'Acting white', and being a capitalist

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Catch 22
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Apr 5 2006 11:27
'Acting white', and being a capitalist
rkn wrote:
Catch 22 wrote:
When chat moderators threaten banning for talking about "white" as a cultural demarcation (actually happened to me) libertarians tend to get turned off.

I dont understand?!

Was in a conversation and a comrade said some silly comment about "rich white men" owning America etc. The moderator thought this was racist as it inferred that the white race was the only race involved in capitalist activities. By which the other replied that he was more or less referring to the dominant white culture of the American business class. I chimed in and supported his claim and stated that “in America even the capitalist blacks act ‘white’.” Which is true in that the bourgeois culture of the American ruling class is not multi ethnic but white. I also stated that “in America racism still persists primarily because of its economic implications (blacks are shit poor and threaten poor whites economically while scary middle class whites with “crime waves”)” and thus it was legitimate to claim that white men dominating the ruling class while blacks by and large were shit out of luck.

All this tiffed the chat moderator off so much that he went on this long rant about our how we were idiots, without proper understanding of Marxist thought and that we were borderline racism. He warned us that if we continued to claim our point that we would be banned from the board permanently.

After that shit I decided that hanging out with dogmatic moralizing vanguardists aka revleft wasn’t the best idea.

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 5 2006 11:17

Catch 22 - yeah the guy sounds like a knob... Marxism without any understanding of anything else it sounds like...

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Steven.
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Apr 5 2006 11:20
rkn wrote:
Catch 22 - yeah the guy sounds like a knob... Marxism without any understanding of anything else it sounds like...

Hmmm I dunno, saying “in America even the capitalist blacks act ‘white’" seems pretty stupid. How do you "act white" anyway? Listen to Michael Bolton?

Do ruling class blacks in Zimbabwe "act white" too? But we shouldn't have this discussion here...

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 5 2006 11:22
John. wrote:

Hmmm I dunno, saying “in America even the capitalist blacks act ‘white’" seems pretty stupid. How do you "act white" anyway? Listen to Michael Bolton?

Dont think at a superficial level of apperance, more at a cultural level of what is acceptable behaviour. What one is expected to do etc. The values one is expected to buy into.

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 5 2006 11:35

I think it depends where you are talking about. i dont think you can have a global position on something like this. But in specific situations, i.e. certian countries - there is a hierarchy of cultural values. Not that its an anyway a fair or measured hierarchy - its totaly arbitary and constructed according to who is in charge.

I dont think its unfair to say in the US, and i guess in the UK to, and probably France... that black capitalists have to aspire to white capitalist values. I think its bizarre to talk about things without any sort of regard for symbolic variation. While in the end it doesn matter, because they are all the same class with the same interests, that class (like all) is obviously split on various levels.

John. wrote:

Do ruling class blacks in Zimbabwe "act white" too? But we shouldn't have this discussion here...

Going by theory which im working out as i post here - i'd say no. But thats because its a whole different cultural system - which is based on a rejection of colonialism...

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JDMF
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Apr 5 2006 11:43
revol68 wrote:
oh, just forgot to metion just what good dancers those blacks are, great sense of rthymn.

not to mention the way the shoot hoops man!

If you are black and you get to be a CEO of some corporation, it is scientifically proven that you lose the ability to play basketball any more because white men can't jump.

ftony
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Apr 5 2006 12:19

now this is interesting. carlton 'the legend' banks dances badly, is short, wants desperately to go to princeton, and wears geeky clothes.

there is no white or black essence as such, but different cultural groupings (manifested a lot in different geographical areas) do tend to coalesce around some sort of stereotype. carlton breaks that stereotype without really acknowledging it, and is therefore damn funny. if we go all poststructuralist, which i know libcommers love, carlton's identity is constructed around those performative traits, but the strangeness of his identity (demonstrated by his funniness) is deliberately placed as a juxtaposition against his own racial stereotype.

