1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely
6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
8. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
9. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket
and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
10. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
11. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
12. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
16. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
18. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.
19. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
20. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
21. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
22. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.
23. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the place I have chosen.
24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my race will not work against me.
25. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.
26. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.”
Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking White Privilege
(can replace “race” with “gender” for male privilege)
Some (Chaotic) Thoughts On Race
A few things have happened recently that reminded me that America is not post-racial, still fairly clueless about how to discuss race, that many people are in some strange little bubbles, and that we really need to change the dialogue focus / understanding of racism.
Most recently, one of my best friends, Kenny, wrote this Facebook note that got picked up by the Boston Globe for OpEd, in which he discusses a recent encounter of his running through Harvard Yard to catch a bus, and some strangers called out at him, “Bro, you running from the cops or something?” and “What’d you steal this time?” Kenny is black, and naturally when he confronted these people about how their comments were offensive, they refused to see how, and told him to lighten up because it was a joke. Kenny’s always had a knack for writing/speeching, so it’s a good quick read, and you should read it.
When I first read it on Facebook, it immediately reminded me of this video by J Smooth on how to approach talking about race in the 21st century, which is extremely well done.
I mention these things early on because I really think you should check them out, and I’m afraid things are about to get long-winded/disorganized and I want to make sure you see them first.
Basically, these things sent me on a long thought spiral that brought me back to something that put me on a similar thought spiral a few weeks earlier.
It was first this NYT article: “DNA Gives New Insights Into Michelle Obama’s Roots,” adapted from a book soon to be released by Rachel L. Swarns on the ancestry of Michelle Obama. It essentially outlines Michelle Obama’s family history back to when her ancestors were slaves and reveals that she has some white ancestors and tries to get in touch with her modern day white relatives. I came away from reading it feeling… odd. Odd would be the best word. It took me a while to pinpoint what some of those things were that made me unhappy.
I’m not sure why all of a sudden this is called hipster racism instead of just… modern racism. It’s not an article about hipsters being racist, but actually just a really good piece on why jokes aren’t “just jokes”.
Despite it’s “mom movie” attractiveness, when I saw the trailer for The Help my initial reaction was “…really?” - and the reasons why are put very nicely and succinctly by the ABWH in their open statement above.
I also recently read The Sound and the Fury and though it’s a brilliant book that I really did enjoy, I was distracted by Faulkner’s portrayal of black people. I contemplated tackling my issues on this for the interwebz but honestly, you can just replace the phrase “civil rights movement” in this essay with “the nadir” and it would basically be the same argument.