Really? People Are Still Like This in 2009?

I HATE U !, originally uploaded by A.J .. !!.

Ed. Note: I’m not relaying the following incident because I’m looking for an atta boy. I’m also not naive and realize that hateful people exist in the world. However, in my experiences I haven’t encountered incidents like the following in DC so I was totally shocked. I’m also going to quote some pretty hateful language but I feel it is necessary to get the point across.

On Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2:30 am I was chatting with a friend on her stoop in Mt. Pleasant. A neighbor of hers was walking by and decided to sit with us. A very good looking girl walked by a few minutes later and the neighbor escorted her home. Not long afterward two black men walked down the street. The neighbor looks over at me and says, “you see with the way she was dressed, I’m glad I walked her home with these niggers on the block”.

It was like I was punched in the face. I mean literally. I instantly had a huge adrenaline surge and all I could say was “we DON’T say that where I am from!” then we stared each other down for a few seconds in silence that felt like an hour. Believe me, I am not a macho person at all but I was fully prepared to get into an all out street brawl with this guy. I don’t really know what overcame me. I definitely am glad I didn’t let his comments slide but fighting is rarely an appropriate response. I think I was so upset in part because I have so many amazing black neighbors who I truly love and respect. It just killed me that they have to deal with an asshole like this living in our city.

So anyway, he goes on to say, “you don’t understand, I’ve lived on this block for 15 years” and I respond “We DON’T say that where I am from!” It was really odd, every time he spoke all I could say was “We DON’T say that where I am from!” it was like my brain totally froze and couldn’t produce any other words. He finally says, “I see that I have offended you”. And of course all I could say was “We DON’T say that where I am from!”. Fortunately no punches were thrown and he finally walks away. And I was left with my friend on her stoop nearly speechless.

Then I caught a cab ride home from an elderly black gentleman. All I could think about was that I can’t believe what this cab driver must have experienced in his life and that the racism that he surely experienced in the 50s/60s was still alive today. I believe that this Mt. P resident is a poison on our streets just like drug dealers are.

I hope whether it is racism or any other type of hate speech, if we hear people uttering it we will not let it slide and calmly explain that that type of language is unacceptable.

116 Comment

  • I was recently in the car with a friend of a friend on Rock Creek Church Road on our way to my house when the car behind us zoomed around us, passing us on a no-passing street and cutting us off. A dick move, definitely, but the friend of a friend’s response was, “I’m sorry, but that’s just a fucking nigger right there.”
    I had never in my life heard anyone I know say anything like this, and just stared at her, flabbergasted, before saying, “Excuse me?” – I literally felt ill. She then said, “Sorry, that’s my father talking.” My response to that was, “No. He’s not in the car. That was all you.”
    I’ve seen this person once since than and have barely been able to interact civilly with her. It totally appalled me.

  • yeah man, i hear you. thats just plain not right and would throw many of us for a loop.

  • You should have gone down to the “tea party” on the Mall Saturday…these ignorant SOBs are unfortunately abundant. The good thing is, they are scared as hell because they see a black man as president, a Hispanic supreme court justice, and another female sect of state just to name a few. Racism will never die, but they’ll be pushed further into the backwoods soon enough.

  • Well – this kind of hate speech is not acceptable. But, living in DC for 10 years, I have to admit that I can understand people that express themselves this way. You know, living in the ghetto changes your ideals and like it or not, most of the time people living in the city are surounded by number of people both good and bad but unfortunately, the majority of bad happen to be of certain race and for someone having to deal with crime, drugs, shootings on an ongoing basis, it is easy to make connection between the problems in community and race. I think, these folks are not racists, they just lower themselves to the level of people surrounding them and to say it nicely, these people dont bring the best out in the them.
    Most likely, this person doesn’t feel the same way about their neighbors that they know to be good people, but get robbed at gun point few times and you will understand why protecting someone who might be in denial, unaware or just plain stupid might become their mission during which they might not express the best in them.
    I think, its important understand why people feel this way as opposed to just judge those who have lost their sensitivity by living here. Trust me that most people willing to live surounded by the stuff we all have to deal with are very open minded and are not racists as we would not be able to live here. That doesn’t mean that we all push our limits and at times say things that we wouldn’t say had we lived in Georgetown but like it or not living in this part of DC changes your perspective on life, race and everything else. I guess, adjusting to your surroundings is very natural and that’s what I would call this example to be. Not saying its the right thing but whose to to judge.

  • Well, and where do you live? You are judging people in the Mount Pleasant living there for 15 years and you have to catch a cab and go home? Let me guess, Virginia? It is easy to judge someone else while heading home to your all white condo in NoVa or who knows where. You might not like what this person said but this person lives surounded by diversity which I assume you don’t and they are probably more open minded that you could ever imagine.

  • Stacy, I was assuming (perhaps wrongly?) that PoP was describing an incident that happened to him. He’s not a Virginia resident.

    Anyway, I feel you, letter writer (or PoP) with the not knowing what to say when you’re confronted with naked hate. Some people have made some extremely homophobic comments around me and I find myself just speechless…and then later I am kicking myself.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Christina, it was my experience. And I suspect that Stacy DC is a troll but I’m not 100% sure.

  • You should have asked the cab driver what he thought about members of the younger generation who perpetuate crimes, the likes of which claim innocent lives and such. I suspect his answer would have been the same as the scorn neighbor in question, though the neighbor may have wrongfully applied the epithet to harmless passersby.

    While not condoning the neighbor, without knowing his previous experiences it would be soft and naive to condemn him as a racist. Prejudiced perhaps, but not racist. Racism would be crossing the street to assault someone. Prejudiced is crossing the street to avoid them.

  • People say that on my block 7 days a week. I hear that word every single day. I find this post… I dunno… I’m a white person and naturally I don’t say it, but to get upset about it in DC where you simply have to hear it several times a day or on a block where someone will shout it once a day? I dunno. It’s wrong for white people to say it, but as far as I’m concerned, given that I hear it every single day? It’s not worth writing a column over anymore- not like it was in the 1970s or 80s. The word has lost it’s shock value for me. I get annoyed by it, but come on, I was at Adams Morgan Day today, I must have heard it four times that I’m aware of. take this kind of commentary to Fairfax county where it matters.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Neener I am truly stunned. This is the first time I’ve ever heard it in DC and it’s not like I sit in my house all day. @anon 12:31 I believe it is fair to say that anyone who uses the n-word in 2009 is a racist.

  • i remember the time a very-much-ex boyfriend dropped that word in the car while driving around Logan circle…directing it at some kids. my jaw dropped to the floor. it amazes me that people think that that is an okay word to use….white, black, whatever. i just don’t think it’s a good word and i don’t like to hear it come out of anybody’s mouth.

  • Neener, I don’t think it’s the *word* that is the issue (even though in PoP’s shocked state, I understand why he was fixating on it.) People say nigger a lot — way too much, in my opinion — but calling someone a nigger as a serious racial slur? Assuming that two random black guys would have assaulted one of your party guests just because they are black? I suspect that was what bothered PoP. And that’s quite a bit different from “what up my nigga!”

  • do you have black friends or neighbors who use it in front of you?

    I work with a guy who has used it when we were out to lunch and I FREAKED OUT because we were at work. But upon walking across the street to Adams Morgan Day a guy in the crowd turns and just says, “Terrell, My N, where have you BEEN N?”

    So… annoying? absolutely. column-worthy? I’m sure this will garner a lot of commentary.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Neener, Christina has it right. I think you know very well it has a different meaning. But Christina is right, it was the fact that it was used as a racial slur that floored me. And still does. And so do some of these comments. I almost feel like I’m in the twilight zone right now. I actually didn’t think this post would garner much commentary at all because I foolishly thought we’d all be on the same page with this one.

  • @Neener, I don’t know if you were talking to me or if we cross-posted. Again, I don’t think it is the word that is the issue so much as the whole situation, including the assumption that this woman needed protecting from the two men because those men were black.

  • Errr…oops. Sorry to be repetitive!

  • i am sorry this happened to you and it is always worth discussing. how the fff is it ok to say such hatefull stuff because you have lived somewhere for fifteen years? is there a probation period so after say eight years you can infer your ignorance out loud? leading up to the tenth anniversary, the gift you’ve been given is not paper or silver but the blessing of the block to spew the raw sewage that makes up your gray matter and your black corpse of a soul with impunity. yes our “village in the city”, come up for the latino festival and keep your ears open they’ll have to take you out on a gurney. i have heard this junk more here than any other neighborhood and i have lived in most of them..including petworth were i heard it the least. cant wait for the market to correct its self. ill be gone.

  • This is really sad. I agree with Christina that it’s not so much the sting of the word being used as it is the connotation associated with it in this instance. And yes, very different from the “n—a” slant of the word.

    As a black man living in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in DC, i find it funny how I draw different reactions from certain non-black folks in the community when I am wearing my work clothes (shirt + tie) versus my casual clothes. The other night, a couple coming home from a bar blatantly walked to the other side of the sidewalk across the street from me and started walking by faster as I was approaching.

    On one hand, I don’t blame them because it is possible they’ve experienced problems before or were trying to be cautious. But at the same time, it’s sad to know that my appearance is enough to put someone on alert.

  • Neener, you didn’t mention seeing any brawls at AM Day, so I assume what you heard was the “nigga” usage. As someone who lives in a neighborhood where “nigger” is said every day you of course know that the word has different meanings in different contexts, and that the person PoP encountered didn’t men it like the teenagers do. (Also, not to open another can of worms, but if you don’t think there’s a difference between intragroup use of a slur and intergroup use of a slur, then you are not part of a group that has a history of being a subject of slurs.)

    Col Heights Guy–I know what you are trying to say, but i’s not relevant to what shocked PoP. Of course the experiences one has in a given neighborhood can change one’s outlook. Nobody is shocked that racism and prejudice exist or unaware that they are informed by one’s experiences. The shocking thing is not that people can lose their “sensitivity,” it’s that _anyone_, even the desensitized, would still _allow_ that word to come through their filters and out of their mouths. There is no reason at all that the opinion/experiences and the usage need to be linked.

