Wednesday, 29 October 2008

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

By Tim Wise
Tim Wise's MySpace

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white
privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand
examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen
like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your
life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that
no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because
"every family has challenges," even as black and Latino
families with similar "challenges" are regularly
typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of
social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a
"fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend
does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you,
you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about
how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be
viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great
son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different
colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you
basically failed out of, then returned to after making up
some coursework at a community college), and no one
questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement,
whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as
unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in
the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a
town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then
Governor of a state with about the same number of people as
the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready
to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on
themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator,
two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar,
means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the
words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because
"if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's
good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified
from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was
written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part
wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading
accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya
know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a
prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and
silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and
not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a
member of an extremist political party that wants your state
to secede from the Union, and whose motto is "Alaska
first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of
your family, while if you're black and your spouse
merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home
with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately
think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community
organizers and the work they do--like, among other things,
fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights,
or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people
think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely
question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month
governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she
took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia,
you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who
don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote
for you and your running mate anyway, because suddenly your
presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same
white women, and made them give your party a "second

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't
support your political campaigns and not be accused of
abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages
in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some
folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means
you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to give a 36 minute speech in
which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent,
while laying out no substantive policy positions on any
issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate
candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the
week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals
on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague
about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the
years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry
or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and
that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job
of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles
into government, and who bring in speakers who say the
conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews
for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're
just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black
and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin
Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist
attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who
talks about the history of racism and its effect on black
people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is
when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the
reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while
being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to
the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the
question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep
school, then to Yale and then Harvard Business school, and
yet, still be seen as just an average guy (George W. Bush)
while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then
Occidental College, then Columbia, and then to Harvard Law,
makes you "uppity," and a snob who probably looks
down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom
of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average
from Yale (W.) and that's OK, and you're cut out to
be president, but if you're black and you graduate near
the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be
trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after
she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with
a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you go on to call the
c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong
family values, while if you're black and married for
nearly twenty years to the same woman, your family is viewed
as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other
are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing
Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman,
with the maturity to be president, while being black and
suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations,
even when we have disagreements with them, makes you
"dangerously naive and immature."

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a
POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for
president, while being black and experiencing racism and an
absent father is apparently among the "lesser
adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin
explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could
possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted
with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as
unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes,
inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated
from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure
about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just
too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of
the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Asian Boy: A Black Poem

Color-aroused environments and color-aroused self-esteem in the US and elsewhere decrease Black self-esteem, causing depression, mental illness, anger and even suicide. The following is a poem offered by an anonymous reader of this blog that makes the point as well as a battery of studies can:

Asian Boy

I wish I were an Asian boy.

An Asian boy, I'd be.

For, if I were an Asian boy,

then I would not be me.

An Asian child playing in the park without a care.

An Asian child playing under locks of jet black hair.

Alas, I'm not an Asian boy, nor ever will I be.

Not French or Andalusian, not Chilean or Cree.

I am but whom God made me,

and I'll suffer it with pride.

I only wish that I could be

an Asian boy inside.

Anonymous Author

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Whites Often the Lead Actors and Protagonists in Black Sports Movies

Do more Hollywood stories about Black sports figures necessarily mean that the real stories of Black sports figures will be told more often? A Washington Post story, as well as quite a bit of personal observation, says that stories about Black athletes are often really stories about the whites who heroically made Blacks' victories possible, or about the Blacks who humbly made white athletes heroic.

The WaPost says today,

The inspiring, based-on-a-true-story black sports film, renewed this month with "The Express," is a movie subgenre that has become an almost annual Hollywood staple over the past decade. It's both a social and cinematic breakthrough, finally recognizing African American lives as the stuff of legend, as well as putting more black faces on the big screen than ever before.

But hold the post-racial hoopla: The main story line in many of these films is the black athlete's relationship with a white coach or teammate, often exaggerating the importance of the white character to the actual events. Since many of these movies are soft-focus retellings of the civil rights movement, the unspoken message seems to be that blacks need guidance, nurturing and counsel from whites to achieve greatness.

( . . . )

"Even in our own stories, it seems like we're often just the co-stars," says Warrington Hudlin, founder of the Black Filmmaker Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit organization that develops and promotes blacks in cinema, describing the trend. "When it's told from these perspectives, it seems like the role of blacks in American cinema is primarily to make white people feel good about themselves."
( . . . )

Carl Weathers spent a lifetime in sports (as college football star and as an Oakland Raider) and the film industry (he played Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" films and is on the African American steering committee at the Directors Guild of America). He says black sports movies aren't really what they appear to be.

"These movies create the illusion that they're told from a new, ethnic perspective," he says. "There's no rancor intended here, but if we're being honest and candid about what we're seeing . . . it's that the Caucasian coach or mentor or drill sergeant or leader is the figure who inspires the young ethnic person. The guy's ability and drive is somehow superseded by the Caucasian person who is primarily responsible for the ethnic person's success." WaPost
It's sickening, really, and it's not limited to sports stories. Mississippi Burning is about the heroic white lead actor FBI agents who saved Blacks from the Klu Klux Klan during the white Washington civil rights movement for Blacks' voting rights. Without wanting to be contentious, that just not the way Blacks remember our roles in the Civil Rights movement. And it's equally insulting to see a fat white man turning Blacks in Jamaica into a bobsled team, a combination our running legs and the white man's brains and compassion. Spare us.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Study: Whites Perform Cognitives Tasks More Poorly When Discussion of Skin Color is Required

Whenever many white people say the word "Black" or make any reference to color, my heart stops because I expect them to say something unbelievably stupid and, from my perspective, reprehensible. Even when I have known these whites for some time, I am afraid they will suddenly express an opinion about skin color that leaves me despising them.
This should surprise no one, since studies show that whites and Blacks have vastly different opinions about issues involving skin color, beliefs are often strongly-held as well as emotionally charged.
White people have picked up on Blacks' feelings, and they avoid sharing their potentially reprehensible opinions in conversations with Blacks, according to recent research, cited in a Fox News article.

"Efforts to talk about race are fraught with the potential for misunderstandings," said researcher Evan Apfelbaum, a Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University. "One way that whites try to appear unbiased is to avoid talking about race altogether [particularly around people of a different skin color], a tendency we refer to as strategic colorblindness." Fox News

Whites can't win with Blacks by avoiding mentioning skin color when skin color is obviously relevant, because we Blacks take their squeamishness as evidence that they are uncomfortable with Blacks in general, which is often true.

The tendency of some white people to go silent or act "colorblind" on the topic of race could do more harm than good, new research shows.
White people — including children as young as 10 — may avoid talkingabout
race so as not to appear prejudiced, but that approach often backfires as black people tend to view this approach as evidence of prejudice, especially when race is clearly relevant.

These results are from two separate sets of experiments led by researchers from Tufts Universityand Harvard Business School.
Their findings are reported in the October issue of the Journal ofPersonality and Social Psychology and the September issue of Developmental Psychology.The tendency of some white people to go silent or act "colorblind" on the topic of race could do more harm than good, new research shows. (See link above.)

This just shows that color arousal is like any other mental illness: not talking about it, hiding it and pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it go away, but can actually exacerbate it. At the same time, manifesting the illness of color aroused ideation, emotion and behavior by acting it out - in coversation or action - is not a welcomed alternative to simply trying to hide it. But, diagnosis and treatment is a good alternative.