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View Diary: White Privilege Diary Series #1 - White Feminist Privilege in Organizations (481 comments)

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  •  I will say that diaries that talk about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chaoslillith, Themistoclea, Utahrd

    . . . "white privilege" are hard for me to  read. I don't experience myself as a privileged person, even though I am Pink and White.

    I think of this issue more as a class than a color issue.

    When I was an exotic dancer, putting hubby through grad school and raising my kid, and making beaucoup bucks, I was braced a number of times by "feminists" (none of the caramel or chocolate persuasion, all pink and white) that I was no feminist and a traitor to the movement.

    How dare I do a coochey dance for big money? It is decidely unfeminist evidently to dance semi-naked for money in bars. I was just making a living. A good one. I did not really need the sneers. Or the lecture.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:09:05 PM PDT

    •  White privelege does not mean that (19+ / 0-)

      all white people have significant power.  It means that the power structure that exists in this country is such that the mere existence of whiteness confers some level of power that would not otherwise be granted.  Other factors are, of course, relevant.

      "The first rule of pillow fight club is do not talk about pillow fight club." --Keith Olbermann

      by Julie Waters on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:15:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good definition. Maybe I can live with it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stevej

        I don't know. Popularly, I am described as White. I do not like being made a Villain. I have always fought for everyone's human rights.

        I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

        by CherryTheTart on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:29:52 PM PDT

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        •  Personally I am aware that (5+ / 0-)

          there are certain levels of power that I've been just handed that I never earned.  I do not think that makes me a villain but it does make me accountable for its application.  

          I've posted about this before, and I do not say this out of arrogance: I am an extremely smart person.  This is one of the reasons that I am acutely aware that some of that intelligence that I showed in high school and college was nurtured and supported in ways that I imagine would have been much less likely had I not been perceived as white by those in power.  It's not that I would have been thought of as stupid.  But I would not necessarily have been mentored as easily and comfortably by my (primarily) white instructors.  

          That's not my fault.  It doesn't make me a bad person.  It does, however, give me strong motivation to challenge the subtle racisms that I was taught growing up and find ways to learn from them and be better about such things.  

          "The first rule of pillow fight club is do not talk about pillow fight club." --Keith Olbermann

          by Julie Waters on Sun May 22, 2011 at 04:17:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's not personal :) (8+ / 0-)

          When people talk about racism and how it benefits Whites, that's not a judgment of you, or a statement about how good your life is.  

          Sounds like your life's been hard - at least some of it, if not all of it.  There's more to you than just race.  Your White privilege can be offset by other aspects of your life that make it hard.  You still have White privilege, but that doesn't mean you've had it easy.

          You're not a villain for having White privilege.  You can't help your race.  You can be an anti-racist activist, and do everything right, and you'll still have White privilege.  It doesn't make you a bad person.  It's what you do about racism that reflects on you.

          •  You both have good arguments. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Criticalfrimmel

            I do not buy it.

            I am made uncomfortable by the expression "white privilege" and I believe it is not far from using that concept as a given to dismissing me, hating me, or discriminating against me for my skin color.

            If you hate that, why foist it on me. I do not deserve it. Neither do you.

            Find another way to express the concept, please. This is not my first request to stop using race baiting terminology on this site. I do not expect to be heard this time either.

            I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

            by CherryTheTart on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:18:51 PM PDT

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            •  Gay person here. (8+ / 0-)

              I don't know if you're straight or gay (or something else).

              If you're gay, you TOTALLY understand the concept of "straight privilege." It doesn't mean we gay folks don't love straight people. We love y'all!

              If you're a woman, you probably TOTALLY understand the concept of "male privilege." Doesn't mean you don't love men, or that you blame them. It just means that there are subtle things that tend to make being male easier, when all else is equal.

              It doesn't mean you hate or discriminate against the person with a certain kind of privilege. It just means, again, that ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL, the person in the social mainstream or dominant position will have advantages that someone without that characteristic doesn't have.

              We all are a big mix of these. The author of this diary has some kinds of social privileges over you. She sounds like a professor or someone of advantaged educational and socioeconomic status. She may have a fat pension. She's writing from Switzerland, for the love of God. She may never have had to deal with or worry about some of the things that you have.

              Privilege is something we ALL are and have in different ways, unless you're a nonwhite, grindingly poor, disabled transsexual.. :)

              If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

              by rhetoricus on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:05:17 PM PDT

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              •  Good point. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rhetoricus

                And respectfully, so what?

                The expression "white privilege" is race baiting whether you got privilege or don't got it.

                I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

                by CherryTheTart on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:54:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Here's the "so what." (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CherryTheTart, foufou, mali muso

                  Insofar as we enjoy specific dominant positions within the culture, even as they are mediated and complicated by other subject positions that put us at a disadvantage, it's important to be aware of the mechanisms of these.

                  It's important that (especially straight) men realize that the fact that they concern themselves with sexual assault, on average, 80 percent less often than women do, is significant. That they still make on average more money for the same job, that when they walk down the street, women walking opposite will yield the space more often than they will, matters. Men who understand these mechanisms will fight to make things better.

