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White Rastas and Unconscious Racism

By Rootsie
June 19, 2004

"My views are certainly not about hating anyone, or trying to advocate that people should not make their own judgement on how they form relationships." - Ras Ayinde

The following comments from Ras Adam amount to an excellent example of the unconscious arrogance born of white privilege. While he chooses to believe that attempting to unite with blacks under the banner of Rasta somehow constitutes fighting racism, Adam operates without fail under assumptions born of his privilege. It is just not possible for whites to do anything about racism unless they are willing to be merciless in examining their own conduct. But the very fact of privilege makes self-reflection and self-criticism difficult to do. White supremacy dictates race as a non-issue for whites, and the overriding issue for every black.

Extracts from Ras Adam taken from the Rastafari Speaks Board
Links to the relevant threads: Rasta Reasoning Archive

"Elder, this part strikes me as an anti-race mixing vibe. I think interacial relationships are a great tool to break down racism. I think it helps every generation if say, people had grandkids of a diff race and they loved them, it may open their eyes to how ignorant they were raised."

"Well i have seen it in several families around me racist grandparents loving their mulatto grandkids and getting over some past prejudices and forwarding their worldview beyond what misconceptions their parents taught them. and i assume this happens alot all over. although i know on the flipside some parents who disown their kids when they bring home mates of a diff race or religion. and i know some who hide their relationships to maintain ties with their parents. But i think its hard to hate when its your own blood family you are railing against. so again i think its helps knock down rasicm. and as sis menen I said we are all pretty mixed right now and getting more mixed every day so this cant help but help break down some racial bigotry and prejudice. a "

"why would i posts about race mixing and post about race being a made up construct??

because despite race being a construct, it exisits because we are all still under its spell its hypnosis. it is real because we perpetuate its lies. because we have race check boxes on applications it is an unfortunate reality. i am now white like a piece of paper but i am called white and right or wrong thats societys way right now. so to that i say anyone free to mix and mingle with whomever absolutley. humanity loving humanity. beautiful. and if you have adopted your oppressors policiies of bigotry segregation seperation superiority. sorry for you. I understand why we have these reactions reflexes, but hopefully we can elevate and forward humanity one day..."

So here we have a pretty well-known and ostensibly serious and committed white Rasta giving his casual 'gee-whiz' prescription for the end of racism. Because whites do not acknowledge their privilege, they also do not acknowledge their power to do anything about it. Thus, racism is seen as one of those unfortunate problems that will always be with us, like the common cold. Maybe in a few hundred years it will be a little better...He is speaking here about color prejudice anyway, and not institutional racism, although he insists he understands the difference.

Privilege is about power solely, and white Rastas, in their desire to fit in, pretend, to themselves first of all, that they are powerless. They seem to think they can put on black oppression like they put on dreadlocks. While blacks suffer from their actual oppression, whites actually revel in their imagined oppression. If we could just get rid of those race check boxes...

"I...won't apologize for voicing out against racial descrimination, racial bigotry, segregation, etc in the rastafari movement or anywhere else in the globe"

And where does Ras Adam voice out to? To blacks. Here is a statement that denies Rastafari as a black movement, that adheres to some nave 'love sees no color' nonsense, and more, that suggests that the problem with the 'rastafari movement' is those darned blacks! Is it racist to accuse blacks of racial bigotry who get no consolation out of the idea of one big beautiful raceless world? As I and others here have said, there is no skipping steps. History must be acknowledged and accounted for, and then and only then can it be reconciled. It is a racist move to suggest that the only thing standing in the way of a perfect world is the stubborn insistence of blacks that whites face reality.

"Rasta doesnt deal with racism or any other ism" ras adam.

WELL YES that's the problem. Most White Rastas refuse to truly deal with the fact of race, let alone with racism.

These posts by Adam show the difficulties of whites aligning with Rasta.

While whites can't argue (unless they are fools) that Rasta is NOT a black movement about black liberation, they have a really hard time, because of the privilege they have and don't examine, dealing with the fact that all blacks are not going to be falling all over themselves to embrace them. Privileged whites are used to going where they go and doing what they do and saying what they say, assuming their presence and their voices are appropriate anywhere. When blacks take issue with this, whites who you think would know better, feeling to identify with Rasta, come back crying 'racist.' They are just not used to ANYBODY telling them they don't have a rightful claim to ANYTHING they feel like. They are deeply insulted, as we see here all the time.

This is the result of UNCONSCIOUS PRIVILEGE.

While some whites in Rasta find it completely okay to come to blacks talking about race-mixing, they never seem to take this issue OR ANY ISSUES OF RACE AND PRIVILEGE to other whites. They choose instead to use their privilege to be cool with blacks. What a waste, and what hypocrisy for white Rastas, who say they care so much about truth and rights and an end to racism, to deliberately marginalize themselves with all the outer shows of Rasta and FAILING to engage the fact that their countries are centers of White Supremacy and the source of most people's suffering in the whole world.

