Author: has written 5251 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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79 Responses

  1. Heather
    Heather May 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |

    I just need to point out that anti-white bias *can* be on the rise and that wouldn’t negate anything else said here. Anti-white bias rising doesn’t mean that anti-any-other-race bias went down. Anti-white bias rising doesn’t mean that it’s still the *least* common bias.

    I’m not arguing that anti-white bias IS rising, btw. I just don’t like silly math. I know what people mean when they say that you’re just as likely to win the lottery whether you buy a ticket or not, but statistically that’s ridiculous. /endofmyocdlikepetpeeve.

  2. Brandy
    Brandy May 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  3. anon
    anon May 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    It’s ugly and true, but it’s just human nature. Any human being born into a priveledged class is going to get upset when the the playing field is leveled.

  4. cat
    cat May 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    Well, I would not say that “everything is going to be fine” to someone just because they are white. White people number of among the poor, the queer, the disabled, etc. I think a better message would be “people of color are not out to get you and their success should not be seen as your loss”. It is not a zero sum game, we can have racial equality and move forward with other issues. And one of those issues is economic class. As someone who came from a majority white extremely poor rural area, this idea you see floated in discussions of race and privilege that all white people are rich (and, I suppose the reverse-that all black people are not) is not really helpful. Of course, anyone being reasonable can see that it is not the poor black people and latinos that are keeping us down, but rather a small class of rich people that is almost exclusively white. Still, when wealthy anti-racists act like white privilege and class privilege are the exact same thing, poor white people tune out. Because the things said are designed not to apply to them. Telling poor white people “well, some rich white people own more than some rich black people” means little, because they know those rich people are not them and theirs. Telling someone from a persistant poverty county (50% poverty for 50 years or more), for example, that things will work out for them because they are white does not build an understanding of white privilege, it builds resentment and anger. A serious discussion of simultaneous privilege and oppression will make far more headway here than assumptions that white=wealthy.

  5. miga
    miga May 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    Mwahahaha, run for your lives white people! This is the aPOColypse~ and we take no prisoners!!!

  6. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    And, I mean, you are allowed to say the n-word if you’re white. No one is going to arrest you over it. It’s just that you (might, depending on your social circle) have to put up with the social blowback of everybody knowing that you’re one of those white people who just can’t seem to refrain from using really offensive racial slurs. Which is, I guess, really horrible? Or something? I don’t know. Most of the people I’ve known who’ve gotten really bent out of shape over not being “allowed” to say the n-word were textbook cases of Why White People Shouldn’t Say the N-Word, so it was hard to really drum up a lot of sympathy for their point of view.

  7. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin May 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm |

    That first crucial step is so important to getting past these zero sum ideas. Once it is made, there is some hope. But as long as it persists, there’s nothing that can be done.

  8. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin May 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    And by that I mean a white person actively understanding privilege.

  9. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm |

    cat: A serious discussion of simultaneous privilege and oppression will make far more headway here than assumptions that white=wealthy.

    It is a serious discussion of privilege and oppression: White Privilege and the oppression of People of Color. No one is denying that people in poverty have it bad (I’m homeless, FFS!). The articles are about White people being afraid of losing their White privilege. Please don’t derail the issue.

  10. Jadey
    Jadey May 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    The Williams article in particular also speaks to the problem of framing “anti-racism” (and anti-oppression in general) as merely fostering positive emotions toward a group. Positive feelings do not social justice make. Women, PWD, children, and seniors are all groups of people for whom there are generally warm feelings for societally providing they stay in their place. This is why having a “[insert marginalized group]” friend never negates culpability for being bigoted – it’s not just about who your friends are, it’s how you act and how you reinforce the status quo. There’s evidence that promoting inter-group harmony separate from a movement to change unequal social structures (e.g., the “can’t we all just get along?” approach) can actually reduce motivation for social change among both the privileged and the marginalized regardless of the equality in resources and autonomy.

  11. Jim
    Jim May 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm |

    Angel H.: The articles are about White people being afraid of losing their White privilege. Please don’t derail the issue.

    This or some inverse of it is this country’s problem in life! White solidarity, however much privilege is or is not actually involved, gets invoked every time there is a challenge to the power structure.

    “You may be poor white trash, but at least you’re WHITE trash, so you should all join up to defend the Confederacy. Well, we failed with that one, so now we need you to join the Klan. And defend white womanhood.” Or some such dog whistle.

    “Yeah we’re squeezing you on wages and benfits, but we (wink, wink) white people have bigger threats to worry about right down the road there in that festering ghetto, so let’s fixate on that instead!”

    And a million familiar variations.

    Thank you Angel H. Thank you. You didn’t just capture this particular point in the minimum possible number of words, you captured an abiding and so far interactable pathology in US political culture.

  12. cat
    cat May 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    Jill: Well luckily, no one was saying any of these things! What I was saying is that white people as a class do not face bias because of their race.

    I was not disagreeing with that point, but the way the original post phrased it was rather cluelessly classist. My point was that the subtle and not so subtle classism that is so incredibly prevalent in these discussions feeds into the notions of “zero sum game” rather than decreasing it. Of course white privilege exists, but it is not the only privilege that exists and issues of class are a central piece of the puzzle here. People who tend to see immigrant workers and poor people of color as competition over whom they need to cling onto the slightest advantage are often people who are not the highest on the chain in terms of resources themselves. That issue of “lean economic times”, when people are really defensive and afraid of loosing everything cannot be properly discussed while pretending to ignore class issues. That fear of loss is very real, and not baseless, the problem is that people of color and immigrant workers are being used as a scapegoat when the real problem lies in the systematic classism that is the real root of the denial of resources.

