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With the nation and Daily Kos fully engaged since August 9, 2014 on the issue of white police officers shooting and killing (mostly) men of color and being found Justified in nearly every single case?

I believe it's time for the corollary discussion of White Privilege.

What it is and why it exists and what, if anything, can be done about it.

I'd rather be a woman of color writing this story, truly, because I was thinking that perhaps it might be better said by a woman of color whose life experiences would enable a view about America which I, a 53 year old white woman born and raised in a predominantly white, small American town, simply cannot see.

But then I realized that to reach the people who are the bearers of #WhitePrivilege, maybe it might take someone who was ignorant of that status for most of her 53 years to reach them.

So, here I go...

What exactly is White Privilege, and how do you know if you possess it?

I probably should have written that the other way around, now that I look at that sentence, because the second half of the question? The answer, if you have white skin, is YES. Unquestionably. You are the recipient of #WhitePrivilege

Things you DO NOT have to do, to have #WhitePrivilege:

  • Join a club called #WhitePrivilege
  • Buy and read a book on #WhitePrivilege
  • Take a lesson on #WhitePrivilege
  • Order a channel on your cable package called #WhitePrivilege
  • Subscribe to #WhitePrivilege magazine
  • Buy a TShirt with #WhitePrivilege silkscreened on the front/back
  • Use vulgar slurs when referring to people of color
  • Believe that persons of color are different than white people

The inconvenient truth is that all that is required for you to be a person with #WhitePrivilege is white skin.

The only way to get it? Inherit it as part and parcel of your being born white in America.

That's it. Nothing special, unless you happen to be born not-white. Then #WhitePrivilege is forever beyond your grasp.

So what exactly IS #WhitePrivilege?

Well, it's not any of the stuff I listed. It's nothing to do with how you act or how much money your family has, or what sort color your friends are. It is not related to the language you use when talking about or with persons of color.

This is related solely to the color of your skin and how the world treats YOU because of the color of your skin - and in some very important situations, how the world DOESN'T treat you because of the color of your skin.

How the world does treat you, because you were born with white skin?

Listing all the ways I can identify might take until tomorrow, or quite possibly, next week, so let's try and identify some of the more common ones, shall we?

Having #WhitePrivilege means:

These things alone are harbingers of what #WhitePrivilege affords those of us born with white skin.

Better treatment, better opportunities, second chances.

Living longer, and I am NOT talking about disease, unless you count white cops shooting black men, which I personally have come to view as a plague upon the American landscape.

Access to better schools, better colleges, better jobs.

Getting hired is twice as likely if you are white.

Devah Pager
Princeton University

Debates about the relevance of discrimination in today's society have been difficult to resolve, in part because of the challenges in identifying, measuring, and documenting its presence or absence in all but extreme cases. Discrimination is rarely something that can be observed explicitly.

To address these issues, I recently conducted a series of experiments investigating employment discrimination. In these experiments, which took place in Milwaukee and New York City, I hired young men to pose as job applicants, assigning them resumes with equal levels of education and experience, and sending them to apply for real entry-level job openings all over the city.

Team members also alternated presenting information about a fictitious criminal record (a drug felony), which they “fessed up to” on the application form. During nearly a year of fieldwork, teams of testers audited hundreds of employers, applying for a wide range of entry level jobs such as waiters, sales assistants, laborers, warehouse workers, couriers, and customer service representatives.

The results of these studies were startling. Among those with no criminal record, white applicants were more than twice as likely to receive a callback relative to equally qualified black applicants. Even more troubling, whites with a felony conviction fared just as well, if not better, than a black applicant with a clean background.

Life is tough all over, so the saying goes.

But the rising call from persons of color to open the discussion on #WhitePrivilege should be getting your attention. Because life is definitely harder for people of color than it is for people born into #WhitePrivilege.

So having read this far, and if you are a person with white skin, do you see any of that as being relevant to you and your life?  Do you see how the mere chance of being born with darker skin can be a barrier beyond your ability to rise above to achieve a dream, to reach a goal, to have a happy and satisfying life?

Are you one of the white Americans like me, who for most of my life rejected the idea of Reparations to black Americans, not only for the harm done their great-great-great-great grandparents, but to them via the expression of #WhitePrivilege in so very many aspects of daily life? Because just a few short years ago, that is exactly who I was.

I grew up in a household with blatant, daily racism built right into the fabric of our lives. My father used epithets and slurs when he talked about the black community in southeast Portland, Oregon which was where he and my mother both worked. Things which made me, as a small child, cringe when I heard them coming from my own father's mouth, because even in the third or fourth grade, I knew that saying those things was wrong. It was just wrong.

But my #WhitePrivilege intervened in the years that followed that upbringing. It lead me to believe things because the world in which I actually lived was opaque to me, in many ways. Probably in large part because there just weren't many people of color where I grew up. One black girl in the first elementary school I attended for kindergarten, who lived on my street. But in first grade we had moved into a home my parents bought and it meant going to a different school. Where there were no children of color.

My junior high years were troublesome and I simply can't recall if there were any black or brown kids there. That alone, since I've had an unusually good memory for most of my life, should tell you something. Apparently, my #WhitePrivilege brain didn't think it was important enough to retain that information. But in my high school there were if I recall correctly (iirc) four black students. Three girls and one boy. My graduating class in 1979 had 545 students in it, and like numbers of grades 11 and 10. 9th grade at that time was part of Junior High.

I played a lot of sports as a kid, too. Girls softball, from grade 4 to my senior year in high school. We played about 10 to 12 other teams during our regular season. My hometown of Vancouver, WA has just over 17,000 residents the year I graduated from high school in 1979. Out of all those girls, in all those teams, the only non-white girls were Hawaiian, whose dad, Frank Kanekoa was the County Sheriff for years here in Clark County and whom I see passed away in 2005.

So out of those 17 thousand plus residents there were few, very few, who were persons of color.

And I believe today that my worldview of persons of color was affected because of that. I spent my 20s telling people that "I am the least racist person you'll meet, because I don't care what color you are, so far as I'm concerned there is only one race - the race to death - and we are ALL in it." I meant it, too. But now, looking back on those years - I never met any black people, so how did I know what the hell I was talking about?

By the time I was in my 30s, nothing much had changed. Except that I had a couple of little girls whose grandma was 1/4 Native American and whose great-grandma was 1/2 Native American. We went each summer to their family reunion at Beacon Rock State Park, located on the Columbia River. I took the girls to visit their (great)Nana Violet each week, where she would tell them stories about their cousins who still lived a more traditional Native American lifestyle in south central Washington State.

By the time I was 40, the population of Clark County had undergone some pretty big changes. There was an ever increasing influx of residents, for over a decade this once small town was in the top towns across America for largest numbers of new residents moving from somewhere else. There were now more black and brown people to be found in the grocery stores and at school functions. There was the beginning of what is today a fairly large Russian emigre population, sponsored in Clark County by Lutheran Church Services. The Latino population was also expanding a lot in those years. But I still didn't have a single friend who wasn't white.

Rolling through my 40s and into my 50s, something happened to me. Well, it happened to all of us. George W Bush and just three years later, Howard Dean. How did these two men, from such diametrically opposed points on the political spectrum have such a large affect on me?

They both, by their actions, turned me from a bystander in life who happened to vote, most years there was an election, even local elections, into someone actively seeking change in my community and Nation. Because I'd always been a big reader and believer in the Constitution and it's promise of a better life for the average Joe or Jane. But when Bush was installed as President by a Supreme Court which looked suspiciously like an arm of the GOP while delivering a finding which said, 'this is it, we're the Deciders and George is the guy - but don't ever ask us to remember this after today, it's a special decision and not to be used ever again'? I started to wake up a bit.

Then along came Howard Dean. A white, really white, guy from a little state, with a family of what appeared to be Republican Wall Street folks, but singing a different tune entirely... and I really woke up.

To things political.

But it wasn't until my first grandchild was born, half of her genes from my almost all Norwegian heritage and her grandfather's Welsh, English and 1/8 Native American heritage combined with her father's family, all Latinos from Mexico, that I truly woke up. I saw the way she was looked at in stores, with me and my daughter (who is as white in appearance as I am), with her acorn brown skin and warm chocolate eyes.

I saw the way that her father was treated by his boss at work, by his neighbors.

I saw the way my son-in-law was treated by the local police a few years ago, when a lunatic white man had a bout of road rage, nearly ran my son-in-law off the road, and then started a physical confrontation with him by swinging at him with a shovel, forcing my son-in-law to try and fend him off with the tire iron behind the seat of his truck. Luckily for my son-in-law, a man who lived where it occurred called the disturbance into the police. Who, when they arrived, put my son-in-law in cuffs and into the back of one of the four squad cars which showed up while the left the ranting white guy out to pace around and yell about being attacked by this "wetback". Why do I say the son-in-law was lucky? Because that man who called the police? He finally came out of his house, told the cops he had called it in, and that they had the wrong man in cuffs.

These past 10 years have colored the way that I see things now. My eyes have been opened for real, by actions of other people toward my family members. But I had never heard of #WhitePrivilege until recently, and by recently I think I mean just the past five or six of years.

