Privilege & Passive Racism

Hypatian wrote:

Or to put it another way: White people don't have a common experience because people don't treat us as if we are all the same. Because people do not pre-judge what a white person is like. Because whiteness is the default--so our other differences are allowed to be important and interesting. Are you from a rich background or a poor one? How long has your family been in the country? Where did you grow up? Were your ancestors miners? Factory workers? Shop keepers?

Black people... evaluation far too often stops at the color of their skin. That's where these stories of respected members of the community being treated as criminals come from, because nobody bothers to ask anything more.

And so, it is that common ill-treatment that creates the shared experience of "Black culture": the experience of being oppressed.

Aren't you arguing against the idea of White privilege here? People *do* automatically assume things about White people, based on their privileged position in society. Just as they assume Blacks are somehow inferior, they assume Whites are normative. There certainly is a White culture; that of the people in power, ignorant of that at best, and using it to oppress at worst.

Note that White Pride is different in degree. It's White Supremacy. It's a culture, yes, but it's the culture of a century ago, or more.

The thing is, some Whites are conscious. Don't assume all Whites will resist the struggle to remove oppression.

I don't think Hyp was arguing against white privilege. I think he meant no one assumes anything negative about white folks just because they're white (Well, we can argue that non-whites stereotype whites as serial killers, white collar greedy criminals, and smelling like dogs when they get wet but that's definitely not as widely believed as negative stereotypes of non-whites and it's most certainly another discussion for another time) whereas brown skinned folks are stereotyped as criminals, thugs, etc. just because they're brown. So when a white person goes nuts and shoots up a theater or a black church and kills a bunch of people, he's a rogue and is probably mentally ill. When a black man shoots another black man or even gets shot by a police officer, well he was just another thug, emblematic of black men in general.

If anything, Hyp is saying that our ability to be seen as individuals instead of representative of an entire group of people is white privilege itself.

Okay, I can get behind that.

(She)

FSeven wrote:

If anything, Hyp is saying that our ability to be seen as individuals instead of representative of an entire group of people is white privilege itself.

This, pretty much.

I do think there are positive-yet-harmful stereotypes, too. "Asian people are all good at math" or the like. That kind of assumption still builds into stuff like "*confused* wait, you're an artist?!?"

So that's why I kind of describe privilege as "lack of assumptions".

Going the other way, we have assuming that the default is that people are of the privileged class. For example, making the default assumption that someone is a man.

Robear wrote:

The thing is, some Whites are conscious. Don't assume all Whites will resist the struggle to remove oppression.

Sure--but there's no broad tradition of that among white people. And I imagine that the set of people who can claim being woke as something passed down to them through generations is incredibly small.

Most of us—the main thing we inherit as "white people" is the privilege and the structures that raise us up at the expense of others. Some of us inherit certain attitudes about those things from our parents: seeing it as right and proper, seeing it as injustice, thinking it's gone, etc. And then we navigate how we're going to deal with that knowledge. Whether we stand up against it, or rally for it, or try to get on with life while ignoring it.

We inherit a lot of other things, too. But we inherit those as descendants of coal miners, or of farmers, or of teachers, or clerks. As people from the Appalachians, or the Northeast, or the Palouse. As people descended from Irish people, or Spanish, or Sioux, or Salish.

But when you get right down to it, the only thing we inherit as "white people" is white privilege, and the problem of whether we'll acknowledge it, and how we'll choose to understand and react to it.

Hey, we also have a strong cultural tradition of stealing the culture of others. We could celebrate that!

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Hey, we also have a strong cultural tradition of stealing the culture of others. We could celebrate that!

But we make it so much better.. I mean what was Rap Music really before Eminem came around and became the Greatest of All Time?

Relevant: Why Are We Scapegoating College Kids?

It’s hard not to see the parallels between Antioch’s “toxic culture” and the current fad of handwringing about trigger warnings and microaggressions on college campuses. The controversies are the same—left-wing students seizing power from the adults, letting their unconventional political views get in the way of their education and the people who know best! Their goals are also explicitly feminist and their spokespeople usually young women, a combination essentially guaranteed to bring older mansplainers out to tell them that they’re being young wrong.
Nomad wrote:

Sure, people use all kinds of reasons to spew hatred, and the whole "white heritage" tripe is usually at the front of the pack, but why do we even label heritage by any color in the first place? African American culture from South Georgia is far different than that of west Philly, or Shreveport, LA for that matter. Labeling it all as "black culture" seems crude and frankly a little racist to me.

