake Speech. I agreed with every word at the time as it was what I was thinking - perhaps less colourfully than Cosby put it - at the time. I mean, black guys weren't yet killing each other over sneakers and pound cake. Probably more like crack.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Humans suck, universally.

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What would happen if we were to realize that we are eternal beings engaged in a brief mortal existence? While we while claim myriad differences, for the most part, humans come from the womb in two basic models.

Our lives can be measured from the standpoint of two dimensions -- where we came from and where we are now. For every ten years spent on Earth, 14.4 minutes pass from where we came. Call it The Narnia Effect.

When you get to the "no excuses zone," what sort of "life understanding" grade do you get if you can't tell a brother or a sister because of their skin color?

Aside from everything else, it doesn't seem like a particularly intelligent long-term strategy.

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People who are oppressed tend to know it and are familiar with their oppressors . We Should take them seriously. White is not a race. It’s a social invention for the purpose of social control. I agree that “whiteness “ is a misleading term. What we’re really talking about is white supremacy and what I call the “white emotion” that defends it.Every racist act is a defense of white supremacy.

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"People who are oppressed tend to know it and are familiar with their oppressors"

I agree. But then I suppose we need to talk about how we're definig oppression. I find the notion that white people are black people's de facto oppressors forevermore, just because we have black skin and they don't, to be deeply condescending. There was a time when you could make that argument convincingly. But that time is not 2022.

In 2022, some black people are still oppressed by systems and the legacy of those systems. Some white people too actually, thogh far fewer I'd say. But white people as a demographic are not that system.

Most of the peope I see claiming that they're oppressed today are generally extraordinarily privileged and have no idea what oppression is. Which is why they can make such a mistake.

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I agree. There are many varieties of oppression. In this particular case I was referring to racial oppression, acts that strengthen the system of white supremacy under which we live, a system that burst open under Trump. These acts lie on a spectrum from “microaggression” to the murder of George Floyd. Likewise banning Black-authored books and Black history in general, gerrymandering away the right to vote, etc. I’m not talking about demographics or individuals, and definitely not a system that must last forever. A system of power exercised and supported by millions of white Americans, sometimes unconsciously, to the general detriment of Black people. The degree to which people buy into the system depends on how they intersect with structural racism. My experiences in the civil rights and farmworkers’ struggles taught me that not all whites are racist, but most all racists are white. Many white people have risked and given their lives in the Freedom Movement. Unfortunately, they are the exception.

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Even racist acts from POC towards other POC (or even white folks) is "a defense of white supremacy"?

So a Han Chinese person being racist towards a Uighur Chinese person is somehow a defense of white supremacy?? Or an African-American person towards an Asian-American person? Or a Filipino in Manila towards a indigenous person from one of the Philippine provinces? Come on. Racism does not automatically equal white supremacy. This is why it's hard to take discourse around "white supremacist" acts seriously because definitions are being expanded, limited, or changed depending on the goal of the person changing that definition.

Definitely agree though that white is not a race and that it's a social invention for the purpose of social control. An invention that changed over time to allow more Europeans like Italians and Poles to enter the precious group of Americans that could call themselves white while also forcing descendants of slaves and immigrants from Asia to continue remaining outside of power.

Very curious to hear more about "white emotion" - what does that mean?

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I definitely agree with your paragraph that begins “Definitely agree...”

In your opening paragraphs you put your finger on a serious point: not what is a race, but who is a race. European colonists in America at the end of the 18th Century invented a convenient way of thinking about race: a color code. White, Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow. Whites to own property and dominate the others, Black slaves to grow and harvest cotton, Brown to defeat and grab their land, Red to slaughter and grab their land, and later, Yellow to build the Transcontinental Railroad (and refuse to leave). It was convenient for the non-Black settlers to identify, but it took a while: Italians and Swedes were considered “swarthy races” and Irish were “degraded,” until they were needed to increase the political and economic power of the dominant class.

The problem arises when we try to apply trivial biological differences. (skin color, head shape, and so on) to the rest of the world, most countries of which do not impose racial color codes on the people around them. Uighur is not a race, nor is Filipino, nor is Han, nor do they think of themselves as races. The Japanese did not attack Pearl Harbor because Americans were white but to establish a Japanese empire. James Baldwin recognized the difference between foreign and domestic “races” when he wrote, “the Negro is a race that exists only in America,” backing up our agreement that race is a social invention. If every oppressive deed were racist, we’d have no need for the word.

