21CRM CLASSIC BOOK REVIEW: TWO FACED RACISM, WHITES IN THE BACKSTAGE AND FRONTSTAGE BY LESLIE HOUTS PICCA AND JOE R. FEAGIN

Greetings,

On one of her many appearances on the Context of White Supremacy (COWS) internet radio program, the late, great grandcestor, Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing relayed a very interesting anecdote.  She spoke about how she once came across a “well meaning” white person who I believe attended one of Dr. Welsing’s talks, and attempted to appear to be sincerely interested in helping produce justice.  She, very similarly to the famous scene in the Malcolm X movie, tried to make it clear that she was “not racist” and was very interested in helping to eliminate racism/white supremacy.  She, as a white person, claimed to be confused about what she could do in order to assist in such a task, and asked Dr. Welsing exactly what she could do to help.  Dr. Welsing, quite brilliantly as per usual, simply answered that what she could do is “tell Black people what whites talk about (regarding Black people) when Black people are not around”.  The book, Two Faced Racism, Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage, written by two white people, Leslie Houts Picca and Dr. Joe R. Feagin, brings the readers, many like myself, who do not and will never have unfiltered, “fly on the wall” access to all-white, closed off environments, into the spaces where whites are free to be themselves and speak their minds and feelings freely.  They reveal what is often said and done in environments where whites are free to spout all of their views about Black people and racism with no regard to “political correctness” or whatever other societal restrictions which are supposed to guide polite speech and behavior.  They bring us into a world in which Black people can only imagine and speculate on the nature of the conversation concerning racial matters that take place among whites, with an insight that could only be delivered by a white person who is familiar with these scenes and the mentality of those involved, from firsthand experience.

In this book, Picca and Feagin conduct a study in which about 600 anonymous white college students document all racial incidents and/or conversations that they see, hear, witness or participate in in journal form for a specified time.  Their recollections range from incidents that take place in the “frontstage”, spaces where people of all racial classifications have equal access (public places, for instance), the backstage, the insular, all-white environments which are guarded fiercely by whites, and which are closed off or extremely hostile to outsiders (non-whites) attempting to intrude on their territory (white homes, dorm rooms, parties, gatherings, kwk), and the in between areas, which can be, but are not always all-white, and can act as an impromptu backstage, but is an area in which non-white people typically have easier access to (the office/workplace, for instance).  The results range from merely interesting, to eyebrow raising, to shocking (to some), to infuriating, to very familiar, if you’ve ever dealt with whites on any sort of personal or professional level, like for instance sharing a dorm room with whites at college, or working with whites at a job, which many Black people have.

Out of the dozens of recollections offered by the test subjects, there were quite a few patterns which highlight the pathology of what I would consider to be typical of suspected racists.  First is the constant presence of alcohol in these recollections, and how alcohol typically acts as an inhibition lowering substance which emboldens the white racists to spew their racist thoughts, sometimes in the form of general ranting, and sometimes in the form of “joking”, that they often keep latent in the frontstage area, but are more than comfortable to use in conducting their racist performances for their audience in the backstage.   That audience often offers at most winking, giggling quasi-resistance to the performance, which simply encourages the performer to continue.  Gus T. Renegade, a very sharp and perceptive counter racist in the Welsing and Fuller tradition, and host of the legendary radio broadcast, the aforementioned Context of White Supremacy, often says that “whites and alcohol are the worst combination in the known universe”.  Instance after instance chronicled in this book prove that assertion to be correct.

Another pattern is the prevalence and importance that racist “joking” has within the system of racism/white supremacy, in terms of spreading the atmosphere and ideology of white supremacy in a way that is presented as humorous.  This is designed to lower the defenses of the person witnessing the racist performance.  These jokes are meant to be a deceptively dangerous way of presenting, spreading and perpetuating white racist culture, with the often-implied expectation that all of the witnessing whites would be receptive to the attempts at humor.  Quite simply, practicing racism/white supremacy is fun for white people, and the suffering and oppression of Black people caused by living under systematic racism/white supremacy is very funny to white people.  These jokes, aside from providing a bit of naughty entertainment for those who witness these performances, also serve as a way for whites test the waters, so to speak, to see who’s openly and firmly on team white supremacy, or to see which non-white and/or Black people are “cool” (which means accepting of their place within the system, and thirsty for the white validation in the form of scoring “cool points”), by gauging the reaction to these performances by the witnesses who serve as the audience.  If the reaction is not what the performer expected or wanted, they can always lean back on the “I was just joking, can’t you take a joke?!?” justification.

