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I was encouraged reading the comments of a diary that was recently on the rec list where many commenters identifying themselves as white showed understanding and empathy with regard to the daily struggle that African American’s still face to walk, talk, bike, purchase, drive, be heroic, be smart, be stupid, be arrested, not be arrested, have pets, and just plain be human while black.

I am also appreciative of the view expressed in some comments that all humans, regardless of race, should be treated with basic human dignity and that those who are, should not be viewed as “privileged”.  Makes sense right?  Well..sort of. Follow me below the jump if you think there might be something missing.

A couple of commenters offered the alternative term, “nonwhite encumbrance” to describe mistreatment of people of color because of race.  This term is so cumbersome (pardon the pun) that it makes you wonder what the point of it would be.  Most of the people willing to have this conversation already recognize the myriad ways that people of color are encumbered by racism and discrimination.  In my opinion, that term adds nothing to the conversation whereas the term “white privilege” acknowledges much more than the standard humane treatment whites expect to and do receive simply because they are citizens of this country.  Specifically, it acknowledges how mainstream cultural norms advantage whites, intentionally and unintentionally, to the detriment of people of color.

Based on the examples of "Nonwhite Encumbrance" presented in the comments (i.e. courteous interactions with the police), I can see how some people might argue that this shouldn’t be called “privilege” since everyone should be treated humanely by default.  But just because certain types of abuse of people of color might fall into the "Nonwhite Encumbrance" category doesn’t mean that active white privilege doesn’t exist in the same way that say, class privilege exists.  

What I think these commenters miss is that white privilege is NOT just about whites not being routinely subjected to the all the indignities, abuse, violence, etc. that people of color are individually and collectively subjected to because of race.  Rather, white privilege encompasses interactions between and among whites themselves in the majority culture that go above and beyond simply being treated fairly.  Like institutionalized racism, white privilege often operates systematically (i.e. without the conscious intent or effort by individuals) to advantage whites.  Perhaps a more acceptable term to those who find “white privilege” offensive or inaccurate would be “white advantage”?  However, like “nonwhite encumbrance", I suspect the term falls flat because it states the obvious and leaves out the subtleties connoted by "white privilege".

For example, every job interview that most African Americans will EVER experience will be a scenario where they have very little in common, culturally, with the person or group of people interviewing them.  Can you honestly say that this is case for most whites?  Even if the interviewee and interviewer have vastly different lifestyle choices or political and religious views, this is not something that is immediately and glaringly obvious to the person conducting the interview.  Now, in no way am I saying that conscious or unconscious racism is a part of every interview, although in some cases it certainly is.  I am simply saying that when you are only twelve percent of the population and you have the history that we have in this country, it is a fact that every job interview for an African American where the interviewer is white (i.e. all but one I've had in my 46 years) carries an additional stress.  Job interviews are stressful enough without them also being a “cultural” encounter with someone whose views about black people might be entirely second hand.  

In other words, African Americans must constantly interact with, and often get to know personally, countless whites throughout their lives. We have authentic opportunities to know them as individuals and human beings with positive and negative qualities and to form opinions about the content of their individual characters by direct and constant interactions with them.  This is NOT true of millions of white Americans, particularly those living outside major urban areas.  We can argue about whether or not that is a privilege or an encumbrance for whites in a different diary that I hope someone else will write.

Returning to the job interview scenario, consider furthermore that I, as an African American, may not even get to the interview stage since so many positions are filled through “networking”.  And I don’t mean just high level positions.  I mean so and so’s brother’s cousin’s fiancé’s niece got the job.  Given the segregated nature of many communities as well as the sheer scarcity of blacks in some parts of the country, this is likely a bigger problem than outright racism.  And I am not talking about nepotism. In many cases, black people are just not in the network, not on the radar.  For white progressives born and bred in urban America it might be hard to fathom what I am saying but the rest of you know what I’m talking about.

Should a white person feel guilty about this? NO! Is it their fault that they are in the majority and may live somewhere where people of color are exotic entities? NO! White guilt is neither accurate nor helpful!  Should whites be aware of this and ponder the implications? YES!!!.  Why? Because it might assist you to better understand discussions about racism, affirmative action, profiling, and what many of us call "white privilege" so as to be in a better position to take corrective action.

Other places where the dynamics of white privilege are present for people of color include most other public and financial spaces and activities such apartment or house hunting, car loan applications, hotel stays, libraries, school classrooms and anywhere else where humans interact.  Setting aside outright racism, many decisions are made based on who you feel comfortable with.  That is, who does the decision maker FEEL comfortable with.  Who can they more readily relate to?  What does a hard worker look like? Treating everyone fairly is difficult when you don't even know you are biased.  Not everyone is reflective and self-critical.  

White Privilege is also about black people subconsciously internalizing, or worse yet consciously embracing, negative mainstream views about themselves.

For example:

A black teacher who has to remind herself that the white students are not automatically smarter than the black ones.

For example:

Little black girls who prefer to play with the white doll over the black doll.

For example:

The fact that many black people agree with mainstream society that lighter skin and straighter hair is more beautiful.

For example:

Black politicians who agree with negative memes about black people's work ethic.

Yes, white privilege incorporates a great deal of cognitive dissonance on everyone's part.

These dynamics are also present in ways that may seem trivial or even funny at first glance like trying to find hair and skin products if you don’t live in a big city, to the beige color crayon in the Crayola box being called “flesh,” to the fact that it just didn’t occur to white school administrators that treating black students “equally” by requiring them to swim every day for weeks in the winter in Chicago in P.E. class would present all kinds of hair and skin problems for the black students (my mother for example).  Attack on human dignity? No. Racism?  No. Just the default setting.  Rinse, repeat.

People, when you ARE the default setting because you are the large majority, when your health issues, skin, hair and body type, language and speaking patterns, food choices, learning styles, etc., etc., etc. are the default setting…OR When you live in white America instead of black America  - that is an unearned PRIVILEGE granted you at birth and if you believe in equality and human rights you might make efforts to understand how not recognizing that privilege can do harm.

One poster mentioned the great analogy of life being a role playing game where “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting.  It doesn’t ONLY mean that the game was intentionally rigged for straight white males of property from the beginning, which was indeed the case at our nation’s founding.  It also means that once the game is rigged, if no one does anything else, it will stay rigged and unfair advantages will be reinforced systematically (think generational poverty).

By now I am sure you’ve picked up the fact that I believe the term “White Privilege” is an accurate descriptor of a real phenomenon.  At the same time I recognize that it provokes strong reactions from proponents and detractors and that this can be divisive.  However, I believe that people who prefer using other terms don’t only disagree with the term "white privilege" on semantic grounds but that they also view the phenomenon itself differently, and perhaps don’t agree that the examples I provided above constitute white privilege.  If that is the case, then we'll agree to disagree. I will also take this opportunity to reiterate the value of these kinds of conversations and even of debating the appropriateness of the terminology we use to characterize consequences and facets of racism, past and present.

I’ll end by recounting a personal experience that may or may not help to further illustrate my point but which I think belongs in this diary.  I grew up in lower working class neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago and VERY rarely ever came into contact with black people who were middle class.  The only middle class blacks I knew about were highly educated doctors, lawyers, etc.  I naturally assumed that the middle class white lifestyle I saw on TV or in my infrequent travels during daylight hours through white neighborhoods (en route to somewhere else) were the domiciles of highly educated doctors, lawyers, business owners, etc.  I didn’t realize until I was an adult that millions and millions of white Americans lived comfortable middle class existences boasting nothing more than a high school education (and a public education at that).  My black friends and family always thought that to be middle class meant that you were EXCEPTIONAL.  Because that is what it meant for us.

It wasn’t until later that I learned that for most of white America, living the American Dream was viewed as normal and attainable and AVERAGE, because it truly was attainable by them.

I’m stopping now, not because I don’t have more to say, but because I find this topic very difficult to write about and suppose it must also be difficult to read and think about in more than bite sized pieces.

Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:01 AM PT: Wow! From rescued to the rec list.  I am humbled.

Originally posted to FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 03:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by RaceGender DiscrimiNATION, Black Kos community, LatinoKos, Barriers and Bridges, I follow and I Quote Meteor Blades in my Diary Group, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (108+ / 0-)

    - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

    by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 03:51:05 PM PDT

  •  Having taught in urban schools, I can certainly (6+ / 0-)

    attest to the one about black kids and skin color and hair in terms of attractiveness.

    Especially hair.  It's almost an unforgivable insult to call a kid "bald-headed".

    And I've heard from kids' own mouths that "acting smart is 'White'" and that's bad.

    And working at an urban school brings another dynamic--the interview and working with a Black principal.  As a White teacher, I am acutely aware of what I say at all times.  And the kids, if they want to be malicious, will take every little disciplinary thing a White teacher can do and turn it into an accusation of racism.  I've seen it done.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:07:15 PM PDT

    •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

      What exactly is the insult in 'bald head'? I had a friend in primary school who was called that as an insult - his parents cut his hair very short to hide how curly it was - and he would get into fights over it. But I never quite got the insult.

      To me, 'bald head' simply means 'non-Rastafari' and is only an insult if are or aspire towards rasta.

  •  The people who put up a fuss (18+ / 0-)

    when the term white privilege is used probably run the gamut from people who really fit the prevailing stereotype of what a racist looks like to people who live in some hermetically sealed almost completely white suburban world. It wouldn't be too hard for the latter group to be seriously naive about the realities of life in a diverse urban world.

    The real resistance comes from the fact that so many think that the minute someone ask them to try to look at the world through someone else's eyes they are trying to take away something to which they are rightfully entitled.

    •  I find it bizarre (35+ / 0-)

      when folks get worked up by talk of white privilege, as if they're being called racist.  It has nothing to do with people's beliefs or what's in their heart.  It has to do with how others treat you if you're white.  Getting bent out of shape out of this is like getting bent out of shape about talk of "wealth" privilege.  It's a simple fact that if you're wealthy you're situated in the network of society in a way that confers all sorts of advantages independent of your merit.  Likewise with being white.  The point is to promote fairness and equal treatment, not to make people wear a hairshirt.

      •  Wow...it took me a diary to say what you said in a (15+ / 0-)

        comment. I get wordy when I get emotional.

        - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

        by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:37:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need all (13+ / 0-)

          those words and many more besides!  I get so worn out by this crap.  These are basic sociological truths with mountains upon mountains of evidence to support them.  It's not about quilting anyone, but simply about treat all people with dignity and according to merit and trying to point out that we're not there yet.  These things have to be said again and again so that people on juries, conducting interviews, clocking cars for speeding, etc, reflect a bit and stand up against this shit.  Thank you for the kind response!

        •  I liked all your words. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FreeWoman19, candid psychiatrist

          You have answered a question I have had in that I wanted to know what was thought by the people looking in at white privilege.  What is their view of success and how to achieve it?  The right wingers I speak to claim that racism is over because we elected a black president and that all people in America can succeed because education is available.  They say it doesn't matter if they have to work harder to get a good education, if one wants it, it is achievable.  I, of course, have boatloads of arguments against these observations but I always end up with the proverbial bloodied head from beating it on the brick wall.  There is no changing bloated egos' minds. So, I thank you for the insight.

          Everyone! Arms akimbo!

          by tobendaro on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:34:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  this piece was excellent, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FreeWoman19, Brecht

          please don't knock yourself!

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:44:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, well the reality is it has that effect.. (0+ / 0-)

        So if you want to communicate in a totally ineffective manner, which turns off some of your listeners, and importantly many of the listeners you need to convince, then you can go ahead and keep using it.  