My wife and I listened to Part One of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me on our drive home from Chicago last week. We then switched to a Radiolab podcast, and listened this story on the Mau Mau.

Between Coates description of the struggle of control of the black body and the horrors of British Colonialism in Kenya, it made think, "We really are the baddies."

Western culture has gotten away with so much of the same crap it goes to war over when done by other cultures. That's the common denominator that links African American culture from all parts of this nation to even the cultures of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. No one is "labeling it all as 'black culture.'"

What is, frankly, a little racist to me, is diminishing this conversation because blacks have been oppressed in various ways all over our country, as though they don't have enough in common to paint a picture of how the oppression has created the situations that are in place today, and the oppression that continues to plague black communities into the future.

The fact is, understanding colonialism goes a long ways towards understanding the institutional racism that continues to plague our society as a whole.

TheGameguru wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Hey, we also have a strong cultural tradition of stealing the culture of others. We could celebrate that!

But we make it so much better.. I mean what was Rap Music really before Eminem came around and became the Greatest of All Time?

A tradition that Macklemore carries on today.

I read an amazing article a few weeks ago that went into detail about how Whiteness was constructed specifically to keep poor Whites and Blacks in opposition, I can't find the article in question, but this is probably one of the sources, rather than going after the elites. From its most basic root the idea of celebrating Whiteness is about alienating the Other.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

From its most basic root the idea of celebrating Whiteness is about alienating the Other.

Exactly. It's a White Supremacist code word. What was the old question - "Why is there a Black Awareness Month when we don't even have a White Awareness Day?". Because in America, *every day* is White Awareness Day...

Hah! Found it.

https://medium.com/message/how-white...

Robear wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

From its most basic root the idea of celebrating Whiteness is about alienating the Other.

Exactly. It's a White Supremacist code word. What was the old question - "Why is there a Black Awareness Month when we don't even have a White Awareness Day?". Because in America, *every day* is White Awareness Day...

Yep, and innocently defending it as though Whiteness is some kind of unified culture buys into the fiction created in the 1680s. Before then it was 'poor people' and 'elites.' Then poor Whites got slightly elevated and have been fighting for their piece of the pie from the wrong target since.

Jayhawker wrote:
Nomad wrote:

Sure, people use all kinds of reasons to spew hatred, and the whole "white heritage" tripe is usually at the front of the pack, but why do we even label heritage by any color in the first place? African American culture from South Georgia is far different than that of west Philly, or Shreveport, LA for that matter. Labeling it all as "black culture" seems crude and frankly a little racist to me.

My wife and I listened to Part One of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me on our drive home from Chicago last week. We then switched to a Radiolab podcast, and listened this story on the Mau Mau.

Between Coates description of the struggle of control of the black body and the horrors of British Colonialism in Kenya, it made think, "We really are the baddies."

Western culture has gotten away with so much of the same crap it goes to war over when done by other cultures. That's the common denominator that links African American culture from all parts of this nation to even the cultures of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. No one is "labeling it all as 'black culture.'"

What is, frankly, a little racist to me, is diminishing this conversation because blacks have been oppressed in various ways all over our country, as though they don't have enough in common to paint a picture of how the oppression has created the situations that are in place today, and the oppression that continues to plague black communities into the future.

The fact is, understanding colonialism goes a long ways towards understanding the institutional racism that continues to plague our society as a whole.

You would probably find Yurugu: An African Centered Critique on European Thought and Culture a page turner.

One of the central themes of the book is how most cultures had an inherent notion of complementary halves of a whole; the Yin and the Yang in Eastern thought and the African concept of "twinness" and it wasn't until Platonic ethics was developed that dichotomies were taught. Good/bad, light/dark, superior/inferior, reason/emotion where contrasting terms are not seen as halves of a whole but rather independent of each other. This specific school of thought and dualistic perception of the world grew from ancient Greece and Rome and became inherent to European cultural thought and systems (capitalism, patriarchy, racial supremacy).

