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View Diary: Barack Obama on White Privilege: And Why We Need To Listen (231 comments)

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  •  there is much evidence about the lack of (0+ / 0-)

    empathy by whites/"Americans" towards people of color who happen to be poor. Check out Why Americans Hate Welfare or even the recent survey data where white respondents, especially conservatives, are much more likely to believe that black people are subsidized by the state, are moochers, and vote for the democrats because they "get welfare and other goodies" from that party.

    The Southern Strategy and Romney's more recent use of symbolic racism is both a reflection of this anti-black animus while also encouraging it.

    Remember WB I am an empiricist, we have a great deal of data about racial attitudes and poverty policy. As a student of politics, surveying the national scene, I would hope you see the obvious about the intersections between race/class and other types of animus and stereotypes.

    Don't be so naive.

    I would also check out a foundational book in American political development called Protecting Soldiers and Mothers which tracks the idea of the "deserving poor" and the "undeserving poor" and how race is part of this narrative.

    Don't fall into the right-wing dream world where a thing is true simply because you will it to be.

    •  Excuse me (0+ / 0-)

      but the issue between us is the treatment of individuals, not macro social trends. I'm not so "naive" as to ignore the distinction between the two. Neither am I so "naive" as to be ignorant of where doing so is likely to lead.

      This is what you actually objected to:

      When you deny and dismiss the personal life experience of an individual as "fiction", you essentially deny and negate their dignity and humanity. No good can come of this.
      To be fair, you didn't really disagree. In fact, you indicated that you would like to have such solicitude shown for your own dignity and humanity as well as that of all black folks.

      What I find odd is your apparent belief that you can demand such treatment for yourself without committing to treat others in a like fashion. Only the Mitt Romney's of the world can managed that trick.

      In the real world, to borrow your phrase, demanding that others observe a higher standard towards yourself than you are willing to observe towards them only works if you're rich or otherwise immune to social consequences.

      I'm in no such position and I very much doubt that you are either. Apparently, neither is Midgebaker.  


      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:19:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what i said was (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz, WB Reeves

        that I have no use for white fictions and deflections that try to ignore macro level realities through appeals to individual storytelling.

        i have no interest in such games. sorry. those are common deflections when white privilege is discussed--i am white, poor, and not privileged! acknowledge my pain before we can start talking about other issues!

        no interest. old con game that enables white skin privilege and white supremacy (again). as i said, poc have been imminently patient on such matters to what end?

        once more, clean up your house and you can deal with such people who want their "pain" acknowledged in a society that is structured around maintaining white privilege and subsidizing white mediocrity. until you realize why many people of color would not rush out to hand hold and coddle white folks you are not going to get one of the basic issues of the color line.

        we have chatted a few times. i believe your heart is in the right place. however, i do think you are not getting how such a request is a bridge too far for black and brown folks in this country and to ask for such empathy and generosity is really insulting and exhausting in many ways.

        •  Be a realist then (0+ / 0-)

          MLK showed empathy and delivered truth. And got results. And that was at a time of far worse racism. If we want to win the fight against racism, we'll be much more successful by showing empathy toward those -- in particular those who have little themselves -- we're trying to convince to give up something--privilege.

          •  where did mlk show "empathy" for white (0+ / 0-)

            supremacy and white racism?

            •  This is itself a diversion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ian Reifowitz

              We aren't talking about ideological structures. We aren't even talking about those who occupy the commanding heights of the social edifice that maintains those structures. We are talking about those who live under such structures and are confronted with the choice of acquiescence or moving into active opposition.

              MLK's entire strategy was predicated on the efficacy of a moral,social and economic appeal across the color line. His final great initiative, The Poor People's Campaign, was a  testament to this.

              One can agree or disagree with his judgement. However, it cannot be written out of his legacy and it certainly doesn't deserve comparison to "empathizing" with white supremacy or white racism.    