        If you want to actually be effective, on the other hand, you can say the same thing with different terms that don't have the effect of making people less open to your message.  

        You've obviously seen for yourself the effect this term has on some people.  So, rather than saying people shouldn't be offended, it's more important to realize that they are.  

        It doesn't matter whether the term is totally accurate, it has a negative impact when used.  

        •  I wonder about that (7+ / 0-)

          I don't object to the premise that words can be chosen ineptly.

          It seems to me that "white privilege" is a pretty good name for something that a lot of whites understandably aren't predisposed to think about, and I'm not sure that replacing it with a different name would help. The phrase doesn't seem inherently so inflammatory that it obviously should be avoided.

          Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

          by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:36:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think that if you're "turned off" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FreeWoman19, pitbullgirl65

          by the term "white privilege," using different terminology is not going to "convince" you of anything or make you "more open" to the reality of white privilege.  Furthermore, using the term "white privilege" does not equal "communicat[ing] in a totally ineffective manner."  I think rather that the opposite is true.  That term is effective precisely because it does make some uncomfortable.

          It makes me wonder what "effect" that you think language about white privilege should have.  To make everyone feel comfortable?  The truth is often controversial and uncomfortable to someone but what's more important?  The truth or the comfort of those that might be offended in some way by what the truth reveals about them?  And in what climate is the status quo more likely to prevail over change, in a climate where everyone is made to feel comfortable or in a climate where some are uncomfortable?  And whose comfort is more important?  The comfort of the privileged or the comfort of the victims of that privilege?

          Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

          by democracy inaction on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 08:06:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  In other words, you're saying: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mlle L

          If you want to be liked, don't tell the plain truth. Beat around the bush, because after all the goal here is not to communicate your perceived truth, but to gain favor.

          Funny--I'm white, and found this diary to be insightful, thought-provoking, warmhearted, even enlightening. And some of the commentary here has been among the best I've ever seen at DKos. I was not offended in the least. But then again, I've never minded anybody telling me what their problem was.

          I think accuracy of speech is essential to successful communication. I don't think upsetting people who are less open to your message is more important than successfully communicating to those who are open. And I don't think that "turning off some of your listeners" means that your communication is "totally ineffective." It simply means that some people don't want to hear what you have to say.

      •  I think that's right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sidnora, FreeWoman19

        There's also an aspect of denial; if you're white and you are insulated from black culture for whatever reason (and there could be a lot of reasons, i.e. grew up in an upper middle class suburb or in rural small-town America), I think it would be easier to be in denial about white privilege.   Whereas if you aren't insulated from black culture and you actually see white privilege play out on a regular basis in real time with your own eyes, you can still be in denial about it but not without a lot more cognitive dissonance.

        Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

        by democracy inaction on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:25:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You really miss the point. (6+ / 0-)

      People can object to the term without in any way being naïve about what "the realities of life in a diverse urban world" are or being unwilling to "try to look at the world through someone else's eyes."

      It is quite possible to say, "I understand what you're talking about but I would call it something else."

      Personally, as I see it, if you are not in the 1% today, or at least the 10%, you are being crapped on in the USA. And try telling someone who is working three part-time jobs without health insurance and living in a trailer with her three kids that she is privileged because she is white.

      That doesn't mean I disagree that life would be even tougher for a black woman in the same situation. Of course it would be. Hell, she might have to work four jobs without health insurance to make the same money.

      However, if your purpose is to uphold an economic regime in which the 600 richest people own more than the poorest 150 million, there is no better way to do that than to divide the 90% or the 99% from each other (the Republican strategy in a nutshell). "White privilege" is, unfortunately, a term that helps do that.

      "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."—Barbara Jordan

      by expatjourno on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:00:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see your point that the term may turn some (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Onomastic, DBunn, expatjourno, Brecht

        people off to the point where they don't even want to have this kind of conversation.  For the majority of people who are ready to have the conversation I think that the very ambiguity of the term can facilitate a deeper conversation than might otherwise be had if a less descriptive term were used.

        I also agree that the more important conversation needs to be about economic inequality. Unfortunately, because we are still so racially divided we can't even get to that conversation, or stay on topic.  This is because the issue of race inevitably arises, as it should, since its still a critical influence in many people's lives.  We need to deal with this at some point if we are ever going to have a hope of working together for the common good.

        - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

        by FreeWoman19 on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:34:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It turns off a lot of people... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          expatjourno

          Even a lot of your allies.  Don't underestimate the negative impact of using this term.  

          •  I may or may not have been (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FreeWoman19

            the person that got the discussion going with my dairy about "What White Privilege Looks Like..." a few days ago.  I'm not entirely sure, but  I gotta say -- I'm not sympathetic to the "What? Where's my privilege?" argument.

            This is not GAME SHOW.  This is not "Quien es mas Fucked!"

            Not everyone is going to get a prize. There can be Legitimate Issues of economic and educational privilege and access inside the white community as well as outside of it at the same time.

            The woman working three jobs with four kids, no husband, no heath care in a trailer park - has the same beef as a black woman in a similar situation if simply because her hair isn't combed right or skirt is dirty she gets treated just as crappily as if she were black.

            These two people are allies not competitors, if they forget it - we're all screwed.

            •  I don't understand what you are trying to say. (0+ / 0-)

              Here's what I'm trying to say: People who insist on using the term "white privilege" are simply helping the Jay Goulds of the world divide and conquer. I'm not denying that the phenomena known as "white privilege" exist.

              If it gives you the warm fuzzies to sneer "white privilege," have at it. It's counterproductive, though.

              Barack Obama: From Nobel Laureate to Ugly American.

              by expatjourno on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 12:04:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Well, we've spent a lot more time talking about... (4+ / 0-)

          ...race and racism in the past 30 years than we have about income inequality and what the remedies for that might be. The president of the United States is a self-described admirer of Ronald Reagan and said his positions would put him in the mainstream of the 1980s Republican Party.

          Well, Reagan began the destruction of the middle class and huge transfer of wealth to the tippy-top, so to have any Democrat, let alone an African-American, endorse those policies  should tell you that race is not really the most important thing to talk about.

          Let me make this clear: There is a political consensus, shared by this president, that it's OK for the rich to keep getting richer at the expense of everyone else. Hence the tax cuts for the rich, the attempt to cut Social Security, the bail-out of Wall Street's ultra-rich, breaking a promise to renegotiate NAFTA, the attempt to have more free trade agreements. the gap between rich and poor is growing faster under Obama that it was growing under Bush. So when you choose a term as divisive as "white privilege," and thereby divide the 90% or 99%, you have decided to fight over a shrinking pile scraps and doing the 1%'s work for them.

          When 600 people own as much as the poorest 150 million, that means 150 million people of all races are getting the shaft. And the way to work for the common good is to start talking about the common good, to keep talking about how we are all in the same boat, and to fight side by side against a common enemy. Nothing is going to break down racial barriers and break down "white privilege" faster than fighting side by side.

          You sure as hell don't do it by telling your natural allies working three jobs without health insurance or paid vacation how lucky and privileged they are to be white. I mean seriously, you want your message to them to be "It could be worse. Just be glad you're not black"? Really? How about, "I know just how you feel. We're all in this together" instead?

          "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."—Barbara Jordan

          by expatjourno on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 09:22:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Expat...I just read your comment and really (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            expatjourno, NearlyNormal, Brecht

            appreciate your views as you seem to be in the minority on this thread and well argued minority opinions often help me to fine tune my own views. I believe we probably agree on the more important points and think you have very valid arguments about strategy.

            I really would like to hear more of what you have to say but I have family showing up at my house in 30 minutes and I haven't even started cooking. Yikes!

            So, I hope you will check back later for my response!

            Peace.

            - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

            by FreeWoman19 on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:35:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht, FreeWoman19

              I think we are on the same side and want to achieve the same things on both of these issues.

              I don't question for a moment the existence of the thing you call "white privilege." Nor do I question for a moment how pervasive and corrosive it is. Nor do I question the importance of white people understanding better what the black experience is like. White people really do need to know because if they did, they would support affirmative action more than they do, for example.

              Happy 4th of July, I hope the weather is great wherever you are and that you have a great get-together with your family!

              "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."—Barbara Jordan

              by expatjourno on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:42:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Privilege depends on context. (0+ / 0-)

            As in: if those white kids are busted with drugs after turning 18, they might get probation the first time, even though they're poor and don't have a lot of other advantages. Black kids from similar circumstances are more likely to do time. Even though both groups are from very poor families.

            You're right and you're wrong. There are a lot of times when the most important thing is pure economics. There are other times when it's all about racism. Still other times it's a strange mix. And once in a great while, being a person of color is a great advantage. It just depends on so many things.

            So no, I wouldn't tell the single mother in the trailer park with three jobs that she's privileged. Just like I wouldn't tell Henry Louis Gates that he's privileged right when he was being arrested for trying to get into his own house, even though he's rather well off financially.

            That doesn't make white privilege and class privilege not real. It doesn't make them bad terms. It just means they apply in complex ways, so they don't always apply as well to individual circumstances as they do as general social observations.

            •  But you are still missing the point. (0+ / 0-)
              "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half."—Jay Gould
              At a time when everyone who is not in the top 5% or 10% is being shat upon from great height, it is idiotic to insist on using a term that divides natural allies from each other.

              People who insist on using the term "white privilege" are simply helping the Jay Goulds of the world divide and conquer.

              I'm in no way denying the existence of the phenomena that you want to call "white privilege."

              Barack Obama: From Nobel Laureate to Ugly American.

              by expatjourno on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:57:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I think recognizing (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FreeWoman19, expatjourno, Brecht, Mlle L

        white priveledge is the first step that will allow us to overcome the divisiveness.
        The Obama presidency and the Trayvon Martin murder, have ripped away my blinders as to what it is and what it means, and it has shaken me to my core.

        I don't feel white guilt, I've always been outspoken against any form of discrimination, but eventhough my dearest and closest friend for more than 25 years is African American, I was blind to the reality of what it means to be black in the US. What happened to Trayvon Martin, could happen to her son. That damned stubborn kid, I have to yell at to help his mom stay connected with me through the internet, but who put some of his summer job money aside, so he and his dad could surprise her with a laptop. This kid could go outside and just be killed, and his parents would be told, his life is just not worth that much. That realization just took my breath away.

        I think the diarist is only asking us to give up one particular white priveledge, and that is the priveledge to be ignorant about the existence of white priveledge.

        •  I think white people should recognize reality. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          amsterdam, urnumbersix

          Including the reality of the thing known as "white privilege." My only objection is to the terminology.

          What happened to Trayvon Martin could happen to my stepson, who is about the same age, which is why I don't want him to ever go to the U.S. on his own.

          I'll never get over the Trayvon Martin murder. That hit way too close to home. He was someone's beloved child.

          "My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."—Barbara Jordan

          by expatjourno on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 11:49:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Are you using "priveledge" deliberately? (0+ / 0-)

          There are so many things wrong with that spelling, I assume you're doing it on purpose, but can't figure out why.

          I never liked you and I always will.

          by Ray Blake on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:56:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is 'white privilege' (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Brecht, Farugia, shesaid, DrFaustus

    mostly a less-fraught way of saying 'racist?' I sometimes think that the toxicity of the term 'racist' is a problem. I mean, obviously it's good that overt racism has become taboo, but it's also become defined (by most whites, anyway) as only overt racism. Not about the more insidious an ubiquitous stuff. So for a white person to say, 'yeah, I'm racist,' sounds like 'White Power!'