    I can’t quite believe this is a controversial topic either. “naturally I don’t say it, but…” “hate speech is unacceptable, but…” ??

  • People are taking the original poster to task?! The OP was shocked at blatant racism and, I’d think, that this guy assumed that he’d be “in” on his viewpoint. I hate when other whites assume I’m in agreement with them on crap like that. And yes, I set them straight.

    And I don’t care how many times you’ve heard black men call each other “nigga,” if you conflate that with what the OP wrote about, then you are spending time in proximity to black men but not actually with them. If you did, you’d get what an emotional suckerpunch the slur is. You’d also understand the racism isn’t limited to outlying counties or to past decades. Case in point, the posting defending this neighbor because of crime in the district. Sure, in this highly segregated city, most violent street crime is committed by young black men, but that doesn’t mean you assume every black man or teen coming your way is a threat. I can’t begin to imagine what that does to a boy’s or a man’s psyche.

    One thing that no one has mentioned. The neighbor said the woman needed protection from these guys because she was “dressed like that.” That’s the old “she asked for it” justification for rape. That was appalling!

  • I am a white guy from Texas living in DC. My cousin, who by the way worships Rush Limbaugh, says he’s glad he can carry a gun in his car so he can shoot the *&^&ers. I hate thinking about it. It sucks that white folk are so dumb they continue the horrible divides that split us all up. One reason I live in DC in fact is because I just don’t relate to the types of white folk who talk and think like that and I find the multiracial near-bliss of DC kinda nice.

    Having said that, I hear blacks around here calling each other niggas, and dumb ass nigga, all the freakin’ time. Have they really bought into the same poor word choices that so many detest? And given the extreme level of violence the entire community has to endure from a very large segment of the black community, it is no suprise really that hateful prejudices persist.

  • To the poster:

    Thank You. Just imagine how many times that person said something like that to another white person thinking it was ok. It is not easy to do what you did, but this person WILL CHANGE because of it.

    So again, Thank You

  • You know what bothers me more than hearing about a dumb white guy using such a vile word? That reverse racism persists. Where is the Congressional White Caucus? What if the white community really called out for more white owned radio stations? Why must I see photos of Malcolm X and Dr, King in the DC DMV, it makes me feel as a white guy like I am somehow separate and not part of the DC community. Seeing a black guy walk through the metro handing out concert invites, but only to the black riders. Do the blacks even know the effect their pride (and insular community) is having on their white neighbors?

    To make matters worse, it was a black guy who robbed my friend at gunpoint in DC. Oh yeah, it was a black guy that robbed my other friend at gunpoint in DC. It was a black guy that held a gun to my face in DC. It’s no wonder that some whites lash out in frustration at the seemingly endless….well you know……

  • I am glad you didn’t go by the mall on Saturday PoP. What some on those bastages had on their posters would have made u go buy a gun. Saturday made me ALMOST doubt the whole freedom of speech thing. Luckily I was able to wash those jerks right out of my hair and go to Adams Morgan Festival. Next week H street festival for some karoke. After that maybe I will be fully cleansed from all the racist a-holes on Saturday.

  • @ Wow:

    “One thing that no one has mentioned. The neighbor said the woman needed protection from these guys because she was “dressed like that.” That’s the old “she asked for it” justification for rape. That was appalling!”

    Thanks for saying that. There was something more about this story that was pulling at me, but I’m embarrassed to say that I couldn’t put my finger on it last night. My only excuse is that it was kind of late.

    @Still Waiting:

    I am assuming good faith on your part from your comments. I am sorry that pictures of Martin Luther King upset you. I hope you understand that his work was on behalf of humanity, not just black people. You should read a bit more about him.

    Also creations like the Congressional Black Caucus and the call for more black-owned radio stations and the like are the reactions of a racial group that has traditionally, and still is, shut out of the power structures that are primarily controlled by the majority culture (which in this country is white people, more specifically white males. There’s a Congressional Caucus for Women’s issues as well; are you equally troubled by that issue?)

    There’s a lot of black people around DC, but there’s still only about 12 percent black people in the country…take a car trip about an hour away from the city, and you won’t be assaulted by all that black “pride,” that’s for sure.

  • I think his anger is misplaced. I’m just as appalled by the level of crime in this city and by the apparent lack of consequences for offenders. However, it’s not appropriate to direct that anger at an entire race.

  • I grew up in a working class (poor), but integrated neighborhood in CA. Never had any issues with someone because of race, skin color, etc… But the longer I live in DC the more prejudiced I become.

    Yesterday, walking with my family, kids and all, some black fool sitting with his friends starts yelling about how whites, crackers, and Jews, are stealing his neighborhood and are motherf**kers, pussy, and on and on… This has happened several times as I walk in my neighborhood, all with different hecklers.

    F**k you! I’m Hispanic, my family never owned slaves, we never participated in Jim Crow, and last time I check we have a black president, but have never had a Hispanic. Get off your porch and get a job. While I don’t support the use of the word, I can feel it brew in me sometimes. I know it’s wrong, but damn I sick of the ignorant victim mentality and lack of any responsibility in the black community.

  • @Still Waiting:

    Speaking as a fellow white man, I think you’re nuts. It’s not a hardship being a white man in America, or in Washington DC. I’m sorry you feel left out when all the black folks are getting concert invites. Maybe you aren’t being invited because you look frightened of the scary black man handing them out?

    Also, the reason your friends keep getting victimized by black criminals is because you live in Washington, DC. Most of the poor people here are black. Criminals tend to be poor. Thus, crimes in DC are likely to be perpetrated by blacks. If you lived in a city with lots of poor whites, you’d be complaining about the white criminals. Except you couldn’t call them “white”, because that includes you, so you’d instead complain about the Irish, or the Russians, etc. Anything to make them “other”.

  • 1. Christina has made all the smart and cogent points re the use of the word.

    2. I think perhaps it wasn’t the blatent-ness of the racism that was shocking, but the automatic, thoughtless ease with which it was uttered. I remember feeling this shock when some new Nixon tapes were released recently and we hear the president of our country, in 1973 casually stating that bi-racial children should be aborted.

    “There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”

    3. Pop – I think your response was good. You weren’t attacking the racist, but you weren’t allowing his comment to go unchallanged.

    And for a lighter note on the subject – in one of the greatest trash movies – “Crank” – Jason Statham is tearing up a bathroom in a bar and smashing 6 or 8 thugs around and someone runs out and says something like that “white n***” is going crazy in there!

  • pop – thanks for posting this and speaking out. when confronted with overt racism, it’s easy to be shocked into saying nothing. yet, people who hold negative beliefs about an entire race/gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation based on the actions of some/one/none will never begin to see that they are part of the problem if they are not confronted. while i’m sure this didn’t happen, i’d like to think that this neighbor went home and wondered why you were so offended. if you were able to even make him think about this, it’s a small step forward.

    @still waiting – there is a congressional white caucus. it’s called the u.s. senate

  • I’d never use the word because coming from me it would certainly be taken as racist. But I certainly hear the word a lot around where I live. Most by African-Americans describing other african americans. I’ve heard it used in a familial salutation: “Hey nigga.” This is probably the most common form as other mentioned.

    However, I’ve hear it often as a way to describe an african-american who engages in boorish behavior. For example, most recently an african-american friend used the workd to describe a family that lets their children rule the roost (so to speak) because the adults have drug problems. This is similar to the comment made by Kalia’s roomate’s friend. Would this be racist?

    @Still Waiting: There is no such thing as reverse racism. Racism is racism. It goes neither forward nor back. It is what it is and, sadly, anyone can engage in it no matter what race you are.

  • now if only people didn’t think that about their neighbors, even if they are smart enough not to say it out loud.

    i don’t want to claim to be the most enlightened person. my question is, what lessons should i draw from stories told on THIS BLOG and elsewhere, frankly, about poor, generally black, teen males lacking morality and robbing, shooting, or frightening other people?

    Let’s be honest. It’s not “black people” that bother us. It’s not the guy who works with you, the lady who lives on your block, the dude serves you coffee at the cafe, or that guy you see out drinking at the bar. That was a stupid, fully racist generation ago.

    Among the white yuppie crowd, it’s the screwed-up teen males congregating at Petworth metro station or Columbia Heights corners doing nothing. The ones that are the protagonists of all of the PoP stories we agonize over. Are we not supposed to be bothered by these people? Is being scared/bothered by those people really the racism everybody rants about, or something else?

  • No question that using disparging names for a race is as wrong as using disparging names for a sex, religion, national origin, etc, etc. People who fail to realize that have missed a key step in their moral development.

    That said, the sad socio-economic and cultural reality in America is that physical appearance has a strong correlation with criminality. You can argue as to causes (role of “nature vs nurture”), but it is there. If you’re looking at a young white woman in business attire, you’re looking at someone who has a less than 0.1% chance of having done prison time. But take the average 18-24 year old black male, and he has a 10% chance of being in prison RIGHT NOW, and an over 30% lifetime chance of going to jail. Those are the nationwide averages.

    So, is it wrong to insult someone for their race? Absolutely. Is it wrong to be worried when you’re in a neighborhood that you can reasonably infer has a very high proportion of convicted criminals? Sadly, no.

    I wish we’d focus as more effort on fixing the root causes of these crime disparities (e.g. the epidemic of terrible or non-existent parenting) rather than the symptoms (racial insults).

  • Agree with all of the posters appalled by the utter racism. Christina – definitely agree with everything you said.

    I grew up in a very white area in PA, so a lot of people there had never even come into contact with a black person – 3 black students in my HS graduating class of >700. My parents had always taught me to treat everyone the same, as my mom’s dad wouldn’t allow her best friend (a black man) into their house when she was younger.

