Best explanation of white privilege I've ever heard.

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Comment by koshersalaami on August 20, 2017 at 9:35am

What I'm referring to is where I can't recognize the cadence. I know the cadence. Maya Angelou is one of the best examples of the cadence. Oprah Winfrey, on the other hand, turns it on and off. Same with Will Smith. Alfonso Ribeiro I think doesn't have it. 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on August 20, 2017 at 9:50am

When I read things like "Whiteness is a suppression of humanity.",  "Whiteness is an infestation..." and/or her implication that simply being "white" is the equivalent of being a white supremacist I sense Irna Landrum's anger and disdain and, though I agree with several of her points, I refuse to let her anger (righteous or not) define me.

If I am going to be stereotyped by my race (which is utter bullshit because my Sicilian ass is as dark skinned as many blacks) I lean more towards,

"Privilege is saving confederacy statues because they're 'historic' but bulldozing through ancient sacred sites & artifacts for pipelines."  

~  Ruth Hopkins


"I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers."

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Comment by Ron Powell on August 20, 2017 at 9:53am

Oprah is one of the wealthiest people on the planet because of her ability to turn her "blackness" on and off....Not just her voice, but her identity as well....

Comment by MV Neland on August 20, 2017 at 12:32pm

I really enjoy coming to Our Salon to be intellectually and sometimes morally deepened and to engage in often heady, often inspired exchanges.

But, i am a social justice advocate who also assumes that many here are advocates, too, and always on the look out for a way to broach hard conversations with family, friends, or strangers.  

As an advocate, i comb through the media communications of the mainsteam looking for links that any one of us might find interesting or might want to share as an educational tool for others we encounter because the message uses language that is not overly threatening or too complex and thus more likely to be read or watched by people we feel might be ready for the information that is conveyed by people that they can relate to.  Some l That is basic social justice education from the trenches to the police to the boardrooms. I always assume that we each have someone in our lives that these links would be perfect for...however "unevolved" they might first appear.

My criteria for "the best ever" articulated article or whatever is not based upon its intellectual prowess nor its right-on jargon. Can it reach people who are not yet lifted up? Does it "talk with" rather than "talk down" to? Does it contain an insight or salient point that can make someone more aware, more compassionate, less insulated? Can it be understood and digested and reworded by fellow advocates to become repackaged and shared and understood by anyone less cognizant of these issues...for we ALL need for them to learn.

That is what excites me. That is what makes a link worth sharing, especially when it has been generated from someone in the mainstream...Especially then, for it is the mainstream that drags us all along in its many currents and must become woke. 

Comment by greenheron on August 20, 2017 at 2:14pm

I beg to differ. Before we can start these conversations we need to listen to many conversations not started by us.

Something that has changed considerably in the last decade is that people of color are more willing to speak frankly and candidly with white people, without being polite, or looking at the ground, or using euphemisms. We need to be able to listen, even when what they have to say is painful, which most of it is. Then we need to pay attention, try to interact with more awareness, apologize when we realize we failed.

An example: white people saying they are woke. Do you know how this is received in the black community?  Might interest you to do some reading about that. 

Comment by MV Neland on August 20, 2017 at 2:44pm

@Ron - absolutely.  And, doesn't that imply that much of who we think we are or who we think someone else is, is socialization pure and simple?  We are walking social constructs often ONLY perceiving and experiencing the world confined through that given lens both by what we are taught about ourselves and by what others are taught about us. Bringing change and parity within this mechanism is onerous, which is why some only trust the arguments of those they believe somehow come from beyond or outside this unjust system.  But, in the system we all are if we live in society. And, even outside it, we are what we bring with us until we encounter it and overcome the lies and flaws inherent in all social constructs.

Oprah also happened to be able to bridge huge racial, cultural, and economic gaps with her presence within the paradigm and start to expose and shift it, getting so many diverse women to relate to her as she championed their causes because i believe she truly grasped the experiences of so many like and unlike herself.

But, Ron, imo you are right. She had to be more than nonthreatening and "acceptable" to whites to succeed.  She had to be "passable" - That is, perceived as nearly white.  She couldn't do this by virtue of being light skinned because she wasn't. She relied on a profound ability to switch and project from a black social construct to a white one and back again...all the while remaining an obvious to all black woman of color.

Being an "acceptable" member of a minority to the group who holds much of the power is something all minority people work at to survive. But, being "passable"  to the point of being "included," however contingent, is a skill that most multicultural or multiracial persons develop to navigate two or more worlds. Some will view such individuals (and individuals they usually are) as sell-outs after having acquired an always revocable pass to privilege granted by the dominant group while others will hail these people as gifted bridgers of gaps.

