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Thread: White Privilege

  1. #1
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    Default White Privilege

    I write this at the peril of being called a 'privileged white girl', but "white privilege" is something that has seemed to crop up a lot recently, and I see many posts by white people saying things like "UGH, I HATE WHITE PEOPLE", and it just got me thinking.

    Firstly, I am not in any way denying that, in general, white people do have privileges that people of colour do not. And I realise that much of the backlash and criticism has occurred because of the under-representation, stereotyping, etc that comes with not being white.

    However... where is the line drawn between white and black? I feel many people who write about white privilege do so in a very simplistic way, in a way that dismisses other (minority or not) groups' experiences - Are Roma gypsies or Irish travellers considered to be availing of white privilege? They definitely are not as far as I know. They are white, right? Or does white privilege only apply to US and British citizens and those who are living in a Western society and are not still oppressed?

    Can Jewish people feel that they have come from an oppressive background, or is mentioning the Holocaust pulling some sort of sympathy card? Many Eastern European immigrants in Ireland are still oppressed today - there are hundreds, if not thousands of Poles and Romanians working for less than minimum wage here. Are Irish peoples' histories of oppression under English colonisation and the oppression experienced after emigration to the States (and indeed there was an Irish slave trade) dismissed because we are white, and now we are not oppressed?

    White people are always under fire for cultural appropriation of other races culture - eg Native American headdresses etc - and I agree that this is wrong to do. But, if we dress up as a stereotype from another "white" nation, is that okay? People here will dress up as stereotypical Romanians for Halloween - but this is seen as okay.

    So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, people of colour's opinions are often dismissed, they are under-represented in the media, they are often dismissed, and all that is totally wrong...but, is the backlash also not dismissing non-US, non-British and in general non-wealthy white people? Is not "white people" vs "people of colour" not way too simplistic?

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    I don't know, Alison, I'm a privileged white man and I want to opress your little privileged white ass......well, only if you'll learn Slovak language.

    But seriously, here in Slovakia, we are still racist. I told a facebook friend to stop being a heavy racist. Then, there is a professor who told that Neymar was a gypsy because he "simulated" fractured vertebra, but that was a soft racism and I didn't tell anything. But, I still wonder if I'm a racist, at least a latent one, in such an environment. I wouldn't marry an ass of colour. Maybe, it's not that bad, my cousin wouldn't mind settling down in fuckin' Chile with a woman who would call him El Rico. And some other more distant member of a family married some Indian woman in the USA.
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    When I talk about white privilege, I'm not talking about the world as a whole, as that would be ridiculous. I cannot speak for systematic oppression or racism in countries outside of the US, that shit is all very different depending on the country.

    It is a very real thing here because there is institutionalized prejudices in place that bolster the rights and privileges of white men, and make life harder on everyone else. Of course, there are some unfortunate societal norms I deal with as a straight, white dude (often shit created and perpetuated by straight, white dudes) and there are of course oppressed white folks, but there is not a culture literally built around fucking us white dudes over in the US.

    In the new movie Exodus a white Moses saves white Jews from a white Pharaoh who has black slaves. That's the kind of shit people are talking about when they say 'I hate white people'.

    Also, I'm not sure many people would make the argument that what is going on in Zimbabwe isn't racist and oppressive.
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    Perhaps it's the fact that I'm not coming from a US perspective that I cannot understand this. It just appears as though much of the world is being dismissed for the institutions that are in place in a number of countries (granted, some very large and powerful countries). In somewhat the same manner that much of the world dismisses black people as being one set people, all from the country Africa (sarcasm alert).


    Also, OC HAU, I've heard many stories about the racism and sexism in Slovakia. Yet fuck, the accent is sexy.

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    Alison, the concept of "white privilege" is too wide and sweeping to honestly be a good argument for real progress, in my opinion. I agree with you, of course, that white people in western society do benefit from a lot of things that non-white people do not. And I also understand where the anger with white people came from.

    I just don't think the sweeping generalizations about white people, or about cultural appropriation, etc is doing any good. There are so many flaws... stop saying that OUR (white Americans') ancestors were responsible for slavery in the US. My ancestors emigrated in the early 20th century from Germany and Poland; most white Americans did not descend from plantation owners, and it's a sweeping generalization. Yes, I know that after slavery ended, it became an issue of white society limiting black society and led to ridiculous stereotypes and horrible behavior. I just don't think it's furthering any cause to tell all white people that their ancestors were involved with this shit.