  13. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    cat: People who tend to see immigrant workers and poor people of color as competition over whom they need to cling onto the slightest advantage are often people who are not the highest on the chain in terms of resources themselves.

    My immigrant dad is on perma-unemployment. Since he isn’t engaging in serious xenophobia and racism over the issue, I feel pretty comfortable calling any US-born white person of my father’s socioeconomic class an asshat if they find racism/any-other-form-of-othering an acceptable response to hard times. (And to be honest, if my dad WAS engaging in down-on-my-luck racism, I’d call him an asshat too).

    I dunno; I don’t buy the argument that it’s classist to tell someone who has hit some shitty times that they’re being an asshole when they pick on other people who ALSO span the economic spectrum, but are a different color or speak a different language.

  14. to cat
    to cat May 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    I think the typical defensive response by pointing out there are poor white people overlooks a very important, dominating factor. Even if you are white and poor, you are still priviledged in many ways, because of the ingrained bigotry in our society. I have mixed heritage (not African American, but I’m not all “white”) and I am able to be pretty chameleon-like, I picked up pretty quick early on, that I have certain advantages in just everyday things that make life easier or harder, depending on how “white” I make myself look. Fine there are rich, powerful women who are even considered beautiful sometimes, that aren’t white, but the overall negative attitude towards race still permeates so many aspects of life, you probably aren’t aware unless you have to deal with them in a negative way. That’s just my perspective.

  15. NaS
    NaS May 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    I agree with Cat on this issue. Not all white people are privileged. White privilege is a hobby horse of privileged white people, and is not a very useful lens through which to view the lives of poor whites. Although everyone knows there are poor white people, it seems like they are often rendered invisible when discussing racial justice issues.

    I mean, who is more privileged – a rich black person from CT with rich parents who goes to good schools, or a poor white person from rural West Virginia with poor and uneducated parents? It should be obvious that class is more important than race in determining material and social success in life. When you compare the poor white to the poor black, maybe the white comes out ahead in terms of opportunities for social mobility. They are less likely to be denied employment opportunities on the basis of their race or even their name, and their underfunded school might have a marginally better learning environment.

    However, there will not be affirmative action for the poor white student. Those AA opportunities may not benefit the low class black student either, as they are primarily a boon for already relatively privileged minorities, who are in a better position to take advantage of them. Actual privileged white people will also not be giving up their seats in elite colleges and corporations to make room for those hired through affirmative action, and so such programs probably negatively impact the social mobility of lower class whites.

  16. IrishUp
    IrishUp May 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    All white people HAVE WHITE PRIVILEGE.

    This does not mean that they are male, or able-bodied, or rich, or well-educated, or sexuality and gender-norm identifying, or have any other axis of privilege.

    It does mean that, holding all other things constant, throwing in or removing a shared area of marginalization/eploitation, a POC is experiencing oppression when a WP is not. At the bank, at the grocery store, during a routine traffic stop, just walking around, at the hands of legislators, et cetera, ad nauseum.

    FFS, people. This is not up for debate. And NaS, that post is practically a Derailing for Dummies primer.

  17. IrishUp
    IrishUp May 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    Also, how affirmative action actually affects college admissions, an excellent post from Ladysquires:
    http://writingishard.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/college-admissions-and-unfair-advantages/

    The anti-AA argument is essentially WP pointing at POC for the last cookie, when it’s the RICH WP who took the first 11 outta the box.

  18. GinnyC
    GinnyC May 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm |

    Like Angel H. and Jim said, the problem isn’t white economic privilege; it is racist solidarity among white people across class lines. The idea is that being white trumps class or any other features of daily life is one of the ways that white privilege gets internalized. Honestly, I think it is important to point out that racism is still internalized and practiced in all sorts of white communities in the U.S.

    I think it is a mistake to focus on the idea that if certain classes of white people just came to their senses they should organize across racial and ethnic lines and challenge the unjust economic system. That isn’t happening, and the Republican Party counts on the fact that given a choice between racism and class-solidarity, many people will pick racism any day. I think we need to focus on why racist solidarity is so common among white people in the U.S.

    I think cat’s comment is interesting because this doesn’t happen where I’m from. Maybe, it is because the area cat is referencing is mostly white?

    cat:
    Telling poor white people “well, some rich white people own more than some rich black people” means little, because they know those rich people are not them and theirs.

    Where I’m from, poor and working-class whites are more likely to identify with rich white people. The alternative is identifying with poor and working-class blacks and latinos, and racist solidarity is still strong enough that many white people would rather believe that they are like the rich whites.

  19. shfree
    shfree May 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    Oh for the love of…this is NOT ABOUT CLASS, here, this conversation. This is about RACE. Can we stop, just ONCE, when dealing with matters of privilege and economics, tossing in class as a way to derail the topic away from white privilege, pretty please?

  20. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    NaS: I agree with Cat on this issue. Not all white people are privileged. White privilege is a hobby horse of privileged white people, and is not a very useful lens through which to view the lives of poor whites. Although everyone knows there are poor white people, it seems like they are often rendered invisible when discussing racial justice issues.

    Are we actually going there? Really? Do we really need to take out the White Privilege textbooks on this one?

    Cue Peggy McIntosh links in 3…2…1…

  21. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. May 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    Holy Mother of Meatballs…Srsly? White poor people don’t have privilege? Bullshit. I’ve been homeless poor…gov’t cheese poor…starvation poor. You know what? I had privilege even then. Privilege in terms of better access to resources, greater class mobility, less discrimination when we bought food or tried to obtain housing, among others. I’ve worked with the system for years and there is a hell of a lot more people are willing to do for poor whites than they do for poor people of color.

