Casual racism and white privilege

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Casual racism and white privilege

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Copied from a Facebook post:
Ok white friends, I’m about to lay some hardcore truth on you right now, and many of you are not going to like it. Some of you are going to get immediately defensive. But before you comment from an emotional place, I encourage you to stop, re-read this post, do a little bit of research about casual racism and white privilege and then come back and re-read the post again. After that, if you still want to comment, please feel free.

Ok, here we go....
Many of you are the problem. Yes, you read that right. Many of you are the reason why these riots are happening. Many of you are the reason why it’s come to this. This is especially true if you’ve ever (but especially in the last week) said any of the following;

1. “It’s awful but...” - No. No buts. In the English language, the word “But” is often used to deflect or to justify behaviour. Police murdering black people in the street is awful. Period. End of discussion.

2. “I support the movement but not these disruptive protests...” - No, you don’t. Right now, the movement is taking the form of disruptive protests. They’re the same thing. You either want police to stop murdering black people in the street, or you don’t. If you do, then support the protests — even if you find them disruptive and frustrating — because that’s black people fighting for their lives.

3. “All lives/White lives matter too..” - no one said they didn’t. The conversation is specifically about black lives right now because police are murdering them in the street. Until police stop doing that, and White people stop dismissing it, it’s not “All lives matter,” it’s “MOST lives matter.” It’s not “ALL Lives” until Black Lives Matter too. Stay focussed.

4. “There are good cops...” - No one said there weren’t. There are three categories of cops; Good cops, bad cops and complacent cops. Good cops are marching with the protesters. They’re sharing the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. They’re trying to change the system from within the system. There are many levels of Bad cops. The most obvious one is those officers that are murdering black people in the street. Bad cops are also sharing the hashtags “blue lives matter.” Bad cops are trying to shift the focus. Bad cops don’t stop their colleagues when they murder black people in the streets. Complacent cops just show up, follow orders and try not to take sides. Complacent cops are bad cops.

5. “I don’t support the looting and destruction...” - no one says you have to, but please stop acting like looting nullifies the entire protest. And definitely stop acting like looting is “just as bad.” That’s like comparing someone stealing your car to someone murdering your child. They’re not equally bad. Stop pretending they are. Police murdering black people in the street is definitely worse than robbing a Target.

6. “Just because I’m white doesn’t mean my life has been easy...” Of course not. Everyone struggles. But being white has never been one of those struggles. Being poor has been a struggle. Being a woman has been a struggle. Being gay has been a struggle. But being white has never been a struggle. The same can’t be said for people of colour. I could go on and on about white privilege, but it would be so much easier if you educated yourself instead. This isn’t about how you, a white, cisgender, straight man has suffered in your life. This is about police murdering black people in the street. Stop trying to make it about you.

7. “I really wish they would protest peacefully...” - of course you do. They’re easier to ignore that way. People of colour have been peacefully protesting for hundreds of years. It hasn’t been all that successful. The reason riots and violent demonstrations work is because it makes people — especially white people — uncomfortable. We can’t ignore them when they’re waving torches in our faces. It scares us. It puts us on edge, which is precisely where we need to be. People only pay attention to the extreme. If you have trouble recalling a single one of the hundreds of peaceful protests that BLM held across North America last year, but you can still recall, with crystal clarity, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, then you’ve just proved my point.

8. “I don’t see colour...” — Congratulations, you’re lying to yourself. Of course, you see colour. And that’s good! Black people want you to see their colour. Their colours are beautiful and the very foundation of who they are. If you don’t see their colour, then you also don’t see their culture. If you don’t see colour, then you erase their very identity. If you don’t see their colour, then you also can’t see the pattern of violence they’re confronted with every day. If you don’t see colour, then you’re blind to more than just racial injustice. You’re blind to the world.

9. “They shouldn’t have committed a crime...” - This one is a big one for me. Consider me triggered. A boy who steals a can of pop from a 711 does not deserve to be shot in the back three times. A man illegally selling CD’s on a street corner doesn’t deserve to be shot to death in front of a record store. A man who runs a red light does not deserve to be shot while reaching for his registration. This isn’t about their crimes; this is about bad policing. Stay on topic.

10. “Black people kill white people too...” yes, murderers exist in every race and walk of life. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking police brutality, and the reality is, black officers are not murdering unarmed white men in the street. That seems to be almost exclusively white officer behaviour. Stop gaslighting.

11. “Black people kill other black people...” - Yes, they do, just like white people kill other white people and Latinos kill other latinos etc. Crime related violence does not adhere to any imaginary racial boundaries or allegiances. But, we’re not talking about criminal violence right now. We’re not discussing drug violence or gang violence or sexual violence or domestic violence or bar brawls or whatever random type of violence you’d like to bring up. The conversation is specifically about POLICE BRUTALITY. Say it with me. Police. Brutality. Any other form of violence you bring up is entirely irrelevant. Please stay on topic.

12. “I support black people, but I can’t support the violence...” — In other words, you would prefer people of colour continue to be murdered by police, rather than have them rise up violently against their oppressors. Got it. That’s not support.

13. “It’s not about race. We are all human beings...” yes, except people of colour often aren’t treated like human beings. For instance, they’re being murdered in the streets like animals. On video. While people watch. While people do nothing.