                  When I get pulled over in a remote place, I am not worried that I will be faced with some racist asshole cop who will fuck with me. When I'm refused for a job or loan or rental or date, I don't often wonder that my race was the reason. Because I realize these things, I can more easily recognize where fights for justice need to happen.

                  If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

                  by rhetoricus on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:09:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I think it is a turn off to a lot of people. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CherryTheTart

              White experience might be a better term.

              I think "white privilege" runs the risk of stirring more division than healthy conversation. The issues of such privilege can be addressed but not by the headline of white privilege. It stirs up too much antipathy and resistance, right off the bat.

              It makes many white folks skeptical of any sort of good intentions behind its usage.

              I think it sometimes stirs up anger in black folks that isnt always beneficial or directed anywhere of use.

              What is the intention? What is the point?

              White privilege...

              Oh fuck yeah, sure I get that. I knew I was privileged early on, from a modest middle class white community... I just knew from TV and blond worship (pretty pervasive, the blond is best model, in America, in those days) and all kinds of messages built into life that I was privileged (not blond, and actually olive skinned, but still... )

              I actually woke up one AM as a little kid, sat up in bed, saw my face staring at me from the mirror on the wall, and the thought spontaneously busted out in my head, a fervent sort of "Thank you, Jesus - thank you God, you did not make me black!" (Or colored. I think that may have been the term then.) I had become conscious that it was so much harder to be of color, not even knowing black people - probably because they were so absent from most everything that mattered. It was so fucking easy to know that.

              That is why I am sometimes taken aback by how much discussion there is around it here. I suppose to make sure those who never got it get it? To stimulate refreshed sensitivity?

              Okay. And then what?

              The many positive comments here (although many are by repeat commenters), or on diaries that go on about white privilege, are representative of a very small group that is  predisposed to not feeling offended or to trying not to upon hearing the term.

              Me, I'm not offended, but I do wonder what the goal is in getting folks to get it. Just awareness? Golly gee... How odd to think that most folks wouldnt have gotten a clue by this point.

              And then... what? What?

              I want to know the what that is supposed to follow.

              The good, flavorful, beneficial what?

              Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

              by NYCee on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:29:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  the term "White privilege"... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              princss6, blindyone, poco, mali muso

              is a standard term among anti-racists.  I can't just start substituting another term that's somehow euphemistic, like "white experience," and have it effectively communicate what I mean.

              I don't think the term is what people find problematic - I think it's the concept.  If not, what substitute would you suggest that conveys "the benefits White people receive on the basis of being White in a racist society"?

              If "White privilege" dismisses, hates, and discriminates against Whites, then does that make me a self-hating White guy for using the term?  I don't hear it the way you do, and I'm not trying to please everyone.  Peace.

    •  Part of having privileges (7+ / 0-)

      is that you don't have to recognize them. But I guarantee that as a white exotic dancer, you were bringing in more bucks than you would have been if you were a black woman doing exactly the same thing.  Prejudice against women of color in the sex industry is very strong, and the majority of clients (black and white) prefer white sex workers to black sex workers, and on average they are paid more and tipped more. This has nothing to do with your personal beliefs about race -- it's the way the system works. (For an interesting gloss on that, check out the articles that OKCupid has been posting in its blog about race & dating preferences...)

      Also, it's too bad that you met white feminists who wanted to censure you for your work.  You would no doubt have far preferred talking to the feminists who founded COYOTE, an organization for sex workers' rights.

      "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

      by hepshiba on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:21:59 PM PDT

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      •  Not true. I worked black and white clubs (4+ / 0-)

        . . . with black and white dancers. I been around. Look at my screen name. It is no lie.

        The black dancers had a different style, far more acrobatic than most white dancers. I had a white guy come up and scold me, "Dance, Girl, how can you let a N__ out dance you?"

        She was a more acrobatic and physically powerful dancer. She was better and I was no slouch. Dance has been my life. She was dynamite. Simple truth. I told the guy so and told him to back away from the stage before I put my shoe in his fucking face.

        I am made extremely uncomfortable by being made The Villain. And I feel when you use the phrase "white privilege" that is what you are doing. Scapegoating me. I understand you don't agree with me. I am of the same opinion still. Are you going to get your racial acceptance at the expense of mine?

        I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

        by CherryTheTart on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:39:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But I'd suggest that... (0+ / 0-)

        you were worse off than a Black feminist professor pulling six figures (all told).

        Being an exotic dancer has a lot of downsides and risks. I've known quite a few of both sexes.

        Again, we are people of multiple subjectivities.

        If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

        by rhetoricus on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:57:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We have multiple subjectivities (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mamamedusa

      We can't be reduced to our color. (Which may be what bothers you about this diary.) That said, color does make a big difference.

      Generally speaking,

      White people have more power than nonwhite people along that spectrum.

      Financially secure people have more power than poor people.

      Straight people have more power than GBLT's.

      Men have more power than women.

      Educated people have more power than uneducated people.

      Once these start becoming mixed together, we can't make lazy and generalized pronouncements. We must be careful.

      But these characteristics in isolation still have power.

      If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

      by rhetoricus on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:55:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you don't believe in white privilege (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mali muso

      then you haven't read enough.

      This is the easy essay to read, complete with a handy checklist of the white privileges that we receive without even asking.

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