    My best friend growing up had this penchant for using the N word, and everytime she said it, it made me cringe. I never spoke up to her until I went to college. My freshman year roommate was a black girl, and we fast became best friends (to this day). I was able to talk to her and ask her all the questions about how racism has affected her, etc etc and quickly grew to realize that the racism in my “back home” best friend was never going to stop, and I needed to tell her exactly how I felt about her language. I met up with her (back home friend), and she once again used the N word, and I said “LAUREN STOP.” And she just looked at me and said “wow, Philly has really gotten to you with all of those N—s”. I couldn’t believe it. I told her how I felt about her blatant racism, asked her to stop spewing the hateful words around me, otherwise I could never see her again. She was kind of quiet for awhile, said “okay” and that was that. I tried to find out why she has the attitude she has, but I could never nail down a concrete answer; I’ve just attributed it to the fact that she has never lived outside of a dominantly white area. Unfortunately, I now wish I had spoken up when we were younger – maybe I could have gotten the racism out at a young age.

    Nowadays, I actually feel strange when I’m back home and there is absolutely no diversity in the area. It’s a discomforting feeling to be in a restaurant with _all_ white people, and I’m white!

    PoP, very glad you spoke up to this person. We might not be able to change people with just one interaction, but if enough people speak up to a racist person, maybe *maybe* something will trigger in their brain.

  • I also get heckled in my neighborhood, even though we have a fairly equal mix of white, black, and hispanic. I get the ‘cracker’ and the ‘white b—‘, and also ‘blondie’ and ‘barbie’.

    There’s work to do on both sides here, and probably we as individuals can only address it with the people that we have relationships with. I just wonder sometimes if there is real progress being made.

  • I have only been called the N word only once in my lifetime. Let me rephrase that. I have only been called the N word by a white person once in my lifetime. This may seem amazing considering that I am from Alabama.

    My mom raised me to believe that if you work hard and carry yourself in a respectful manner, only the hardened ignorant could hate you for long. I have found that to be true. You may not like me as a person. That is fine. But you can live around me without me disturbing your right to peace and enjoyment.

    There are some people that even “decent” black people consider to be the N word. So from that standpoint, I can say that people use the N word solely out of racism as much from a dislike or a hate for the way people infringe on the right to enjoy their quality of life.

    Many of the crimes that the young black males commit affect other black people directly and indirectly. If a black man robs a cab driver, guess who finds it hard to catch a cab. If a black person robs my coworker, well, guess who looks at me with suspicion in the office. And on and on it goes. If you don’t want people to judge you negatively, then much of it starts with how you comport yourself.

  • I think Andy is on to something.

    I would certainly not classify myself as a racist, I’ve dated a black woman, I have black friends, I have black co-workers, etc… I would never bar some from a job because of their color.

    But, I have an immense hatred of the thugs that roam our streets…

  • Interesting that many people on here use crimes by predominantly black criminals as an excuse for their racism (I’m looking at you Col Heights guy and Stacy DC). Because you’ve lived in DC for 10 years, you’re allowed be racist? Despite the bubble you live in, you have to recognize that this is a 75% black city. Just by average, and the lack of real development (not pushing black families out to make way for white families) in many neighborhoods, it’s not surprising that many of the criminals are black.

    I’ve lived here five years and I would never say something like that, because I wasn’t raised that way. There is no doubt that this city has problems with crime and gang violence. That is not a racial problem, it is a gang problem. There are A-holes in every race. There are also criminals in every race, largely due to the fact that these people were given very few opportunities in life. Funny that I found this post about 5 minutes after reading the Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed in the NY Times about the obvious racism that is festering in many Americans now that we have a black president.

    We have a black president, but apparently, rather than making us closer, the racists are coming out of the woodwork, fearful that their hateful ways are being threatened.

  • Sadly, it’s incidents like this that further my belief that rather than becoming more open-minded and enlighted, people are just learning to hide their racism better. A similar incident happened to me a few years back with a roommate who proudly announced that he was able to “jew him down” when negotiating a price for a car. I was as stunned as PoP was but, and I regret this, could not think of anything to say; I just felt my face flush and my breath stop and was completely mute. All I could think was, “I’m a minority. I wonder how this jerk refers to me behind my back.” I’m glad you responded to that guy’s comment PoP, and I hope I do the same if ever it happens to me again.

  • Here is an interesting article on “decent” black people and street blacks. You could just as easily replace “street” with the N word. Anyway, it was published int he Atlantic 15 years ago. But it is still relevant to this day. It goes a long way into understanding how/why the dichotomy of black people in the inner city.

  • Yesterday at adams morgan festival a friend of mine had ice thrown at him by a large group of black kids. All while saying things such as white boy, cracker. I for one would hope this liberal group would consider this a hate crime but since he was of the majority I doubt petworth readers would provide him with extra protection under the law.

    Enough of the white guilt I will feel better if I obsess about any racism in the white community. It occurs in every community but only do you or your progressive friends get up in arms when there are perceived white prejudicial behavior not black.

    For your reaction to such a commentto be “punching someone in the face” shows either you grew up in a very isolated area and truly belonged to the race sensitive training group in undergrad or you have literally no interaction with any race except in books were we instill preconceived notion that all black folk or underprivileged and all white folk are racist.

    Did you know petworth readers that in many circuit courts there are three components to prove that someone was treated inappropriately because of their race but a fourth and an heightened standard a more difficult standard for one race. Why are you not all up in arms and preaching about equality? Heres a perfect article about race in america.

  • Yes PoP, people are still like this. Always will be, though not necessarily in the greatest of numbers.

  • Yesterday at adams morgan festival a friend of mine had ice thrown at him by a large group of black kids. All while saying things such as white boy, cracker. I for one would hope this liberal group would consider this a hate crime but since he was of the majority I doubt petworth readers would provide him with extra protection under the law.

    Enough of the white guilt I will feel better if I obsess about any racism in the white community. It occurs in every community but only do you or your progressive friends get up in arms when there are perceived white prejudicial behavior not black.

    For your reaction to such a commentto be “punching someone in the face” shows either you grew up in a very isolated area and truly belonged to the race sensitive training group in undergrad or you have literally no interaction with any race except in books were we instill preconceived notion that all black folk or underprivileged and all white folk are racist.

    Did you know petworth readers that in many circuit courts there are three components to prove that someone was treated inappropriately because of their race but a fourth and an heightened standard a more difficult standard for one race. Why are you not all up in arms and preaching about equality? Heres a perfect article about race in america.

  • 10:33 – Way to troll and straw-man your way through a post buddy. PoP readers are not some kind of monolith of liberal views and white guilt, just read a crime thread and you will see that we come from everywhere, and represent every sort of view you could imagine. And if you want to try to adopt some kind of intellectual aloofness in your post, please take some time to clean things up and express yourself better.

    PoP- I am glad that you did what you did, and I wish more people behave like you when they are put in similar situations.

  • “you have to recognize that this is a 75% black city.”

    uh, you’ve not walked around much lately have you? not even close to 75%.

    people from other parts of America know that there are problems in white communities too. dc is weird because a lot of the white communities are more stable ( or seems so to me, but i dont really know..), but we talk about white trash and really we’re talking about similar problems. unhealthy lifestyles. crimes, drugs, violence, undereducation, over reproduction, poverty, crass behavior. its the same thing. i grew up in a mixed working class hood in the 70’s and my black neighbors called me white nigga. their notion was that because of our income and what surrounded us, we were all in trouble. thankfully i left, but those that didnt are in trouble. black, white, puerto rican, mullato, whatever. when you grow up surrounded by it, its hard as hell to break free, sometimes you dont even have the concept that its possible.

    put some over educated, international food desirin, “luxury home” lovin gentrification in the middle of appalachia and the same tensions would exist.

    oh, and if a big dude walks toward me on a quiet residential street at night, i’m crossing the street. especially if im with my wife. and yeah, how hes dressed makes a difference sometimes.
    theres a difference between street smarts and bigotry, if if it feels offensive. and if theres a chick walking toward me, i’ll cross the street too sometimes so i dont put fear in her heart, because i’m a big dude and sometimes dress like a thug.

  • Interesting that many people on here use crimes by predominantly black criminals as an excuse for their racism (I’m looking at you Col Heights guy and Stacy DC). Because you’ve lived in DC for 10 years, you’re allowed be racist? Despite the bubble you live in, you have to recognize that this is a 75% black city. Just by average, and the lack of real development (not pushing black families out to make way for white families) in many neighborhoods, it’s not surprising that many of the criminals are black.

    It’s a toxic mix of racial and class differences.

    The chances of being a victim of random street violence by a middle-class black man or woman in this city is the same an attack by a middle-class white man or woman. Practically nil.

    The chances of being victimized by a young black male in this city is close to 1:1. As the commenter upthread observed, when he wears his work clothes (suit & tie) folks treat him differently than when he wears casual clothes. That sucks, but it’s because passerby are trying to determine whether he’s poor. If he is, that is what predominately makes him a threat–not the color of his skin.

    Let’s face it, not many white DC residents are going to be too freaked out if you drop them in the middle of Howard Homecoming, or the CBC Inaugural Ball. Drop them in one of the city’s hellish housing projects, though, and the story changes quickly.

    Having said that, drop one of our black middle-class neighbors in the same projects and *they’re* none to happy either. What sucks is that threat-identification is an inexact science, and that there’s collateral damage to a *lot* of folks who don’t deserve it.

    BTW, your “pushing black families out to make way for white families” feeds into the same damaging stereotypes and tries to have it both ways. You seem incapable of considering “black families” as anything but poor. My black middle-class neighbors–some of whom moved in recently, others who have been around for a long time–are every bit as happy about the decrease in violence over the last two decades.

  • OUTRAGEOUS! Was the guy wearing a hood too? It must of been hard keeping your composure… In any case, race relations have always been contentious here and it seems like that hasn’t changed. People – Black, white, Latino, Gay, Straight need to just be civil in public. Even though a lot of people have grievances (or perceived), it would be nice if they could separate the actions of some people and the group they people to.