I think I can actually pinpoint the moment in my life when I realized that a lot of my preconceptions about modern America began to change, and that was the day I heard about a black professor who was accosted and arrested by a police officer on his own porch stoop, because someone called the police and reported a possible robbery in progress. The professor? That man was Henry Louis Gates a professor at Harvard University. The reason he became a news sensation? Because President Barack Obama decided to make a public statement about a black Professor being the subject of police action because he was black.

And today, as I was researching data to link to, to finish this diary, which as far as I'm concerned may well be the most important thing I've ever written here, THIS is what I find when searching for news articles to link to on the subject "White cops shooting black men".
So yes, #WhitePrivilege exists. It's real. Each and every white person who is reading this has been the beneficiary of #WhitePrivilege. It's ingrained into our society as a whole. Even the fucking algorithm which runs the Google search system is apparently infected with the plague of #WhitePrivilege.

And if we Americans who do believe in the promise of the Constitution, that each and every one of us is entitled to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness with equality for all, then it's up to us to do something about #WhitePrivilege.

It's not going to happen overnight. It's been a part of being American from before the Founding of the Republic. It's woven into the fabric of our society, and to unweave that fabric without rending or destroying it as a whole? That's going to take some hard, hard work - and it's going to take the work of one hell of a lot of white people to do it. Because the persons of color don't have a chance in hell of accomplishing this themselves. You know why, don't you?

They know and understand #WhitePrivilege, they recognize that it exists. They live with the consequences of #WhitePrivilege each and every day, in a myriad of ways.

But those of us who are white? We don't, mostly.

So as far as I can see, the bulk of White America has a #WhitePrivilege problem. Like most afflictions, there are ways to treat and manage this one, too.

But the first step to a cure for this plague?

Admitting that you have a problem.

If you are white, go to your mirror. Look yourself in the eye. Think about what I've written here. Think about the past two weeks and #Ferguson and Michael Brown and the other 400 black men shot and killed by white cops in the past five years on the streets of America. About the tens (probably hundreds) of thousands of black Americans dead, disenfranchised and demeaned all because of the color of their skin in the past 230+ years. Tell yourself, "I'm a good person." Because you probably are.

But then, really look, and try and see into your soul. And say the words which can start you and the rest of us, too, onto a journey towards a better America...

I'm a white person in America. I have #WhitePrivilege. I want to CHANGE that."

If you really mean it, you'll feel something, deep inside your heart.

I did. It's why I wrote this.

UPDATE h/t to Barrel of Laughs in the comments:

"Ignorance and Privilege" by John Gorka

Please listen to this, John Gorka groks #WhitePrivilege

Originally posted to My .02¢ from The Other Washington on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM PDT.

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

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Comment Preferences

  •  Equality for All Jar (115+ / 0-)

    Because I dream of that day.

    I do.

    I hope you do, too.

    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:49:27 AM PDT

  •  Great diary Angie (36+ / 0-)

    I suspect you'll get the usual "what about poor white people how are they privileged" and the class = race or class trumps race contingent, but this is a subject that continues to need to be discussed.

    Two related articles that might offer some additional insight:

    A Mother's White Privilege

    To admit white privilege is to admit a stake, however small, in ongoing injustice. It's to see a world different than your previous perception. Acknowledging that your own group enjoys social and economic benefits of systemic racism is frightening and uncomfortable. It leads to hard questions of conscience many of us aren't prepared to face. There is substantial anger: at oneself, at the systems of oppression, and mostly at the bearer of bad news, a convenient target of displacement. But think on this.


    Clerks do not follow my sons around the store, presuming they might steal something.

    Their normal kid stuff -- tantrums, running, shouting - these are chalked up to being children, not to being non-white.

    People do not assume that, with three children, I am scheming to cheat the welfare system.

    When I wrap them on my back, no one thinks I'm going native, or that I must be from somewhere else.

    When my sons are teenagers, I will not worry about them leaving the house. I will worry -- that they'll crash the car, or impregnate a girl, or engage in the same stupidness endemic to teenagers everywhere.

    I will not worry that the police will shoot them.


    I'm White, Gay, and Dating a Black Man: What I've Learned About Racial Profiling

    Therefore, I did what I rarely had done up until this point in life and just shut up and listened. It was a watershed moment as I began to quietly observe the manner in which we both were treated and what I found forced me to examine my own long-held beliefs about racism.

    Over the years, the startling consistency of the manner in which I am addressed while he is ignored has become a quasi joke between us. While we may be tempted to get up and scream when I am yet again automatically handed the check at the end of a meal, as my skin color must clearly imply that I am the paying member of our party, he would instantly be branded "angry black man" and we would only feed into the stupidity that is so pervasive. Instead we find relief in humor and chuckle heartily when we recall one of the numbers in the Broadway musical Avenue Q. At one point during the show the characters burst into song declaring that "everyone's a little bit racist." The truth of these lyrics have helped us to recognize that each person is the summation of their experiences and that often racism is subtle and unrecognized by the perpetrators, but that we all have a collective responsibility to continue to grow and that comes from treating others how we want to be treated and not being afraid to listen to each other.

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:06:13 AM PDT

    •  When you write "what about poor white people how (22+ / 0-)

      about poor white people how are they privileged"

      That is exactly how I USED TO THINK, myself.

      That it wasn't really RACE which divides us here in America, it's Rich and Poor who are at odds, in the fight for justice and equality for all.

      I thought that the issue of race had been decided by the 13th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and that black people were just really a part of the POOR PEOPLE group who were disadvantaged in modern America.

      But I woke up from that dreamvision of the America I live in when my grandkids started to arrive.

      That's when I really saw with new eyes, how you are treated in America isn't really based on how much money you have  - although that can affect your opportunities to find a path to a better life personally - but mostly it's simply the random chance of what color skin you happen to be born with.

      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:10:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A poor person (27+ / 0-)

        Can often find good clothing at a thrift store. You can dress yourself up and look affluent.

        But you can't "dress away" dark skin.

        "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

        by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:13:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I started watching a new (23+ / 0-)

          show "The Knick" (based in part on New York's Knickerbocker hospital in 1900). One of the sub plots is the need for a new Assistant Director of Surgery. An impeccable applicant is presented. Harvard educated, studied with leading surgeons in London and Paris. Better educated than current staff.

          Shows up for interview...surprise! Black man. Racism ensues of course...class, education, skill...immaterial. The doctor is forced to live in a rooming house no white doctor of equal qualifications would live in.

          Yes, this is set in 1900 but this kind of stuff still happens.

          Great on paper renter shows up? Ooops rental filled. Great on paper applicant shows up? Ooops job filled. White kid commits stupid teenage act? "Kids will be kids" or probation. Black kid....

          We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

          by Vita Brevis on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:30:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  "often"? (7+ / 0-)

          We can talk about white privilege without dismissing what poor people have to deal with. There are a lot of poor white people that can't afford to buy "nice" or "well off" looking clothes even at a thrift store, and even if they could they wouldn't know what to buy.

          The idea that a poor person can just wander into a thrift store and walk out looking rich is not based on reality.

          That doesn't negate any reality of racism and white privilege, but it is a decidedly classist point of view that says poor people can just dress affluent.

          My preferred pronoun is 'They', what's yours?

          by AoT on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:56:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Point is (8+ / 0-)

            You can't change skin color.

            You can change what you wear. Your clothes are NOT a part of your skin.

            And yes, you CAN dress "affluent" when you're poor sometimes - I bought a nice looking coat at a garage sale for very little. I was poor then, and I'm poor now, but the coat was nice looking and it was warm.

            When I went to court to get my divorce, I wore that nice coat because I wanted to look presentable. Oops. I told the judge I would like to have the fees waived because of financial difficulties (they could do that back then).

            He looked at my nice coat (which probably cost me all of three dollars) and gave me the side-eye.

            Turned me down.

            "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

            by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:03:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So yeah (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT, Chi, Vita Brevis, etherealfire

              I'm speaking from experience here, not making up some bullshit. I AM POOR and have been for most of my life.

              I've learned how to get by. Thrift stores and garage sales can be a lifesaver when you have next to nothing.

              So don't act like I don't know what I'm talking about.

              "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

              by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:05:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have to buy most of my clothes from (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Alexandra Lynch, orestes1963

                thrift stores, or get them from free piles. I couldn't go buy something that would be proper at some high class function as well as know the proper etiquette for said function and how to talk all proper like. Class is not just how you dress.

                My preferred pronoun is 'They', what's yours?

                by AoT on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:16:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Even so (13+ / 0-)

                  Poor Whites are quite often treated far better than Black people, whether poor or affluent.

                  How many young White men have been shot by police lately for no reason? How many young Black men?

                  As for me, I'm poor, short, female, middle-aged, and disabled. No stranger to discrimination by any means.

                  But I STILL HAVE WHITE SKIN, which opens doors for me that would be closed to those with darker skin. I still get other White people treating me with the respect they would not give a Black person. I know this because sometimes in the middle of conversation some of these people will blurt out something racist, thinking that since we're "on the same team" I'll obviously understand what they mean. It's shocking to me, even still....

                  I carry a backpack since I can't drive - it has to double as my trunk and glove compartment. Almost nobody asks me to take it off when I'm in the store. I don't get followed around the store. People don't cross the street to avoid me.