on the other hand, we have will...

he is conforming to a racial (and age) stereotype by performing it stylistically, thus 'representing' 'authentic' young 80s blackness. so he can diss carlton something chronic in da hood, nigga.

ftony
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Apr 5 2006 12:23

oh yeah, and there are class stereotypes there too

petey
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Apr 5 2006 14:19
JDMF wrote:
white men can't jump.

this has been scientifically demonstrated in reproducable, double-blind studies

ftony
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Apr 5 2006 14:22

objectivism is dead man. you only jump as high as society dictates you should jump wink

petey
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Apr 5 2006 14:24
ftony wrote:
objectivism is dead man. you only jump as high as society dictates you should jump :wink:

ah - so i've internalized society's expectation of my jumpability without even knowing it! thanks man! i'm liberated!! Mr. T

leaps, goes over building in single bound

ftony
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Apr 5 2006 14:25

you're welcome 8)

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Apr 5 2006 14:44

I don't think that saying rich blacks "act white" is useful at all.

I know race is seen as very important in the USA, largely because its been used to divide the proletariat very effectively, but I don't think that means you should follow it.

I wouldn't ban you for it but it seems like a rather pointless thing to say.

ftony, oddly Will is whiter than Carlton (who was, after they replaced the mum, the blackest member of the family)

I think the success of the banks family was down to hybrid vigour, Carlton was a regressive tendency, you can't stifle the blackness, it re-emerges

I'm not worried about their dancing skills, I'm worried about their huge penises. Fortunately I can outwit them because my penis isn't big enough to have affected the blood supply to my brain so I am far cleverer.

redtwister
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Apr 5 2006 15:16

Kinda strange conversation.

"Acting white" and "acting black" are recognized in both communities, but they are complex ways of expressing a variety of conflicts in a muddled way.

For example, when a black person tells a so-called white person that they "don't act white" or even calls them black, this is a tremendous compliment because it implies that they do not display overt or covert racism; they don't talk down to them; they don't do and say stuff that betrays a certain naivete that seems the province of all kinds of privilege; they don't engage in patronizing racial discussions, etc. Its not about some kind of white culture, but about whether or not someone acts like a particular kind of asshole, with a belly full of fear about black people. The funny thing is that it is a kind of de-racializing, not a re-racializing.

On the other side, the meaning of "acting black" from a white persepective can be anything from adopting (usually) caricatured versions of "so-called black" ie ghetto behaviour; fondness for a certain type of music, dance, clothing, etc. It is about a pattern of cultural consumption, about a kind of consumerism. It also has implications about being lazy, criminal, thuggish, etc. I still have family (good, old unionized workers in the heartland) who won't allow my baby cousin to bring home her black boyfriends. In fact, her father kicked her out of the house for that, and for acting like a n******. She moved in with her older sister and husband, and they won't allow her boyfriends over either, or even inthe their lily-white neighborhood. And they don't want her acting black, they want her acting white.

But it also expresses class lines. A black person talking about someone black acting white or like an Oreo cookie or acting "high yellow" or whatever the local term is, implies someone who thinks their shit doesn't stink, that money makes them better and not only that, that it makes them safe and equal. But it can also be a way to attack young people who like to read, who want an education, to refuse to be "ghetto" and ghetto-ized. And this is only a flat portrayal of what is a very complicated dynamic of how that gets used between black people.

White to black has all kinds of other nasty connotations, especially about how wrong they are that they are white.

