Invisible “Whites Only” signs are everywhere.

David Moser
Seattle, WA

My own wrestling with the meaning of the Zimmerman verdict has reminded me of this passage from James Baldwin’s A Talk for Teachers: “When you go downtown you discover that you are literally in the white world. It is rich- or at least it looks rich. It is clean- because they collect the garbage downtown. There are doormen. People walk about as though they owned where they are- and indeed they do. You know- you know instinctively-that none of this is for you. You know this before you are told.”

NONE OF THIS IS FOR YOU: Those of us who are white don’t really know what it feels like to have large swaths of public space marked off-limits to us simply because of our skin color. We don’t know what it feels like to have entire streets, neighborhoods and towns look upon us with suspicion just for walking. The signs saying “Whites Only” may be gone, but there are invisible “Whites Only” signs everywhere. White people usually don’t notice these invisible signs. We don’t have to. Part of white privilege is the luxury of living our lives oblivious to these signs. But people of color see these invisible signs everyday. On streets, in restaurants, in the workplace, and in between the lines of job applications.
Trayvon Martin’s only crime was that he nonchalantly walked past one of these invisible Whites Only signs. Unlucky for him, George Zimmerman was there to enforce the unwritten law. This is America in 2013.

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

43 Responses to "Invisible “Whites Only” signs are everywhere."
  1. Russell Linton says:

    Why was George Zimmerman there if there was a “white’s only” sign? He’s hispanic. Okay, so only his mom is hispanic, maybe that makes him “white”. Sort of like our “white” president Obama, I suppose. I’ve walked black neighborhoods before and felt all kinds of out of place and drawn all kinds of suspicious looks. Let’s throw skin color out the window and look at the real problems in this country – people (black and white but disproportionately black) forced into cycles of poverty which they cannot escape. Let’s solve THAT problem and see what happens to this notion of painting people with broad brush strokes.

    • thechairisnotgay says:

      Race is a social construction and that’s why anyone who passes as white benefits from white privilege. Saying that Barack Obama could benefit from white privilege is ridiculous because his skin colour doesn’t even slightly resemble that of George Zimmerman.
      Poverty is a huge problem, but so is racism and it won’t just go away by “throwing it out of the window” and pretending it doesn’t exist. White people love to say that they’re “colour-blind”, but only because “privilege is invisible to those who have it” (Dr. Michael Kimmel).

      • Kica says:

        EXACTLY regarding president Obama. if they never showed or said his mom was white, no one would ever be able to tell. To me (and law enforcement), because of THAT he is Black.

        • Bonnie Lee says:

          That’s the problem with this world today…black, white , Asian or Hispanic….looking on the outside and making judgments when you cannot see the DNA, history or thoughts of a person! A person who looks white but has a percentage of black is treated white and if found out they have black in them are suddenly treated differently yet the person inside is the same whether black or white! Now on the other hand, a black person who has a tad of white in them are always treated badly and when it is found out that they have a tad of white, no one cares because they look black! By the way, I’m not an Obama supporter because I’m Republican however, why do we have to say black or white, Hispanic, Asian or Latino??? Why can’t we just say human being? I don’t understand how hard core rasists can say that blacks are different genetically??? Some even believe they are Ape, not human! This boggles my mind!

      • Russell Linton says:

        Precisely true, it is a complete social construction, one Americans used to justify the enslavement of an entire group of people and something was only fairly recently corrected. But the race fetish in this country has started to preclude common sense.

        Perfect example – People love to cite how blacks teens are more likely to die in gun violence than white teens. They then want to turn around and say how black teens are profiled by cops and how racist that is. They next want to ignore the fact that most often these black teens are shot by other black teens. Now, does this mean blacks are violent? White cops are racist?

        No – it means poverty breeds violence and we desperately need to address that issue. Yes poverty in these communities is a direct legacy of racism, no doubt about that. But we need to solve that issue on a national scale and not select communities. We wont however, because we are so hyperfocused on something as absurd as skin pigmentation so we’ll never change anything except add to the levels of animosity between two communities.

