Sunday, September 14, 2008

Acting White: White-on-White Privilege

I am not a fan of Tim Wise. While I may agree with his analyses, I disagree with the guilt-frenzy he whips whites and blacks into. This guilt does neither group any good, as we live the reversing impact of the demands and gifts that follow. Nevertheless, his micro-analysis of Palin is on target and worthy of exceptional consideration./JC

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action...more

James C. Collier


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Sweating Through fog said...

Leftists love to engage in rhetoric that focuses on the relative privilege of people they disagree with. Why? Because they are really claiming Victim Privilege for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Care to dipute any of Wise's points?

James C. Collier said...

Sweating: I would challenge you that Wise's words have a low rhetoric quotient (less than his style) compared to others. As for being a leftist, that label is too easy and unrevealing. And you seem to miss that his 'disagreement' has to do with what he sees as theft of services and goods, vs. ideology. However, I am still searching history for a guilted transaction to ancestors that results in sustainable benefit.

Sweating Through fog said...

I see his words as all rhetoric, essentially "look at how privileged white people are, and (implicitly) look at how sophisticated and transcendent I am for pointing this out." But perhaps my original characterization is incorrect - it isn't Victim Privilege so much as blindness about the privilege of being a Victim Ally.

James C. Collier said...

Sweating: Wise's depiction of historical events is more, rather than less, accurate IMO. But his protest jumps the break into guilt-baiting revisionism when he implies that somehow US settlers should have known better (were superior) in mistreating Africans, esp. while non-whites in other locales were practicing the same mistreatment. If fact, the application of moral law is always spotty (opportunistic) on its way to an alleged status quo.

Anonymous said...

You call it white privilege and I call it America. Everyday someone justifies when they do it and condemns the other. This election is going to be the greatest social experiment that the world has ever seen. When all the news anchors keep saying I don't know why they don't vote for Obama it's obvious they hate Republicans. When Palin is not allowed to talk for two weeks because she got to play the poor woman position. Then McCain keeps trying to make ageism a issue but no one listens to their grandpa anyway.

The problem is will anyone remember? Will anyone learn from all of this? When a wise person tells the truth in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? LMAO this whole democracy is a load of bull and we are caught in the belief that somehow we are exercising our power.

See you in 4 years when people will bring up some more BS. Enjoy your life because within the mouse trap they have given you some cheese.

Anonymous said...

I think Tim Wise is important. He uses a tone that would only work for him, as a white man speaking to other white people.

As for some of the other comments, I dispute that Wise is liberal. Anti-racism is not a liberal "cause," nor is racism a conservative one.

You can not tell one's political leanings from one's opposition to or support for racism.

You don't believe me? Ask the Black women who tried to participate in the women's movement throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Anonymous said...

To quote Wise in the follow up article: "It's about responsibility, not guilt. And if one can't see the difference between those two things, there is little that this or any other article can probably do. Perhaps starting with a dictionary would be better."

Enough said.

Joe Friday said...

let's deal with facts. Obama changes his position on a whim, he has questionable allegiance to the nation he did not grow up in. He has a lot of friends of dubious character and a lot of friends who are openly racist and hate America.

Now he has ties to the current financial meltdown. Economic sabotage.

Who is he really. No one knows.

On the other hand we have a military vet, POW, and politician who's allegiance we can be sure of.

Who do you want in charge of the most powerful military in the world and the only thing between America and the rest of the world that wish to destroy us.

I have no reason to trust Obama. None Zero with our safety and security as a nation and every reason to think he will destroy this nation.

What better place to put a sleeper cell but in Americas White House over seeing it's military.

Sorry not the way I want to roll....

You can argue race till your blue in the face Obama is a national security dog that will not hunt.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Wise quote, lola. I never thought of him as someone whose purpose was to make white folks feel guilty about white privilege. He tends to focus on the "luxury" of white privilege and its benefits. And he's good at pointing out that much of their privilege is unearned.

macon d said...

Tim Wise must've done something right with this piece; I've seen it on dozens of blogs already, and five people so far have sent it to me over email.

James, your tendency to dismiss a lot of anti-racist effort as mere guilt-tripping interests me.

What do you see as the difference between guilt-tripping and telling people that they're responsible for changing things? The difference, that is, between "guilt" and "responsibility"?

James C. Collier said...

