Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear White Privilege Deniers

Simply because you cannot address your unearned privilege does not mean that the speaker is a racist.  I know that this is a difficult concept for you to understand, but being white means that your body is embedded with certain privileges, and like it or not, you will benefit from.  This by the way is anti-racism 101.

When someone takes the time to point out to you the ways in which you are benefiting from being white, the appropriate response is not to start foaming at the mouth screaming racist, or you hate all white people.  Even if your allegations of racism were correct, the ability of the person of colour to invoke said racism to make your life more difficult, or gain unfair social advantage is non existent, but then you would recognize that if you were not in denial.

Pointing out the ways in which all white people benefit from racism in our society is not being racist, it is being a realist.  Perhaps it would be easier for you to live in denial of your privilege, but for those of us that are daily subject to racism, quite frankly your comfort doesn't amount to a drop of water in a bucket of warm piss.

For people of colour racism translates to poor education, over representation in both the military and the penal system (note: not as lawyers, judges, and officers; those are largely white people) poverty, violence etc and etc.  If one group is succeeding and another is suffering in a system that is based on exploitation (read: capitalism) obviously dear WPD, the problem is the systemic inequality.

I'll bet my last pubic hair (yeah they're a valuable thing in the age of the baldimage muff) that some of you are in denial chiefly because of fear.  What you do not realize is that fear in this case in and of itself is yet another expression of your unearned privilege.  You have enslaved us, raped us, sodomized us, economically exploited us, systematically undereducated us, perpetuated lies and untruths...and you're the ones that are scared. PHuuleeezze. You certainly don't see black people wearing sheets, burning crosses, homes and lynching but you go ahead and tell me what fear is.

image Oh I know, it's because we are just such a violent people. White privilege is necessary because men of colour constantly express violence based in hyper masculinity.  I suppose when I look at Jean Claude van Dam movies, Rocky, Rambo, even George fucking Bush in his fighter pilot suit or dressed up in his hunting jacket with a gun none of that is hyper masculine? Nope, it is just the white man making the world safe for the civilized people.  I guess we know how Jack Bower keeps his ratings so high on 24, the world constantly needs to be saved and only white people can do it. Does being the living embodiment of Kiplings White Man's Burden weigh you down?

Since whites have caused such a high degree of damage, it is a fair statement to make that they need to clean up their mess; however fixing the quagmire should not mean continuing the war on the brown peoples of this world.  Fixing the damage should mean unpacking your knapsack of privilege.  It should mean daily performing acts of mitigation to ensure that as much as possible you are reducing the degree to which you benefit from privilege.   How about correcting your friends when they use racist language around you?  No, I thought not. It is much easier to tell bodies of colour that they are racist when they call you on your privilege. Pssst, I'll share a secret with you, people of colour are  aware of how your PC speech goes out the window when you are in a room of all whites.

I am tired of hearing white people claim to feel attacked the minute someone starts talking about privilege.  Yeah I know you would like everything to remain status quo, but that means that my humanity and my self worth is degraded.  Of course you want people of colour to reassure you, and not critique you because that means that you would get to go ahead and wallow in your privilege like a sow in a pile of mud.  The days of sambo shucking and jiving are over, so you will just have to deal with the fact that instead of talking about you behind your back, black people will now call you on your bullshit to your face.  You should take heart, because this is a sign of progress, at least we respect you enough to tell you that you are fucking up. 


72 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that when it comes to racism, analyzing its causes and prevalence, a lot of writers and thinkers become confused because they are unable to distinguish two kinds of racism: institutional racism and personal racism. Personal racism occurs when someone actively choose to belittle, demean, or dehumanize someone who is a different race other than their own.

Institutional racism, on the other hand, occurs as a result of population and demographic factors, and can create situations where institutions and societies can be biased in favor of the majority demographic, while individual members of that society/institution are not. Although some would accuse American society of being racist in some ways, Barack Obama's mother was (apparently) not.

Given this, it's debatable how useful it is as a mechanism for social change to accuse people of having 'priviledge'. If one accuses a person of a certain color of being priviledged, and they don't feel that they are, from an analytical viewpoint it raises the question "Why don't they feel priviledged?"

Anonymous said...

3 things:

First: I was taught that racism = privilege + power. If this is true, POC cannot be racist toward white people. Prejudiced, bigoted... sure. Not racist. I get super annoyed when I hear white folks calling any POC racist. But everyone's definition of racism seems to be different.

Second, I agree that when white people don't own up to their privilege it's a huge problem. I see it all the time. "We don't see color in our family." And, "People who see color are ignorant." Then the same person passes along a racist joke two hours later because, of course, it's all in good fun because, gee, they really don't see color. Everyone's the same and tra-la-la-la-la. I'm surrounded by this level of ignorance on a daily basis and I still feel like a dumb idiot because I have no idea where to begin to deal with these people.

Third, you say "You have enslaved us, raped us, sodomized us, economically exploited us, systematically undereducated us, perpetuated lies and untruths..." I'm all about owning my white privilege. However, I have never enslaved, raped, sodomized, exploited, etc. ANYONE. Neither did my parents or my parents' parents. Telling me I have privilege as a white person and I need to own that--yes. Telling me I'm a rapist because I'm white--HELL NO. I can't pretend to understand your experience and anger. But I can tell you that those kinds of accusations will alienate even your allies, let alone your "enemies."

Renee said...

However, I have never enslaved, raped, sodomized, exploited, etc. ANYONE. Neither did my parents or my parents' parents.

Sorry to tell you, guilty as charged. What do you call the slave like labour done in prisons for which black are over represented in,and what about the rape that occurs of women of color in said prisons? What about the sterilizations that occurred in the 1970's? What would call the below subsistence labour that WOC perform in sweat shops so that white privilege elite can look pretty. In fact we don't even have to go as far as sweat shops, minimum wage is impossible to survive on. Oh don't know if you know this one or not but it is WOC that have the highest rate of rape, oh another little fact indigenous women who have the highest rate of rape in North America are be enlarged raped by white men. You may not like to be convicted in the present but these acts go on daily. They happen here in western countries and they are multiplied in third world countries.

Renee said...

Oh one last thing I forgot...I cannot remember the name of the young man which is terrible on my part, but he was sodomized by police until the object broke off in his anus. What about the young man that dragged under a truck for almost a mile by his supposed white friends? Or the white man that ran over a black woman while he screamed kill all the blacks. There is also a young Latino man whose name I did not catch on CNN's Rick Sanchez today who was sodomized by a group of white males for having the temerity to kiss a white girl. I also wrote about another man who was shot to death for walking with his white sister in law. So yeah it happens and it happens, they just become the forgotten because people don't care what happens to poor bodies of color, but let a body of color look cross eyed at anyone one white and the situation is reversed.
If you can stand to read it more Latino deaths.

You may not as an individual be guilty of any of these actions but white people where and if anyone should be living in fear in this society it is POC. White people have a history of the worst kinds of violence against us and they repeatedly get away with it.

