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Please begin with an informative title:

There's a popular series of books written by the British author Terry Pratchett about a flat earth called the Discworld.  One reason they're popular, besides the fact that Pratchett is a heckuva good writer, is that he writes stories that view our own world through an absurd and whimsical lens.  He weaves in history from our world as it might have happened if magic was real in our world, such as the invention of the printing press, or the birth of rock and roll.

Witches appeared early in the series, and show up either in cameos or as protagonists in a number of the books.  Magic in Pratchett's books is treated as powerful but unreliable, usually extracting more in cost than the results are worth.  As a result, most magic users prefer to avoid actually using magic unless they can't think of another way to do something.  In the case of witches, most have become keen students of human nature and practitioners of applied psychology.  And, of course, those who follow words know that 'Witch' derives from 'wisdom' or 'wise woman'.  A witch, therefore, even on the Discworld, is primarily a wise woman, and only secondarily a magic user.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

In the book "The Wee Free Men", Pratchett introduces us to Tiffany Aching, a young witch just learning about being a witch.  She already is one, by nature, but there are all sorts of experiences and skills she has yet to learn.  In one scene, she is asking an older witch about learning to be a witch...

"There really is a school for witches?" said Tiffany.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," said Miss Tick.


"Thank you.  Ready?  To find the school for witches, go to a high place near here, climb to the top, open your eyes..." Miss Tick hesitated.
"...and then open your eyes again."

The point being, the large part of wisdom lies in not merely looking at the superficiality of everything around you and accept it as it looks, but to look more deeply, to examine and think cause and effect, to see things from another viewpoint, even if that viewpoint is also your own.

In that same scene, Miss Tick asks Tiffany why she wants to be a witch, and Tiffany remembers how when a local son of privilege (The Baron's son) went missing in a nearby woods, and how the local people were led into scapegoating an old woman who lived alone in the forest, and therefore was suspected of being a witch, and accused of killing an eating the boy.  Tiffany wants to be a witch to make sure such a social injustice never happens again while she can prevent it.  She is unable to stop the lynch mob, but uses her budding curiosity and critical thinking skills, and notes to Miss Tick that the old woman's oven was only 10 inches deep, and therefore far too small to cook and eat a tween boy in in the short time between the disappearance and the murder of the old woman.

Sounds familiar in a way, no?  A person with little formal power observing an injustice, in this case the 'othering' and scapegoating of a powerless person, and seeking to gain wisdom and power to prevent it happening again.  Tiffany is an activist.  She is actively seeking to learn new ways to change the reality around her, to recognize the problems in the society in which she lives and change them for the better.

Later on, she meets and speaks with the 'Kelda' (Matriarch) of the 'Wee Free Men', a bunch of highly aggressive and mischievous kobolds who tells her

"Aye, you're a born hag, right enough," said the kelda, holding her gaze. "Ye got that little bitty bit inside o' you that holds on, right? The bitty bit that watches the rest o' ye. 'Tis the First Sight and Second Thoughts ye have, and 'tis a wee gift an' a big curse to ye.  You see and hear what others canna, the world opens up its secrets to ye...
Tiffany has the ability to see what is real, and not just the preconceptions that society demands, or 'The First Sight', and the ability to be self-aware and critical of her own biases, prejudices, and self-interested motivations - 'The Second Thoughts'.  These are not only critical for witches in the Discworld, but for anyone in our world who wishes to expand their own viewpoint beyond what society has trained us to see.  To see into our own blind spots, to understand the world as others view it, and to understand how those viewpoints can be as valid as our own, and from there to reconcile conflicting viewpoints based on reality.

So what led to this diary?  

So exactly which (0+ / 0-)

"white folks" are you talking about? And why exactly should "white" be a part of that statement? Is it to curry favor?

There are many lily white people that have never known privilege and that has nothing to do with their race, their are many of other races that have lived privileged lives. It is an American phenomenon the thought process that only whites have privilege in any number of situations. Many whites actually do and have worked to lift the less fortunate of every color, nationality and race so stating that "whites" automatically benefit is crap to put it mildly.

It's class not race that determines ones station not the color of ones skin.

Hope that helped

You're kidding right (1+ / 0-)

"It's being able to walk down a street without people judging you as a possible danger or a criminal based on the color of your skin alone."

You go tell that homeless Vietnam or Iraq vet that they are not being judged. I have been told I look like a phsyco murderer and if you saw me you understand why, I have stood in my work clothes next to a black man in a verizon store of which I had been in for almost an hour, but you see he was in a suit guess who the salesman went to here's a hint it wasn't me.

This ginned up crap, the same crap that Wise exploits is just that, crap. The notion that every white person somehow holds sway is manufactured bullshit by those that have an can afford the things the lower classes can't.

It is class, period

In response to a couple of comments I'd posted.  No matter how many times white privilege is discussed onsite, we always have a few people in whose own blind spot the concept falls squarely.

White privilege is not the only privilege that exists, of course.  In any instance in which people can be differentiated based upon some particular distinguishing characteristic, privilege exists, by the simple fact that humans have a tendency to form groups, and to assign positive traits to the groups to which they belong, and negative ones to those they don't.  It's a form of self-esteem.  "I am Good", and therefore those who are like me are also good, and those who are different are not as good. Those in each group will automatically and unthinkingly privilege others who share the group characteristic to some extent, based on this simple basic egotism.  It's part of being human.

But when power imbalances exist between the two groups, so do privilege imbalances.  The privileges inherent in belonging to the group with more power outweigh those inherent in belonging to the group with less power.   In American society, men have more power, wealth, influence than women.  White people more than people of colour.  Heterosexuals more than homosexuals.  People born with gender identity that matches their biological sexual gear than transsexuals.  Poor people less than wealthy people.

So women must constantly fight against the male privilege that brings about a constant assault upon their right to control their own sexuality and bodies.  People of colour must constantly fight for economic equality and social justice.  Homosexual must constantly fight to be able to love the people they love without repercussions.   Transsexuals must constantly fight to use the bathroom or even just not be assaulted or murdered for simply being who they are.  Poor people must constantly fight the exploitation of their labor to enrich the wealthy.

Privilege exists in a dizzying array of dimensions that interact in highly complex ways that change from encounter to encounter depending upon the characteristics of the people involved.  But the existence of one form of one privilege does not mean that no other sort of privilege exists.

This ginned up crap, the same crap that Wise exploits is just that, crap. The notion that every white person somehow holds sway is manufactured bullshit by those that have an can afford the things the lower classes can't.

It is class, period

It's not crap, it's not ginned up.  It's all around us, and the fact that there is economic privilege, and political power privilege does not mean that no other sort of privilege can exist.  Life isn't binary.  It doesn't have to be 'class' or skin colour.  Privileges exist based on both.

If you're one of the people who thinks 'white privilege' is just 'ginned up', I invite you to become witchy.  Use your First Sight and Second Thoughts.  Look at the disparities in wealth, power, income and all sorts of other measures that exists between whites and people of colour.  Look beyond the instinct to say 'There are poor white people too', and look at the numbers, the rates of poverty between the groups.  Examine that defensiveness that wants to proclaim 'I got where I am simply because I worked for it' and consider that without the 'white privilege' that you can't see, you might have been even more impoverished, even less powerful, even more ignored by politicians.

Open your eyes... and then open them again.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to The Underserved on Fri May 03, 2013 at 01:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by Native American Netroots, White Privilege Working Group, LatinoKos, Barriers and Bridges, Invisible People, RaceGender DiscrimiNATION, Black Kos community, PaganKos, and Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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