My encounter with a bad idea
" “White privilege” is sometimes described as “not having to think about your skin colour” as you navigate daily life. I understand this idea, but I’ve always argued that it depends where you are."
This is a really interesting point. I live in the countryside of the UK as an African and I was always aware of how I looked when I was out and about. And noticed I didn't think about my skin when I was around people who looked like "me". I couldn't articulate this feeling until I read somewhere that it was because of white supremacy since white people don't experience that. Which now as an adult I realise is completely stupid. I live in England, home of the English. And the dominant culture is theirs. The same way I don't think about my physical differences when surrounded by my ethnicity, they don't think about theirs surrounded by their ethnicity. The same is true for every country and the dominating ethnicity. The answer to why I felt this way was so simple, looking back at it, that it's borderline funny.
It's just part of being human, noticing obvious surface level (emphasis here) differences. To be completely candid, I used to get stuck on these differences and turned a collective of individuals into a caricature. Yet when I saw people who looked like me. African or Muslim etc. I saw them as human, nothing more attached to that. It wasn't until I heard about how people outside of this "group" saw us, that I was completely floored and reflected on the stereotypes I held about others.
I remember a "white" American joking with me that his son (who I'm friends with) should be careful because if he sees my hair, he'll have to marry me! I found it hilarious because I've never heard that before and didn't know people thought that. I had a similar reaction when an English man on a train told me to stop listening to the patriarch of my family, not knowing I was the eldest daughter of a bereaved widow. There was no patriarch. It's just funny to be in these (isolated and infrequent) situations because it takes me outside of myself.
Just a really good point you made, combatting that baseless claim and emphasising looking at the individual. Which is one of the best ways to dissipate any subconscious biases one has unknowingly placed on a "group". And when you do meet someone vastly physically, culturally different to you, see them as one person from x y z background. Not that background itself. And when I do meet someone that is racist, who is racialised as white, I try and combat my knee jerk reaction and imagine the roles reversed (I know, hated term). But imagining them as a racist from my ethnicity helps me see them more clearly. Weird, no real threat and more importantly a human who's behaving "badly". Not a bad person.
If I receive the full benefits of the law and have my civil rights respected how is that "privilege"? If people respect me in public and treat me fairly how is that "privilege"? If the police don't mistreat me how is that "privilege"?
Aren't all these things just the baseline standard of civilization? Aren't all these things simply the way liberal democracy should operate instead of an invisible form of apartheid? Shouldn't the issue be that certain people or groups are not receiving these benefits of civilization and how to rectify that?
This reminds me of a story I read about the Soviet Union:
"It’s 1917, and an old lady hears a commotion in the street.
“What is happening?” she asks her maid.
“Oh, it’s so exciting! They are protesting in the street!”
“What do they want?” the old lady asks.
“They want for there to be no more rich people!” says the maid excitedly.
The old lady sighs. “In my day they protested too, but back then they wanted for there to be no more poor people.”
This is always where Leftism ends up: pointing out some form of inequality or oppression, first trying to lift those on a lower level upwards, realizing how difficult that is, then quickly moving on to what really gets the blood flowing: attacking those who exist at the top of their imaginary pyramid of Oppression (whether that be the bourgeoisie, the kulak, and now White people), hoping to level them downwards as a way to bring about the egalitarian Promised Land.
In all its previous incarnations, Leftist rule or Leftist uprisings have only caused social destruction and a vast expansion of group hatred.
It is the same this time.
I’ve had the same thoughts and experiences over the past 15 years or so regarding “white privilege” and “systemic racism”. What stood out to me was the focus on the United States being a racist country. This really bothers me because I see us as unique in all the world in our attempt to create a society made up of people of all ethnicities, nationalities, cultures, races from all over the world. We’ve only been at this as a nation for 246 years. That is an incredibly short amount of time compared to other nations across the globe. Our declaration that “all men are created equal” and have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” stands alone as a value to be nurtured and brought to fruition. We have not achieved all that we can. Yet. Dividing us into groups that are pitted against one another does nothing to help us achieve our ultimate goal.
All my years as an adult, I've been an active volunteer in my community. Not an activist, not an organizer - a volunteer. Coaching and tutoring at the Boys & Girls Club. Coaching at girls softball and Little League. Merit Badge Counselor and Cubmaster for the Boy Scouts. Coaching again at the Boys & Girls Club, even when my kids weren't playing. Volunteered alongside all kinds of folks from all walks of life: Lawyers, teachers, tradesmen, cops, firefighters, small business owners. White, black, brown, and every combination thereof. Republicans, Democrats, deline to states. You know who I didn't ever see out serving the youth of our community? Wokesters. Not a one. Too busy telling other people how to vote, I guess, to teach a kid how to field a grounder, solve a math problem, or tie a knot.
So thoughtful! thank you!
The most brilliant sentence ever spoken regarding race relations was by Ralph Wiley:"Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus."
First and foremost, we are all human beings, sharing one human heart and one human soul, yet also as unique as our fingerprints.
We are equal in our uniqueness and in our innate human value.
No identity group owns us or defines us or limits who we are.
The concept of "white privilege" erases the complexities of individual human experience.
A cis white homeless man is not more "privileged" than a genderqueer black professional.
Since privilege is defined as having special rights or immunities, it is impossible to claim that every human being racialized as "white" enjoys the same "rights" or is immune from violence, poverty, and discrimination.
It is also impossible to claim that every black person experiences the same level of discrimination or is exposed to the same risks of poverty and violence.
There is no work of art, literature, or music that belongs to only one race of people, and there is no form of brutality and oppression that belongs to only one race of people.
I am part Italian and I make zero claim to the Sistene Chapel. I can't draw worth a damn.