Maimou said...

Renee, I don't disagree with your comments in response to anonymous #2 post. It is important to recognize, I think, the difference that the first poster pointed out-institutional vs personal racism. What can I do, on a personal level, to address the issues you bring out in your response? Work on a daily basis to make those changes so young POC are afforded the same educational and societal advantages that just are considered the "due" of the white person. But is it necessary to assign personal responsibility for the societal ills we, as the human race, face on a daily basis to one person?

green flying cat said...

"I'll bet my last pubic hair" - I'm adopting this as my new favourite phrase:)

"You may not like to be convicted in the present but these acts go on daily. They happen here in western countries and they are multiplied in third world countries."
It's very western privileged again. Not all developing countries are in Africa/Asia. They're also in Europe and they're well full of sweatshops, have laughable minimum wage, and are succesfully exploited by western countries. Like the one you live in. And I'll dare to argue that my minimum wage is a little bit more "mini" than US or Canadian one. My foremothers were also tortured, banished, raped, had their kids killed or taken away, and exploited. Because of their nationality. If a person is raped because of her nationality and not her race, is that a lesser crime? And no, it wasn't just my grandmothers and mother, it was millions of people.

"How about correcting your friends when they use racist language around you?"
I'm guilty of that. I live in an extremely white country and my social circle enjoys "fag" and the n-word as greeting forms (still can't fathom why). I try to socialize with these people as little as possible and I sometimes challenge close friends who do that, but I'm called feminazi, f*cking lesbian, and frigid bitch enough as it is. Yeah, I know, I have exceptional friends.

I think I need to point out that I otherwise liked this post. I'm not arguing with your statements about white privilege, I just don't agree with examples you chose.

AR said...

First: I was taught that racism = privilege + power.

I think you mean prejudice + power? I've also heard that, but it's really just yet another of hundreds of definitions of racism that are carefully crafted so as to guarantee that the author themself never qualifies.

It also has the peculiar property of implying that a person's status as a racist depends on their address. The absurdity of this isn't so obvious now that the most powerful nations are also predominantly white, but China should soon be rediversifying the Global Powers Club, especially considering the US's negative savings rate (capital consumption).

tlonista said...

thank you

Gods, I am so tired of mentioning white privilege and immediately being met with "But some white people are poor!" and "But I'm Irish/Slavic/etc., I can't be privileged!" and "But I'm queer, I don't benefit from white privilege!" aaaaaaaaaaaargh just accept it and we can start getting some work done.

Danny said...

I think you mean prejudice + power? I've also heard that, but it's really just yet another of hundreds of definitions of racism that are carefully crafted so as to guarantee that the author themself never qualifies.
I agree. People that try to add power to the equation are simply trying to ensure that they do not fall under the definition of the -ist they are trying to define.

It is interesting that as a black man if I specifically decide to target a white woman for a mugging people will trip over themselves to point out the sexist but those same will then not only try to avoid the fact that I made my choice based on race as well but may even try to say that the system is being racist by its treatment of a black man.

Anonymous said...

"tlonista said...
thank you

Gods, I am so tired of mentioning white privilege and immediately being met with "But some white people are poor!" and "But I'm Irish/Slavic/etc., I can't be privileged!" and "But I'm queer, I don't benefit from white privilege!" aaaaaaaaaaaargh just accept it and we can start getting some work done."

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Danyell said...

I do agree that there is institutionalized racism and personal racism. I do think it is possible for POC to be racist towards White people, but calling them on privilege is not being racist.

And while being biracial, but appearing more White, I admit that I am sometimes privy to certain benefits and better treatment than if I seemed more Hispanic. However, I think it is important to point out that not all White people get the same privilege and I don't mean only being female. If you appear gay (or any variant sexuality), transgender (or any gender variant), poor or the "wrong" religion, this tends to dent, lessen or sometimes obliterate White privilege. I'm not trying to be contrary. I know that being White & poor is different from being Black & poor. But when it comes to sexuality, classism and the like, things tend to change all around. The major difference is that you can usually hide being gay or being poor, up to a certain point, and one is not so easily judged at first glance as with skin color. So I think that sometimes White people who deny their own privilege do so because they can't see how their life compares to anyone else's. If a White person has suffered through extreme poverty, why would they assume they were getting a better deal than POC?

I think tlonista's comments act as if being a POC is the only kind of oppression that there is. I know we all hate it when people play the oppression game of who gets it worse. But are people who get it ever-so-slightly-better not allowed to complain about it? When it comes to being say, Irish, as far as a lot of White people are concerned- you don't count as being White. My one half may be Puerto Rican, but my other half is Irish. The Irish haven't exactly gotten a free ride to Glory Town either as far as history's concerned.

Danyell said...

I wanted to clarify one thing: privilege is not a blanketed thing. So not all people get the same privilege all the time. Someone who is White may get certain things easier than someone who is Black. But someone who is Black and heterosexual will sometimes get more rights than someone who is White and queer.

There are variations. So we can't act like everyone who is born looking a certain way is going to have the same life experiences, whether than be good or bad.

Danyell said...

Renee,

About your response to the anonymous comment:
You say that White people should feel responsible by the atrocities done to POC by Whites as a whole. So does that mean each White person has to feel personally responsible for the White race? Doesn't that mean that if a Black person does something wrong, you have to feel personally responsible? That starts to sound rather racist. And yes, I know there is a history of Whites oppressing...well, basically anyone who isn't White. But to tell a good person that YOU are responsible for slavery, rape and torture, because YOU were born White is ridiculous. What does a person have to actually do to not be responsible? How is that any different than saying you're responsible for Black crime, because you are Black? Because Black people are more deserving of the anger? The answer to someone trying to recognize privilege in their life (which, mind you, isn't as easy as you make it seem) is not to call them a rapist. I mean, Nazi Germany was full of White people. Is that my fault? Or does that not count, since most of the victims were White Jews?

Anonymous said...

Renee:

You wrote: "What do you call the slave like labour done in prisons for which black are over represented in,and what about the rape that occurs of women of color in said prisons?"

This was in response to a white poster that resented your calling all white people rapists, or enablers of rape.

I am curious.

What do you call it when you (as a resident of the west who actively participates in the economy) consume oil by driving a car or by buying food at a store (which can only be cheap because of the large amount of petroleum used in modern farming)? The long list of brutal middle east wars, bombings, hideous economic sanctions leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children for want of food and medicine over the last 10 years are enabled by your conduct, are they not?

Chris Marshall

Danyell said...

I also wanted to mention disabled people as another group who doesn't get to benefit wholly from White privilege if they are in fact, White.

Macon D said...

Danyell wrote: What does a person have to actually do to not be responsible?

Isn't the point more to own up to one's responsibilities, rather than evade them?

Dori said...

Nice strawwoman Chris Marshall, but unfortunately for you, ineffective.

Renee has blogged about her own privilege as someone living in the West. Bringing that aspect up as though it invalidates or is somehow contrary to any point she made here is intellectually disingenuous.

