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One of the most interesting findings in Picca and Feagin's "Two Faced Racism" is whites' reaction when other whites criticize their racism..
While the authors note that the vast majority of whites don't criticize other whites' racism (they typically ignore, tolerate or encourage)+
Picca & Feagin show that on the rare occasions when whites do call out white racism, they are frequently censured and socially "punished"..
White racists frequently accuse whites who criticize their racism of being "offensive" or ridicule their "sensitivity" or lack of "humor"..
When whites respond to white critique of their racism with apologies, they also typically issue denials (eg "I didn't mean anything by it.")
Picca & Feagin show that the small minority of whites who call out white racism "behind closed doors" report having to "work up the courage"
..as they know their critique will disrupt the "white comfort" their peers are accustomed to maintaining in the absence of people of color.
The prevailing need to maintain white comfort in all white (or predominately white) spaces is a recurring theme in the text.
The authors also show that virtually none of their 600+ white respondents connect the racism they routinely witness to systemic racism.
Picca and Feagin show that *college educated* whites fail to exercise basic logic and inference with regard to their observations of racism.
That is, when college educated whites aren't failing to recognize racist comments and discriminatory behavior in their everyday lives..
..they are failing to generalize from their own observations of racism *even when they recognize racism*.
What makes Picca & Feagin's data all the more compelling and devastating is that they are analyzing whites' own self-reported behavior..
By their own accounts, college educated whites are frequently unable to deploy basic reasoning skills to recognize white racism..
As most of their racial cognitive energy is concerned with proving they're "not racist", they routinely unsee racism even when they see it.
A similar argument is made by Shannon Sullivan in her book "Good White People: The Problem With Middle Class White Anti-Racism"
The main lesson most whites absorbed from the Civil Rights Movement wasn't that they have a personal responsibility to fight systemic racism
.. but rather, that they have a responsibility to maintain a public appearance of being "non-racist" even as racism pervades their lives.
That's what Feagin, Picca, Sullivan, Myers, Williamson and many other scholars have repeatedly shown through whites' own accounts.
Significantly, when whites censure other whites for racism, Picca & Feagin show that they often criticize whites for *public* racism..
It's the *public* nature of the racist performance that's framed (by whites) as a problem: not white racism itself or systemic dominance.
The same racist comments/behavior whites tolerate or participate in themselves behind closed doors become "problematic" in public..
Thus, the problem, for many whites, isn't white racism or dominance -- the problem is a failed public performance of being "non-racist".
Frankly, I think the data in this book demonstrate multiple reasons why whites' opposition to racism is unlikely to dismantle white racism.
Obviously, great social pressure for whites to maintain comfortable relations with white peers, family members, colleagues and friends..
..means that even those whites who hold anti-racist views must weigh social, psychological and material costs for opposing whites' racism.
I'm not aware of any case in human history of domination being dismantled by dominant group members "calling out" other members' behavior.
As long as whites continue to live highly segregated lives, they will have no personal incentive to "challenge" their own dominance.
Picca & Feagin show that those few whites who do challenge white racism often have significant, serious relationships with people of color.
(We're not talking about those "I have a black friend" white racists who use those same "friends" to prove they're not racist..)
While intimate bonds with people of color *can* play a role in promoting white anti-racism, just as often, white racism survives these bonds
That's why "interracial intimacy" is not a cure for racism: racial "intermixture" itself neither promotes nor ensures systemic anti-racism..
But certain kinds of interracial friendships and relationships *can* promote anti-racism when parties involved can honestly confront racism.
That said, for the time being, whites have overwhelming interest in maintaining dominance and power through segregation and group protection
Very few whites (indeed members of any dominant group) are willing to lose many of their family or friends for the "cause of justice"..
Jane Elliot has discussed how her opposition to white racism has cost her most of her white family and a lifetime of white exclusion.
As most whites are not willing to pay this price, white supremacy persists as whites protect their material resources and intimate bonds.
One of the most depressing findings in Picca and Feagin’s study is the fact that those very few whites who call out other whites’ racism +
..are heavily invested in seeing their white friends and family as “non-racist” even in the act of committing racism.
In other words, even habitually behaving in a racist manner is not enough for most whites to label another white person "a racist”.
The layers of white racial denial are as hypocritical and illogical as they are absurd..
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