    Especially if they say it without any particular guilt. I mean, I'm aware that I'm racist. I grew up in a racist society, and I'm not some moral paragon of purity who doesn't have a roiling subconscious full of hateful crap of every description. I don't think being racist is a good thing, of course, but denying that it exists in me--or even feeling guilty, instead of vigilant, about it--strikes me as deeply unhelpful.

    I guess I'm okay with the term 'white privilege', because it is a non-taboo way of saying the same thing. But yikes, 'nonwhite encumbrance.' That's like 'here's some other shitty thing you swarthy people have. Encumbrance. You're welcome!'

    'Racist' seems to do the trick. It's an ugly word, which is--or should be--a good thing, in an adjective. It's an ugly truth. And it's just a pretty flat statement of cultural truth. I mean, to the extent that racism takes root inside a little black girl who prefers to play with the white doll over the black doll, I'm in no position to call myself non-racist.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:22:17 PM PDT

    •  No it is not. (27+ / 0-)

      I hope that I am not a racist, even though everyone can be influenced by structural racism in subtle ways. When I find that happening to me I give myself a good slap. That is something I have a choice about.

      I am white and I didn't have a choice about that. The society I live in gives me racial privilege without my having to ask for it. It is not about what I do but about who I am.

      If I go out with a black friend, I can see it happening before my eyes.  

      •  Well, what is 'being racist', then? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, shesaid, Bridge Master

        I'd argue that it is 'being influenced by structural (or societal) racism in subtle ways.'

        Or, of course, in not-so-subtle ways.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:44:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I make a distinction between personal (19+ / 0-)

          and institutional racism. Personal racism is showing deliberate and overt hostility toward people because of their race. That most certainly exist.

          I will give you an example of my own experience with institutional racism. About 20 years ago my HMO sent me to a new eye doctor in San Francisco. At that point in my life I had had a career as a social worker and been active in a long string of progressive political causes. I did not think that I was a racist.

          As I sat in the waiting room, it slowly dawned on me that the doctor I was about to see was probably black. The receptionist was black and about half of the other patients were. Suddenly an alarm bell went off in my head. I had dealt with a number of black professionals and counted a few of them as close friends, but I had never been to a black doctor. The inbuilt anxiety about one's health and the racial stereotypes about competency clashed in my head without my expecting it.

          I was more than a little shocked with myself. I did not get up and make some lame excuse about why I had to leave. I stayed put and waited to be called. The doctor was indeed black AND he was a very good doctor. I saw him for about 3 years until HMO roulette carried me off somewhere else.

          I have had somewhat similar experiences with myself a couple of other times. I consider that to be the influence of institutional racism. I was left with the choice of whether to act on it and be a personal racist or not.

          •  Ah! We acknowledge (9+ / 0-)

            exactly the same experience, and call it completely different things!

            I guess I just think it's helpful, for me, to call it racism if I have a reaction like that. It's the opposite of deliberate, and the opposite of overt, but it's a nasty little worm chewing a hole inside my heart, and so I want to call it the ugliest thing I can. Perhaps it's merely personal preference.

            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

            by GussieFN on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 05:12:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I call that institutional racism. (8+ / 0-)

              My thinking is impaired by it. I think that you and I probably respond to it in very similar ways. I guess it is sort of a borderland between the institutional and the personal.

              When I am out with a black friend and somebody treats me differently from him, that is what I call privilege. It happens regardless of what I do, just because I am white. I have choices to make about how I respond to the situation, but it was created by my circumstance and not by me.

              These various terms don't have clearly defined universally accepted meaning. Find common ground for communication about them takes some work and effort.

              •  Very sound to start by discussing different terms (9+ / 0-)

                I think each of these expresses some part of the whole, complex truth. But GussieFN is so right to bring in the term Racist, because there are so many levels of racism, and we need to be able to talk about that word in all its ugliness and ubiquity.

                There is so much Unconscious Racism: There are people who refuse to admit their own prejudice, and hide it in the back of their mind; and there are people who have undercurrents of discomfort they never even noticed.

                When you were in that doctor's office, you made the better choice, to hear that "an alarm bell went off in my head", and then to listen past it. But many whites, in the same place, would've just felt uncomfortable, and would have made up some trivial excuse so they never had to go back there.

                I had a boss (Kim) who, when she was getting her Ph.D., did an experiment on unconscious racism. She told her subjects (undergrads) that they would be working with a new lab partner, she described the partner, and she asked how they felt about the prospect. She had pictures of this "lab partner" - some were white, and some were black.

                The students almost all replied that they felt equally eager to work with the white or with the black lab partner. Kim had wired them up, so they she could test their skin's resistance, and other measures of bodily stress. And more than half of the students who said they were equally eager for either, indeed many who appeared completely convinced that they were unracist, in fact were more stressed when presented with a future lab partner who was black.

                I believe this is true throughout society, and throughout Daily Kos: We live in a racist culture, and we are programmed deeper than we know. If sweet little girls know without ever being told that the black doll is the bad one even when they themselves are black, then adults in this culture have had five or ten times as long to learn similar lessons.

                There are some people who are just born good and fair-minded. There are many who are lucky enough to grow up in families that are all about love and universal dignity. But most whites grow up at least a little racist, more racist than they realize - and it's only the ones who pay full attention, and spot all their small evasions and fix them, who end up completely clear and fair-minded.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:45:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That lab partner experiment is interesting (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht

                  but I don't think that it necessarily means that stress = racism.

                  It might mean that the situation of working with a black lab partner entails working outside the norm for those students; an expression of their understanding of institutional racism or perhaps being judged as racist. Who knows? Still valuable, though; would be interesting to see how pairing up men with female lab partners or with gay lab partners or asian lab partners would work as well.

                  If we truly live in a culture what is racist and stratified (which I believe we do) then a white person's reaction to working with a black lab partner would be fraught/stressful even if that person wasn't "racist" in the most blatant sense. Seems to me that is what we acknowledge by such terms as "white guilt" or "white privilege" or "institutional racism."

                  •  Same thing, different semantics. In one sense (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sidnora, badscience

                    you're right, that stress is sometimes just what Richard Lyon felt in the unfamiliar doctor's office situation: Feeling weird in an unaccustomed environment.

                    The most important thing is where a white person goes with that stress, which will say a lot about them. Do they recognize it and deal with it in an enlightened fashion (as Richard did), or do they just run away from discomfort (in which case, several such decisions in a lifetime will lead to alienation from the otherness that Black America feels like to them).

                    Kim's experiment does not tell us what that stress meant. It's surprising to me that so many USC students, here in the melting pot of LA, felt more stress than they acknowledged in a not very strange situation.

                    In another sense, semantically, I feel like White Privilege is a very useful term here. People may be less defensive about it than White Guilt, and it points accurately to a moral responsibility white people have to be aware and considerate of these issues.

                    I just like the term Racism as an umbrella term. There are so many different levels and ways that our culture privileges whites, burdens blacks, and separates people into different world views. In the experiment in JoanMar's diary, the young black girls were clearly being racist, whatever more sympathetic terms we might also apply. I think there are few Americans who are entirely free of racism, at every level of their being. But I use the term here, where we're having a very self-aware conversation about these issues. If I were talking to my aunt's 80 year old friends in Texas, I'd be gingerly explaining to them what white privilege means.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 09:40:34 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Stress is an interesting thing. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Brecht

                      I don't know what sort of controls were in the experiment, but I would imagine there was some way of filtering out the simple stress of being hooked up to machinery, or having been previously prompted by the information about the future lab partner. And a lot of people would publicly say "no problem" even if their preference was "don't want."

                      That being said, I don't think that it is surprising at all, even in Los Angeles, or especially in Los Angeles. I grew up there. While it is a very diverse city, there are a lot of racial tensions in the culture-at-large (not just black/white tensions). There is no color-blindness anywhere in meatspace ;-) Awareness of racial tensions or even stress about racial tensions doesn't necessarily equate to racism or even prejudice or cultural stereotyping.

                      But I'm not arguing with the larger premise that the experiment suggests is the case, which is that issues around race cause stress! And that we have a very stratified and racist cultural structure.

                •  It's not easy (4+ / 0-)

                  to think of oneself as racist, even a little, if one accepts the basic premise that racism is bad.

                  I have to acknowledge that I have involuntary racist reactions. I'm a white woman. My boss, whom I adore, is black. My eye doctor, who I think is terrific both personally and professionally, is black. There are black people in my family, whom I have loved for most of my life.

                  But I was raised by good-hearted people who themselves were raised with the prevailing racial attitudes of their times (in a large northern city). They were aware of racism, and were strongly condemnatory of obvious racism when they witnessed it, but they still were able to pass some of the unconscious racism that was simply part of white privilege in the 1950s on to me.

                  "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

                  by sidnora on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:59:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I agree. I explained some more in my reply to (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sidnora

                    badscience, right above your comment.

                    I find racism useful as an umbrella term. But in practical conversation, White Privilege seems to point to whites' moral responsibility to check themselves, without making them as defensive as White Guilt or Racism might.

                    Tricky stuff. The people you most need to talk about it with are the people who will get most irrational when you do.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 09:46:25 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks for pointing up your comment above. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Brecht

                      I'm perfectly comfortable with the term "white privilege", and I understand that even though I am an "other" myself by virtue of being a non-Christian woman, I've been its beneficiary all my life. And that it is incumbent on me to be aware of that, and make conscious efforts to overcome it.

                      And yes, your last sentence is the truth.

                      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

                      by sidnora on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:09:03 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Calling people "racist" makes them defensive (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CaliSista, joesig

              And causes them to shut down. You can call me a racist for taking it for granted that I can get Band-Aids that match my skin tone or that I don't have to worry about getting stopped by the police unless I'm actually pretty clearly doing something illegal, but if want to get a message across, I wouldn't advise it.

              •  I would certainly not consider those (0+ / 0-)

                examples you gave as racist. Down below in the comments, I would submit this as an example of racism (unless by chance it was some poorly executed snark that skipped right over my head).

                "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

                by CaliSista on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:23:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  racism, bigotry, privilege - 3 faces of oppression (23+ / 0-)

              The example Richard gave is one of an internalized bigotry due to the psychological programming of institutional/cultural racism. He chose not to actuate the bigotry.

              But, this is different from white privilege.

              I'm white, so I can't speak to how blacks view white privilege.

              As a woman, I can speak to how I view male privilege. I have many male friends whom I adore. I don't see the vast majority of them as misogynists. I do see that they have some internalized misogyny which they battle. That is separate from the male privilege they are afforded, simply because they are male in a misogynist culture.

              Whether my male friends are misogynist or not, they are likely to be taken more seriously when they speak at a meeting than I am. In fact, I can say something and then a male can say exactly the same things and he will be credited with whatever it was and the fact that I spoke will be erased from everyone's memory.

              When I was at Occupy meetings, there was a man who was actively putting this to the test, all the time. He let me know, so that I would understand what he was doing, that he was going to repeat whatever I said and see if he got a different reaction. And, indeed, he did. Almost every time.

              Passion in a woman is hysterics, or out of control. In men, it's strength and leadership. These ways in which men are always assessed in a positive light while women with the same traits are assessed in a negative light, is an aspect of male privilege. Even men who are not misogynist get advantages in life from the existence of male privilege.

