Please check out this great list from The Frisky! Send it to your friends (white people especially).
Roberts was part of a court majority earlier this year that upheld the rights of states to ban racial preferences in university admissions. The 6-2 decision came in a case brought by Michigan, where a voter-approved initiative banning affirmative action had been tied up in court for a decade.
“This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted,” Holder said. “In its most obvious forms, it might be. But discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.”
I love a lot of things about my man. He’s funny, he’s honest, he works hard, he reads. His intellect and his artist’s eye will blow you out of the water. He’s well-traveled. You get the idea—I think my boyfriend’s amazing. I’m sure a million other girls would say the same about their significant others.
One of the things about this man that I will always remember is his reaction to this conversation between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks (who I was delighted to see address the fact that the lowercasing of her name backfired). I live on the internet and am constantly reading articles all over the place, seeing funny images and comics, commenting on statuses and blogposts…and so I’m constantly sending my boyfriend links. Anything that makes me think of him, that I think he’d laugh at or otherwise appreciate, that I need him to share in my rage about, I send it to him. My guess is that he only sees about 20% of what I send because he does not live on the internet— but what he does see, we usually talk about. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up, looked at my phone, and saw a text from my man— who, six months before, had no familiarity whatsoever with feminism— that said:
“I love bell hooks.”
Could there be anything more beautiful?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we (or anyone) have been able to completely escape the patriarchy. We had a lengthy argument one very early morning about the state of my armpit hair. We debated once, for days, women changing or not changing their names after marriage (and we come back to the topic often). Just recently, he told me that sometimes you have to let a man be a man and a woman be a woman. Outraged, I asked what on earth he meant by that, especially when he already knows darn well what kind of woman I am.
“I think,” he said, “my manliness would be when I say I’m done talking about something. And your womanliness would be when you just keep right on talking about it anyway.”
Which of course, I did.
There have also been times when racism goes completely over my head because I’ve never had to deal with it. We’ve both said, wittingly and unwittingly, sexist and racist things. The difference, I think, between now and before we were together is that we address those things, acknowledge them and learn from them, which sometimes is all you can really do.
By human standards, I’m a little new to the relationship game. I’ve been with my boyfriend about a year, and before that I’d been pretty darn single for almost four years. So I’m maybe not the MOST experienced or seasoned person to give romantic advice. I imagine, however, that when you’re with somebody and plan to do it for a long time, you find a lot of good in everything they are in do. Even in their annoying habits, even when they say the complete WRONG thing or don’t shut up when they need to, hopefully you even find a little good there (or at the very least, some amusement). I’m coming to appreciate most aspects of who my man is, and I hope that feeling is mutual.
It’s not hard to appreciate that he loves bell hooks, though, and there’s a Beyoncé/bell hooks post forthcoming.
It perplexes the hell out of me that educated people have such a problem grasping the concept of privilege. I think it’s because when we think of the word “privilege,” many of us tend to think of rewards. A gold star, a sum of money, a medal. Especially money. We tend to think of ease and comfort.
And while there is certainly an element of ease involved in white privilege, what it’s really about is opportunity.
I hate to give publicity to anyone who seems like a douchebag (and this guy really, really does), but what got me thinking about this was an article I saw today. It was shared by Guerrilla Feminism on Facebook, and it concerned the writing of a Jewish Princeton student who was denouncing the idea of white privilege. After telling readers of his ancestors’ struggles (and deaths) during the Holocaust, he goes on to say this:
That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still conquering them now.
The truth is, though, that I have been exceptionally privileged in my life, albeit not in the way any detractors would have it.
It has been my distinct privilege that my grandparents came to America. First, that there was a place at all that would take them from the ruins of Europe. And second, that such a place was one where they could legally enter, learn the language, and acclimate to a society that ultimately allowed them to flourish.
It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.
Now, let me just take a moment to say that I don’t in any way mean to diminish someone else’s struggle. The experiences of his family in the Holocaust, the experiences of any Jewish person in America, those are experiences I’ve never had and will never know. The Holocaust was horrifying, devastating, and any person that went through that deserves respect and more.
That said…what this guy says after that isn’t quite accurate. If you read the entire article, he describes the hard work of his grandparents and father, earning money, getting into great schools, running a successful (but, he points out, not very influential) business. His place in life, he says, is owed to the hard work of those who came before him, not to the color of his skin, and as you can read in the excerpt I posted, America doesn’t care about religion or race.
This is where we can see a dude who, while he is obviously well-written and well-educated concerning his personal family history, seems to have missed a great deal in terms of American history, not to mention religious studies. Which is weird, because he’s obviously familiar with Martin Luther King Jr. (“the content of your character”). So why doesn’t he care to acknowledge the Civil Rights movement?
What if your hard-working grandfather and father had come to America….and not had access to the job opportunities available only to white people? To the same lunch counters that white businessmen had access to? The same neighborhoods? The same water fountains?
