Best explanation of white privilege I've ever heard.

Views: 723

Comment by MV Neland on August 24, 2017 at 11:43am

@kosher- ah...this may be your next collaborative book. That gave me lots of insight.

@Terry M - it IS, at least for me, painful and frustrating to always be assumed an enemy because i'm seen as white, was raised in a mostly white culture, as though I haven't been mindful in my life not to perpetuate racism. White privilege is harder to try and leave behind because other white people will see when you throw it away.  They'll pick it back up, dust it off, and hand it back to you whether you asked them to or not. It's group regulating, as Kosher or Ron just said.  As a member of several oppressed groups, I've come to be content with just about any effort at civility, get excited over people becoming aware, usually know when to duck, and see that any work I do as both a white person and an oppressed person will probably be most appreciated not so much now, but by generations to come.  But I also,maybe most especially, do this awareness work for my own healing, to be more empowered without disempowering someone else. That internal work as white people on our own bigotry or reaction to it, usually is simply not assumed by anyone suffering under white privilege or oppression. I know you already know all of this. You've said as much. And, being distrusted as a whole is the group toll white people pay to maintain social primacy. We'll have to keep personally paying that toll so long as other whites keep acting repressively whether because they are obtuse or bigoted, and as long as whites keep the "system" of white privilege. I wish it weren't so.

Comment by Robert Young on August 25, 2017 at 5:08am

the problem with white privilege is that it's been built up incrementally over centuries.  moreover, it exists in at least two versions:  city white folk got the advantage of education and class, while rural white folk got the privilege of domination.  over such a long time, "it is what it is" sets in.  the Right Wingnuts bitch that a few decades of Affirmative Action must have righted the wrong.  of course not.  just look at the idiot Trump, Jr.

(no, I haven't read through all 7 pages of comments.)

Comment by MV Neland on August 25, 2017 at 5:49am

@Robert Y - all good points you've made.

Comment by J.P. Hart on August 25, 2017 at 9:47am

I've been re-rereading this MV Neland, and been 'sneaking up' on applicable and succinct comment.  O that a lady would be president (there's a Miltonic joke herein)! I'm more futuristic than nostalgic.  I admire your ability to provoke thought, not violence.


(earbuddin' Linda Ronstadt's Blue Bayou on the deck of Tall Ship Redwitch-Racine Harbor)

Comment by greenheron on August 25, 2017 at 10:31am

There are so few here and we all pretty much know where each other stands. Yet we keep saying the same things over and over and perhaps the reason we do that is because we need to hear ourselves until our thoughts can become muscle memory.

Once there is a spark of recognition, most white people want to be one of the good ones, yet most likely, no one taught us how to be that. How do we learn to unlearn? Talking is one way. Activism is another. Reading. Placing ourselves in diverse communities. Letting our guard down. Being willing to be wrong, because we most assuredly will be. 

If I am to be of any usefulness, there is also the goal to turn outward. I can't see how sitting around with white people comparing notes about whiteness is going to be productive. Racism isn't about me getting comfy with my whiteness. My whiteness needs to be a scratchy discomforting aspect when it comes to racism. Each time I meet someone of color, there is a test period, which I understand to be absolutely necessary. Am I someone to be afraid of? As a tiny old lady, I find this kind of funny, but understand the weight of the question and don't mind having my attitude assessed. Even tiny old white ladies have privilege, and power to add to the wound.

Finally a word about Ron dropping his veil of politeness to express anger. Women are taught to be polite too, and for the same reason, to be safe, to appear unthreatening, 'nice', not 'nasty', as Trump might say. Truth is that every person who has been regarded as unequal is angry about that, and the way you begin to help dissolve their anger is to listen, without countering and defense. 

Comment by J.P. Hart on August 25, 2017 at 11:19am

Even in my happy-hazard study of the Beats --- I recall the Corso-Ginsberg-Sal Paradise-Kerouac --- dialogue wherein they'd gotten so bluesed-out that they wanted to rub walnut oil on themselves to to protest Jim Crowism and to feel familial religiosity with darker complexioned human beings.  Perhaps we've all got soul and, pursuant to the Jim Morrison mantra: ain't nun of us gettin' oo here ALIVE ...


gone searching for hardcover of Running Scared (holy flying fish afore the hurricane! Google search reveals 5,060,000 'finds' and I only need the Latino author) maybe I should just try and master trigonometry,  Must ;have been at least some copyright arm wrestling as the Great Roy Orbison of course was avant-guarde with that great song. Running Scared.