But this is privilege you see. We can play with ideas and be in some illusory one love with each other because we are NOT the victims, but live in the Babylon camp and benefit a million ways from that. So we don't HAVE to sacrifice or struggle; these issues are NOT life or death to us.

If we don't like being in the Babylon camp, the way out is NOT to affiliate with a black movement and think that's that. If we are truly trying to align with Rasta, we would be working hard among our own to bring this Babylon down. But that wouldn't be as much fun as doing Rasta things and feeling like we're making a profound statement to other whites with our dreads and black companions and counterculture lifestyle. It comes as a shock to white Rastas that some blacks find all of this highly insulting, an appropriation of the outward aspects of a culture with no true appreciation or understanding of it. How could whites understand? They are not black. If whites could accept this fact, they would be able to stand in solidarity with blacks and assume their proper role in relation to black movements. Because of the religious aspect of Rasta, whites who embrace it think to take very peculiar liberties with black culture. But that is for another article.

To come to blacks saying race-mixing is the solution to racism is to advocate the obliteration of the black race. Yan's and Ayinde's articles below articulate this fully. But my question is, why not tell it to all the racist whites? Why not bring these issues to them instead of here?

It is APPROPRIATE that white voices not be the primary voices in a black movement. Whites thinking to make their name as Rastas are not only pathetic and insecure, they SUPPORT the continuation of white supremacy.

As I said, Adam does what I see whites do all the time when black people speak their truth, which is to accuse blacks of race prejudice. It is disturbing because he portrays himself as one of the 'good whites' and clearly believes it. Adam takes it a step further however by again and again using loaded language in which he accuses blacks of hate speech, and compares them with Hitler and the Klan!

"...There has been made a leap from saying people should be free to be with anyone who they want, to some consiparcy theory of a master plan to lighten the black race. I said it before and i'll say it again i have seen mixed race couples help break down prejudices in their own familes so i assume this happend elsewhere in the world therefore concluded it could be a way to help erode racism. did i say its a panacea to cure racism completely? of course i didn't, that's redicuolous. Again i'll say, I don't like racial bigotry or prejudice and will speak up against it whether it comes from the KKK grand dragon's mouth or louis farrakhan's mouth. The eugenics racial purity hitler style talk is sick coming from people of any color."

Perhaps a more self-reflective individual would wonder at the violence of his own reaction, rather than projecting 'racial bigotry' onto blacks. But this is the reaction of privilege to any challenge to it, and this attitude is so deeply ingrained that the individual does not realize he is speaking out of a set of unconscious assumptions which have entwined themselves around his personality like a poisonous vine. Adam mocks 'some conspiracy theory of a master plan to lighten the white race.' The theory of evolution and Einstein's theory of relativity are theories too. I sincerely hope he is not a history teacher. It reminds me of Ashcroft implying that the ones accusing the U.S. of a coup against Aristide were just a bunch of crazy black folks.

"...Elder, this part strikes me as an anti-race mixing vibe...

...I won't appologize for licking out against racial purity-supremacy/segregation. In my opinion these things are wrong.I dont care if a skinhead says it, a rabbi says it, Hitler, Louis Farakhan(sp), whomever... whatever their color I think its wrong and will voice out against it. If you're not part of the sollution you're part of the problem."

Ras Adam goes further here to accuse blacks of supremacist views if they don't agree that 'race-mixing' is a good thing. I think that in the end statements like this speak to the insecurity of whites, and in particular white Rastas, who seem to believe that it should be enough for blacks that they embrace an African messiah, and they should be welcomed unquestioningly into the fold. They are highly insulted if what they see as their unlimited right to express themselves in any way they feel like is challenged. Again, privilege. Whites will continue to feel insecure as long as they fail to gain insight into the role that privilege plays in so many of their assumptions.

gman to Adam:
..."Interesting that you mention the great Burning Spear who is one of the main people who have kept the memory of the great Marcus Mosiah Garvey alive, considering that Marcus Mosiah Garvey must also be considered a "negative elder" by you, since he was very firmly against so-called race mixing. (Read "Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey" if you didn't know this)."

and now Adam:
"I dont agree with 100% of anyone on everything except the almighty. Garvey did great things for afrikans abroad, but i have already stated how i feel about stepping on a next man's neck to boost yourself up. i don't think that adopting the evil peoples ideologies and tactics is the answer since i don't think 2 wrongs make a right."

What a ridiculous distortion of Garvey. In what way did Garvey adopt white racist ideology? How does 'Africa for Africans' translate into stepping on anyone's neck? How is responding to white male arrogance translated into 'adopting the evil peoples ideologies'? Again we can see that strong knee-jerk reaction to black statements of identity.

"I...won't apologize for voicing out against racial descrimination, racial bigotry, segregation, etc in the rastafari movement or anywhere else in the globe.

