Shutting Down the Other Side

I’ve often addressed the issue of privilege, particularly white privilege (since I’ve come to understand just how much of it I have…and even white people less privileged than me have…in the 16 years I’ve had a black partner/wife and a biracial son…and in the past 7 years, a biracial daughter, too).

I’ve done this at this blog, I’ve done it on Twitter, and I’ve done it in responses to various people’s articles and posts complaining about being “made to feel guilty for being white.”

First, I’d like to direct you to this web page my wife tweeted about yesterday, which is pure gold and if you read this and still don’t get why denying privilege and/or telling people in various groups that they’re wrong about their own experiences is a bad thing, perhaps you never will get it:

Derailing for Dummies

Now, back to my own mini-rant…

I’m not saying white people (and I’m going to pick them because they’re the largest and most privileged group in the United States, particularly the heterosexual ones, but this applies to anyone who is privileged in comparison to someone else)…well, I don’t think they should be guilted per se. But I do think they need to pay attention, get out of their own boxes, listen to others, educate themselves and stop making assumptions. In short, white folks do need reminders about their privilege, because it clearly hasn’t sunk in. America’s going back to bad habits (or worse habits) and everyone who’s “other” is getting shat upon instead of people shitting on the government, business and social forces that allow discrimination, bigotry and all their cousins to exist.

Too many people think there is equal opportunity and fair treatment in developed parts of the world, particularly the United States, Canada and Europe. They think that racism is dead. But looking at the rates of arrests of non-whites, non-white profiling and harsher punishments for crimes by non-whites, those figures alone show a picture that proves society is not fair to people of color (blacks and Latinos, in particular). Also, housing and employment continue to be areas of huge inequities. Oh, and education.

And yes, I have tons of examples if you really want them. Call them anecdotal and dismiss them because of that if you like, but I think 16 years of seeing this shit up close as a white person with brown people in his life makes me more an expert on discrimination than anyone who plugs their ears (conservative or liberal) and says, “I’m not like that!” or “That’s not true!”

Change comes through awareness. And I mean awareness of the people who perpetuate the bullshit. Who continue to benefit from privilege and never work to share it with others and make sure others can have the same access. When we are aware some people aren’t treated fairly, we can begin to chisel away at racism, homophobia, sexism and all the rest.

It’s the only way. Be aware of your part in it. I have to be, because it’s the morally correct thing to do, and I try to do my small part. Please do yours, too.


5 Responses to “Shutting Down the Other Side”

  1. 1 S
    July 28, 2012 at 2:50 am

    “well, I don’t think they should be guilted per se” … and then you go on to guilt them both generally and in specific. This post is all about “white guilt”. In the real world some people are better off than others. You need to get over your own “white guilt” – you’ll be a happier, healthier person for it. Projecting it onto everyone else isn’t helping your mental health.

  2. July 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I’m not guilting anyone…I’m urging people to stop making assumptions that everything is postracial and everything’s all right when it isn’t. Shoving things under the rug doesn’t clean the room. Are things a lot better than in, say the 1950s or 1960s? Oh, yes! Are they nearly as good as we want to think they are? NO! There’s a lot we’ve ignored and played down in our rush to say: Racism and unfair situations are done with.

    They aren’t.

    I’m not suffering from white guilt. I’m enjoying an awareness of reality.

    Try a dose of reality yourself, and you might make a difference in the world.

    Or keep your blinders on and keep being part of the problem.

  3. July 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Let me put this another way, S, and perhaps it will be more clear the notion of “guilting” vs. “opening eyes.” You might still cover your ears and say “nyah nyah nyah can’t hear you!” but I’m hoping not.

    If someone has a drinking problem and you have an intervention in which you point out the harm and potential harm that they are doing to themselves, their family and perhaps to strangers, that’s an act of trying to make them aware of their problem. It is necessary in many cases for the person to finally admit and realize he or she has a problem and fix it. Now, if you just yell at the person saying, “how could you be so weak and be a lousy drunkard and not pay attention to the people you love”…that’s guilting and will likely just drive the person into more of a funk in which they drink more.

    If a person is morbidly obese and the doctor points out the health risks of obesity and provides some advice for losing weight, that is necessary for health of the person and good for society as well in the long run. Calling that person a “big fat loser who needs to get off the ass and push away from the buffet” is guilting.

    I’m not saying white people are bad for having privilege. I’m saying it’s unhealthy to behave and act and believe that they don’t. To act like something is fair when it’s clear MANY, MANY elements of society, individually and as a collective, are denying non-whites a chance at a fair shake is denial. And it’s ignorant to keep doing it when you have plenty of facts to look at that show that society gives non-whites a bum deal OVERALL.

  4. 4 the word of me
    September 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Deacon I have been following and posting on a forum where creationists and atheists mix it up and often out of the blue come racist statements. This is very unsettling to me. Most of them now are directed at Obama and almost all of them, I have noticed, come from the creationist side…and most are from southern states.

    Not trying to make atheists look good or anything like that, but I am seriously wondering why this is. Do you have any thoughts about this?

  5. September 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Sorry for the slow response, TWOM…slowly trying to work the blogging back into my regularly scheduled activities.

    There are plenty of ill-informed and ignorant atheists in the world, but honestly, I feel there is a lot more on the creationist front.

    I’m not trying to slam creationists, but if you’re a pure creationist, you take the Bible literally about all things, and that’s ridiculous. You can only do that if lack critical thinking, as many things just don’t make sense in a literal context and the Bible has been translated so often and, with so many languages having words with no direct literal equivalent in English, the Bible isn’t always even saying what the original text (or even the Greek or Hebrew text) intended to convey.

    But creationist and other hard-core fundamentalists don’t appreciate or even think about this. There are many parts of the country, and not just the South, where people are narrow-minded and don’t want to change. People who still are mad about, for example, losing the Civil War and think that whites and Christians are persecuted in this country, even though the evidence clearly says otherwise.

    We’ve moved into a world where politician, Republicans most notably, have moved from exaggeration and hyperbole to taking comments completely out of context or outright making up lies and not even blinking when those lies are exposed. Their followers don’t blink either, because what they want is a champion and validation. They don’t want to change. That is the same in many churches as it is in politics. People want to believe something simple that makes them feel good, and they want to be spoon-fed.

    Thus, they think the Bible is literal, many think that black people are the descendents of Ham and are inherently corrupt, and they think FOX News is actually fair and balanced rather than a conservative mouthpiece.

    A lot of things have changed and gotten better in the U.S., but there are so many things that haven’t changed at all, and passing ignorance down from one generation to another is a time-honored tradition.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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