Ron, you mentioned briefly the usual lack of acknowledgement of black cultural contributions to white culture and they are many and varied. And, from assimilation alone, this cross pollination of cultures can happen (which is the white supremacist's deepest fear).  But, much of black culture, black adaptive survival culture especially, was seen as unique and desireable by white youth and sometimes included into white culture and sometimes stolen and rebranded. But, i think that for progressive whites, the call for inclusion of minorities is seen as both the goal AND a gift TO blacks.  (Loads of issues around this too numerous to address in my already too long rant. Perhaps someone else?) And, a good goal, (if a creepy granting of power which is probably an unavoidable stage at this point) so long as minimally two things happen - the divergent traits and core beliefs of the minority get to remain expressed and the whole comes to reflect these in part, albeit obviously modified from being blended into the whole, but seen as a contribution and clearly visible. THAT is inclusion versus inculcation imho, or simply allowing someone to join the parade under a milktoast banner that soon becomes lost in a sea of white faces. Like all the gray suits at the UN. Surely the whole world and its miriad cultures weren't all staid, white businessmen!  What happened to the beautiful traditional clothing?  (Fertile ground for more rants). Of course, the more opposed the traits and beliefs, the harder the process of inclusion. But, that IS the way to eliminate white privilege and become a human family instead.

That white society is by and large taking up the cause of racial parity and beginning to include those not too unlike yet not to similar to themselves while rejecting white raced groups that espouse anti-inclusive rhetoric should be seen, i think, as a remarkable moral growth and step in the realization of real diversity. This, i think, was very much a part of Oprah's strategy and goal and we owe her, imho.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on August 20, 2017 at 3:25pm

That white society is by and large taking up the cause of racial parity...

Oh which planet is this happening?  It sure as hell isn't happening here on earth.

Comment by Maui Surfer on August 20, 2017 at 9:43pm

Kosh= you bring up some great conversation here, something smart people may debate and consider, one problem. ALL American BLACKS have white blood, and all of it is the result of four hundreds of rape. End of story. Start there if you want to proceed with an accurate analysis.

Comment by koshersalaami on August 21, 2017 at 2:44pm

Maui Surfer,

I don't think that mixing has a great deal of cultural impact because of how the children of rape were raised - in one culture, not two. Where I think the mixing becomes important is when countering racist arguments about shit like relative median IQ, which is a genetic argument without a genetically defined population. In fact, given that racial self-identification is more about how people are treated than about genetics in any precise way, this case gets quickly turned on its head and differences become attributable to environmental rather than genetic factors, i.e. attributable to cumulative multigenerational mistreatment, making government intervention in this mistreatment both just and logical. 


I agree with one thing you said and disagree with another. I agree that certain kinds of generalizations about Whites are inappropriate. White Privilege is a sensible generalization because it's a universal characteristic that comes with the territory of being White. White suppression of humanity and being defined as an infestation is not. 

On racial parity: We probably differ based on differences in experience. We are extremely far from parity, God knows I'm aware of that, but it's unbelievable how much farther we were when I was a kid. The recent two-stage delegitimization of the Confederacy, particularly with conservatives in control of government, looks almost miraculous.  I don't know what it really indicates yet, but what I do know is that it represents a national change in assumptions that a couple of years ago no one in America would have believed possible in this time frame. A serious national question as to whether Confederate heroes were heroes at all? which means an Actual National Admission that the whole Confederate movement and its support for the last century and a half has really been based overwhelmingly on racism and nothing else? That's pretty foundational. It may seem obvious, because of course it is, but it wasn't obvious to a lot of conservatives who suddenly find it obvious now. We're not looking at serious equality any time soon, which says we still have a ton of work to do; we're just looking at a bunch of bricks being broken off the wall. But bricks are bricks. And these bricks indicate that we're visibly closer to some national agreements about race. 

Comment by MV Neland on August 22, 2017 at 1:33am

@greenheron.  I beg to differ.

Erykah Badu first used "stay woke" in her 2008 song Master Teacher, and by 2011 the phrase had begun to gain popularity as a way of describing an informed, questioning, self-educating individual, which is essentially how we use it today.

The term "woke" has been repopularized thru the Black Lives Matter movement. No one owns the term.  It is in the commons intentionally created there for ALL to experience, grasp, elevate, use, and become. That's cuz it's about being woke. Not about being black. Or, only black and woke. Anyone is free to use it in solidarity with racial parity, all social justice issues, and self empowerment experiences.


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