Maybe their hard work would have been a little bit different, and maybe even a little more divided- between family, work, and fighting to be accepted as a full human being.
This guy seems to already know that context is extremely important- he points out that you never know another person’s struggles, another person’s background, their history, their context. And yet, he’s content to focus on one big part of history while ignoring another ENORMOUS part of it.
That’s not to undermine the accomplishments of his family, or even of the man himself. But if you’ve gotten into Princeton, you must’ve had to take some sort of social science? Some kind of history? How could you have forgotten Civil Rights (not to mention, oh I don’t know, slavery)?
Having white privilege doesn’t mean that all white people have lives that are, to quote this article, “a cake walk.” (And I wonder if Kyle Becker of Independent Journal Review even know what a cakewalk is or where it came from?) It doesn’t mean you’ve never had to work hard, that you are rich, or that your achievements are not worthwhile. What it means is that you (and those in the generations before you in America) had access to opportunities that not all people do; that you’ve never had to wonder if MAYBE you weren’t hired at a job because of the color of you skin; that you’ve generally seen people that look similar to you in most facets of popular media; and that you’ve never felt that you had to make drastic changes to your vernacular in order to be perceived as intelligent, let alone fully human.
Tal Fortgang, from whitey to whitey: I understand that you’ve worked hard, that your family has worked hard, and I’m very happy that because of that, the American Dream is coming true for you.
But let me remind you that the American Dream was originally a white dream. Allow me to assure you that if you and your family hadn’t been white? That hard work would have been doubled by displacement, by an uncertain history, by discrimination, and by segregation.
The fact that you can simply ignore the Civil Rights movement and use Martin Luther King’s words out of context in order to deny your privilege, I think, says it all.
(Oh, and America doesn’t care about race or religion? You could stand to do some reading up on your current events as well.)
Just a few days ago, Bill O’Reilly showed several clips from Beyoncé videos and said something along the lines of, “Shame on you Beyoncé. You’re not empowering women. Look at all the teen/unplanned pregnancies in the black community!”
(Bill O’Reilly just wants to keep young black girls on the right path. Such a kind heart. <3)
“Disgraceful,” said my grandfather, who was next to me on the couch. Fox News is a favorite channel at his house.
Frowning and perplexed, I refrained from trying to question Bill O’Reilly through the TV screen. Instead, I’ll present my thoughts here.
Bill O’Reilly apparently criticized Beyoncé out of concern not only for young impressionable women, but out of concern for the black community. I’ve noticed that O’Reilly and Fox and a lot of news sources in general are quick and almost happy to point out problems they observe as belonging to “the black community.” Violence in the black community. Poverty in the black community. Abuse in the black community. Pregnancy, abortion, sex. You get the idea— you just take any problem you can think of, and you add “in the black community.”
So…where’s the concern for the issues of the white community?
I’m serious. Most of these newscasters are white, aren’t they? And just look at what’s been in the news lately:
-the KKK launching a neighborhood watch initiative. I sure do feel safer now!
How can you look at this and not see the ENORMOUS problem here?
Why isn’t Bill O’Reilly calling on the white community to call friends out on their racism, to discourage family members from associating with organizations like the KKK, to tell their children exactly why Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling’s remarks were so wrong? Forget the black community for minute, Fox, and take a look at all those aging white viewers you’ve got. There’s a definite problem, and instead of trying to solve it, the white community is just looking the other way, pretending these current events and remarks are all isolated incidents.
The closest any news source seems to have come to doing this is CNN, who seems to want to help the KKK change its image. You’re right CNN— we don’t need to abolish the KKK, we just need to rebrand them and make them “new”!
As my grandfather would say, it’s a disgrace!
Fellow white people, please join me in my concern. There is a problem here, and it’s OUR racism. If we are the mainstream, if we are the majority, shouldn’t we be striving to set a good example? We can’t continue to let these kinds of attitudes permeate and represent our community.
**And on a personal note, Bill O’Reilly— if you’re concerned about unplanned pregnancies, why aren’t you more concerned about access to contraception and less concerned about deprecating black female sexuality?
So here’s the first of several posts I want to make to address some of the feedback I’ve been getting. The first is from my amazing friend whose name I won’t be posting until I have permission. She is a badass budding anthropologist and woman of color. Here’s what she said…
“I do know from experience that white guys worry more than anyone else about this topic and it always confused me.”
Why DO a lot of white guys worry so much about how big their dicks are? Can any white males address this? Are you just worried you’re small, or is it about besting another person or worse, besting another race? (Let me just give you a memo: The more YOU worry about it in front of the person you’re sleeping with, the more THEY will also think about your potential smallness.)