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I read an amazing article a few weeks ago that went into detail about how Whiteness was constructed specifically to keep poor Whites and Blacks in opposition, I can't find the article in question, but this is probably one of the sources, rather than going after the elites. From its most basic root the idea of celebrating Whiteness is about alienating the Other.

Slate has a really interesting podcast going right now called "The History of American Slavery".

One of the things they talk about early on is how slavery started as mostly a poor institution with a large majority of the slaves being indentured servants from Europe. At some point the economics changed and the racial lines were drawn, in part, to make sure there was a steady flow of slaves and to pit poor whites against African slaves as opposed to their masters. It's all really gross.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Hah! Found it.

https://medium.com/message/how-white...

Yeah. That's basically the stuff the podcast talks about. That article goes into more detail, though.

Ya rich people are scared of poor people.They scared of all the poor people. Divide and conquer.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Hah! Found it.

https://medium.com/message/how-white...

Well, that was a superb read.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Hah! Found it.

https://medium.com/message/how-white...

Robear wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

From its most basic root the idea of celebrating Whiteness is about alienating the Other.

Exactly. It's a White Supremacist code word. What was the old question - "Why is there a Black Awareness Month when we don't even have a White Awareness Day?". Because in America, *every day* is White Awareness Day...

Yep, and innocently defending it as though Whiteness is some kind of unified culture buys into the fiction created in the 1680s. Before then it was 'poor people' and 'elites.' Then poor Whites got slightly elevated and have been fighting for their piece of the pie from the wrong target since.

Except even then, there wasn't a unified whiteness. The Irish, for a long time, were largely considered basically a halfway point between white and black.

IMAGE(http://www.strangehistory.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/irish-african.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.anorak.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/the-irish-monkey.gif)

Leading to things like...

IMAGE(http://www.fasttrackteaching.com/burns/Unit_4_Cities/No_Irish_sign_unknown.GIF)

The bolded line is interesting to me though, as we can see that in action today. All the people who are complaining about fast food workers getting $15/hour... why are they so mad that someone working 40 hours a week is getting a wage they can live on rather than mad that the CEO of their company is making over a hundred times more than the average worker in their company? A gap which continues to grow? They're, quite literally, trying to keep one group in poverty to better their chances rather than questioning why the person way above them on the pay scale is making enough to afford their lives several times over.

DSGamer wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

I read an amazing article a few weeks ago that went into detail about how Whiteness was constructed specifically to keep poor Whites and Blacks in opposition, I can't find the article in question, but this is probably one of the sources, rather than going after the elites. From its most basic root the idea of celebrating Whiteness is about alienating the Other.

Slate has a really interesting podcast going right now called "The History of American Slavery".

One of the things they talk about early on is how slavery started as mostly a poor institution with a large majority of the slaves being indentured servants from Europe. At some point the economics changed and the racial lines were drawn, in part, to make sure there was a steady flow of slaves and to pit poor whites against African slaves as opposed to their masters. It's all really gross.

It's not that poor whites were pitted against slaves. It's that poor whites were given special rights--the right to never be enslaved; eventually the right to vote--that made them permanently better than blacks.

I'm currently reading Bruce Levine's "The Fall of the House of Dixie" and the first 60 or 75 pages goes into detail about Southern culture during slavery. Society and politics were dominated by planters, a few thousand families who owned more than 50 slaves. And that group was dominated by about 500 families who owned at least several hundred slaves.

As states expanded the vote from only landowners to all white men by 1856, those planters understood they had to appeal to the 75% of Southern white men who were too poor to own slaves. Pitting poor whites against slaves would endanger their source of wealth and power so they figured out how to co-opt them by doing things like allowing poor white farmers to rent out slaves or making sure that their slaves didn't directly compete against artisans and skilled workmen. It was all about keeping those white male voters happy enough that they didn't become Abolitionists.

I think we're saying the same thing. When I say "pitted" I mean that prior to being granted their new special status they had common cause with African slaves and were starting to agitate for their rights. Something we don't hear much about in history or think too much about. They were, as you said, given special rights and given a class beneath them in part to keep them in check.

DSGamer wrote:

I think we're saying the same thing. When I say "pitted" I mean that prior to being granted their new special status they had common cause with African slaves and were starting to agitate for their rights. Something we don't hear much about in history or think too much about. They were, as you said, given special rights and given a class beneath them in part to keep them in check.