Now to your “come on” paragraph. I think you have the wrong end of the stick. It’s white supremacy that automatically creates racism, not the other way around. Individual persons are not the issue; it’s the system of white supremacy that shapes the acts and opinions of a people. Racism doesn’t arise spontaneously; children are not automatically racist; they have to be taught by their families, teachers, friends, etc., Or they read

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who declared:

"I think it cannot be maintained by any candid person that the African race have ever occupied or do promise ever to occupy any very high place in the human family. The Irish cannot; the American Indian cannot; the Chinese cannot. Before the energy of the Caucasian race all the other races have quailed and done obeisance." That’s white supremacy and racism all rolled together, defining American thought for two centuries, beginning with Jefferson’s authoritative definition of Black people as inferior in every way. Europeans who had been slaughtering each other for centuries gradually came together under the white umbrella when they immigrated to America, in order to distinguish themselves from the non-white people who already lived there, particularly Black slaves, whom they bought in American slave markets.

“White Emotion.” I came up with that term because I considered race and racism to be too rigid and at the same time too flexible. Too flexible because the charge of racism gets applied to everything from schoolchild taunting to the murder of George Floyd, too rigid because it takes no account of context. A child’s microaggression is one thing, the KKK’s aggression entirely another. I use “white” because not all whites are racist, but most all racists are white. “Emotion” for its ability to shapeshift, influence people’s feelings and acts, and persevere despite the nonexistence of race in the physical world. This spectrum of emotions is what I mean by the “white emotion.”

Further, the white emotion requires the reader to define what kind of racist act has been committed. Grand Theft Racism? Staring oddly at a Black colleague’s new hairdo? Individuals do not create racism, systems do.

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"White is not a race. It’s a social invention for the purpose of social control."

Oh, nonsense. Just because a lot of people of European extraction have some genes of other races mingled in doesn't mean that "white" is an invention for social control. That is postmodernist nonsense. Yes the world has a long history of colonialism and racism but that doesn't mean that people got together and secretly created a fictitious white race out of nothing just to control others.

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Although technically/legally, the term "free white person" included Eastern Europeans, Irish, Italians, and Jews, ethnically those groups were certainly seen as different & less than other white ethnicities, and were treated accordingly i.e. subject to gross generalizations/racialization and excluded from holding sociopolitical power. The idea of "whiteness" here is that white anglo-saxon protestants held the most power for the longest period of time in the US. Not so much about genes but about (perceived) ethnicity.

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My grandfather personally experienced NINA, No Irish Need Apply.

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deletedNov 7, 2022Liked by Steve QJ
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"Among the homeless, there is a bizarre egalitarianism when it comes to race, because there are so many other factors that bind them together than mere skin color or ethnicity."

Extremely well said. I've been thinking a lot about homeless people lately strangely enough. This is an angle which I hadn't really thought about, but yeah, it makes perfect sense. The stupid things we bicker about can only be seen as priorities when we have too few meaningful things to wrorry about.

Of course, the irony is that we *do* have menaingful things to worry about. We're just too easily distracted.

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I live three houses from a park with a one-mile street underpass for a creek, a half mile from a methadone clinic, highway entry/exit ramps, 7-11 and QuikTrip convenience stores. These are all magnets for the homeless. I walk past everchanging encampments on my morning walks.

Some (a small minority of the homeless population) are mentally disabled. People financially destroyed by government policies, also a minority of the homeless population. The majority have the blues (fentanyl addiction) resulting in burglaries, strong arm robberies and increased shoplifting.

Due to local temperature extremes, while heat related deaths and violence are significant, drug overdose is the major cause of death. The racial/ethnic demographic is in line with population demographics, but Hispanic homeless is an exception (less) and Asian homeless are essentially nonexistent. I see mostly "white" homeless people. I suspect that it could be a case of more tough love where people won't put up with that shit and kick their ass out. I've seen several cases of that.

Jobs are gone, malls and strip malls unoccupied, factories offshore leading to the economic destruction (I'll not rant on who is responsible) but at least in my locale, drug addiction is a major cause. Maybe not everywhere. If you write about it, you will undoubtedly do a bunch or research.

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America's system is the laws. It's not 1950, there is nothing a white person can legally do that is unlawful for a black person to do. It could be argued the racism is ubiquitous but if that racism results in harm it is a matter of people violating the system rather than being supported by it.

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