    If someone once was an asshole to you – be angry with that individual – not the group they are part of. While some might argue that it is useful to look at people as member of their groups, it is really much more destructive then any benefit we might get out of it.


  • Ah to dismiss a post by stating on should clean things up or its a straw man argument. Why should I care where you come from if we are to talk about the style of ones argument.

    So am I do accept your premise that if we come from different backgrounds all views on race are expressed. I would hope centzon you are not suggesting I accept such a garbage premise? But I assume you are. Unfortunate.

    This took place at HOWARD LAW.

  • The chances of being victimized by a young black male in this city is close to 1:

    Obviously I meant to say “If vicitimzed, the chances of the attacker being a poor young black male in this city is close to 1:1.” It goes without saying that the vast, vast majority of poor young black men here are actually good kids, just trying to get by. They’re the ones who suffer most from the whole dynamic.

  • The last word. Check it out – Richard Pryor and George Carlin on the subject:

    To wrap up, it ain’t the word, it’s the context. Though, it seems to me a cheap use of language.

  • People in D.C. are willing to give young black men a lot of leeway with respect to their biases against gays, whites and the following the law. 400 years of slavery doesn’t explain why Robert Hanna had to beat a gay man to death for making a pass at him or why he has literally gotten away with murder. When it comes to this white dude in Mt. Pleasant there is not a lot of interest in the whys and wherefores behind his opinion. There is only an interest in telling him off or punching him in the face. Nice to see we have equality.

  • despite all the debate going on here… i really do think most of us agree that it is totally unacceptable for a white person to use the N word in any circumstance.

    *now back to your regularly scheduled race debates*

  • 11:10- My first point stands- take a couple of minutes before you post and I actually might understand what you are trying to say.

    My premise is that PoP readers come from everywhere, and people that read this blog hold just about any view under the sun. Whether I agree with a particular view or not is another matter.

    BTW- Kudos for finding video of someone with radical views on the web though. Do you want a cookie? Or do you prefer a PoPsicle?

  • anon, 11:20.

    leeway? not really. dude that beat robert hanna to death should be executed by my take. you beat a man to death, you deserve death.boom.

    i’m hard on punishment for those that commit violent crimes.
    but, that doesnt mean its correct to judge a race. so yeah, nearly all of us are offended by “nigger” but we’re all far more offended by murder.

  • As abhorrant as any racial slur may be, I’d be more alarmed at the context in which this person employed such language. I think this poster was offended at the assumption that he shared the sentiments behind such vulgar language. For a white person, this word carries none of the historical burden that it does for people of color. It’s socially unacceptable, politically incorrect, and just wrong.

    It’s really telling to me that the perpetrator shared this exchange from a distance with a person viewed as non-threatening. It also says a lot that he wouldn’t dream of confronting the two random strangers he to share this kind of vitriol.

  • For a white person, this word carries none of the historical burden that it does for people of color.

    Hmm. Not sure I’d take it that far. I don’t consider myself exceptionally sensitive generally in racial matters. But when I hear that word–especially in that casual context–I think of Emmet Till in an open casket. Or this.

    It’s quite literally nauseating.

  • It is truly troubling to read these comments and the rationalizations behind many of them. I hate crime and criminals, yet have found in my heart the ability to forgive the mostly white thugs who have nearly wiped out my net worth over the past two years by their venal acts.And I’ve avoided using terms like…well, interesting that there aren’t similar terms to disparage white sociopaths. Oh, those aren’t the “criminals” being discussed? And Still Waiting: there is a Congressional White Caucus- it’s the other 500 odd members, who like many other majority affinity groups ( like the AMA and ABA, which barred black doctors and lawyers from membership for years, thereby forcing them to form their own groups) don’t have to shout their separateness. Columbia Heights Dude, the Hispanic who is tired of the “victim mentality and lack of responsibility in the black community”, be careful- there are lots of people who would agree with that sentiment, but only when you replace “black” with “Hispanic” Will such prejudice be as acceptable then?. Oh, and Buck Turgidson: wherever you got your half baked statistics from, don’t even begin to talk about who commits crime and goes to prison without at least acknkowledging the disparities in charging and sentencing based on race, and the tendency to penalize white collar and white committed crimes much less frequently than what you and others here think is the only “real” crime- that committed by blacks.

    Sure, blacks can be guilty of racism, too- I am offended by the behavior of young teens on the streets and in certain neighborhoods towards whites- but that behavior doesn’t justify dehumanizing them by finding it to be ok to call them niggers. And despite the sentiments of some of the writers, blacks don’t have a lock on antisocial behavior. Nor do whites, or any other group. It all should be condemned.

    It’s been said here, many times, and by several whites (kudos to them for getting the joke): it is never all right for a member of another ethnic group to use racially disparaging names. Nor is it alright to generalize ones limited, negative experience with a group to disparage or condemn the entire group. P of P is to be complimented for speaking up; clearly, this was a guy who had become comfortable using the term probably because he had done it many times before with impunity.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Ed. Note: Just to clear things up this incident happened to me. If a reader sends in an experience/question I always start the post “Dear PoP”.

  • The only thing worse than the hate speech are the apologists offering alleged context for the hate speech.

  • Reading through the entire thread it’s sad that so much of the hatred for violent street criminals who are identified (by most posters on this post) as black has resulted in intense racial feelings.

    People just have to not succumb to this by being intellectually lazy. Hate isn’t a good thing, but if you’re going to hate – than hate the group of people that commit violent acts – not a lazy classification of poor or black.

    It helps if we reflect on the fact that yes, maybe if your robbed in Petworth there’s a 90+% chance the person was a poor minority (black or less likely Hispanic).

    BUT if you look at all poor minorities (Black and Hispanic) only 1% (or less?) commit these crimes!!!!! THIS IS SUPPER IMPORTANT – – – THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE! So hate the action not the person and the world will be a much better place.

  • Yikes. I just saw Still Waiting’s original comment. What an idiot. If you honestly think there should be a Congressional White Caucus then you are part of the problem. Black power and White Power are not the same thing. The former is about tearing down the barriers confronting an oppressed minority. The latter is about keeping those barriers up. If you honestly can’t see the distinction, then get the hell out of DC. We don’t need you.

  • @Joel Lawson

    If you’re referring to my comment, please read it again… it’s not even remotely apologist. The simple act of using a single word is not the end all be all of its meaning. This is supported by the undisputed fact that the word itself has common currency among African Americans.

    Especially the part where I said “It’s socially unacceptable, politically incorrect, and just wrong.” The person obviously stood behind the statement and sentiment as well …that’s my point… But please, let your PC indignation flow freely.

  • It is important that we discourage any use of racially charged or racially inappropriate behavior. We must begin to address the stereotypes that have persisted since our parents era. Those that read this blog are in large part the children of the baby boomers. We have an obligation to curtail the use of stereotypes that white individuals are inherently privileged and black communities are continuously taken advantage of by rich white powers that be. I am not asking to not act like these events do not.

    However we have addressed race with the same argument for decades and it is time to modernize the civil rights movement to understand that being disadvantaged is not solely based on the color of one’s skin but rather where one is raised and the wealth they inherit. We must build a working coalition between the mother from the hills of Ohio and the grandmother from Detroit. Both have no afterschool programs, an AP class is assumed a spelling class and each know of a girl 6 months from child birth 12 months from graduation. Until then we will continue down a path towards continued racial inequality and racial segregation because we refused to modernize how we address race and class in America. We will then bear some responsibility for our nations inability to move forward in a more harmonious racial future.

  • Amen Ohio Player!

  • It is truly troubling to read these comments and the rationalizations behind many of them. I hate crime and criminals, yet have found in my heart the ability to forgive the mostly white thugs who have nearly wiped out my net worth over the past two years by their venal acts.And I’ve avoided using terms like…well, interesting that there aren’t similar terms to disparage white sociopaths. Oh, those aren’t the “criminals” being discussed?

    Let me guess: You’ve never had your wife beaten by violent street criminals for a couple of bucks and a cell phone, have you? Because there’s just not any comparison.

    Street thugs!?! You want to talk about criminal? Have you seen what the movie theaters are charging these days for a bag of popcorn? Now THAT’S criminal!!1

  • Silence begets ignorance, so kudos to PoP on this one. Now if he’d just do something about those awful Kappa track tops he wears (causing visual pollution) we might be getting somewhere. 😉

    Mike: While I understand your sentiment, it cheapens your otherwise important point to continue common misunderstandings about white collar crime. While we all wish that Congress had not specifically opted out certain derivative commodities from regulatory oversight, they did. Send a letter to your Congressmen. While we all wish that the auditors and board members of banks and other institutions had asked at least a few questions about risky bets, they didn’t. Vote for a new slate of board members.

    It’s easy to equate this “thuggish” behavior to other “crime” but for the fact that it was not against the law. That is a slight difference. While it’s convenient to equate the “thugs” on Wall St. to the “thugs” stealing purses on 14th St., it’s not that elegant. You and I may not like what Congress did (or didn’t do) nor think that the AIG traders should keep their bonuses, but it hardly makes it a crime in any sense of the word.

    And while “white collar” criminals are a convenient whipping horse I suggest you actually look at the average sentences for people actually convicted of federal fraud, tax, and money laundering crimes. Real fraudsters get real prison. While it’s been excepted conventional wisdom for a long time that fraudsters get a “slap on the wrist” and time at Club Fed, the reality is that these sentences are quite stiff, especially after Sarbanes Oxley. One count of wire or mail fraud can get you up to 30 years (with no parole or “good time”) in federal prison. 30 years. That’s more than almost any offense save terrorism or murder under federal law.

