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I work at a gas station and last night I was training the new girl. We're both white, she's early-thirties, I'm 24. A black guy walks in, big t-shirt, saggy shorts, dreads, probably just a little younger than me. He's on the phone. He says "Where da blunts at, man," and I point them out, he says "Thanks" and buys the cigars. The girl (let's call her Sarah) rings the guy up, does her thing, says "Have a nice day" even though he's still on the phone talking to his friend, and he leaves. The door closes and Sarah says, in a sort of even, not-really-irritated voice, "Well, he could be less black."

I cocked my head slightly and looked at her. I smiled and said the first thing that came to mind. "Well, maybe you could be less white, huh?"

And she kinda laughed and said "Yeah" and she was obviously embarrassed so I just kinda let it go. She's just training and I had just met her and I wasn't about to start a Big Conversation About Race right there. But it got me thinking.

A couple questions I have pondered:

1: Was what she said racist?

Sure it was. The only thing I really know about this married mother of one is that she works in a factory, so she probably at least works around black and brown people there. she's going to school full-time and she needs some side money and that's why she's working at the gas station. I don't get the vibe that she gets off on white supremacy. I don't think she would consider herself a racist. This is Wisconsin, by the way.

But saying that a black person should be less black.... What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? That they should be more white, like you? However she meant it, I believe it was a racist comment. Which means question two is....

2: Why did she say it?

She said it because that particular young black man was dressing and speaking like a Young Urban Black Male as shown on TV. Often sporting accessories like huge baggy sports T-shirts and baggy shorts down to their knees, maybe concealing blinged-out guns, a hostile, confrontational personality, and sometimes (if you watch a lot of TV)  a willingness to kill for no real reason.  After all, Everyone Knows most of the gun violence in the U.S. comes from all the killing in the ghettos, and when the pictures of it hits the news, who are the people in those neighborhoods? Black people. I saw a clip on TV of some gas station getting robbed by two black guys, and at the end when both guys are hurrying out the door, the one guy turns around and just shoots the attendant. I work in a gas station and that's scary shit.

And in their daily lives, other white people go about their lives in the city and see young black males who dress like Young Black Males walking around and they can't help but feel a tinge of apprehension about those individuals. They see young lower-class white kids too, some of them are punks and would do all the things they think those Young Black Males always do.... But they're white, so to other whites they're just little high school punk kids and nothing to worry about.

These are white people who just want to go about their daily lives without being assaulted. They were raised that everyone is the same and it doesn't matter what color people are, you can't judge people by the color of their skin. But they get scared by the news media and Cops and the plain stereotyping that accompanies everything in American consumer culture. They don't hate black people, they know black people, they work with black people, but they secretly know that most of the worst problems with crime and the decay of American culture happen on “their side.”

And unfortunately, all of their upbringing and black acquaintances and good intentions doesn't make this attitude any less racist.

But these are also white people who believe that everyone should be able to vote regardless of skin color. They do not think we should be making it harder for minorities and the poor to vote. They do not think non-whites are incapable of achieving what white people can achieve. Some of these people are Democrats. Some of them are quite liberal. Most of them would be perfectly willing to get to know a black person, even if they don't know many currently.

But being white is a touchy subject in America today. Even here. Especially here, in fact. How does it feel to know you've been fooled into clicking on another White Privilege diary?

Really, in the conversation about race in America, the only thing white people can do is apologize for being white. I feel the need to do it right now. I'm sorry. I am white. It happens. I can go mostly wherever and do mostly whatever I want without any added scrutiny from others on account of my skin color. I always try to keep it in perspective how I totally lucked out on the birth lottery.

It's an uncomfortable topic. And the fact that it's merely an "uncomfortable topic" instead of something that is truly holding me back in this or that aspect of my life is indicative of (wait for it) white privilege.

Which brings me to my point. The reason I wrote this diary is because I think of Sarah, and what she would feel if I took her to the Rec Diaries page of DKOs. She would probably feel like the plurality of White Privilege diaries were directed at her, and not without reason. She would feel upset and ashamed, she would leave, and she would never return here. And she would be henceforth very reluctant to discuss the issue of race in America with anyone who wasn't white, and that's not good.
So yes, white privilege is obviously very real. Every white person has white privilege, because they are white. Just because you have to cry in front of Matt Lauer after you get fired from your cooking show does not mean that racism is not still institutionalized within American culture. Many white people harbor prejudice towards certain minority groups even if they don't go around saying (or even thinking) "Boy I fucking hate all of the __". Paradoxically, these same white people were raised (and believe consciously) that people are all the same no matter what their skin color.