                  By the way, I don't dress like I'm rich - not because I can't find nice clothes, but because I have to dress comfortably for physical reasons. So the only thing giving me this benefit of the doubt is my white skin.

                  And if I were able to afford to visit New York City someday - I'm betting that even in a T-shirt and jeans, I'd probably have an easier time hailing a cab than a well-dressed Black man (from what I've heard).

                  That's White Privilege. And it's just wrong.

                  "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

                  by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:28:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Again, I'm not dismissing the reality of (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    white privilege. Not at all. It is a reality and it is pervasive in our society.

                    I took issue merely with your claim that poor people could just change clothes and gain class privilege.

                    My preferred pronoun is 'They', what's yours?

                    by AoT on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 04:14:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  And I agree with that point (8+ / 0-)

              I never said otherwise. If someone shows up and dresses me in fancy clothes then because of the color of my skin I can look like a rich white person and get some class privilege. But knowing how to dress is part of class privilege. That doesn't take away from the reality of racism at all.

              Class is not just a matter of how you dress and my issue is with treating it as such. It's a matter of how you act and speak and what schools you went to, and even if you went to school. Treating it as something that you can just go to a store and cover up is completely ignorant of the reality of class in the US.

              My preferred pronoun is 'They', what's yours?

              by AoT on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:08:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree. The fact that other groups are treated (6+ / 0-)

                poorly and discriminated against does not reduce racism one iota and pointing out the fact doesn't mean you support racism.  I saw once where a black woman said a gay man can hide his gayness - well, sometimes yes and sometimes no.  

                The way I am treated has changed drastically from when I was a professional making a good income to a middle-aged disabled woman on SSD.  Boy, has it ever changed.  

            •  Ha (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Poor people don't live near garage sales (certainly not the urban ones).  They'd have to know where to look in the first place (presumes knowledge of the right neighborhoods in which to search) and would have to have a car to get there and back.  Even accepting your point, one find in a garage sale is not the same as being able to dress to pass on the cheap.  

              •  Wanna bet? (0+ / 0-)

                I'm poor. I walk to garage sales. Not often, mind you, but I do. And I have friends who have in the past driven me to garage sales so that we could both find cheap things that we might need.

                "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

                by Diogenes2008 on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 04:07:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  The other guys in my jail 'pod' were poor; they (8+ / 0-)

            all had stories of how they'd been treated by police and courts, and ALL those stories ended with this:

            "Thank God I'm not Black! Imagine what they would've done to me then!"

            The strongest impression I had from my little experience with Law Enforcement and Court was how social ranking is thrown into stark relief, glaringly obvious.

            My jailmates too all noted this.

          •  Many kinds of privilege exist (4+ / 0-)

            ...and you don't have to dismiss any of them. It is important to recognize their relative weights and their cumulative effects, though. And it's important to recognize that more often than not, when people raise the classism argument, they are trying to dismiss racism from the conversation. I recognize that's not what you're doing here, but we can't let these arguments distract us or we risk the unity that can change the game for all of us, no matter our color.

            Engage in contagious activism. Sweep your sidewalk. Plant a garden. Read to a child. Smile at a stranger. Stand up for what you believe.

            by Chameo on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:49:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not letting anything distract me (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I'm pointing out classism.

              Which people here apparently don't want to hear about.

              My preferred pronoun is 'They', what's yours?

              by AoT on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 07:16:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What we don't want (0+ / 0-)

                Is a distraction from the fact that you can't change your skin color, but you can change other less rigid circumstances. What you're doing feels like a hijack to me.

                "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

                by Diogenes2008 on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 04:13:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  As someone who was actually very poor... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I respectfully disagree.  Now if you had said that a stupid, dumber than a stump, white poor person wouldn't know what to buy, that would make some sense.  But when I put on some decent clothes, all evidence of my life of poverty vanished.  I've known some people from my first job for over 45 years and they still don't have any idea that I came from extreme poverty - housing projects, youth center, homelessness, welfare, a commodity food diet (before food stamps).  They wouldn't know unless I told them, and I didn't go around bragging about it.  I believe it was assumed that I had come from at least a middle-class background.      

            "Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world" - Tennyson

            by SteveSeattle on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 12:37:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Nope, this is not true (0+ / 0-)

          The markers of socio-economic status are so rigid that anyone wearing thrift shop clothes would not pass.  There is the apparent wear in the clothes, their datedness, etc.  I shopped in thrift shops through my teen years and twenties and never saw any clothing that would be acceptable in an office environment, for example.  

          •  Not true (0+ / 0-)

            Absolutely not true. You can dress up for an interview and look "not poor". And if you think you can't find good clothing at thrift stores, you're not looking hard enough.

            I'm in my fifties, and I've been shopping at thrift stores my entire life. You have to find the right ones, and spend TIME looking for the good clothes.

            Aside from that, it doesn't change the fact that people of color cannot change their skin - and that marks them more drastically in the eyes of others than any clothing could.

            "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

            by Diogenes2008 on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 04:11:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  And the type of epiphany or awareness (20+ / 0-)

        you achieved is all those of us of color have ever wanted. An acknowledgement that the promises put forth on paper aren't always executed objectively in reality.

        Welcome as an ally.

        Again, great diary and I hope your journey will help open some other eyes.

        We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

        by Vita Brevis on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:15:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "what about poor white people... (9+ / 0-)

      how are they privileged?" I hear this from so many and from people I would have sworn were more empathetic and socially aware. It appears that this level of empathy is out of reach for quite a wide range of people.

      “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” :: Buddha's Wisdom-The Dhammapada ::

      by Sam Sara on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:34:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. "PWT" (pardon me if I don't spell it out) (8+ / 0-)

        can still go into a TJ Maxx and not expect to come under "heightened scrutiny".

        There's one example. Do more affluent white people have nasty names like "PWT"? Sure they do. They've got others, too, for various white ethnic groups. They still benefit from WP.

        That makes me think about something my ex once said. He was from Texas. We were together a long time. Lilly-white and 100 percent Irish. When we moved from Texas back to my home turf of Boston, this guy who was just starting his medical residency at a Harvard-affiliated hospital had never heard a derogatory epithet directed at another white person before. He had no idea that there were nasty terms used for the Irish, Italians, Portuguese, and other European immigrant groups. His entire awareness was about terms used for Black people and folks from Mexico and Latin America.

        I have to say I enjoyed the look on his face when I explained to him what a "Mick" was, and that it was impolite.

        "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

        by commonmass on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:40:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Doors were open for this poor white... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and those same doors were closed to racial minorities of any color.  That is white privilege and I experienced it.  My friends of color never had that privilege.  They found that those doors were closed for them.

        "Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world" - Tennyson

        by SteveSeattle on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 12:42:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Angie & FYI: (16+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:10:04 AM PDT

  •  One quick comment (25+ / 0-)

    You may have already said this in the diary, but I'm having one of "those" days, so if I missed it, please forgive me.

    For me, White Privilege is a level of trust - extended BY White people TO White people based simply on skin color. It is a level of trust that is denied to those who have darker skin.

    We (speaking for myself and other White people) get that trust from others, but we also extend it - consciously or otherwise.

    Expand your circle of trust - consciously. Look at how you react to others, and ask yourself if anything needs to be changed.

    It has to start somewhere, and since it's a White person's problem (we're the ones getting and giving this trust) it has to be something WE do.

    Those expecting the president or any other Black person to fix racism are truly barking up the wrong tree. It has to come from those who create and perpetuate it, not from those who are victimized by it.

    Oh - for those who will see my statement of "those who create and perpetuate it" and think I'm attacking - I'm talking about all of us. I don't care if you're the most upright White person in the world, we all need to come together on this to fix it - and stop being so defensive.

    "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

    by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:11:43 AM PDT

    •  I think you are still seeing #WhitePrivilege (18+ / 0-)

      from the standpoint that it's something about how you see the world, as a white person.

      But it's really more of the gestalt of how our society as a whole sees white people.

      But I think you are right on about what white people can do about it.

      Admit they own this privilege of accident of birth.

      Recognize they are the beneficiary of a society which treats them differently than it treats persons of color.

      Point out to those who either deny or reject the very idea of #WhitePrivilege all the ways in which they have benefited from it and how those born with brown and black skin have not.

      If we change how people around us think, all of us, day after day, that overall idea which infuses our society will start to change.

      I believe that is the path forward.

      One day, one person at a time. Baby steps on a journey of a thousand miles? Yes, but right now we're all just standing still in the same place we've been for hundreds of years now.

      Baby steps are at least going to be moving us forward towards that better future.

      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:28:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The reason I point it out that way (10+ / 0-)

        Is that we talk about White Privilege as being something we have just because we are White, which is true.

        But again, our own biases can mean that we become part of the problem.

        We are extended a level of trust because we have light skin... but we also sometimes unconsciously extend that same trust to other light-skinned people, which is what I'm getting at.

        We need to accept that it exists, we need to accept that we have it, but we also need to accept the fact that we might unconsciously be extending that same privilege and trust to other White people without realizing it.

        Check your reactions to people.

        I would offer up the "Bicycle thief" scenario as an example.

