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White Privilege

White Privilege

Right. I’m probably going to get alot of hate for this one, but I can’t be the only person annoyed by this. Recently I’m seeing a pretty interesting trend involving alot of pretty little blond haired blue eyed white girls asking if someone has ever heard of ‘white privilege’. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, white privilege does exist, and choosing not to talk about it constantly doesn’t mean that I am trying to sweep it under the rug — I just don’t see the point in talking about it as a white person. See, the problem I have with this entire discourse is how fake people are. Yes, white people are inherently privileged. Yes, I benefit (from time to time) because most of the time my complexion is lighter than most (as an Italian, I can get pretty brown if exposed to enough sun). Sure, as an Italian I am technically considered white (but according to the United States Census, so are Middle Easterners), but that didn’t stop me from experiencing my fair share of flack when I was a youth with a natural tan that turned me brown and hair that basically curls into an Afro on its own will.  On some days people thought I was hispanic, and some people though I might have just been a really light-skinned mulatto. You try being any of those in the heart of conservative Oklahoma. Coupled with the fact that most of my childhood I lived in low-income neighborhoods when we could afford it and motels when we could not, I did get a little taste of what life was. The difference? I could stay in-doors and become white as a ghost. African-American’s don’t have that luxury. This is why I cannot help but feel the way I do when it comes to white privilege, I find it so disingenuous when many people speak of it and these are the reasons why:

Social Justice Warriors. I have steadily come to hate Social Justice Warriors who sit behind their hipster glasses yelling ‘Check your privilege’ at people. Why? Because White Privilege as a concept to primarily affluent white college student Social Justice Warriors is just a way that they can get around the fact that they feel guilty about the fact that they’ve been inherently racist throughout their life without ever honing up to their personal mistakes and taking responsibility for themselves. Instead, they still sit around on the internet telling individuals to ‘check their privilege’ and bemoaning how unfair minorities are treated in America without actually doing anything to help said minorities or their communities. By acknowledging ‘white privilege’ you are essentially, as a white person, saying that you agree that people of color receive, in general, a disproportionately fucked up end of the deal while simultaneously still reaping all the benefits of ‘white privilege’. This kind of annoys me. I’m fine with Persons of Color talking about White Privilege because they have to deal with the shit end of the stick — but the affluent white girl at starbucks talking about white privilege? She can get the fuck out of my life. Seriously. There is a difference between educating people about White Privilege in order to destroy the gap that exists, and just using a buzzword so that you can make it seem like you actually care — spoiler alert, she probably still clutches her purse and walks to the otherside of the road when she sees a black man walking toward her. See, I support actual education of the inequality of society as created by a system of Ethnocentric disparity. That is beneficial. By teaching all children early on about discrimination and why it is a fucking asinine concept, you have the possibility of rooting it out. You are actively making a difference. Posting to everything on facebook about ‘white privilege’, however, is just you trying to make yourself feel better.

You cannot address the plight of the African-American community until you address the problems at the root of the plight — about how our government spends more on guns and bombs than it does on education, the fact that a pointless war on drugs sees African-Americans incarcerated at higher rates and for longer duration than White People. You cannot fix the problems with America by simply talking about White Privilege. Being an internet crusader about white privilege isn’t going to change anything. There is no point in “enlightening” adult white people to how much easier they have it, because a majority of white people know they have it easier — the difference is is that the majority of white people do not flop around on tumblr and twitter pretending like they actually care by going on about ‘white privilege’ like talking about white privilege is some how going to make matters better for a person of color. Seriously. I cannot name a single white person off the top of my head that just suddenly woke up one day and went “You know, thank you for telling me about white privilege, I had never noticed before that African-American’s disproportionately get the shit kicked out of them by police”. The reply to you mentioning these things is almost always:
a) The Racist Reply
b) The “I already know and shit sucks” Reply

You cannot fix answer A because there is no fixing stupid, and you cannot fix problem B by simply yelling WHITE PRIVILEGE  and CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. That isn’t the way world works, as much as you so desperately wish to appear enlightened and progressive to your fellow Social Justice Warriors, you’re being hilariously disingenuous if you’re going to sit there as a white person  and trumpet on about white privilege like you’ve never benefited from it and like you understand what the average minority deals with. You have no clue. I have only had a small taste of it, and like I said, I was able to change — they aren’t. I can’t even tell you how horribly it must suck, but you know what, I actually try to make a difference.

