KW Mocha Momma Babble Voices Writing Well About Contact
Kelly WickhamSpeakingWritingTravelingCreating Kelly Wickham: Teacher, Speaker, Storyteller
about Kelly

twitter pinterest subscribe

Subscribe to the
Mocha Momma blog by email:


That Whole "You Sounded Racist" Conversation

While we're in the midst of having this conversation about race and what is or isn't racist, I thought I'd post something that I have linked to before because it's powerful and it is straight up TRUTH. It begs to be seen again for many reasons, but right now I'm looking at you, Glen Beck. And you, Rep. Doug Lamborn. Goodness, aren't the people from your home state of Colorado deeply embarrassed by your schoolyard taunting of the President of the United States? I hope they're not ignoring you, because that would be bad form on their part as well. Although, I could also point to Dr. Laura, Sarah Palin, Michael Richards and Rush Limbaugh as well.

Before I do, however, I read something this weekend that coupled nicely with Jay Smooth's video you're about to watch. I will leave it here without commentary (though, you are always welcome to do so!):

"Racist is the new nigger," says Riz Rollins, the writer, DJ, and KEXP personality. "For white people, the only word that begins to approximate the emotional violence a person of color experiences being called a nigger from a white person is 'racist.' It's a trigger for white people that immediately conjures pain, anger, defensiveness—even for white people who are clearly racist. 'Racist' is now a conversation stopper almost like that device where you can skew a conversation by comparing someone to Hitler. It's an automatic slur. And only the sickest racists will own up to the description."

Huh. No wonder this is so hard to talk about, eh?


« Lovers' Carvings | Main | Music for The Cuban and Me »

Reader Comments (27)

My favourite video that man ever did.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren from Chookooloonks

"Once I realized I was racist, it was, well, what am I going to do about it?" says Winn, a mild-mannered white guy in his 30s. "That shifts the defensiveness."

Ding, ding, ding!

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrypo

This is communications 101. You don't call names, you focus on behavior. As soon as name calling starts the conversation degenerates and basically ends. Seems elementary, but I guess a lot of people still dont get it so it bears explaining. We seem to be a society that revels in name calling. No wonder we can't talk. I heard a mother yesterday tell her kid, 'Shut the f up, you idiot" .SMH.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEdie


September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermaile

I want to invite that guy over for dinner! Not because anyone here needs the "what you said sounded racist" convo, but because he seems awesome :)

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMFA Mama

He is ten shades of awesome. Love his brain. It makes him sexy.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Mine, too! I thought it was time to resurrect this one.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

I like this Winn person. He sounds fascinating.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

I hear those kinds of things, too, and it's heartbreaking. Behavior needs to be called out every. single. time. Even when it irks the crap out of the offending person. It SHOULD. Our society has been passive for far too long.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma


September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

I've seen this clip before and the best message is at the end. Focus on what was done. Also being calm enough to say "Ummm what you said was a little racist, not saying you are, but what you said was." I form it as "Wow... that was a pretty broad generalization of a group of people." Then use some sort of an example of a sterotype that's super broad ie: White folks can't dance (to someone white who I know for a fact dances) or Men are jerks (to a man that I know isn't)". But due to random racist comments I don't eat watermelon in public, I've never learned to tap dancing even though I want to and as for going back to Africa... is there a nice touristy part I can go to?

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdelami

Loved the article. I've seen this video before, too. I've got a racism post that's been brewing for a couple of weeks now, I guess I need to blog it out. Thanks for keeping the conversation going and for prodding us, Kelly.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn (@kat1124)

Well said! I've never seen this guy - but he is amazing. Wonder if I could convince him to come over for dinner - would love to have a sit down including wine with this man. I love it when a man's brain makes me want him!

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

Of course, it's totally the fault of hip-hop.

I'd forgotten about this video. It's brilliant.
Thank you for bringing it back.

Also, that Riz Rollins quote cuts right to the point. Do you mind if I post it to my site as I continue my conversation on the topic?

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraaryn b.

So true. I had to use this with a work "friend" the other day who commented that "The dark Muslim people are always getting in people's grills about money...that's just how they are." Oh, really?

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Robin, someone at work used the phrase "Jewed them down" a few weeks ago. I am not often at a loss for words but it went right by me because I couldn't believe they said it. Sigh...still, people? Next time I'll be ready.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn (@kat1124)

Love his stuff. I hadn't seen this video before, but I love all the other vids I've seen him do. Brilliant.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLifexhistory

Also wanted to add... this works for sexist comments as well-- something I need to be prepared to confront in the next couple of weeks.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLifexhistory

My brother started picking up that phrase a couple of years ago and I called him on it. I started using that as an example in my classes on MidEast history to talk about the pervasiveness of anti-semitism. Similarly, the phrase "I got gyped" comes from a period of British rule over Egypt and the idea that Egyptians were always trying to get away with something. So I've started bringing that to peoples' attention.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLifexhistory

I think this is genius--I would just add that you might need to explain to a befuddled white person WHY it is racist. This is the exact conversation I have frequently as a white person who talks about race a lot.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

There are SO MANY race issues at my school, and I feel like I am the only person who actually cares about trying to turn them around. Maybe this will help me in future conversations, as I continue trying to make changes, in spite of all the people against me.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLara

That is a great point, Jenn. I have had some interesting conversations at work in recent months, not just about race but about diversity in general with people who don't get why it's important. I've often encountered a "Why do we have all these special groups now, why do the gays and the Hispanics and the Asians and the African-Americans and the women all have a group, where's the white males group?" I am really glad when I get asked that question, and explaining that everything is and has been throughout our nation's history set up for white males, in a way that doesn't piss people off is challenging.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn (@kat1124)

Ooooh. This is good. I totally made this mistake recently. I tried to get through to this guy that the things he said was racist, but in the end I gave in and called him a bigot. Not my finest moment. I don't regret anything I said that day, but that one sentence. Of course he then went on to leave a Facebook status that said "I am not a bigot. I just prefer white to black, Christianity to other religions and Chevy to Ford." and he un-friended me. I won, but I lost.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

I know I'm late on commenting on this (catching up on my blog comments for the week right now), but I just wanted to say I really appreciated you posting this video, because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. Really great stuff - thanks.

On another note, at first I sort of disagreed with the quote. I just don't think there is a white-equivalent word for the n word. After reading the quote in the context of the article, I get it.. but still. I just don't think it's as wounding... because... well, let's say someone is a racist. Their actions implicate them, and hence the word is justified (although, perhaps, not helpful, as Jay Smooth points out poignantly). But for someone who is called the n word? There were no actions to back up such a slur. Both are conversation-enders, yes. But I don't think they are equivalent.

September 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Anne

[...] That Whole “You Sounded Racist” Conversation [...]

[...] for years. She has first hand knowledge of how perceptions of race affect our youth. She has some really great discussions going on over at Mocha Momma. We’ve had some lengthy phone calls, but [...]

Interesting. I'd always understood it to come from Gypsy (Romani)
My mother-in-law uses 'jewed' and 'gypped' and although we call her on it every single time, it continues.

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeeroc

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
BlogHerNPRMedia BistroHuffington Post