              I tend to use three terms: racism is the systemic/institutionalized/acculturated oppression of people as "less than" because of the color of their skin; bigotry is the behavior of an individual who actuates this racism in his/her own behaviors and attitudes; privilege is about the advantages one passively gets simply for being in the dominant demographic.

          •  Institutional racism, as I perceive it, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FreeWoman19

            relates to laws and policies that at one time enforced segregation and persist to our detriment today. Here's a very brief summary in another of my comments to this diary. If I had the time I could make that a much lengthier comment with examples.

            “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

            by SoCalSal on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:32:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Racism is a set of (5+ / 0-)

          beliefs and attitudes that certain people have (crucially, often unconscious).  It can range from things that are conscious like the disgusting and virulent KKK member to the unconscious clutching of a purse tighter when in an elevator with people of color.  Whit  privilege is advantages people enjoy simply by virtue of their skin color.  It has nothing to do with your beliefs, but rather pertains to how you're treated.  You can be the least racist person in the universe, and you'll still enjoy white privilege.

          The point can be made easily with Obama.  Over the years I've heard people talk about how Obama is half-white, as if this somehow allows him to a valid, for lack of a better word, "black deficit".  This misses the point that how a half-dozen person is treated has nothing to do with their personal beliefs.  The half-white person could be fully identified as white, completely disavow their blackness, etc, but this won't make any difference to how they're treated by police, job interviewers, people in elevators.  Others will still "code" them as black and treat them accordingly regardless of what they think in their heart or believe.

      •  ^^^This^^^ (11+ / 0-)

        Please, read this a hundred times:

        I am white and I didn't have a choice about that. The society I live in gives me racial privilege without my having to ask for it. It is not about what I do but about who I am.
        •  OK (0+ / 0-)

          OK.
          Understood.

          Care to lend a hand to the "rest of us?"

          "Help" us with the rest of your people?
          Not everyone -- YOU know the ones.
          Change minds?
          Change hearts?

          Or at least keep them from mentally, physically or institutionally harming us?

          We could use a hand.
          Please.

      •  I am a racist (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bridge Master, peregrine kate

        As the product of and institutionally racist culture I am by necessity racist.  I am also sexist and homophobic.  It is my duty as a global citizen to check my privilege regularly and do the best I can to overcome what American culture has molded me into.

        You can't grow up in this culture and not be racist.
         

        Praxis: Bold as Love

        by VelvetElvis on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:21:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think white privilege and racism (12+ / 0-)

      are the same thing at all, particularly from the perspective of the individual.  

      I don't think everyone is racist even though we may harbor some prejudice.  It is hard to get away from white privilege.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 05:22:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think saying we are all racist is like... (5+ / 0-)

        ...the teaching of my religion that we are all sinners. This is NOT supposed to be a club to beat others with. It is supposed to be a warning to each believer not to think that we are perfect or even pretend to think that. It's a message that we have to accept that we've fallen short & we've treated others badly -- whether we knew it or not.

        I read about a study that showed that people naturally tend to think of strangers as "one of us" or "not one of us". Given no other guidance, this fell out mostly on racial lines. When people were given colored shirts & told they were members of a team, the racial component was replaced with a bias toward people with the same color shirt!

        So ultimately, I think that being racist in some form is natural. For me, combating it involves deliberately thinking of people as being "on the same team", as much as I can.

        And, of course, racism and white privilege are opposite sides of the same problem. The first is in my attitudes. The second is in others' attitudes toward me.

    •  Privilege (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bridge Master, peregrine kate

      I grew up with a ton of 'white privilege' (even though I'm not); in a society where whites and near-whites only make up a few percent of the population, it's hard to be unaware of what unearned privilege means. (And that's without the whole "I mostly interact with people like me" advantage.)

      Growing up, it always bothered me that people assumed we had money merely based on skin colour, especially since we didn't have money - we were less well off than most of my peers. But the flip side was that I could dress as badly as I wanted to - old t-shirt and ripped jeans - and still be perfectly respectable. I will never forget the day that I walked into a little shop in the mall, and the woman behind the counter asked me to keep an eye on the cash register for her, because she was there all alone and needed to run to the bathroom. A complete stranger chose to judge me on nothing more than skin colour.

      I'm not saying that skin colour always worked in my favour - I remember being in a government office where the clerk refused to help me until the man she was trying to help said 'no, he was here before me'.

      I definitely was conflicted by it all - I identified strongly as "non-white", and never wanted to be taken for 'French creole" - the local whites who were the descendants of the slave owning class. I couldn't change the way people reacted to me, of course, but I also resent being on the wrong side of the colour/respectability bar (as has happened in the US from time to time).

      Privilege (or burden) goes beyond that as well. People don't know what to make of me - I've been asked if I was Arab, or Iranian. So it's important to let people know where I'm from - West Indian, not Middle Eastern, not Latino. Why? Because, although it saps my soul a little, a near-white West Indian who speaks well, speaks better English than the Americans around him, is a sort of post-colonial curiosity and I end up playing off American's Anglophilia. As a 'brown'-identifying person with a deep appreciation of the burdens of colonialism, it's not fun to play off those stereotypes. But it's far safer than playing the person I actually see myself to be.

  •  "Advantage" May Be a Useful Substitute For (6+ / 0-)

    connecting with many whites to avoid triggering the instinct to dig in, in many situations.

    It doesn't feel as personal as "privilege" and helps draw attention to the system being more actively helpful to whites, not merely less of an obstacle.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:24:17 PM PDT

  •  very interesting. (0+ / 0-)

    I'll note that I've always found the privilege hypothesis to be true, but uninterestingly so.  yes, black people are treated worse and subject to certain systemic.disadvantages.  by itself, though, that doesn't entail any particular policy views.  it probably suggests certain broad views (we should work to reduce inequality), but it doesn't require any specific policy views.  

  •  I lived in Hawai'i for nine years. (9+ / 0-)

    The experience of not being the "default" person was . . . eye-opening, to say the least.  It did me a lot of good, and it really does take a while to get the nuances down of how to try to be a good person in a diverse world.

  •  "White Guilt" Is A White Supremacist Chliche (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farugia

    "White Guilt" is like string theory for white supremacists - nobody can really define or measure what it is, but it is the all powerful force that holds the universe together.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 07:49:53 PM PDT

  •  Guilt is one obstacle, there is another huge one: (14+ / 0-)

    many of the people I run into who can't handle being told they live with white privilege or male privilege are people who have not had economic privilege. They automatically associate the word "privilege" with "monied."

    I can't tell you how many white males, who grew up poor or lower middle class become very offended at being told they have privilege. They honestly feel that they've had to scrape hard to get by and that they can't possibly fall into a "privileged" class.

    I was having this conversation with someone who is now a Harvard PhD. Yep. He grew up poor with a single mom, so how can he be "privileged." He absolutely can't see that his chances at rising out of that poverty and ending up in the halls of Harvard are exponentially greater simply because he is white and not just because he is innately more qualified. He can't stop himself from bristling at the word "privilege." Privileged people are those brats who sneer at the townies.

    Still, i see the word as appropriate. I've yet to hear one which confers the nature of the issue: that one is simply endowed, at birth, with certain advantages simply for having the dominant color of skin or set of genitals.

    It takes some work to get that point through.

    •  I think there is an emotional aspect to this (0+ / 0-)

      If one feels screwed over by society, or feels as if existing in a minority status in terms of religion, politics, economic status, etc., the notion of having privilege doesn't make any sense emotionally to that person.

      I have to admit this of myself... it isn't that I don't agree that there is an enormous difference between what people of color experience compared to whites, just that the word doesn't feel like something I can emotionally identify with, in terms of my experience. I can't remember any time in my life where I actually felt the impact of any privilege.

      I grew up from the age of three as a white boy in mostly brown and black Puerto Rico, where I attended an awful school at an army base where my mother taught, and yet lived off base in a typical, somewhat poor Puerto Rican neighborhood. I never felt part of that white privileged society at the base, never made any white friends at school since all the other kids lived on base, but I had plenty of Puerto Rican friends in my neighborhood. I liked my Puerto Rican friends far better than the white military brats at the school. I felt poorer than our Puerto Rican neighbors (my father was sick for a year and couldn't work, and we barely scraped by), saw my parents struggling financially, felt their desperation, heard the conversations between them about money.

      And I was taught to never reveal our atheism, lest my mother lose her government teaching job with the Army (this was back during the heights of the cold war, and atheism was associated with communism, and in fact my father expressed an admiration for communism), which made me feel as if I had to hide information about my family to avoid putting them in danger. My mother was visibly scared of the conservatism among the school staff. The white world scared me.

      I wondered why I didn't get to go to the Puerto Rican school that my friends attended, and why I wasn't part of their sports. I didn't feel part of white society when we got back to the states, and didn't know how to play American sports when we returned since we were left out of sports in PR, and I felt politically ostracized due to my parent's leftist views, ostracized from conventional religions, ostracized from the economically better off white neighbors... shit, I just felt different than the rest of the white world, and uncomfortable. It was if my brother and I didn't belong anywhere.

      I went back to PR a few years ago, and I was struck by how much I felt it was my true home. I loved it so much growing up. All the memories came back, and I wanted to live there again.

      Well, you get the picture. I felt so underprivileged growing up that I am surprised to find myself almost in tears recollecting this... it goes pretty deep, emotionally. There is some real pain in this recollection... so the notion I have privilege doesn't strike me, emotionally, as anything I can identify with, despite the fact that I know some people, many people, hell maybe even most people, all over the world suffer and struggle economically far more than I ever have.

      But I accept that the term is used as the standard in academia, and I certainly accept without reservation the enormous difference of being white vs black in America. I just don't feel privileged, and I must admit to growing up strongly resenting the privilege I saw others enjoying.

      I hope this helps some people here understand why some people reflexively balk at the term, or why some have difficulty identifying with the term. It's an emotional response from the gut. But I do accept the term, even if I just don't feel any connection to it.

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 03:22:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah... but... (0+ / 0-)

      ...okay, this guy? Without knowing him?

      I'd say it's hard for him to believe in white privilege because that's the only thing he had going. (Well, that and being male.) The overwhelming majority of young white men from poor backgrounds don't get anywhere near Harvard.

      Sure, his chances were "exponentially" better being white and male, but exponentially nothing is still nothing, right?

      Honestly, I don't know what to tell someone like that. On occasion, people really do beat the odds and it's very hard for some of them to see that they really beat the odds and where they ended up is not a typical result of their own good choices and hard work.

  •  I've never felt guilt... (7+ / 0-)

    ...over anything I didn't do personally, and I never will.  And anyone who does -- well perhaps they should get therapy.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 07:58:23 PM PDT

    •  Sometimes I think that folks want us to feel (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dov12348

      guilty and are disappointed when we don't.

      "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

      by shigeru on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:01:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't speak for everyone but (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Onomastic, DBunn, peregrine kate

        I don't want your guilt. I want your realization and acknowledgement that the privilege exists. I believe that to be one of the first steps in addressing the problem.

        "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

        by CaliSista on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:12:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Eh, I always thought that since my grandparents (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dov12348, SoCalSal, DBunn, urnumbersix

      Immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s, I wasn't personally related to any civil war slave owners, and should be free of any guilt felt by those who were.

      Caribbean and (newly immigrated) African Blacks can't immigrate to the U.S. without suddenly being judged by the country's expectations of them based on their skin color.

      That's "White Privilege."

      Don't feel guilty if you don't want to, but you're getting a pass that Black People don't.