        If you haven't seen it, it's a "What Would You Do?" video that shows how a young Black man, a young White man, and a pretty blonde White woman all get different reactions from the same neighborhood when they are seen possibly stealing a bicycle.

        With the young Black man, people immediately confront him and/or call the police. With the young White man (dressed in the same way) far fewer confronted him, and fewer called the police.

        And with the pretty blonde.... one man went so far as to help her steal the bicycle - even after she admitted outright that she was stealing it.

        That's the kind of thing I'm talking about - situations where we make judgements or assessments based solely on skin color without realizing it.

        We get the benefit of the doubt - and too often we're part of the problem because we also GIVE it. It's a two-sided coin.

        "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

        by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:55:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but (0+ / 0-)

        none of what you preach had any effect on you before you were forced to confront the issue in a personal manner.  What makes you think it would have any effect on others?  Shouldn't you use your own experience as a guide, rather than ignoring it and telling others how they should act?

    •  This is the most salient comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on the issue that I think I have ever read here.  It puts the issue in terms that offer a conduit to greater sensitivity and understanding.  It reduces the issue of white privilege from an inchoate phenomenon (some pervasive ill) to real terms that can be contemplated and addressed.  

  •  Whenever I think about white privilege (8+ / 0-)

    I note three points:

    (1)  It is real and it effects are extensive and subtle;

    (2)  It is unfortunate that the word privilege has been attached to this concept;  and

    (3) this is the best introduction to the concept I have ever seen  Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

  •  Great diary, Angie. (9+ / 0-)

    Tipped, Rec'd, hotlisted.

    "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

    by Silencio on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:36:26 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. "White Privilege"? I got it. (11+ / 0-)

    Racially diverse family? I got that, too. The diary you link to about THE TALK was written by my brother and those kids are my nephews.

    "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

    by commonmass on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:38:57 AM PDT

    •  That diary moved me like hardly any that I've (5+ / 0-)

      read here, and I've read A LOT in the past decade plus.

      It spoke to me.

      I only hope that this diary does the same for other people.

      Nice to know that two kossacks I really admire for what they have to say are brothers in more than mindset.


      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:42:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It moved me, too, of course, it hits close to home (8+ / 0-)

        They were up for a visit this summer (we had a BLAST!) with the kids and his eldest's best friend (who is a girl).

        Bastrop freaking rocks, and so does his wife. His mother in law and I have often talked deeply about not only race but also LGBT rights (of which she is a staunch supporter). My late Husband was at least a quarter Mohawk, and I have had long-term and short-term relationships with men of many different races. My mother has had long-term relationships with black men. We have a second cousin who's family is also of mixed race.

        NOt growing up in an overtly racist home (though growing up in a small, rural all-white town in New England) and then moving as teenagers to the Big City (and in Texas, too) was an interesting juxtaposition. I can't speak for my brother (though I'm pretty sure he agrees) but being thrown into a wildly multi-cultural environment in a racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse public school was eye-opening to me, and I embraced the experience enthusiastically as an 8th grader. I was excited to be going to school with people who had different experiences than I did. In fact, for the first time in my school career I actually had a lot of friends and many of them were NOT WHITE.

        Now, back here in Maine, I live in the whitest state in the Union. There is, however, several large communities of Somali refugees here, and has been for a couple of decades. Even this bastion of Anglo-Saxon and Franco-American whiteness, I have seen a very large shift in attitudes towards the Somalis who have now been here a long time. A recent article in our State's paper of record pointed out that nearly a generation since the first refugees arrived their particular demographic has turned out to produce a high number of successful entrepreneurs totally out of proportion to their numbers in terms of population.

        Was I surprised? Absolutely not. This is part of America's immigrant story. The problem, of course, unlike the Irish immigrant with a thick accent serving me fish and chips at Gritty McDuff's (there is still a wide influx of Irish immigrants and guest workers here), the Somalis are dark-skinned. Success in the absence of White Privilege in a mostly white state (and by that I mean upwards of the 90th percentile) says an awful lot about that community.

        But that the newspaper found that newsworthy is ALSO an example of White Privilege: Of course it's newsworthy, but is also--I'm sure unintentionally--somewhat condescending. I wish I could find the link.

        As for your diary today, this is highly impactful and I think needed to be written. I'm glad you were the one to write it, because it is really excellent work.

        "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

        by commonmass on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:58:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sounds like you guys have a great family (4+ / 0-)

          and I'm quite honored that you found my words here "excellent work".

          "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

          by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:11:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  AS far as I am concerned, we're a decent clan (3+ / 0-)

            and why, at least to me, it's important to discuss and as you say acknowledge that privilege and put a mirror to it is because it is indeed the first step towards having a serious conversation in this country about the cancer of slavery and racism that has permeated our our Republic and the Americas in general ever since the first Europeans came with swords drawn (some came before without the swords, but that's complicated).

            By the way, if you haven't read Douglas Blackmon's book "Slavery by Another Name" you should: that shit is still going on in this country. In fact, it's going on in Ferguson.

            "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

            by commonmass on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:16:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Is Blackmon's book on the subject of "debt (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              commonmass, etherealfire


              That's another term I've learned in the recent past.

              I'll go look for it on and see if there's an ebook version of it.

              "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

              by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:23:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's about debt peonage, yes, but that debt (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Angie in WA State, etherealfire

                was usually a fine owed to a county or municipality, and the debtor was farmed out to local businesses as labor for pennies on the dollar and they were usually held in prison-like or old school slavery like condition.

                Ferguson, MO, it would appear, raises a lot of money through fines and has a long history of keeping the Black community in constant debt and even in disenfranchisement when it comes down to Felony issues.

                It's worth a read, but it will make your blood boil.

                "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

                by commonmass on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:30:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I should also add regarding the Somali community (7+ / 0-)

        in Maine, for the most part, they are also Muslims. Talk about two strikes against a person who's also an immigrant.

        "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

        by commonmass on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:05:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A bit your junior, I grew up in a white town, (13+ / 0-)

    too. Went to an all-white high school. One day at lunch, a local band came and played for us, and made FUNNY jokes about how they'd "performed in Seaside earlier that week, and they were SO glad to see all of us." (This took place in Carmel. Seaside is a nearby town. At the time, Seaside, ahem, was on wrong side of the tracks, racially and socioeconomically, from us. It was the brunt of many a sick, racist inside joke.)

    This took place in the early 1980s. Nobody thought anything of it. I myself didn't think anything of it. I like to think that if it happened today, somebody would be in the principal's office to complain before that band even packed up their sound gear. I like to hope, if that happened today, that band would be forced to issue an apology, and would never be invited back.

    It's pernicious stuff. It's like the air we breathe.

    Thanks for the diary.

    "Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come." --Rumi

    by karmsy on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:46:13 AM PDT

    •  That comment shows that you are on the path (6+ / 0-)

      to self-awareness of your #WhitePrivilege.

      I commend you and hope for future progress.


      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:48:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Children are the key, since they aren't born (5+ / 0-)

      racist or (ahem, more gently put) racially minded. On the other hand, American schools have become almost as segregated as they were pre-1960s.

      Busing may not be the answer, and the Supreme Court has pretty much assured that it won't be the answer. But our zip-code based schooling system all but ensures that, generally speaking, young white kids will have few opprotunities to make friends with your black kids, and vice versa (Even in areas where the communities are mixed). And thus, any true love / friendship between the races has major sociological impediments almost as great as old fashioned segrefation

    •  It's "funny" to read this karmsy. (6+ / 0-)

      You see, I grew up in Seaside. Elementary school in the 60's, junior and senior high in the 70's. My father himself grew up in (primarily) Seaside. I'm as white as it gets. My schoolmates and friends growing up had every hue of skin tone that the human race encompasses. Many of my friends were from military families, i.e. Dad was black and Mom was Japanese, or Korean, or Filipino, or German, etc. It is one huge reason I am ultra sensitive to this day about what privilege my own skin color grants me, and that it has given me many free passes. Until I was 9 or 10, I had no idea that I was one of the lucky ones, just by virtue of skin color.
         If you think that incident couldn't happen now? Hmmm, I lived in Carmel Valley for 25 years, and most of my daughters Carmel High compatriots are still white, and privileged, and somewhat racist. Oh yeah, it could happen today. Things haven't changed that much with the Carmel crowd looking down their noses on POC. There is a lot of racism there........still. It's just that most of the crap is said whenever there are no "colored" folk around. This I know from first hand experiences.


      “And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.” — John Steinbeck

      by CA ridebalanced on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 02:35:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Carmel is awfully provincial, in truth. (4+ / 0-)

        Affluent, but provincial. Kids growing up there were sheltered in my day, and they are apparently very sheltered, still.

        "Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come." --Rumi

        by karmsy on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 03:34:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. Yes it is. (4+ / 0-)

          I truly did like my daughter growing up in a place where the two of us could keep our horses (her pony when she was little) on the same property, or at least very close by. I did her no favor by not exposing her to racial diversity. She absorbed that "air" of superiority and looking down her nose at others from her friends.....from the very community in which she grew up. It's a continuing battle that I have with her. To educate her on her born privilege, and to call her out when she makes cracks that are racist. I love her dearly, but she lacks in the empathy department on most days.

