White Women’s Rage: 5 Thoughts on Why Jan Brewer Should Keep Her Fingers to Herself

What is wrong with this picture?

1.)   He is the President. She is being disrespectful. As hell.  Period. Point Blank. End of Discussion.

2.)   White privilege conditions white people not to see white rage. However, it makes them hyper-aware of Black threat.   Newt Gingrich is white rage personified. And for it, he gets loads of applause.  So is Jan Brewer, but usually we think of white rage in masculine terms. Gender stereotypes condition us not to see white women as being capable of this kind of dangerous emotional output. We reserve our notions of female anger for Black women. Such hidden race-gender logics allow Brewer to assert that she “felt threatened,” even though she was trying to handle the situation “with grace.”  Now look back at the picture: who is threatening whom? Couple white rage with white women’s access to the protections that have been afforded to their gender, and you have something that looks ironically like white female privilege. Yes (yes, yes), the discourse of protection is based upon problematic and sexist stereotypes of white women as dainty and unable to care for themselves, and yes, these stereotypes have caused white women to be oppressed by white men. But remember, gender does not exist in a racial vacuum. It is performed in highly racialized contexts, and history proves that what constitutes oppression for white women in relation to white men, dually constitutes privilege for white women in relation to Black men. (I’m not spoiling for a fight today, so anybody who feels uncomfortable with such assertions should probably go read some Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics and then try again.)  What I know is this: 100 years ago (less than, actually) a Black man even standing that close to a white woman would’ve gotten him lynched.  (Seriously, I just discovered that even accommodationist Booker T. Washington was beaten in New York in 1911 for talking to a white woman.) And I know that if a Black woman had wagged her finger at Bush II or even Bill Clinton, we would have seen her faced down, handcuffed, with Secret Service swarming. When your race and gender grant you opportunities to be treated with dignities that others don’t have or conversely, to heap indignities on those people, that is what we call privilege. Deal with it.

3.)   Unchecked white rage has always been dangerous for Brown and Black folk in America. Jan Brewer’s Arizona is not safe for Brown people and by implication, not safe for Black people (Presidents included). Not only has she terrorized and racially profiled immigrant communities, but she has gutted one of the model Ethnic Studies programs for high school students in this country.  If there were ever a time for Black and Brown solidarity, it is now. And hell, lest we forget, Arizona is not even safe for white women. It is the vitriolic racial climate that Brewer’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino policies have helped to foment that led to the violence against Gabby Giffords.

 (It’s amazing what different stories these two pictures tell.)

4.)   This picture demonstrates something important. The logic of racial supremacy dictates that white people are most comfortable when people of color do the affective labor involved in maintaining white supremacy. (No disrespect to Gabby Giffords: of course, I don’t think this hug shared between colleagues supports white supremacy. But this kind of bodily connection is important for humanizing Black public figures, and it is the logic of that which I’m getting at.)   Historically, it was not enough to be placed in positions of servitude; affecting an attitude of subservience was also critically important.  Failure to be deferential could get you killed, even if you were doing the tasks at hand. The term “uppity Negro” hasn’t always been a slogan to rock proudly on a t-shirt.  Something happens when Black and Brown folks decide that we do not exist in the world to make white people comfortable. And white folks feel it.  This is why a movie like The Help so powerfully resonates with White America, and with countless facets of Black America as well.  The affective labor of white supremacy prefers Black people in certain postures, like for instance dishing out hugs and words of affirmation to  little white girls who will become white women that they, indeed, “is smart, is kind, is important.”

from The Sociological Cinema

 As if the world would ever teach anything different. The effect of such labor is powerful: white America feels more comfortable with the disturbing realities of racism, and Black people can convince ourselves that our humanity, and indeed, our struggle is being acknowledged.  Even her well-deserved Oscar nomination has not convinced Viola Davis of such ridiculousness. (And um, would someone help Charlize Theron get a clue?)

5.)   Finally, I just have to say it: If Jan Brewer and any other bad-ass wants to leave here with the fingers and toes they came here with, I would suggest they keep their hands to themselves. Because frankly, I wish a*&%$# would wag a finger in my face… Kudos to the President for keeping his cool. 

 

crunktastic

200 thoughts on “White Women’s Rage: 5 Thoughts on Why Jan Brewer Should Keep Her Fingers to Herself

    • When I saw this image, I immediately thought of that white woman who thanked Newt for putting Juan Williams “in his place”.

  1. What a brilliant article. I am a canadian white skinned very mixed blood lady. When i went to live into the south of the u.s., I was shocked at what I called `white woman syndrome`which was everywhere. The racial distrust and entitled expectations of these insecure and bossy breed were a real wake up call that opened my eyes to the more subtle but no less real behaviours in my own country. That was 20 years ago, discussions like this are crucial to realising respect and equality for all.

    • Why is it always the white defence, when they accost a person of color “I felt threatened”. She was in his face, trying to get a reaction,which she did not get. He is way above that.
      I’ve never seen anyone allowed to treat the President of the United States in such a mannor. She should be ashamed. And why was she allow to get this close to him with her anger??????

      • there has been so much affective outbursts that have been made ok because they are directed at Obama… we have men being overcome by emotion shouting ‘you lie,’ and women claiming to step up into ‘masculine’ performances of gender by standing up to Obama… etc… very interesting response to having a ‘Black’ president in the White House…

      • I’ve never seen anyone allowed to treat the President of the United States in such a mannor.

        You Lie. Oh wait, that’s right, all republican elected officials are allowed to disrespect the president because he is a secret Kenyan Muslim or black or something.

  2. So, I actually haven’t seen this picture before, could someone link me to an article that talks about what they were actually discussing. I totally appreciate this blog post, but when I first saw the picture I didn’t see it as being overly-hostile. Maybe I’m naturally more positive, but I could also see this photo as being one of those “hey, have you heard about blah blah blah” finger-pointing gestures, rather than “Oh no you didn’t!?” finger-pointing gestures.

    • There’s a link in the 2nd point to clips of the interview she gave about the incident.

    • Whether “naturally more positive,” or a personification of what the article is saying, you MAY be an unconscious proponent of the syndrome discussed. It is not necessary to know the conversation, As is said, “A picture is worth a thousand words (actually a hundred in the real tradition) A governor of one of these United States? Indeed. not positive, my dear, unconsciously unknowing.

      My response to the unknowing attitude is TRY to place yourself in the shoes of the other–beyond the intellect.

      • Good point…Ana didn’t know the context and (based on her nature: personality, experience and conditioning as a white female) she had an emotionally neutral or positive reaction to the picture. All things considered, if she had no background on the situation, I think her take on it reflects her nature, rather than any syndrome.

        What if instead of Obama it was Gingrich? or Gabrielle Giffords? I’ve been intrigued by my internal feelings when I change up the players.

        When I saw the picture I did not know who the woman was, but I felt the prickle and ire in her bony finger. I felt in my gut she was being rude… It wasn’t until I found out it was the Gov. of AZ that I was like “OMG, That racist bitch!”

        …but if that had been Gingrich, my knee-jerk reaction have been “GIRL POWER!!!” weird, isn’t it?

      • Hey! Thanks for the suggestions, both you and banchara, I checked out a few articles, including but not limited to the following that came up when I did a google search.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57367529-503544/jan-brewer-releases-private-letter-she-gave-obama/

        Also, I just want to point out that while my perspective as a white female does put me in a privileged position, I as a feminist am consciously absolutely aware of white female privilege and its constructions in society. I was just wondering about this situation with Obama in general, and I am not a very visual person, so I am glad that I researched this incident online. However, of course, as a white woman perhaps my unconscious mind is socialized to not consider racial undertones or be as sensitive to these issues, which I recognize.

        On another note, I am genuinely trying to be a part of this discourse. I consider myself a feminist that wants to unravel both patriarchal and racist constructions within society. I’ve had discussions with black feminist professors about Patricia Hills Collins piece on Black Sexual Politics, and thus applaud this article for pointing out a narrative that many white women such as myself would never even remotely be aware of, had we not the opportunity to be educated by people ranging from Collins’ and other black feminists, and especially INCLUDING the author of this blog post that is bringing this discussion to the internet for all of us to learn from. If anyone has any other blogs they’d like to recommend to me, I’d love to read them.

      • I think you do need to know the story behind the picture. Remember the pic of Obama standing there with hands clasped while the other people had their hands over their hearts? There are others such as “the left handed flag salute” too but the truth was found in the explanation, not the picture.

    • @Ana, seriously. Have you ever seen a person point their finger in the face of a President? Blatant disrespect; doesn’t matter what the discussion, its WRONG……

    • I am curious about how many saw this picture as other than the finger-pointing, in your face episode, as anything other than hostile. True, I looked again and her face is somewhat profiled, BUT I think you are responding to the President’s cool headedness that marked the scene less hostile. If he had gotten angry, pushed her hand away, or yelled back–what would that have indicated? Instead he simply walked away. Bravo for him, but truly her anger is evident. Look again.

    • “Maybe I’m naturally more positive,” seems a lot like the problem being discussed in this post.