      "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

      by New Jersey Boy on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:04:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm also getting a pass... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rick Aucoin, cryonaut

        ...that I'm relatively healthy at 61, while some unlucky peers have passed away.  I don't feel any guilt at that either.  These are facts of life.

        The guilt you're getting at is unearned and somewhat like Original Sin.  You just choose to take it on for unknown reasons because of the actions or writings of others.  I have never understood that and never will.

        Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

        by dov12348 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:15:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  From what I've seen (especially (16+ / 0-)

    here on DKos), the term seems to evoke defensiveness among some White people. It's similar to when during discussions of slavery you'll invariably see the comment "I never owned any slaves so how could I have benefited?"

    I thought the Straight White Male game setting analogy and also the "default" descriptor in your diary were very useful in illustrating the phenomena without calling forth the negativity that many ascribe to "privilege".

    "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

    by CaliSista on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:19:45 PM PDT

  •  i'm white (6+ / 0-)

    to me "white privilege" means going basically going and doing anything in public and generally not having to worry about someone being racist to me. especially in terms of my job and career advancement and whatnot. that's my white privilege. i acknowledge it, and it is there, a somewhat-humbling winning of the birth lottery. it's my skin color, there's nothing i can do about it.

    i work at a gas station and there is an option to pump your gas first and pay inside. my boss, (who many people have asked is Indian) is a total cheapass (and white) and so it is a necessity that i write everyone's plate number down. if you press Pay Inside, i write down your plate. it's my job and i do it consistently.

    i've had two hispanic dudes come in pissed off because i wrote their plate down cause they were hispanic. they didn't make a scene, but they were upset. i tried to explain that i write down everyone's plate who has to pay inside, but they just demanded i write down my boss's number and stormed out. they never called.

    but those two instances also represent my white privilege, in a strange way. i remember thinking "if this is the worst i have to put up with as a white person, i've got it pretty good".

    white privilege also means the cops giving you the benefit of the doubt.

    it's worth noting how we're all supposedly "dying out", and if you listen to all those post-racism conservatives out there, pretty soon we're all going to be mobbed to death by the foreign horde. we ain't gonna be the majority for too much longer.

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

    by Boogalord on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:29:25 PM PDT

    •  I had an "epiphany" about white privilege (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      I was talking with a black woman, and she rather off-handedly said something -- I don't even remember what, maybe in the vein of "as a white you wouldn't care about..." -- that I thought was frightfully unfair to me. I sort of split into two: one of me listening to everything else she had to say, the other rehearsing how frightfully unfair that comment had been. Eventually, a third me came along and asked, 'WTF? Even if that comment was unfair, why do you care so much? The conversation moved on, so why can't you, Me Two?'

      Me Two, after much stammering, finally answered: I couldn't remember anyone in my life ever having said to my face that my race influenced my actions or motivations. Ever. I was perfectly happy to treat it as a possibility to be introspective about, but to have someone state it to me as a fact (rightly or wrongly) was, well, unprecedented.

      At this point Me Three started to belly-laugh at Me Two, and Me Two slunk off in embarrassment, freeing Me to focus on the conversation. Well played, Me Three!

      Now, I don't know, but mutatis mutandis, I doubt that many black Americans would have been able to muster the spontaneous shock I felt at that comment, whatever it was. Of course not all whites live in that particular bubble as long as I did. But like you, that experience gave me a different understanding of what I normally took for granted, no matter how cleverly I mused about it.

      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:55:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't feel White guilt...but I've had 2 cars (0+ / 0-)

    Stolen.  Right out of my driveway.  First time was 6 years ago.  The cops found it about 4 weeks later, and I talked to them after they recovered it about 4 miles from my home.  They gave me a pretty good idea of who had stolen it, based upon a number of factors.  The neighbor across the street actually saw the thieves drive off in my car, and his description of the car thieves pretty much matched up with what the cops told me.

    Second time I had a car stolen my neighbor actually had a videocam that captured it.  The thief didn't have red hair...let's just say that.  I get tired of this.  I also interrupted a car theft in my neighborhood, with my other neighbor as the victim, but not before they had jimmied the car door open with a crow bar.  That's 3 car thefts that I am intimately aware of within 6 years...and they all had one thing in common.

    Experience is a harsh teacher.

    Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

    by Keith930 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:54:02 PM PDT

    •  Black people steal cars? (9+ / 0-)

      Yes. Sometimes they do. Many, many Black people drive very expensive cars that they bought, or are paying an expensive lease on.

      Three experiences lead to an understanding of a Race of people who live on multiple continents of the world?

      You need to get out more.

      "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

      by New Jersey Boy on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:09:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Point being what? (4+ / 0-)

      Your insurance rates should be higher because you attract car thieves like a magnet?

      A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

      by edg on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:10:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wish I didn't understand what you and the (7+ / 0-)

      person who recommended your comment meant.  I wonder if you read the diary, as I explicitly stated that "White Guilt" is neither appropriate nor useful unless you have done something to merit it AND it compels you to make restitution.

      I included White Guilt in the title of the diary because the concept of  White Guilt tends to creep into conversations about white privilege and derail them.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:17:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reminds me of a 'wise saying' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bridge Master

        Can't remember where I read or heard this:

        I am responsible for 100% of what I say, and 50% of that you hear.
        Your diary is really excellent IMHO. Very well said. But reading through the comment thread, we see that no matter what one says or how well one says it, some people are going to "hear" something else, some distorted version.

        It's all part of the conversation we need to have, I suppose.

    •  What does whether (8+ / 0-)

      or not you had cars stolen have to do with the sociological truth of whether or not white privilege exists?  There are all sorts of privileges-- white privilege, male privilege, the often unrecognized linguistic privilege, Christian privilege, straight,  etc --that doesn't mean that people who enjoy this privilege are somehow immune to bad thing  happening.  It just means they enjoy advantages others don't.

    •  Lack of opportunity. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate, Ray Blake

      Thieves commit the most lucrative, least risky crimes they have the opportunity to commit.

      Your car thieves just didn't have the opportunity to rob widows and orphans with the stroke of a pen. Given the opportunity, they would prefer the more lucrative and less risky crime.

      But I understand your feelings. I feel visceral dislike of Republicans partly because the company my dad worked for was destroyed by Republicans because the owners made the mistake of being active Democrats in a Republican majority area of our state into the 80's. Others of their circle who transitioned politically went unmolested.

      The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it. -Ezra Klein

      by bubbajim on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:02:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't say I care for your analogy. (0+ / 0-)

        Do Black people have a policy of auto theft? Is that part of our platform? Do we vote Black car thieves into positions of power? Should Keith930 assume Zimmerman like that when he sees a "not red headed person" he should call the cops or shoot them because we're all up to no good?

        He is intellectually dishonest enough to try and couch this racist bullshit but other Kossacks don't have to buy into it. Someone like him is likely to swear up and down that I am the racist for assuming he was talking about Black people and that my interpretation of his comment is all just one huge misunderstanding. Attention seeking troll behavior is best left ignored.

        "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

        by CaliSista on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:08:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Poor whites, asians and hispanics steal cars too (0+ / 0-)

      Obviously your chances of having your car stolen are higher if you're in a low income area. Millionaires don't steal cars. If they steal, it's the high tickets items like pension funds, investments, mortgages and the like.

      I never liked you and I always will.

      by Ray Blake on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What did this experience teach you? (0+ / 0-)

      That black people are car thieves?

      I'm sorry this happened to you. But if you had familiarity with black people as your teachers in school, friends at work, your family doctor, would it teach you the same lesson?

      That is the point of this diary. Your limited positive interactions with black people in your day-to-day environment probably predisposes you to such "lessons."  

  •  Thought provoking diary. Must be something (0+ / 0-)

    wrong with me though since I don't feel guilty about the way I have treated African American people. And I do think that the term white privilege is overused, although I understand what folks mean when they say it. I guess it is another way to draw attention to serious issues, but in addition to white privilege we have to also focus on African American disadvantage. There is no point in bringing everyone down to the level of treatment which African American people often receive.

    "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

    by shigeru on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:58:48 PM PDT

    •  You shouldn't feel guilty about how you have (5+ / 0-)

      treated anyone unless you actually did mistreat them.  I am not sure where you got the idea that I or other people of color want you to feel guilty.  The title mentions White Guilt specifically to address people who feel that this emotion is being imposed upon them.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:19:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your thoughtful reply. eom (0+ / 0-)

        "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

        by shigeru on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:17:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  White privilege exists (5+ / 0-)

    whether anyone want to accept it or not.

    I was driving through the east side of Kansas City last fall and while stopped at a light I saw a police officer take a very petite black woman who wasn't resisting him in any way and just slam her across the hood of his cruiser.  Would he treat a petite white woman this way?  Somehow, I doubt it.  In fact, I know he wouldn't.  

    Was reading this week about a white man in Louisiana who was showing off his new AR-15 and the firearm discharged, killing a 16 year old boy.  He was charged with negligent homicide with a maximum of 5 years in prison.  The same week, in the same state, a black prostitute left a handgun lying around and her child picked it up and it discharged, killing the child.  She was charged with second degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted.  White guy=5 years, black woman=life.  You see this constantly where a white person is undercharged and a black person is overcharged.  

    Does that mean everyone here is filled with white privilege?  No.  It just means that it exists all around us, particularly in the criminal justice system.

    you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

    by Dem Beans on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:00:55 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

      One of my neighbors got busted several years ago, in a different neighborhood, for drug possession. He's white, and he said that definitely made a difference in getting sentenced to probation rather than jail. "I think I reminded the prosecutor of his son," he said, "and I didn't mind playing that up a little."

      Which doesn't work as well if your race is different from the prosecutor's.

  •  this is one of the coolest things I have ever read (15+ / 0-)
    Life is a role playing game where “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting.
    that is hilarious, true and likely to upset some guys into listing all the problems they have to deal with in life and complaining that being a straight white male is NOT EASY AT ALL

    the ones who complain the most are the fish who swim so effortlessly in the water of privilege surrounding them that it is completely invisible to them

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:04:24 PM PDT

  •  I thought "white guilt" (5+ / 0-)

    was what the racists claimed motivated white liberals.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:05:15 PM PDT

    •  It is. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FreeWoman19, TDDVandy, JosephK74

      It's a termTucker Carlson types throw into the conversation like a grenade in order to derail any consideration that the circumstances into which each of us is born might give us advantages/disadvantages right off the bat.

    •  It is, and perhaps that is why the diarist (4+ / 0-)

      suggested that we leave it out of the conversation, both in her title and here:

      Should a white person feel guilty about this? NO! Is it their fault that they are in the majority and may live somewhere where people of color are exotic entities? NO! White guilt is neither accurate nor helpful!  Should whites be aware of this and ponder the implications? YES!!!.  Why? Because it might assist you to better understand discussions about racism, affirmative action, profiling, and what many of us call "white privilege" so as to be in a better position to take corrective action.
      Emphasis is mine, not the diarist's.
  •  Great to have another solid diary on this topic. (5+ / 0-)

    I especially appreciate your examples of the job interview and of networking in general. The advantages/privileges that accrue to white people (especially middle-class ones and up) in these circumstances are enormous, hard to overstate. The point you make--who people feel comfortable with--is spot-on.
    It is unfortunate that most white Americans never have the experience (at least, not for very long) of not being part of the default setting. It might make a big difference. I know that my African-American friends simply feel they can breathe easier when they travel to a majority black country, even though they're Americans and not members of the society they're visiting.
    I hope you keep writing, about this or any other topic you choose :) I'm gonna follow you now.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:06:57 PM PDT

    •  Errr... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate, Brecht

      "It is unfortunate that most white Americans never have the experience (at least, not for very long)"

      I agree with the idea, but I think this ignores women who are most certainly not the default and definitely are the majority of white people. I figure it's worth pointing out!