And all I'm saying is, that counts for something. There's a difference between your average white person who is uneasy around scary Young Black Males As Seen On TV, and, say, alot of Tea Partiers. Please, do not write the former group off. The idea that we will all become "colorblind" and the issue of "race" will go just go away is a clear falsehood. In my personal opinion, now more than ever before, a significant majority of white people are not "racist" but they do harbor prejudice towards minority groups whether they are conscious of it or not. These views should be firmly exposed and rebuked for what they are: in essence, racist.  

Do we, as white people, deserve our upbraiding and reminders for centuries of domination and oppression that continues to this very day? Fuck yeah.

Merely consider this: There are many, many, many white people in the USA who are simply afraid to talk about race relations in this country. This is an obstacle to improving those race relations, just as much as their own prejudices are. I invite you to ponder this, as I pondered the meaning of why my co-worker said what she said.

Originally posted to Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 09:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group and Barriers and Bridges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

    by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 09:43:19 AM PDT

  •  Before you start questioning about racism, (21+ / 0-)

    perhaps you should know that calling a woman a decade older than you a "girl" ain't cool. Calling a woman in the workforce a girl became unacceptable before you were born.

    •  LOL. As A 43 Year Old Male (6+ / 0-)

      if I call a women/lady a "girl" my mom to this day would correct me. Even more so cause for five generations we never had a women outside of marriage in my family. Now my brother has a wonderful little lady. She maybe only four but we're trying very hard to let her know she is the best thing in the world and equal in every way.

    •  That's pretty funny and just how fast it happens. (9+ / 0-)

      He wouldn't have said, I was training the new boy.

      Bam. Down the prejudice, white, male path. In an eye blink. With the best intentions.

      give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

      by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:26:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hold on (5+ / 0-)

        I need to pick my eyes up off the floor, on account of they just rolled out of my head.

        This site sometimes, I swear.

        Yes folks, just by those two little words you are justified in labeling me the Prejudice White Male. Everything else I wrote was for naught. Woe is me, for I show no respect to the women I work with.

        Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

        by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:35:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have heard the 'girl' thing as evil beforel (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1, rlb, Linda1961

          The concept is regional.

          I think you handled the situation well - the trainee realized she said something that was not acceptable in your society.  Well done.

          ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

          by slowbutsure on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:50:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Man Friday or Girl Firday used to be a (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit, LilithGardener, crose

            general purpose term used for someone with varied job duties. It comes from Robinson Crusoe. It was a 1950's term that was dropped in the '60s.

            1. A female child.
            2. A daughter: our youngest girl.
            3. Often Offensive A woman, especially a young woman.
            4. Informal
            a. A woman socializing in a group of women: a night out with the girls.
            b. Used as a familiar form of address to express support of or camaraderie with a woman.
            5. Informal A female sweetheart: cadets escorting their girls to the ball.
            6. Offensive A female servant or employee.

            give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

            by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:03:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  No, I am not this site. I am just me. And if (5+ / 0-)

          you read my comments I am fascinated with the eye blink speed at which we start down that path.

          No I was not saying you did go down the path. I was saying that you did what I did when I looked at the baby. (see my comment about the baby) It was an eye blink, it was a split second.

          So at this point you should probably say WOAH, that was weird and update your diary. We all do it. It happens in a split second. It's not going down the path. It's on the edge. It's quick. It's unexpected. And in my experience, it was irrevocable. But then people are super sensitive about their first born. You can easily update your diary. You are only 24 and have a long life ahead of you. (joke)

          And you can say about 'this site' --- the comments section is a wild and wolley place where misunderstandings take little effort.

          give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

          by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:53:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's easier (0+ / 0-)

          than actually doing the naval gazing WRT race that the diary actually sparks...

          Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

          by awesumtenor on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:08:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  s/naval/navel/ (0+ / 0-)

            stoopid autocorrect...

            Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

            by awesumtenor on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:09:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are referring to my diary as "navel-gazing"? (3+ / 0-)

            No.

            I wrote this diary because race in America is an important and ongoing discussion, and I feel that many white Americans are not comfortable participating in the discussion because of their discomfort with their own white privilege as it relates to the discussion, as well as their own racial prejudices, conscious or subconscious.