        People also want to ignore, with those same gun violence statistics, the fact that once you factor out socioeconomics, the gap between black and white teen murder rates narrows considerably. They also want to ignore that while poverty stricken whites don’t tend toward murder as much, there is an epidemic of suicides in rural areas. While everyone else is blustering about skin color, I’m seeing poverty issues and people with guns that shouldn’t have them.

        • White Light says:

          Did you know that poor Whites do as well or better than rich Blacks on psychometric tests? It is true that Blacks are more inclined to murder and Whites are more inclined to commit suicide. I don’t really see how taking away guns is going to cut that down. Even if you could control the Black market, which you can’t, you think that will stop them from stabbing each other?

          • Russell Linton says:

            Did you know your views about white intellectual superiority went out of fashion over a century ago? Did you know many of these tests you refer to were designed by individuals with a specific cultural background? Did you know that there are current scientific studies which offer logical explanations for these testing biases other than “white people are smarter?” Sorry, I can’t seriously debate anything with you.

          • White Light says:

            More like fifty years ago. I can’t debate with people who make points that were refuted over thirty years ago, and are rejected by the scientific community, such as the “culturally biased” accusation.

          • Russell Linton says:

            Yeah, it takes a while for truth to filter down to some areas. I’d buy the fifty years, or never, depending on where you live. No excuse for ignorance. Cultural bias of psychological testing is even today a hot topic and is no way resolved. Your implied accusations that people with darker skin pigmentation are less intelligent or more violent is patently absurd. Whatever “science” you have to support that I imagine is the same caliber of science that says biological diversity on this planet is explained by a story about a guy with a big boat.

          • White Light says:

            “Cultural bias of psychological testing is even today a hot topic and is no way resolved.”

            Yeah it basically is. Look at the non-Verbal parts of these tests. The racial gap on these parts is larger. NAMs are less on average intelligent as defined by the tests. That is a fact. And there is much evidence that it is genetic. Creationism is a stupid idea. Another stupid idea is assuming in the 50,000 years that the races have been separated they could not have evolved different traits.

          • Russell Linton says:

            50k years is nothing on an evolutionary scale. It was about 200k years ago the human race biologically separated from it’s ancestors. That process of evolution took millions of years. People don’t “evolve” intelligence or “evolve” violent behavior. Even genetics can’t account for that. Geographically isolated population may develop distinct traits, but intelligence or behaviors aren’t traits in that sense. The genetics of intelligence is more complicated than that and that’s not how these processes work. Your premise sounds like the discredited claims of eugenics (which led to holocausts, forced sterilization and such) and again, is completely dated and disproven pseudo-science.

          • White Light says:

            Actually it is.

            People don’t “evolve” intelligence or “evolve” violent behavior.

            Tell that to Australopithecus afarensis

            Your premise sounds like the discredited claims of eugenics (which led to holocausts, forced sterilization and such)

            And Winston Churchill, the man who defeated Hitler, also believed in eugenics. Stalin did not, he believed that biology does not matter at all and yet he killed millions of people. Clearly the factor here is not your position on biology but your position on the value of human life.

            Twin studies and adoption studies have confirmed a large heritability factor for intelligence. Studies have looked at both identical and fraternal twins separated at birth and found that the identical twins are much more alike in intelligence than the fraternal twins. Adoptions studies have found without exception that the adopted child has an intelligence that is very close to the parents and, by the time of adulthood, only very weakly or not at all correlated with the adoptive parents. These studies confirm the role biology plays in intelligence. The races are different genetically much, much more than brothers and sisters are, it would be easy to imagine then evolving different levels of (always must emphasize) average intelligence.

          • White Light says:

            All those studies I refereed to have been conducted in the last forty years. You obviously are ignorant of this subject, I would read more on it before making such claims..