      •  Maybe so. We could have an extensive (4+ / 0-)

        conversation about whether white women are part of the default setting in all circumstances. In this context, however, in terms of having to interact with people with different cultural experiences and norms, I'd say yes.

        While white privilege is not uniform across gender, sexual preference, sexual identity, to say nothing of class and religion, it's still an element that comes into play notwithstanding these other factors--unless the opportunity to pass is explicitly and openly flouted (and sometimes, not even then).

        I say this as a white woman who has been extremely committed to feminist and womanist principles and activism for a very long time. Yes, I am disadvantaged, oppressed, and sometimes at risk of harm, trauma, and even death just by being a woman. But that doesn't negate the advantages that being a white (and middle-class Christian-reared) woman has afforded me in this society. I benefited from nearly all of them even when I was a very out, somewhat separatist and gender-bending lesbian.

        It's a couple of decades old, but Peggy McIntosh's classic 1988 essay, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack" is still relevant. At the beginning you'll note that her thinking on the issue was prompted by discussions of male privilege, generally speaking.

        Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:02:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is also my personal take on this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          emeraldmaiden, peregrine kate

          and experience with white privilege/female disadvantage. They are not mutually exclusive and it is indeed possible to experience some privilege and some discrimination simultaneously! The world is not binary in that way. ;-)

          Absolutely: there are many situations in my life when being a woman is a disadvantage (and also when being a woman is an advantage, although that is rarer). Yet there are also many, many situations in my life when being white is an advantage. I did nothing to "deserve" these systemic advantages or disadvantages. They are part and parcel of how our culture and systems of power work. All you can do is to try to break those systems.

          I passed the McIntosh essay on to an online acquaintance who was struggling to process the concepts of "reverse racism," "cultural stereotyping" and "white privilege." It helped her a lot.

    •  Thank you! (4+ / 0-)

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:21:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Death of Upward Mobility? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bubbajim, peregrine kate

    I'm white. I grew up in public housing in Detroit. My dad worked in a factory and barely made subsistence wages. There were 5 kids in our family. I fully understand what you're saying about middle class lifestyle. I was in awe of people who lived in single family homes and drove new cars and wore shoes without holes in the bottoms.

    By joining the Army and pursuing a college education afterwards, I was able to pull myself into the middle class and live a comfortable life.

    What saddens me now, though, is that instead of America working to pull lower classes up to the middle, the Republican party, with collusion from far too many Democrats, is busily working to shove the middle class down into the lower class.

    Union busting has eviscerated the non-professional middle class once overflowing with auto and textile and steel workers. Imported workers and outsourcing are decimating the technical and scientific middle class. Financial shenanigans have eroded the value of middle class assets like houses and 401K plans.

    This country is going to hell in a handbasket, and sadly, I doubt there's anything we can do about it.

    A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

    by edg on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:30:02 PM PDT

  •  Privilege includes whites in race discussion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, Bridge Master, peregrine kate

    Talked to the hubby about this, he of the sociology and diversity in education expertise.

    He said that "white privilege" was brought into discussion as a term because prior to that, discussions on race in America focused exclusively on minorities, while ignoring the fact that those minorities had to interact with whites and in fact much of their experiences were defined by the whites.  "Non-white encumbrence" may be a more accurate term, but it once again removes whites from the equations of how the races interact in America.  Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and other religious and ethnic minorities do not exist in a vacuum.  Bringing in "white privilege" as a topic of discussion forces white kids to examine their own place in the racial mixing bowl of America, and hopefully makes them confront some harsh truths about their own upbringing.

    That said, I agree that the "privileges" that whites get are actually the respect that all American citizens and human beings ought to receive.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:33:41 PM PDT

    •  It is the unearned and unfair advantages that I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      catwho

      tried to point out because these are the ones that are overlooked in this conversation.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:51:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. Complicated issue to be sure. (5+ / 0-)

    I think we'll work out much of this if we talk with each other. The internet helps with that because of the anonymity. People can share their thoughts and hear feedback without it being public.

    However, the best treatment for Racial understanding is if we live with each other.

    More important than being White and having a Black friend, is living in a community where you can be White and have a Black enemy - with Black friends who are on your side!

    "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

    by New Jersey Boy on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:33:48 PM PDT

  •  In confirmation, I can write that my name (4+ / 0-)

    to most in my neighborhood growing up was "the white kid." My friends knew my name, of course. As soon as I grew to a wider world, I found all I had to do was avoid speaking the way I'd grown accustomed, and use "proper English" and doors opened to me that, time showed, were entirely closed to the friends of my youth. People as smart or smarter than me, matched or surpassed me in education, and certainly much more decent than me. They ended up in the military and then when they left, without the jobs their "military training" promised them they'd get.

    If I wasn't white, it's impossible I would have made the connections that I did.


    Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats

    by Jim P on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:41:25 PM PDT

  •  Well, the times are changing -- (0+ / 0-)
    For example, every job interview that most African Americans will EVER experience will be a scenario where they have very little in common, culturally, with the person or group of people interviewing them.  Can you honestly say that this is case for most whites?
    Last four or five interviews I have had, and the last four bosses that I have had, were East Asians, South Asian, American Pacific Islander,  a German, none of whom were born here in the US, and one second generation Philippina American.   It is interesting to be in the position the founding Californios were in when Fremont arrived and the 49's rushed in, or where the Indians were when the Spanish founded missions and took over the most fertile lands.

    The entire south bay area is less than half white, and fewer of those people are 'native born'  of any race.  Really new diverse demographics.  I don't perceive that black people are doing particularly well.   Many home grown citizens aren't doing particularly well these days.  

    I sense that something else is happening to make white privilege less relevant here -- it is tightly knit Asian communities that have bought into the stereotypes of blacks and whites, and they want to be on the perceived higher status levels.    They are also buying up a lot of businesses and property.   There are several organizations founded recently to entice investment from PRO China into joint venture ownership here, from tech companies to real estate development of huge residential complexes.

     There is also a lot of fear.  Asians, especially in Oakland, have been victims of a lot of crime and are drawing unfortunate conclusions.

    I don't know if extreme diversity is an answer -- it makes everything very very complicated.   No longer just a black and white  issue, we are now going multicolor on the West Coast!  

  •  An honest thank you for trying to have a real.... (0+ / 0-)

    ..discussion.

    White guilt and those who think of it seem to be stuck in the past and with limited world view.

    The situation is far more dynamic than it was in the (to me distant) past.

    Yes in 1900 being white was an advantage in virtually all public situations. We are not in 1900 any more

    In my life I have at times benefited from my whiteness and other times it has been an encumbrance as you refer to it.

    Ive walked into situations and known that if I looked different I would not be welcomed, Ive also walked into situations and known that I am not welcomed because I looked different.

    As you  talked about employment I will use that as a reference

    I am the only natural born citizen I work worth. I am also the only classic white person. My co-workers identify themselves as eastern European, middle eastern, Chinese , or Indian.  

    In certain situations this has been to my advantage. I am able act as intermediary between certain groups of co-workers.  

    On the other hand when various hard problems come up, my co-workers have  the ability to contact VERY significant and helpful networks associated with their ethnic background.

    For example when 5 of my co-workers start fervently talking in Chinese about a very pressing issue, I get left out.  

    Additionally your assumption of a common background due to racial history with your interviewers simply goes out the window with any technical profession.  

    When I speak to others about this topic my irritation comes others refusal to admit that situations has become a sliding scale.

    At times and places one’s background is a benefit and at others it is a hindrance.  Adding up the scales and figuring out who has it better is not to anyone’s advantage.  Its best to simply  try and minimize these advantages when appropriate.

    Right now in the United States more often than not ethnic white people will have more advantages than disadvantages.  However with the rapidly changing demographics this will not hold true for long.

    In my selfish hope that I and my future descendants do not face much racism Id rather it decay strait to zero than something like
    http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/...
    An electrical engineers view of change on any topic
    http://homepages.which.net/...

    “It also means that once the game is rigged, if no one does anything else, it will stay rigged and unfair advantages will be reinforced systematically (think generational poverty).”
    I disagree. Doing nothing would correspond to the under-damped situation and would take much longer than needed but even in that situation things do change. Just at a much slower rate

    •  Thanks for sharing this experience. You are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      correct that times are changing and more and more people are understanding what it feels like to be invisible, marginalized or mistreated for reasons beyond your control.  

      If those of us who are concerned with effecting change are very careful and respectful of one another, these evolving circumstances have the potential to foster the degree of unity necessary to solve the seemingly insurmountable problems we face in our country and on our planet.  I, for one, believe that increased diversity will prove to be a net gain.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:27:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with the first 90% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FreeWoman19

        But that last sentence gets me.

        " I, for one, believe that increased diversity will prove to be a net gain."

        Diversity is fine but why is what we have so bad?

        If you are referring diversity as removing artificial barriers. I agree that's a great thing.

        But often the push for diversity is not that. Its the push to arbitrarily reduce the amount/influence of white men.

        Once we remove those barriers nature will take its course and with some time we will end up with a far more egalitarian society.

        However if we are pushing that group out the door we just end up with a new form of institutionalized prejudice.

        •  Diversity is definitely not about exclusion. (0+ / 0-)

          What I meant was that the demographic diversity that is coming has the potential to be a unifying force in support of a more egalitarian society rather than a reason for increased isolation and division which only benefits the very wealthy.

          - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

          by FreeWoman19 on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:12:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  privilege is the term that's been used for decades (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moviemeister76

    Just because some people who never could be bothered to take a women's studies or AA studies or whatever else class get the vapors is no reason to change the language that's been used in academia since the 70s.

     

  •  I have read many of the diaries (8+ / 0-)

    on white privilege, but have rarely commented in them.  I am compelled to respond to your diary because I feel invited by your tone and persuasive writing.  One of the problems I have with the frame of "white privilege" is that it is too often used as a bludgeon, rather than a tool.  This diary avoids all of that in a sincere attempt to be heard.  

    I share the concern that some raised in that earlier diary that the white privilege framework undermines the principle that all people should be free from hostile preconceptions based on race or any other immutable characteristic.  I also agree that "nonwhite encumbrance" is awkward and I imagine just tossed out off the cuff.  I tend to regard the very real problems you cite as racial inequities or injustices.  Is there something in this framing that you find lacking?  I imagine there may be concern that this is an old approach that did not yield sufficient success in the past.  For myself, it has always been the most straightforward perspective and the one I live by.

    An issue that you touch upon, that I think is often overlooked, is that some white people do not see themselves as members of one indistinct group.  As a working class kid from a northeastern city, white people were differentiated on the basis of national origin.  The Polish didn't get along with the Germans, the Irish did not get along with the Italians, etc.  Until 20-30 years ago, it was extremely common to only marry within your ethnic group.  So, in certain circumstances we may reflexively identify with each other as white people (eg, in a large racially mixed crowd), but in most everyday experiences we differentiate on the basis of ethnicity.  I imagine the experience of whiteness may be different in the south, based upon my limited experience traveling there, where the contrast between white and black seemed much starker to me (ie, lots of Anglo-Saxons and very few other white ethnicities of darker hues).