            At worst, this results in the discussion about race devolving into a circle-jerk against white privilege, which appears to many white people as hostile to them, which drives them away from the discussion.

            I am not denying white privilege, or institutionalized racism, or that many white people who do not consider themselves racist actually harbor racial prejudice. I am simply saying that if we as Americans are going to become comfortable talking to each other about race, white people need to be able to say something in the conversation other than "I'm sorry", or they will be too afraid to have it.

            Point out attitudes that are racially prejudiced, yes. Demonize people as irredeemable racists, no.

            Unless they are, in fact, irredeemable racists. Then fuck em.

            Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

            by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:35:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No; I am not referring to your diary (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dube, serendipityisabitch, m2old4bs

              as "navel gazing".

              I am referring to the all too common practice by some of the denizens of this forum to pick nits and create tangents when the subject pushes them out of their comfort zone and compels them to examine their own experience. Some would prefer to find a reason, no matter how small, to dismiss your diary and derail the conversation because their comfort is, in their estimation, more important than either...

              Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

              by awesumtenor on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:04:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Your new trainee (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LilithGardener, Ahianne

              --and you, yourself, as well as the young customer you described -- are on the front lines in the divide-and-conquer strategies of those who hold the only meaningful privilege left -- extreme wealth.  

              All three of you must work your way through life. But education is costly, decent jobs are scarce, and the idea of trade/craft apprenticeship has given way to union-busting and privilege-based unpaid internships.

              You are led (by media and political grandstanding and seriously flawed identity politics) to distrust everyone, fear solidarity, and spend what resources you manage to capture on transitory consumables that fool you into thinking you're somehow on a track to success.  

              I'm glad that, at 24, you are thoughtful and literate enough to compose this diary.  Bridges don't build themselves, and as you've suggested, the plans we're using need some updates.

            •  Just change (0+ / 0-)

              one word. Just one little word. Your diary is about racial stereotyping and we your readers are pointing out some sexual stereotyping of which you were unaware. We have done just what you did to your trainee. Change the word.

        •  ' Woe is me, for I show no respect to the women' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny wurster

          Good first step.  You're catching on.

        •  you're very defensive about your privilege. (0+ / 0-)
        •  You know (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Spirit of Life, LilithGardener, crose

          that was actually the very first thing that struck me while reading this diary: the fact that you called an adult woman a "girl." It seemed ironic in the context of your topic. I'm 56 years old, and was already considered inappropriate and derogatory way back in the 1980s when I entered the workforce (I remember a couple times new people getting chewed out by the assistant manager for using it), so it was pretty shocking to see you use this derogatory term for the woman you work with, especially given the point you're trying to make in your diary. So the other commenters are not blowing this out of proportion, but anyway, now you know.

    •  Wow. Is that all you have to say about my diary? (4+ / 0-)

      That's the one thing you chose to pick out? The fact that I referred to her as "the new girl"?

      For the record, the first time I met Sarah, I guessed she was about my age, a whole decade younger than she actually was. I still can't really believe it looking at her, which is why I typed "new girl" without thinking, cause I don't think of her as an older lady. My bad.

      Good eye catching me being a right callous misogynistic bastard seeking to demean my female co-workers, did you have any thoughts on the actual substance of the diary?

      Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

      by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:29:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Given the subject matter and POV (13+ / 0-)

        of your diary, it jumps out.  As somebody else mentioned, there's no doubt you had the best of intentions.  And very good on what you did, it's never easy.  In talking about it, you also discovered for both others and  yourself where you need to be more aware.  Live and learn.  The redeeming quality of mistakes is that they give us the quickest path to do that learning.

        "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" ~Dr. Samuel Johnson

        by ActivistGuy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:04:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think you meant well. (9+ / 0-)

        And I give you credit for trying to learn. It's just difficult to get to the part about racism when it starts with that bit of sexism.

        Note: A girl stops being a girl when she reaches puberty. The issue isn't that your co-worker is older than you. It's that she hasn't been a girl for many years. I don't watch it, but I believe Mad Men is about businessmen during the '60's, prior to the women's revolution. It was common for men of that time to say, "I'll have my girl call your girl" when referring to their obviously no-longer-girls secretaries. We women thought we had put a stop to that a long time ago. So, when I saw it, it just slapped me in the face.

        You may want to republish with that minor edit. Just alter the title to differentiate.