Going on about White Privilege as a white person is simply taking the easy way out; you are acknowledging that you do not have the burdens that a person of color might have but do nothing to reverse the inequality. It is easy to claim solidarity, but unless you’re dedicating your time to actually making changes for the better, I got no respect for you. Going on about ‘white privilege’ as if it suddenly makes you understand what a Person of Color experiences does not make you enlightened, it makes you a douchebag — someone who wants to reap the benefits on social media of seeming like they are committed to social justice but in reality probably spends more time in Starbucks than they do in disenfranchised neighborhoods.

To admit that you are white and privileged is a frivolous thing that serves no purpose other than to make yourself feel good. You do nothing to bridge the African-American Caucasian Achievement Gap in Education, you do nothing to abridge Socio-Economic Factors that lead youth to turn to a life of crime. Honestly, most of the people that speak about ‘white privilege’ would never set foot in a ‘bad neighborhood’ — never donate their time or money to a community center, never volunteer to teach at a ‘high risk’ school.

Get off your high horses. Stop pretending like you give a rats ass on the internet and actually go out and change something. Push to have laws changed, become an educator and volunteer to teach in low-income neighborhoods. Give your time to community centers, do something to better poverty stricken communities. If you own a business, hire qualified minorities. There is alot you as a privileged white person can do to change the bullshit system in America, but most of you won’t do anything about it — you’ll just sit on tumblr, twitter, and facebook talking about ‘white privilege’.
Well, that’s my rant. Sorry if you don’t agree with me, but I would rather see people going out and giving more to low-income neighborhoods instead of sitting around talking about how privileged they are. One might actually make a difference.

Screaming Injustice

I’ve spent all day trying to decide if and how I would address the injustice of the verdict. Caught somewhere between anger and disappointment… and a mish-mash of other thoughts and emotions that have left me less than a notch above numb.

Ferguson On Fire

It’s not like I’m surprised. I knew that this would be yet another nugget of proof of how little the lives of people who like me mean to this country. I already know that the justice system is subject to the skewed perception of those appointed to serve it. I am well aware that people will serve their personal interests over the greater good or “the right thing.” Yes, I knew all this, but I held on to hope anyway.

I hoped that the Grand Jury would see past the color of Mike Brown’s skin, and instead see an unarmed kid who was unjustly murdered in the street by a man who allowed his natural distrust and fear of dark-skinned people, regardless of their age or intent, to make gunning a young man down when he was already surrendering. I hoped they might recognize the historical trend of police abuse of power and deign to act against it. I hoped they would have learned from the mistakes made by Zimmerman’s jury. I hoped that this time, things would be different. Sadly, I knew better.

http://youtu.be/nOYuhLNwh3A

Yeah, I know… Change is gonna come… just not today, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

I sat at work surrounded by people who seemed completely unaffected and disinterested. All but one person seemed to be completely disconnected from the whole thing. Life goes on. We all have bills to pay, mouths to feed, circumstances to overcome… what’s one Grand Jury decision… one city on fire… what’s one dead Black whatever when there’s a paycheck to be earned?

I’ll tell you what it is:
It’s my brother. It’s my friend. It’s the guy with 3 kids and a wife at the supermarket. It’s the woman sentenced to years in prison for firing a warning shot that didn’t so much as graze a rodent in the wall behind her abusive husband while murderers of young Black men get to walk free. It’s the young man asking why he was shot when all he had done was follow the officer’s order. It getting followed around in stores. Its having learned to loathe the word articulate. Its knowing that my white friends might one day read this and think that I’m some kind of closet white people hater.