          • White Light says:

            I have seen studies that link intelligence with twins, that is not germane to an entire diverse population.


            The vast majority of studies will admit there is no single genetic component to intelligence and that many factors contribute to it.

            Generally the figure is about 50 to 80% heretability with twin studies. So, yes, there are factors besides genetics.

            Further, the metrics used to measure what we want to call intelligence are themselves suspect – something again, mainstream, current, up to date science will also agree on.

            Most up-to-date science agrees that IQ tests accurately measure intelligence. Studies have confirmed the predictive power of these tests. That is why colleges use the heavily g-loaded SAT to select students, it is the single biggest predictor of success in a challenging field.

            Cherry pick what suits you

            I don’t believe that there is any twin studies that have found lower heretability estimates and used older children.

            the broader scientific evidence is overwhelming against eugenics and the selective breeding of complex traits such as intelligence.

            If intelligence is linked to twins(meaning genes), then you logically can selectively breed more intelligent people. It happens all the time on college campuses. People are attracted to high intelligence(weakly though). It happens whenever someone wants sperm donor, no one would want a high school dropout.

          • Russell Linton says:

            Well, I have tried numerous times to post rational refutation of your premise that whites have “evolved” greater intellectual capacity than blacks. However, the moderators here at the Race Card have removed each post. I do appreciate that you were able to copy my text in your previous reply. Therefore, I offer sincere congratulations. You have won the Internet. Blacks are intellectually inferior. Long live racism!

          • White Light says:

            I don’t know what happened with that. I was notified that you had replied to me but it said that your comments were “awaiting moderation,” I couldn’t even reply to you so I had to reply to myself. I have no idea why. It said that for me whenever I posted links.

          • Rht says:

            Your ravings are entertaining. Surely you can find a better & more receptive audience elsewhere- maybe in a KKK gathering?

            I used to live in London a couple of years back; they have this fascinating bunch called EDL which AFAICS spends its time destroying public property & spewing hate speech. (I do hope this isn’t what you lot mean by ‘preserving White culture’).

            Interestingly, EDL also has quite a few Hindu & Sikh members – showing that stupidity & bigotry aren’t the exclusive privilege of any one race. I have no idea why Indians have been taking apart in that nonsense & thus, the only thing I can currently do is apologize to any Englishman reading this for the sins of my countrymen.

            My experience has shown me that hate- & the associated lack of intelligence- ultimately stems from a poor upbringing, poverty & deep-set psychological problems. It’s quite possible that there are prospective geniuses in the EDL. But as long as they spend more time ‘protesting’ than working like honest folk, their ahem-intellectual superiority is worth less than a hundred Mein Kampf copies.

            And as far as you’re concerned? I’m afraid that any advice I give you will be wasted. Bigots like you are pretty much unamenable to reason & I’ve long reconciled myself to the fact that morons are all too common- in all races. The only thing I will tell you is this- go out, travel, read nice books, visit other people, help out in charities.

            You’ll find that the more differences you see among people, the more you’ll find how much we all resemble each other. Maniacs are found everywhere in every race- Hitler & Churchill were White. Stalin was a Slav. Timur was a Mongol. The thing about Evil is that it needs no invitation but power, ignorance & most importantly- lack of acceptance.

          • Rht says:

            Your hero Churchill was responsible for millions of deaths too. An estimated 6 million died in the Bengal famines; 4 million died in the Deccan & Orissa. His English troops slaughtered Indians from Peshawar to Burma & from Kashmir to Kerala. He fermented religious hatred & encouraged the growth of Islamic radicalism (Divide & Rule had long been Imperial policy but this psychopath took it to new heights.)

            Churchill was the same as Hitler- only his ‘Jews’ had brown skin & are hence, completely irrelevant to modern Civilization. To hell with him & his fans.