...Again i'm not running i'm right here standing firm against hate speach

...Absolutely. so is the solution to adopt the racist majorities ways of segregation sepration and racial bigotry??!!? following the example of hitler skinheads and klan two wrongs can NEVER make a right "

...i refuse to let hate speech go unresponded to."

Again with the loaded language. After awhile it feels as if Ras Adam is being deliberate in his use of these charged words. And then he paints himself as a great crusader for justice. Adam never responds directly to other people's posts to give examples of this 'hate speech.' One would wish Adam would spend more time voicing out, standing firm and responding among whites, which would be a more productive use of a privileged white's time.

"...I think as someone pointed out there would be other critera to seperate and divide people (see DR suess' star bellies sneeches) so no thats not waht i was saying. i was saying that I think many mixed race people are more racially tollerant and i think that if they increased in number it may help break down some racial issues.

...It would be great. i hope to see it erode some in my life time. its pebbles being removed from a mountain, but i'm a beleiever in the zen ripple effect of o persons actions one butterfly in kansas' flutter causing a tsumani in fiji idea. so all we can do for sure is work on ourselves and hope to influenece a few w/ positive ideals. "

I think every generation get a lil better at racism and that mixed families will help that."

These may be Adam's most revealing statements of all. He does not feel responsible as a white person to make a serious effort to address white supremacy with other whites. Just let the kids work it out and other such sentimental slop, again not deling with the core issues of racism. And as for the zen butterfly nonsense, it is easy for one who is not directly affected every day by racism to be willing to sit and wait a very long time 'for things to get better' in some kind of nebulous way. Dark-skinned blacks have experienced the worst that racist ideology has to offer, and so the solution is to lighten them up? (see Yan and Ayinde below) Also, if whites were serious about 'working on themselves' they would pretty quickly perceive the soul-murdering nature of their privilege and do something about it. 'A few positive ideals...'?

" Ras Ravin I,
Big respect to you and the Western MASS Rastafari family. I give thanks for your words advice and reasoning. Thank you for not putting word in my mouth about how i am supposedly trying to erase back and make a world of grey people. I know that mixed race couples will not end rasicm. i have seen it do so on a local level and thought perhaps it could help internationally, but i am hearing differently from you and others. Thank you for seeing that my intention was to try and pick away at a pebble of the mountain we call racism and not that i have some arrogant agenda to control black folks agenda, rastafari etc etc etc as the conspiracy theorists bout ya always claim. And thanks for reaffirming that as a rastaman you and anyhone else is free to love anyone of any color. i met some beautiful rasta families in cambridge and race was not a factor to them. raspect for your work and words. Hail Selassie I. ras a sim"

Adam does very clearly have an 'arrogant agenda to control black folks' agenda.' He has been engaging in it for years, most probably unconsciously, by ingratiating himself into the Rasta community and getting personal recognition out of it for 'all his good works.'

He wants to move in a Rasta wonderland where 'race is not a factor' and comes to the AfricaSpeaks Message Board tossing off-hand casual comments here and there, obviously expecting a blanket acceptance and resorting to insult and propoganda tactics when he doensn't get it.

Any honest mixed-race couple would tell him that race is a huge factor in any such relationship, unless they happen to live on Mars. And again, why 'pick away at a pebble' by being confrontational and arrogant with blacks? Why not go to the whites and take on the mountain? Answer:he does not have to. He is not the victim. He's got all the time in the world. In another post Adam expresses surprise at Dr. King's statement (Birmingham Jail) that blacks 'find it difficult to wait.' He assumed that remarks like this were for 'militants' like Malcolm X. It is frightening to think that uninformed whites would try so hard to gain a prominent voice among blacks. I guess privileged people don't think they have to do their homework.

If a white person is 'conscious' enough to declare him or herself a Rasta, he or she should have the personal integrity to understand that this dictates a lifelong effort to combat white supremacy, and that the work is not going to be done in a Nyahbinghi drum circle, but among other whites.

Instead on these boards we see White Rastas who operate to a large degree out of white supremacy and their white privilege, and apparently feel no obligation to engage in any serious self-examination.

It is not surprising that Adam or any other white holds racist views, and speaking from experience I know that it takes a lifetime to root them out. Having embraced Rasta from an early age myself, I learned as a white to address my racism, and white supremacy as an institution. Observing the behavior of white Rastas, I see that most bring their unexamined privilege in with them, and proceed to scuffle with blacks about their right not only to be there, but to be spokesmen. It is educating to see that white Rastas are just as unwilling as other whites to deal in an honest and courageous manner with racism, and disgusting that they use the rhetoric and trappings of Rasta to differentiate themselves from other whites, while putting out none of the effort that would make this be so. As so many times in history, we see on display the deep-seated assumption that blacks should exists merely to serve whites' comfort.

The articles linked below do Adam the respect of answering him in detail. Here is the 'hate speech' he is reacting against.


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