Macon D: I posted Wise's article because I think he's on point and the response will be beneficial. However, more eloquent descriptions of known racism (like his) compete for our mindshare for understanding and avoiding hidden victim dynamics that have millions of blacks mired at the bottom. The status quo guilt-dependent black leadership loves courageous standouts like Wise because he (unwittingly) breaths life into their tired, ineffective, approaches for extracting blood money that either never makes it to the people, or (if it does) only in a way that doesn't really help them.

James C. Collier said...

Macon D: Peraps another difference between you and I is that I came from a poor working class background and learned that no matter how the tiger feels about himself, he is still a tiger in the end, and what I need to focus on is something I control - my ability to avoid his teeth and claws and the need to outsmart his brain.

macon d said...

Good for you, James. I don't know, though, if those words are much good for other people.

I'm white, and grew-up in relatively well-off in an almost exclusively white suburb. I now realize that it's a terrible shame on people like me and my ancestors that we've arranged things in such a way that the tiger is more focused on people like you than it has been on people like me.

Why not work on crippling the tiger, rather than just telling its prey that they need to be quick and smart?

James C. Collier said...

Macon D: If my father could grow up depression-era dirt poor w/o parents and amid predators and yet defend himself and put us on a trajectory to living the dream - anyone can do it. It is your belief that some are not capable that has you award them gifts for just being, or to soothe your privileged shame. In either case the damage is severe. Opportunism, and with it exploitation, is the leading edge of 10,000 years of human development, while moral awakening is the trailing edge. This is the law of human evolution. You may wish to re-write this in your discomfort, but many a desperate man has been left in the desert holding another man's map.

macon d said...

I'm not saying others aren't capable. I would actually say that while your father may have been smart and hardworking, he was also fortunate enough to avoid the pitfalls fallen into by so many others in his position. I'm sure it wasn't just hard work, but luck as well, that helped him set you on a horse that's been fast enough for you to read the map that led you to the gold ring.

But James, don't you know that Social Darwinism died out with the dinosaurs? Well, okay, it was a LITTLE later than that, but still, you should try to keep up with the times!

It's nice that your father had bootstraps to pull himself up by when white America told him to do so. It's hard to run from that tiger on the bare feet that so many others had to use.

James C. Collier said...

Macon D: You are missing it. Dad had zip, no parents, no boot straps, no nothing, along with white folks throwing Darwin's marbles under his feet. Social Darwinism may be dead (not) in the suburbs, but it is alive and well in urban and rural America. And certain partisan political machines on both sides will keep it alive given the chance. Keep up you say? I say to you (with all due respect) wake-up.

Anonymous said...

Tim Wise is not an honest broker. The man is quite vile.
A private email to me demonstrated that point quite well.

Anonymous said...

Yes many families have their issues. Palin's daughter being one of them in her family. I don't know how it can be construed as priviledge when no one has claimed it to be but only hoped for as a courtesy that anyone would wish for.
Apparently when it is expected for that family matter to remain a family matter and not be used to criticize Sarah Palin's motherhood some people don't like it because they think they should be able use that situation as fodder for the cannons aimed squarely at Palin.

But but we know without a shadow of a doubt that if the same thing were going on with one of Barrack Obama's daughters the same people complaining about Sarah Palin's supposed "white priviledge" would claim the same priviledge but described as neither white or black but just plain courtesy.

And the author describes that same priviledge he would claim for Obama as "white" when Palin hopes for the same courtesy.

Who really is the racist here?

The authors points? He has none.
He would be claiming those same points for Obama if the situation were reversed and doesn't know himself well enough to admit it.

Anonymous said...

First, great discussion going on here. That's why I visit this site.

Secondly, wow there's a lot in there, but one jumped out at me as odd:
"White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug."

Is that white priveledge? A white guy shooting off guns in Alaska may be a redneck, or may be a hunter. A black guy shooting off guns is, well, probably not a hunter, and likely a thug.

In my mind there's not too much difference between a redneck and a thug. Both are generally classified as none too bright, prone to violence, and not cream-of-the-crop.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Wise is that he is a liar and manipulator. He certainly wouldn’t complain about black power to those tied to the ANC. No doubt he will be voting for Obama as long as Obama vows to protect Israel at all cost.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we hear Wise complain about Chinese privilege?
His only concern seems to be to make whites feel even more guilty about things they had no hand in.

babybro said...

Interesting discussion to say the least. That is one thing that is great about this presidential race, it allows topics that never would be discussed to be out in the open. I highly doubt we would be talking about white privilege on such a scale if this was just a regular event.