There are many privileges, and they all function separately from the others. This post is about White privilege. Your implied suggestion that her mentioning of white privilege is an indicator of her ignorance of privilege she does have is fallacious at best.

Renee said...

@Danyell...I have constantly said in my past post on privilege that it can be mitigated to a certain degree if someone is dealing with an area of stigmatization, however if we have two people with the same stigmatization the white privilege kicks in again.

As for the rest of you wanting to play Oppression Olympics...the minute someone brings up white privilege all I see are but, but but..why can you not discuss white privilege without rushing to point out the ways in which it is mitigated each and every single time? It seems that you want to live in denial of the power that is embedded in the white body. I know it is a difficult thing to discuss, but until it is done honestly, the problem just perpetuates itself.

The other thing, I notice there was a lot of I don't rape, maim or murder so I am not responsible. Look if one sees a group of people continually committing violence against you tell me that you would not upon them with fear or distrust. If we look throughout the history of North and South America and examine the damage done by whites to bodies of color it would be an idiot who would not look with distrust. It is the blood of POC that flows deep within the land and it is not by our own hand.
Not every single cop is a dirty racist cop but the actions of a few is enough for POC to largely distrust cops in their neighborhood. The same example applies on a larger scale. White fear is manufactured to maintain white hegemony. During the height of the KKK in the south do you think that northern whites did not benefit from the the fear it caused in northern blacks?

FInally at chris Marshll...scroll through the blog I admit that I live a life of privilege because I am a western woman. I have admitted it time and time again and you would know that had you bothered to read before accusing. Privilege is something I seek to counter in my life every single day, now deal with yours.

rebecca said...

@Danyell: I disagree. I am white and disabled, and I *do* benefit 100% from white privilege. What I do not benefit from is able-bodied privilege. I am also fat, which is a whole nother batch of non-privilege.

White privilege is not the only privilege in the world (as Renee obviously knows and writes about very clearly). White people receive it even if they miss out on some of the other privileges. I work on fighting for rights in fat politics and disbaility politics, AND I work on recognizing and working against my own white privilege. It's not contradictory.

Anonymous said...

Dori:

I sensed a bogus moral superiority card being played by Renee, and I proceeded reductio ad absurdum to show that.

If you are going to call an average white man's participation in white priviledge a form of rape on his part, then you also have to call Renee's participation in western priviledge rape on her part. At which point, I don't see how either side can claim to be morally superior.

A rapist is a rapist, are they not?

I think Renee's logic ends in absurdity, and I brought in western priviledge simply to illustrate that.

In my view, neither Renee nor the anonymous white poster deserve to be called rapists simply because they benefit from an unfair system of priviledge that they had no had in creating.

I do think that people have a right to demand honorable and friendly conduct from one another, and when Renee is being specific in her article, she is simply asking for just that (asking white people to call their family and friends on their racist remarks, for example, and not look the other way or make excuses for them).

She does a lot of other things in her article, though, that I have to question the wisdom and justice of.

Chris Marshall

Renee said...

@Chris Marshall you don't like the ugliness of it but you certainly don't mind benefiting from the spoils. My government daily acts in my best interest and to do so it commits inhumane act across the globe. I am responsible because I reap the reward and I willingly participate in the system. The same applies to you and your white privilege. You don't have to rape a woman to benefit from the gains of it through patriarchy and sexism.
What you seem to thinking is that one privilege trumps another which is not true. All of the isms interact and act upon each other none of them can be viewed in isolation...it's called intersectionality. I notice though that will jump through hoops rather than discuss your own white privilege.

Anonymous said...

Renee:

You wrote: "The other thing, I notice there was a lot of I don't rape, maim or murder so I am not responsible"

For the record, I agree with you that white Americans are quick to use that logic in order to wash their hands of their responsibilities to black Americans and it's obnoxious. It's only recently in life that I became aware of it.

The "I'm not responsible" card is very easy to play, and it takes a talented and perceptive writer to expose that play and not let it pass.

You are so good at it, in fact, that I can overlook my other disagreements with your writing (which are numerous and weighty, and which I sense you would have little interest in hearing) simply to study how you do it so well.

Chris Marshall

Danny said...

Isn't the point more to own up to one's responsibilities, rather than evade them?
When they are actually responsible for said things yes it is. If I commit a sexist act against a woman then that is my responsibility to own up to it and correct it if possible. But my sexist action against that women doesn't put any burden of responsiblity on any other man's shoulders. I committed the act, I and I alone must pay for it.


It seems to me that people like to hold an entire group responsible for the actions of an individual when it suits them.

Renee said...

@Chris...if you have something to say, say it. Womanist Musings is not an echo chamber. If we don't have an honest exchange no one benefits. I am not looking to start a personality cult, I am looking to engage in conversation.

@Danny If you commit a sexist act against a woman all men will in turn benefit because it is an act in maintenance of male privilege. We are all connected.

Danny said...

In all seriousness I would like you to explain that connection and how that selective connection is valid in some instances (a male agaisnt female sexist act) but not valid in others (a female agaisnt male sexist act).

Either the actions of one should influence opinions of the entire group or they shouldn't. Can't be both ways.

Dori said...

Chris Marshall,

You keep putting these strawwomen arguments up and not defending them. Both renee and I have pointed out to you that you are operating under faulty assumptions and have pointed to both facts and logic to prove it. You are the one moving the goal posts here, in what seems to be a pathetic attempt to ploy some "I may have privilege but you are no better" argument, that simply is not carried out from the context of this space.

Dori said...

Danny,

This might help you understand the definitions of sexism and racism that are being worked with here.

Danny said...

Why am I not surprised someone pulled out feminism 101? This type of stuff is what AR was talking about in comment 7. Adding power to mix is simply refining the word to imply that one is worse than the other. Sounds a lot like separate but equal to me (yes they are both bad but we need to make sure they are defined differently)...

Renee said...

No Danny adding power to the mix is essential. This actually ads a post structural element to the debate. For theorists like Foucault power is essential to understanding our society. He specifically states in everything there is power and everywhere there is always power. Thus we are constantly expressing and reacting power.
In this understanding of racism what is being considered is the ability of the targeted body to act on their racism. If we agree that racism is more than just an individual feeling but a consequence of a systemic virus then a marginalized body is placed into a reactive position, obeject vs subject if you will. That is not to say that the POC is powerless but the degree to which they are able to act is in direct relation to the power directed at them.
What you must take away from this is that the body is always disciplined and does not exist outside of discursive elements.

Renee said...

BTW Foucault was a man so no need to get you back up.

Arum said...

This is a very North American debate. There are very few other places where people with such obvious skin colour differences live together so closely. Globally, the term 'ethnic privilege' has much greater meaning.

Telling an Albanian peasant woman that she benefits from 'white privilege' is ludicrous. Equally, the current situation in South Africa is based on Zulu ascendancy. The idea that everyone in Europe is dancing around enjoying their privilege while everyone in Africa and Asia works in a sweat shop is an American myth.