I also would not describe white racism in the US at this point as based really on a sense of "white supremacy" and superiority, though it is present, but more as "white victimization", the white person as the real victim of affirmative action, civil rights legislation, etc. Right-wing politics has mastered making the oppressor seem like the victim. It is not much different from the little employers boo-hooing their state on the France discussions.

edit: anyway, these phrases are very loaded and context-driven. The more important question than whether we should use them (I don't, for various reasons), than what does it mean when they get used, what does it express, why do these complicated inter and intra-class conflicts get expressed in this way.

chris

revolutionrugger
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Apr 5 2006 16:40

europeans don't get american racism and how it and class are deeply sublimated into each other. Its a fundamently unique situation over here, standard class analysis doesn't work. A poor as fuck white guy often has more priveledge in this country than a black man. Then there are the semiotics of race/class. Wealthy blacks are forced to adopt the signifiers of white culture in order to succeed, and to embrace a political consciousness which oppresses fellow people of color. Indeed, in the case of black cops or black nouveau riche the hatred/oppression of poor blacks is even MORE intense. They've adopted the "position" of a white racist. Not to mention how police power and the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex are all tied into specifically oppressing blacks and underdeveloping black communities SPECIFICALLY. I can't even describe it well. The violence and deprivation blacks face has everything and nothing to do with class in the country. Race is the language class speaks here.

Catch 22
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Apr 5 2006 20:45
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Hmmm I dunno, saying “in America even the capitalist blacks act ‘white’" seems pretty stupid. How do you "act white" anyway? Listen to Michael Bolton?

Do ruling class blacks in Zimbabwe "act white" too? But we shouldn't have this discussion here...

Just like to reiterate this was in a chatroom ie it was just an informal bullshit session. So don’t get tiffed if this all doesn’t make perfect sense.

revolutionrugger-

Indeed comrade, that's exactly what I mean. Too often Europeans don't understand how race and class are so intricately tied together here in the States. Yes europe is undergoing a racial upheaval of sorts now, but it’s nothing compared to the 500 someodd years of white racial doctrine that’s dominated the US since its creation.

Racism in the US is effectively class prejudice. The south is the most economically stratified sector of the US and thus is also the most racist sector of the US. While the north and the west may hold a more muted racial dynamic. The south has always made race an explicit characteristic of its socioeconomic structure. How else would the pbig landowners, textile mill barons etc. get away with all their misdeeds? IIRC W.E.B. Dubois made a similar point in “Reconstruction” in that white always garnered a degree of superiority over blacks no mater how poor and thus always felt a certain allegiance to the men that economically fucked their interests over.

I also find it interesting how rich black capitalists act “white”. Take for example Lynn Swan the ex Pittsburgh steelier running for the governorship. Interestingly enough the upper class whites of Pennsylvania love this man. Why? Because the minute he cashed in he took up white customs, went to white clubs and enrolled his kids in a white prep school. He was everyone’s favorite token black and they hope he’ll be a great token black governor. It seems as if the cultural values of certain communities and cultures are so tied into the nation’s racial dynamic that rich African Americans have to act white in order to be accepted as a member of the upper class. Sort of like how well to do Jews in America often adopted gentile ways in order to better blend in to bourgeois culture.

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Apr 5 2006 22:24
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Yes europe is undergoing a racial upheaval of sorts now, but it’s nothing compared to the 500 someodd years of white racial doctrine that’s dominated the US since its creation.

Bullshit. Extreme racism has been prevalent in europe since records began. It was exported to the US ffs! There might have been a period after the second world war when, following the utterly horrific slaughter, social forces perhaps conspired to force racism underground but that's not the same thing as saying it never existed or that Europe's just going through 'an upheaval of sorts'. Particularly in Eastern Europe, racial domination and class are as thoroughly intertwined as anything that has happened or will happen in America.

(NB// That came of as a pissing match post - wasn't intended to be, I wish Europe didn't have racism, but playing its virulence down to try and uphold an assertion that we can't possibly understand how blacks are treated in the US is just silly)

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Apr 5 2006 22:24

So on that logic the terms catholic and protestant could be used as synonyms for good and bad in Northern Ireland?

Would you accept the terms Palestinian and Israeli being used in the same way?

They are not 'acting white' they are acting like capitalists, it seems odd that you are claiming that this is alright because race and class are so interlinked, surely that means it is even more important to seperate the two, rather than make lazy, divisive and, as you have pretty much admitted, incorrect distinctions.