        • Bozzy Lewis says:

          Precisely ! The police are not going into lily white neighborhoods with very low crime rates to “profile” me mowing the lawn or my teenage daughter in the yard listening to her I-tunes at the poolside. Most of the crime, and violence is in the non-white neighborhoods….that is where the police are needed and that is where they police and may “profile” certain individuals like gang members and young black men that may look suspicious and up to no good. It is common sense….and I am a liberal !

    • demographer says:

      Hispanic is ethnic, not a racial. Hispanics come in all races! All the term means is that the person is from a Spanish-speaking culture. That officially includes the Spanish-speaking cultures of Spain, not only the Spanish-speaking countries of central and south America.

    • Tim says:

      You sir have hit the nail on the head; racism is the plaster on the cracked wall of poverty. Poor whites and poor black people blame each other for each other’s poverty; the problem always boils down to vastly unequal wealth distribution. Whilst Americans think it ok for billionaires and multi national corporations to pay less tax dollar for dollar than someone earning $30,000 a year, you are going to be going around in circles. And until you stop politicising everything and polarising between Left and Right, and just look at cold hard facts, nothing will change. The only way violence and crime and institutionalised poverty will start to disappear is if American people accept that being a billionaire is the only thing worth being.

    • Tim says:

      ‘…that being a billionaire is *not* the only thing worth being.’

  2. "Racist" says:

    “Those of us who are white don’t really know what it feels like to have large swaths of public space marked off-limits to us simply because of our skin color. We don’t know what it feels like to have entire streets, neighborhoods and towns look upon us with suspicion just for walking.”

    Just walk down the ghetto. I suppose it is a false equivalence because no one wants to live in the ghetto, everyone wants to live among White Americans. Wonder why.

    • former yale kid says:

      Ask the whites who study at Yale. Large neighborhoods are off-limits to them right next to campus, including the neighborhood with the nearest supermarket. It’s an easy walk, but not if you’re white. The black students can tell you that bringing along a white friend makes that journey harder because you’re judged as soon as the locals see you. People get tense when they see an outsider race walking in their neighborhood. And then we’d get bad service at the supermarket (it was Shaw’s back then) because they didn’t like to serve whites there. At the same time, the Yale Police made the campus off-limits even to many of the black students who study there. Black kids wore Yale-branded clothing and wore their IDs around their necks so the university police wouldn’t harass them.

  3. olblue9 says:

    Lets face it “George Zimmerman” could not get a Klan card because he is not “white” enough, so technically speaking a Hispanic-American killed Trayvon Martin. Though I agree that this is a racially motivated hate crime, the media has allowed the “white” race to be held responsible for this crime. Bottom line an adult male murdered a child.

    • White Light says:

      Whenever you hear a seventeen year old boy being refereed to as a “child,” you know he has done something wrong.

      • olblue9 says:

        Yeah, that may be true in some cases, I am sure that he was not as innocent as some would like to believe. I do not keep up with all of the details of the case, but it looked like this guy decided to murder this “kid” before that night.

        • White Light says:

          “it looked like this guy decided to murder this “kid” before that night.”

          Zimmerman didn’t know Martin before that night.

          • Russell Linton says:

            True, exactly why murder charges were IMO overreaching. He did however have a desire to use his self appointed vigilante powers, empowered by the weapon he carried around. My guess is without it, he’d have followed instructions of the 911 dispatch and let the police do their job.

          • White Light says:

            Except that he DID follow the instructions on the 911 dispatch.

          • Russell Linton says:

            “Dispatcher -Are you following him?
            Zimmerman – Yeah.
            Dispatcher – Ok, we don’t need you to do that.”

            You can find the transcript or full recording anywhere on the net.

          • White Light says:

            Zimmerman: Ok

          • Russell Linton says:

            Your reply doesn’t make sense – so Zmmerman said “ok” as in “I won’t follow him”? Interesting that he put a bullet in the kid if he went home or stopped stalking him.