      •  For the record ... (6+ / 0-)

        ... that explanation didn't help. Friendly advice: edit your introductory material and get rid of at least that much of the problem. Otherwise the irony of your brave admission of white privilege while stubbornly refusing to acknowledge your male privilege is going to derail any conversation about what you say is your substance. Editing the first paragraph doesn't eliminate the fact that you presume to know why she said what she said that made you feel so superior to her, but at least it won't shine a big ol' light on it.

        You didn't know it was offensive to many people, and that's fine. That's just ignorance, not evil. (And no, the fact that it's not offensive to all women at all times does not negate that. And no, the fact that some women call each other or refer to each other as "girls" does not negate that. Anything echoing here??)

        Now you know. Ball's in your court.

        •  I'm not going to edit the diary. (5+ / 0-)

          It's pretty obvious that the particular phrasing inspired many of the replies to it, and to edit it would be removing context from the discussion as well as being gutless on my part.

          Look, I get the point. It is important that women are referred to as equals in the workplace, by their co-workers and bosses. The word "girl" carries a negative/lesser/demeaning connotation with many women for good reason as it relates to the workplace. I maintain that I meant absolutely nothing by using the phrase "new girl" instead of "new person", but nevertheless it is a term that bothers many women and I will be more conscious of that in the future.

          Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

          by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:25:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  At this point, I agree. When I started writing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            the comment, it was before many of the others. It's too late now -- probably just as well for people to see where you're coming from. I'll leave it there.

            The rest of your diary is an important topic, but beyond the time I have today. Good luck.

          •  In my opinion (2+ / 0-)

            as a Native American woman, the people totally ignoring of
            Boogalord's concerns about white privilege and focusing on one word concerning women instead, is a perfect example of White privilege.  I could see people remarking on it, and then commenting on the rest of his diary as being all right. But when the only thing that concerns you enough in this diary to comment on is a word concerning women tells me quite a bit about white privlege.
             

            Be well, ~*-:¦:-jennybravo-:¦:-*~

            by jennybravo on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:58:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You can edit it to show the changes (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            88kathy, crose

            a line through "girl" followed by "co-worker" just like some other diarists do to make a point, that when one phrase isn't strong enough, they cross it out and replace it with something stronger.

            "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

            by LilithGardener on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:09:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Think of it as the equivalent of the Grammar (0+ / 0-)

        Nazis. One misplaced apostrophe and the rest of the diary doesn't count.

        Good diary. And a nice comeback, for an off the cuff reply.

        As to your main point, it's going to take some thinking. It strikes me that once "white privilege" gets thrown in to an argument, any real discussion has been derailed, however accurate the concept may be, but I'm still working out where I'm coming from on that.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:14:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually it is writing 101. The first sentence of (2+ / 0-)

          any written material is second only in importance to the title.

          Sometimes talking to your editor can be a bitch. Especially when you thought you nailed it and didn't.

          give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

          by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:39:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One would hope that you'd then apply this (0+ / 0-)

            dictum to every other diary where the first sentence didn't do much to forward the story the diary is telling, and mention to the author why they should have written a different lead-in? You'll be busy - my estimate is that at least half of the diaries in the Recent list start off that way.

            Sorry, 88kathy, but I don't buy it. Even if I thought that any particular commenter was justified in acting as an editor on the GOS, I wouldn't buy it. It's an interesting diary, with - possibly - a fluff by the diarist at the beginning, and I haven't seen you commenting on anything except the fluff. Otoh, I haven't read all the new comments in the last hour or so, so if you have, I apologize.

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:13:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No particular commenter is an editor. However, I (0+ / 0-)

              have seen diaries get editorial comments in the comment sections. And I have see diaries updated from the comments sections many times. Mostly my editorial comments have been to expand diaries I thought were good but too short.

              Many times when I edited friend's essays for school, I crossed out the first 3 paragraphs. Usually putting them elsewhere in the piece.

              It's not easy taking blue pen in public. A speedy edit with a hat tip to the commenter who suggested it makes it a little bump. I have seen this happen many times. I was trying to give the diarist a way out. That was not to be.

              The resistance to a reasonable edit makes it red meat. And has an impact on the tone which the reader 'hears' in the piece.

              give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

              by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:29:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  PS I know you are not calling me a fluffy nazi. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch, Catte Nappe

              Don't you just love the comment section.

              give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

              by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:29:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Chortle. No, you're right, I wasn't. (0+ / 0-)

                Still, I thought there were valid points in the diary that very few people ever got to because of the first slew of "omg he's being sexist" comments.