“I’ve noticed that men tend to not like black people more. Almost every single white friend I have. Father or grandfather are racist. Like they can work with poc, talk to them but dear god none in their house. It’s like the movie Save the Last Dance. ‘Oil and Milk don’t mix.’ …your post about your grandfather reminds me of all those cases because it’s not that they KKK hate black people, but they Jesus had to be white hate black people”
Two things: 1. I, personally, don’t have any concrete religious beliefs. 2. I’m not sure how any ultra-religious bigots would even FIND this blog. So for the time being I’m not going to address the “Jesus had to be white” stuff other than to say gee, it sure is a convenient belief in countries that were established (or colonized) by white people.
One thing I have noticed (and that is pointed out all over the internet, all over social justice literature, all over anything related to intersectionality) is that sexism and racism are inextricably, almost endlessly linked. My grandfather, for instance, once told me that women have to keep men in line because otherwise, men will act like animals.
“But isn’t that insulting to men?!” I asked, incredulous. I’d never seen my grandfather act like an animal in his life.
“No,” he said. For him, it was just the truth.
My grandfather was also perfectly content to work alongside black people (aka, he didn’t KKK hate them), but not so content when I fell in love with a black man (he thought our relationship was morally wrong, which brings us to his morals, which brings us to White Jesus).
About my blogpost:
“I feel like you’re always trying to over explain. It comes off like I’m not racist and here’s my proof.”
It’s true. I do it for a few reasons, among those are respect, insecurity, and the fact that in this world, hatred runs rampant in all directions and I want to cut it off at every possible path. There’s also the matter of internalized prejudice, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Additionally, whenever I talk about feminism or racism, I feel a little like I’m taking lessons and retorts from every other time I’ve ever talked about feminism or racism. Which means I’m taking cues from activists/writers/bloggers/people whose points I’ve respected and agreed with, from people who’ve shared their own experiences with prejudice, and of course, from the people I’m closest to.
This also means that I’m remembering the reactions of those who have disagreed. Which means every time I talk about any sort of prejudice, I’m anticipating “Not all men are like that” and “Not all white people are like that.” And that really pisses me off.
First of all, I know “not all men are like that.” For goodness sakes. In fact, a lot of the feminists I’m friends with as well as many of the feminists I follow on tumblr are in serious, longterm relationships with men. As am I. When I bitch about patriarchy, I’m pointing out a system that provides certain advantages to straight, white, cismen. That doesn’t mean that every straight white cisman’s life is a picnic, and it doesn’t mean they’re all douchebags. What it does mean, though, is that a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT OF THEM ARE. You can see it in the news, in crime, in politics. You can see it in the halls of high schools. You can see it every time anybody who ISN’T a straight white cis man tries to have a conversation about privilege or oppression, and a white dude responds with, “Let me just play devil’s advocate.”
Similar feelings on the statement “Not all white people are like that,” plus one more: why would you tell ME what all white people are like? I’m a white person. I’m addressing racism. Dear god. I know not all white people are “like that.”
On the other hand…in some ways, we are.
We all internalize sexism and racism. Both men and women do, both black and white people do, and so does everybody else in between and all around. Black people can be racist against their own people. Women can be sexist against other women. And there is no reverse-racism or reverse-sexism, because both terms imply an institutional power behind the prejudice. If you need a better explanation, here’s a link.
There’s also Google.
If someone calls you out on racism or sexism, do us all a favor and just pause. Pause, try not to immediately get angry, and listen. Do not respond with “People are oversensitive” or “My best friend is another race.” Because we all internalize prejudices in some way or another. It happens, and your non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-cis, or even all-of-the-above friend can’t save you from that.
You don’t need to apologize for being white. But you can and should acknowledge your privilege and, if applicable, your prejudice, and listen to the points of view of other people
Pause, listen, and actively educate yourself.
Feel free to message me and I will happily over-explain the answers to any questions you have, or point you in the direction of someone who can.
So primarily thanks to tumblr (dear god I love that place), particularly this awesome blog and also this awesome blog and many others, I’ve gotten some views and some feedback on that post about, well, dicks.
With time, more writing, more shares, etc, my hope is that eventually this blog will include more perspectives on interracial couples/racism than my own and my man’s, and I wanted to make sure I shared some of that feedback.
One of the things I saw repeatedly was that a lot of black women in particular have been asked by white dudes how they compare to black dudes. -_- So much intimidation and insecurity.
Another thing was that the discussion should be opened up to include ALL racist body stereotypes (e.g. black women all have big butts), how they’re perpetuated, and ESPECIALLY how they’re fetishized by white people.*
Last but not least, someone on tumblr remarked, “This is the type of thing that white people need to tell other white people…”
Yeah, we really do. What white people (I need to think of tags that will bring in more white people) really need to get past is that idea that racism isn’t our problem…because basically, when it comes to racism, we ARE the problem. Our obliviousness IS the problem.
So in my next post, which will hopefully come tomorrow, I’m going to try and address the feedback I got and go into a little more detail.
And thank you so, so much to those who posted the link to my blog. It is deeply appreciated (and so is your feedback, your suggestions, your criticism, etc).
*Yes, I KNOW white people aren’t the only people who fetishize other races. That doesn’t excuse the problem.