          So, you a kid Seaside was a butt of the joke to you, your friends, and to most of the Carmel and CV communities. But I grew up wanting to learn about other cultures, and histories, and foods, and religions, and languages. About other ways of living than the one that most Americans pushed their children into wanting. In hind sight, I know that it was a great place to grow up.

          “And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.” — John Steinbeck

          by CA ridebalanced on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 05:05:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  How to know you have WP for sure: (24+ / 0-)

    "Jesus, I wish everyone would quit talking about this "white privilege" bullshit. I am so tired of hearing white people accept responsibility for things that happened way before they were born."

    "Wonderful. Another diary about white privilege that I can skip. I wish Angie would just shut the fuck up already."

    "I'm white and I have never had anything but positive experiences with police. Maybe people should consider their attitudes and behavior in public and ask what their part is in that. Pull up your pants fercrissake."

    "I'm tired of the blame game. It goes both ways. When black people own up to their part of the racism problem the. We can talk."

    "I'm white and I have nothing against black people. Having said that, I do not understand the looting and throwing bottles that the protesters did. Why would they want to destroy their own community?"


  •  I grew up in the most heavily segregated city in (15+ / 0-)

    the country: Chicago. And as a result, grew up in white neighborhoods and suburbs. Attended all white schools.

    One night, when I was about 12, I saw an envelope in the mail from an organization called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I knew my father was an atheist so I couldn't figure out why he was donating money (we had damn little) to a Christian organization.

    In 1965, when my father started dating a black woman, I became aware that there was only one place in Chicago where they could live together openly, and that was at the Carl Sandburg development, near Chicago's Old Town, where they moved after we kids left home.

    But my advantages as a white person did not become clear to me on an emotional level until my g-grandson started talking to me about his life while black when he was 14.

    I have known African Americans and Hispanics most of my adult life. And I knew that their experiences included being stopped for driving while black or brown (one was a cop himself, but that did not protect him). Intellectually I knew that the color of my skin offered me protection from police harassment.

    But it was that day when a 14 year-old boy, matter of factly, calmly related his experiences just trying to walk to school that I was shattered. No 14 year old child should ever have to know what it feels like to be thrown against the hood of a police cruiser without having committed a crime.

    He has come to hate police. His older brother fears them. I fear for them. I want so much to live in a nation where they are treated the same way I was.

    I wish that instead of having #WhitePrivilege we all had #AmericanPrivilege.

  •  Really powerful, Angie. (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this. I want to change that, too.

    People act on the outside how they feel on the inside. If you acknowledge it, you can change it.

    by Raggedy Ann on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:43:03 PM PDT

  •  I have the privilege. Thats why I have no patience (10+ / 0-)

    for people who say "I'll stay home this election because the Democrats aren't progressive enough" or "I'll vote Green because Democrats aren't progressive enough."


    If you're white, you won't be hurt all that much if Republicans get elected.

    But if you're a person of color (or gay/ bi, etc.), you WILL be hurt, a LOT, if Republicans get elected.

    PS: I wish I could recommend this diary more than once!

    •  Bingo! You have found the fatal flaw in the white (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      privilege obsession.

      If you're white, you won't be hurt all that much if Republicans get elected.
      Given the choice of a party that likes us as we are and one that ones to reform us into people who have less of whatever privilege they're telling us we have, it's darn predictable how this is going to turn out.
      •  People who are reccing this comment ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Angie in WA State, etherealfire

        I don't think you understood it correctly.  Greenbell is saying we should not be "obsessed" with white privilege, because it will cause white people to vote for the party who "likes us as we are" -- that is, the Republican party.

        In other words, shut up about white privilege or Democrats won't win.

    •  THIS (3+ / 0-)

      Now...because of the state that I live in in, in a presidential election year or for a statewide office, I do have that choice of voting green and I have exercised knowing full well that Illinois is by and large a heavily D state at this point (although I didn't vote that way for the governor's race in 2010 and won't be doing so this November.

      Now, if I lived in...I don't know, Florida or Pennsylvania or Ohio or Wisconsin, I would have to vote straight D for everything.

  •  Great diary Angie (5+ / 0-)

    all of the things I've been thinking. I was especially struck about the racism while you were growing up in a predominantly white town. I grew up in Michigan in a highly segregated town, and when we moved out west we couldn't believe how racist the people our age friend and I wondered where they learned to be so hateful. I don't know the stats in Idaho, but we are now raising our daughter in a mostly white environment and it's hard. I just have to hope that when she flies from the nest that my husband and I have given her a strong base to embrace diversity without any actual experience.

  •  I had an interesting experience today (10+ / 0-)

    I'm stuck in bed today, so I've been watching Netflix with my husband. One of our favorite shows is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, set in the future. We've watched it straight through many, many times since it went off the air in 1999, but haven't watched it in the past few years. Today, we watched a two-parter in which some of the characters accidentally go back in time to the 21st century.

    I've seen these two episodes at least seven or eight times, but today was the first time I ever actually caught the fact that they dealt with racism. In the episode, the three characters who go back in time are a black man, an Arab man and a white woman. The black man and Arab man are grabbed by the police and sent to a walled-in ghetto. The white woman is helped by a rich white guy, given money and a place to stay for free. In the ghetto, a poor white guy calls only the men of color he speaks with "boy."

    And it goes on and on. I never picked up on any of this until today. Because the episode doesn't explicitly say the word "racism." It's Star Trek, and thus deliberately color blind. The men of color in the main cast are never actually portrayed as a "black man" (except the final season) and an "Arab man." They are just men. And the white woman is never portrayed as a "white woman," just a woman.

    Yet when I watched these two episodes with my husband, it was like there was a freaking neon flashing sign in every single scene that these episodes were about racism. It was so damn obvious. But because I had had no exposure to how people of color are often treated in this country, I never picked up on the now glaringly obvious subtext until today. And that is pretty much white privilege.

    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 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:18:07 PM PDT

  •  What it is (7+ / 0-)

    Boarding an airplane without ever being pulled out of the line (and knowing that I don't have to worry about it)

    Being pulled over for expired tags and let off with a warning.

    Being pulled over as a teenager in a car full of other teens, open bottles, and other items I won't catalog, and being allowed to pour out the liquor and go on our way with only a flea in our ears.

    In spite of this I still feel my gluteus muscles start to spasm when I see a cop car behind me.  I can't imagine what the feeling must be for a black person.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:18:23 PM PDT

  •  Ignorance and Privilege (4+ / 0-)

    "If the wind is at your back and you never turn around, you may never know the wind is there. You may never hear the sound."

    Earthbound but aspiring...

    by barrel of laughs on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:32:14 PM PDT

  •  On College Debate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    I read your link, and it was interesting and relevant to the white privilege discussion, BUT - it was also about how African Americans were winning traditional debate competitions with highly personal, alternative viewpoints and debate strategies.

    •  You notice how the author of that piece leads you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, Onomastic, etherealfire

      to understand though, that the reason those black debaters had to develop those strategies wasn't because of anything other than the fact that they were black students, it wasn't their debate skills, knowledge base, just the color of their skin?

      In other words, it's a fight by those students against the #WhitePrivilege of their opponents.

      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 02:20:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Logged in to rec (11+ / 0-)

    To me, this is really important.

    It's nothing to do with how you act or how much money your family has, or what sort color your friends are. It is not related to the language you use when talking about or with persons of color.

    This is related solely to the color of your skin and how the world treats YOU because of the color of your skin - and in some very important situations, how the world DOESN'T treat you because of the color of your skin.

    This is the part that so many miss, white priviledge isn't about what we, as white people do as individuals, but rather how society treats us as individuals.

    I can be the bestest, least racist white dude around, and I still benefit from white privilege.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:33:50 PM PDT

  •  I guess how I fight white priviledge is I don't (2+ / 0-)

    get real upset by black people not just being overjoyed to meet me.  My daughter and I still laugh about the black family in the library in Anne Arundel (I think). At any rate, my granddaughter was the only white person in her preK class. That didn't bother her. It bothered her there were boys allowed. So we were at the library and she happily ran into her friend. The were holding hands and jumping. The other girls' family, this is what my daughter and I still remember, took in a gasp of air that was audible, there were some surprised eyes too. A quick recovery, a brick wall. And encounter avoided.

    So we decided in the car that most likely the family never talked to white people at all. Their shock was so genuine and uncontrolled.

    That would be my pay back for white privilege, I don't expect to be glad handed by black people. If they want, that is most welcome, but if they would just as soon skip it, there is no problem with me.

    Protest that works comment by nomandates Registration Table Change the culture 100% registration.

    by 88kathy on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:39:08 PM PDT

  •  Yes Virginia, there IS white privilege (3+ / 0-)

    Really don't understand why this is so hard. Why do people feel so threatened by facing reality?  I just don't know.

    •  Because privilege is the wrong label. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GrumpyOldGeek, montanaguy

      Some of what is listed in the diary are rights and expectations that everyone should have, and when they don't that is the problem.  I just feel that framing it this way makes it sound like even the most unracist white is somehow to blame for the situation.  I'd be especially careful of using SAT scores as evidence; that's inviting "Bell Curve" logic I'm afraid.  There are certainly things I don't have to worry about because I'm white, but given other circumstances I don't feel like I have it easy.  The latter is the implication I feel - you are white therefore you are privileged.  The only thing any of us can actually control is how we treat others, and I for one follow the Golden Rule regardless of the other person's race.