Comment by Maui Surfer on August 25, 2017 at 1:07pm

It must be thousands of times now I've watched who can pass the "test" in Hawaii. The successful are small in number, many simply vacate the premises and run back home. What exactly do I mean? Being called what you are, a Haole (this is often preceded by an expletive when between young men or other aggressive situations) ... very few so called Caucasians can take it, which is really really sad. One thing this guest post tries to do is explain that they don't even get it, which is usually true. Problem?- problem comes up guaranteed, they are going to say, do something, or act inappropriately without knowing it. The results vary, but usually are not good.

Comment by Ron Powell on August 25, 2017 at 6:13pm

@Kosh; "That "At the expense of" concept really resonates with Ron and now he talks about White Privilege in those terms. There's no question that Black people have borne extra expense but I don't think forcing that expense on Black people actually helped Whites, even financially. Neither, incidentally, did Baldwin."

As I see it Baldwin very subtly recast the term such that the definition became much more esoteric and abstract.  "Expense" then became  something less tangible and less material than the usage we are accustomed to seeing in the tangible/material world of business.

Example: We have all been taught that it is improper and wrong to make fun of people less fortunate than ourselves or people who suffer from a physical or mental affliction.

We were told that it's wrong to make a joke or have fun "at the expense" of others so situated.

Kosh refuses to accept that twist in Baldwin's approach to the concept of "expense" AND my reaction to it.

"I had no idea that's what Ron meant by 'expense'."

Seems to me that with this new understanding and appreciation of what Baldwin and I meant  by "expense", you should go back and rethink (if not rewrite) your entire critque of what my argument has been re white privilege since you, yourself, have stated that:
".... That "At the expense of" concept really resonates with Ron and now he talks about White Privilege in those terms."

YES, I "talk about White Privilege in those terms".
However "those term" are my terms and Baldwin's, not yours.

By the way, inasmuchas you totally misread and misunderstood me and my analysis of the debate between Baldwin and Buckley re the meaning of the central term "expense", it follows that your comprehension of the proceeding in the video is not as sharp or as focused as you believe it to be...

No need to apologize...
Just silently recognize and acknowledge to yourself that you blew it and are quite capable of blowing it when it comes to presuming to interpret and articulate other people's thinking....

Stop trying to be the arbiter of what people mean when they express themselves. Let the words they use speak for themselves. If their words are insufficient to convey what they mean the comments and feedback will provide ample instruction in that regard.

Nobody wants you, me, or anybody else to grade their work by telling them what they "really meant to say", or what they "should or ought to have said"....

Baldwin was having a "Miles Davis" moment with his subtle "twist" in meaning and you and, I dare say, every other white person in attendance, missed it.

"There's no question that Black people have borne extra expense but I don't think forcing that expense on Black people actually helped Whites, even financially. Neither, incidentally, did Baldwin."

That's true only because Baldwin's reference wasn't  about finance and money.

It was about something you didn't understand or appreciate  or get until  now....

Comment by MV Neland on August 26, 2017 at 2:15pm

@JPH - thanks. It is kinda a dharmaish practice...always practicing to not be inflammatory when i feel such deep sorrow or fear or pain or anger. I have not reached Yoda status, however - "Do. Or, Do not. There is no try."

@gh - yes. We do ALL learn not to piss off the group or person that holds so much power over us. Great point.

Learning to listen without countering is hard on many levels. And, the skills to do so are not widely taught. We usually have to go looking for them.

Diversity educators realize that the bulk of their white students in the average training are not just uncomfortable with the topic, they don't have the skills to listen and talk more than a few tentative words on the subject, not just because of their white privilege allowing them not to exercise empathy, but for lack of being taught in the first place. So, our dialogue is an exception to that finding b/c many here have already put in personal time reflecting and asking and listening, not just about racism, but on matters important to us in general. Learn a useful core skill like listening and respectfully speaking and it can be applied to many things.

I have found that many people are not very practiced at all sorts of difficult exchanges from racism, sexism, ableism, etc. to listening to a partner saying why they are hurting.  People by in large are made to become functionally emotionally illiterate and void of empathy. Having to notice nuance in a hyperalert state of survival awareness of those who have institutional, familia, relational, economic power beyond our own is often the closest thing many of us will come to experiencing empathy...albeit as well practiced second nature like a frog to the footstep in the grass when it stops singing until the source of the sound passes by.


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