Skin colour is in fact incidental in the grand scheme of things. Ethnic identity is far more important. Look at the way Africans view black Americans - hardly charitable, is it? This is why people from outside North America try to explain to people from NA that they are 'Irish' or 'Roma' - it means something. But people from NA are so hung up on skin colour, and their own national privilege ("we rule the world, and God's on our side, so what happens elsewhere don't mean shit") that they just can't see what it's like in the rest of the world.

If you want to see somewhere where whiteness doesn't matter a damn, look at India. The world's largest democracy, and a population far larger than the whole of North America put together. Caste, gender and the urban/rural divide makes skin colour pretty irrelevant. It has some importance in the higher castes, but that's only because they have no other way left of distinguishing themselves from each other - and that's on a purely person, accident-of-birth level, not a racial one. Try telling a Dalit woman that her 'real' oppressors are the white people, and she'll look at you stupid. Same with a Tutsi woman during the genocide - the people coming at her with machettes were all black. They were just Hutus - a different ethnicity to hers.

Globally, the situation is far more complex than just a black skin colour/white skin colour divide. Your tribe matters - and so does 'theirs'. I accept that, in my particular reality, I am privileged in some ways by my skin colour. However, I can have no hopes of ever becoming Prime Minister of this country, it's illegal for 'my kind' - something I have known all my life. No Obama dreams for my ethnic group. "No, we can't".

Danny said...

...man so no need to get you back up.
???


If we agree that racism is more than just an individual feeling but a consequence of a systemic virus then a marginalized body is placed into a reactive position, obeject vs subject if you will.
I agree that it is important to look at the grand scale of things but to say that a POC cannot be racist against a white person because from the most part the white person has more advantages sound like an attempt to hide the tree in the forest.

When looking at individual acts of -ism it important to know that it is a situation in which the person committing the -ist act is trying to exercise power over the target of the -ism. In my earlier example of choosing to mug a white woman by adding institutional power to the mix my mugging her, despite using gender and race as my parameters, I am committing a sexist act but not a racist act.

And then there is the whole application of institutional power. Being boring with the "right" combination of circumstances does not automatically grant on power.

Renee said...

@Arum
f you want to see somewhere where whiteness doesn't matter a damn, look at India.

Completely false. If whiteness does not matter why do skin bleaching products sell so well in India? Why is the lighter skinned are the ones most likely to achieve fame and success? As a former colonial country India has indeed internalized the idea of white as good.

Peridot said...

White, privileged, but not in denial. It is TRUE: white people say racist things among themselves. And laugh after the disclaimer: "Oh, but I'm not racist." I know many white people, friends and family, who think people of color, especially BLACKS, complain too much and don't appreciate all the opportunities they have, and then turn around and make jokes that keep black people down and never grasp the connection.

Rene, I started reading this blog for your feminist angle, as I'm a sex worker blogging a lot about sexism/misogyny in the sex industry. I get a lot of angry male comments from privileged males in denial that women are socially/economically disadvantaged, who see my anger and frustration and accuse me of HATING ALL MEN and get to Setting Me Straight with all manner of personal anecdotes to disprove general sexism in the world, instead of trying to understand where I'm coming from.

So when you blog about white privilege, I know that you are not being reverse-racist. I enjoy reading what you have to say and am open to your suggestions. Personally, I could do with more courage to dissuade certain white friends and family members to think about some of the racist crap they spew. I can do that much, and probably much more. Anyway, I see you get a lot of "Hey lady, not EVERY white person is privileged..." type of comments so just wanted to let you know that there are white people out here who are reading you, and other messages from POC, and you are getting through to us.

And, I LOVE your writing style.

Renee said...

@Danny

I pointed out the maleness of Foucault because you were upset by the feminism101 reference. I wanted you to be aware that the basis of that theory is taken directly from the work of a male.

I will run with your rape analogy though...Lets just say a black male rapes a white female as a result of his racism against whites..what is the origin of his racism? One does not hate without reason. Hate is usually a reaction to some perceived slight or wrongdoing on the party of another. Rape in this instance would be reactive power. He will most likely be punished because the black male rapist holds up the social construction of all black males as violent and destructive. (This is a social construction I find particularly abhorrent BTW)

Scenario two: A white male rapes an Indigenous Female...this is a more realistic example as it is a daily occurrence.Just dealing with the racism and ignoring the sexism for now, it is an act in furtherance of white hegemony in that he is using rape to as a tool to express power. He will most likely not be charged or convicted of said crime because brown women are seen as always available for violation by white bodies. The white male is able to act on his racism and have it supported institutionally in a way that the black male will never be able to.

While both acts were committed by individuals how the acts are negotiated socially are completely different. This difference is because though both men have male privilege the ability to negotiate said privilege is mitigated by race, hence white privilege.

Arum said...

As I pointed out, whiteness matters in the higher castes, but only on an individual level, not as a mark of tribe. Are you seriously suggesting that colour of skin is central, or even really incidental, to the problems of India?

The problem with North Americans is that they have no concept of "tribe". People who have gone there have, for one reason or another, lost or shed their tribe. In the rest of the world, tribe matters. It is of central, absolute importance. It determines who you are, and your life chances. It is not down to skin colour.

Kara said...

Arum,

I agree that some people in North America have lost some form of tribal association, specifically black people since we really didn't have a choice. It's not like we were allowed to keep any remnants of our tribal selves. But, not the point.

A lot of people are very tribal, but race has been the greatest divider. An Irishman can marry a nice Catholic Italian, but marrying anyone black is out of the question. Plus in NA, ethnicity and race begin to intertwine, so tribal references are irrelevant. No one cares if you're Irish b/c you're still white. And, therefore, you still have white privilege.

Sam said...

"BTW Foucault was a man so no need to get you back up."

Foucault wasn't just A man. He was THE man. His teachings are the closest thing I have to a religion.

Arum said...

@ Kara,

Yes, but you're still talking about NA. I'm not. NA is a very small part of the world, particularly population-wise.

An Irishman can marry anyone - black or white. What the family worry about is "is she a nice Catholic girl?" :D As a nice Irish Catholic girl myself, I feel my parent's pain. Not only an I bi, but then when I do finally bring a man home, he's a bloody British Prod! I'm a sore disappointment. I think what you're talking about is exclusive to NA. People in Britian care if you're Irish. As I said, it is illegal for a Catholic to be Prime Minister here - that is why Tony Blair waited until he was no longer Prime Minister to convert to the religion he'd been practising for years. There are also many other laws that ban Catholics from doing stuff - this was entirely aimed at the Irish. "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish" - where do you come on this ranking of undesirables?! Whiteness does not come in to it. Hatred is nuanced. Outside NA, it's about tribe not skin colour.

I fully appreciate that you were stripped of your tribe - and that is an horrific thing. I can't imagine what it would be like not to know who I am and where I come from. However, this is the point I was making. Your tribe MATTERS. It's not skin colour, it's who your people are. Everywhere outside NA, it's probably THE main issue - it determines what you get to be.