      • So what would you have her do? If that is her natural state of being who is anyone to say she should be otherwise? Is that what you want for yourself? To be who you are?

        Because frankly, when people enter into honest conversation about race issues I think it is at least respectful to use your criticism constructively.

    • Ana I will make it simple for you. There is no need for links to articles or a political answer. You DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS IN SOMEONES FACE. It is a sign of DISRESPECT. President Obama is not a child. You do not wag your finger in the face of any adult and especially the President of the United States.

      If you wag your finger at another adult I advise you to stop it, b/c one day someone will take offense and it will instantly elevate the level of conflict

    • You didn’t find a photo of a woman with her face and finger all up in the president’s face overly-hostile?! Sounds like that white privilege the author was talking about.

      • Okay, so how do you react if you exchange the races and genders in every possible combination? Do you feel the exact same about each combo? What combo seems the worst? What combos, if any, seem almost acceptable? Would you expect your answers to that question to be impacted by your gender, race and age?

        Finally, if Ana is attempting to have an open conversation about her initial reaction and is, herself, linking it to her unintentional bias, then it would be helpful to hear a little bit about how we might all become more aware of our bias so we can SUPPORT one another.

    • Ana — all you need do is mentally switch the characters in the photo to understand how shameful the photo is. Imagine that a black male was pointing his finger at a white woman who happened to be president of the United States. Would your reaction be the same — that the photo would not be “overly-hostile?”

    • they were discussing Obama’s feeling that she had represented a conversation they had previously (in Washington) about her anti-immigration position and policies in contrast to his ideas for immigration reform. that’s how I remember it anyway… anybody else remember details?

  3. Reblogged this on princss6 and commented:
    The logic of racial supremacy dictates that white people are most comfortable when people of color do the affective labor involved in maintaining white supremacy.

  4. I really dig this post — it’s well reasoned, it’s articulate, and you make some great points (I particularly liked the discussion of America’s demand for an attitude of black deference). All the same, I really have to take issue with your assertion that “It is the vitriolic racial climate that Brewer’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino policies have helped to foment that led to the violence against Gabby Giffords.”

    I mean, I hate Brewer’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino policies as much as the next liberal, but to make them the cause of what happened to Gabby Giffords is just intellectually irresponsible. All evidence points to that Giffords’ shooter was a psycho with a personal obsession with Giffords herself — that’s not politics, that’s craziness. As repulsive as it is for Arizona’s governor and legislature to politically stoke the flames of xenophobia, you still can’t hold them responsible for the acts of a crazy person. Crazy people do crazy things because they are crazy, and it’s pretty distasteful to use a tragedy like Giffords’ to win a political argument. Besides, I would hope people could see the modern day equivalent of Jim Crow as destructive enough without having to attribute an unrelated crazed shooting to it.

    • Let me take issue with your ableist language here. We try not to toss the word “crazy” around in this community, but I agree that the shooter was mentally ill. For me, it wasn’t central to my point, but rather an additional implication of the ways that hateful policies lead to real violence. But after looking more closely at Jared Loughner’s case, which I haven’t followed that closely, I will concede the analysis could have been tighter here.

      • Amazing how, despite a “tight” construction of a piece there is always someone who finds the “I gotchas.” I used this term for a person who always sought a worn-hole for critique. You did good.

    • I read that Gifford’s shooter\m , under medication, is contrite. Still, mentally unstable or not, do we know the basis of his obsession? Does the state’s the state’s attitude toward mental health and it’s treatment have anything to do with his mental health care. Arizona is not, exactly, an area where mental health is on a par with physical health. No place in the is society is. The situation is more opaque than transparent.

    • I have a couple of friends who are clinical psychologists and their immediate (and separate; they don’t know each other) assessments of Laughner was that he is schizophrenic. The local news on him has traced his history of behaving “peculiarly” which evidently resulted in social shunning. He scared some or a (I can’t remember which) teacher at the local community college where he was a student and which resulted in consultations with campus police and administrators with authority to take action and I think he was invited to not return — and he didn’t. There’s been a lot of discussion in all the news media about how this very sick young man should have been dealt with to protect the public and to provide him with mental health care. And let us not forget that this disease is not an “emotional probem” but is a matter of brain chemistry disfuction, making it a physical health issue that manifests as mental illness. The protocol for both treating someone as ill as he is and for protecting public safety is still under furious discussion but no real changes have been put i place that I know of.

      • This discussion of “craziness” and “mental illness” brings up the important point. Though mainstream media and psychology has accepted a big pharma-driven belief in a huge epidemic of biological mental illness, this is still really up for debate (See Robert Whittaker’s work: Mad in America or Anatomy of an Epidemic or Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters). This is politically important, because who is labelled “crazy” and also, what is done about it (meds, meds, meds as the answer) is a very political issue. With the advent of more and more meds as the answer, the number of people never recovering from “mental illness” is only increasing. When we look through the ages and across cultures at madness, there is often a link with social conditions and societal messages about race, gender, class and behavior (VIctorian white women labelled with the biological condition of “hysteria”, people of color labelled crazy). Though in this case, the person was a a white man, that doesn’t mean we need to unquestioningly accept the doctrine of his isolated biological mental illness as being completely separate from the social and cultural messages and political climate in Arizona. (For a success stories of actually working with social context and larger community dynamics in mental health treatment, google “Open Dialogue” in mental health care).

      • I would also like to point out that although schizophrenics have a suicide rate up to 50 times greater than the general population, they are not any more likely to harm others. Using his mental illness as the “reason” that he murdered is suspect.

        I think this might also be germane to the general discussion as well, schoolchildren subjected to severe discipline and torture for not having the right attitude:

        http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/pushing_kids_out_011812/

  5. Reblogged. Amen…nothing more to add or to say but you are absolutely correct that too many racist white people on both sides, but especially the left, who would like to see this black man sacrifice himself and his the presidency because they’ve had to start dealing with the economics Black America has dealt with for decades.

      • Gwendoline Y. Fortune, I have enjoyed your comments thus far. However, I have to agree with princss6 about SOME folks on the left.
        The people on the left who are nicknamed “The Professional Left” are often guilty of believing that because they are “Progressive/Liberal/Left” in their political leanings, that they are incapable of race based bias. Which is, of course, not true.
        All people are capable of, and more likely guilty of, at one time or another, some form of bias. It may be based on race, national origin, or other characteristics known to separate people from one another. Whatever the case, it is definitely present on the left, albeit to a lesser degree. The difference between the left and the right is that behavior is not only appreciated, but in many cases CELEBRATED on the right. Whereas on the left, they just pretend that it doesn’t exist. Both approaches to a systemic problem are dangerous.

  6. This is such a great breakdown. I was trying to think through this stuff this morning and found I was having trouble articulating the complicated race/gender and racism/sexism dynamics at play. Thank you for making it make sense; I’m going to share this post all over the place.

  7. You had me at #1, and your further points were enlightening all the other ways that image was wrong. Thank you.

  8. Thank you for posting this! I’d been following various conversations around this image on different places on the web, but yours is by far the clearest and most insightful analysis that fully articulates the points that I was thinking about but only articulating through groans and swears.

  9. I would like you to clarify something.
    More specifically, I am interested in what you are against.

    I can see that you are against privilege and the unequal power relations that come from that in regards to gender and race. And I agree with that.

    However, you throw me off with your first point that he is the President and she is being disrespectful. It seems to almost ignore power relations as it relates to class.

    Are you saying that because he is the president that she shouldn’t show her emotion in a way that shows her displeasure with him AND that because of her position in society as a white woman and his as a black man that her show of emotion shouldn’t be displayed because it reeks of privilege?

    If it is both I believe that this situation is a bit more complicated than you make it seem.
    Leaving the race/gender privilege aspect out of the conversation for a second, she is professionally in a different ‘rank’ than the president BUT if he has done something to make her displeased (whether we agree or not with whether that act warrants displeasure) why is showing her displeasure with him out of bounds in that regard?

    We argue all the time that individuals who are in subservient position in society should have a louder voice. Is she not doing that that at least professionally?

    Again, I agree with the white privilege/gender aspect of it. But again if you are saying that in addition to that, professionally, she is in a lower rank than him thus not allowed to display her displeasure because of that it seems contradictory to the core of your message.

    Thanks in advance!

    • We can show displeasure respectfully, particularly when we are talking about matters of disagreement, and not issues of injury. The office of the President commands respect, and only under Obama’s Presidency has he had to justify being treated with the respect afforded every other POTUS. Other POTUSes are routinely granted respect even when their interlocutors greatly disagree. The fact that he is not afforded such respect, on face, without the need for additional justification is entirely a function of racism. And the ways Brewer chose to express her displeasure/enact her racism drew on gendered narratives of Black manhood as threatening to white womanhood. That is unconscionable.