  22. NaS
    NaS May 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    I would not disagree that being white in this country, controlling for all other factors, provides some social advantage. Therefor, there is such a thing as white privilege and I am not trying to deny it. However, given that there are white people at all levels of society, white privilege cannot be a very powerful determinant of social and material success. A much more powerful determinant is the class you are born into, regardless of the color of your skin.

    Irish Up:
    “The anti-AA argument is essentially WP pointing at POC for the last cookie, when it’s the RICH WP who took the first 11 outta the box.”

    I agree. It could be phrased differently though. Another way of stating it is that the rich white people are leveling the playing field (or tilting it in favor of POC) as between lower class whites and minorities seeking upward mobility, while maintaining their advantages and patting themselves on the back for their magnanimity. An added bonus is that some percentage of the benefits of AA go to Rich POC.

  23. GumbyAnne
    GumbyAnne May 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm |

    You can never really separate race from class, but that doesn’t mean that writing a short blog post addressing one and not the other is always horrible and wrong (though finding horrible wrong things with Jill’s writing has become a bit of a sporting event around here, it seems).

    We acknowledge the intersectional nature of different types of oppression, but it is important to remember that oppression can intersect with privilege as well. No need to be defensive about it. We ALL have ways in which we are disadvantaged and ways in which we are privileged.

  24. Marlene
    Marlene May 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm |

    NO NO NO!

    You’re just not listening to how hard I have it as a white person!

    Let me explain it to you…

  25. GinnyC
    GinnyC May 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm |

    GinnyC:
    Like Angel H. and Jim said, the problem isn’t white economic privilege; it is racist solidarity among white people across class lines.

    Oops: This should read “the problem isn’t just white economic privilege.”

  26. Jadey
    Jadey May 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm |

    ABW on Intersectionality.

    Money quote:

    Striving for better understanding of intersectionality will help eliminate instances of Oppression Olympics — folks going on and on about who has it harder or better in this or that area is not going to solve the core issues. Focusing on just one oppression without considering how it intersects with others is alienating and often results in a lack of real progress.

    This is true on the big picture level and all the way down to individuals. It’s even harder for some people to grasp that the resolution to one group’s problems may not lead to the resolution for everyone’s.

    When groups or individuals fail at intersectionality it can often lead to people who should be working together instead feeling resentful or hostile toward one another (see again: feminism and WOC). It gets particularly messed up when people who work against one aspect of prejudice engage in prejudicial or oppressive behavior themselves then get upset when folks call them on their problematic behavior.

    Someone who says class bias is absolutely a bigger problem than racial bias* has probably never been a poor person of colour. There very much are white people all over the social spectrum, but the trend is definitely for more white people to be disproportionately higher up the ladder and for it to be easier for white people to eke their way up compared to people of colour. That is white privilege. It’s a social phenomenon – it isn’t decided at an individual level, but it’s the product of all individuals in a society with differential social power.

    *In individual circumstances a person may find that one or the other factor works for or against them differently. Oppression manifests with wondrous variety.

  27. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm |

    It doesn’t matter what thread, on what blog, you mention white privilege and the Doesn’t Get It crowd shows up.

  28. NaS
    NaS May 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm |

    It is not that I don’t get white privilege, it is just that I think the case for it is overstated. I think economic privilege is a much more important factor, and it is true that whites skew richer than some minorities, although generic whites (Christians or secular) do not skew richer than Jews and Hindus (who are generally lacking in white privilege) in this country.
    Source:
    http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/05/15/income-and-educational-differences-in-u-s-religious-groups/

    I think the overstating of the white privilege argument has the effect of marginalizing poor whites. As I said above, if white privilege was a powerful determinant of wealth and social success, there would not be very many poor whites because their powerful white privilege would raise them up in society.

    If you believe that white privilege is so powerful, a corollary of that is that white people who are poor are poor largely due to personal failings. I don’t believe this is necessarily true (although in some cases of course it is). Many poor whites are poor because their parents, and their parents parents, were poor. This is the same reason that disadvantaged racial minorities are so often poor – not because they lack white privilege.

  29. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm |

    I rest my case.

  30. ch
    ch May 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm |

    NaS– think about the logic of your argument. And then look up intersectionality. Because what you’re saying is a bit ridiculous.

  31. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    Bushfire:
    I rest my case.

    hahahahaha

  32. MarekT
    MarekT May 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    NaS,

    Speaking as a poor white person, I’d really like it if we could forget about my economic problems and return to the topic at hand. No matter how poor I am, I’ll still be white. As such, my responsibilities here are A) to listen to people of colour and B) to object to derailments.

    Thank you.

  33. NaS
    NaS May 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm |

    I thought my argument was going towards the manner in which race and class oppression interact. I am not saying that they do not interact, I am saying, class is way more important.

  34. rayuela23
    rayuela23 May 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    NaS:
    It is not that I don’t get white privilege

    NaS: I think it definitely IS that you don’t get white privilege, and here’s why -

    “Not all white people are privileged.”

    You said that, three comments ago. Fail.

  35. CuriousThinker
    CuriousThinker May 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    The Professor’s post was excellent and I read her NYT column as well. It seems we should conclude that the “favoritism” (due process) received by Black Americans is not undue. It is due and I welcome it. Her additional musing that if the survey included questions about so-called “reverse racism” was also quite appreciated and I agree with her suspicion. I’m not, however, here simply to further highlight the problem. Our society is in dire need of solutions.