                At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

                by serendipityisabitch on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:36:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  More meta thoughts - (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                88kathy

                So many times the first few comments either set the tone for almost everything that follows, or start a flame war. It's hard for a lot of people to jump in with a comment once 'sides' have been declared, so many comments that might have led to real discussion tend not to be made at all. Especially on this type of topic.

                At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

                by serendipityisabitch on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:43:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  'Good eye catching me being a right callous (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster

        misogynist . . ..'

        Good.  Good second step, self-evaluation of your behaviour.   (I won't comment o the 'bastard' except to cite Miss May Angelou who taught us that 'when a person tells you what they are, believe them.')

      •  I figure you would have said 'new guy'. (2+ / 0-)

        instead of new 'boy' like someone else suggested.

        I suppose everyone takes offense that there is a show on TV called The New Girl? No? I didn't think so.

        The offense Du Jour. Everyone enjoy.

        But on topic per your questions...
        Yes, what she said was racist. As to why she said it...habit? She was comfortable enough to be on a new job and say it - so I tend to doubt it was said out of hand/character' for her.

        -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

        by Vayle on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:24:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  a 24 year old? (5+ / 0-)

        still isn't a girl.

        first rule of holes: stop digging.  apologize, learn from it, and move on.

      •  Well it was the first sentence. (0+ / 0-)

        The first sentence is quite like the title. It is in a prominent position. And your double down makes it ever more prominent.

        At the beginning of a written work stands the opening sentence. Considered "most important",[1] the opening sentence needs to entice the reader[2] and sets the subject, the tone and possibly the style for the whole work,[3] although this does not have to be obvious.[4]
        Writing 101.

        give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

        by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:34:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't need to be so defensive (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emsprater, LilithGardener, m2old4bs

        You actually couldn't have illustrated your point any better if you'd tried on purpose. How easily and naturally she said what she said. How easily and naturally you wrote what you wrote. You are willing to explore what you think might have influenced her comment. There's additional opportunity to explore how these things happen vis a vis what influenced you to write what you did.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:57:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd have to say there is a point to ...... (0+ / 0-)

        discussing your use of terms while pontificating about other's use of terms.

        In my mind's eye, it shows that perhaps the 'new girl' was just as oblivious to her transgression as you were to yours.

        But, the focus of the diary is her transgression and how it's such an indicator of all that's wrong with society.  So yours really should be allowed to pass.

        Nothing changes without public pressure: public pressure doesn't happen without dissemination of knowledge and 'true' facts. Bit me FOX.

        by emsprater on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:09:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, HappyinNM. (7+ / 0-)

      I was just about to say the same thing.

      It also bugged me that the diarist -- who did not discuss the event with his co-worker -- has set up this 'girl' to illustrate this point:

      Which brings me to my point. The reason I wrote this diary is because I think of Sarah, and what she would feel if I took her to the Rec Diaries page of DKOs. She would probably feel like the plurality of White Privilege diaries were directed at her, and not without reason. She would feel upset and ashamed, she would leave, and she would never return here. And she would be henceforth very reluctant to discuss the issue of race in America with anyone who wasn't white, and that's not good.
      The boy who wrote this diary used his imaginary image of his co-worker as the receptacle for his feelings about what 'she' would feel.  In other words, this boy made 'her' into the villain of the piece, the unenlightened white who cannot bear to discuss race because 'she' would feel upset, ashamed, if 'she' were to discover the concept of White Privilege.  And her shame would make her forever speechless.

      Well, boy, I'm gonna double-dog dare you:  Start a conversation with your co-worker.  Start it like this:  'The other day, when you said XXX, that confused me.  It sounded kinda racist, but I don't know how you meant it.  I've been reading about White Privilege, and how a lot of white don't get that.  So -- where were you coming from, with that statement?

      And, as an older white woman, I want to say:  Shame on you, boy.  Shame on you for pre-judging a woman who is working two jobs while going to school and raising a child, and shame on you for using your imaginary 'her' the way you did in this diary.

      •  well ok (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda1961, chantedor, Catte Nappe
        Well, boy, I'm gonna double-dog dare you:  Start a conversation with your co-worker.  Start it like this:  'The other day, when you said XXX, that confused me.  It sounded kinda racist, but I don't know how you meant it.  I've been reading about White Privilege, and how a lot of white don't get that.  So -- where were you coming from, with that statement?
        This is a good idea. Perhaps I will.

        Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

        by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:36:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you do (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy

          A follow up diary might be interesting.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:57:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. It's so much more than a word in this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CroneWit, jan4insight, emsprater

        instance. (Tipped on the assumption that "boy" is just to make the point, in case that has to be spelled out for anybody.)

      •  Also, you seem pretty riled up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sewaneepat

        It is true that I am making assumptions about a woman I hardly know. The observation I am based my diary on was that she clearly felt embarrassed and uncomfortable by what she said and my calling her out on it. And given how discussions of race on this particular site go, I do not feel she would be comfortable.

        She is not the "villain" of this diary. I think the comment she made was racist, but in a sort of unconscious way that underlies alot of racist feelings white people still have. This is why I used her as an example in this diary. Not so I could bully and demonize a Mother Who Works Two Jobs How Dare You Boy!

        Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

        by Boogalord on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:46:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Once I was under the Viaduct in Seattle very (8+ / 0-)

    late at night. I had to pick up my crazy sister but that is another story.

    So I get out of my car and go to put my money in the parking meter and this very large black man screams at me.

    HAY!!!!!
    So I go, in a little squeaky voice.
    what?
    He says,
    It's Sunday, you don't have to put money in the parking meter.
    I say
    thanks.
    So was that prejudice because it freaked me him hollering, 'hay'. He was black and I was white. I don't know.

    Another time a co-worker showed me a picture of his new baby. I had no idea his wife was Asian. My face registered shock for a fraction of a second. Was that prejudice? Or white privilege because I expect white people to have gerber babies. It was only a fraction of a second, but it was horrible and I think wrecked my friendship with my friend.

    •  First of all, anyone shouting at me at night (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, johnny wurster

      would be unnerving. I'm probably high-functioning austistic. I don't like things to be loud or sudden generally and will avoid loud and stimulating environments.

      Second, privilege and prejudice can overlap and there are many different types. Expecting her to be white is a form of pre judging, but, without making some sort of moral statement, it's not the same prejudice as assuming somebody who's black has had legal trouble, for instance, or from 'out of town,' or, in the case of your friend's wife, assuming that she's an immigrant for instance.

      Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

      by Nulwee on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:04:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It still was enough to wreck a friendship. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chantedor

        That looking at the new baby look that I should have had, wasn't there. It wasn't longer than an eye blink. But it was long enough to wreck a friendship.

        So in a way it was worse because I lost more.

        As far as my parking meter story, it does show how a black person with normal impulses could run amok. You said Hay to a white woman!!!  When the irresistible impulse was only a desire for free parking. (paying for parking in Seattle in those days was avoided at all costs with pride)

        It just takes a split second to start down the path. Will there ever be a way to avoid going down the path?

        give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

        by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:18:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Shouldn't be (0+ / 0-)

          My kids are half Asian.

          Sometimes people who don't know me well see their pictures on my phone and ask "Oh... are they Asian?".

          My response is "Half.  My wife is Chinese."

          I've never seen a reason to be offended by that.  Frankly, anyone who is offended is a bit stupid.

          But saying that a black person should be less black.... What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? That they should be more white, like you?
          Perhaps that it's funny that someone looks so much like a stereotype?

          BTW, first time I took my (the future) wife to the US we saw a black guy in those ridiculously baggy pants pulled only halfway up and she asks me "Is he so poor he has to wear pants out of the trash and he can't find ones that fit?"

          Some things look stupid in ways that are just plain culturally universal.

        •  Sorry that happened (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy

          56-year old white male married to a black woman and we have 2 girls in their 20's.  I've lost count of the times I've felt the need to explain.  As with Sitting Jack Flash, I've never felt offended by their interest.
           

          •  It was just a split second. There was no (0+ / 0-)

            explanation called for.

            The closest thing I ever heard was a friend of mine had 4 kids and thought he was an expert on babies. That was back in the day when babies were on display. So the he got all full of himself and started going pretty baby, pretty baby, ugly baby, pretty baby, ugly baby. Well one of the 'ugly babies' belonged to the man he was talking to, who didn't think his baby was ugly at all.

            So in that split second, I didn't say 'pretty baby' and there was no way to take it back.

