Lest I lose my own urban white liberal credentials following the previous post, allow me to take exception to this article by one Daniel Jose Older, where he trots out the old saw of blaming Whitey for everything wrong in the ethnic neighborhood. Note that in this article, he references none other than Suey Park, the instigator of the #cancelcolbert twitter storm.
First, he tries to depict a media world where whites are constantly preyed upon by people of color:
While film narratives of white folks in low-income neighborhoods tend to focus on how endangered they are by a gangland black or brown menace, (snip)
What kind of shows or movies are being beamed into his skull, and from which dimension? TV these days considers black-on-white crime one of the greatest taboos to cross. With the Law & Order franchise (past and present), 99% of the perps are white; the few exceptions are always painted as “victims of the system,” pushed to their crimes by a heartless, racist society. Movies typically rely on Italian or Russian gangsters if they have criminal antagonists; for instance, the movie version of Tom Clancy’s “Sum of All Fears” turned the Muslim terrorists into generic Russian baddies. And along those lines, the villains in superhero movies are always, ALWAYS white. Shows that do feature black villains, such as The Wire, have them only prey upon other blacks. The Shield made it clear that Vic Mackey and his squad of corrupt white cops were even worse than their largely minority targets, while the soul of the show was played by CCH Pounder. No less gritty and dystopian of a movie as “Taxi Driver” featured Harvey Keitel’s white pimp as the main antagonist (and for interpretations that have De Niro’s character as the true villain all along, you still have a white villain.) And just about every slasher movie killer, busily butchering his way through the latest round of coeds is (or was) white. Need I go on?
But of course, Older then moves on from this instantly discreditable thesis to a new one, where he expands the definition of “violence” to include gentrification. Lest you think I am mischaracterizing his words, here is an exact quote:
Gentrification is violence.
Couched in white supremacy, it is a systemic, intentional process of uprooting communities. It’s been on the rise, increasing at a frantic rate in the last 20 years, but the roots stretch back to the disenfranchisement that resulted from white flight and segregationist policies.
Gentrification is a lot of things, and a lot of those things are bad, but calling it white supremacist or comparing it to Jim Crow does not do your article a lot of good. You see, the gentrifiers are not KKK members or even conservatives barely keeping their obvious racism in check. The gentrifiers are largely people like Michelle Goldberg from the previous article, white liberals with money and cachet, who only socialize with other white people of their milieu. THAT is the problem. The gentrifiers don’t come wearing white robes and hoods. They consider the people of color in the neighborhood as not of their world — but feel that their liberalism is the only shield they need to cries of racism. They come glad in their own moral superiority as friends of the colored folk in need of their help, and go deaf if people of color call them out on it.
Think of all the gated-community white liberals living in Westchester County. Williamsburg is what happens when they move back into the city.
Simply resorting to the old rhetoric of the “white devil” is destructive and helps nobody. If you want to try and reach the Michelle Goldbergs of the world, don’t accuse them of intentionally trying to inflict “violence” on people of color. Instead, start asking them why people of color aren’t invited to their gluten-free dinner parties.