    Wire fraud is as simple as me picking up the telephone on my desk and calling across town “in furtherance” of any fraud. If that fraud involves enough money I can spend my life in prison for that phone call. Fraud that can land you in jail can include “theft of honest services” which means, basically, not performing your duties as an employee in a way that the federal prosecutor thinks is kosher. Ask Lord Black about this (although, the Supreme Court is going to look at this next session). Ask Jeff Skilling or Bernie Madoff about their sentences. It’s not pretty for some of these defendants.

    Does racial disparity exist in criminal law? Sure. Issues like the 100:1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine impact black defendants unfairly. Everyone has known this for years and now even the Department of Justice admits it. However, Congress has yet to change the law and they are scared to do it (soft on crime, you know). Mandatory minimums are created by politicians to please the public, not prosecutors.

    Ultimately there is little that can be done simply within the justice system about the fact that certain crimes or crime in certain jurisdictions is committed by mostly black defendants. It’s like saying that prosecutors are biased against men since they make up nearly 80% of all offenders. Why aren’t they sending more women to jail?? Unfair!

    You seem to be suggesting that there is much more “white collar” crime going on unpunished – how so? If you happen to know of such crimes I can put you in touch with the DC U.S. Atty’s Office or the Fraud Section of DOJ. If you don’t think they want to prosecute such crimes you’re crazy. After all, they just got a big bunch of money from Congress to hire prosecutors and FBI agents to focus strictly on prosecuting more fraud cases. Problem is, there just isn’t much fraud that has been uncovered in the financial meltdown, just a lot of bad bets. No matter how much we like to hate the AIG traders, and no matter how many contractual and legal principals we are willing to breach to get our satisfaction by stripping their bonuses, there is no “crime” there. And frankly, where was everyone before this all happened? Where was the public outcry when Phil Gramm and his cohorts (like Bill Clinton) killed Glass-Steagall and created vast unregulated commodity markets (i.e. betting salons)??

    Oh yeah, everyone was counting the money they were making on their 401K’s.

    I’m just saying a lot of this is sour grapes and somphmoric. Most people would have been happy to turn over every spare dollar to these traders when they were “winning” and it’s only when the horse stumbles and throws the jockey that you all want to bring out the shotgun and equate them to purse snatchers. Remember, it’s not wise to generalize an entire group of people just because of the occasional Bernie Madoff.

    Sorry, but this is one topic that just gets me riled.

  • @odentex

    you rant, but every word was worth reading.

  • Consciousness of race has been ingrained in me from when I was young, by both my white and black peers. We are reminded all the time to remember the history of race relations when looking at the broader socio-economic troubles in the city: gentrification, unequal access to jobs, poor education. Then, we are also asked to suspend racial consciousness when it comes to the results of some of those activities, such as crime etc. Because I’m being reminded to remain ever conscious of race in some instances, sometimes I find it hard to keep race out of my thoughts in other instances. I am certainly trying, though, but I can really see why these competing, nuanced messages sometimes gets people confused.

    I’m also disappointed that I don’t feel like I can openly have an honest discussion about race relations without risking being called a racist myself or worse. I also feel that any effort to move the discussion to one of socio-economic problems (as Ohio Player suggested) seems to insult civil rights activists and bring the red-baiters (like the Obamunism sign I saw this weekend) to the fore of the discussion, which has the effect of chilling open discussion.

    Maybe I should have saved this for the rant/revel section.

  • “If you don’t want people to judge you negatively, then much of it starts with how you comport yourself.”
    Yeah, it’s the fault of those two black guys for having the temerity for walking down the street withing minutes of an attractive blond girl passing by. They were probably checking her out too, since given “the way she was dressed” she was just begging for male attention. How dare they? Haven’t they heard of Emmitt Till?
    And the black male professional who gets suspicious looks walking around his own neighborhood. Doesn’t he know he ought to be wearing a coat and tie everytime he leaves his house so as to not make his white neighbors afraid?
    My mother wanted to be a nurse in the 1940’s and when she went to enroll in a school in New York City was told that they did not acept blacks. Somehow, despite being confronted with some racist white people, she did not come to believe that EVERY white person was a racist.
    I don’t care whether your cousin’s next door neighbor’s neice was robbed by a black person. That doesn’t make every black person a robber.
    I don’t care whether a group of black teenagers loiter at the Petworth Metro Station and harrass people (and it’s the same faces day in and day out). That doesn’t make every black teenager a bad actor.
    I often cringe at the language some of these kids use to refer to themselves and others. And part of the reason I cringe is because I know that their actions are used as justification for all kinds of racist beliefs. So I do blame these kids (and their parents for not teaching them better) for making it tough on the majority of black people who are doing the right thing. But I also blame those people who unfairly sterotype an entire race based upon the actions of a few bad apples.

  • As a black man who have been mugged by black teens in the past I am with you… I hate the criminals. But I know they only want my money. If they gotten the love and care that you and I probably received growing up, they would be good citizens as well. On the other hand there are many states in this country I probably will never go in fear of being attacked for being black. I doubt that is the case for any white person so count your blessings that you can go anywhere in this country without fear of being attacked for being white.

  • Wow, I’m surprised at how much confusion there is in this post. I am really frustrated by this.

    There is just one word and one pronunciation of the word and any claims of multiple meanings of the word are a cop-out. When someone who wants to tell me, as a white person that they are educated and not part of street culture, and they use the word against their fellow man and they use it negatively, does anyone see a difference?

    I don’t see a difference anymore. I might have when the only black friends I had were high school or college students like myself, but when I got to know teenage drop-outs, 90 year old widows and 55 year old working class baby boomers and 40 year old African-American lawyers, well… anyone thinking the issue is cut and dried or thinking that language and words hold an incredible meaning… well… I just don’t feel like I did when I first moved here.

    As one 60 year old white guy told me about 10 years ago, “Sorry! I lived with a black woman for 15 years and I picked it up.”

  • Anonymous @ 1:24, Reginald Denny might disagree with your last sentence.

  • I doubt that is the case for any white person so count your blessings that you can go anywhere in this country without fear of being attacked for being white.

    Watch any 1970s cop show like Kojak for countless stories about areas where white people dare not go for fear of getting beat up for being white. It’s less true now than before, but almost all my relatives have stories of black cops pulling them over in South Chicago or Watts or Anacostia and being told to turn their cars around. Part of the reason I wanted to move to DC was to fight against this idea of forced segregation. I’m stunned that you never heard of this though because the “white people in the wrong neighborhood” is an old old story.

  • @Neener

    It doesn’t sound like anyone is confusing or disputing the use of the word in this instance.


    I know you intend to have an honest discussion on race, but the whole thing is just too white liberal guilt. I can think of many better examples of damaging systemic institutionalized racism than an offhand comment by some a@!hole to a blogger

  • I haven’t read the whole thread, but where I grew up in Virginia, the n-word was as common as could be. I remember my classmates in junior high and high school using the word to refer to black folks with comfort and ease and no sense that they were doing anything wrong. The times I called them out on it, they would explain the difference to me between good black folks that they referred to as “black” and the bad black folks they referred to as the n-word, just as they called good white folks white and the bad ones “white trash”. I suggested that they just call bad people of any race “assholes” and not make race distinctions, but they didn’t like that idea. This country is full of racists. Always has been, perhaps it always will be. If people here of all races understood that they are united and/or divided by economic class more than anything else, we’d have some progress.

  • I didn’t read Ohio Player’s comment until now, but he or she is right on the money, pun intended.

  • Odentex- if you can imagine a world of highly compensated, educated black males who engaged in the acts of the last couple of years in the financial markets, how long do you think it would take before we criminalized that activity? You’re right-we shouldn’t stigmatize Wall Street for the actions of a few. Black males deserve the same treatment.

    Oboe- sorry, you’re wrong. My dad was robbed, not my wife. It was white guys.

  • @voiceofreason – agree that race distinctions shouldn’t be made – there are terrible people in _every_ race. Stupidity abounds, and knows not color.

  • Wow – what a post. I’d like to make two comments:

    On the “n” word – of course we hear this all the time in DC, particularly during Spring and Fall when the air conditioning/heat is off and the windows are open – mainly through piss-poor hip hop being blared out of a car. That black people use the term with each other does not, in any way, make what POP experienced any better. I do wish that black people would not use that word so much, but given the number of times I called someone a “faggot,” “fag” or “fairy” while at the DC Eagle (a gay bar, btw) just last Saturday night, I really have no means to criticize. There is certainly a double standard in that members of minority groups get to use the words that repress us, but others cannot.

    On the idea that somehow the large number of black criminals in this city can justify racism – please! Take a look at the movie “Gangs of New York,” and you can see the lawlessness and criminality of my own Irish ancestors in 1860 New York. When you limit the possibilities of any minority and restrict them to urban ghettos, a completely predictible rise in crime and lawlessness happens. It is not a black problem, or a Chicano problem, or even an Irish problem – it is a human problem.

    Like many of you, in the last 20 years I have been the victim of black-on-white crime in DC. The first experience was a stick-up in 1990 by a man who was clearly a crack addict. I actually had some sympathy for him (after it was all over and he was in jail). He was desperate and at no point did I ever really consider myself at risk of harm (quite frankly he was shaking so much I doubt he could have fired the gun – if it were real, I never knew). The second time was in 2004, one block from the GA Ave/Petworth, when two teenage thugs who sucker-punched me in the face with a brick, whether because I was white, gay or just because they thought I had money I can never know. They have never been caught.

    I was urged by many people, including a number of highly-educated black colleagues, to move out of DC after that attack, and plenty of people referred to my attackers as “niggers,” and used their race to negatively stereotype all black people. But here’s the thing, why should I use the actions of these two thugs to judge all black people? Isn’t it far better to use the actions of those who came to my assistance – including the former Army medic, his elderly neighbor who called the police, and the EMT who treated me (and accepted my response of “the wrong f*cking guy” to his question of “who’s the President?” as totally lucid) – all of whom were black?

    It is too easy in our society to judge groups to which we don’t appear to belong. We should fight that wherever we can to truly live out MLK Jr’s dream – to have all of us judged on the content of our characters, and the actions we take to negatively or positively impact our communities.

