City Desk

Milloy: Men Ought To Be Involved In Race And Gender Debate

Last week when I wrote about Courtland Milloy's latest columns on gender, race, and why white women are so angry, I wondered about what got Milloy going on the topic. As I noted, the argument about where the interests of white women and women of color align (and part ways) has been going on for ages. Milloy and I ended up talking late on Friday about the two columns and what he's got coming up next.

The reaction—particularly in the Post's comment section—has ranged from appreciative to livid, with commenters accusing Milloy of injecting race into a conversation where it isn't warranted. (That's a criticism he's no stranger to, as Rend Smith noted in a 2010 profile.)

Milloy says, though, that the reaction is perhaps a sign that "the column is doing what it was supposed to do." That is, get readers who don't often think about the intersection of race and gender thinking about it.

Recently, the Post began asking columnists to start engaging in the comments. A few people have told me that they're not willing to hang out in the comments where racist and sexist sentiment tends to run unchecked. Milloy is one of them.

"Hats off to the people who read and react in ugly ways," he says. "I'm just not going to waste much time on them."

Still, he says, "I see there's a lot of fear that translates into anger, I see there's a lot of interest [in race], but no space for engaging on these issues in the media." In the wake of the column, "There's feedback directed at me, there's feedback about the issue, and there's conversation that's going on in the comment section between the commenters—they're all interesting to me."

The second column last week was about how the abortion debate takes on a different tenor for black women. The campaigns that insist black women's wombs are dangerous places, the literature that worries black women who have abortions are falling prey to some grand eugenics scheme—those are charges that pro-choice or abortion-seeking white women don't have to face.

"I wasn't trying to do it in defense of black women—I must say that I haven't read much lately about where black men get into this mix," Milloy says, adding, "Men ought to be right up in it, not just the crazy white men in the Virginia General Assembly."

For his part, Milloy plans to keep digging. "I have some more columns coming up," he says. "This is Women's History Month—after Black History Month, the minorities had pretty much had their say," he laughs. His goal, he says, is to continue the conversation around race and how it interacts with gender.

It's work worth doing. And it reminds me of the old black women's studies book, All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Hallem Williams

    Give them heaven Br.Milloy. They already catch enough hell.

  • Typical DC BS

    I wish Mr. Milloy would point out that the anti-abortion crowd in the Virginia House and Senate is overwhelmingly Republican and pandering to the religious wing of their party, which has gained an unreasonable amount of power because the moderates have abdicated their responsibility to point out their lunacy (or been silenced by the religious kooks).

    We rant and rave about the "despotic" Islamic regimes around the world with their poor treatment of women and we have our own version of the Taliban right here under our noses, telling us that "God" commands them to deny women their rights to make decisions about their bodies and lives.

  • Non Liberal Democrat

    Race still matters in the United States and some will deny it.

  • JM

    Mr Milloy wants to have a "conversation" about race - just as long as he doesn't have to hear from white people.

  • Ben

    Court Milloy explains last week's columns:

    "Um..I'm Court Milloy. I'm a race-baiter. It's sort of, y'know, my schtick."

  • Shani Hilton

    @JM/Ben -- vigorously disagree. Care to make an actual argument?

    Dear everyone: Please say something interesting/thoughtful about the topic at hand or back away. This is not the Post's comment section.

  • Skipper

    [Deleted. Make a relevant argument. -- SH]

  • Gonzo

    I kind of equate Milloy with Rush Limbaugh in terms of his goals and style. Despite the warm and fuzzies in the interview, at the end of the day, he's a shock and awe writer. He's not really interested in moving to a greater understanding, he's just interested in stirring the pot so that preconcieved, irrational fears can be fed instead of challenged.

    It's a deliberate misconception within the AA post-civil rights political community that "white people" don't pay attention to, or are unaware of "black" issues. Maybe that's true in rural Idaho, but in DC and every other large city the messages are everywhere. It's probably the insecurity of the next generation having flubbed and dropped the mantle of the great civil rights leaders of their parent's generation, that they still live so far in the past, trying to resurrect the energy and camaraderie.

    Unfortunately, this line of thinking feeds into the victimization culture that's been so successful in getting people nowhere for the past 30 years. It's so successful at polarizing voters, that it's now being co-opted by hispanics and rural whites as a way to get people fired up politically. Rush does it; Milloy does it. It's the same political manual, just seemingly polar opposite constituencies. It's very effective at getting reelected and selling ad space, but the track record of moving culture forward to greater achievements is abysmal. Even more insidious, it takes out the knees of the kids who are looking to rise up in subsequent generations and achieve their goals, buy actively discouraging them at every turn.

    It's also not useful discourse. Just getting people talking when they're angry does not produce a useful conversation. In fact, it destroys the trust required to have a useful conversation. So people tune out and hope for the future.

  • Grumpy

    Race will continue to matter until the machines takeover. Then it won't matter what color you are.

    Unfortunately for us, we continue to repeat the same mistakes that were 'taught' to us about Race instead of dealing with folks on a case by case basis. I may not have been a 'slave' nor you a 'slave owner' so playing the blame game is pointless.

    What we must do is to first accept that Systemic Racism exists and that it shapes everything from Treatment to Policy to Policing to Profiling, etc. The usual 'race card/white guilt/white denial' arguments are just a ruse to keep us working against each other.

    Our task is much bigger and baseless arguments that perpetuate this class warfare is a diversion that the Powers that be need us to continue. Imagine joining all that energy and focusing it on them? 'We the People' is not just an old Saturday morning cartoon.

    Failure to accept that is akin to sticking your head in the sand. And what will THAT solve?