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:26:11 PM PDT

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              •  king was a master provocateur who understood how (0+ / 0-)

                to shame white america and push white elites in the context of the cold war to act in their own interest by confronting jim and jane crow.

                even during the height of the movement white public opinion was very split, the plurality (from memory of some gallup data) were either indifferent to black civil rights or actively opposed king. hell, most white people thought that blacks in america had "equal opportunities."

                what a joke.

                he was, as you know, at the time of his murder one of the most unpopular people in the united states.

                you asked me to be 'empathetic" to the racial paranoia, white racial resentment, and investment in the psychic wages of whiteness as paid to poor white people. in this context that is empathy for white racism. king would have had little of those sorts of feelings.

                pity and sadness for those lost souls, and certainly king had discussed how white racism hurts white people, but empathy? doubtful. but he was complicated and unless we have full access to his archives and thoughts we would have to do some work to get a definitive answer.

                •  Chauncy (0+ / 0-)

                  I've never said anything remotely like this:

                  you asked me to be 'empathetic" to the racial paranoia, white racial resentment, and investment in the psychic wages of whiteness as paid to poor white people. in this context that is empathy for white racism. king would have had little of those sorts of feelings.
                  I don't I think I've ever actually asked you to "empathize" with anyone. If I'm wrong about this, just point out where I did so.

                  In any case, this is obviously your take. My repeated efforts to clarify my position to you don't appear to have done any good so I guess we  will just have to let it lie.

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:07:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  You know that's not what I said. Come on. (0+ / 0-)

              You talk about this monolith of white racism. I'm talking about how to deal with people who are in a particular economic situation and who are resentful but yet reachable. If you view whites as a monolith, you miss the opportunity of reaching the reachable, and of advancing the goal of fighting racism.

        •  Chauncey (0+ / 0-)

          I appreciate you giving me the benefit of a doubt. I recognize that's a tough thing for you to do. Given the social reality we inhabit, it could hardly be otherwise.

          Let me try to be as clear as I can. I'm not asking you or any person of color to do anything "for" whites as a class. If I didn't think it served your interest, I wouldn't bother to bring such points forward.

          If you'll allow me a military analogy, it isn't enough to know the location of the enemy army. One needs a thorough understanding of the intervening ground and the disposition of their forces. In particular, any disaffection that would tend towards desertion.

          It's fundamental to my viewpoint that appeals to altruistic principles that ignore the actual material interests at play are next to useless. I have no delusion that patience, forbearance or charity on the part of the oppressed will lead to anything other than greater oppression. I agree with Frederick Douglass that "Power has never conceded anything without a demand. It never has and it never will."

          I suspect the difference in our perspectives, putting aside the obvious differences in our life experiences, is rooted in differing views of where the wellspring of oppressive power is located. It seems to me that you locate it in the realm of culture. I don't.

          I think history is clear on this point. Economic interest, rather than cultural bias, was the motor that drove the construction of white racism and white supremacy. Likewise economic interest, both real and perceived, maintains these structures in the present. I don't think that any strategy that ignores this central reality has a prayer of deconstructing white supremacy.

          Not everyone agrees with this analysis. I have no illusion that I alone am competent to pronounce the final word on these questions. I only present it for consideration and for what usefulness others may find in it.


          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 01:31:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  crude economic materialism that does (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            not understand the relationship between material realities and the cultural, psychic, and ideological artifices that create and sustain it is ultimately very, very, very short sighted.

            you speak of economic interest, but you ignore how whites from the birth of white supremacy to the present are deeply moored and grounded in more than how whiteness is a type of material property, but also how it is cultural and psychological.

            if "culture" was not important then why do those whites you are trying to reach with your class analysis consistently choose racial identification and loyalty with white elites over alliances of shared class interest across the color line?

            history is anything but "clear" on your crude materialism on these matters.

            check out some of goldberg's work or even folks like stuart hall, judith butler, and others on this cultural part of the story. the essays in the 1993 book on rodney king and issues of culture and visual representation would be helpful. if you want to go "old school" check out Jordan's classic White Over Black.

            •  Calling the analysis "crude" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kj in missouri

              doesn't make it so.

              Also, I do not dismiss the importance of the cultural matrix but it is an effect, not a cause. We disagree about the history as well. Slavery gave rise to both white racism and white supremacy and slavery was an economic institution. It's purpose was profit. If it hadn't been profitable, we most likely wouldn't be having this conversation.

              I'm not asserting that racism and white supremacy will simply disappear if you liquidate their economic basis. I am saying that they will never disappear if you don't.

              Thanks for the reading suggestions.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:55:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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