    She quotes Lincoln in that a house divided cannot stand, which is true. She hit upon the key toward getting ordinary White Americans on board with the push for social change. The fact is, “competitive victimhood” is the coin of the realm in this new progressive age. Each minority and protected class jostles with each other for rank; we argue over who suffered the greatest injustice, genocide, and so on. On Internet fora dedicated to our particular ethnicity, we grumble and rage over our own particular injustices and lift them up above those suffered by others. Our common enemy? The White male. Since we are all tilting our rhetorical weapons at them, it becomes increasingly difficult to argue against the idea of a zero sum game; after all, we are all attempting to deduct pounds of flesh from the same target archetype.

    Whites are commonly blamed, pretty much for everything that ever went wrong throughout history, and Whites now grow up being told they cannot identify with their ethnicity because this is a privilege that only POCs can enjoy/employ as the natural counterweight to de facto White privilege. This leads to a common-sense conclusion that POCs are “out to get” Whites, and move up in society at their expense. We need to be more proactive in recognizing that Whites do have a legitimate issue here. It’s not exactly stupid of them to recognize that it’s become popular to quite literally hate and lambaste them in the public media. POCs cheer and share in the joy of this, and guilty Whites tolerate it, with those particularly on board with the change joining in, insulting their own in order to become ingratiated in the new emerging social order.

    If leading intellectuals like you do not put in more effort to be accommodating to the silent majority of White Americans, who truly do want to be on the right side of history, instead they will see your work as sugarcoating the common-sense reality that it really does boil down to a zero sum game. Namely, representation in a democracy, and the idea that for some reason it’s the countries built up by those of White European heritage that are being targeted for assimilation by all peoples of the world. For example we don’t hear too much about racism in China, or that POCs of the world are furious that there aren’t more Latina CEOs of Chinese companies (i.e. in precise correlation to their presence in China, at the very least). This despite the incredible brutality of Asian history and the wars, death, rape, and destruction that has occurred in these cultures completely separated from those of the pilloried White male.

    It would seem that leading figures in today’s media are nervous about helping White Americans to understand that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable with the extreme acrimony coming in on them from seemingly every other ethnicity. Is this because of another aspect of the zero sum game? I.e. that a given opportunity to burnish the righteousness of competitive victimhood in communities of color would be diluted if any real effort was made to allay the fears of White Americans? Is it desirable that White Americans should observe competitive victimhood with a positive common-sense conclusion in terms of their own privilege?

    In summary, reverse racism and competitive victimhood needs to be more clearly acknowledged in order for White Americans to abandon fears of the zero-sum game in terms of social equality and justice. All too often we’re so busy upbraiding White Americans about their privilege while seeming to avoid acknowledging that chastising/criticizing/attacking/undermining them while glorifying our own other ethnicities/tribes at their expense really does have aspects of it that allude to the zero sum game.

  36. Anne
    Anne May 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm |

    I think the only reason that capitalism thrives today is that poor white people believe want to be rich white people. They vote with greed and hatred. If computer were to select the optimal structure, it wouldn’t be capitalism.

    White privilege is alive and well.

  37. NaS
    NaS May 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm |

    If a person is white, but is severely disadvantaged in other respects, they can not meaningfully be said to be privileged. Perhaps they still have some small measure of white privilege, but in the face of their low IQ, extreme ignorance and poverty, hideous visage, congenital health problems, etc, it means little or nothing.

  38. shfree
    shfree May 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm |

    NaS:
    I thought my argument was going towards the manner in which race and class oppression interact. I am not saying that they do not interact, I am saying, class is way more important.

    And I really shouldn’t be doing this, because as I said upthread this posting isn’t about CLASS it’s about RACE, and to bring class into it makes it a classic derail, but ANYWAY, you can’t parse out oppressions that way. There isn’t some grand mathematical construct that you can work out how oppressions and privileges are weighed out in comparisons to one another to determine who is higher when all is said and done. Life isn’t tidy and neat that way. However, in THIS discussion, HERE, whites have privilege over POC. And class is a NON ISSUE. Because the subject of the post is RACE. FFS already.

  39. cat
    cat May 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm |

    I agree with Irishup, not with NaS. All white people do have white privilege, I explicitly stated in my earlier comment “of course white privilege exists”. I do not think discussion of white privilege is classist per se, I am saying that in practice, there is a massive amount of classism in these discussions. Coming at white privilege from an upperclass white perspective and centering around upperclass white people means that most discussions and writings on the subject either ignore the different ways that poor white people interact with these issues or outright blame poor people for all racism. It isn’t that poor white people do not have white privilege, or their fair share of racist assholes, or that poverty excuses racism, it is that there is at once a massive erasure and tacit scapegoating of poor communities in these discussions. Poor whites are not loosing anything to poor black people and latinos, but they are loosing in the current system, and they know it, so giving them the line that “everything will be okay because you are white” is seen as a boldfaced lie. Poor white people need to stop victimizing poor people of color with misplaced anger and hurt and instead put the blame where it belongs-on the fucked up classist system.

    I want to reiterate-I was not trying to claim that white privilege does not exist, or that poor whites do not have white privilege-I was trying to point out how the classism in this discussion (coming from upperclass people) is in fact classist and unhelpful.

  40. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    cat: I was trying to point out how the classism in this discussion (coming from upperclass people) is in fact classist and unhelpful.

    Can you be specific? Which comments?

  41. Kelsey
    Kelsey May 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    Anne:
    I think the only reason that capitalism thrives today is that poor white people believe want to be rich white people.

    for a start. Dude, stop oppressing yourselves, poor people!

  42. Raja
    Raja May 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    POC’s make some progress in this society and certain white people start bitching about it. typical.