It might become increasingly difficult to understand that I’m pissed at everyone right now. It wasn’t just the system that failed Michael Brown. His elders failed him by not voting when they had the opportunity to elect city officials that would be more inclined to protect the whole community’s rights and welfare. His peers failed him by engaging in dumb kid activities. His community failed him by not providing a better, more positive image of Blackness for their whiter neighbors to compare him to.

One event after another, we have failed our predecessors in making our way to the proverbial mountaintop. Having embraced an image of coolness that discourages intellect, studiousness, intelligence, and pursuits of the non-material variety, we have fallen so far from where we once were. Concepts like cool and swag have overruled notions of decency and decorum.

We can’t expect anything to change if we’re only willing to maintain the status quo. The status quo isn’t good enough. None of any of the is cool. Maybe now you’ll think about it when I say…

Do More. Require Better.

Decorum Deficiency Disorder : Tired of the Black Perspective

Looking up from my laptop and tablet, I’m suddenly struck by harsh facts and realities that I often choose to ignore in favor of my sanity.

Eye - Limited World View

Such a limited world view… No?

My perspective is colored and tempered by classifications placed upon me at birth without my consent or active participation. I don’t have the benefit of being able to go skipping through the daisies oblivious to my Blackness or my femininity. It was explained to me very early on in life that because I was dark skinned, I needed to be smart because I’d never be pretty. Being raised with my lighter skinned brother and cousins, I was acutely aware of my position in my family. Having lived in so many places where other Black children were few and far between, I was always told how _____ I was for a Black girl. It never mattered what word filled in the blank, because I knew that whatever it was, I wasn’t being compared to my peers; I was being compared to their idea of what a Black girl was or could be… and the fact that I did not fit the description of what they imagined didn’t change their understanding or opinion, it simply made me an anomaly; just a ghost in the machine.

So when I look back at my previous pieces, and see that all but a very few are about being Black or being a woman, I want you to understand that it isn’t because I’m only capable of writing about racial or engendered issues. It’s because I see the world through a Black Latino/Hispanic Woman’s eyes, and I have been conditioned to relate to the world based on those qualifiers first, and who I really am… well, not even second. When I think about economic issues, I think of unemployment rates among the Black Collegiate population. When I think about travelling, I consider how the nation or country views and treats its women. When I walk down the street or through the parking lot of a shopping center, I have to consider whether I’m wearing the Victim costume or if my would-be attacker would likely prefer lighter fare… Every relationship; every interaction, every thought-seed I sew is a product of the physical qualifiers that I had no control over.

I wonder how many people would automatically assume that this confession of sorts is an admission to some form of involuntary racism? I wonder how many people are internalizing this account and reflecting on their own conditioned responses?

Yeah, I looked back on several of my pieces, and even had to question myself… Like “Um, Reign, you’re sounding a bit narrow there… Something you need to share with the class?” I get noticeably angry with my White brethren… watching them–and of course, some of you–choose to be oblivious and disconnected with an experience that is as intimately personal as how people who look like me are automatically villainized and dehumanized in the media… how women are instantly marginalized and devalued…

You know what, No. I get down right pissed the fuck off. I mean, why mince words and play coy when I can just tell you that I want to choose ignorance too. I want to wake up and walk out of my house in my bath robe like my White neighbors do and not have to think that anyone who sees me will assume a hood-rat mentality. I want to walk into a job interview or ask for a raise, and actually believe that the effort I’ve put into developing my skills and maintaining my strong work ethic will actually work in my favor. I want to go on a date with a White man without getting dirty looks, having people assume that I’m one of those self loathing Blacks who want a mixed baby with “good hair,” or having to wonder if he’s only going out with me because he’s got some unhealthy stereotype dancing around in his head about how exotic the sex with me would be. I’m thoroughly disgusted with having to explain my perspective to Black men who should know and unEye - Moonderstand my struggle because their struggle is so similar to mine… I’m fucking sick of it. Can I hear about a crime and not have to cross my fingers and pray to Black Jesus that the perpetrator isn’t a Black guy? Do white people do that? Seriously… do White folks hear news about a criminal and say to each other “Aw man, please don’t be white…” Let me tell you folks, that privilege alone would greatly improve the quality of my life: Just one day being allowed to experience life as a regular person, instead of a Black Woman.