Renee said...

@Arum

I understand the issue of caste in terms of India, what I am saying is that even with all of the issues in that country race is still an issue. If people are disfiguring themselves to achieve whiteness we cannot exclude race. If we look at the Bollywood movies and see that the actors are actress that are successful are in deed the ones with the most Caucasian features then again we cannot discount race. While caste will have the greatest effect on a persons life chances especially because caste cannot be changed it does not in anyway exclude the relevance of race.

@Sam yeah I am fan of Foucault as well but usually don't get into it on the blog because many do not get post structuralism. It has a tendency to be exclusionary due to the language involved.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Renee. I just wanted to say, I'm white and I hear you on the subject of privilege. The more I look for it, the more I see.

I think white people might confuse 'privilege' with 'power' at times and think "well, I don't FEEL more powerful or better off than this other group, so I can't be the beneficiary of privilege". I'm a young white woman with an 'invisible' disability-- I don't have money (medical bills) or much of any influence in my community, but I still receive the benefits of being a white person in my position, rather than a brown one. Privilege also makes white people uncomfortable sometimes because it forces the conversation away from slavery and colonization into the NOW. It's easy to say "racism isn't my problem; my grandparents were immigrants and we never owned slaves or went to segregated schools"; much harder to recognize the day-to-day benefits skin color brings you right now.

Arum--
I think it's pretty clear from this post and from the site that Renee is addressing issues from her perspective as a woman of color in North America (and is aware of the attendant privilege). Just because she's not addressing the whole world doesn't mean her points are any less valid.

-Kathryn

Arum said...

@ Renee,

I appreciate that skin colour does have some relevance in India, but what I was trying to point out is that it's not 'evidence of ethnicity'. It's portrayed as accident of birth, rather than 'My mum was white'. It's not an attempt at whiteness, more as an attempt to distinguish oneself from those around you. That's not to deny that 'paleness' is not seen as 'a sign of beauty' - it is. It's just that it's a side issue, like if you wax your legs or not. In the grand scheme of things, I'd still rather be a high caste man who lives in a city, but happens to have dark skin, than a Dalit woman who lives in the country who could pass for white elsewhere. And still, would you claim that an Albanian peasant woman had 'white' privilege?

@ Kathryn,
I appreciate what Renee is saying. However, I'm saying that her, and many of her contributers, perception is skewed by where they live. As far as I know, Renee is open to this being an international blog - I often see European flags in the box on the right, and the comments section fills up at different times (I'm off to bed now, as it's after midnight and I have work in the morning!). People here comment from their own perspective, and NAs need to know that other people's perspective is different, depending on where they live.

Danny said...

I pointed out the maleness of Foucault because you were upset by the feminism101 reference. I wanted you to be aware that the basis of that theory is taken directly from the work of a male.
It doesn't upset me I just don't fully agree with it. Thanks for the heads up on the gender but the fact that it is based on a man's words has no bearing on my agreeing/disagreeing with it (and I assume the same holds true for you). Contrary to what some may say all men don't think monolithically.


I'm digesting your black man raping white woman example so work with me.
Lets just say a black male rapes a white female as a result of his racism against whites..what is the origin of his racism?
Based on feminism101's definition of an -ism his choosing a white woman would not be racist. His racist intent is against a person whose race has been higher for the most part on the scale (attacking upward if you will) than his own. His sexist intent is against a person whose gender has been lower for the most part on the scale (attacking downward if you will) than his own.

On the scale your first example the attacker was attacking up and down in relation to his victim and in the second he was attacking down and down in relation to his victim.

It seems to me that higher or lower on the scale in relation to the victim should have nothing to do with the simple question of "Did they target their victim because they are _____?"


And I didn't say anything about rape. I said sexist act and mugging. Interesting that you escalate to one of the worst criminal acts of all.

Renee said...

@Danny mugging implies stealing a purse which would add class to an already complicated discussion hence the switch to rape which is difficult enough because it include race and gender.

The example given was to show the ways in which power effects the outcome of each action even though each action is a reflection of power. As I said nothing is outside of power and therefore we can assume that the aggressor has been acted upon.

BTW before you decide that you disagree with Foucault may I suggest you read his work. He is absolutely brilliant when it comes to power analysis and is the father of post structural theory. Many would also call him the grand daddy of Queer theory.

Danny said...

BTW before you decide that you disagree with Foucault may I suggest you read his work. He is absolutely brilliant when it comes to power analysis and is the father of post structural theory. Many would also call him the grand daddy of Queer theory.

Oh I didn't mean to imply that I disagree with everything for the precise reason that I have not read all his work. Like you say I should read it to decide if I do, meaning his gender holds no bearing.


As I said nothing is outside of power and therefore we can assume that the aggressor has been acted upon.
True but the source of the power should not have any bearing on whether an act was -ist or not. If a minority male's motive to rape a white woman is, "This is my way to fight back against Whitey." or "This b!ich needs to be put in her place." or both.

To add institutional power in order differentiate ______-based prejudice from -ism almost adds an air of, "Well my victim's _________ (religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc...) started this so now I'm gonna fight back."

roxy said...

i read an op-ed letter claiming that obama's election had "finally leveled the playing field," but i believe he's taking that metaphor too literally.

i think it actually means leveling racial disparities in education, wealth, incarceration rates, healthcare, and political involvement in the united states.

the sharp spikes and peaks along these graphs indicate our history's disparate treatment of minority populations. and as long as they persist, we cannot be said to offer equal opportunity.

Danyell said...

Macon D-

Please tell me what responsibility I am evade. I grew up thinking that I could and am only responsible for my own action. How can I possibly be personally accountable for an entire race of people?

I've already examined my privilege. I've acknowledged it. I am growing and changing everyday. So at what point has the White half of me made it up to the Brown half? Must I forever be conflicted between self-loathing & self-pity?


Rebecca- I never said White privilege was the only kind. Please read the amendments I made to by original comment. My point entirely is that privilege varies and having one kind of privilege doesn't mean life is all free candy all the time.

Renee- I just have to ask: you seem to imply very often that we all have to exam our privilege, yet always feel ashamed of it, no matter what we do to try to change things. So what is there to do? If someone has already understood those dynamics, does it help to still call them rapists & murders all the time? I'm trying to understand your point and I'm clearly missing it entirely. It seems to just be a cycle of blame and hate. Could you please summarize what you're trying to accomplish with this post?

Renee said...

@Danyell

There should never be a point when you should ever be proud or happy that you have a privilege because it means that someone somewhere is suffering for your gain. How you mitigate privilege depends on what exactly you are combating.

You as an individual will never be able to remove the privilege from your body. It is my belief that by actively working to combat the systemic inequality with which we live there is a chance for improvement. What you need to figure out is what you are capable of, what "sacrifice" you are willing to make for justice.

While it may be harsh to point out the violence that comes along with racism it is necessary because these acts occur to POC daily. Even as I write this someone somewhere is being violated. What you need to recognize is that though you are not committing the violent act, it supports white privilege and thereby benefits you; thus making you an unwitting accomplice. If it is ugly for you to hear imagine how much uglier it is to live.

