- “Okay, so I have privilege! Stop making me feel bad about things I can’t control, I just want to stop racism!” We’re not making you feel bad about your privilege. Every time you wake up in the morning, and think about your privilege, that’s on you. We have to live with being considered sub-human, being the butt of jokes, and deal with varying levels of visibility—either we’re mammies, Jezebels and whores, or we’re not on the show at all. And if your first response is to think first and foremost about YOUR feelings, about how having privilege makes YOU feel, then you’re still a shitty ally, and we’re all side-eyeing you.
- “Should I hate myself for being white?” Who the fuck asked you to hate yourself? Why does it always have to be about you? Me, me, me, I, I, I. Your privilege is showing. Check it.
- “What do people want me to do about it? There’s nothing I can do!” See, now you’re just whining. You don’t actually have to live under the oppressive system that PoC do, so if this is what gets you complaining and hopeless, you might as well just sit on the sidelines, because you’re useless. Help us tear down the institution whenever you can. Collect your trash when nessecary. Don’t speak over the voices of PoC, even when you’re trying to help us.
- “I get that I have privilege, but you don’t need to be so mean about it! If you were nicer, more people would hear what you have to say.” This is some tone policing bullshit, and again, we’re going to need you to exit the movement, and quickly. We’re the oppressed class. Not you. You don’t get to determine how and by what terms we should articulate our points. No one wants to coddle your white ass anymore. If you can’t get it when we’re shouting it to you, what makes you think you’re going to get it when we whisper it? Sit your tone policing ass down.
- “Don’t you think there are more important things to blog about? Why do you care what other people do! I think racism is bad too, but you’re just looking for it!” Oh, whitey. Smdh. PoC don’t have to look for racism, baby, it’s in our faces all day, every day, every hour, every second. We’re not looking for it. If it’s there, it’s there, and there’s little we can do about it except react in the ways that make us most comfortable. There’s nothing more important than race, mostly because it effects everything. Intersectionality, heard of it? Every movement, every aspect of business and social culture, racism is part of it. There is nowhere I can go to be safe from it. I’m not an activist, or a social justice blogger. I blog about my life, and experiences, and comment on the similar experiences of others. If this upsets you, you know where the back button is.
- “Don’t you think you’re ruining your arguments by calling white people ‘crackers’ and ‘whitey’? If you don’t like racial slurs, don’t use them!” Whitey and Cracker aren’t racial slurs. Cracker is a term used to refer to the white foreman who oversaw slaves doing work, and beat them to make them work faster or punish them. If you’re offended by Cracker, then maybe you should do some research on what a racial slur actually is, and then return to the conversation. Whiteness is a system upheld by racism and oppression. Don’t want to get called whitey? Dismantle the system. Be proud of your heritage, and not your color.
- “What about me? I see where you’re coming from, but I still think white privilege isn’t as widespread as you say it is. I’m the minority at my school, and I get made fun of for being white.” Oh, good for you. You get to momentarily experience what I experience daily. Good job. It doesn’t matter that you’re not the majority in this situation. Your whiteness gives you power I will never experience. Next please.
I enjoyed reading all of these points, but I wouldn’t be a very productive person if I didn’t get my person opinions out there, even though I seriously doubt anyone will read what I have to say on the subject. This reblog is made simply in the spirit of discussion because I found this post to be colored with animosity and I’d like to point out a few thoughts I had.
Disclaimer: I am white and have been raised in a city that I would say is probably 70% comprised of white people, 20% Latin, and 10% Black. If you want to see my opinions through this lens, so be it, but I’d rather that be the case than have people create my reality for me because I didn’t give them the facts.
Point 1: “We’re not making you feel bad about your privilege. We have to live with being considered sub-human, being the butt of jokes, and deal with varying levels of visibility—either we’re mammies, Jezebels and whores, or we’re not on the show at all.”
In my somewhat limited experience, black, white, asian, and latin people all get the same treatment. We go to the same schools, we go to the same churches, we hold down the same jobs making the same amount of money. In fact, I see black and white people alike in all social classes and all areas of the economic spectrum. I have had black educators and I’ve seen black people living in the more impoverished neighborhoods; the same goes for any person of any color. I’ve been to Chicago, LA, San Francisco, New York, Seattle.. I’ve seen black men dressed in fancy suits carrying suitcases walking next to white men in rags and reeking of beer and cheap cigarettes. Based on this, I have no choice but to conclude that this “white privilege” idea comes from the media, and I’d have to agree: in America at least, there are a disproportionate amount of white actors as opposed to actors of other races, and those actors of non-white color do, indeed, hold what seem to be stereotypical roles for people of their color. Consider a few examples: the cast of Two and a Half Men is all-white. The cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is all-white. The cast of HBO’s Game of Thrones is predominately white. The characters drawn in Family Guy and American Dad are pretty much all white (with occasional appearances by the token black family who ended up with their own show, The Cleveland Show).