            Things happen so fast. Maybe sometimes the people who made you feel the need to explain, went home thinking they would give anything to take back the careless look or word that led down that path.

            Sometimes the only thing I can do is hope I don't do it again.

            give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

            by 88kathy on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 12:01:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It was prejudiced of you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, chantedor, AaronInSanDiego

      I've had similar responses to similar situations. And unless we white people start recognizing our prejudicial responses to things we'll keep doing them. I mean, you pretty clearly knew that it was prejudicial or you probably wouldn't have used it as an example. The problem is that race issues have become so demonized that people don't want to admit that they'd do anything racist because that would make them evil and they know they aren't evil.

      The fact of the matter is that everyone does these things at certain points. These are deep cultural trends. That doesn't make then not racist, or not something that needs to be dealt with. But it also means that dealing with them, and not just sitting around and asking if this or that behavior is really racist, is the important thing.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:53:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It just happens so fast and then it's the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, AaronInSanDiego

        Niagara Falls bit from the three stooges.

        If there were some way to get forgiveness in there before

        Slowly I turned
        sets in.

        give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

        by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:09:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It really does happen so fast (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy, AaronInSanDiego

          and then sometimes you're like, should I apologize? But since you managed to not let on it would be silly to apologize. I just work toward not responding in a prejudiced way by looking at why I responded in that way and where it came from. Honestly, mainstream media in all its forms is largely to blame for our fear of black men. They are almost always portrayed as scary and dangerous, even if it's as a lead in to a joke. Avoiding mainstream movies and TV has been the best thing for me in regards to not being programmed by the media narrative.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:26:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In college I think I was manipulated into saying (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, AaronInSanDiego

            geudem down during a lecture.

            The professor was Jewish.

            Not only did I learn that geudem was Jewed Them, that Jew a noun could be a verb, but I succeeded in making the first Jewish person I had ever talked to hate me.

            Niagara Falls.  Slowly I turned. Wow.

            give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

            by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:40:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  those sound like normal reactions to me. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, VClib, Be Skeptical, Rich in PA

      all this micro-interrogation of minor things strikes me as faintly preposterous.

      •  See that is the problem. White people have (0+ / 0-)

        white privilege which is a bad thing. It is obvious to people of color. But white people are oblivious.

        So when you try to figure out what the heck it means on the micro level it will be preposterous at times. Just like I thought geudem was a synonym for bargain and had no idea of it's origins.

        give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

        by 88kathy on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:22:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would have asked her (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, Linda1961

    "I don't understand what you meant by that?" (which I don't). Absent that, her comment seems at least ignorant (stupid) to meat best.

  •  I'd be confused if she said that to me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi

    I'd be thinking, "WTF?"

    What is the significance of what she said? That we're white, and that makes us okay? and that we can bond because we're not black? Weird thinking.

    In my experience, African-Americans, Jamaicans, Africans, and black and brown people from other countries are warmer, friendlier, and more fun to joke with, talk with, and party with than the average.  I prefer that to cultures that are stiff and unfriendly, and where hugging and hand-shaking are frowned upon. I get along with stiff people who are excessively concerned with personal space, but it's harder to get to know them.

    So I really can't identify with that young lady's aversion to people of color, nor can I understand why she's doing the world a favor by helping to "spread the discomfort" with her words.

    We've got to stand together with our black and brown brothers and sisters, and make the world a better place.

    -4.75, -5.33 Cheney 10/05/04: "I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

    by sunbro on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:00:22 AM PDT

  •  brooklybadboy on racism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emsprater, LilithGardener, m2old4bs

    bbb's statement in today's diary has to be part of this discussion:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    You see, racism requires power. Racism = prejudice + power. You have to be in a position to do something about your bigotry, willing to do it, and then do it, knowingly or unknowingly. To be a racist, your bigotry must be paired with your willingness and ability to act. [bold in original]

  •  What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, Catte Nappe, m2old4bs

    You probably could have just asked her.

    "I'm not sure what you mean by that," would have been a fine opening, even if she was embarrassed and didn't want to go further.

    To answer your first question, yes it was racist. In part because of the assumption that young black men should moderate the behaviors in ways that suit her. "It's his responsibility" (to tone it down closer to my taste) is the epitome of privilege.

    To address the question in your diary:
    What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway?

    Similar phrasing can be applied to anyone who is dressed, coiffed, or speaking in a way that really draws attention.