    • Here is my issue with your challenge to state it should be okay to for her to express herself emotionally regardless of the position the individual she is expressing her emotions to holds… Call it what you want, I call it disrespecting the president. However a person may disagree with the individual’s politics, they should always maintain respect for the office. It is funny how she exclaims that she felt she was “disrespected” when she sat behind closed doors of the oval office and how she had I turn in her phone and everything else while she waited for the president. Ummm… Hello… That is protocol. It is the Secret Service’s job to make sure no one leaves their listening devices and recorders around for conversations that are meant to be private. The fact that she was using her “white privilege” to meet with him and already had an agenda (somehow she had a book ready to be published on her “unjust” treatment), shows that she is doing nothing more than taking advantage of his position, knowing that he would not respond in a manner that would put her in her place. I am glad he kept his cool. THEN she goes on to play the “poor me” role as she rants in the media saying she had the right to do what she did. Lady, you are everything this article says you are. Not all white women are this way, because I do know some good ones, but many are. They have never had to walk a mile outside of their skin and if they could they wouldn’t do it anyway.

      • exactly! the idea that she held a PRESS conference afterward and talked about it as she was “the victim” calling him thin-skinned. I mean who wants to sit and listen to her babble. Lady, you have been dismissed whether you thought you were finished or not!

    • Hi Steve,

      As a professor I can only speak to the respect for authority. The issue is that respect IS due to those in authority in order to hold order in society. Government officials exercise the “freedom” to be more disrespectful to each other because they are elected to serve their communities. However, they set a bad example for the younger generations who think that it is acceptable to be disrespectful to authority and it NOT impact them in a negative way! If your argument about subservience holds true, then training students for a corporate world where they are easily replaceable is impossible. I often tell them that being disrespectful to me only causes a negative trail of evidence that impacts their access to resources (academic scholarships) and future success (no stellar recommendations). Who is going to recommend a disrespectful, smart student for scholarship money furthermore a job? No one!! We can all deal with individuals rationally stating their case, e.g. MLK however, who wants to deal with disrespect? You may get pulled over because of racial profiling…but everyone knows you do not disrespect the cop!

      • That society needs respect for authority is not a fact in evidence; what we know for sure is that hierarchy exists and finds methods of self-perpetuation: those in power (whether cops or politicians or professors) can abuse their power to FORCE unequal respect, and therefor they justify it.

        My own view is that a certain level of respect should be accorded everyone on the basis of mutual humanity. Barring that, respect ought to be earned rather than assume on the basis of social statut, and authority — especially hierarchical authority — should be challenged.

    • Really enjoyed your piece. I appreciate the broad context in which you placed the continuing disrespect toward the Prez. This is indeed just one in a long line of incidents.

  10. While I agree and appreciate the message, I have to say it touches a nerve. I am white and was gang raped by three black men who did target me for being white as well as a woman. Not in the south, in the northeast. This is not in response to the finger wagging, which was inappropriate, but to some of the statements you have made; I was oppressed by black men. It takes all kinds and it goes all ways, please don’t forget that.

    • I want to express my sympathy to you for the horrible experience of rape, any kind of rape, any number of rapists. Most rape, I read, is intragroup, i.e., done to someone by someone of the same race/class/ethnicity/region. That was my experience twice. That stats on what percent of women get raped is astounding — and now we are beginning to get similar stats of the rapes of boys — altho no stats that I find about the rape of adult men. I think you are either very brave or emboldened by justifiable rage to speak up about your experience but whichever it is, or if it is something else, I think speaking up about rape is crucially important. I understand the nerve that was touched. But I would also like to read about what you agree with and appreciate in this powerful analysis.

      • Honestly the article is very upsetting. Point one covers everything, the rest is rage and very hateful. I agree it’s disrespectful to do that to anyone, and she shouldn’t have. That’s it.

    • Sorry, but you were not “oppressed” by black men. Oppression is done in collective ways and takes institutional power into account. Black men as a collective group simply cannot oppress white women because they don’t have the power to do so. Oppression does not go both ways, it only goes top down. By the same token, if a homosexual beats up a heterosexual, he is not “oppressing” him either.

      INDIVIDUAL attacks and aggression can be based on race, gender, class, etc., and yes, those can “go in all ways”. Oppression can’t.

      • @Osiris

        Thank you. I was trying to think of a tactful way of saying what you just did so succinctly and gave up out of anger and frustration.

      • No but men oppress women and sexual violence is one of the ways that men oppress women. Here, MEN used sexual violence to violate a woman because she is a woman and that is OPPRESSIVE. I apologize for de-railing, because I do find this post enlightening, but when it comes to GANG RAPE, nobody’s gonna tell me that that isn’t always oppressive. Your heterosexual/homosexual comparison doesn’t work here, because white women are not *always* the dominant group. Intersectionality! Sometimes race comes into play more (see the picture above – creeped me out when I realized what she really wants to scream about), sometimes sex does. This was not a group of oppressed people turning on the oppressor, as your heterosexual/homosexual analogy implies.

      • I second everything Gloria says. The sexual violence of ANY men towards women is oppressive. Not everything fits so neatly into a perfectly arranged tier of who is most Priveleged.

  11. who wrote this junk? Brewer was wrong……..but this is crap, you want some cheese to go with that whine? whine whine whine whine whine whine whine whine, im black and embarrassed of this

  12. I agree with everything you say, except point one. The fact Obama – or indeed anyone – is president does not mean that we should therefore de facto respect them. Who cares whether an individual is president? We elected him/her. He/she works for us. We are his/her employers. That’s the point of democracy. I did vote for Obama and am likely to do so again. But I don’t believe simply because he holds the office of president he is worthy of respect. Americans need to get over this “we’ve got to respect the president” crap. This sentiment propped up the Bush adminstration for 8 years.

    • This is a beautifully constructed, elegantly presented piece of editorial writing. You put into words layer upon layer of disturbing resonance caused by the photo in question. Damn well done, girl. (I really can’t even type that last sentence without feeling like a stupid, disingenuous poser. Let me try that again). Terrific, terrific work.

    • Put the shoe on the other foot, Beth. Supposed President Obama had given her the hand and told her to talk to it. You would then posture him as arrogant, non caring and ambivalent. I think that to liken the POTUS to a “regular guy”, whether you voted for him or not, diminishes the authority and respect that we have place in him as leader of our country and Commander in Chief. Do you believe that you could go to the COO of your job and demonstrate so? No, you would be escorted off the premises, regardless of whether you elected him/her or not. To try and trivialize the role of the President, whether he is talking to another head of state; constituent or not is bs, Bush was never subjected to the type of nonsense at play here, and President Obama did the right thing, to let her continue to flap her gums with out his presence. If she is going to make a scene, he has no obligation to watch it carry out. She got her photo op, and is chewing on her scorpions

    • I disagree respectfully, Beth. We should ALL be shown the kind of respect that we don’t settle our differences with our fingers in other people’s faces.

      Personally, I think a Head of State does deserve a mote more respect as the figurehead embodiment of “WeThePeople”…but then I also think it is disrespectful to boo ANYTHING except bad sportsmanship, or talk incessantly on your cell phone when you are hanging out with someone else. A dinosaur at 37…so sad.

      • Yup, I’m with you about mutual respect. Brewer was disrespectful and should apologize. She was out of line but it says more about her than it does the president. She just made herself look bad, out of control. Kudos to the pres for keeping his cool.

    • Beth,

      I think you’e confusing disagreeing with policies and opinions with the respect we should give to people who hold specific spaces of authority. Let me give you a very practical example: I am a college professor. I am paid by the university to educate students. Many times the concepts and ideas that I teach are in disagreement with many of the students ideological frames. Many times, students like to say that “they pay my salary” (when in fact they do not but whatever). Does that give them the right to point their finger in my face and disrespect my place as the instructor of record? Does that give them the place to disrespect me? Hell to the no. Disagree all you want but we should treat everyone with the respect that they deserve.

      And this is the same with the office of the President. We respect the people that we’ve elected into that office–particularly when we are engaging them IN THE PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY. So, if Brewer saw Obama in the grocery store and she wanted to pick a fight, maybe you have something of a point. But when he’s performing the position of POTUS and more importantly, she is supposed to be performing the role of Governor, they should treat each other with the respect each deserves.

      We don’t have to agree with our leaders or our teachers but that’s not the same thing as behaving like an assclown. THAT, Beth, is democracy. I don’t know what you call what you’ve described.

    • Taking the “Commander in Chief, POTUS, leader of the free world” thing out of the equation,EVERYONE is still deserving of simple respect–something Jan Brewer seemingly didn’t learn as a small child. Yes, we elected Obama. Yes, he works for us, and yes, we are his employers. But to presume that employing someone gives you the right to show DISRESPECT [not displeasure at job performance, mind you]–the kind of disrespect that would make her lean in and point her spindly, dried-up finger in another adult’s face–smacks of that whole ‘master-servant’ relationship that could EASILY be construed to be at the heart of this whole incident. I’m not a public servant; just a regular old citizen, and if I or any other regular old citizens talk about how much we disliked Bush or any other former POTUS, no big deal. However, when the governor of a state, or member of Congress, or any other high-profile elected official does it, the message to the world is that the office of President doesn’t have to be respected–not even by its citizens. So when a foreign leader picks up on that message and follows suit, there’s no need for outrage, right? Jan Brewer was wrong–match, game, set. But like most people of her mindset [read: racist!], she can’t see it, would never reflect on the possibility that her actions were at fault, and would never, EVER offer a sincere apology.

