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Incredible discussion on race

Friday, March 21, 2008 by Dave Winer.

Yesterday's piece about race drew some of the most loving, fun and heartfelt comments ever. And some serious discussion about what counts as racism.  Permalink to this paragraph

When one person says "that's racist" but it doesn't seem that way to you, the best way to tell is to flip it around. Change black to white. Or vice versa. Permalink to this paragraph

For example... Permalink to this paragraph

"Maybe you think it's unfair that this anger sometimes gets generalized to include you, when you yourself have never detained a black driver or used a choke hold to subdue someone you were arresting." Permalink to this paragraph

I think it's pretty obvious when you do the flip, the statement, even though if you parse it literally, is not demeaning to whites, an equivalent statement made about blacks, using black stereotypes, would certainly be considered offensive.  Permalink to this paragraph

When someone says something like this in my presence I feel a twinge of pain in my stomach. I know what it's like to be driving in an area where the cops probably aren't friendly, or where a mugging could take place even while you're in a car. (It actually happened to me in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I was mugged at knifepoint after I got lost driving a rental car.) Permalink to this paragraph

I don't split hairs about what is racism or isn't. This is a period of amnesty, no one knows how to talk about this stuff. Yesterday candidate Obama, who I admire more every day, said his grandmother is a "typical white person." There were attempts to use this for political advantage, but I think by the end of this campaign we'll laugh at how awkward this period was and how common this kind of thing is. So what. Are there typical white people? Maybe, maybe not. But in the end, what's the big deal.  Permalink to this paragraph

The only way to make progress is to go through it. I know that black people say really racist things about white people, and no one called them on it because white people couldn't hear. Same thing's true the other way. The difference is now we can hear. Great. You wanted change, right? This is what change is like. It ain't easy and not always pretty, but when you're stuck in a rut, it's the only way to go. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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