  43. Miss S
    Miss S May 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm |

    I agree with Cat on this issue. Not all white people are privileged.
    But all white people have white privilege, and benefit from it. Even if they’re poor, disabled, etc.

    It should be obvious that class is more important than race in determining material and social success in life.

    Well, no. Class matters, of course. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to move up the class ladders if you’re white. Haven’t you ever heard people of color say how they have to work twice as hard to receive half the recognition of their white counterparts? There’s a reason for that. There’s also a reason that white people hold more wealth than AA’s.

    However, there will not be affirmative action for the poor white student.
    Just like there’s no White Entertainment Television, or National Association for White people, or Historically White Colleges and Universities? Oh, wait….

  44. XtinaS
    XtinaS May 23, 2011 at 10:53 pm |

    It’s like it’s only possible for certain people to look at race, for POC, but lord knows we must look at EVERY POSSIBLE ISSUE for white folk.  “White people don’t have privilege all the time!  Look at poor white people, or those with disabilities, or similar!  They’re not privileged!”

    Thus comparing all kinds of intersectionality things (I cannot word today) for white people versus… just racism.  Like POC can’t have other shit going on, as well.  Like classism doesn’t affect POC worse, when one is comparing POC and white people in the same socioeconomic stratus.

    Goodness.

  45. Jadey
    Jadey May 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm |

    NaS:
    I thought my argument was going towards the manner in which race and class oppression interact. I am not saying that they do not interact, I am saying, class is way more important.

    And people are disagreeing that class is way more important and pointing out the ways in which your analysis is flawed. This is not a case of “We don’t understand you” – it is most definitely a case of “We think you are wrong. Here’s why.” Also, if you understood intersectionality as a concept, you would understand why arguing that one form of oppression in its general sense is worse than another form is contrary to that concept. It does not work that way. The oppression will not be weighted.

    NaS: they can not meaningfully be said to be privileged. Perhaps they still have some small measure of white privilege

    If they are privileged, then they are privileged. Privilege does not negate co-occurring oppression. Seriously, if this is a new concept to you, you should be aware that there is a particular definition associated with privilege in this sense (and I do realize this can be confusing), and it does not mean that having privilege = living an awesome, carefree life. It means that one’s life, however much it may suck, does not suck in that particular way.

    Here’s Ampersand on the topic: Privilege Is Driving a Smooth Road And Not Even Knowing It

    I’m not saying the concept is immune from critique (personally, I do wonder if “privilege” isn’t too confusing a word sometimes – I often want to discuss power, which is what I think privilege really amounts to), but you are repeatedly showing your ass on this.

    Also, your chart is misleading – it is an analysis by religious group, not ethnicity specifically, and you picking out Hindus and Jewish people (the latter of whom do sometimes benefit from White passing privilege if not White privilege specifically, although that’s certainly a complex discussion of its own) does not address other racialized groups in the US who do absolutely experience disproportionate hardship with respect to education and income. You are again falling into the trap of not understanding intersectionality – these factors work in tandem, either to mitigate or amplify the effects of privilege – that chart teases nothing apart, nor was it intended to by the people who put it together. Your analysis is lacking.

  46. rayuela23
    rayuela23 May 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm |

    *sigh*

  47. vanessa
    vanessa May 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    Jesus, Jill, how does your head not explode?

    I need some resources for explaining/teaching about white privilege to a bunch of upper middle class white kids in a wealthy school district. They are all VERY smart, ethical kids but they just dont SEE it. If anyone has resources for me, PLEASE email vsteck at gmail dot com so that I can work on this.
    (does this count as derailing? If so, I’m sorry!)

  48. shfree
    shfree May 23, 2011 at 11:27 pm |

    XtinaS:
    It’s like it’s only possible for certain people to look at race, for POC, but lord knows we must look at EVERY POSSIBLE ISSUE for white folk. “White people don’t have privilege all the time! Look at poor white people, or those with disabilities, or similar! They’re not privileged!”

    Thus comparing all kinds of intersectionality things (I cannot word today) for white people versus… just racism. Like POC can’t have other shit going on, as well. Like classism doesn’t affect POC worse, when one is comparing POC and white people in the same socioeconomic stratus.

    Goodness.

    And this is why class has fuck all to do with the argument as how it’s been brought up here, particularly as how NaS is applying it. Different sorts of oppressions require different yardsticks.

  49. kloncke
    kloncke May 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm |

    Thanks to Jill for bringing this up and to others for highlighting productive tensions. Can I throw out an alternative view for a second? (Note: this turned out to be a long comment so if you feel like skipping it, please do! Man, it’s hard to concisely but usefully offer alternate premises…I’m trying my best; thanks for your patience.)

    So, I understand and, to an extent, agree with the prejudice/oppression v. privilege discourse, but I also find that a caste conception of racial oppression and bias (which I get from Selma James – anyone else use it?) helps me to understand those same problems in a more systemic and historically materialist way.

    A caste conception looks at race and says, Hm. So people are divided up into categories based on crude phenotypes, and people in the different categories are, generally speaking, trained to perform different types of work. Whites are more likely to be trained, expected, or encouraged to do managerial / entrepreneurial / boss-like work, and people of color are more likely to be trained, expected, or forced (through direct violence) to do menial, service, and variously productive labor. What group(s) might this setup serve?

    This caste system is completely intertwined with class divisions, as others have said here, and I would argue that that’s because historically it was a convenient way to justify why certain people are in the owning/ruling class, and others are in the working class, or are slaves, or are exterminated in order to steal their land. (Religious differences, age differences, and sex differences serve similar dividing functions.)