    • I totally agree. for one, we are not compelled to respect this or any president at any time. And for that we should be grateful. On the other hand it is hard to imagine a black man shaking his finger in the face of a Bush, or Raygun (whom I constantly disrespect, even though he is not nearly as dead as I would have him be). I think there is much ado about nothing when it comes to this photo.

      ANd yet there is white privilege, but this photo doesn’t really display it because it does ignore the context in favor of a moment, which is not fair to Brewer, whom, I have a great disregard for as an elected official. Real white privilege (and it feels kind of unfair to call it that, because it is a matter of class as much as race) can be seen not in this picture, but in our courts of law.

  13. Beth and others, I think you are wrong. The Office of the President – and hence the President – deserves respect. PERIOD Whether you agree or disagree with the person holding the office, they deserve respect. You can disagree without shaking your finger at them. That IS the point of democracy. Everyone talks, WE elect someone…sometimes we are happy with the elected official, but sometimes we are not. WE get to vote them out if we are not happy…but being DISRESPECTFUL and rude is not showing the world a democracy, it’s showing the world and more importantly, the young people in this country, that it’s OK to be disrespectful.

  14. My family was disfunctional about dealing with anger so I have a hard time expressing it at all. I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of male fingers wagged in my face just as forcefully as hers were (and other gestures that came close to physical assault). So, without knowing the context, it was almost refreshing to see a woman stand up to a more powerful man (which he still is by virtue of his office.) His gentle efforts to soothe her, and taking the prerogative to touch her seem condescending (and also an assertion of power).

    I’m glad to be reminded of the racial component (am I racist because that wasn’t the first thing I thought of and because his race is not the first thing I think of when I see/listen to Obama?). I wonder tho, if it had been a white governor doing exactly the same thing, would there have been such attention paid to it. Sexism is still as much a part of our world as racism.

    • I think the president’s response and efforts to soothe her show a very distinguished, sympathetic character. Were you “reminded” of the racial component? I am a woman. I am mixed race. But I’m not blind. It’s not a competition between racism and sexism. That’s childish. But among females, I do feel an automatic sense of superiority from white women. Even though I come from a privileged background, and am quite attractive and popular among males and females of all races.

      • Appending my comment, I also would like to say that I often times feel a sense of hostility from black females, for not acting/speaking/looking/being “black” enough. People are kind of all insecure A-holes. We take it out on the people that we feel threatened by. EVERYBODY is guilty of this.

      • Hey–I say 50 bucks to the first secret service agent that tackles her and pins her to the tarmac next time she invades the president’s space…..

  15. I was also disturbed by Brewer’s assertion that she had felt “lectured to” by Pres. Obama in a meeting post SB1070. This was the characterization of the meeting that he took umbrage to and, what I believe, she is finger wagging about here.

    As someone who teaches Ethnic Studies courses to majority white classrooms, this is a response that I am all too familiar with. At least one student a semester will complain that s/he feels “lectured to” (ironic since, as an instructor, this is what I am paid to do) and “berated” by the course material.

    I think that this is a common response by white folks who are conditioned to believe that (A) they already know everything about everything and (B) any challenge to their way of knowing is a threat to them personally.

    From what I gather, Gov. Brewer’s post secondary education is limited at best. As we all know, Pres. Obama is among the most educated people to call the U.S. home. He is a former teacher. I can imagine that he, in his professorial manner, tried to explain to this hateful woman why SB1070 was unconstitutional (and wrong) and she felt “scolded” not because of his tone– but because of her awareness of her own limitations and comparative intellectual shortcomings.

    I think so much of this came down to: “How dare this Black man try to teach ME anything about anything.”

  16. Beth has, I think, a valid point. If Point 1 had read, “He is a human being. She is being disrespectful. As hell. Period. Point Blank. End of Discussion.”, I could back it 100%. In my experience, very very few people like or are unmoved by someone wagging a finger in their face. What compounded Brewer’s actions for me was that she did so in public, where the press could capture that image of a white woman berating a black man: take away their positions as government leaders and it would still smack of racism. I expect elected officials to act with tact and discretion; Brewer evinced neither of these qualities in this situation.

  17. This post is brilliant. Thank you for writing such a well-thought out analysis. I want to add to something you seem to be suggesting about the shootings at the Giffords’ event. The combative anti-immigrant and racist political environment within Arizona includes relaxed gun laws (which, ironically and tragically, Giffords herself largely supports, as a moderate Democrat) and a weakening of social service infrastructure for the mentally ill. To my mind, it is in this way that Arizona’s political landscape shaped the grounds on which the Jan 8, 2011 Tucson shooting occurred.

  18. This is a pretty assinine article if you ask me…no don’t ask I’ll tell you anyway. This article asks anyone who reads it to drop a few IQ points. Oh, don’t hurt the feelings of the poor dark now…that won’t be politically correct. GET OVER IT…call a spade a spade FFS!!! Jan Brewer is a true hero for standing up to Hussein Osama. We can only hope that the voters will have this much guts to stand up to him in Novermber and run him out of town.

    • TROLL…up until this comment, I’d mistakenly believed that, regardless of differences of opinion, posters here put thought, analysis, and intelligence into their comments. There’s always a mental lightweight in the bunch, though, barfing up irrelevant references to ‘political correctness’, ‘get over it’, and ‘true hero’–or some other unrelated nonsense that clearly shows their inability to THINK beyond their misguided, small opinions…thanks for reminding me

      • THIS. A much clearer, more dignified response than I could have managed — my first response was just an eye roll.

  19. I offer you HIGH PRAISE for that so called, “whine.” This article should REMIND people that respect for others should always be practiced whether you are our President (of any color or gender), or the maid. Until we have less suffering for everyone, we need a flood of these articles to keep us CONSTANTLY AWARE.

  20. Pingback: White Women’s Rage: 5 Thoughts on Why Jan Brewer Should Keep Her Fingers to Herself « The Crunk Feminist Collective « Women's Studies Liblog

  21. I will preface this by saying that I had not read/heard/seen anything about the incident in question until being sent a link to this piece.

    Some great points being made here, and I would like to humbly add a personal thought.

    The people that Jan Brewer professes to represent and “fight for” see themselves as being engaged in a holy war. Literally.

    By standing up to the Big Black Socialist Oppressor Hussein, she paints herself as The Faithful Crusader.

    This is not a case of subcouncious conditioning, but rather ego-maniacal opportunism aimed at exploiting the neanderthalic line of thought that pervades among a frighteningly large portion of society for personal gain.

  22. Word! Also: Thinking about white women’s rage and offended privilege always brings me back to the brilliant Thavolia Glymph on slaveowning white women, the households they “ran” and the black women (and men) who had to navigate the petty violences exhibited on and over them as a result:

    “Not only did white women’s violence, and their ownership and management of slaves make it impossible for black people to see them as ideal models of a “kind and gentle womanhood,” but they resulted in specific practices of resistance…Contrary to most interpretations, violence on the part of white women was integral to the making of slavery, crucial to shaping black and white women’s understanding of what it meant to be female, and no more defensible than masters’ violence.”

    From, Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

  23. “I’m not spoiling for a fight today, so anybody who feels uncomfortable with such assertions should probably go read some Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics and then try again.”

  24. “I’m not spoiling for a fight today, so anybody who feels uncomfortable with such assertions should probably go read some Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics and then try again.”–*raises for chair with thundering applause…

  25. Look, Jan Brewer’s an asshole. You’ll get no argument from me. Nor do I doubt that the GOP’s overall disrespect for Obama is fueled in part by racism.

    But where you will get an argument is your implication that Brewer is somehow equivalent to “white women” in the aggregate. The last thing the left needs is more of that white women vs. black men rhetoric that dates back to the 1860s and which got revived during the Clinton v. Obama primary process.

    Hate on Brewer all you like, and I’ll join you there. But stop implying that she is “white women.” I’m so sick of this zero-sum game in which disadvantaged groups fight it out amongst themselves.

  26. Thanks to everyone who responded to my comment, and for doing so more respectfully than I’ve really ever read in any comment thread anywhere. That was the nicest set of disagreements I’ve read anywhere in a long time. I still stand, however, by what I said. And I just want to reiterate here that I completely agree with the article. Certainly Brewer would never have wagged her finger in public at a white man, president or not. I don’t agree with my professor friend above that somehow this is about supporting or not supporting a policy platform. I think its rather about the tendency to assume that because a person occupies a position that this should therefore automatically confer respect. I think that respect should be earned, based on what a person does, not who a person is. Same goes with disrespect.

    If we can make the argument that Obama is basically treated with utter disrespect by the far right in America based on who he is (with little or no consideration of what he has actually achieved) and if we can all agree that this is wrong – than can’t the opposite argument be made as well? I actually do respect Obama. But the fact that I do, has little or nothing to do with the fact that he “is” POTUS. Its do to what he has “done” as POTUS, and before that. That’s all I wanted to say. Peace.