    Also, with regard to the cultural issues you mention, many poorer whites experience a similar sense of cultural foreignness.  To offer my experience, my father was illiterate and my mother had an elementary school education.  I had no access to the resources more economically privileged white people enjoyed.  Similar to your awakening, it was only when I went to college that I realized that my family had nothing in common with the TV representations of white families.  I became exposed to the bourgeoisie for the first time.  I felt aligned with the urban working class white and black students because our experiences (despite racial differences) were more similar to me than those of the other students.  I offer my story to demonstrate that the white experience is not monolithic (not that I heard you arguing this).  

    Of course, I recognize that the struggles I experienced as a poor white kid were not nearly as burdensome as those of my black peers.  I could assimilate much more easily than they could due to my race and i did not have to deal with a set of myths and preconceptions based upon my skin color.  To say nothing of the daily issues black Americans (especially young people) face just moving through the world.  

    Herein lies my major problem with the framework of "white privilege":  it obliterates our individual stories in favor of broad generalizations.  I think both must be considered.  White privilege reduces individual experiences into a societal force that is presumed to act equally and in the same manner on all white people.  Hence, the surprise in the other diary that some white people feel threatened and vulnerable around the police, too.  (I grew up in Rizzo's Philadelphia.)  The bases and depths of  these fears may differ, but there is also a commonality of experience.  I think the discussion of shared experiences (finding commonalities) is a powerful means of battling the legacy of racism, as it helps us to see each other as individuals instead of representatives (or betes noirs) of our race.  

    My other problem with the white privilege framework is that I believe it is a bourgeois construct designed to flatten responsibility for the perpetuation of racism in our society.  White privilege gives license to the economically privileged white person (whom you cite in your diary- those with connections, access to great education, greater socio-economic freedom, etc..  I shall call these tangible privileges) to avoid consideration of the role the exercise of their tangible privileges plays in perpetuating the inequities in our society, in favor of some amorphous, broad societal force that applies equally to all white people.  This serves to shift responsibility for the tangible privileges some white people enjoy onto all other white people (thereby rendering the struggles of less advantaged white people invisible), which mitigates the burden rightfully due to the tangibly privileged.  This shifting of burden defeats the efficacy of a white privilege framework because all white people are treated as being tangibly privileged which ignores the divergent experiences of a large population of white people.  The tangibly privileged resist acknowledging the distinctions because it would serve to shift their burden back onto their shoulders.  

    This is not to say that poor white people do not share some privileges that are not enjoyed by black Americans (especially poorer black Americans), but it's much more graduated among white people than the white privilege framework allows.  

    •  Thank you so much for weighing in and for your (4+ / 0-)

      detailed in measured response.  I agree with many of the points you make.  I most definitely recognize that individual white's specific backgrounds and experiences play a role in the extent to which white privilege does or doesn't benefit them.  My very closest friend, who is white, and I have been discussing this topic for years and we're still fine tuning our views on the subject.

      In my diary, I realize that I didn't delve into the variables of gender, class, religion, ethnicity, etc. as I felt that the  no one diary of a reasonable length could possibly address the many nuances involved.  I was actually hoping others would take up the charge!

      To respond to your question:

      Is there something in this framing that you find lacking?

      I would answer that this framing doesn't account for the unearned and unmerited privileges that the relatively powerful receive by default.  In other words, we don't truly have a meritocracy in this country even though we think we do, even in within all white settings. White privilege severely undermined it.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:55:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not an expert on this, but to my mind, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DBunn

      this is a key point:

      I could assimilate much more easily than they could due to my race and i did not have to deal with a set of myths and preconceptions based upon my skin color.
      "White privilege" is a very broad term for a very broad cultural "reality" so to speak. It does NOT take into account specific communities or national origin or regional origin or class or religion: all of which are very important in individual interactions and to some extent larger societal structures. Society is heavily stratified and there are many categories for stratification that don't have to do with white privilege exclusively or at all.

      It doesn't answer all questions or apply to all interrelationships. I think it is still a useful framework.

    •  I told a personal anecdote upthread (0+ / 0-)

      which illustrates your point. You might find it worth reading:

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

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 03:48:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary and commentary. (4+ / 0-)

    I enjoyed reading your thoughtful presentation with its clarity and well-chosen examples.

    This has been my basic understanding of the terms and you helped further clarify them in my mind.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your diaries.

  •  And there are different levels of white priviledge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FreeWoman19, peregrine kate

    At the very top there is a club, and none of us belong to it and never will. Those white men are a big part of ALL our problems regarding equality and civil rights. It has always been thus.

  •  Well said (0+ / 0-)

    as well as written. Straight from my soul and experiences.

  •  The term "white privilege" is a marketing loser (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cryonaut

    That's really the problem.  Maybe what it describes is totally accurate, but the term itself will right off the bat turn off some white people and make them tune out your argument.  It's a severe mistake, in my opinion, to ever use the term when speaking of racism.  

    The term just doesn't work.  Even among people who are sympathetic to the prejudice faced by minorities it causes them to feel defensive.  I personally cringe whenever I see the term.  

    Using the term is just a big mistake, in my opinion.  

  •  An inequality where A is hindered more than B (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kvetchnrelease, a2nite, Bridge Master

    can either be made more equal by trying to remove the hindrance on A to bring it up to the level of B, or by adding the same hindrance to B that A has had.  Either one makes it so that both A and B are now equally hindered.  And in a zero-sum game there would be no difference between the two.  But life should not be treated like a zero sum game race to the bottom.  There IS a big difference between treating the disadvantaged group better to make things more equal versus treating the advantaged group worse to make things more equal.

    The problem with  "white privilege" is that it implies that the solution to society's unequal treatment of white people vs black people should be to bring everyone DOWN to the same level of treatment rather than to bring everyone UP to the same level of treatment.

    The term "white privilege" carries with it the very heavy connotation that the problem is NOT that white people are treated nicer than black people on a relative scale, but that white people are treated nicer than they should be, in an absolute scale.  Thus the term implies that the solution to the inequality should be to keep treating black people badly, and just change the way white people are treated to bring it down to the same level, so that all of humanity is treated badly.

    The examples of "privilege" in this diary are only "privilege" relative to the treatment others are getting, not when taken as an absolute.

    The solution to end the inequality that police harass black people far more than white people should NOT be to start having the police harass white people more to make it even.

    The solution to end the inequality that a boardroom CEO is more likely to ignore the comments of a black person than of a white person should NOT be to have the CEO start ignoring white people more to make it even.

    The solution to end the inequality that a judge is more likely to give a harsh sentence to a black defendant than to a white defendant should NOT be to start handing out harsher sentences to the white defendants to make it even.

    The solution to "some people are treated awful and thats unfair unequal treatment" should NOT be "okay then start treating everyone else awfully too."

    In all of the examples above, the way to get rid of the inequality is to elevate your treatment of black people. NOT to lower your treatment of white people.

    To give a related example: women are paid only 70% of what men are paid for the same work.  Phrasing it in that exact way, "70% of what men are paid", is useful because it implies that the problem is that women aren't paid enough and should be paid more.   But, you could impart the exact same information by saying "Men are paid 143% of what women are paid for the same work" which implies that the wages women are receiving are the norm, and the problem is that men are paid too much and need a pay cut.  If your goal was to give the 1%ers another excuse to cut salaries while sounding nice, that would be a good meme to use - don't talk about women being underpaid but talk about men being overpaid.

    Describing the unequal treatment received by whites vs nonwhites with the phrase "white privilege" is just like describing the problem of women being underpaid by a factor of 70% with the phrase "men are being paid 143% of what women are."  Mathematically it's identical.  But the connotation and therefore implication about what the solution should be is VERY different.

    •  Awesome diary and discussion! To point above (0+ / 0-)
      The problem with  "white privilege" is that it implies that the solution to society's unequal treatment of white people vs black people should be to bring everyone DOWN to the same level of treatment rather than to bring everyone UP to the same level of treatment.
      I would cite example of how procedurally difficult it is to dismiss / let go incompetent workers of color versus incompetent white workers. Firing a black woman entails much more consternation than firing her white male colleague.

      "Mais n'enculons pas des mouches." (Let's not split hairs) Ian Fleming, Casino Royal.

      by Kvetchnrelease on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 04:54:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I completely disagree with this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark

      I'm white and it never occurred to me that white privilege means that white people should be treated worse. And I have never seen anyone argue that to fix white privilege that white people should be treated better. Rather, what I tend to see is a lot of fear and anxiety from white people that they will be treated worse, which is what your comment seems to represent.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 05:51:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It has to do with the meaning of the word (0+ / 0-)

        "privilege".  It implies the nice treatment is undeserved.  When a child of a rich person gets a big inherited trust fund, the term "privilege" is used to indicate that this child didn't earn the money.

    •  I don't find that in the word "privilege" (0+ / 0-)

      In ordinary English, if someone says, "It is my privilege to...," generally it means that they feel lucky, not that they are racked with guilt and seek to cast off their ill-gotten whatever.

      Intellectually I grasp what you're saying, but in fact, if someone says that men are paid 143% of what women are said, I don't think most people would construe that as implying that men should be paid less.

      That's an empirical issue; I bet there is empirical research on similar points, but I'm not familiar with it.

      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:45:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then we're not speaking the same English (0+ / 0-)

        language.  EVERY time I've heard the word "privilege" used it was in the context that it was something above and beyond what should be considered the baseline norm, and that it was undeserved.  Your comment actually enforces this with the use of the word "lucky".  You don't consider yourself "lucky" to be afforded a normal ordinary typical benefit that most people should get.  You don't think "Gosh, I'm lucky that my eyeballs work and I'm not blind" because blindness, while it would be bad luck, is not considered the baseline norm.  Instead being able to see is considered the baseline norm, and blindness is considered an unlucky circumstance rather than being able to see being thought of as "lucky".

        Not being treated like a second class citizen by society must never be construed as a "lucky" circumstance but rather as the norm.

        Being treated decently by the police is NOT a privilege, it's a RIGHT.  And when that right is being denied to some people based on the color of their skin, it's a travesty, a crime against humanity precisely because it IS a right and NOT a privilege.

        If someone takes away a right, they've wronged you.
        If someone takes away a privilege, they haven't.

        That's what the words MEAN.

  •  A wonderful diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HudsonValleyMark

    So glad it was rescued and got the attention it deserves. Educating people on the AA experience and the subtleties of privilege can never be done enough, IMHO. I, for one, need every glimpse into these to stay as informed and vigilant as possible.

    So, I thank you. Tipped and rec'd.

    The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

    by lotusmaglite on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:25:06 AM PDT

  •  I feel some sympathy for the white folks who (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, TrueBlueMajority

    don't "get it."

    I don't blame them for not getting it because I understand how we as humans form our worldviews based on our life experiences.

    It would be really easy for me to be dismissive of white privilege. I was poor, white, trailer trash for many years. I was denigrated publicly for being so. Being poor, I was the "other" and treated as such. Brutally so, sometimes.

    (Pro-tip: be extra vigilant with your kids when you're in a poor neighborhood, because many assume that if you're poor you don't care about your kids or else you wouldn't be poor! It's easy to prey on poor kids.)

    That being said, despite a desolate upbringing, I am well aware of my white privilege, and I get it.

    I had two black friends when I was trailer trash. They weren't poor but they were black, so they had to hang with the poor kids. They didn't fit in with the middle class even though they themselves were middle class.

    My white friends would get pregnant and it was just an "oops," something we took care of. The pregnancy would be terminated or carried to term, and in many ways the mother's life went on as it had always been.