You're kinda forgetting how deeply ingrained the racial component of slavery was.

Well before the 1790 Naturalization Act that created "whites," blacks were widely considered to not to be fully human. There was a passage in "The Fall of the House of Dixie" that talked about how slave owners didn't think twice about breaking up slave families because they honestly didn't think that black people felt emotions and cared about their mates and children the same way that white people did.

Even the poorest, most pathetic white man in the South knew he was superior in every way shape and form to slaves.

OG_slinger wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

I think we're saying the same thing. When I say "pitted" I mean that prior to being granted their new special status they had common cause with African slaves and were starting to agitate for their rights. Something we don't hear much about in history or think too much about. They were, as you said, given special rights and given a class beneath them in part to keep them in check.

You're kinda forgetting how deeply ingrained the racial component of slavery was.

Well before the 1790 Naturalization Act that created "whites," blacks were widely considered to not to be fully human. There was a passage in "The Fall of the House of Dixie" that talked about how slave owners didn't think twice about breaking up slave families because they honestly didn't think that black people felt emotions and cared about their mates and children the same way that white people did.

Even the poorest, most pathetic white man in the South knew he was superior in every way shape and form to slaves.

At least according to the podcast I'm listening to there was a brief window in time where this wasn't the case. A slave was a slave and most slaves were white.

DSGamer wrote:

At least according to the podcast I'm listening to there was a brief window in time where this wasn't the case. A slave was a slave and most slaves were white.

Whites weren't ever considered slaves. They were indentured servants who worked off their debt under four or seven year contracts. Their lives weren't great, but they still had rights.

There was a period of about 40 years in the mid-1600s where African slaves and white indentured servants were effectively treated the same. By the mid-17th century, though, the colonies had passed laws that stripped blacks of all rights.

OG_slinger wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

At least according to the podcast I'm listening to there was a brief window in time where this wasn't the case. A slave was a slave and most slaves were white.

Whites weren't ever considered slaves. They were indentured servants who worked off their debt under four or seven year contracts. Their lives weren't great, but they still had rights.

There was a period of about 40 years in the mid-1600s where African slaves and white indentured servants were effectively treated the same. By the mid-17th century, though, the colonies had passed laws that stripped blacks of all rights.

That's the period of time I'm referring to. Wrong term. They were both indentured servants of the same status. I'm not sure what you're arguing with me about. Regardless you win. This is silly.

Some of the most brutal aspects of human slavery were a result of unchecked greed. The dehumanization of slaves allowed sugar plantation owners to use them like disposable commodities, subjecting people to horrific conditions and incredibly low life expectancies.

John Green does a good, but sobering overview of the some of the worst of the slave trade in his Crash Course series on Youtube. It's worth watching.

Demosthenes wrote:

Except even then, there wasn't a unified whiteness. The Irish, for a long time, were largely considered basically a halfway point between white and black.

True. An important detail I glossed over.

A bit of an aside, but something I find kind of amusing/sad. Little Orphan Annie was created as an obviously Irish child to explain why nobody would adopt her. Over the 20th Century this part of the message was lost and precocious girls with red curls came to be considered cute.

Cut to the 21st Century and the racist backlash against a Black Annie. Most of the complaints were along the lines of 'Annie is supposed to be a cute red head' but that's not true. Annie is supposed to be 'undesirable' to most of her society so a Black girl is far closer conceptually to the original.

God, it actually makes me sick to type that.

Can't find the image, but I remember a great sign from Dustbowl California in a history book.

Sign I read once in a history book wrote:

Negroes and Okies to the balcony

Thank you, Jayhawker. That sums up so much in such a short story. We need (literal) White Kinghts because we get dismissed if we try to convey the same message.

That story is such a powerful experience and it illustrates one of my reasons for starting this thread. How, as a white person to speak up for PoC without speaking over them. That shows one way, how else can we do it? I do what I can to signal boost, and I try spread the message through this thread without offending too many fragile white fee fees.

Separate thing:

Apropos of nothing much, I saw this tweet today from a prominent local former writer who lost his newspaper job for being an unrepentant racist.

@lunchout2: The libards who go on about "white privilege" are no different to the Jews who betrayed their own in WW2 to save their miserable skins

Smh