    • Beth, I am an attorney and the reality is that some positions require respect as part of the job. Take that mentality to court and disrespect the Judge hearing your case and you will go to jail, pay the fine, lose your case. This the reality of the world and society in which you live regardless of who you vote for. My advice to you is to abandon this experiment and get real before you suffer some consequences you will find most unpleasant.

      Oh and I would put aside any real asirations to any jobs in the Dept of State or Internationally since respecting heads of state seems to be problamatic for you.

  27. Amen! Your remarks spark a consciousness that we all need to examine and I applaud your truth and honesty.

  28. Reblogged this on Feminist Conscience and commented:
    An excellent, must-read post on white woman privilege and AZ Gov. Jan Brewer’s disrespectful finger-wagging photo with President Obama, from The Crunk Feminist Collective.

  29. I agree that Jan Brewer’s immigration policies are ridiculous and racist, and I agree that everyone needs to be aware of the various way(s) they have privilege. But I think this article even exemplifies how easy it is to get lost in our own privilege, whatever it is. While Jan Brewer is completely disrespectful and wrong for pointing a finger in President Obama’s face, I think that she has some legitimacy in needing to defend her space (at least based on the picture). She is significantly smaller than Pres. Obama, she’s a woman, he is leaning into her, and has one hand on her arm, which is a way to ‘control’ the other person, albeit even if it is to calm her down. If it is to ‘calm her down’ than we have yet another stereotype ‘the crazy woman that needs to be calmed down’ coming into play. While the finger wagging is WRONG the desire to assert herself may be understandable (albeit, and regretfully it wasn’t in a positive or respectful way). Finally, the article ends with ” I just have to say it: If Jan Brewer and any other bad-ass wants to leave here with the fingers and toes they came here with, I would suggest they keep their hands to themselves. Because frankly, I wish a*&%$# would wag a finger in my face.” Really, REALLY? Am I missing something? Did the author really just bleep out what I assume is some sort of gender putdown/stereotype? Some earlier posts commented that the situation is more complex than the article puts forth, and while the article brings some really excellent points to light, it’s also actually a really good representation of how difficult it is for all of us to completely come to terms with whatever privilege we have.

    • I appreciate that you have broken down the body language in this picture to show that the disrespect may have been expressed differently, but was coming from both sides.

      I do think that people are forgetting the other side of this. It shouldn’t be a battle between whose oppression is worse, but it is important to respect the whole picture. People on this forum have repeatedly referred to Brewer as a “wicked witch” type pointing her “bony finger.” Using negative gender stereotypes is no way to have a productive conversation about the intersections of oppression and how they are playing out in this conversation.

      • Sorry, don’t buy that the President was threatening her. Pointing your finger in someone’s face is always a hostile gesture. I can’t even think of a set of circumstances where the gesture is non-hostile unless you are getting examined by a doctor. Brewer is no doctor.

        However, there are plenty of instances when touching someone on their elbow is non-hostile. And it seems to me that what some are arguing that the mere fact that a black man touched a white woman is hostility writ-large. I don’t buy nor do I appreciate shades of Birth of a Nation up in the camp and I say that as an African American woman. Puhleeze!

  30. Respect for authority is the highest virtue. Right?

    Just because he’s slaughtering brown people all over the world, caging millions of victimless “criminals” for non-violent drug offenses and plundering trillions for his bankster buddies, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be worshiped as a god-king. No finger waiving, please!

  31. As I just joked on my Facebook page: You said this so I wouldn’t have to. Thank you for this well-written, thoughtful and highly salient piece.

  32. While I agree putting your finger in anyones face is wrong. I feel this article is a racial attack against white woman. Just because Obama is Black and he is being confronted by a white women you call it “white womans rage”? Have you done research on this topic? Do you have facts to back up this racist article? Even if Ms. Brewer is a racist lashing out and calling her a racist doesn;t help racism in this country it only fuels the fire.

    • What about it, exactly, “fuels the fire”? The fact that people are talking about it and have, in their estimation, categorized her actions as being fueled by ‘white privilege’ or ‘white woman’s rage’? Because people are characterizing her as a racist? Or because the posters here are expressing their displeasure at the fact that, in 2012, this kind of thing is still happening? Sorry…no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be and whether or not our opinions differ, there is NOTHING helpful about not calling Brewer’s–or other racist’s–behavior out. You can’t cover up an open wound and expect it NOT to fester.

    • I really don’t feel the attack, and that’s as a white woman (well, white looking with a very mixed heritage). I’m fully aware of the discomfort caused by the aggregation of all “white women” in this article but I think you need to examine why it feels like “an attack.”

      As well, your frankly inarticulate argument says very little – am I right to assume that you’re saying to actually call someone out on being racist requires a higher burden of proof? Where does one acquire the “research” you spoke of? If it’s in her past actions and policies, and that’s really the only “research” that could be done on the subject, well, that was (briefly) addressed in the article. To say that speaking out against racism and analyzing such actions requires x amount of research is more obstructionist than anything.

      I wasn’t aware that rational discourse “fuel(led) the fire” of racism — thought it was head-in-the-sand ignorance and overwrought emotion that led to the abuse of privilege.

  33. Pingback: GLG Weekly Round-up « girls like giants

  34. @58yrs.Old/young, this behavior from the Right and a small percentage of White Americans is not uncommon hasn’t changed in the last 100yrs. Don’t know and can’t understand how these people got into Pubic office!

  35. Let me start by saying “damn!” This was a phenomenal break down it has also caused me to stop doing my “work” and dig deeper into the political landscape at present which I must admit to shunning in general.
    It also lead me to 1. find the link to the AZ gov’s post-incident in which she victimizes herself. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/25/obama-shares-intense-encounter-with-arizona-governor/?iref=storysearch
    2. If the video is not proof enough of her manipulating race and gender dynamic with words like “I felt threatened” (said while batting her spider lashes) and “I respect the office…I was here to welcome him!” then I don’t know what is.
    3. Much like Palin, Gingrinch, and Romney—Brewer shares a blood thrist for capitalism and exorcise every occasion as a means to further self-promote and keep herself on the NY Times Best Seller List. (Trust, she is making tens of thousands every time someone in media or herself says her name). Creating conflict is a sure way to garner attention. Just look at how boxing promoters get their PR on!
    4. I just had to know what happens to someone who does threaten the president.
    According to this law — 18 USC Sec. 871 — which reads, in part:

    “…Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

    She may have fallen just shy of this but don’t think someone didn’t see that and think they might just point a gun in his face the next time. My greatest fear when he was elected was that he would fall victim to a mad man’s gun, my greatest hope for him is that he will join many others in boycotting Arizona, or that next time he will just hand her a copy of each of the hundreds of racially profiled books that CRAZY lady has succeeded in banning.

    Que viva el pueblo unido!
    a

  36. Fact: race relations could not possibly get any worse than genocide or slavery.

    Fact: the history of the United States is a history of slavery.

    Fact: the sooner white Americans recognize these two facts, the sooner we can move forward from our unfortunate history.

    Because of the above, if white Americans have any hope of bettering the situation rather than adding to the problem, we first have to acknowledge the feelings of Americans of African descent, and that means keeping our hands to ourselves. Intentional or not, touching African-Americans (other than close friends and family members)/invading their person space without their consent conveys an “I can touch you whenever I want” message uncomfortably reminiscent of the master-slave relationship.

    This photo gives me the same icky feeling I get when I hear a white person begin a sentence with “You people…”

  37. Did you call people out for disrespectful of George W. Bush when he was president? If yes, then you have a standard to complain about this woman being disrespectful. If not, you’re being a hypocrite and a racist, judging by the rest of your article. I recommend you let go your hate, and stop seeing in terms of skin color.

    We’re all human beings. We are all equal. Male and Female, no matter what the color of our skin, we are all Humans. Sometimes we get upset, sometimes we point, sometimes we feel threatened, and we react. But do not be racists, and do not assume that the one pointing the finger in anger is always the one who started the situation.

  38. The state of Arizona is under attack by illegal immigration and drug runners crossing the Mexican border, basically unchecked by the federal government. I do not blame her for being upset with Mr. Obama.

  39. Don’t just get angry, call and write that woman’s office and demand an apolgy like I did. We can’t take this sitting down!!

  40. Every state of the union has illegals and drug runners, not just Arizona. More importantly, America is the #1 buyer of such drugs from other countries yet we challenge our local, state and federal authorities to be the front runners of the war on drugs. Ridiculous! That’s like running a rehabilitation center and allowing a 18 wheeler to deliver the drugs to the same location.

    No president should be disrespected on that level, I do recall President Bush being disrespected through comedy, forums and on many occasions it was due to his policies, lying about WMD’s in Iraq and him getting tongue tied. Outside of a foreigner throwing a shoe at him, I don’t recall the level of disrespect Obama is getting from everywhere.

    More importantly than Jan Brewer being wrong is the mentality of the people who patiently waits to argue race. When white people do something wrong, many white racists support the action. It doesn’t matter if the president is being disrespected or a person of color was tied up to a vehicle and drug to death. As many people of color who argue the tragic death you will have just as many racist argue he/she got what they deserved. I’m surprised that many consider themselves religious, I cannot see their final resting place with a God if there is such a place, they don’t deserve to be there. This is not to say all white people are racist, that’s simply an ignorant statement.

