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Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Musings on White Privilege

This was posted by Jason Hargis on his Facebook page. At the bottom are my comments. I strongly suggest you also click on the link How racism works below and read the comments by other readers of the post. Fascinating...

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How racism works

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review? What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class? What if McCain was still married to the first woman he said "I do" to? What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama was a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization? What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard? What if Obama was a member of the "Keating 5?? What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

— Kelvin LaFond, Fort Worth

**Read first from Jennifer Epps


This is Your Nation on White Privilege* By Tim Wise
9/13/08
> >

> > For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

* White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay. * White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug. * White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action. * White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."
* White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals. * White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.
* White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist. * White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look." * White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt. * White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely
> > criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks
are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America. * White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced. * White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has
referred to it a "light" burden. * And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of
the same, which is very concrete and certain.


White privilege is, in short, the problem.



Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me
http://www.softskull.com/detailedbook.php?isbn=1-933368-99-3> (Soft
Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of Speaking Treason Fluently
http://www.softskull.com/detailedbook.php?isbn=978-1-59376-207-0>,
publishing this month, also by Soft Skull <http://www.softskull.com>.
For review copies or interview requests, please reply to
publicity@softskull.com
l.com>
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Jason! Thank you for this post! I will be reposting on my blog to spread the message to a wider audience. Our country needs to have this discussion and the conversation going on here is healthy and vibrant which is always a sign of great writing

White privilege has always been a difficult concept to discuss. It exists. It is real. And most who benefit from it indeed do not even comprehend its existence let alone understand the impact it has on their lives. The media doesn't get it, but they DO operate on its premise (I'm being generous here...).

What's more frustrating is that our society operates on a premise that even mentioning white privilege makes you a radical racial activist. This is also a symptom of the phenomena itself. Mention white privilege and you are instantly castigated as being over the line and race baiting. Get upset over Michael Richards', or Imus' comments and you are suddenly overly sensitive and unfair to "good men with good hearts who just made a slip of the tongue" and radio talk show hosts like Sykes, Wagner, and Belling spew hate on a daily basis and go unquestioned for decades...

It sometimes feels so unfixable, but when people like you Jason have the eloquance to put the spotlight on it, I am heartened that the conversation has begun!

Rae

1 comment:

laura said...

I had the same thoughts during the election and it pissed me off that Obama had to be "better" than McCain in every way simply because of his race and even then, it wasn't good enough...I spent weeks before the election furious about this stuff...and still wish others would see it.