I don't see how using racially loaded words unnecessarily is going to achieve anything useful, I can see how looking at what these terms mean and how they are used could be very productive.

It is interesting to see how black capitalists imitate their white counterparts, but this is what the nouveaux riches do in most countries, whether the differences are social, racial etc.

Incidentally I do like the 50 Cent video where he celebrates his success by handing over ever larger sums of money to white people smile

WillsWilde
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Apr 5 2006 23:56

I'd be interested to see what the warm and fuzzy folks over at APOC would have to say about this conversation....would dismiss all as racists and 'theory huggers.'

I believe that the very concept of 'race' itself is a spurious fiction devised in a pseoud-sceintific manner for the express purpose of dividing people and justifying exploitaion. No single 'race' has a monopoly on exploitation-or 'victimhood'- and 'whiteness' as a theoryof cultural behaviours I think is ridculous... Racialism has to be defeated along with racism, if you want to get at the root.

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Apr 6 2006 09:23
WillsWilde wrote:
I believe that the very concept of 'race' itself is a spurious fiction devised in a pseoud-sceintific manner for the express purpose of dividing people and justifying exploitaion. No single 'race' has a monopoly on exploitation-or 'victimhood'- and 'whiteness' as a theoryof cultural behaviours I think is ridculous... Racialism has to be defeated along with racism, if you want to get at the root.

what he said 8)

like jef said, its about the nouveau riche acting capitalist, not white. its not like poor whites share the culture of white captialists either (going to country clubs, playing golf, whatever ?).

Our response to class discrimination is to abolish classes. Our reponse to racism should be to demolish the whole discourse of 'race'.

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Apr 6 2006 11:20
Joseph K. wrote:
Our response to class discrimination is to abolish classes. Our reponse to racism should be to demolish the whole discourse of 'race'.

Exactly, and all this ridiculous shite about "races" (which don't even actually exist as biological entities) inherently acting differently does the exact opposite.

ftony
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Apr 6 2006 12:22

i certainly wouldn't say different 'races' inherently act differently. there has, however, been a historical conflation between certain classes and certain 'races', particularly in the US it seems. so just like being scared is feminised by people saying you're 'acting like a pussy' in the misconception/stereotype that women are all scaredy-cats, acting rich is racialised by saying you're acting 'white' by the misconception/stereotype that all white people are rich.

so conflating whiteness with affluence (and also cleanliness, remember, which is also a class construct) it is actually very much a colonial discourse, if you think about it that way

haharrr, the masked poststructuralist strikes again!! black bloc

Caiman del Barrio
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Apr 6 2006 12:29
ftony wrote:
just like being scared is feminised by people saying you're 'acting like a pussy' in the misconception/stereotype that women are all scaredy-cats

That's a load of PC wank.

ftony
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Apr 6 2006 12:31

confused

no it's not. where's the PCness?

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Apr 6 2006 12:33
ftony wrote:
conflating whiteness with affluence (and also cleanliness, remember, which is also a class construct) it is actually very much a colonial discourse, if you think about it that way

but therefore we should seek to separate the destructive, divisive, false part of the conflation ('whiteness', 'femininity' ...) from the significant one, in the case of this thread, class, rather than continuing to conflate them.

Just because when a palestinian kid says he hates jews he might well mean he hates statist oppressors we shouldn't adopt that language and say "look, 'your' proto-state is oppressive too, they're acting like jews". We should argue for tackling the fundamental issues not the misconceived constructs which are deployed to mask them.

ftony
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Apr 6 2006 12:35
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but therefore we should seek to separate the destructive, divisive, false part of the conflation ('whiteness', 'femininity' ...) from the significant one, in the case of this thread, class, rather than continuing to conflate them.

yes, totally

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Apr 6 2006 12:43
Joseph K. wrote:
Just because when a palestinian kid says he hates jews he might well mean he hates statist oppressors we shouldn't adopt that language and say "look, 'your' proto-state is oppressive too, they're acting like jews". We should argue for tackling the fundamental issues not the misconceived constructs which are deployed to mask them.