    On the same note, many black people argue the president being disrespected yet don’t vote, take care of their children and don’t support positive activism in their community to address crime trends, drugs and the blatant disrespect of their women and crazy youth reaping havoc on their community. Many would get upset and argue what happened to the president and a host of racist issues and sometimes for good reason. I can only hope that they’re the same black people taking care of their children, being responsible people as adults and is not a part of the “No Snitching” campaign in their communities that plays an intricate roll in the criminals murdering more blacks than the KKK. Don’t play both sides of the fence, if you do, you’re no different than the lethargic devils that are white racist, you just have a black face.

    No one should be openly disrespecting the president, despite his or her race. Until humans (despite their race) can agree on that, there will never be racial peace when you can’t even agree on simple things like cleaning out your own closet, common sense, right and wrong and being good spiritual people to all humans on the planet.

  41. I also find it appalling that Jan Brewer so brazenly disrespected our president with this public display. Please help me to I understand why racist terminology -”white female rage” is automatically assumed because she is a white female who has a position of power. Do we know for a fact she is racist to African Americans?

    Cannot a white female have a position of power and NOT be termed this should she become angry- or is it a gross generalization?. If in fact it is a gross generalization- then this would seem racist in and of itself. Perpetuation of racism by pointing fingers( pardon the pun) , does not help to heal our past . Tolerance and acceptance does.

  42. Pingback: 5 thoughts on why Jan Brewer should keep her fingers to herself

  43. Rock on & thanks from this white girl. And remember, Giffords is a conservative democrat who loved to militarize those borders to stop more brown people from returning to THEIR land.

  44. I agree that Brewer’s policies are racist, and her finger-wagging behavior and attitude was disrespectful. However, much of your additional support points (numbered) were off-topic, based on your own individual experience, illogical and sometimes factually inaccurate. For example, regarding:
    #2. Rep Maxine Waters ( a personal acquaintance) wagged her finger at Bush II at least six times in photos published nationally. No handcuffs. No Secret Service swarm. No invites to state dinners either of course, but your point is disproved.
    #3. Gabby Giffords was shot because the guy was crazy, and it was made possible because Arizona is a gun nut culture (hello! – Tombstone, the O.K. Corral etc.), not because it also happens to be racist.
    #4. So far as resonance with audiences, men (any race) do not want under any condition (aside from getting laid) to see “The Help”. It’s a “chick flick”, lame and heavily sanitized. Viola Davis was far better in her eight minute performance in the film Doubt (2008). And why should Charlize Theron have to get a clue? Unlike many Black women in this country, she happens to be an actual African-American.

    Obama is a cool guy, though. You are right about that.

      • Charlize Theron, born 1975 in Benoni, Transvaal, South Africa. She had never been to the US until she was 20. She became a naturalised in 2007, but retains dual citizenship. She’s an African-American. Try looking beyond skin color. I do.

    • @ZenMamaPolitic This was another great article. And yes..you are correct that there is an air of White Privilege that Jan Brewer holds dear to her heart in AZ. I actually turned down going to Graduate school there, partially because of the ‘Whiteness’ associated w/their African studies program. And we all know that there just simply isn’t any ethnic studies programs of merit w/in the local High schools at this time, because of Gov. Brewer’s snide attempts at maneuvering between the lines of Illegal Immigration & White Supremacy. When there is no clear definition of ‘Ethnic’, & no activists to protect (in particular) African American civil rights; then there is a clear conflict. The problem in AZ is..she is partially correct in her view of Immigration, & Obama is at fault for not directly addressing the issue. However; she is choosing to use White Supremacist methods of induction to facilitate the chaos, that ‘doing nothing’ causes. They are both wrong, but she definitely is a great example of the inequalities associated with current Sociological race/gender hierarchies; which also have not been addressed by Obama. Who knows..maybe Bell Hooks should run for office, because we need help. It’s Funny..a ‘Do Nothing President’, that is indirectly helping a racist White Supremacist governor; who is using the violence associated w/Illegal Immigration, as an excuse to finally vent her ‘White Rage’ (If there is even really such a term-without oppression.) But, what I am saying is..one thing fuels the other. We cannot ignore racism, within the hopes that it will just go away. Period. If we do not change it; then there will be many more ‘Jan Brewers’ in the future.

      • How is Pres Obama at fault for “not addressing ” the issue? He has been YELLING about Immigration Reform for three years. Congress, including Democrats, have not stepped up to tackle it, and even voted down the Dream Act that he pushed aggressively, REPEATEDLY. Congress refused to take it up, and the Senate GOP voted down the DREAM ACT as well. I wish people would keep up with congress, and how they have blocked so many of his initiatives.

    • Invisible Mikey, are you able to provide any links to some of those photos of Rep. Waters pointing her finger in George W’s face? I’ve never seen them previously and I did a quick photo search on google and nothing came up. Thanks.

      • I tried as well (which I should have done before commenting) and couldn’t figure out a way to phrase the keywords to get less than 80,000 results. It takes forever to look through that many pages! I just happened to be there in L.A. when she did it, and there were photographers all over the place from the Times and TV etc. Maybe I’m totally wrong about it being published.

        I used to live in Maxine’s district. She wagged her finger often, at everyone. Because it was such an ordinary behavior of hers, I don’t think people took it very seriously. Despite agreeing with most of her political positions, I think it’s basically a rude behavior to do it at another adult. I guess it’s more acceptable if you are trying to get the attention of a misbehaving child, but between grown-ups, never.

        I also found it interesting to see all the other politicians who do a lot of finger-wagging. If you go by the Google images, most of them are White males. I have no idea if that’s a valid way to count, since there are more White male politicians. Well, the first point of this post, that Brewer was disrespectful in doing it, is the one I agree with the most.

    • I agree with you on point #3.

      Charlize Theron’s South African childhood combined with current American citizenship(?), would make her a South African American. There are limitations to the term “African American.” Sadly, many people tend to use the term interchangeably with Black when the two terms are related, but not synonymous.

  45. Pingback: Links and Brew « Big Stick Haver

  46. Thank you. Every word of this essay rang true for me. I am neither a person of color nor a woman, so I lay no claim to the kinds of knowing/understanding that many who have posted comments here clearly have, but that image is so self-evidently disrespectful and full of anger. I have been disgusted by the level of disrespect shown this president by elected officials–from this incident to the public remarks about making our First Lady a widow, to yelling out “liar” as the president addressed congress. The general public has long heaped scorn on sitting presidents from Carter to Bush, but I cannot recall this level of open disregard for decorum and the standards of decency by elected officials in my lifetime. I am grateful for the clarity of your analysis of this troubling phenomenon. I am grateful too for the honesty and forthrightness of the comments. I look forward to reading more.

  47. I’m Brazilian. I’m considered Latin (or God forbid Hispanic (god forbid because Brazil had nothing to do with Spain)) in the USA, and white in Brazil. I am about 50% sure that if I went to Arizona right now, based on my skin tone and facial features, I’d be asked for identification proving I am in fact an American citizen (Although I am not sure if that law is still in effect. I know that it was dubbed unconstitutional by much of the rest of the country, but I’m not sure if that changed anyone’s minds.). I was born in the US and I’ve lived here my whole life. Anyway, although Americans of all races has tried to force the latina way of life on me, I just don’t feel it. There’s a lot if difference between a Latin person born in a Hispanic country vs a Latin person born in Brazil. So long story short, I consider myself to be white, but how America has raised me, I understand the struggles of the brown. Well, yesterday a black woman told me that I see no sunshine through my rose colored glasses because I didn’t agree with her statement that ALL white people are inherently racist, enthnocentric and hateful because we carry the sins of our forefathers on our shoulders. So I really appreciate the fact that you differentiate between whites and white supremacists in your article. Besides that, I agree that the POTUS deserves respect (although I’ll have a very hard time giving it if Newt Gingrich is elected) and that Jan Brewer is anti-anyone not white and that some white people are just fine with how it is for non-white America. I’d break off the bi….lady’s finger if she ever wagged it in my face too. I always gush over Michelle for being the most classy First Lady since Jackie O, but obviously Barack is pretty high up on the class factor too!

  48. I loved your post so much I reblogged it!

    When they say a picture is worth a thousand words, this is it. In my opinion, you broke down exactly what the problem is with the privileged, racist behavior of Jan Brewer and all who would defend her.

    It is a disgrace to see OFFICIALS behaving in this manner and disrespecting the President. It truly boggles my mind…but then again I expect it. People often talk about our racial history, as in past tense, but reality gives us many, many more examples worthy of examination. This madness has been going on since he took office and notably, the more successful he becomes, the more vitriolic the attacks. Since President Obama’s accomplishments continue to defy the expectations, stereotypes, and invisible boundaries set for African American men, he challenges the deeply entrenched racism which is America’s foundation. Hence, the number of folks who are “outing” themselves in public. It will not stand.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

    Peace

    • Coco Rivers, I agree with you. Brewer’s behavior is a disgrace and she does not seem to care that the whole world is watching and this world is full of brown people. They are seeing this white woman governor disrespect the president of the United States and America has to work with these countries full of brown people. I guess she didn’t think about that when she was acting out either for the cameras and/or her constituents.