Octogalore said...

Renee -- I agree with your premise. That "Pointing out the ways in which all white people benefit from racism in our society is not being racist, it is being a realist." And that systematic poverty of POC is a result, as well as unequal access to education.

To me, and this won't surprise you, the question then becomes: "now what?" Once people get that you're not accusing them of specific racist acts (necessarily) but of benefiting from institutional racism, I think most [reasonable people] will agree with you.

You mention capitalism as one culprit. Do you think the fix would be to overhaul our economic system? You and I disagree about [regulated] capitalism, but even if I felt it were the culprit too, I can't think of a way we migrate too far away from it. For one thing, more people, of all races and income levels, like it than don't. That's why it's persisted in this country. Realistically, although financially liberal administrations may try to make small fixes, it will be very difficult to do anything beyond that.

And I'd argue that even if radical tax shifts, for example, could happen, they wouldn't solve the problem. The problem is one of unequal opportunity and access. Tax shifts can't clinically target those who are victims of such inequalities vs those who simply report low incomes for other reasons. So the number of people to distribute to is too broad to focus the impact appropriately, and the amounts given (especially as the top layer gets creative about limiting what's claimed) would not be meaningful enough to solve the problem.

I think there are two major issues that need to be attacked at the root: access to education, and access to healthcare, on the part of disadvantaged communities of color. So on an individual level, I'm not sure it's productive to talk about white privilege beyond the place where someone acknowledges it. Beyond that, it gets into finger-pointing and academic jargon, with white overeducated, too-much-time-on-our-hands academic types trying to out-progressive each other. Instead, discussing what steps can be taken on an individual and community basis on these issues is critical.

I think most of us with power to blog have the ability to do things with our spare blogging time that could help in some ways, as well as to inspire organizations we're involved with to do so too. It's easy to figure out the virtuous things to say to sound like we're the "good" white people who "get it," it's harder to actually figure out how we can get involved to help something, even if it's a tiny part of the overall solution.

ZoBabe said...

Acknowledging privilege is not about self-loathing. Almost everyone has some degree of unearned privilege, and while people may fight until they're blue in the face about exactly how and where those privileges rate with one another, and exactly where each person is on the scale of privilege, arguing that they don't exist at all would be silly.

I can acknowledge my white privilege, and yet feel perfectly comfortable in my own skin about 99% of the time. It's a matter of awareness, not self-flagellation. Think about the things you do, say, and expect, with at least the honest effort to understand how other people are affected.

When you screw up, accept it. Apologize. Move on.

green flying cat said...

"Gods, I am so tired of mentioning white privilege and immediately being met with "But some white people are poor!" and "But I'm Irish/Slavic/etc., I can't be privileged!" and "But I'm queer, I don't benefit from white privilege!" aaaaaaaaaaaargh just accept it and we can start getting some work done."
Are Irish and Slavic people the only oppressed white people you know? Well, as long as genocide happens outside North America, nobody has to give a crap, right?
Can someone explain to me how those Slavic people working in sweatshops benefit from white privilege?
And how priviledeg are East European women exported like rape-meat to western countries?
How do East European immigrants benefit from white privilege when they are harassed, discriminated, raped, murdered for their nationality?

Arum, thank you, you expressed my thoughts exactly.

"I have admitted it time and time again and you would know that had you bothered to read before accusing. Privilege is something I seek to counter in my life every single day, now deal with yours."
I admit that I have white privilege. Is that enough? Can I go and be racist now? It's not enough to admit that you have privilede. If you write "You have enslaved us, raped us, sodomized us, economically exploited us, systematically undereducated us, perpetuated lies and untruths..." you're ignoring a lot of nations that were raped, and exploited for their nationality, you are acusing me of crimes that were commited against me and my country. It screams of western privilege.

Renee said...

@green flying cat

Did it ever occur to you that Slavic people are not considered white? Who falls under the umbrella of whiteness is not stationary. Simply because you may have the same hue of skin does not mean that you are considered white. The perfect example is the Irish in North America. When they first immigrated they faced many of the same social stigma as blacks. Many intermarried and even began organizing and protesting against the rich white bourgeoisie...suddenly the Irish were invested with whiteness, the attacks diminished and disappeared. Suddenly the Irish no longer inter married and they also stopped organizing.

Though I gave a North American example my point to this is that what is white is constantly under review. The same thing by the way occurred with the Italians. Whiteness can be something that can be granted or removed in certain circumstances if it benefits those that seek to rule.

There is a link between whiteness and class oppression.

Another thing, pointing out that I am having a conversation from a particular point of view does not invalidate my point about what is occurring in the Americas. This is where this debate is centered because this is my experience and my truth. What is my truth is obviously different than someone living in Russia, or India, or Africa.This is not say that the issue of disparity in other areas of the world are not terrible but in this particular post I am attempting to make a point from a specific point of view.

@Octogalore once again you challenge me, let me sleep on it and respond in the morning.

green flying cat said...

"Did it ever occur to you that Slavic people are not considered white?"
SOME Slavic people are not considered white. There are a few nations in "Slavic" category, some are white, some are not. I took Slavic as an example because it was said that Slavic people benefit from white privilege. Which is ridiculous.

"Another thing, pointing out that I am having a conversation from a particular point of view does not invalidate my point about what is occurring in the Americas. This is where this debate is centered because this is my experience and my truth."
That's what I wanted you to acknowledge. I agree with you when you're talking about Americas, but the same thing doesn't fit the whole world.

"Simply because you may have the same hue of skin does not mean that you are considered white."
Actually, I'm not Slavic and I am white. And that's why your point about privilege is so ridiculous to me. Because my nation was occupied, oppressed, banished, tortured, raped, murdered, and whole western world just ignored it. Still does. So when you say I benefit from rape of your people because I'm white, I can say the same to you. You benefit from rape of my people because you're western. Three (maybe more) generations of my family is the result of rape because someone wanted to wipe my nation of the face of the earth.

Danyell said...

Renee- if I can never remove privilege "from my body" (which is odd, because I assumed we had been speaking figuratively this whole time, since it is a concept, not a physical thing) then how can I begin to "sacrifice" anything? The ties can not be cut, so I can't do very much to separate myself from it, so it seems.

I never said that anyone should be "proud" of privilege. I only asked if I should constantly feel ashamed by it. It seems your answer is yes. And I'm sorry, but I don't feel either one of us should have to live that way. No one should be ashamed of who they are because they were born the "wrong" race, no matter what the justification is to shame them.

You say that I must acknowledge that these violent acts are benefiting me, I must remind you again that I AM ONLY HALF-White. Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics have a long history of also being oppressed by Europeans & White American leaders. I keep asking and get no reply as to how I am supposed to deal with my split identity. The other half of me is Irish, which also have a history of oppression, suppression, impoverishment, segregation, rape & slaughter by OTHER White people (even by each other, should you be the "wrong" kind of Christian). But I guess that's ok so long as Whites are killing each other? I guess the Irish have no right to complain about their history, because at least they're White, right?