      •  I'm white (you're not) I'm privileged (you're not) (0+ / 0-)

        White privilege is one of the worst labels ever. It's emotional dynamite.

        This isn't even the right topic. The diary is all about racists' bad behavior and how this penetrated the consciousness of the diarist. It took a real up close and personal experience to crack open the mind and dump in a bucket load of reality.

        And that's what it will take to change the defective shit floating around in the heads of racists. I think we can all agree that this isn't likely to happen. I wouldn't mind it if their worst nightmare came true sooner rather than later. If all it takes is to print a newspaper headline that says "Obama Declares Sharia Law in Ferguson", I'm all in. Make their heads explode. But first, take their guns away.

        This would improve society.

        "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:00:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, no and no. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Greyhound, etherealfire, Chitown Kev

          The definition of privilege:

          a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
          White people are free to enter stores and shop without being followed around as if they are criminals. Black people get followed around in stores all the time, even well-off, professional black people. Denise Oliver Velez posted a comment here and mentions it:
          I watch it daily.  I go shopping and a young white woman who looks to be in her late teens online ahead of me uses her credit card to purchase something. The white sales clerk smiles as the sale is completed.  I step up, proffer my credit card, and I am asked for my drivers license.  I am better dressed, obviously an adult, yet I need to prove something.  The clerk scrutinizes my photo on the license, looks at me thoroughly...(it is an uncomfortable "look") and then rings up my purchase.  No smile.

          I have to "think" when strolling through a store.  Is my pocketbook too large? ...if I walk around with something ...pondering whether or not I want to buy store security thinking I'm plotting to steal it?

          I never try things on in dressing rooms anymore. I guess if something will fit and take it home. Because "we" steal things. The irony is that the majority of shoplifters in this country are white.

          Does this happen in every store-no.  But I then make note of "my how nice they were" my black self.

          Her job? Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at SUNY New Paltz.

          She's not making shit up to get sympathy there: that is what life is like for black Americans.

          White Privilege isn't about racists. It's about how society affords white people things which it denies black people.

          If we ever hope to have Equality for All in this country then White Privilege has to end. For it to end, the white people in America have to admit that White Privilege exists.

          It doesn't sound like you are ready, yet.

          "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

          by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:29:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is why using the term privilege is wrong. (4+ / 0-)

            We do not have privileges granted to people for being white, we have basic rights being denied to people for being black.

            When you couch this in terms of privilege, it imparts the option to address the problem by restricting the rights of everyone, rather than by acknowledging that the repression is wrong and expanding those rights to all.

            IOW, the term is inaccurate as well as divisive, exacerbating the problem, rather than alleviating it.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

            by Greyhound on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 12:42:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think what's being exasperated is the nerves of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chitown Kev

              some people who would rather refuse to see what's in front of their faces.

              You annoyed by that term privilege?

              Because that's the feeling I'm getting from some of the comments.

              I expected it, and I expected to hear exactly these sorts of responses, too.

              "Oh, I am not privileged, and I am affronted that you think that I am. It's the black people, they're being discriminated against and that's racism. Don't blame me for what other people do! I shouldn't have to feel guilty for what some other people do, that's not fair to me."
              The problem with all of that?

              No one, least of all me, is saying any of that.

              I'm saying that White Privilege has NOTHING to do with what you or any other White person does or says about black people.

              It has EVERYTHING to do with how white people are treated. Nothing more, nothing less.

              It makes you, as a white person, safer from cops, safer from greedy banks, and unimpeded as you meander through life.

              You don't have to have talks with your kids about things which NO parent in 21st century America should have to have, about how to act if you are ever accosted by the police so that you don't end up battered or arrested or dead. Much like the Scots of the 16th and 17th century did.

              If you can't face these blatant truths, then hide your head in the sand and pretend you never heard any of this.

              But don't pretend that it's not true, because it makes you feel icky.

              "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

              by Angie in WA State on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 04:52:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Black Power doesn't describe much of anything (0+ / 0-)

                So why is is so important that you make people say the words that they suggest you are misusing? Nobody here has ever said they don't get it. No ostriches live here. No sand. No icky.

                Insults and straw man fallacies aren't going to work, either.

                This is why I avoid this specific topic framed with these two words.
                Go ahead. Dig in your heels. You'll get over your thing, whatever that thing is.

                You remind me of my ex-wife.

                "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

                by GrumpyOldGeek on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 05:33:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You've missed the point completely. (0+ / 0-)

                And it doesn't matter in the least, and that's the other point you've missed.

                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                by Greyhound on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 06:31:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  There's no one more rabid (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                than a Johnny-Come-Lately.  You demand that others accept your framing of the issue, despite the fact that you were inured to it until the problem of racism came to your doorstep.  Now, you feel empowered to lecture others as to how they should think and feel about the problem of racism in America.  What makes this truly problematic is your unwillingness to entertain the thoughts of others.  I would posit that your vehemence is a reflection of your inability to reassess your life and accept the responsibility and shame of your own attitudes and behavior.  This is why the white privilege framework is so readily adopted by many white people- it absolves them of the responsibility to look at their own lives.  It is not a coincidence that most of the people who reject the white privilege framework are less advantaged whites (those with fewer opportunities to flex socio-economic privilege) who live fulsome lives that include people of different races, ethnicities and social standing.  

          •  This happens when you refuse to drop red hot words (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That's all I've suggested.

            I get followed around in stores. And I've been stopped by the store manager and their undercover security interns. If I dress the part, I look like their idea of a shoplifter or a thief, I suppose.

            But my experience doesn't compare at any level with the reality that race changes everything. I suggest that you;ll never understand any of this until you get treated the same way. And that is much less likely to happen. You want to believe that this is because of white privilege. It's institutional racism. But if it does happen, and you get treated badly, white privilege is why? It's still institutional racism. Just dress like a poor person (whatever that means) and you'll be followed and, if you really want to experience reality, pretend to stuff something away and walk toward the exit. You;ll get a taste. Just a taste. THAT's a first step that matters.

            Then you assume I'm not ready for something or other, when the fact is I'm decades ahead of the curve. You couldn't possibly know how far off your imagination took you.  

            I said I know what you're trying to say when you talk about white privilege. I am plainly telling you that your message will get through to more people if you just drop the use of these two words.

            You might consider dropping the word "admit", too. It implies that a person is not revealing the truth about something. And that's passive-aggressive manipulation. I mean, really, this is nothing more than annoying:

            ...the white people in America have to admit that White Privilege exists.
            I've never met anyone who doesn't understand this age-old fact. Even Republicans get it. They know it's an advantage.

            Others have suggested exactly the same word changes as I have, twice now.
            Not my jab about using the word "admit". That's a bonus tip.

            "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

            by GrumpyOldGeek on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 05:09:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Privilege is exactly the right label. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When you say:

        There are certainly things I don't have to worry about because I'm white, but given other circumstances I don't feel like I have it easy.
        What you say right there? It's the very definition of privilege:
        a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
        Like I say in the diary, White Privilege is not about how you act or talk, it's about how society treats you because you are white.

        Should everyone, including blacks, get the same treatment from the cops and the Law? Yes, but they don't. Blacks are six times more likely to be in prison than whites, even though blacks are only 13.2% of the population.

        The idea you have in your head that because YOU aren't racist, that you are a good person, then you should be free from having to think about how some black people get treated badly?

        That's denial talking. That's you wanting to not feel guilty about something that you didn't cause. But look, racism and treating black Americans badly has been going on since the founding of the nation. You didn't start it.

        But we white people today? We can stop it.

        It's sort of like alcoholism. An alcoholic can't get any help for their disease until they are ready to admit that they have a problem in the first place.

        It's why I gave the diary the title that I did.

        White Privilege is part of our society, but it can only continue so long as white people refuse to see that it exists.

        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

        by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:18:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Special rights? (0+ / 0-)

          NO! Those are basic rights.  You are still framing the issue as if whites have earned something above and beyond that where the opposite is true.  Whites get what everybody should have, nothing more.  Non-whites get less than they should have, and THAT is the real problem.  It's a world of difference.  Calling it privilege or special rights implies that the non-white experience is the standard, and whites are getting more than their share, which might have made sense describing apartheid South Africa where whites were the minority.  It's more accurate to say that the white experience is the standard to which everyone else needs to be raised.

          •  No I am not framing the issue as though whites (0+ / 0-)

            have "earned something above and beyond" basic rights.

            I'm saying that OUR SOCIETY treats white people that way. Like they are the bearers of some tag which proclaims them "special person, handle with care".

            What's so difficult to understand there? Really, you have to reach pretty far to continue to reject the idea that our society acts differently to whites in specific situations than it does to blacks and especially to young black men.

            This isn't about what rights or standard of behavior SHOULD be open to anyone. It is strictly about how the wider world acts toward whites and blacks, and acknowledges that there is a significant difference between the two.