  49. The reason the President stayed so level headed was because he knows he’s wrong on every issue when it comes to Arizona. How can you become angry with someone when you know they’re right?

  50. I don’t know if you’ve seen the side-by-side photo comparison, but she looks exactly like the Wicked Witch of the West.

    Thanks for telling it like it is.

  51. Yes, this is outrageous & disrespectful behavior. (And even tho I am a white gal, I am still able to see it.)

  52. It is interesting in the two photos.

    We see race and gender in the Brewer photo because she put it there.

    We see no race or gender in the Gifford photo because it was not in the minds of either Obama nor Gifford.

  53. It is commendable to see people against racism, hate, ignorance, etc. Jesus Christ is the cure for this problem. I don’t mean the Jesus of the Western world that gives you what you and and doesn’t care if you sin or not. I am talking about Jesus Christ who lived a life completely for others and died with nothing left physically left but gave up his life so that those that follow him can be set free from the power of sin. Yes, he did die for our sins but there is so much more. Those that love the things of this world including their opinions, hatred, racism, material things, God gave you free will to keep doing what you wish but their are consequences in the end. Just like there are consequences in this world for our actions there are spiritual consequences as well. The bible promises that if we seek Jesus we will find him when we seek with all our hearts. We need to be willing to give up everything, whatever he asks of us, that may be weighing us down. You may ask why am I posting this on a blog about President Obama and Jan Brewer? I am not writing to those that don’t love the Lord or have any desire to be like Jesus. Time is short on this earth, choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15). Jesus commanded us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, he also included that we are to love our enemies. Pray for Jan Brewer, pray for President Obama and he or she who is without sin cast the first stone. If you want to change this world, repent and give everything to Jesus, he will change you and the love coming forth from you change more than any blogs could ever do! The Lord bless you all! http://www.abidinginjesuschrist.com

  54. Booker T. Washington might have got beaten up but his compatriot Frederick Douglas was married to a white woman and they lived in Washington D.C. There are many documented cases in the South where Jim Crow was the order of the day in a particular town or hamlet and in another just a few miles away integration and intermarriage was a very normal thing. The U.S is and was a very complex place so to just say that so and so would have been killed for standing so close to a white woman avoids historical complexity by foregrounding a very cliched concept of history. This does not preclude the reality that that woman pointing her finger up in the President’s face doesn’t need a serious talking to with reference to self-comportment.

    • Frederick Douglass took quite a bit of flack from white and Black folks for marrying his second wife. 2nd, he married her in the North in the 1880s, which while after Reconstruction, still occurred in the period prior to the formal end of Reconstruction in the 1890s. And he got a pass because he was so famous. BT Washington never woulda tried that ish in Alabama where he lived. 3rd, Douglass died in 1895, right in the midst of the cementation of Jim Crow, after the end of the relatively liberal period of Reconstruction. 1911 was an extremely different (and worse) racial climate than 1865, 1875, or 1885. 4th, the idea that the one famous interracial marriage you can point to in any way negates the scores of racial hate crimes against Black men for “crimes” that they in fact didn’t commit against white women is intellectually disingenuous. B4 you come again, catch a clue and go read some Ida B. Wells. But don’t every try to school me on history, particularly, when it is clear that you haven’t read enough.

      • Lordy, I’m holding my you know what as I pen these words. This was a testy response to what I thought was a rather innocuous post, and I wasn’t try to school anybody. But clearly if that is what you thought crunkastic, I must have struck a nerve. Look, you gave a famous example to illustrate what I view as a rather ideolgoical view of American history and I countered with another famous example to illustrate a somewhat different point of view. Fair, no? Alright then. To continue. You state that Douglas “got a pass because he was so famous. BT Washington never woula tried that ish in Alabama where he lived.” Clearly this is not rooted in fact but simply counterfactual speculation on your part. But then you go off the deep end and just hit me over the head with this bit: “the idea that the one famous interracial marriage you can point to in any way negates the scores of racial hate crime against Black men for ‘crimes’ that they in fact didn’t commit against white women is intellectually disingenuous.” I mean, really? Do you think that is what I attempted in a couple of sentences? Come on, who’s being disingenuous now? And by the way, what I said about an ideologically driven view of history is well illustrated by this very grandiose flourish. Scores of crime? This is a cop out. Historians deal with facts. Put the numbers down. Put the places down. Put the names of individuals down. This is where this ideological view of history come up short. But you know, I’ll grant you this. I may not have read enough as you have, but it’s one thing to read, it’s another to understand and make sense of what you’ve read. Have you done enough of the latter?

  55. This article also brings to mind one the strangest things i have noticed about how both wings of the press refer to Barack Obama. Since I have been alive (that’s roughly ten presidents, folks), the leader of our nation has always been referred to as Mr. President or President Lastname, NEVER Mr. Lastname, once elected. Until, of course, President Obama, whom I hear referred to as Mr. Obama in the US press constantly. And I”m not just talking Fox News press–I’m talking NPR. I attribute this completely to our culturally institutionalized racism, and I find it horrifyingly offensive. I don’t recall anyone ever referring to President Bush as Mr. Bush whilst he was in office… or President Clinton, for that matter.

  56. Pingback: Jan Brewer and white women’s rage | Musings over Tea

  57. There is not one person who posted here in defense of Brewer. Not that she is entitled to a defense. I’m not defending her because I think she was disrespectful. But everyone who was invited to “pile on” and criticize her, where were you when the Rep of Colorado boycotted the State of the Union speech because he disagreed with Pres Obama’s policies? Where were you when members of Congress shook their heads “no” during last year’s speech? Where were you when a Supreme Court justice in open defiance showed disrespect to the President during the State of the Union and in the swearing in ceremony? It is not feminist to compare a woman to another woman in an orange suit. Is it the white lady standard that she failed? Or the white lady recovering from a national tragedy? To meet the Giffords standard, Brewer would have to switch parties and resign. Don’t you guys see the impossibly high standard, the double standard you built here for women? That is not feminist.

    For her behavior towards the President a feminist must compare Jan Brewer to another Governor, preferably a Republican, and they have been disrespectful to Pres Obama. In this country, in some situations, a Governor has preference over a President. Maybe she was arguing state’s rights, we just don’t know. Brewer is a sad example, but like Sarah Palin, she could have been on a stage debating the President. She wouldn’t be wrestled to the ground because she is a Governor.

  58. **POINTS FINGER IN FACE(S)** Secret Service: STEP YA CLANDESTINE ASS UP OR GET FIRED/REPLACED BY A REAL SECURITY TEAM. You know, the 1 that would BITCH slap a BITCH/take a FOOL DOWN in any AND EVERY event like this [sharp about turn on heels]

  59. I know I’m gonna get shot for this (based on the other comments), but my Gramma always taught me “a persons color, title or amount of money in the bank doesn’t give them automatic respect. They have to EARN it. The person they actually are will guide you and your thoughts of them”.

    The Gov of AZ has a monumental fight on her hands due to illegal immigration. When the AZ state tried to do something about it, the Feds stood in their way and didn’t want to back them up. I can see why she’s a bit hot and testy.

    Having said that, a finger in the face is on one hand disrespectful (I have gotten my back up more than once when someone else displayed it to me). On the other hand, it also shows that you are willing to go ‘mano y mono’ – man to man. It’s not about title, position, color or money. It’s about feeling disrespected, worked over and tired of the BS you have been feed. My guess is that might be where she’s coming from.

    I applaud Obama for walking away without confronting her. It’s a lesson in diplomacy we can ALL learn. However, he also seemed to initiate the confrontation by ‘voicing his displeasure of her coments’ almost immediately when he disembarked the plane (according to some on line reports I read over the past few days).

    I’m not pointing fingers or taking sides. But personally, I can’t give ANYONE a free pass of automatic respect simply because of their title or any other factor you want to throw in. You have to EARN my respect. If I feel you’ve done me wrong on something big or on an important issue time after time, yes, you might just get my wagging finger in your face. If folks are honest, I believe they have committed the same offense if they have not been able to contain themselves in the heat of debate or confrontation.

    • I agree with your Grandma that respect must be earned–I was taught the same thing. However, I was also taught to respect authority, up to the point it no longer respects me [a paradox, I'm sure]…regardless of Gov. Brewer’s frustration with the illegal immigration problem in her state, the “something” she tried to do about it was deemed unconstitutional and did not pass. That’s not Obama’s fault. And her being “a bit hot and testy” doesn’t justify her taking out her frustration in a disrepectful way to him or anyone else. She has the right to express her displeasure in the SAME WAY Obama expressed his about how she depicted their earlier meeting in her book–but that expression of displeasure doe NOT include the right to put your finger in another adult’s face…if his hand on her arm was seen as a show of condescension or attempt to control her, I’d say it was because she wasn’t doing a good job of controlling herself. Oh, and another thing about the “respect” lessons I was taught as a child: you have to GIVE it to GET it

  60. I love this super-sensitive rant about racial hugs. No one cares about race anymore, it’s all money driven. and the debt is 16 trillion, that’s the only important issue, not a little lover’s quarrel. lulz

    • Go home little boy. Oh and don’t bother quoting an age to say how you’re an adult. In terms of your mental faculties, no one will believe you.

