Skip to main content

View Diary: A Reflection on Racism and White Privilege or My Experience at the Safeway Store (103 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry, I thought you were a man (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moviemeister76

    When a woman presumes to tell another woman what she's thinking and feeling about how to talk about sexism, that's just garden-variety annoying but not sexist. My bad. In any case, my reasoning about whether I like the term "male privilege" was based on what I think about calling basic decent treatment a "privilege," not on anything else, and I don't believe anyone of either sex has sharp enough ESP skills to tell me otherwise.  

    I don't like the framing of "privilege" (and it is a framing, not a fact) because I think it doesn't help people communicate. I will certainly concede that we have plenty of what you can call privileges, if you like. I prefer to call them "basic human rights," "fundamentally decent and fair treatment," and things like that. The fact that not all of our fellow citizens are  being treated in those ways is a huge problem. I don't like the idea that these "privileges" are something that I and others don't deserve (since privileges are usually something not deserved) and that, by implication, if we lost them so that everyone was being treated equally badly, there'd be nothing to complain about -- just loss of a few privileges. I'd say in contrast that if the direction that we go in is one in which everyone is treated equally badly, we've screwed up. The goal should be to secure proper respect and rights for everyone.

    Oops, I now see that Cameron has already made the same point below, but now that I've typed all this, I'll post it anyway.

    Bottom line: If talking about "white privilege" works as a wake-up call for some people, then it has its place. But long-term, as a core strategy for how to frame the issues, I just don't think we should be calling basic rights, privileges. There's a reason we have a Bill of Rights, not a Bill of Privileges.

    Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

    by Noisy Democrat on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:53:35 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I think I see the point (0+ / 0-)

      Thing is, you are arguing from a white perspective. The whole point of the term "white privilege" is that it is deliberately from the perspective of a person of color, and I wonder if that is why so many white liberals find it to be an uncomfortable or even offensive term.  We have gotten used to having everything framed from our own perspective.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:49:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've found an interesting study (0+ / 0-)

        which says that framing things in terms of "privileges" does work to raise consciousness and make white people less racist:  http://data.psych.udel.edu/...(15)/Powell.pdf

        I'm still concerned because the idea of "privilege" still implies to me that we should learn to get along without them -- e.g. white people should get used to being feared and distrusted on the basis of skin color; sexual violence against men should be considered legitimate since women have to put up with it -- but if research indicates that this framing has a measurable positive effect and may actually do some good in the real world, that carries some weight with me.

        Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

        by Noisy Democrat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:54:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I always took the term as ironic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Noisy Democrat

          It's not saying that no one should have what we have as rights. It's mocking the fact that white people see them as basic human rights, but people of color do not get them. In that way, they have become privileges reserved only for some.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:09:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You know, if that explanation were commonly (0+ / 0-)

            offered, it would do an awful lot to make me feel more comfortable with the whole thing. "These things should be basic human rights, but instead they've become privileges. You have these privileges and other people don't. This is a huge problem." I can get behind that wholeheartedly. I was resisting the implicit idea that these things are supposed to be privileges. But when you put it that way -- yeah, obviously, we white people have privileges out the wazoo. We should be working to make them rights that everyone has, but far too often, they're just our privileges.

            Does appending that bit of explanation to the framing undo the intended power of the frame?

            Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

            by Noisy Democrat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:13:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I think you may be partially right (0+ / 0-)

        It reminds me of the West Wing episode in which cartographers argue that the globe should be represented with the Northern Hemisphere on the bottom.

        I think though that the framing of "privilege" does carry more than one meaning -- and it's not only that it's an unfamiliar vantage point from which to look at the white situation (or the male situation, for that matter -- it is rather new for me to think that men have the "privilege" of walking down the street at night without worrying about rape). Privileges can be revoked, privileges can be taken away, etc. When I try to imagine a society in which white people aren't "privileged" to feel OK about their skin color or aren't "privileged" to think that their skin color is irrelevant when they go to cash a check, for instance, I imagine that we've built a society in which everyone has to take a certain amount of crap due to their race and everyone is just supposed to suck it up and accept that it's the human condition to be abused on account of your race, but at least now the misery is shared out more fairly. It's harder for me to imagine that we've arrived at a society where the privileges are shared out more fairly, because that isn't where a "privilege" model naturally leads my imagination. That's why I keep asking where we're going with this model.

        But if the one study I've found so far is right and shifting to a "privilege" framework can help, I can conceivably get behind it -- but with a lot of reservations, still, because of not knowing how we formulate the goals within the "privilege" model.

        Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

        by Noisy Democrat on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:05:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site