The difference between Racism and "acting white"

MELANET UnCut Chat and Discussion: MelaNet UnCut Talk: The difference between Racism and "acting white"
By Jerome Kelly ( - on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 04:14 pm:

I'm writing this to clear up a little confusion between the warring factions in this discussion room regarding racism. It seems that there are a lot of individuals who feel that just because they are celebrating their culture and acting out the tenets of their race, that they shouldn't be dismissed as racist. That is a good point. However, I think a lot of these persons confuse acting white with acting superior. For example, being white does not give you free reign to assert superiority, subjugate those around you, have the right of way, not have to wait in line, and have your opinion viewed as more worthy than all others. These behaviors ARE NOT ACTING WHITE! THEY ARE ACTING RACIST!

I have visited hundreds of white supremacist cites that defend these very behaviors as somehow being linked intrinsically to white culture, as if somehow you're not white if you don't do these things. That is false. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to meet white people who do not have a trace of any of these behaviors within them. Some of them are my best friends. Furthermore, you cannot act a color or a race--it's something you are or are not. Therefore, the most "whitest" sounding black person is still black at the end of the day, and vice versa. You can be white and listen to hip hop just like you can be black and listen to alternative. The culture you adopt is either black, white, hispanic, asian, etc., and even in those the categories there is further sub-division.

Black people won't get mad at whites if they are truly acting out their culture and not racist/superiority feelings. So whites that say, "I'm just acting white," or "I'm just acting out my culture," need to be sure that they aren't in fact acting with racial motives. Southern whites can act out their culture without the Confederate flag, but they get mad when blacks protest them supposedly reaffirming their heritage. Just what are they trying to reaffirm? Their defiance of the law? Their inhumane treatment of blacks? That the wrong side lost the war? They are trying to reaffirm division and hostility, which is what that flag symbolizes. Bob Jones University tried to assert that they were just protecting their Christian way of life and culture by first not admitting blacks and then banning interracial dating (a ban only recently lifted). Were they just acting like white Christians or were they being racist? (as if Blacks can't be sincere Christians?) This might offend some people, but this is the best way I can explain it. The people in the south who are descendants of the slavemasters and Civil War soldiers, the same ones who insist on displaying the Confederate Flag, are holding to a legacy that was wrong and inherently flawed. No one is saying you have to stop loving your deceased ancestors. But you must not let that love blind you to the point that you can't recognize their actions as being wrong. It's like having an uncle who was a serial killer--you love him, but your not trying to get his face on a stamp for what he has done.

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