  61. I could not said it any better. Excellent article! I cannot see how people were applauding this woman, this is the HEIGHT of DISRESPECT. No other president in the USA has ever been as disrespected while holding the office as President Obama, no person, male female black or white would have ever attempted to do this with any other president

  62. “Something happens when Black and Brown folks decide that we do not exist in the world to make white people comfortable. And white folks feel it.” Awesome! Great article. P.S. – I refuse to see The Help for all of the reasons you note. The very idea gives me a bad feeling, much like Driving Miss Daisy. That’s the crap for roles we get AND THEN we get an academy nomination?! Gross.

  63. She has every right to get in his face, her state passed a law to deal with people crossing the border into her state illegally and with them high crime rates. He has the nerve to file a lawsuit against her and AZ for passing a law they needed because he will not do anything about the problem ? If the federal gov. did there job AZ and other states wouldn’t need to pass their own laws. And being disrespectful to the president? Normally I would agree but what did he do when he first took office? Ran around the world apologizing for americans being americans, if he is so ashamed, get the hell out !! Move to france, you seem to think they have a better social system anyway.

    • Brewer has the right to disagree with the President AND to voice her disagreement, but no, she does NOT have “every right to get in his face”–disagreement does not entitle anyone to blatantly disrespect anyone else, even if they personally dislike them! ” If the federal gov. did there [wrong word use--should be "their" or "its"] job AZ and other states wouldn’t need to pass their own laws”, you say, so the issue is with THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT [which usually has problems agreeing on whether or not the sun is shining], So what if Brewer or anyone else doesn’t like what he’s done since taking office? He has never, to my knowledge, said he was ashamed of Americans or of being an American–but heaven knows, there have been enough shameful actions by America and Americans to make ANYONE with a conscience twinge just a little…and as for your “love it or leave it”–style choice for those who might be ashamed: there are more options than leaving the country, for both elected officials [Obama] and citizens [you]. If you’re an elected official, work to change the things you don’t like; if you’re a citizen and your elected officials aren’t doing what you feel they should, VOTE THEM OUT. That is all…

  64. Okay here we go… It is evident to me and I am sure other people that when it comes to certain behaviors displayed by white people, it sends them into oblivion. You cannot tell me that it you need to read a full story of why Jan decided it was okay to point her finger in the Presidents face. She was clearly one step away from slapping him. It is not only a sign of disrespect but also a sign of aggression which warrants further action be taken to take her down to the ground face first. I have never seen anyone point their fingers in the President face nor anyone ever get close enough to a President displaying hostility and aggression. If a person cannot think outside of his/her shell to realize that there are many disrespectful acts occurring on a daily, then clearly to me that person lacks basic common sense. “I’m just saying!”

  65. I read this, like, three times and intend to forward to my class this week. Thanks for saying it and saying it so beautifully!

    • You would encourage your students to read this highly biased article. Huh.

  66. Pingback: Sunday Links Round-Up! «

  67. Agree with this analysis, except for the first point. I find his status as President irrelevant as to why we should or should not challenge him. I understand that part of this scenario is her inability to accept power and authority held by Black and Brown bodies, but what about an analysis about the type of power and authority the President wields period? Obama’s status as leader of the not-so-free-world allows him to perpetuate colonial wars. It allows him to legislate military surveillance against people of color and to reinforce the State apparatus over and over again-a state that was founded in the name of capitalism and slavery, requiring the subordination of people of color and the working classes to survive. The point is this: Obama deserves respect as a human being. He does not deserve an ounce of respect because he is “our” President. I don’t want a President and I don’t find it to be anything worth lauding.

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  70. 5 Thoughts on Why Jan Brewer Should Keep Her Fingers to Herself

    I’ll give you another reason:

    Jan Brewer might meet someone that is not as respectful & kind as our wonderful President & end up with a broken finger. I’m just saying…

  71. Mayne, that dude will be okay.

    Black men striving to make a difference are always going to face something that will remind them that they are black in a country that’s still striving to put the past behind them.

    I’m surprised Obama has come so far without any physical attacks. Just keep the man covered in prayer and he will most likely make it out of this run without a scratch.

  72. Thank you for this. It’s the best thing I’ve read on that photo/incident, and how it encapsulates the toxic pattern of white privilege and rage that is all around us in pres. candidates and ridiculous movies. Sharing on my site.

  73. What’s going on with Jan Brewer & Arizona is just an example of a larger problem in America — legal residents who pay taxes are tired of paying for services, health care, and the education of people who are not here legally. It all comes down to money. If I was Mexican and couldn’t find a job in Mexico, I would want to come to America too, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are all a burden on American tax payers. When does it stop? Where do you draw the line? There’s no solution to the problem.

    • are you fucking serious right now?

      No…you cant be.

      But, in case you are-please sit down and think about how narrow your comment is.

  74. This is an extremely helpful analysis of the situation thanks. I only wonder if characterizing Jan Brewers rage as embodying “white women’s rage” is giving her power that may not necessarily be merited. I would be offended by the opinion that Rage is reserved for right wing white racist women. And while jan brewer utilized her privilege in acting on rage she and her politics do not have a monopoly on what it means to have rage. Already you mention black women’s rage, and while clearly a different story there are several other forms of rage that develop within other communities and are utilized under different circumstances of privilege. Would you put a white women enraged by domestic violence or reproductive justice in the same category as Jan Brewer’s blatantly racist neo conservative rage? Most women should feel enraged by the capitalist system which Commodifies their bodies and pays them less. That is rage felt not equally but universally by all women.

  75. Nice to see White women called out on their racism for a change. Now I would like to see it when they are racist against Black women/girls.

  76. Pingback: White Women’s Rage: 5 Thoughts on Why Jan Brewer Should Keep Her Fingers to Herself | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  77. I can’t imagine the level of idiocy required to build a body of thought and a resolute judgement of an event that occurred in four dimensions based on a static, two dimensional representation of the event. In essence you are looking at a still frame taken from a movie and judging the entire movie on the frame. For example, you have no idea where her hand was in relation to the president horizontally. You assume it was dead-center, pointing directly into his face. You could also assume it was parallel with his left arm and her next action was to point outwards towards the plane, etc.

    You could go on and on…

    Take your biases, fill in the gaps, present the hate. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

    Sad…

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  80. As a formerly white south african, all i wanna comment on is charlize theron, who whilst she may have affected an accent remains infected with stupid white madam syndrome, a syndrome that is largely prevalent in south africa and other bastions of white privilege.

  81. Silly analogies. If black female governor wagged her finger at Bush she would not have been arrested, but applauded. What world do you live to say such silly things, then use that premise to prove other false things. To actually liken 1911 to a hypothetical of a black women governor getting arrested face down for wagging her finger shows just how out of touch with reality you are. You sound very victim oriented. Everyone is an oppressor to you. Filth.

    • What world do YOU live in, that you not only think it’s okay to categorize and dismiss someone else’s cultural experience as “silly”; but you also, quite ARROGANTLY, tell that person that THEY are out of touch with reality, not you? Then, to add insult to injury [which now that I think about it, surely that was your intent], you call the person “filth” Does that make you a TROLL? Because certainly you didn’t respond to shed any kind of light on the subject–only to interject how YOU have somehow managed to figure out what’s reality in someone else’s culture, and therefore, how they should respond to perceived insults, etc. It seems to me that the writer of this article was trying to clarify something about African American culture that the average ‘outsider’ [that would be you, my friend] wouldn’t understand UNLESS they’d taken the time to have a dialogue that would allow for/facilitate discussion of differences–that kind of dialogue only happens when the participants give a crap; the writer of this article does, while you BLATANTLY do not…when you get a clue, come back with a sensible, well-thought out response…or just identify yourself for what you obviously are…

  82. A lot of hate misdirected in this article. Her conclusions are convenient to her position, but they are certain far from most peoples reality. Comparing Jan Brewer talking to Obama with one image, and taking that and wondering what would be done to a regular black female who did the same to Bush or Clinton, how dishonest a statement. A unknown white woman who walked up to the president and acted angrily would be treated badly as well, and her well being would not be paramount. Stop being so dishonest about race and gender.

  83. I enjoyed your article, thank you. I’m a white woman who has been married to a black man for 34 years. I suppose it is not unreasonable that my initial thought to the picture is that she felt equal to this man as humans, equal enough to let him have it LOL regardless of their political hierarchy. The reasons as to why she was pointing her finger scream ingrained privilege to me, not to mention racism. Having a problem with illegal immigrants isn’t always racist. Having a problem with legal immigrants is. What ever her reason it was a disrespectful and dumb move. I am sure the president was shocked at her action, I can’t imagine it’s something he’s used to, but I wish he would have demanded respect as the president immediately. Had given the signal to security or something. I hope he does if something similar happens again.

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