    E.g. Young women's fashion - no one would dare tell a young white woman who was dressed to the nines in a beautiful form fitting designer dress - that she should be less white. But in certain contexts, say a conservative work environment, someone will happily say, "She wouldn't have to dress so sexy." or "She really should tone down the sex appeal if she ever wants to be taken seriously." Your co-worker could have meant something similar with her statement.

    I think, the racism and privilege in her comment reflected an attitude that all those obvious features of how he presented himself were somehow artificial, and he could "turn it down" if he wanted to "get along better" in the world.

    But, ponder this, if a young white 20-something with dreds came in, talking on the phone, and bought some cigarettes, she might not take that person seriously either. But she probably wouldn't comment about them the way that she did. Because we all "know" that a young white person sporting dreds is just a passing phase for them, and we tolerate that experimentation more easily for white people. (An example of white privilege, I think).

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:50:27 PM PDT

  •  As for the blatant male privilege in your diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy

    - that's already been explained.

    You would make the diary stronger by editing "girl" with a line through and adding "co-worker."

    Doing so would show that you noticed or learned something about unconscious male privilege.

    You're refusal to do that simple edit, and the whole second part of the diary where you opin at length about what's in the head of someone you just met, well those are features the epitomize privilege - male privilege, to be exact.

    The overall message that comes across seems to be that your maleness trumps her whiteness. And that's unfortunate, because I don't think that was your conscious intent in writing the diary.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:06:16 PM PDT

  •  I ponder why people smoke to begin with (0+ / 0-)

    Especially young people.  Don't they know the health risks?  Don't they know it plays to the corporate powers that work to suppress everyone just for profit?  

    The Republican party has become the politburo of capitalism. It seeks to direct the direction this country is going NO MATTER WHAT WE THE PEOPLE THINK.

    by tarminian on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:09:56 PM PDT

  •  I have to be honest, (0+ / 0-)

    when I read that comment ("he could be less black"). I laughed. I mean, who thinks up those kind of things ?
    Like you, I thought, "what the heck does that mean?".

    It is a racial slur, however. Maybe I can tell my brother, "well, you could be less Irish". Weird!

  •  The other night when I was at the club (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Throw The Bums Out

    I had negotiated BDSM play, specifically flogging, with an acquaintance of mine, who happens (beside being an insanely good-looking guy with a great body) to be black.  I do not care about race, gender, or presentation of the people I play with; I care about clear consent and staying within mutually agreed upon boundaries.

    And as we got into the scene, about 1/3 of the way in, he says loudly, in a very heavy accent (assumed, cause he doesn't talk that way the rest of the time) "Oh, massa, don' beat Kunta Kinte no' mo'!"

    The people watching laughed, but it was the uneasy laughter where you aren't comfortable with it.

    I tossed the flogger down and said, "I'm done." He wasn't tied down, so I just turned and walked out of the room, and told my husband to pick my toys up and get them out of the way while I simmered down.

    Yeah, the joke was there to be made, white woman using a whip (however nice and soft) on a black man. And HE may be good with introducing that into it....but I felt extremely violated because he didn't ask me first about introducing it. Cause the way I had been dealing with all the historical baggage of topping black people was to ignore the fact that they were black, or at most to consider it a tertiary feature... less important than his gorgeous smile or her amazing pain tolerance. I admit I have racial baggage left, I'm forty. I do my best with it. And now I've got more. Or am aware of more, or something.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:24:58 PM PDT

  •  Good discussion. (0+ / 0-)

    A 34 year-old woman is not a "girl." Women cease being girls at about 20. To continue to call women girls is demeaning, just like calling men "boys" when they are clearly are no longer.

  •  a deserved ding on the sexist comment (0+ / 0-)

    otherwise, this is a great diary...as if sagging pants and smoking blunts defines what it is to be black

  •  I thought it was funny.... (0+ / 0-)

    that you said that since she works in a factory, she probably works with some black and brown people. That in itself, depending upon the receiver, could be interpreted as being "racist", no?

    I do think that there is an institutionalized "We are better than you" thing going on, but it's not relegated to skin color. The rich feel they are better than the poor, the educated feel they are better than the uneducated, men are "better" and women are "the fairer sex", this country is better than that country, "real" black people are better than "Uncle Toms", northerners are better than southerners, and on an on.

    There are some that base it on race, sure, but the real ill is that we all tend to see ourselves as separate from everybody else.

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