    Then there's shit like white Americans losing their shit over an Australian who threw some Africa-themed party where guests were wearing black face. I personally found it a bit insensitive, but black face is not the issue in other countries that it is in the US, and one must consider context before deciding it's racist. But there's this knee-jerk "everything is racist!! I'm so guilty!!" response these days. I actually had a white cashier in Minnesota refer to her black (like, second generation African, very dark skin) coworker as "the woman with the darker complexion". I was confused for a moment before asking, "You mean the black lady?" She turned red in the face and looked like I'd just said the most offensive thing imaginable. I'm sorry, but when there are 15 white people around and one black person, there is absolutely nothing racist about calling them the black person - it'd be exactly the same if there were 15 black people around and one white person. Darker complexion?? She wasn't tan!!

    And I'm not blaming non-white people for this in any way, but governments in white countries have come up with ridiculous affirmative action/positive discrimination laws that benefit non-whites in ways that actually result in HURTING their progress. I worked at a pizza place years ago that was 99% white. We had one black guy as an assistant manager, and one Mexican guy as a delivery driver. These guys had specifically been hired to fulfill a quota in order for the GM to get benefits from the government. Most of the white people who sucked at their jobs got fired, because our boss didn't get any benefits from having them in particular. The black guy would wait til I got to work, instruct me on all the prep work to do, and then go sit in his car with his music blazing and talking on the phone with friends. For hours. The Mexican guy would frequently take deliveries short distances and come back 45 minutes later - I encountered his car a few times on campus and he would park his car after a delivery and take naps. Neither of these guys' jobs were at risk because of faulty laws, and all this did in the end was keep crappy workers in jobs so our boss could receive benefits. This is not the fault of non-white people, of course, but rather actually white people's attempted solutions to these problems.

    Then we get into location. In Austria, they seem to hate Poles more than anyone. Here in Slovenia, they don't mind black, Asian, etc... their problems are with southerners (especially Albanians), who are also white. (I've heard several times in response to questions about whether or not you'd help a stranger in need. "First I'd ask his surname. If it ended in -ic, I wouldn't help him." In Czech, they're mostly aggressive toward the Roma/gypsies. Once a black friend visited in me in CZ and we were attacked by Czechs (throwing stuff at us, and verbal aggression before we just left) and then I was followed home by a couple of them. When I told my friends and students about this, they said, "Your friend was black? Weird. I mean, it'd make sense if your friend was a Gypsy, but not black...!"

    The point is, everywhere you go, people have a problem with someone. There always has to be someone to fear or hate in society, whether it's about race or religion or nationality or culture or sexuality or gender. I support true equality across the board (which means I don't support affirmative action/positive discrimination laws), whether that's for race, sexuality, or gender. "White privilege" is a distraction and does little to create actual change. It creates guilt in people until they really start thinking, and then they get angry at the entire notion because it's so flawed.
    Last edited by Llamas; 08-02-2014 at 04:54 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Perhaps it's the fact that I'm not coming from a US perspective that I cannot understand this. It just appears as though much of the world is being dismissed for the institutions that are in place in a number of countries (granted, some very large and powerful countries). In somewhat the same manner that much of the world dismisses black people as being one set people, all from the country Africa (sarcasm alert).
    Oh fuck, that reminds me of the god-awful term "African-American". I'm sorry. I have a lot of American friends, some of whom are black and some of whom are white. All of those friends are American, and none of them are African any more than I'm a German-Polish-American. I am an American and I am not German or Polish. I don't know a single black person who likes this term. Also, it's funny when white Americans accidentally use it for every black person without realizing it. I've seen Americans travelling in Europe call black people in Europe "African-Americans". Uhhhh....


    Also, OC HAU, I've heard many stories about the racism and sexism in Slovakia. Yet fuck, the accent is sexy.
    Racism, sexism, and homophobia are pretty rampant throughout Slovakia and Czech. Big part of why I had to get outta CZ!
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
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    I do not smoke and do not do drugs

    I just do bumpin in my trunk

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    White privilege? What privilege? I've never seen so many white tramps in the last few months. As a rule, white folks are not getting any help, chiefly because they're deemed privileged enough, being white, and left to fend for themselves. Benefits - not just financial ones, but quotas and so forth - from the "nanny-state" are aimed at immigrants, most of them not white nor even off-white, and those raised in "difficult suburbs".
    Last edited by Duskygrin; 08-02-2014 at 05:17 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, people of colour's opinions are often dismissed, they are under-represented in the media, they are often dismissed, and all that is totally wrong...but, is the backlash also not dismissing non-US, non-British and in general non-wealthy white people? Is not "white people" vs "people of colour" not way too simplistic?
    I think the concept really only works well in the US. Like WebDudette said, it is a very real thing there. Various factors have conspired throughout the history of the nation in order to make it so. America's melting pot followed a unique recipe. I hadn't really even considered the concept relating to other places before now. As Llamas said, everywhere you go people have a problem with someone. It seems that inequality is a universal trait of humanity. But, as has been pointed out already, it certainly doesn't begin and end at skin colour. People will find reasons to hate. Skin colour provides a nice, obvious distinction to base that hatred on but in the absence of it we'll find something else.