    Out of this racialized caste system, we get white privilege, which says: if you fit the contemporary white category (which includes, but is not reducible to, cultural mannerisms associated with wealth, Western Europe, New England, and Hollywood), people will “read” you as someone likely to be a boss, owner, manager, intellectual, professional. And you yourself, if you are poor and white, might be more likely to imagine yourself as a boss, owner, manager, intellectual, professional (though I head what you’re saying, cat, about a lot of poor whites who don’t identify that way, and do see the class line for what it is). Caste alone is not enough to get a poor white person there (that is, if they want to be “there”), but it helps.

    So the reason I like the caste framework, then, is that it emphasizes the ways that racial divisions help maintain capitalist divisions of labor in our class society. Privilege talk tends to be more like, “if only everyone had equal or no privilege, then we would be so much closer to our ideal meritocracy.” But the invisible knapsack of privilege will certainly never be done away with as long as we live under capitalism. Why? Because capitalism will always preserve or invent ways of categorizing people in order to lubricate divisions of labor, and justify class hierarchy. Tokenizing certain POC is fine as long as it doesn’t upset that fundamental division.

    At the same time, it’s not like we can get rid of class hierarchy without seriously addressing racism (and sexism, and transphobia, ableism, etc.) because we need serious class unity in order to make any kind of meaningful historical intervention.

    Am I being a wacko? Sorry if so! Just wanted to offer another way of looking at things, that I’m learning with my Marxist feminist study group. Holla, criticize, or ignore as you please. :)

  50. Azalea
    Azalea May 24, 2011 at 12:09 am |

    NaS: I agree with Cat on this issue. Not all white people are privileged. White privilege is a hobby horse of privileged white people, and is not a very useful lens through which to view the lives of poor whites. Although everyone knows there are poor white people, it seems like they are often rendered invisible when discussing racial justice issues. I mean, who is more privileged – a rich black person from CT with rich parents who goes to good schools, or a poor white person from rural West Virginia with poor and uneducated parents? It should be obvious that class is more important than race in determining material and social success in life. When you compare the poor white to the poor black, maybe the white comes out ahead in terms of opportunities for social mobility. They are less likely to be denied employment opportunities on the basis of their race or even their name, and their underfunded school might have a marginally better learning environment. However, there will not be affirmative action for the poor white student. Those AA opportunities may not benefit the low class black student either, as they are primarily a boon for already relatively privileged minorities, who are in a better position to take advantage of them. Actual privileged white people will also not be giving up their seats in elite colleges and corporations to make room for those hired through affirmative action, and so such programs probably negatively impact the social mobility of lower class whites.

    Tell me about how white priveldge doesnt exist for all whites when a white poor person is shot in the head by a police officer who thought they were using their taser gun and the police officer WALKS for murdering them, in cold blood with an audience in a very public place. Or did that not count because the victim of this actual scenario was NOT a white person but a POC? Keep in mind the victim was NOT wealthy or close to it. You can;t say shit liek white priveldge doesnt exist without spitting on the graves of people liek the aforementioned victim and those who suffered at the hands of white priveldge, deaths without justice because their lives were not considered worthy of justice.

  51. anon
    anon May 24, 2011 at 1:29 am |

    That’s simply not true.
    Obviously you’ve never been on the receiving end of real hatred based on nothing more than your ethnicity, but it effects you psychologically and on a really deep level. Now add to that the people you encounter in every aspect of your life having an underlying negative view of you……even if they don’t know it. It really wears a person down to deal with that every day. Priviledge is so much more than money.

    24 NaS 5.23.2011 at 6:19 pm
    I would not disagree that being white in this country, controlling for all other factors, provides some social advantage. Therefor, there is such a thing as white privilege and I am not trying to deny it. However, given that there are white people at all levels of society, white privilege cannot be a very powerful determinant of social and material success. A much more powerful determinant is the class you are born into, regardless of the color of your skin.

  52. Natalia
    Natalia May 24, 2011 at 1:37 am |

    If you’re white in the US and you’ve fallen on hard times – it’s easier to bounce back. If you’re born poor and white in the US, you’ll probably remain poor, but you will still benefit in many ways from being white – for example, you will have less of a chance of going to prison! Or getting shot by a cop! Et cetera!

    But I thought these things were obvious. Odd, how one has to keep pointing them out. Over and over again.

  53. Lis
    Lis May 24, 2011 at 3:39 am |

    I think this thread shows pretty much exactly why you shouldn’t ask White people about how race is affecting them and call it “truth” or “science”.

  54. rayuela23
    rayuela23 May 24, 2011 at 4:53 am |

    Lis:
    I think this thread shows pretty much exactly why you shouldn’t ask White people about how race is affecting them and call it “truth” or “science”.

    this is such an awesome comment it should be made twice.

  55. saurus
    saurus May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |

    This reminds me of that Tim Wise article on “playing the race card”, specifically where he notes that white people have essentially always believed that people of color have “had it better”, even when it was an unambiguously horrifically racist time in America.

    To quote (edited out some ableist language):

    So, for example, what does it say about white rationality [...] that in 1963–at a time when in retrospect all would agree racism was rampant in the United States, and before the passage of modern civil rights legislation–nearly two-thirds of whites, when polled, said they believed blacks were treated the same as whites in their communities–almost the same number as say this now, some forty-plus years later?

    What does it suggest about the extent of white folks’ disconnection from the real world, that in 1962, eighty-five percent of whites said black children had just as good a chance as white children to get a good education in their communities (12)?

    Or that in May, 1968, seventy percent of whites said that blacks were treated the same as whites in their communities, while only seventeen percent said blacks were treated “not very well” and only 3.5 percent said blacks were treated badly? (13)?