Perfect analogy 8)

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Apr 6 2006 12:54
John wrote:
Exactly
John wrote:
Perfect analogy 8)

John. if you don't stop sucking up to me i'll have to get the egg sarnies out too reveal your true scabbing colours wink [/derailing]

redtwister
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Apr 6 2006 15:08
Jef Costello wrote:
So on that logic the terms catholic and protestant could be used as synonyms for good and bad in Northern Ireland?

Would you accept the terms Palestinian and Israeli being used in the same way?

They are not 'acting white' they are acting like capitalists, it seems odd that you are claiming that this is alright because race and class are so interlinked, surely that means it is even more important to seperate the two, rather than make lazy, divisive and, as you have pretty much admitted, incorrect distinctions.

I don't see how using racially loaded words unnecessarily is going to achieve anything useful, I can see how looking at what these terms mean and how they are used could be very productive.

It is interesting to see how black capitalists imitate their white counterparts, but this is what the nouveaux riches do in most countries, whether the differences are social, racial etc.

Incidentally I do like the 50 Cent video where he celebrates his success by handing over ever larger sums of money to white people :)

I think the problem again is to grapple with why people talk about class in this way and see what it means. It indicates real differences, real divisions within the class, with a material basis in daily life and the composition of class relations.

I agree we shouldn't use this kind of analysis, as it is limited, but why are people using it? What does it express about how class gets racialized and how different 'races' experience this racializing, and therefore have a fundamentally different experience of class.

As for 50 Cent, fuck him and every other rich prick pimping a thug lifestyle into bourgeois cash flows. I have no respect for most hip hop any more than I respect retarded ass country music or lame pop. Hip hop is a brilliant marketing scheme, it ceased to be anything else years ago.

My problem with some of the comments is that assume that black capitalists are still existing at the whims of white folks. Part of the post-Black Power response of capital was the integration of the black elites into what was white institutions. The middle classes and upper classes are much more multi-cultural in some respects than the working class. Most black professionals work for "white" corporations, which simply was not the case prior to the 1970's.

The result is that there is finally class differentiation within the black population that is tearing at the former cross-class racial solidarity. "Successful" black people are largely forced to break with the mass of black people, even where they retain 'cultural' and 'habitual' linkages, esp those who worked their way out in this generation and thanks to the fact that many white people treat all black people as a homogeneous community, which is a fiction.

in the abscence of explicit class politics, I think that this class differentiation (which also makes black nationalism a much weaker force than previously) finds expression in terms of the breaking of racial ranks, of a kind of 'treason' to black people, but which is in fact a kind of class treason. But what can black elites do? They must function, as elites, in a culture dominated by whites. They can retain a 'blackness', but they still have to adopt the class mores and culture that is dominant. And even then, don't overdo it: there is a kind of black elite culture that exists as well, though somewhat marginal.

Ok, later.

Chris

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Apr 6 2006 15:43

Redtwister's post makes sense to me...

antrophe
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Apr 6 2006 17:01
John. wrote:
Hmmm I dunno, saying “in America even the capitalist blacks act ‘white’" seems pretty stupid. How do you "act white" anyway? Listen to Michael Bolton?

It does sound pretty odd, but there is some merit to the idea. In critical analysis of African American literature the internalisation of white culture has always been something that's been highlighted, wheter it be the conking of Malcolm X's hair as a young Harlemite which he discusses in his autobiography or the old black women in Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" who delivers a racist rant against neighbours with a darker skin pigmentation having taking on the dominant value system that suggests dark skin tones equate with criminal behaviour or laziness. Du Bois called it "double conciousness" and I'm sure you can easily raise critiques of people who benefited from positive discrimination and then pulled the ladder up behind them whatever view you have of the process's liberalism.