Also, I'm still not getting a clear answer as to what the next step is after acknowledging White privilege. You seem to be implying that the condition of Black & White racial dynamics are 1.) Something White people can never make up for. 2.) Something from which Black people can never recover.
If that is the case then I'm afraid progress is at a stalemate. If it is not the case, then you're offering no solution, only argument and blame. You make it seem like if anyone disagrees with your take on race relations to any degree, then that person MUST be in denial and MUST be a racist. There are many ways to interpret these situations. If racism was an easy thing to fix, we would have fixed it by now.

And though White people have committed many atrocities to Black people (and other ethnicities and even other White people) there have also been plenty of White people who have fought hard to stop it. Slavery may not have ended without the help of White abolitionists. Should the ancestors of those White people feel forever responsible for slavery when perhaps their entire blood line had fought against it from the start? How are they supposed to feel?

Again, please tell me how biracial people work into all of this.

Danny said...

if I can never remove privilege "from my body" (which is odd, because I assumed we had been speaking figuratively this whole time, since it is a concept, not a physical thing) then how can I begin to "sacrifice" anything? The ties can not be cut, so I can't do very much to separate myself from it, so it seems.
I've been thinking that as well. I thought the task was to cut the strings while simultaneously trying to change society to the point where one day the strings will no longer be there, meaning no more cuttting would be necessary.

Renee said...

@Danyell...I never called you a racist or implied such. You are free to have a differing opinion than mine. I have never silenced voices of dissent unless they have been used to promote hate.
Of course whiteness is attached to the body and cannot be revoked. No one can change the color of their skin. There is also no point in speaking about whiteness figuratively when its impact is a real and lasting. The idea is how you as individual benefit from whiteness, how it informs your behavior and realizing that the acts of others also come to bear on whiteness. The body is never outside of discourse and in fact realized before becoming a corporeal being based on elements outside of personal control.
In terms of bi racial bodies a response requires more than a comment so I will post a blog comment on the subject on Sunday. Tomorrows posts have already been written and I have a date with the Santa Claus parade.

nia said...

I just want to take issue with Arum's earlier comments. I live in a country that is over ninety-five percent black and believe me I see the impact of white racism and colonialism EVERY single day. You mention the attitudes of Africans against black Americans. Sorry, but if it wasn't for being enslaved by whites in the first place black people wouldn't have been conditioned to have these petty dislikes for one another. It's a remnant of the divide and conquer strategy that was so important at keeping blacks powerless. Also, history has shown that in many African countries before whites invaded, there was very little or no conflict between "tribes" (for want of a better word) and they in fact existed and cooperated amongst each other to a great degree.
The Tutsi and the genocidal conflict you speak of - yes, it is blacks killing each other - but the situation is sustained on a daily level by white Western and European powers.
In fact, if you look at most African countries in conflict today, including South Africa that you mentioned earlier, if whites had not invaded those countries and stolen the land to begin with, none of these conflicts would have started in the first place.

nia said...

Also Danyell,
I'm not here to challenge you on the bi-racial issue because I am not qualified, but your last paragraph is also an example of white privilege. Not you displaying it necessarily, but what it actually is. An aspect of racism and white privilege is teaching blacks to believe that their history was only important or only began in relation to our interaction with white people. Black history began long before slavery or any involvement with white people - so the fact that many white happened to fight to abolish something that should not have happened to black people in the first place is of no importance at all.
And let's not forget that many of these abolitionists themselves were themselves very racist. They and their families would have benefitted economically and socially from slavery even while they opposed it.
Even William Wilberforce, who is regarded as such a hero, supported the forced impregnation of black females and did not believe that blacks should have outright freedom. He felt it should be 'phased in.'

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2 here. So, am I supposed to say, "Gee, I'm really really sorry that someone with the same color skin as me has done bad things. My bad." Owning white privilege is one thing. But blaming everyone considered white with anything bad that has ever happened to a person of color is faulty logic and takes away the personal power that individuals have in favor of collective condemnation. Owning white privilege does not mean that I am responsible for the pain of the world that you seem to bear on your shoulders. I'm sorry you live with this kind of "black and white" thinking, and that you're choosing to take on the pain of all people of color and many experiences which don't belong to you, as well as to spit in the face of those who would have otherwise been your allies.

Renee said...

@ANON seriously disagreement is one thing patronizing is another. What I am trying to point out to you is that every act in maintenance of privilege benefits you. Do you think it is only things like re directing black children to non academic streams that maintains racism? Guess again ugly things are done in the name of privilege as well and if you are white you reap the reward. Privilege is ugly period and we cannot cherry pick what aspect of it we are going to own up to.

exholt said...

@arum

Several Indian classmates who were born and raised in India along with acquaintances who work in the field of South Asian studies would look askance upon your assertion that there is no issue of White privilege in India.

In addition to previous mentionings of the popularity of whitening cosmetics and White aesthetics, there is also the glaring omission of centuries of effective British Imperial legacy whether it was carried out at the behest of the East India Company or the British Crown itself after the First Indian War of Independence of 1857. Several of those classmates along with my own readings of Indian history show how this colonial legacy of the EIC/British Raj still has an impact on many key areas from aesthetics, cultural/institutional practices (i.e. British Military traditions permeate both the Indian and Pakistani militaries to the present), and how White Western tourists are still usually treated far better and with more deference than non-White non-Western tourists or locals.

Though I have not had firsthand experience in India, I've observed a similar dynamic in China where Western White tourists were treated with undue deference by tourist authorities/cops even when they are throwing loud temper tantrums while the same behavior would not be greeted with as much patience if it was a non-White/non-Western tourist or especially a local citizen.

Heck....in the last case...that local would probably earn a one way ticket into a jail cell/reeducation camp for such behavior.

tlonista said...

@Danyell and others re: historically oppressed yet pale people -- I don't mean that only POCs can be oppressed. Even if you're oppressed in other ways, you can still benefit from white privilege. For example, you probably won't be pulled over for "driving while black".

anothernobody said...

I can't believe how many people just don't get it.
I'm white, I have Irish ancestry, I have Welsh ancestry; there is no denying those groups were oppressed but you know what? I benefit from white privilege every day of my life. I can moan about how my ancestors were discriminated against, about how my parents might be white but they weren't rich so I didn't have that privilege blah de blah, it doesn't change the fact I still benefit from being white.

I'm not sure I buy the 'but your only looking at it from a western/ NA POV' argument either. We live in a globalised world and the white, western world holds the majority of that power so wherever you go in the world your white privilege is going to tag along too.

Anonymous said...

I won't let anyone call me a racist when I know I'm not one. Where I live, there are all kinds of people, and everyone rises and falls based on their own merit. No one cares where you're from or what color your skin is. You people need to stop whining and get on with your lives; otherwise move to a social democracy where someone can engineer your well-being for you. As for the writer of this blog, since you're from Canada, someone is doing that for you already. Gee, wouldn't it be nice if all of us could live in a country that paid for our healthcare? Sheesh!! Drop the perpetual victim crap already.

