Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Imagine

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Another guest post by Dana



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I read a lot of blogs, written by a variety of people, on diverse topics, but I'd have missed Tim Wise's "Imagine If The Tea Party Was Black" if it weren't for a Facebook tirade initiated by a dear friend linking to a blog that re-posted Wise's piece.

The closing paragraph really made me think:

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

I respect Wise's opinion, but I think he sees just one side of this. White privilege.

I hate that term ... probably because I'm white ... and privileged, yet I take offense to the underlying implications; that I am responsible for the privilege.

I benefit from college education privilege, but I don't try to keep others from improving their education. I benefit from tall privilege (I know that sounds odd, but as a 6' tall female, I command more authority professionally) yet I don't try to keep short people out of management. I benefit from straight privilege (by perception only), yet support LGBT rights actively. I do benefit from white privilege, but I don't hold others down to maintain that privilege.

Maybe the term "white privilege" stings a little more because I have a dog in this fight. My bi-racial son will likely not benefit from white privilege, in fact, I've had to raise him to do better than everyone else to insure he has (hopefully) equal privilege.

If I could take white privilege away, I would, and in my own life I do at every opportunity. I continually point out concerns when decisions are not made from a perspective of inclusion. I am always aware of my posture in social situations and how that might present itself in a negative light depending on the environment. I hold people accountable for their blatant (and sometimes covert) racism.

I have a great appreciation for Wise's perspective and his right to speak it, but I often wonder if this button-pushing approach does more harm than good. Tell me what I need to do to (without compromising my own heritage) to minimize the effects of white privilege. Give me the tools to help and I will. I don't know what the "other side" needs unless the "other side" tells me what they need, and presuming I do only exasperates the problem.

It doesn't have to be "Game over" as Wise states, unless one side refuses to play.

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15 comments:

furiousBall said...

The Tea Party has really turned my stomach, I do have friends that joined Tea Party Movement groups on facebook after the passing of Healthcare Reform as some sort of Rep kneejerk reaction to huddle behind some sort of stone of morals (and hate).

Charlene said...

Mr. Wise's blog about this issue and his statement is true. It needed to be said.

Your opinion is valid also.

Although we beige people have a leg up on people of color. It is a fact but it does not give us the right to keep anyone down. The benign acceptance of the tea party gaggles would be very different if those holding the hate signs were black.

I have a sister in this group.
I have a very good friend, who I always felt was open minded and fair, in this group.

I am ashamed of them both.

Kirsty said...

I know what you mean... as a white South African I've grown up with an overwhelming sense of guilt - as though I commited all the crimes of apartheid just by being born white.
We can only see and treat each other as equals when we stop seeing the stereotypes. It's no better to lash out against white people because they've more easily had the things we hold most valuable - education, equality, etc. I sincerely hope that one day we will all have those things - but we won't get them through aggression that is still based on colour.

Dana said...

furiousBall, I find it unfortunate that the media - and a few radical fringe members - have turned a grass roots movement supporting fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets into what most people believe is the next coming of the KKK ... but that is an entirely different post.

Charlene, what's interesting is that here in Chicago there is a good representation of blacks at Tea Party rallies, and they are there in support of the movement.

Kirsty, my issue isn't as much white guilt as it is feeling that I don't have the proper ammunition to fight for change. I know it isn't fair, right or just, but I need to understand what I need to do to change it. Being told over and over again that I am the recipient of "white privilege" isn't productive (IMHO)

Stephen said...

Ok, I fully support Mr. Wise's right to free speech,,,,,,,,I just wish his arguments weren't so intellectually shallow. He needs to spend some time listening to Col. Jesse West.

Bond said...

I think the Tea Party is the worst thing that could happen to our country. their hatred is below whale s**t at the bottom of the ocean...and I agree, they are not 100% white.

Do I have privilege because I am white? I have not really felt that recently...I just wish we could all stop this us against them attitude because we are all AMERICANS and that should be the bottom line.

Dana said...

Stephen, I don't think Mr. Wise was going for the intellectual crowd, but rather stir up the emotional crowd. And he was quite successful!

Bond, then you are not going to like my post on Thursday! I think the Tea Party is a *good* thing, but I also believe there is an active fringe who has often taken it on as an opportunity to spew hatred.

I do not hold the Tea Party responsible for that.

Spiky Zora Jones said...