            "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

            by Angie in WA State on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 11:42:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Then just say it the other way. (0+ / 0-)

              White people don't bear a tag that says, "special person handle with care."  It is non-whites who bear a tag saying, " less worthy person, treat like garbage" to continue that metaphor.  If you call whites special, above and beyond is exactly what you are suggesting.  Nowhere did I suggest that there is no difference.

              •  Sorry, I personally can't change the tag (0+ / 0-)

                which the activity has been labeled with.

                I wouldn't if I could.

                I don't know why your mind refuses to see what is to me and the overwhelming number of other people who commented on this diary clear as glass.

                I expect that your brain is simply refusing to accept that you (and I'm assuming here that you are a white person, based on your comments) are someone who has been "privileged" in any particular way by dint of just being born white.

                But I guarantee that you have, in some way. Whether it's simply the friendly smile of the white cashier who takes your money and then fails to act in the same way to the black woman next in line OR the police officer who asks for your Driver's license and registration and insurance card and then let's you know you have a tail-light out and need to get it fixed and let's you off with a verbal warning AND the next person he pulls over, who happens to be a young black man, he orders out of the car and cuffs and demands to see the contents of his trunk - and whom he ALSO pulled over because of a broken tail-light.

                Contrary to your belief, in America, white people DO bear such a tag, and every black person in America can see it, it's just the white people to whom it is invisible.

                "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

                by Angie in WA State on Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 12:24:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  But you're still framing it backwards. (0+ / 0-)

                  I don't doubt that the things you mention are true, but the way the whites are treated in those examples is how everyone SHOULD be treated.  Those are not privileges; they are expectations and rights.  When you call them privileges you make it sound like that is extra and a problem.  I say how whites are treated by society is not a problem; how non-whites are treated is the real problem.  I have NEVER suggested that we are all treated equally.

                  Calling it a privilege reminds me of the health care debate.  Just like health coverage being treated decently is a right and NOT a privilege regardless of race.  It also is unproductive outside the bubble to lay a guilt trip on white people for being treated nicely.  We can control our own actions and advocate against discrimination, but there's a wide swath of people who will tune us out if we start telling them that their basic expectations is just some privilege and that being treated respectfully is a bad thing.

                  BTW, I know you and others are inclined to mock this attitude, but I AM one of those whites who considers my own lot in life and think, "Hey, I'm white - where's my share of all this privilege I'm supposed to have?"  I don't think I should have that privilege because I'm white, but the implication that I have it good because I am starts to grate.

  •  Excellent diary! (4+ / 0-)

    This white privileged woman appreciates just how powerful this diary is.  Tipped, recommended, and hot listed.  Thank you.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~ So.Lib.inMD UID166438

    by gulfgal98 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 02:24:17 PM PDT

  •  So true. Joy-Ann Reid talking on privilege even.. (6+ / 0-)

    .. just walking down the street.

     Retro trend of racism Joy Ann Reid and Al Sharptondiscuss Trayvon Martin video reactionary republicans George Zimmerman

    Joy Ann Reid has indentified a retro-trend; a dangerous one, that is resurfacing since Presidents Obamas' election and further exaggerated in 2010 when the emboldened RWNJ had their wave election:
    From a past Diary

    Joy Ann Reid and Reverend Al Sharpton had a very insightful conversation identifying and speaking out on a disturbing return to the past, tying the past into today’s reactionary RWNJ’s

    Joy-Ann Reid:

     “..Barack Obama’s election gave people a false sense of security about race. Barack Obama’s election didn’t signal that racism was over it just was an opportunity to open the door and let it come out. We saw a lot of things come out in this country that people weren’t prepared to view and the ugliness of them.

    We saw a lot of it in the tea party ; the President being called a liar in the House well of the House of Representatives.

    And look Lawrence the truth is, in the ugly history of this country, it used to be that any civilian..any white civilian could police the presence of any black person out on the street;  young, old, child, old man. They could ask you; ‘what are you doing here?’  Make you cross the street. Find out what you’re the case of  Emmett Till, drag you off and lynch you just for looking at a white person wrong.

    Black people have been policed by civilian whites for a very long time. We thought that was behind us, and the primary concern that Reverend Sharpton and others have been looking at has been police profiling - and saying well now police can look at you as suspect, can even in some cases, shoot you because ‘Oh it looked like he went for his..waist band, I thought maybe he had a gun’ .

    ..We’ve sort of trained ourselves that the current problem is profiling by police.

    Well now we’ve gone all the way back to people policing you when they are not an authority.  That a civilian can actually pursue you, question you..

    I’ve seen so many comments on line about -  ‘Well why didn’t Trayvon Martin just tell him who he was?’  Well because this wasn’t a cop and he didn’t have any authority to ask him where he was.  Neighborhood watch people are not police officers. They don’t have any authority over any teenager.

    So the idea that people are saying – ‘Well Trayvon was acting know George was just doing his job to find out where he was going.’

    This is setting us back in a way that is so ugly and so uncomfortable.. I’m glad the country is being forced to look at it”

    Reverend Al Sharpton:  
    “Well I think also I might add, that the question should be asked – ‘Why didn’t Mr. Zimmerman tell Trayvon who he was?’ According to Zimmerman’s statement, he never identified himself to Trayvon Martin as a member of the Watchman group or the captain of the patrol in that area...”
    If Trayvon had been a white woman, like 5 of the  jurors at his murder trial, wearing a dark hoodie would Zimmerman have identified himself and explained what he was doing out there with a loaded weapon playing cop?

    (short commercial – sorry)
    Transcript @ link:

    White privilege making a comeback these last years have exposed, as Joy Ann Reid has explained, what exists just beneath the surface in this “post racial” era

    One last thing. How does this work? How do the brains of the GOP and authors of SYG - ALEC/NRA - dupe RWNJ’s into voting en bloc against their own interests beyond guns, but on many other issues too, especially with so much at stake in their own lives?  
    Joan Walsh hits the bulleye with her piece on the triumvirate of white-grievance mongers:  Race Hustlers Inc. And it looks an awful lot like a re-dux of the southern strategy to me

    My comment @ Daily Kos:

    My comment @ Daily Kos:
    And a Diary from a little while ago:

    'When Affirmative Action Was White': Uncivil Rights

    Thx Angie in WA State


    P.S. for years I played with "Gypsy" a Blue guitar player and singer, and one day questioned him why he automatically turned to the side a little bit when we would walk past white folks on the side walk. He said it was one of the things that were taught to black children. Don't face a white person as that may seem as confrontational. Turn to the side and sort of step out of the way.

    My guess is that a decade or so ago this move was a little different. It was probably a bow with a tip of the hat when passing a white "gentleman" that was the requirement  of AA's to show proper "respect" - this is a guess of mine but after seeing Gypsy's habit, It sure seems like it to me.

  •  Thank you Angie (4+ / 0-)

    This important conversation needs to continue, and you did a great job of tying it together with your personal experiences. Well done!

    “And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.” — John Steinbeck

    by CA ridebalanced on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 02:48:26 PM PDT

  •  Let's say every white person admits... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    white privilege.

    Then what?

    Non futuis apud Boston

    by kenlac on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 03:33:33 PM PDT

  •  Real phenomena; bad term (8+ / 0-)

    A bit of a caveat on this topic. I'm not white, I'm asian. At least, most looking at me would identify me as asian. My father is a white Australian and my mother Chinese.  Further caveat: I didn't grow up in America, so I didn't have the same cultural experiences that many of you (black & white) had.  I grew up on a very large ranch in a very remote part of Australia that is owned by my father to this day.  The "blacks" that I grew up with were Australian aborigines, and when I say I grew up with them I mean it literally. So that's my cultural frame of reference, and I experience of a aborigine is much different than that of an African American (though similar in some broad ways as well).

    Now, I did go to law school in the US and practiced law there for many years, and so I've seen it and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that what's called white privilege exists (and if it exists as an undercurrent in America, it's blatantly part of life in Australia, but that's another topic).

    That said, I do think there should be a better term for the phenomenon, because I think it alienates people who might otherwise be sympathetic, and causes a knee jerk reaction that will cause some people to not listen past the term.  Most people don't think they're "privileged". They think they worked hard and earned everything they have. So as soon as you use that term you just shut them off.  An intelligent person can see that being white gives you a "built in" head start...but when you start calling it "privilege" people will get defensive.

    And it's not just that the term is bad PR. I don't think it's accurate.  For one thing, I'm not white, and based on my own experiences I'm sure I've been "privileged" compared to many American blacks. I've never had anyone eye me suspiciously while shopping, for example. So let's take the oft-cited story of a white person being left alone while shopping but a black person being followed around by security. If we can all agree that not being followed around by security and be an object of suspicion because of the colour of your skin should be the standard in society, then in fact white people are not "privileged", but merely being treated as people should be treated, while blacks are disadvantaged. Let's put it this way...if not being followed around in a store is 0, black are at -10 and whites are at 0...not +10.  The answer is not to have whites followed around but to not judge black customers judged by the colour of their skin. I just don't think it's a good, or accurate term, either the "white" part or the "privilege" part.

    No, I don't have a better term, and I certainly don't have a societal solution for correcting the phenomena, but I just think that as long as the term is "white privilege" we're only going to get so far in people recognising it. There's nothing sacrosanct about the term, so why not rethink it?