You know where I see a lot of snobbery and racism? From well off blacks toward poor people of color. Where I live, there are plenty of well off black people, and a lot of them treat poor people of color just as bad as white people do. But then again, you'll find a way to blame white people for that as well, right?

I'll tell you what, the only thing I'm guilty of is having to get up to go to work everyday and pay taxes to support all of those social programs that I don't get to enjoy because I . . . uh . . . work for a living. Yeah, that makes sense, right? Then again, just having a job probably makes me a privleged whitey. I'll remember that the next time I wax my Mazeratti.

But you know what really gets me? I know more about black literature, black artists, black musicians, and black culture in general than most black people I know, including educated middle class and upper class black people. Hell, I mentioned Cornell West in a room full of black people a few months ago and NO ONE had any idea who I was talking about. Guess what, people; You can sit in Barnes and Noble and read the books for free as long as you want!!

Here's a bit of advice; heal your own people first. That's actually something Cornell West would tell you.

Renee said...

@Anon 64
Where I live, there are all kinds of people, and everyone rises and falls based on their own merit.

Well you must live on Mars because no such place exists on the planet. Do you find you choke on your privilege often in the Mars atmosphere?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
green flying cat said...

"I'm not sure I buy the 'but your only looking at it from a western/ NA POV' argument either. We live in a globalised world and the white, western world holds the majority of that power so wherever you go in the world your white privilege is going to tag along too."
For the love of invisible dancing cockroach, NOT ALL WHITE COUNTRIES ARE WESTERN!

"Even if you're oppressed in other ways, you can still benefit from white privilege. For example, you probably won't be pulled over for "driving while black"."
Where I live no one will be pulled over for "driving while black". However, a lot of people are pulled over for "driving while female". Or "driving while poor".

oliemoon said...

@Renee
Well you must live on Mars because no such place exists on the planet. Do you find you choke on your privilege often in the Mars atmosphere?

Thanks, I just spit out my food laughing at this! :-D

I love this blog. Your talent for snark and just telling it like it really is without holding back is absolutely brilliant. Rage on!

nia said...

Anonymous 64:
I probably shouldn't even bother, but here goes:
This blog on many occasions has referenced the different types of privilege out there. Did you even bother to read anything about that? Besides race privilege there is also class privilege and no one ever said that that class privilege was limited to one particular race.

And just for the record, there are black people and people of color who would happen to know more about white authors, musicians and intellectuals than some white people, AS WELL AS black artists. So what is your point exactly? You think having some knowledge of a limited aspect of black arts and culture makes you special in some way? That is snobbery and racism if I ever saw it. And trust me, Cornell West would tell you that too.

Instead of trying to 'learn' so much about 'black culture', you need to go and teach yourself a bit about aspects of your own white history and culture both pre and post-slavery because it seems you are sadly lacking in that area.

Anonymous said...

nia;

1) As far as class privilege, I actually mentioned that. You can read, right? Just because I don't use marxist terminology doesn't mean I don't know that something exists.

2) Yes, there are black people who know more about both black and white culture than I do. But they are outnumbered by the black people in the media and entertainment industries who make a fortune by selling black people violence, death, crass materialism, sexism, and nihilism. Cornell West actually wrote about this, and he took a little grief for (GASP!) actually taking his own race to task. BTW - there are plenty of white people who make a living doing the same thing.

I suggest you write a letter to the editor in chief of Vibe magazine (a woman) protesting her coverage of mysoginistic rap artists. THEN maybe you'll have a leg to stand on.

3) Where did I say that having some knowledge of black culture makes me 'special?' This is argument by assetion on your part, a common tactic of people who don't know how to debate. And actually, since Cornell West is the kind of person who thinks it's better to know things than not know things, I don't think he'd call me a snob or a racist.

4) What makes you think I know nothing about 'white culture?' Is it because I don't agree with you? Ahh, I get it. When I agree with you, then I'll be knowledgeable.

You are typical of a generation that believes in its own radical subjectivism. As such, you lack critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, you are not even interesting or original enough for me to enjoy disgareeing with.

nia said...

Anonymous,
Trust me, I'm not here to argue with you either. I come to this blog to learn and discuss issues with polite, conscious people so that I can go away and in some small way try to bring about positive change.
1. You actually didn't mention class privilege at all. I read your post. You simply said that middle class blacks like to look down on lower class blacks, without mentioning that this is something all races are guilty of. End of story. What you did was stereotype and generalize about an entire race of people.

2.It is quite obvious that any person who believes that because they have a limited knowledge of someone's culture, they automatically know more about that group's entire culture than that group themselves is positioning themselves as a special ally of that group, and therefore should be allowed to condescend to that group at will. Which is racist and also what you are doing.

3. Exactly how many black intellectuals have you studied besides Cornell West? West was not taken to task because of his criticism of blacks. He was taken to task because, like many intellectuals, they often operate in a vacum, critiquing lower class blacks, etc. without first acknowleging their own privileges and the many circumstances that affect certain groups. Despite what you like to believe, some black people aren't having a hard time because they like it that way.

4. But I suspect you are one of those white people who deliberately refuse to expand your reading on critical black thought and who secretly likes to see blacks playing into the stereotypes you mentioned in your earlier posts. If you did, you wouldn't be able to spout off about the "poor negroes" you think you know so much about.

5. You claim that intelligent blacks are outnumbered by those in the media who make a living from materialism. How many black people do you know exactly?
This is why I mentioned you should learn about your own white history a bit more. Not because I want you to agree with me, but because of the role the white media and entertainment culture plays in debates like this, whether you want to accept that or not.
It's a pity that you cannot even see how insulting and racist a person you are. Don't even start with me about who I should or shouldn't write to. Real activism isn't about looking for brownie points.
And perhaps you yourself should write a letter to BET which is actually run by WHITE-owned Viacom.

No one ever said that groups should not take responsibility for their own actions.
But if every time someone mentions white privilege you fly off the handle and get all defensive and insulting: "Blacks are to blame for this, blacks are that," without even bothering to digest what is being said, then it is you who lack the critical thinking skills to effectively debate and help bring about positive change.

polerin said...

This thread makes me think of the Dead Kennedys. Quick couple points to anon, then back to lurking for me...

* Who do you think pays the rappers and controls the airwaves?

* You keep talking about guilt and how you're not a racist, then start slinging race based generalizations around. Interesting.

* "Critical Thinking Skills" are wonderful things, but you have to make sure you engage in critical thought with all the facts available to you, and follow through on the question. It is not thinking critically if you leave a train of thought as it's chugging along and call it done.

* If you want to talk about shoddy debate tactics, throw hand waving, conclusions based on false assumptions, insulting someone's character rather than engaging their arguments, and moving goalposts in there while you're at it. I've seen all of those in your arguments.

Cheers.