The Letter Series: Dear White People…


I don’t feel sorry for you. I know that you are not responsible for what your ancestors did. I know that you are probably good people who just want to live life and enjoy your personal pursuits of happiness. You are on the other hand responsible for how you act and fail to act now. You are responsible for the injustices that are allowed to continue now. Your freedom to move on with your life unaffected and oblivious to your neighbor’s struggle comes at a very high price that you will never be required to pay… because it has already been paid in blood, strife, poverty, and the inequity suffered by people of color all over this country, and the world.

I’m not going to beat you over the head with gimmicky titles like “White Privilege,” or even gut punch you with what a few bad law enforcement officials have done. I just want you to take a moment to consider what you have actually done to contribute to the state of affairs right now. Have you personally engaged anyone in a conversation that acknowledges this nation’s problem with race? Have you spoken up when someone you know said something racially repugnant when there weren’t any people of color around? Have you stopped clutching your purse or feeling for your wallet when you’ve found yourself alone and in proximity of a person of color? Have you stopped assuming that every Black person has to listen to and enjoy rap? Have you stopped ending statements you think are complementary with “… for a Black girl/boy…” and not thought it either? Have you even thought about the things you do that might be offensive to any of your 5 black friends?

You see, like many other people of color, I have spent my life trying to ignore the injustices and inequity. I have applied and interviewed for jobs. I have had the quality of my work and content of my character questioned. I have been wrongly accused by people I thought were my friends. I have been backhanded by statements meant to be complimentary…

I was taught in junior high school that I was not allowed to be a statistic. which meant that I wasn’t allowed to have children out of wed lock; not because of religion or standard of propriety, but because that’s all that You would expect of me. I wasn’t allowed to not go to college; not just because education is important, but because I am Black, and Black girls aren’t expected to make it that far. I wasn’t allowed just be average; not just because I could do better and be more, but because being average as a Black girl meant that I would never even come close to being able to compete with an average anyone else, and thus I needed to be extraordinary just to be even with the average not Black girl.

Extraordinary Black Woman

Dear White People,
I do not feel sorry for you, and I don’t feel sorry for myself either. I am extraordinary… ok, so maybe I do feel just a bit sorry for you. I’m sorry that your capacity for ignorance has been fostered, coddled, and encouraged one generation after another, while Black people have been forced to bear burdens and strife that has made us stronger and more resilient to adversity, one generation after another. With every back-handed compliment my skin gets as thick as it is Black, and I get better, smarter, and more brilliant every time you force me to act like your ignorance is a non-factor to my continued existence. With every feigned smile and false praise, I get to be that positive representation of what a Black person really is; I get to help one more of You shed one more ill-conceived notion. I get to be that extraordinary Black girl whom you met that one time… one of Your 5 Black friends… one of the good ones…

I just hope that one day You will acknowledge what Your ancestors did; that You will claim Your privilege, and that You do take a moment to think about the things You do that might be offensive to any of Your 5 black friends… that You might one day require more and better of Yourself, because You finally realize the price of Your blissful ignorance is just too high.

Do More. Require Better.

Politics & You: Shots Fired At Affirmative Action

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on Affirmative Action. While I understand that when most of think about Affirmative Action, we think about how it “forces” potential employers to have a certain amount of percentage of their employee population belong to racial and ethnic groups other then White, and to include a specific percentage of women. But what is it really? Of course there are many resources you can use for your own research on the matter, but as always, I prefer to start simple. And with respect to the simple route, by definition, Affirmative Action is:

“(noun) an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.”

Pretty simple right? Now let’s talk about the history of Affirmative Action so you can be fully informed about why this is such an important part of American history and how we interact with each other in our diverse, global community.