          • White Light says:

            The kid attacked him as he was walking back to his car.

          • Russell Linton says:

            Yes, according to Zimmerman and zero witnesses. The 911 tape after he mumbles “ok” to “don’t follow”, its pretty plain he never gets back in his car, says he doesnt know where the kid is while refusing to give his own address – presumably cause hes afraid someone is close enough to hear (Oh crap, I dont want to give it all out, I don’t know where that kid is), doesn’t want to meet the cops at a location but instead asks to have them call so he can tell them where he is – pretty much everything points to him not simply “walking back to his car”. But yes, you can choose to believe the only witness’ statement. I obviously don’t.

          • White Light says:

            its pretty plain he never gets back in his car

            He was walking back to his car.

            I don’t know what your alternative version of events is. Martin stood several inches above Zim, so he wouldn’t have known he was a seventeen year old kid. If he attacked Martin first, why did he get thrown on the ground? And why wouldn’t he have pulled out his gun initially had he really been intending to be the piece of pure evil you are so convinced he was? The simple fact is hat Martin attacked him and he defended himself, and in America a man is innocent until proven guilty. You may think he shouldn’t have “followed” him. But “following” someone does not earn you a death sentence(Martin’s attack could have easily cost Zim his life, as any doctor could testify to), nor a sentence of life in prison.

          • Russell Linton says:

            Never said he was evil, never said he deserved a life sentence. Murder was overreaching – I did say that earlier. I don’t have an alternative version other than the fact that I am skeptical of the only witness – guy who shot unarmed kid. He did not have life threatening injuries as “any doctor” would tell you. In fact, the investigating officers found his injuries marginally consistent with what should provoke lethal force and were recommending manslaughter charges until the public went nuts and the media took over the trial / investigation. I think that is a reasonable response.

  4. olblue9 says:

    So you are saying that “Invisible Black signs” are dirty streets? A lot of wealthy “black” Americans live in great luxurious homes with clean neighborhoods. Poverty has no color, just visit America’s Appalachian areas to witness this. You will see more “white” poverty than most any American ghetto.

  5. Brian Folks says:

    Blacks should stop paying attention to these invisible “Whites Only” signs and start moving forward as if they belong anywhere in America.

  6. Marc Hauser says:

    “that none of this is for you.”

    It’s not our fault you live in a pig sty. Nobody is preventing you from living like that but yourselves. Go clean up Detroit,MI, Camden,NJ, etc before you start complaining about how horrible it is whites have it better than you.

  7. Wayne Jones says:

    Keep your black a$$e$ away from white people !!! We don’t want to even SEE you !!!

  8. summercycling says:

    Come on, Moser, you’re in La-La Land. Trayvon Martin got what he deserved in the matter with Zimmerman…his own death. He attacked Zimmerman and George defended himself. A jury of his peers found him not guilty. Martin was looking for trouble and found it, big time. So enough of the sob story for him.

  9. Bozzy Lewis says:

    George Zimmerman was described by the media as “white” but he obviously is NOT white ! Is this the new-face of “white” in America ? He looks very non-white Hispanic and like a Mexican or mixed-race person. Obviously, there are many Hispanics that look white like some Cubans, say Ted Cruz , Judge Marilyn Milian, or Marco Rubio, as examples of Cuban-Americans that trace their ancestry exclusively back to Spain. They look Southern European and can easily be mistaken for Italian, Greek, Portuguese or French. Merely having light skin does not really make you white in America. White faces are usually those of descendants of all the European immigrants from countries like Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Greece, England and so on. There are many Hispanics that are of mixed racial blood-lines, with native American Indian, African and European roots…and their faces show this diversity. And there are some that are classified as pure Caucasian or “white.” Many of these are from South America, from place like Argentina, Brasil, Chile, etc. Hispanic in America means a very diverse group of peoples….from black to white and everything in-between. However, George Zimmerman is not white !

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