You clearly like to think of yourself as a logical, reasonable person, so let’s stop and be logical about this idea that you have. You’ve explained why you think white privilege comes from the media, but let’s be logical: how would this work? How would it come about? If all races are alike in opportunity and how they’re treated across all walks of life and all aspects of society, how is it that the media… exactly one industry and exactly one aspect of life… manages to treat white people and people of color differently?
Don’t the people controlling the media, from the heads of the giant corporations down to the producers of TV shows and movies to the media people to the writers and casting agents, don’t they live in the same world that you do? And so if they lived in the world where Black people are as likely as white people to have nice jobs and nice suits and briefcases, how would they end up only writing about white people, only casting white people, only funding and promoting and publicizing projects featuring white people?
If white privilege is only a product of media, why are they manufacturing it and sending it out into a world that doesn’t otherwise have or need it? If there is no pre-existing privilege for white people to be had, why are casting calls sent out for “Caucasian” actors? Why are movies with no white lead held back, re-cast, passed over, or shunted into “niche” markets?
Does this make any sense to you?
It doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, it seems utterly fantastic and completely impossible that the media could or would “create” white privilege that doesn’t exist in the rest of society, the society that media comes from and sells its products to. Doesn’t it make more sense to you?
My point is this: Yes, as a white man, I am far better represented in the media.
Yes. And this is an example of the privilege we have as white people.
You know where else you’re better represented? Congress. The White House. (43 presidents in a row!) The Supreme Court. In the boardrooms of major corporations. In loan officers at banks, admissions officers of colleges, police officers… the people who have made serious, important decisions that will change the course of your life and the lives of everyone who tries to get ahead in society or get out of a bad situation, including people of color.
Most of the ways you’re helped by white privilege are going to be completely invisible to you because the main way we benefit is in the things that don’t happen to us. People don’t get in our way. People don’t get in our business. People don’t assume we don’t belong in the places that are meant to be “good” or “safe”.
It’s not that our race is actively considered when we need something or ask for help or someone’s in a position to either make our life difficult or let us mind our own business. It’s that our race isn’t considered. We’re seen as just plain people, just plain folks, normal people, the default human being. Media representation has a lot to do with that, but it’s not the cause of it. It helps perpetuate it, but it didn’t originate it. It’s a consequence of it.
And as a consequence of this, when we’re young, we can be seen as “nice young people with futures.” Or if we’re not being so nice, we’re “just kids, what do you expect?” A white kid with pot is going to be seen as a parental problem at most. Black kids with pot end up in jail or shot, because they’re seen as criminals… not even children, just small adults.
You see people of color with briefcases and white people begging and you’ve concluded for yourself that this makes society equal. That’s like a cop who sees a speeding Ferrari passing you and pulls you both over, reasoning that if you were at the same point on the road as the Ferrari that means you were matching it speed. You can see a Black person in a lofty position, but you can bet they had to work hard to get there and have to work hard to keep up.
But taking that and transposing it across the entirety of American culture and daily life is, as I have demonstrated, inaccurate. If your issue as a person of color is that you are “being considered sub-human, being the butt of jokes, and deal with varying levels of visibility—either we’re mammies, Jezebels and whores, or we’re not on the show at all” then describe the issue as what it is: as a person of color, you are being disproportionately represented in the media.
No. The person who you’re replying to described the problem as they see it, based on their experiences of life in a world where they have to deal with being considered subhuman, being treated as the butt of jokes, and also the problem of media representation. You have this pet theory, which is a convenient theory for you because it absolves all of society except the media of any complicity and means you can think of yourself as having no real , but as I’ve demonstrated, your theory makes no sense.
Even if your theory was viable, demanding that other people subscribe to it and “describe the problem as it is” is backwards. You have to establish that you’re right, you have to prove that your point of view is correct as opposed to theirs, before it makes sense to demand or even suggest that they start discussing the problem from your point of view.
Look, I said that privilege is often invisible because it takes forms we don’t see, but it’s also invisible in that we internalize it. This is what’s happening here: you are so used to the idea that your opinion is valuable and the opinion of people like the person you’re replying to isn’t that, without making any sort of attempt to actually prove yourself or persuade them, you’re rewording their point so it’s your point and then demanding that they discuss the issue as if they already agreed with you.
You’re basically ignoring even the possibility that they’ll still disagree with you after reading your opinion. They don’t have an actual opinion, in your mind. They’re just slightly misinformed about their own lives and waiting for you to arrive and correct them.
I’m not going to go through and give this a point-by-point takedown because every point is about as wrong as this first one and that would be a long post. Besides, I’ve adequately demonstrated how you are relying on a flawed premise. With a foundation so shoddy, there’s no point in testing the structure built upon it for soundness.
To make a long story short: you are demonstrating what white privilege is and how it works right here and now. White privilege is never having to confront the fact that you’re privilege. White privilege is being part of a society that acts to make racism and racial privilege invisible, to present it as normal or as a consequence of something else that doesn’t involve us and is beyond our control. White privilege wouldn’t be able to keep on existing and perpetuating itself if it didn’t find a way to make itself not just tempting but palatable, presentable, excusable… but as the people who are being held up by it, the absolute least we can do is accept that the view is sightly different from people who aren’t being lifted up with us.