    You mentioned, very briefly, the concept of wealth and I'm surprised no one else has ran with that yet. Because while racism and bigotry are terrible problems in the world I do not believe anything causes as much inequality and suffering as the divide between rich and poor. In fact, the problem of white privilege in America is, in my opinion, primarily economic. The majority of the wealth has been hoarded by white people. People of colour have intentionally been kept in poverty. Everything else stems from that. Racism has been used to defend, explain, and maintain it but at the core the problem, in my opinion, is not racism but capitalism. It manifests racial symptoms but the disease is capitalism and inherited wealth. Over time the problems have become institutionalized into the very fabric of the nation's culture. To generalize, privilege stems from power and power stems from wealth.

    These days I see the term "white male privilege" getting more use than simply "white privilege" and I like that people are recognizing the large role patriarchy plays in the whole thing. Again, that's very much something that applies to the US and I wouldn't necessarily attempt to apply it everywhere else.


    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    I've seen Americans travelling in Europe call black people in Europe "African-Americans". Uhhhh....
    It's an awful term. I've seen it used to identify folks who considered themselves to be neither African or American. When I lived in the US I was friendly with a Nigerian guy and I asked him if it annoyed him that people referred to him as "African-American" when he's not American at all. He said that didn't really bother him, but it did annoy him when black Americans referred to themselves as "African-American" when they had never been to Africa, knew nothing about Africa and generally just had no reason to identify with Africa at all. He told me this was a common sentiment amongst actual Africans. Makes sense.
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  9. #9
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    I agree with everything you said Llamas.

    People seem to throw out the term all the time now. I was watching some youtube videos earlier and half of them had comments saying stuff like "shitwhitepeople do" and "typical white person", when the videos had absolutely sweet feck all to do with race.

    I'm feeling disappointed lately because a few people whose blogs I would have followed, mainly feminist themed blogs, are throwing out this "white people suck" stuff, and anyone who says a thing against it gets told they are a whiny white privileged shit.

    I'm very thankful that it is mainly a US phenomenon, but I can't help but feel that some eejits here have already started saying it, the same way people here emulate American accents.
    Even in the US this is way too simplistic. There's thousands of people who aren't privileged, and many of them are white. Look at all those hillbillies (oopsies I mean "folk who live in trailers majorly in the Southern US States" )

    Also, yes on the "African-American" thing. People are lambasted for saying "I'm Italian-American" or "I'm Irish-American". Everyone who is born in the states (or at least second generation) is American in my eyes. If we all put our distant ancestral backgrounds in what we call ourselves, we'd all sound like fools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duskygrin View Post
    White privilege? What privilege? I've never seen so many white tramps in the last few months. As a rule, white folks are not getting any help, chiefly because they're deemed privileged enough, being white, and left to fend for themselves. Benefits - not just financial ones, but quotas and so forth - from the "nanny-state" are aimed at immigrants, most of them not white nor even off-white, and those raised in "difficult suburbs".
    HA HA HA

    I'm sorry... I thought we were from the same country but apparently not...

    I really really hope that you are trolling. I really do.


    Anyway, on the main topic, it's just wrong to generalize an entire population and that goes for white as well...

    Also, I understand the "white people" term, as americans use it on the Internet (white people stereotypes and such...) as something that does not include all white people but only a certain category of wealthy white people... the kind that could make Tom Wolfe characters...


    In fact, the problem of white privilege in America is, in my opinion, primarily economic. The majority of the wealth has been hoarded by white people. People of colour have intentionally been kept in poverty. Everything else stems from that. Racism has been used to defend, explain, and maintain it but at the core the problem, in my opinion, is not racism but capitalism. It manifests racial symptoms but the disease is capitalism and inherited wealth.
    I completely agree with this. Which could explain why Dusky thinks that all the benefits go to immigrants or "those raised in the difficult suburbs"... who are mainly children of naturalized immigrants.
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