    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

    by Pi Li on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 04:33:06 PM PDT

    •  I agree that there are people who see that word, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Privilege and think it doesn't apply to them, because they don't feel privileged. They are poor or working class, no one gives them anything and life is hard.

      I've been one of those people most of my life.

      But you know as a lawyer that words have specific meanings and to discuss a word, one must understand the definition of the word.

      Here is the definition of privilege:

      a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
      You should rethink that shopping/security scenario with this definition in mind.

      But it's hardly just shopping, it's every aspect of life and I listed a lot of them in the diary.

      There was a reason I chose the title which I did, and it's a direct analogy to alcoholism. The person with the disease cannot be treated or helped with it until they admit that they have it.

      The same is true of white Americans and the phenomenon of White Privilege.

      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:40:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do you reconcile this (0+ / 0-)

        with your own experience?  By your admission, you thought you were sensitive to race issues until you were directly confronted with the truth.  The only thing you presumably took away from lectures such as your own was that you were enlightened and sensitive to the subject.  It was only your experience that enlightened you.  So, how can you so stridently demand that others adopt a position based solely on words when you were incapable of doing such?  It just doesn't make sense.  If you contemplated this fact, perhaps you would be more effective in trying to make a positive change.  Refusing to consider the ideas of others out of hand is not the way to improve the status quo.

        •  It took me having personal experiences which (0+ / 0-)

          influenced my thinking, yes.

          But I didn't have anyone writing this sort of information down and having a public discussion about it when I was much younger. No one ever talked about White Privilege until recently.

          If I had been able to read stories like the one I wrote when I was in a teenager or even in my early 20s, perhaps my own epiphany would have come sooner, too.

          We don't all have to touch the hot oven to learn that it can be dangerous, now do we?

          "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

          by Angie in WA State on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 11:36:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The concept of white privilege (0+ / 0-)

            and the privilege framework has been used at least since the early 80's, when I was exposed to it as a college student.  (You and I are roughly contemporaries.)  More importantly, the issues regarding differential treatment based on race were very much discussed when you were in your early 20's.  You either did not attend college or did not interact meaningfully with any black people through your early 20's or were simply uninterested in these issues to have remained blissfully unaware of them as a young adult.  Why not just admit that it was not on your radar at the time instead of making excuses that there was no way for you to know these things ("[i]f I had been able to read stories...")?  This of course says nothing of the intervening years before your first grandchild was born, which I assume occurred when you were in your 40's.  Why are you unwilling to take responsibility for your own ignorance of the issue?

            None of this would be a problem (we all come to knowledge/enlightenment at our own pace) if you didn't take such a condescending tone towards others whose experience is similar to your own (don't yet grasp the issues).  It's hypocritical of you to demand from others that which you were incapable of grasping.  Your hot oven metaphor is also glib, given your own experience:  I needed to touch the hot oven to understand, but the rest of you should come to this knowledge solely on the basis of my hectoring.  And shame on you if you don't!  And there's the rub- you are projecting your own shame onto others and railing against them as a proxy for looking inward.

            As an aside, just after Vanessa Williams won the Miss America pageant, I discussed the win with a friend at lunch in the school cafeteria, who matter-of-factly said, they picked a black runner-up as well because they could not allow a white woman to lose to a black woman.  I immediately thought, you're absolutely right.    

            •  I tried very hard to NOT infuse any sense of shame (0+ / 0-)

              or guilt on the white readers of this piece, even so, I've gotten a number of (from what I'm assuming ARE white commenters) responses accusing me of exactly that.

              I did not attend college, my parents never even discussed the possibility of college with me and I, coming into the job market in the spring of 1979, with a 4.333 GPA in high school, couldn't even get a job flipping burgers, the economy sucked that badly at the time. I had never heard of PELL grants even at that time, so no college for me.

              As I explained in the diary, I grew up in a really, really, REALLY white town of 17K+.

              Where exactly, in THAT life, was I supposed to find my way to an epiphany on White Privilege?

              In our local paper? Owned by a single family here since 1908. Right wing, conservative family, point of fact.

              From the wider Metro area news? We are in the Portland, Oregon metro area. Ever heard about how the PDX police have treated blacks since as early back as I can remember (the early 1970s)? The only news we saw which included black people were crime related and in later years, police brutality and shooting and killing of blacks. That later item? THAT was sort of where I started wondering about why things were like they were.

              If you want me to apologize to you personally for the way the fucking world is, and that I personally am responsible for not waking the fuck up to it sooner? Why?

              Really, you are asking me to apologize for what I couldn't accomplish, because the ability for me to even SEE the problem was not within my possession.

              My mea culpa is written in the diary itself and in some of my comments:

              And I believe today that my worldview of persons of color was affected because of that. I spent my 20s telling people that "I am the least racist person you'll meet, because I don't care what color you are, so far as I'm concerned there is only one race - the race to death - and we are ALL in it." I meant it, too. But now, looking back on those years - I never met any black people, so how did I know what the hell I was talking about?
              I tried really hard to show my own evolution on thinking and how that happened to me.

              I just finished the ending and I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes, because just writing this affects me that much.

              I know in my heart it's because it's MY FAMILY now, my lovely, loving BROWN grandkids which drives me.

              It's neither fair nor reasonable to demand that I feel bad or remorseful for what was beyond my ability to either recognize or work on - because it was, as a matter of my upbringing and the world in which I lived in invisible to me.

              I'm trying to help others reach that place of recognizing and knowing, others stuck where I was for years. Wearing #whitepriviliege-colored blinders to the awful truth of our tiered-society.

              To make up for my ignorance and stupidity,  until reality came to MY FAMILY and smacked me up aside the head and yelled Wake the Fuck UP.

              Do I wish I could magically brush away the past 100, 500 or 1000 years and create a better world from way back then?

              Hell yes, I do.

              But you know that isn't possible.

              In the end, all that I can offer is this idea, which going forward is what we need, to keep on working to transform our society into a better one for everyone.

              #StrongerTogether for a better future for OUR posterity

              "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

              by Angie in WA State on Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 12:43:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Can't thank you enough for your excellent post, (3+ / 0-)


    Tip'd, Rec'd,  and sharing like mad.

    There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    by Onomastic on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 04:53:30 PM PDT

  •  "Structural racism" is the underlying problem, and (5+ / 0-)

    you've just provided a pretty good description and some real life examples of ways that structural racism (or institutional racism) affects society.

    I strongly suggest that you avoid using the white privilege terminology. First, it always solicits the "But what about us poor white folks? I don't feel privileged." reaction. Each word is emotionally loaded and introduces ambiguity. The academic discussion isn't about our feelings or emotions. But your diary is.

    I'm white (and you're not) so I have privileges (and you don't). You lost a big chunk of your audience just because you used those words in the title. I am one who usually skips over this topic and the pie fights that often erupt. But this is a helpful diary. So lose the volatile words.

    A place to start thinking about choosing more appropriate and accurate terminology is what Stokely Carmichael and others coined in the late 60's. Institutional racism makes a lot more sense to me as applied to your diary.

    “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture, or ethnic origin”
    . It's not about racist jerkwad cops who, I would say, are unfit, unqualified, incopetant, and, for our own safety, should be committed to in-patient psychiatric treatment by court order.

    Or maybe mandatory testing for steriods would weed out most of them. These thugs have real and dangerous and serious mental issues that cause them to act so damn violently. Yes, they are racists. Some are untreatable.

    White privilege isn't the problem that created the Ferguson police catastrophe. It's institutional racism and decades of racial oppression and abuse. It's just the way it's always been.

    Since before the Missouri Compromise.

    You aren't going to change the Ferguson police chief's thinking by teaching him some white privilege abstract theory. He'll just tell you he's not a racist. Then he'll excuse himself because he's got some black folk to keep under control. That's why they don't have any problems with race in Ferguson. In their empty heads, this is fact. And you and I are full of shit.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 05:32:35 PM PDT

  •  I have a shaved head and am a white person (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, worldlotus

    As I walk in a street in Tampa and hear from a young African American  the shout at me "White Power". I turn and yell back "Never! I am a firm believer in biodiversity and equity." I wish people did not have preconceptions that blur reality in such awful ways. This is the part of white privilege I hate.. that I can be lumped into a racial pigeonhole. I guess it bites both ways a bit and I will continue to strive to make it so  no skin pigmentation will ever be the measure of a woman/man but rather how they care for others and the earth.  

    "We need a revolution away from the plutocracy that runs Government."

    by hangingchad on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 05:58:29 PM PDT

    •  I have never had that problem. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't shave my head but like to keep ot short, like 1/8th of an inch short. Well one time when I was 18 some kids pissed on my car seat, but that is just dumb kid shit.

      Some people do not argue in good faith. Their only purpose is to disrupt and cause strife. Best to not engage them.

      by Drewid on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:21:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I could not live where I do (0+ / 0-)

    In a cabin in the woods, if I wasn't white with blue eyes. It was my ticket to the area, because if I had not been white with blue eyes they would not have been so friendly - to the point of actual physical harm to me, from what I have heard from others that dealt with the racists here.

    I knew one woman that brought her kids into and out of the area in the night, because they were half-black and she was afraid someone might see them and cause trouble.

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 10:16:53 AM PDT

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