  • Oh, and if I may add – During each of those crime instances I never felt the fear I did when I was the victim of a white criminal, namely my cousin’s ex-husband, who stalked her for years after their divorce. Trust me, I’d rather be held up by a crack addict than deal with the guy who stole the keys to my parents’ house and then threatened to kill all of my family while we slept.

  • Anon 1:24, really that is your best example?
    The event of Reginald Denny happened, because of Rodney King beating. I am not condoning anything here, just saying some felt neglected by the law and wanted to act on it and Reginald happen to be the innocent bystanders.
    I don’t even want to think about what would happen to a black man who happen to be in the middle of a group of white people who might have felt neglected by the law as the blacks did in that sad day.

    Neener, at least the black cops were telling your relatives to turn back to avoid conflict.

  • @5street.

    OK, so I exaggerated a little. I just looked at the 2008 Census. Our city is 54% black. I had recently heard it stated that it was over 70%. Perhaps that statement included some nearby areas.


    I have no idea how you got from my post that I am only capable of picturing most D.C. black families as poor. The only point I was trying to make was that there are many poor black families in this city, living in projects, where there are very few opportunities and thus, create a disproportionate percentage of the city’s criminals. That is not an excuse to be racist.

    As to my point about gentrification, I realize that many middle class black families in this city do not mind gentrification and we see great new communities springing up where all races are living together happily in much improved neighborhoods. But too often, condo developers and others move into neighborhoods and push out the people that have lived there for years.

    I recently had a conversation with a black family that lives near Wonderland. They have lived there for more than 20 years. I asked them if they minded the gentrification. They said no, they enjoyed the revitalization, but that it is often done without including the members of the community. That is a serious problem. I believe that much of the crime—and as we see from the comments on here crime=racism—is a result of people of any race not having opportunities in life and instead turning to gangs. Many studies (broken windows, etc) have shown that improving surroundings can help to improve quality of life. But that requires offering opportunities in that improvement.

    In New Orleans, there has been great success with a school that has taught some of the lower 9th ward teenagers (former gangbangers) to become chefs, how to run a restaurant, etc. That has provided those gang members with a new life, while providing a rebuilding neighborhood with a great restaurant. That’s involving the community and creating opportunity.

    My real point is, don’t just see crime and become a disgusting bigot. See crime and choose to change it so everybody is safer.

  • Oboe- sorry, you’re wrong. My dad was robbed, not my wife. It was white guys.

    Holy Cow! It’s like an episode of the Twilight Zone!

    My original point stands. If you think there’s really any kind of equivalence between insufficiently regulated investment bankers and the group of assholes (black or white) who administered a physical beat-down of your father so they could steal the $10 out of his wallet, then you’re a sociopath.

    Or were you just grandstanding?

  • oboe: It’s sort of ironic that in much the same way the Mt. Pleasant racist felt comfortable spewing all kinds of ignorance at PoP, people like Mike feel comfortable assigning moral (or, or even more laughably, legal) equivalence to what mostly amounted to herd behavior in a bubble market.

    In Mike’s bizarro world the degraded human who thinks nothing of hitting people over the head with a brick for fun or money is roughly the same morally and “criminally” as the trader who wants to keep the bonus he contractually earned after working 80 hour weeks for several years, paying his taxes, and serving out his professional writ – betting on the market.

    Both situations arise out of a mistake of context. The Mt. P. racist’s social acuity seems to be non-existent (did he think he was at a Heritage Foundation dinner?), and Mike sure likes the idea of rich white people on “Wall St.” (most OTC trading isn’t in NYC, btw) being crooks, but he clearly doesn’t even understand the first thing about what happened to all that money and misjudged that everyone reading was equally clueless.

    Certainly context is also important since the Mt. P. racist’s opinions have probably been influenced by a particular type of upbringing or maybe even bad experiences with blacks, just as Mike’s irrational hatred of Whitey McMoneybags stems from what he described himself as “white thugs who have nearly wiped out [his] net worth.” Both can’t seem to see logic through the haze of anger and ignorance.

  • Jay’o says: “BUT if you look at all poor minorities (Black and Hispanic) only 1% (or less?) commit these crimes!!!!! THIS IS SUPPER IMPORTANT – – – THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE! So hate the action not the person and the world will be a much better place”

    Unfortunately this is not true. Google “black men criminal justice system” (see below). I do not know the politics of any of the organizations behind these reports but it is clear that 1% is way off. I almost hate to put this up here because I am sure that the ugly people out there will take this the wrong way and say look, yeah, they ARE all criminals. The are not. Many, many black men are imprisoned or involved in the criminal justice system for drug-related crimes. It’s well documented that minorities receive harsher sentences on average for the same crimes as whites (see the last link), and if you think that there aren’t tens of millions of well-to-do white folks smoking weed and doing blow and getting away with it YOU are smoking crack.

    But people should understand how serious the problem of drugs and crime is in the inner-city culture in this country. Yes, poor white people commit crimes too, but a far greater percentage of minorities live in poverty. The culture is separate and distinct. You can try to take race out of the equation – because it’s the culture that matters – but there’s still a very strong correlation between race and culture.

    “Nearly fifty percent of black males between the ages of 18-35 in the District of Columbia are under Criminal Justice supervision according to a study by the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) (Eric R. Lotke, “Hobbling a Generation,” National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, August 1997; Cheryl Thompson, “Washington D.C., Young Blacks Entangled in Legal System,” Washington Post, August 26, 1997, p. B1).”

    “The new study, “Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later,” found that an estimated 827,440, or 32.2 percent, of Black men in their 20s are now under criminal justice supervision, at an estimated cost of $6 billion a year.”

    “After a decade in which both the drug trade and police sweeps expanded with similar zeal, 42 percent of the black men in the District of Columbia, aged 18 through 35, were enmeshed in the criminal justice system on any given day last year, according to a study made public Friday. ”

    “According to the report, African American youth make up 30 percent of youth arrested while they represent only 17 percent of the overall youth population. Additionally, African American youth are 62 percent of the youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system and are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence, the report revealed.”

  • “Well – this kind of hate speech is not acceptable. But, living in DC for 10 years, I have to admit that I can understand people that express themselves this way. You know, living in the ghetto changes your ideals”
    ‘Living in the Ghetto” Seriously is he for real?? Is this Good Times? – If people REALLY felt that unsafe in Columbia Heights, Petworth, Ledroit Park (or whatever ‘multicultural area’ you would just move out.) PoP may have come off as a little ‘holier than thou’ but he did the right thing. This guy refers to random Black guys as niggers and he gets a pass because there is crime in DC? If someone uses a slur going forward call them on it do not let them think it is acceptable.

  • Typical PoP comment on race –
    Poster offers up a position on race
    Poster supports with personal experience good or bad

    Then provides:

    Here is a perfect article about race in America / DC = Supports my position
    Here is a perfect video about race in America / DC = Supports my position
    Here is a perfect statistic about race in America / DC = Supports my position

  • I cannot believe some of the crap being spewed on this post. I have lived in DC for 6 years, and am now a teacher in DC Public Schools. Guess what, living here has made me LESS racist because of all the wonderful folks I’ve met, children and parents, who are mostly African-American, and are some of the best folks I’ve ever met.

    I can’t believe anyone, in this day and age, thinks that crime by someone of a similar race makes it OK to use racist language. Sick.

  • Random thoughts –
    White people feel like black people are part of the landscape in their ‘urban adventures’ and to those people black people only exist in context. A white person could see their black neighbor everyday in the hallway of their building but if they saw them any place else in the world they would not recognize them (as they are out of context)

    Black residents view white people as invaders, people who want to upset there way of life and eventually displace them. Black people will give a pass to the neighborhood drug dealer but they would have a problem with a white neighbor parking in front of their house.
    People are individuals period.

    The Tea Party crowd – White people are that scared of the government? Do they realize they control like 90% of the wealth in this country. Those people scare me. They are a couple of cases of beer and a rope from being a lynch mob.

  • Not that it matters what I think, but I cringed when this was posted last night because I had an vision in my mind for how nuts this kind of discussion could get. I think it’s been much more thoughtful and far less trolly than I was fearing.

    We’re all awesome! 🙂

  • If you think living in DC is making you hate minorities, go out to West Virginia for awhile, and on your way back, take a ride through Takoma. You don’t even have to go to West Virginia really, just watch a town hall meeting.

    That will remind you that there are a lot of white people out there have some serious problems, while a lot of black people really have it together.

  • I think what people tend to forget here is that we are allowed to have problems with culture and subculture. It’s not protected.

    There are songs that I’ve heard coming from cars about “b*tches” and “hos” and anti female lyrics. Songs that I’ve heard where the protagonist robs people or sells drugs.

    That comes from a CULTURE that glorifies violence and depravity.

    You are allowed to hate bikers and the klan. It’s ok because they are terrible people. They believe in a terrible, hateful culture.

    There are parts of that culture that encourage violence toward white people specifically and Asians specifically, etc. I know because I used to think the anti-Asian hip hop was funny.

    You are allowed to hate violent hip hop, baggy trousers, and mugging. It is part of a subculture in DC. You’re allowed to look at how someone’s dressed and be afraid of them and walk to the other side of the road.

  • I’m not sure that people are “forgetting” that, Anon 9:15; I’m just not sure what you’re saying relates to the original story about calling black people niggers. I’m “allowed” to hate the Klan, I guess (by what you’re saying here) but I’m not “allowed” to hate all white people because some white people are in the Klan. Right?

    (And maybe this has been somewhat forgotten: those guys hadn’t DONE anything. They aren’t the guys who mugged someone’s wife, they aren’t the guys who had stolen someone’s car, they aren’t the guys who threw ice on someone at A-M day. As far as we know, they were just guys walking down the street. I don’t think doing bad things means that you should be called racial slurs, but even if it did — in this case, there were no bad things that are even alleged to have occurred.)