    What does it say about whites [...] that in mid-August 1969, forty-four percent of whites told a Newsweek/Gallup National Opinion Survey that blacks had a better chance than they did to get a good paying job–two times as many as said they would have a worse chance? Or that forty-two percent said blacks had a better chance for a good education than whites, while only seventeen percent said they would have a worse opportunity for a good education, and eighty percent saying blacks would have an equal or better chance? In that same survey, seventy percent said blacks could have improved conditions in the “slums” if they had wanted to, and were more than twice as likely to blame blacks themselves, as opposed to discrimination, for high unemployment in the black community (16).

    In other words, even when racism was, by virtually all accounts (looking backward in time), institutionalized, white folks were convinced there was no real problem. Indeed, even forty years ago, whites were more likely to think that blacks had better opportunities, than to believe the opposite (and obviously accurate) thing: namely, that whites were advantaged in every realm of American life.

    I have no doubt that even in the 60s and earlier, whites were complaining that “class has more to do with it”.

    As Lis said,

    I think this thread shows pretty much exactly why you shouldn’t ask White people about how race is affecting them and call it “truth” or “science”.

    Here’s the full Tim Wise piece.

  56. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |

    FFS. No one is saying that poor Whites don’t have it tough. But it’s rather naive to say that a rich Black person has far more privilege than a poor White person. Trust me when I say that middle-class and wealthy Black people are pulled over for driving while Black, hassled by curb crawlers for walking on the street while Black, and followed by store security for shopping while Black. They are also far more likely to rejected for jobs, etc. than Whites with the same credentials and background. [PDF]

    I get really fucking irritated with this because I’ve seen the same shit when it comes to misogyny. Oh, but what about less privileged men in X group? Yeah, and women in X group are shit on even worse. Being White and poor sucks. Being Black and poor sucks far, far worse because you’ve got racism as well as classism to deal with.

  57. Latoya Peterson
    Latoya Peterson May 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |

    miga:
    Mwahahaha, run for your lives white people!This is the aPOColypse~ and we take no prisoners!!!

    I am making this the new tagline for Racialicious. I can’t even finish reading the thread now, this is too awesome.

  58. matlun
    matlun May 24, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    When people are referring to “anti-white bias”, what specifically are they referring to? It is unclear to me, at least.

    The example referred to in the NYT article is (basically) about affirmative action. If this is what we are talking about, this is not a new discussion. (But I expect at least some respondents would count this as “anti-white bias”)

    As for the study itself, it is not that surprising. Both groups have “in principle” the same view of the change of bias over time (increase in anti-white bias and reduction in anti-black bias). That both groups focus more on bias against themselves is a very expected effect. (Standard human psychology, even though I agree that the white average of estimating anti-white bias as higher than anti-black is strange)

    The most interesting part of the study to me is that blacks rated current anti-black bias as low as they did (6 on a 10-point scale).

  59. Jason Antrosio
    Jason Antrosio May 24, 2011 at 9:37 am |

    Please be aware that there is a fundamental flaw in the Norton and Sommers argument–they do not actually have the data to support their claims. Their chart looks like it shows historical data, but what Norton and Sommers actually have is a survey from today, asking people “to indicate the extent to which they felt both Blacks and Whites were the target of discrimination in each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s” (Norton and Sommers 2011:216). And, of course, whites today say anti-black bias was a problem in the 1950s but drops steadily, whereas anti-white bias is steadily on the rise. Blacks today say the same thing, although not to the same extent. But that does not actually say anything about what people in each decade actually thought! All it does is support the dominant U.S. mythology: the idea that racism was a problem back in the 1950s but it’s going away or gone now.

    For more, see my blog-post “News? A so-called study on racism,” which also draws on the Tim Wise material quoted by saurus in comment #57:

    http://www.livinganthropologically.com/2011/05/23/news-a-so-called-study-on-racism/

  60. bhuesca
    bhuesca May 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |

    It seems obvious to me that OVERT, PUBLIC, LEGAL discrimination against Whites (i.e. advertising for ‘minorities only’ scholarship programs) would seem to be more publicly felt than COVERT, PRIVATE, ILLEGAL discrimination against POCs (i.e. advertising for ‘Whites only’ scholarship programs’).

    If one is legal and out in the open and public and media and advertising, how would that NOT seem to be a problem? Whereas discrimination which happens against POCs and other protected classes is rarely so overt. Of course, this has NOTHING to do with the FREQUENCY/INTENSITY of discrimination – just its overtness, its publicness, its legally sanctioned status.

  61. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 24, 2011 at 10:38 am |

    White people do not have a tough time because we’re white. We have a tough time because of other circumstances – poverty, illness, etc. But every POC starts with a “one step down” status because of the color of her skin in our sick and racist society. If you can’t see this, I don’t know how to help you.

    Remember the stupid joke about “How come there’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Kid’s Day?” Well, EVERY day is White Person Day.

  62. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 24, 2011 at 10:51 am |

    gslkj/gkjre
    e09t
    gfcbrgdtikt5

    Oh, hi! That’s me HITTING THE KEYBOARD WITH MY FOREHEAD.

  63. shfree
    shfree May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    tinfoil hattie:
    White people do not have a tough time because we’re white.We have a tough time because of other circumstances – poverty, illness, etc.But every POC starts with a “one step down” statusbecause of the color of her skin in our sick and racist society.If you can’t see this, I don’t know how to help you.

    Right. It’s my gender that makes it rough. It’s my orientation that makes it rough. It’s my chronic condition that keeps me locked in a situation that I would rather not be in for fear of losing insurance and having to pay hundreds of dollars of money a month I don’t have that makes it rough.