Once upon a time Black people were slaves and considered only partially human and thus undeserving of rights, and women were thought of as a man’s property–whether her father or her husband–to be governed and lead because she was too weak physically and mentally to do much more than bear children and “keep house.” Then, Black people weren’t slaves and were considered wholly human, and women were suddenly acknowledged and intelligent people and both could do things like read, work and vote. Hooray for personhood right?

Well, as it turns out, just because the law suddenly acknowledges a given set of facts, doesn’t mean that individuals will follow suit. When non-Whites and women applied for things like college and jobs, more often than not, a White man would be chosen for the position. The perception hadn’t caught up with the politics. People, the individuals in charge of making hiring decisions still thought of non-Whites and women as unintelligent, lazy, and unqualified solely based on race and genitalia. It was because of this that one President after another issued Executive orders requiring branches of government and institutions in the public and private sectors to get with the times. Of course this is a gross simplification of the story, and you are welcome to avail yourselves of a more detailed version of it, but I really must get to the point.

I’ve always been torn on the issue of Affirmative Action; arguing that I’d rather know that I was hired because I was the most qualified applicant for a job than just because I might fill some quota. On the other hand, I have to live in the world that we have, and not the one I wish we had. The reality is that We are all judged, both<> on October 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. positively and negatively, by our appearance first. For example, the first thing anyone will see and observe about me is that I am Black, the second is that I am female. The content of my character—as is always brought up in this argument—is not apparent at first glance, and unfortunately, by the time an admissions counselor might have occasion to see passed the color of my skin or my gender, they will have already made several judgments and assumptions about my character, one of which will likely include my not being who I represent myself as in their presence. They will have already decided what kind of student I will be, how far I’ll be allowed to achieve and what kind of representative of their student body I might make. They’ll have made assumptions about my interests and tastes, my comportment, social and socio-economic standing, and how far I will be willing to go to achieve the goals (if they believe I have goals at all) I have set  for myself. They will have created an entire story, a whole alternate reality about who I am and what I’m about within the first 3-5 seconds of meeting me or seeing my picture. Such is the world we live in.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor explained the folly of having upheld the ruling in her dissent (it starts on page 51) yesterday, wherein she said:

“While our Constitution does not guarantee minority groups victory in the political process, it does guarantee them meaningful and equal access to that process. It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently, forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goals–her, educational diversity that cannot reasonably be accomplished through race-neutral measures. Today, by permitting a majority of voters in Michigan to do what our Constitution forbids, the Court ends the debate over race-sensitive admissions policies in Michigan in a manner that contravenes constitutional protections long recognized in our precedents…

… Today’s decision eviscerates an important strand of our equal protection jurisprudence. For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy the preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWcvD73sz_E?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

Her 58-paged fact-filled, passionate dissent is the reason why I think it important to remember that we cannot afford to allow ourselves to wallow in complacency. Our so-called “post-racial America” is actively–however slowly–regressing to a state where equity and civil rights will be the punch lines of jokes told by a privileged few. Even more unfortunate, I don’t believe that the injustice will stop with non-Whites and women. I believe that if we fail to act labor laws, access to a quality education, wage restrictions, the costs and standard of living and all manner of the proverbial “glass ceiling” limitations will take hold and plunge us all into the kinds of unpleasant situations that have other nations at war with their governments.

Before you change the channel, I am neither calling for civil war, nor am I taking one of those extremist views that we’re all going to be back on plantations and sweat shops. I am however saying that if we don’t start paying attention to the seemingly small victories that the proponents of a ruling top 2% . I am suggesting that we not allow our civil rights and liberties be taken from us one legislative action at a time. I’m saying that we need to learn about and remember our history such that we might avoid repeating it.

Your homework: look into your local government’s proposed or recently passed legislative actions. Does it help or harm your community’s potential for growth and prosperity? Who proposed it? Are they up for reelection? Share your findings with the class and tell us what you want to do about it.

Together, we can effect change… but only once we’ve acknowledged that change is necessary.