    But my black friend got pregnant and was shunned. A white pregnant teen is something we have to tolerate, a black pregnant teen is proof that there is something fundamentally wrong with black people.

    I've written here before that I got out of It. Poverty, Otherness, all of that. I crawled out of it and it took a hell of a long time.

    Yes, I had to crawl. Yes, it was brutal. Yes, it hurt and I had nothing as an advantage except for sheer will and determination.

    And being white.

    All of my friends have hidden lives- all of my friends are my friends because there is a lot more to them than what you see on the surface.

    But no one ever knows unless they're told.

    And that's the privilege of being white. It's assumed that you've just always been a stand up citizen and have a vanilla life.

    Our secrets are our secrets. We get to hide a lot.

    My black friends don't get that luxury. It's the reverse: it's automatically assumed that they had to overcome a lot to get to where they are, and even if they're just a C-store clerk, people think "Wow, good for her for overcoming all of it and holding down a job."

    The bar for them is at once higher and at the same time much lower. Because everything is just assumed.

    No one looks at me today and thinks I was raised in poverty. But everyone looks at my black friend and assumes that she was.

    That leads to a significant change in attitude.

    I know some white people don't see it, and why would they? They had to crawl their way out of It, and this person was never even IN It.

    They don't realize that whites are born in or out of It and either get out of It or never know what It is.

    Blacks are just born in It and stay in It. Of course white people don't know if they've never been  in It.

    But that's no excuse for their ignorance.

    (P.S. Please excuse my using "blacks" the way I have here. I readily admit I don't have a lot of black friends, but the few that I have use that word, and it's just the language I've adopted in talking about this subject.)

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:31:56 AM PDT

    •  Boise, you really do get It. Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

      You most salient point for me is

      All of my friends have hidden lives- all of my friends are my friends because there is a lot more to them than what you see on the surface.

      But no one ever knows unless they're told.

      And that's the privilege of being white. It's assumed that you've just always been a stand up citizen and have a vanilla life.

      Our secrets are our secrets. We get to hide a lot.

      My black friends don't get that luxury. It's the reverse: it's automatically assumed that they had to overcome a lot to get to where they are, and even if they're just a C-store clerk, people think "Wow, good for her for overcoming all of it and holding down a job."

      The bar for them is at once higher and at the same time much lower. Because everything is just assumed.

      I wish everyone could see this.

      - The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr. -

      by FreeWoman19 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:20:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "The Best of the Left" podcast had a good point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority

    about "white guilt."

    It's a misleading term, suggesting that whites should be ashamed of being white--which white racists then grab onto and whine about.

    It is really closer to "survivor's guilt," where we feel uncomfortable realizing that for no cogent reason we were spared.

    And, like "white privilege," it does not imply "whites" did something wrong, but simply recognizes a group having an advantage not really earned.

    And it behooves us all to try to make the playing field more even, because every one of us is a minority of one sort or another...whether racial, economic, gender based, health related, age related....the list is long.

    Maybe a better term would be "privilege guilt."

    The Best of the Left is an excellent podcast, BTW.

    "I wonder why Congress again in a new poll out today--11% approval rating. (It's) because they don't work for us. They work for the sons-of-bitches who pay them." Cenk Uygur

    by Dave in Columbus on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:52:09 AM PDT

  •  Very well said (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent diary.  T&R.

    Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

    by democracy inaction on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:10:40 AM PDT

  •  louis ck- nsfw (3+ / 0-)

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:26:08 AM PDT

  •  A great diary. As shown by the great discussion (0+ / 0-)

    it has generated.

    I think it might have inspired me to write a diary. It would only be my second one!

    The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it. -Ezra Klein

    by bubbajim on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:57:21 AM PDT

  •  I think it's way too easy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly

    To effectively avoid topics like this by approaching from 100000 feet and pontificating about things on the ground.; we do that around here and in other places all the time. It's a neat way to sound earnest and progressive while choosing not to really look or do much about it.

    For me, White (or male or whatever package you want,) it's simple:  when one sees or is involved in, or permit, or take action to preserve a situation that allows a particular group or individual to make assumptions or assertions about another, while effectively prohibiting or invalidating response or action that allows a change of view (Tx Legislature/Wendy Davis, treatment of prosecution witnesses in the Zimmerman/Martin case, and the entire music, sports, religion, technology, media fields all come to mind. ), then one is seeing it in action.

    There are NO innocents in this stuff; we're ALL guilty and should get used to it.

    Love or hate the President all you want -- but we have GOT to retake the House and hold the Senate in 2014!

    by mwm341 on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 08:03:09 AM PDT

  •  THANK YOU - OMG - THANK YOU (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly

    As an old white female, I know that white privilege exists.  Honestly though I can't come up with many examples, because HELLO I'm a white female.

    I know the 'driving while black' and the 'shopping while black' - but there have to be thousands of examples of other situations where the black experience is completely different than the white experience.

    The more examples (stories) we can get the better.  I've used the 'driving while black' examples I've heard and seen to confront my white friends - and they 'get it' once they know.  But white people don't know what's happening - they can't because they have privilege even if they don't know it.

    That, by the way, is where the 'guilt' comes from.  White people, on hearing how others are treated, feel guilty.  As they should - but human nature requires that they say "It's not ME!  I don't do that" and they probably don't.  But guilt is corrosive and it makes life very uncomfortable

    Democracy, if done properly, is rude, messy, and loud

    by allensl on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 10:07:55 AM PDT

  •  I've always like to think of it... (0+ / 0-)

    ....as white people getting the "benefit of the doubt."

    The fact that many black people agree with mainstream society that lighter skin and straighter hair is more beautiful.
    I will say that the lighter skin = desirable issue is one that appears to be universal even before European contact. Whether that's intrinsic, or because light skin = rich non-farmer in the pre-industrial era, I think the only exceptions were some of the Australian aboriginal cultures but my info is a bit old.

    Nothing to do with the straight hair comment however.

  •  Excellent diary providing a lot to think about. (0+ / 0-)

    Fiscal conservative: a Republican ready to spend $5 to save a dime--especially if that dime is helping a non-donor.

    by Mayfly on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:12:35 PM PDT

  •  Having taught in multicultural settings, (0+ / 0-)

    it reminds me that names can convey meaning that can help or hurt.

    Brenda Jones
    Mary Smith
    Shaniqua Williams
    Maria Villareal
    Chandra Brown
    Mychal Wright

    (none of these are real people - that I know of)

    Do you have a preconceived idea what they look like?  How smart they are?  How well they can spell or do math?  How good of a worker they will be?

    That is part of white privilege.

  •  I think you hit on many of the themes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    livebyChocolate

    I've been trying to write about over the years. - and you may have hit on one of the most inherent and problematic strains of it all.  Many white people view "Race" as merely a matter of skin tone.   Why should I feel differently about someone with darker SKIN?" Would getting a "skin bleach" really make any difference? As if, it's just about having darker or lighter skin, not fully realizing that during the 400+ years of combined Slavery, Segregation followed by Jim Crow - black and African-American people didn't just sit on the porch waiting around for their chance to FINALLY fully engage in the mainstream of White/Immigrant/Melting Pot/American.

    They didn't sit around a wait to get invited to the party, they went out and made their own (largely) independent culture.  They HAD to.

    They went out and made due with what they had, and as a result created their own different and parralel culture.  It goes from having a different dialect (or many actually), to different modes of dress, different modes types of cuisine, inventing their own different musical forms (ragtime, jazz, blues, be-bop, original rock-n-roll, gospel, r&b, funk & hip-hop), we had different preferences on nearly every thing - to some extent because we were denied access to what Mainstream culture and also to express the pain and frustration of being "Left Out" for Centuries. Centuries. When you've been forcibly seperated for that long, you don't just stitch your way back together with everyone else without chaffing at being told you don't talk right, walk right, sing right, act right, or  Think Right.

    As you say, the Mainstream/White Perspective is a "Default" setting for America. It is the hybrid-culture that has been created by the melting pot of immigrants  - people whose ancestors willfully chose to come to America and join American culture.

    And they were, nearly all, accepted - as long as they didn't try to bring too much of their native lands culture with them too quickly. We all certainly have enjoyed "Italian" Food, "Mexican" Food or worn a "European" styled suit or skirt.  We understand that these are not all not exactly as they may have appeared in their native countries, they are accommodations, ways of rubbing off the culture rough spots so that those immigrants can "fit in".  Usually within a generation or so, a balance of assimilation occurs.

    The ancestors of Millions of African-American didn't make that chose willfully and happily.  Immigration and Assimilation was not a choice, the former was Forced while the latter was Denied.

    As a result the same one-generational assimilation you might see with an Asian family can't happen for many African-Americans.  Well, not for most of them.

    For some who are themselves, or their parents, are only one or two generations removed from immigration (like our President), they would have a a smooth assimilation pathway if not for all the OTHER African-Americans whose parents and ancestors - were all Americans going back to 1808.

    Why 1808?

    Because the original U.S. Constitution specifically banned Congress from being able to change ONE law. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788 there was a clause which prohibited Congress from banning the importation of African slaves for 20 years.

    The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight
    In short, Congress was specifically prohibited from ending the slave trade for the first 20 years of the country.  In 1808, once they had the chance, they ended it, but that didn't make the remaining slaves here "free", those who were slaves - and all their children - stayed slaves until the 13th Amendment was ratificed 58 years later.

    Anyone in this country with slave-born blood in their veins has had family on these shores since 1808, which is a lot longer than a LOT of white folks.

    Many of us we're here first, so why should we rub off the rough edges of our culture, which predominantly originated IN AMERICA just to make White folk more comfortable with us?

    Well, because we know that if we don't - we might not  get that job because the hiring manager can't "relate" to us.  We won't get that loan, because the loan officer can't understand our black-cent. (We could get Rachel Jeantel'd if we don't have the "Right" Dialect)  We might not get that apartment, or the car, the cops might not like the way we wear our hat, or our hair.

    Some of us can code-switch and "blend in" more, some of us can't.  Many black people that white people know are in the process of code-switching when their with the work or white friends, then they are "all blacK" when their with black friends and family.  Years ago I wrote about when Oprah did a code-switch during an Obama fundraiser in the South and progressive commentator Randi Rhodes had a total SPAZZ.  She couldn't not Fathom it. What has happened to MY Oprah??

    Nothing. She's not Yours Honey, Doll - she can be who. she. wannabe.

    It's not always a conflict of skin tones, but of clashing cultures - both of which are equally and completely - American.

    Being a natural part of the dominant culture, not having to make constant adjustments not to "put the mainstream people off" - is part of "White Privilege" too.  When you're in the mainstream culture, you never notice your "White-ness", it's just there, and you rarely notice how everyone else is madly paddling under the surface to not make you feel uncomfortable.

    But the rest of us know it.  We know it well.

    Vyan

  •  This is a wonderful post! (0+ / 0-)

    ...and I agree. Talking about racism is an endless topic, which makes me wonder why, a. No one ever wants to discuss it and b. it's always such a one sided debate where nothing ever get's solved and/or ground is never broken. At any rate, I absolutely loved the post!

  •  The saddest things you brought up were about (0+ / 0-)

    people of color internalizing mainstream judgments of them.  I realize how inevitable that is and I hope and pray it will be different someday.  I actually thought when I was a kid in the 60s that it would all be over by now.  I was a naive optimist.  I'm so proud to have a multiracial family and I love my two sisters as much as my brother who shares the same two parents with me.  Everyone should be so blessed.

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