    My whiteness greased the wheels when I applied for Medicaid when I was pregnant, and when I landed in the ER and had my overnight stay after a big old seizure. My whiteness has greased the wheels every time I’ve gotten an apartment without having ANY credit. And as rat-poor as I might have been, I still had more privilege than a middle class POC. I at least wasn’t as likely to be shot.

  64. Xtra
    Xtra May 24, 2011 at 11:22 am |

    If I were to describe a person: A single mom on welfare, with no job and several kids with different fathers; what image gets created in your head.

    I’d bet every dollar I have it’s not going to be a white woman.

    The words, thief, criminal, rapist bring up an image that will most likely not be a white man.

    Hotel maid, janitor, who comes to mind?

    It may seem a small amount of privilege for poor whites but when you want to do something as simple as apply for public assistance, it matters.

  65. Vigée
    Vigée May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |

    This thread is awesome because it proves the point of the post. No additional evidence needed!

  66. andrea
    andrea May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    Jill: Yes. I’ve heard the same thing when folks complain about Gay Pride Parades — “Why do they need their own parade?” BECAUSE EVERY DAY IS A STRAIGHT PRIDE PARADE.

    And every day is White Person Day.

    Also, this thread is getting really ridiculous and embarrassing.

    Everytime someone plays the ‘We don’t have straight pride days’ argument I ask.. “Oh, so you’ve never been to, seen, or heard of a wedding?”

    tinfoil hattie:
    White people do not have a tough time because we’re white.We have a tough time because of other circumstances – poverty, illness, etc.But every POC starts with a “one step down” statusbecause of the color of her skin in our sick and racist society.If you can’t see this, I don’t know how to help you.

    This is probably the most concise explanation of white privilege I’ve read.

  67. IrishUp
    IrishUp May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |

    Vigée:
    This thread is awesome because it proves the point of the post.No additional evidence needed!

    QFT

    @Jason Antrosio;
    Thank you so much for the link. That graphic you provide is very telling, both in how consistently white respondents underestimated anti-black bias compared to the black respondents, and in how whites perceive decreased anti-black bias as RAISING anti-white bias. As if the universe is arranged such that a K (constant quantity) of bias must be present at all times.

  68. matlun
    matlun May 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |

    Xtra:
    If I were to describe a person: A single mom on welfare, with no job and several kids with different fathers; what image gets created in your head.

    I’d bet every dollar I have it’s not going to be a white woman.

    Interestingly enough, when it comes to me you would lose. With just goes to show that the stereotypes we have are very much dependent on culture (I am not American).

  69. miga
    miga May 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm |

    @ Latoya Peterson:

    Hooray! :) The Revolution will be online(?)

  70. Jenae
    Jenae May 26, 2011 at 3:10 am |

    vanessa: vsteck at gmail dot com

    Vanessa,

    Just sent you a long email with some links and attachments from cyranothe2nd at gmail dot com. I’m struggling with how to teach this as well, but at college level. You will meet with a lot of resistance. It’s important, I think, to stress that you are talking about institutional racism, not 1-on-1 racism/discrimination. It’s important to stress that you are calling your students racists but dupes of a racism system.

    Still…a lot of them won’t get it. You are brave to try to teach it at high school level. Needs to be done but a lot of teachers don’t want to touch it (hell, a lot of college professors won’t! That’s for the gender/American studies/cultural studies department…)

  71. Friday Links and Miscellany « Early Nerd Special

    [...] has a funny and important post about the concept of anti-white bias, an issue which was raised in a pretty terrible NY Times [...]

  72. Jenn
    Jenn May 28, 2011 at 12:51 am |

    Angel H.: It is a serious discussion of privilege and oppression: White Privilege and the oppression of People of Color. No one is denying that people in poverty have it bad (I’m homeless, FFS!). The articles are about White people being afraid of losing their White privilege. Please don’t derail the issue.

    Seconding the calling out on derailment so hard.

  73. Jenn
    Jenn May 28, 2011 at 1:04 am |

    IrishUp:
    All white people HAVE WHITE PRIVILEGE.

    This does not mean that they are male, orable-bodied, or rich, or well-educated, or sexuality and gender-norm identifying, or have any other axis of privilege.

    It does mean that, holding all other things constant, throwing in or removing a shared area of marginalization/eploitation, a POC is experiencing oppression when a WP is not. At the bank, at the grocery store, during a routine traffic stop, just walking around, at the hands of legislators, et cetera, ad nauseum.

    FFS, people. This is not up for debate. And NaS, that post is practically a Derailing for Dummies primer.

    UGH SERIOUSLY.

    Dear White People in This Post:
    I don’t care if you’re disabled, queer, a woman, poor, etc.: because you are white you have more advantages than a person of color in the same position.

    EXAMPLE: there is a queer white person and a queer person of color. The queer white person has more advantages in society because s/he is white.

    You are white. There is a bias against white people, and it’s a positive one. We get advantages that our peers of color do not get.

    End of discussion, this is not up for debate, do not pass go, do not collect $200, the end.

    Stop derailing and realize that you are white, and that no matter how many other intersecting oppressions you may have, you are still white and therefore more privileged than other people.

    Sincerely,
    Another White Person

  74. Jenn
    Jenn May 28, 2011 at 1:08 am |

    Bushfire:
    It doesn’t matter what thread, on what blog, you mention white privilege and the Doesn’t Get It crowd shows up.

    Sigh, so true…

  75. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker June 9, 2011 at 5:22 am |

    This kind of reminds me of that time Chris Rock said, “Black people didn’t make progress so much as white people just got less crazy.” Apparently there is still a lot of crazy left.

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