But a person racialized black who is gifted at art has every right to make a claim to all the great works of art created by his or her fellow human beings.
There are forms of art that can only be created by HUMANS. Not "white" humans or "black" humans, just plain old humans.
Tolstoy couldn't write War & Peace because he was white or male or Russian. He could write War & Peace because he was HUMAN. (Confession: I've never actually read any Tolstoy, but I suspect the genius of Toni Morrison is far greater than his).
My concern about Identity Politics is that it places a wall around our hearts when it comes to empathizing with our fellow human beings. Nothing good ever has, or ever could, come from that.
Thanks. White Brit here. Also here, the white working class is immune to CRT.
Much less stuff about CRT on our airwaves now that we're beset by a cost-of-living crisis, with food banks more popular than ever before. Could be interesting to compare the change in the popularity of the theory in the US and the UK now that there is a wider difference in economic circs.
IMO, CRT has a value as an occasional, well-chosen tool to wake up middle class professionals who have real power to make a big difference e.g. in recruitment practices. But beyond that, it becomes a laser that burns holes in people and relationships.
"White Privilege", "White Fragility" & "Toxic Masculinity" are unscientific concepts
Fantastic piece Quay, my family origins are in Coatsville and South Philly, both very working class areas and I now live in Los Angeles, in a very ethnic neighborhood. I've never been more bewildered by this idea and how its permeated the spaces of elitist institutions and how damaging and dividing it is.
The more I've thought about this issue I think the term White Privilege can mean a few things. First, it can mean the benefits of "whiteness" through generations (all the things listed in that document like self reliance, punctuality, responsibility, diligence, and consistency)--and the benefits for groups of people that instill those qualities into their culture. The success is astounding for many groups, families, and individuals throughout history on doing the right things day in and day out. As you say this approach works for people of all colors.
Then there is a second part of this which is, en masse, white people don't have the "black penalty" which unfortunately many low income blacks have through no fault of their own. They are born into broken homes in very unsafe neighborhoods. They have no role models. Their schools are a joke. They are expected to behave like criminals and are met with apprehension and suspicion by police and would-be employers, neighbors, classmates, etc. They suffer from a "crabs in a bucket" reality and fail to develop or even believe in any of the worthwhile life skills noted above. White people have the privilege of not having to grow up in poor black communities.
I believe there is a penalty for being black in america. I think it is at least to some extent self inflicted. But the idea that the traits of whiteness and responsibility are somehow responsible for or any proximate cuase to that penalty is absurd. It's even more ludicrous that a policy of discouraging all people from acting responsibly would ever cure the rampant destructive behavior in the black community is seriously touted as a theory for bettering our country.
White privilege is a Kafka Trap. It cannot therefore be discussed or debated. It’s also as obviously racist and demeaning to non-white people as it’s possible to be. Probably best ignored as an idea, which is difficult when narcissistic sociopaths are building their reputations on it.
Well written! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and history.
It is amazing to me how the Woke Religion has spread here in America. It's like fire spreading under water. I attribute it to the totalitarian nature of the belief system, and it's hierarchy. Folks get sucked in by the "science" and then it's all competition to be wokest, to ascend the hierarchy. Very similar to how communism was fetishized about 100 years ago. And add a layer of globalist power manipulating that for their own anti-human goals.
I think we're gonna be ok tho. Might be rough getting there.
Some people here showing interest in UK developments. There's an article today on the funding of scholarships to Oxford university for black people by a UK rapper, AJ Tracey- see https://www.theguardian.com/education/2022/oct/16/rapper-aj-tracey-launches-fund-to-help-black-students-at-oxford-university
"Stormzy" did something similar a couple of years ago.
However, contrast with funding for free school meals for children from poorer families (colourblind scheme) from black footballer Marcus Rashford. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-54717525
Penny/cent for your thoughts? Have a nice day
You lay bare the fallacy of Wokeism which -- ironically -- is a philosophy which does make race the most important aspect of life. The concept of race has been expanded to include and exclude people. Gays, like I am, are oppressed and hence are oppressed by the racism system. Jews, on the other hand, are oppressors since we Jews are all fabulously wealthy. Well, only we Gay Jews are "fabulously" wealthy, while other Jews are merely wealthy.
Thanks for adding some clear thinking to a subject which has gone nutzy coo-coo.
When the USA and global woke use the phrase "white privilege" or "whiteness" or "white supremacy", do they really mean non Sub-Saharan ancestry?
Are latinos, arabs and asians included as part of "whiteness"?
I *think* this is what the woke generally mean. If so, why use the phrase "white" versus non subsaharan African ancestry?
MA, the UK is starting to develop four market dominant minorities:
--Nigerians (don't have the data for Ghanaians, but perhaps Ghanaians are part of this too)
All of these groups **MASSIVELY** socio-economically outperform anglo saxon ethnic english. The Nigerian diaspora is also very successful around the world, including South Africa, Canada, USA, other African countries, etc. [Would be very curious to see the data on Nigerian socio-economic success in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, UAE, Israel, Mexico, Central America, South America].
In the opinion of the global woke, is this because Nigerian Britons practice "whiteness", "white privilege", "white supremacy", "hate", "oppression", "exploitation", "hegemony", "nazism/fascism", "alt right", "patriarchy", "the man -ism", "corporations", "capitalism" etc.?
If the answer to this question is "YES", then should every poor person in the world to practice "whiteness", "white privilege", "white supremacy", "hate", "oppression", "exploitation", "hegemony", "nazism/fascism", "alt right", "patriarchy", "the man -ism", "corporations", "capitalism" etc.? Would this dramatically lower global poverty?
It's clear that the colonial project makes little distinction for colour. Assimilation through debt bondage applies to all, and if you cannot access the finance then you simply can't assimilate.