    Also, I don’t understand why we’re “allowed” to hate bikers. What do bikers do? The same with baggy trousers. What do people who wear baggy trousers do? Besides look ridiculous, of course.

    I’m not trying to be stupid here; I just don’t understand the connection between disliking the bad things that some people do, as you suggest, and racial slurs. Unless you’re suggesting that all bikers or all people who wear certain types of clothing are worthy of hate, and I don’t know if I can follow you down that path.

  • Christina has it right people are individuals give them a chance, but don’t be a fool. No slurs / no stereotypes.

    Christina I wear baggy trousers and I am pretty damn awesome. People look ridiculous in skinny jeans!

  • Few people today in 2009 really have it all together.

    Hate speech has no place in modern civilized society whether in literature or the spoken word, urban or rural, young or old, black or white.

    But why is it that the same ire and indignation is not given to the sullen deplorable public behavior tolerated in our city today as this one racial slur ?

    Duke Ellington was brought up in a solid middle class family in LeDroit Park.

    Since before he was born in 1899, Washington has had a prominent African American population, a population that partook in an urbane civility that aspired toward increased refinement in all aspects of life whether social, personal, or professional; where high standards and sophistication were accepted norms and sought after in all manner of life: personal appearance, diction, literature, dress, attire, comportment, education, work, sports, art, music, recreation, worship, family life, service.

    Instead our standards have incrementally been lowered for the last 40 years in this city and continue to decline in all manner of life most of which involve simple, basic personal comportment and responsibility.

    Not just crime and violence (neither of which have a place in civilized society), but why do we tolerate all of the rest of the depravity and decline in our city life, and why is that the same ire and indignation is not summoned from within us as that one singular racial slur ?
    Should we not be just as offended ? Should we not be just as intolerant ?

    Our grandparents had it all together, or at least much better, without our false sense of entitlement, certainly with a lot less resources, with much more of a sense of personal responsibility, with a better sense of both history and forethought, and with a lot more dignity and grace in their lives and in the life around them.

  • next time just call the “n*gg*rs” in question over to see what they have to add to the conversation.

  • “There is just one word and one pronunciation of the word and any claims of multiple meanings of the word are a cop-out. When someone who wants to tell me, as a white person that they are educated and not part of street culture, and they use the word against their fellow man and they use it negatively, does anyone see a difference?”

    Neener, you are deluded if you think words don’t have different meanings in different contexts. African Americans took an ugly word that was used to denigrate and insult them for centuries, and turned it around so that they could say “See? It has no effect on me. I use it as an affectionate word of pride. You can’t hurt me.” There IS a difference. As some people have said, using a slur WITHIN your race/minority group can be harmless. If it is someone from OUTSIDE your race/minority group, it is an attack. The neighbor in the post was using the word to refer to an entire race of people as sub-human. It was not an affectionate “My n—a…” In my opinion, I wish the black community would stop throwing it around willy nilly because it causes confusion such as this.

  • Regardless of race, there exists sub-human behavior in our city life.

    That more importantly should be the focus of our angst.

  • Odentex- if I had an argument with as little merit as yours, I’d probably revert to personal attacks as well. You keep missing my point, instead trying to display an erudition about finance you seem to have picked up from the “Idiot’s Guide to Wall Street”. There is no legal equivalence between street robbery and what happened in the markets precisely because we choose to criminalize one and not the other. And you insist that there is no moral equivalence because the banker has “earned “his money through his hard work and as a term of a contract, both wild assertions based on what you assume to be universally true about bankers, with nothing to support it .The race of the perpetrators in each case is, in my view, a factor in the treatment of their acts. And that, in turn, allows people like some of the commenters here to feel that their racist views have a valid basis. Hate whitey? Read my comments- nothing even close. Hate the privilege that attaches to being white,and that guys like you assume to be acceptable because it is “earned” or deserved, as opposed to those lazy, shiftless thieving nigs? I’ll cop to that.

  • This has been an interesting discussion about race, crime and our city. I think we should we should all watch the “Brick City” documentary to see that instead of becoming racist because of crime or being indifferent, a community can help to rebuild itself and fight crime. Looking at two inspirational young black mayors that rose to power at the same time, I think Cory Booker is making Fenty look like a joke.

  • Mike:

    There is nothing “criminal” in the acts that led to the “meltdown” because the intent behind these massive losses was not fraudulent. Making a bad call on a legal market can never be criminalized. Not now, not after “regulation, not ever. You miss the point about what happened. Simply repeating “regulation” and clicking your heals three times won’t alter these facts. You may close or alter those markets through regulation, but that has nothing to do with the activity of trading being “criminal”. Period. Unless you are suggesting that all commodity trading not related to risk management be outlawed, which would only further prove you haven’t investigated this topic at all. The nature of the two acts under discussion, robbery and trading unregulated commodities in 2007-8, are entirely different.

    I am sorry that you refuse to investigate these concepts and instead choose to spout vague platitudes about “white thugs” without understanding unregulated commodity markets. Commodities are a zero sum game. Is it sad that the boards of several major banks and the majority of the American public didn’t get that basic premise? Sure. Is it a crime? Absent some fraud unrelated to simply being on the wrong side of the trades, no. There are smiling counter-parties somewhere in this world, and where’s the ire for them? No? They might be white (though some in aren’t). Only hate for the losers on “Wall St.”, eh? I fear it’s because you (and many others) still fail to understand and adamantly refuse to learn as a point of pride.

    Further, even if you happened to be a Madoff “investor” or were otherwise taken by an actual fraud then I’d be curious what about Bernie Madoff spending his natural life in prison seems “disproportionate” to you compared to, say, the repeat gun criminal in DC who very often gets “time served” for endangering the men, women, and children of this city by carrying a loaded weapon around? Neither Madoff nor the gunman is statistically very likely to effect you personally, yet you still rave about “white thugs” while the gunman does actually alter the quality of life in your neighborhood (and occasionally shoot some of your black neighbors). Hmmm. Interesting priorities you have. Jeff Skilling got 25 times what the average armed robber in DC gets (1 served year) and yet you talk about “privilege” ruling the day. There also is no lack of fraud enforcement. In 2008 9,100 “white collar” offenders were sentenced in federal court for tax, fraud, and money laundering. That’s nearly double the number of defendants sentenced for crack or powder cocaine and about 1000 more than were sentenced for firearms violations (8,300). Yet the “conventional wisdom” is that white fraudsters are hardly ever charged and when they are they go play golf for 6 months. Like so much “conventional wisdom” out there (Obama isn’t a citizen, Congress is going to kill granny with a death panel), it’s baseless bullshit.

    Blaming the traders and bankers and suggesting they deserve to be treated like robbers is like suggesting that the Metro train operator at Ft. Totten should be exhumed and tried for crashing the train. Mob rule based on results. Just as mob rule insisted that hundreds of years of contract law be heaved out the window regarding the AIG bonuses because it was the “right thing to do.” The rule of law only when it’s convenient to our progressive sensibilities. Heaven help us.

    If I am somehow missing an explanation that consists of something more than “the race of the perpetrators in each case is, **in my view**, a factor in the treatment of their acts” let me know, because so far you haven’t provided a shred of evidence as to how either:

    (a) there were criminal acts behind the mass of losses last year’s market;

    (b) how people actually charged with fraud don’t get punished; or

    (c) what conduct that is currently legal, exactly, should be made “a crime” and (importantly) why?

    Be specific, “wild assertions” need not apply, because “in my view” people who demonstrate little knowledge about a topic and lead with emotion aren’t very convincing.

  • “This is where the party ends/I can’t stand here listening to you/And your racist friend.”

    TMBG, 1990

  • ‘I wish the black community would stop throwing it around willy nilly because it causes confusion such as this.”

    This is a such cop out – confusion? Don’t use the words ni$$er, fa&&ot, ch*^k, sp*c etc if you are not a member of that group.
    I solved that problem now on to Health care, Afghanistan and the Economy.

  • Perhaps confusion was the wrong word. Entitlement would have been better. People feel entitled to use words they shouldn’t because other groups use it amongst themselves.

  • So much to say. To preface my response, I’ll give a bit of my own background for some context. I’m a hispanic, mid 20’s yuppie (sans the fashion sense) from a small city in the Southwest and have an expensive education from a well-known school in NY. I have a cushy, stable job here in DC and have only been here for a relatively short time period.

    I find myself in a weird situation, able to comfortably walk around neighborhoods that I know my white friends in the city have been harassed/picked on/mugged in. As one poster pointed out, I also find myself avoided by white men/women on the street if I’m dressed casually (usually in workout clothes). Understanding that this is my experience, and my experience alone, makes it difficult for me to quickly judge the words and actions of others.

    That said, I find it interesting that so many posters fail to admit that the situation POP experienced was extremely nuanced. So many have been quick to fully side with POP and decry the foul mouthed neighbor while ignoring a potentially experiential undercurrent inherent in the man’s actions regarding the drunk girl as well as his use of what is universally agreed upon as a terrible word towards the two men (who else her can honestly say they wouldn’t be weary of those same men that late at night). POP also failed to delve into or acknowledge an important statement made by the man, specifically that he’s lived in the city for 15 years. In my own experience in two large urban cities, I have been mugged once (unsuccessfully), and more than 20 of my friends have been as well (some of them assaulted as well). Every single mugging was by a young black male. If my world was completely shaped by these experiences alone, I would be terrified and have an extremely negative opinion of young black men in general.

    However, I was also unsurprised that so many racists came out of the woodwork and defended the use of the slur and the reaction of the man because black people are supposedly criminals with low family values and commit a higher percentage of the crimes. These crime stats are so skewed by an overtly racist justice system that they are virtually meaningless. Yes, 10% of black men have been arrested by the time they are 20, but often for crimes that a white man or woman would get a fine and a slap on the wrist. These problems are endemic to low income areas, and in DC, a large population of the lower class is black. Much of the reason for such a large population of poor minorities in this part of the country can be attributed to systematic issues dating back to the era of slavery.