Which brings us to another very interesting pattern observed in these journal entries, which is the constant justifications offered by whites for their racism.  Sometimes these justifications are defensive, sometimes aggressively so, where whites assert their right to be racist because of some perceived slight against them by a non-white (often Black) person, or by Black people in general (i.e. the classics, “It’s not fair that they can say n—–, but I can’t!”, “Blacks need to get over slavery, I never owned slaves!”, “Why do Blacks get BET or Black History Month, but whites don’t get WET or white history month?!?”, and so forth).  But sometimes these justifications are simply little affirmations that despite carrying on with their racist charades, tirades or performances, that they are “nice people” or “not racist”, despite the fact they engage in these behaviors, and in doing so are practicing and promoting the most unjust system to ever exist.  This relates to the very inaccurate idea that circulates, I suspect, specifically to keep Black people confused about the nature of racism/white supremacy, that “real racists” are klansmen, skinheads, or tiki-torch carrying alt-righters, when the deceptive racism of everyday white people who don’t wear the uniform, and who go through the charade of common civility with non-whites daily, but are stone cold, die hard white supremacists in thought, speech and action in the backstage, is far more dangerous to Black people due to the deception, in my view.

One thing that I do not engage in in any way, shape or form is “white saviorism” or what I call “John Brown-ism”, where whites who appear to attempt to make a contribution to counter racism or to solving THE problem are given disproportionate, undue praise for their efforts by Black people/victims.  However, I must give Picca and Feagin their due here, as they have really put together a fascinating, constructive, illuminating and for some, very eye-opening piece of work.  There are some people who I know personally who question why I read books on racism by white authors (and at one time, I also foolishly refused to read books written by white authors regarding racism).  But one reading of this book should make the answer obvious; reading books such as this, written by white people on white people, gives the readers, hopefully Black people, an opportunity to see the system of racism/white supremacy from a perspective that we could never get from another Black person/victim. I honestly do not think that a Black writer could have written a book such as this, while being able to secure the honest recollections that they were able to pull directly from the test subjects.

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book, as it confirmed my suspicions even further about the nature of the people that I call my mortal enemies, those who practice racism/white supremacy.  But I can also see how reading account after account of white people, sometimes gleefully, sometimes viciously, sometimes simultaneously gleeful and vicious, practicing racism in a sneaky, two faced way, embracing what it means to be white, which means to practice racism against those classified as non-white, with special enmity toward Black people, could be very tough for Black people, especially those who have convinced themselves that racism is dying or whatever.  But if I had my druthers, I would force every single Black person to read this book, in order to get a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the system of racism/white supremacy, as well as the natural inclinations of those who practice, promote and perpetuate it.  With this book, Picca and Feagin, more than any other that I’ve read, fulfills the request that Dr. Welsing had from the “well-meaning” white person who claimed that they “wanted to help”.  This is a highly recommended, phenomenal read.

Liberation NOW!,

Osei, 21st Century Race Man

Author: Brother Osei 21CRM

I am a victim of racism/white supremacy who spends my time and energy looking for solutions.

11 thoughts on “21CRM CLASSIC BOOK REVIEW: TWO FACED RACISM, WHITES IN THE BACKSTAGE AND FRONTSTAGE BY LESLIE HOUTS PICCA AND JOE R. FEAGIN”

  1. Reblogged this on shelbycourtland and commented:
    ” But one reading of this book should make the answer obvious; reading books such as this, written by white people on white people, gives the readers, hopefully Black people, an opportunity to see the system of racism/white supremacy from a perspective that we could never get from another Black person/victim. I honestly do not think that a Black writer could have written a book such as this, while being able to secure the honest recollections that they were able to pull directly from the test subjects.”

    I happen to disagree and here is my argument.

    “My interest in a book about a collection of conversations by racists among themselves is not peaked. I am under no illusions whatsoever as to what whites say when we are not in hearing range and what they say would in no way surprise me in the least. To hell with what they say. It is all about what they ‘do’. It is what they do that should worry us since what they say leads to ‘doing’ and regardless of what we don’t hear, the plight of every Black person on this planet is a direct result of what they do. Africa is a mess today because ‘whites’ just cannot leave that continent the hell alone, hence why my Black ass is sitting here in America, a descendant of slaves, and why there are over 2 million Black men and women incarcerated and why Black communities all across America were saturated with crack and there was an epidemic of Black crack addicts, many of whom, are sitting in prison to this day or have died there while heroin addiction among whites elicits sympathy and treatment as opposed to incarceration and why there is a school-to-prison pipeline of Black students heading straight from the classroom into a prison cell and why Black communities were torn asunder and HUD(Housing and Urban Development) was cast as the savior of Black people when it was and is anything but, why the whites ALLOWED the Asians, Indians and Pakistanis to saturate Black neighborhoods with liquor stores, Asian takeout joints, Black hair care product stores and high-priced convenience store products and why the U.S. military focuses on recruiting young Black people to fight rich white men’s wars as they come back in body bags as was the case with Sgt. La David Johnson, who had worked in the produce section of a local Walmart, hoped to ‘better’ his situation and that of his family by signing up for the U.S. military whereas he was promptly dispatched to Niger to ‘advise’ and ended up shot dead and no one at the Pentagon knows what happened.