He has some VALID points as you do. And i don't think he will lay down and give up though he may make it appear that he will. The will to fight back is to strong. Writing the tirade alone proves that.

What I see too often are lines being drawn...my side and their side. Even in your post you stated...'I don't know what the "other side" needs unless the "other side" tells me what they need."

How can I say I know how he feels...I'm not black. I won't even try...I'll try to understand and I'll fight the fight to get equal right for everyone...And if he has really given up...I haven't. I'll fight that fight because it's the right thing to do.

later sweets...fab post.
xx
. w to be I'm white but have seen much to say he has a point as good points as you do...

BeBold, BeFierce and BeWell in the mountains of WNC! ♥ said...

Dana, I read his article and thought it was beyond brilliant into poignant! I am a white woman. a white lesbian woman. a disabled white lesbian woman. Does white priviledge still give me an edge over disabled black lesbian women? yes it does. I see what is going on in Phoenix and I think "how would I prove I was a citizen...then I hear in the back of my mind "well, doesn't matter, I would never be stopped and asked for my papers" and the reason I won't be asked is because I am white. My niece is adopted from Guatemala. My nephew from Columbia. They have been in this country since they were months old. They would be stopped. They are no less citizens than I am. white priviledge does exist. we can hate that is true - but it is. we didn't create it, but that doesn't matter. and doesn't make it any less real. NOW, the tea party is another whole story. and YES, the tea baggers are JUST like the KKK. they are carrying guns. and threatening to use them. How is that any different than burning crosses? (and sadly, in the name of their god!) I have been writing a rant on this very subject in my head all day. I plan to blog about my thoughts when they get clearer. Just because we didn't create it doesn't make it less real. I loved this article. It needed to be said. It is real. if this group were male, black kids wearing colors - saying and doing the exact same thing - they would have been arrested and charged with something the first time out. it's just the truth. be.

rubyphoenix said...

IMO, I don't think Wise is trying to press buttons but to open eyes to a reality. I suppose that's because I'm a young black woman who reads the paper, blogs and opinion columns everyday so frankly, my buttons are already pressed.

I don't know what the "other side" needs unless the "other side" tells me what they need, and presuming I do only exasperates the problem.

Statements like this are an example of your white privilege. You assume that you, as a white person benefiting from privilege, have to be the one to give the "other side" what they need. You're already doing what you can do as an individual. But you're reading Wise's statement from an angle of a person who is fighting for equality, and from what I can tell is active in that fight. The Tea-Party members, and people that Wise is speaking to don't recognize their privilege. Even if they don't outwardly say, "I hate the POTUS because he's black" they don't even recognize that them saying so won't have the same repercussions as if I stood on the street with a sign saying the same thing about GWB.

In order of privilege of any kind to be eradicated, we ALL have to acknowledge that it exists and make steps to change our own personal behavior.

Dana said...

Spiky Zora Jones, I don't like the lines being drawn either, and do my best to NOT draw them, but I also can't ignore that there are lines. I just want to know what I can do to at least help "fix" this.

BeBold, I agree. There is much truth in what he says, and maybe I'm just giving too much credit to the general population. I don't deny white privilege exists, but maybe there is a significant percentage of the white population who deny or justify that? I don't know. I'm already there and need guidance on how to help the issue become less of an issue.

rubyphoenix, as I said in the above comment, maybe I am oblivious to a significant portion of the population who *doesn't* see white privilege. I do, and know that it exists.

I think my line I don't know what the "other side" needs unless the "other side" tells me what they need, and presuming I do only exasperates the problem may have been unclear. I don't want to come across as feeling superior - being THE ONE with the power to fix this - but rather am unclear as to what direction I need to move in to eradicate white privilege.

Spiky Zora Jones said...

hi honey: I think by bringing your views and this post out is doing something possitive and that's making people think and see the different views out there.

keep going honey. xx

Poindexter said...

in my very humble opinion, I think that Mr. Wise is expressing this sentiment only for the purpose of contributing to general awareness. Not problem solving. Awareness is OK.

rubyphoenix said...

I think when it comes to any sort of privilege, awareness is the best we can do. When we recognize it in ourselves, be the first to reverse our own behavior. This blog, Tim Wise's piece and others like it, even if they only change one mind, are helping to erase the problem. Unfortunately it's not a fight that can be won with marches and rallies, but honestly I think little things we change in our everyday life are a boost for the cause.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I am so glad to have found your blog.

Good post.

You now have a new fan.