    Simply put, both reactions are small-minded and fail to see the complexity of POPs experience.

    As a minority, I have a lifetime of experiencing racism, both overt and implied, and I find my own opinion somewhere in the middle on this one. The neighbor was wrong to use that word with such nonchalance, and had I been there and he said that (which he never would have because I’m hispanic), I would have wanted to punch him in the face as well. However, had he not said that word, I’m sure most people here would have been perfectly okay with him walking the girl home and would also acknowledge the risk of her coming into contact with a group of young, urban teens (of any race). The man was completely wrong to use that word. I do not disagree with this in the least, and the casualness with which he said it is appalling. But lets not forget the context.

    I think one thing that hasn’t been talked about enough is one poster’s acknowledgement of the difference between street smarts and racism. If I was white and walking down the street at 2:00 am and approached by a group of young, black or hispanic men dressed like thugs, I’m turning around or getting prepared to fight or flee. If I’m white (actually, any race) and about to pass by a group of men that fit this description and I’m with a woman, I would probably have to repress the urge to get in their faces when they start making lewd gestures or saying ridiculous things to her (which occurs much too frequently). That’s street smarts, not racism, imo.

    Classifying all individuals of those races as hoodlums and avoiding them or treating them poorly during normal situations because of a small group of miscreants is racism.

    One more thing, to 1:27, you’ve solved nothing. The words themselves are only indicative of an extremely complex aspect of our society. Not using them would be nice, but it would have little to no effect on the underlying problems.

  • “People feel entitled to use words they shouldn’t because other groups use it amongst themselves.”
    I can maybe wrap my mind around the use of a slur as an excited utterance but casual use of slur as described by PoP leads
    me to the logical conclusion. A lot of bad behavior is spawned by a sense of entitlement.

  • Also, @ CPT_Doom : Well said.

  • ‘One more thing, to 1:27, you’ve solved nothing. The words themselves are only indicative of an extremely complex aspect of our society’

    Rudy wrote a novel and completely missed the point. 1 – It was tongue in cheek. 2 People are defending this guy indicating despite his use of the slur he might not be a racist (he is product of his environment / experiences in DC etc.). If you do not use the slur then there is no (reasonable) presumption you are a racist. 3. People look for complex solutions for problems, but most solutions start on a basic level. The first step when there is tension among a group or groups of people is speaking civilly to one another.

  • Rudy:

    Nowhere in the original story does it say that the woman who was escorted home was drunk. And I’m pretty sure that nowhere in this long thread has anyone suggested that the guy PoP interacted with shouldn’t have walked her home. I *do* have a problem with his implicit suggestion that the way she was dressed, in his opinion, made her an automatic target for marauders, but that’s another issue. Well, actually, it’s not — it just shows that “isms” don’t usually walk alone. Racism and sexism seem to coexist quite happily. But that’s not a topic that this thread has explored so I won’t either.

    People are wandering off the track of this story in an illustrative way, I think. Exactly how does calling people niggers relate to being street smart, aware of one’s surroundings, hating baggy trousers, crossing the street if you feel endangered, “cultural propensity toward violence” or anything of that nature? I feel as if some people are saying that because black people are the perpetrators of a lot of crime in D.C., it’s kinda sorta okay to use the word nigger. Is that what folks are really saying? I feel as if black crime stats (which I am not excusing or minimizing) are being thrown out here as some kind of explanation…but explanation of what?

    I am instantly wary of groups of young men if I’m out alone in a dicey spot, because men commit far more crimes than women do, and young men commit more crimes than older men. But I don’t have permission because of that fact to hate young men or refer to them by ugly slurs. Or do I?

    (And again, these black guys hadn’t done anything. They came along AFTER the guy got back from walking this woman home.)

    As for the black use of racial slurs “confusing” people or making them feel entitled: please. You can’t tell me that humans don’t inherently understand the difference between, say, you cracking on your mother’s dry meatloaf, and me, someone outside your family, cracking on your mother’s dry meatloaf. People *get* this. All of us who understand human interactions know about intragroup and intergroup dynamics. We all have families, you know? We all belong to groups. Redskins fans can bash the Skins among other fans. Among fans of other teams? Not so much. This isn’t rocket science.

  • just connect the dots, PoP….we have glenn beck’s tea party, and then some white guy feels emboldened to use the N-word in casual everyday discourse. it’s getting WORSE. the more the cable news and huffpost people publicize those horrible racist gatherings called tea parties, the more we’re going to experience this.

    my mother and father would have…well, not killed us, but maimed us good…if we had used that word–and that was 60 years ago. where are the grown-ups now? and what are they teaching their children? what are they all watching on the boobtoob???

  • This is what I just witnessed at 11th and Lamont a few minutes ago while I was walking the dogs.

    Two black guys were slowly crossing 11th street. Another black guy was in his car and wanted to drive through the intersection.

    The black driver of the car says to the black pedestrians: “Get outta the way…s!”

    Pedestrian replies: “Fuck you,!”

    Driver: “ wanna get hit”

    The priceless part was seeing the shocked faces of all of the white people having their Chardonnay on the patio of Room 11 which is also located at that intersection. I’m sure there were some PoP readers among them. Anyone else witness this?

    Not sure where this leaves us. This was clearly not an affectionate interaction among “family” members.

    Why don’t we all, blacks, whites, and others just agree not to use this word.

  • [tangent] Anyone who is interested enough in the semiotics of “nigger” to be still reading this thread should check out the book “The N Word” by Jabari Asim. Likewise, “Racism: A Short History” (George Fredrickson) is a fascinating explication of how/why Western racism developed. They will feel quite refreshing next to “I was mugged once so it’s OK if other white people call random black people ‘nigger.'”

  • Christina-

    I’ll give you one point. You’re right, POP never said the woman was drunk (lets assume she was walking home at 2:30 from a family get together), and whether walking alone through DC at 2:30 AM makes a woman a target IS another issue (although my opinion is that, pragmatically, it does in fact make her an automatic target, or at least a larger and easier one, cries of sexism be damned. Is this the way it SHOULD be? Of course not. Is it reality? Are you really going to argue that it’s not?)

    I understand that it truly bothers you that people have failed to see that this woman was probably fine and that the man was sexist in commenting on her dress being slutty, or whatever other word it was that he used. I understand that the black men in question were not near the woman and only passed by later. I also understand that there is a higher than 99% probability that these men were harmless.

    However, your conclusion that people are okay with the neighbor using the word “nigger” because they ventured into the topics of crime, black culture, stereotypes, and perception is quite simply wrong. Based on reading the posts (minus of course a few blatant and anonymous racists), it’s almost universally accepted that it is ALWAYS WRONG for a white man to call a black man “nigger,” period.

    What everyone else seems to be trying to do, and what you obviously lack in your attempts to bring the discussion back to this point, is broaden the discussion so that we can have a potentially interesting conversation about the underlying attitudes that could lead to a situation such as this in the year 2009. This is where discussions regarding crime statistics, baggy clothes, semantics, personal experiences, etc. are relevant and important.

    Part of POP’s apparent frustration with the situation is the implication that we should be passed such blatant racism in the year 2009. I was actually fairly surprised by POP’s naiveity regarding the possibility that this could happen, especially in a city like DC, especially by a man who has lived in what was once an extremely dangerous area for 15 years. Perhaps POP has been blessedly sheltered from such ridiculous actions, but from my own experiences, as well as those related by many others, I can say with sadness and surety that racism in America today is alive and well, even in our PC culture. This is why we bring these issues up, and this is why people are so passionate in their responses (as were you in your anti-sexism dig that is for “another” thread). Many of us can relate to these events, from many different perspectives, some of which were presented beautifully.

    I don’t think anybody is apologizing or rationalizing this neighbor’s behavior. On the contrary, as I’ve already mentioned, the neighbor has been almost universally scoffed at for his innapropriate reaction. This doesn’t mean that it’s impermissible to delve further into it.

    “Wandering off track” in a discussion as deep and complex as the situation in which POP found himself in is why we comment in the first place, or else we would only read the posts and keep our mouths shut. We live in a world of nuance and complexity. Deal with it.

  • I came very late to this conversation and I have not read it all… but I stumbled on this today and it seemed relevant to the original post. PoP: you had no idea what to say. This never happen in your daily life and you were apoplectic and inarticulate (rightfully so). Asking, “Hey, does this happen?!” is kinda naive. Yeah, this crap happens. But how we reply is on us.

    This guy suggests you separate the “what you are” conversation from the “what you did” conversation.

    And reading back over the 100+ comments here, it’d seem that we do have a hard time distinguishing these two conversations… and the “What you are” conversation is not one anyone can win.

  • Hey, Rudy? Why don’t you stop telling me what I think? That would be useful. Just make your points minus the thinly-veiled insults that I’m bothered by the attempts to broaden the conversation, that I’m “truly bothered” by whatever, and that I don’t understand nuance. You don’t know me, and you’re very much NOT a mind reader.

    My comments actually had very little to do with your post other than your misperception that the woman was drunk, so get over yourself and your apparent belief that my entire post was a response to you. What I found interesting is *exactly what I said*…HOW the conversation has drifted is interesting to me, and illustrative. If, for whatever reason, this conversation had turned into a discourse on sexism, that also would have been illustrative and interesting, and I probably would have said something about it. It just says something about where we are all coming from on this topic.

    The questions that I asked in my last post were quite serious ones, based on what I had picked up from reading this entire thread. I “concluded” nothing, and I was even careful to qualify my statements and say “I feel” a couple of times instead of stating my perceptions as facts. I’m not a psychic, all I know how to do is ask “hey, I’m picking up on such-and-so in some of these comments, is that what people are really thinking?”

    Sorry that you’re reading so much into my plain language. I wish that you had just responded to that with your demonstrated eloquence instead of acting like I’m an idiot child that you have to explain nuance to.

Comments are closed.