    If Johnson had been paid a living wage by ‘white’ owned Walmart, he would never have felt the need to ‘better’ his situation by signing up as a paid stooge for warmongers and he would still be alive today. What ‘whites’ do is enough for me. I don’t need to hear what they say before they ‘do’ what they ‘do’. The fact that they ‘do’ it is enough evidence that they are our mortal enemy. I will never trust the most deceitful, corrupt, depraved, vile, atrocious, lying, murderous species to have ever landed on this planet. I cannot stand to hear them speak to me or around me when I am in their presence and so they can spout their racist garbage to themselves all day and all night, My problem with whites is what they ‘do’ after they finish talking.

    And lastly, why should we help two whites make money because of the fact that their white privilege allows them to be privy to conversations of a racist nature by other whites when Black folks aren’t around? There are only two things that Black people can do FOR whites; make money for them and die! That is ALL we need to know because, newsflash, there are NO well-meaning whites!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate and respect your opinion Shelby Courtland. I happened to receive information and analysis from this book that I felt was constructive for my own personal understanding, in order to get a better and more comprehensive knowledge of the duplicitous nature of the enemy. If you do not find it constructive, it’s probably best that you do not read the book. We must use our time, energy and money on things that we personally get something out of in order to solve the problem. If you do not feel that this helps you get a better understanding of the problem, then that is well understood, and you are qualified to feel that way. By the way, notice that I put well meaning in quotes, that is for a reason. Peace and blessings, and thank you for reading as always.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Brother, for reviewing & summarizing this book for those of us who refuse to continue lining the pockets of alleged “well-meaning” but RARELY “well-DOING” white folk who write books.

    I actually LIVE the life of “fly on the wall” around the most vitriolic of racists: Midwestern white folk, a.k.a. Trump worshippers. I live in Koch Brother/Kobach Kansas as a [biracial] black woman, but white folk don’t “see” or “hear” me as black, so they spew ALL of their assorted racial hatred unfiltered until they see what sticks. I KNOW this is a God-given gift because with poker-faced grit, I get to SEE & HEAR FIRSTHAND their toxic, racist language, whether under the influence of alcohol or not. (I even excommunicated the remaining whites from my own family this past June for this very reason.) I ask the Lord to give me the words to speak in response, & EVERY TIME I shut those mf’s DOWN with TRUTH for their self-reflection [crickets]. And you know what happens when we RESIST the devil…he WILL FLEE! I wrote 224 posts on my blog blasting truth to white folk & warning black folk about what these whites are planning via their words & DEEDS, until July when the Lord said DELETE EVERYTHING but the Mission Statement. Many white folk know their destruction is near, so it would be WISE for BLACK FOLK to know their plans instead of wasting time trying to “get through” to those who mock your efforts because THEY ENJOY BEING EVIL. THEY ENJOY SETTING THEMSELVES ABOVE EVERYONE ELSE. Just like satan.

    In the Biblical book of Esther when the king’s right-hand man, Haman, planned to kill all of the Jews, Queen Esther went before the king to let him know that SHE TOO would be destroyed because NO ONE knew her REAL heritage, not even her husband (like myself, except MY husband knows). The king had Haman hung on the very gallows he had built to hang Esther’s uncle, Mordecai the Jew, WHO REFUSED TO BOW DOWN TO HIM. Then the king told Queen Esther to rewrite the decree, he gave Mordecai his signet ring to validate the new law to supercede the previous. The tables were turned on those who were to massacre the Jews, they were in turn massacred.

    Farewell to ANYONE who identifies as “WHITE”, the tables have turned on you. So much for us black folk turning into “zombies” for you all to massacre with your AR-15’s. You all are already walking zombies set for utter destruction by God Almighty. Amen.

    Brother, may the Lord continue blessing the work of your hands. Amen.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, Queen Esther, that is a very powerful comment. I can only imagine how it must be being a bi-racial Black woman in such an environment. I truly appreciate your extremely insightful comments and your support, thank you. Peace and blessings.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Brother, this shit is REAL. I used to see it as a curse, even went so far as to verbalize my discontent with my “parents” & swore to NEVER “breed” with a white man like my [excommunicated circa 2008, after Obama’s election] sperm donor. I’m at the point where I only comment on yours & 2-3 other black blogs now. So many of our people are blind & so caught up in social media [& spending money to ease their pain] that they don’t even know what is happening in the real world. That is where a book like the one you reviewed for us is beneficial. It could give those who are ALWAYS seen as black some “backstage” insight. However, like Shelby pointed out, everything else is on FRONTSTAGE for us ALL to see. God put each of us in a position to do a great work, it is up to us to fulfill it with His grace. Thank you for all that you do.

        Liked by 3 people

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