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View Diary: A Question about Privilege (82 comments)

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  •  Rec'd for thinking this through and writing well (2+ / 0-)
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    orestes1963, nicteis

    I think you're on to something about people from different demographic breakdowns (male vs. female, white vs. non-white, rich vs. non-rich, straight vs. gay etc.) not being able to empathize with those who check off the other demographic boxes.  It seems we are imprisoned by identity.  We never really can walk in another person's shoes, try as we might.

    I think the key is "try as we might"-- a lot of white males don't even want to try.  They just feel sorry for themselves that minorities, women and gays get all the special rights, and some Mexican kid took away a scholarship, and blacks look mad at them like they're "racial" or something.  

    White male self-pity is the bedrock of Republican voting.  "What about us?"  "Why can't we have hurt feelings too?"  "I want a parade!"  After claiming the Civil Rights movement is over and Al Sharpton is just a "race hustler" (or whatever they call him).  They love to cry "reverse racism" while saying racism is dead.

    The thing about being white-- I don't have much money and my family (mom, brothers) has always been lower middle class.  We scrape by month to month.  But we just happen to have a ranch in our family on my dad's side-- 10,000 acres, worth a few million dollars, at least.

    So what are the odds that a black person would have a 10,000 acre ranch somewhere in the family?  Maybe better than I think.  But I think it's one of those "white privileges."  Historically, I have that advantage.  Because two of my parents' school loans that I got so I could complete college are tied to the assets of that ranch.

    I could go around saying "I'm white and I'm also broke so poor me" but I'd be worse off, just economically (never mind in regard to the judicial system, health, safety), were it not for a ranch in my family.  And where I was born-- Roseburg-- that's such a racist place, I wonder how I would have made it if I were black.

    But the reason for "moral relativism" is that a person's identity is tied so much to race, gender, sexual orientation, class, region, religion, age, education.  Were I to check off all those boxes it would say a lot who I really am and what my values are.

    I think in the White Men Rule the World Model there's a refusal to recognize "moral relativism"-- that who we are, including specific circumstances we go through (a poor kid robbing a store), determines right and wrong.  White men want to make all the rules-- for every race, for women, for the poor, for gays.  And that's why these groups have a certain status ("minority" or female).  Because the default status is White Male Christian Straight.  And it's no accident that this group, especially if you throw in "Rich," votes 80-90% Republican (vaguely remembering a Bush 2004 exit poll).

    •  Owning a $1+mm ranch (1+ / 0-)
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      is not white privilege, it is economic privilege.  That ranch was not bestowed on your family because you are white (unless I am wrong).  It is actual economic privilege.  The reframing of real privilege (the ranch) into terms of white privilege is what makes the framework so insulting.  You cannot avoid your real economic privilege by trying to paint it as a product of some white privilege thing that happened to you against your will.  The only way to level the playing field is for each individual to own their actual privileges and work to subvert them.  Not some chimerical privileges, but tangible privileges, like owning a multi-million dollar ranch.

      This is not meant as an attack on you, samantha.  I am merely using this as a valuable example of the problem with the privilege framework.

      •  Oh my goodness (0+ / 0-)

        You are ignorant of history. Fact is, a lot of white people did receive parcels of land because they were white. This is a part of American history. It's why even poor white people tend to be worth more than middle class black people.

        Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole. - Ta-Nehisi Coates

        by moviemeister76 on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 03:42:49 AM PDT

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