14. “The looting and arson distract from their message. It’s their fault for not controlling it...”  If you’d like to lay blame, how about we start by blaming the police who frequently murder unarmed people of colour. If they didn’t frequently murder unarmed people of colour, the protest wouldn’t be necessary. The protest wouldn’t have turned into a riot, the riot wouldn’t have turned violent, and looting wouldn’t have happened. Blaming the oppressed for not better “controlling” their social unrest is asinine.

15. “More white people are killed by cops than black people. Here are the statistics...” - I love when people do research! Thank you for that! But those stats that you’re proudly flashing around aren’t an accurate reflection of the issue. According to data, there are approx. 234,370,202 white people In the United States. Comparatively, that same data states that there are 40,610,815 “Black” Americans. So, when your stats show 1,398 white people have been killed by officers since 2017 and only 543 Black people, what those statistics really show is .0005% of white people were killed by police in those 3.5 years, while .0011% of black people were killed by police. That means black people were killed at a higher rate. 220% higher, to be exact. Math has no racial bias. Those aren’t great stats. Stop using them to defend your position.

16. “Black people commit more crime...” - Do they really, though? According to data released in 2017, there were 475,900 black prisoners in state and federal prisons and 436,500 white prisoners. That’s a difference of about 9%. So for argument's sake, let’s say those numbers are an accurate reflection of the amount of crime committed. If people of colour commit only 9% more crime, why are they killed by police at a rate of 220% higher?

17. “Well, the same stats you mentioned
shows that even though they’re only 12% of the population, they commit 54% of the crime.” - Good Catch! You’re right. But those numbers don’t actually reflect the amount of crime committed. That’s why I said to assume they’re correct. Those numbers only reveal how many people are incarcerated. The reality is, while those numbers are all we have to go on, they don’t tell the complete story either. In the United States specifically, socioeconomic racism, which was designed to keep POC in poverty through district red-lining, lower quality of education and other systemic obstacles, is a huge component. Thanks to redlining (look it up) and other zoning and banking practices, the quality of education in “black” neighbourhoods are significantly lower, which means the average income for POC in those neighbours is lower and the unemployment much higher. Also, thanks to redlining, the unemployment rate, and lower-income rates, crime in those neighbourhoods tends to be higher. That means those neighbourhoods are patrolled by police more often. Thanks to racial bias, POC are followed, stopped, harassed and arrested more frequently than the white people who live in those same neighbourhoods. What all of this means is that, when POC are arrested more frequently, they often can’t afford fancy lawyers to help them. They usually end up with Public Defenders, who are often overworked, and they often encourage POC to plead guilty in exchange for less time. Then there’s the fact that, because white people make up 73% of the population, they also tend to make up a bigger percentage of Jurors. There’s lots of factors to consider. So don’t assume that just because they make up 54% of the people in jail, that they make up 54% of the crime. The entire system is broken. That’s part of the problem.

18. “You’re promoting violence and destruction, shame on you...”. - I don’t remember encouraging anyone to riot. I also don’t remember encouraging anyone to loot or commit arson. The truth is, looting and arson is certainly not my preferred form of protest. But it’s important to remember that protesters haven’t committed most of the violent behaviour. Civil unrest tends to cause chaos and confusion. That chaos provides the perfect opportunity for poor-intentioned people to do poor-intentioned things. That doesn’t mean the civil unrest should stop. I don’t condone the violence. I just don’t think it should dominate the conversation. If you want to focus on the violence, try focusing on those officers who’ve killed POC in the street. You’re focusing on the wrong violence.

If any of you are guilty of saying any of the above, then I have unsettling news for you. YOU are the reason it’s come to this. YOU are the reason peaceful protests haven’t worked. They haven’t worked because YOU haven’t been listening. YOU haven’t been learning. These violent riots are happening because YOU have left people of color, no other choice.

These riots are happening because no matter how people of color have said it, taking a knee, marching the streets, bumper stickers, Banners, signs, or chants, YOU still don’t get it.

That doesn’t mean you’re bad people. That doesn’t mean you’re racist. It only means you’re white. And that’s not a crime, any more than being black is. The difference is, police aren’t going to shoot you in the street for it.
(Note: this post does not necessarily represent any views of any posters on this forum, but is posted to provide a perspective from a Facebook user.)

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Re: Casual racism and white privilege

Post #2

Post by Difflugia »

I recommend downloading and reading the paper linked here. I first read this paper probably fifteen years ago and it was a consciousness changer for me.

tl;dr:
I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. This paper is a partial record of my personal observations and not a scholarly analysis. It is based on my daily experiences within my particular circumstances.

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Re: Casual racism and white privilege

Post #3

Post by otseng »

[Replying to Difflugia in post #2]

Thanks for sharing. Highlights I found interesting from the article:
My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. At school, we were not taught about slavery in any depth; we were not taught to see slaveholders as damaged people. Slaves were seen as the only group at risk of being dehumanized. My schooling followed the pattern which Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow "them" to be more like "us." I think many of us know how obnoxious this attitude can be in men.

For me, white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one's life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in tum upon people of color.

In writing this paper I have also realized that white identity and status (as well as class identity and status) give me considerable power to choose whether to broach this subject and its trouble. I can pretty well decide whether to disappear and avoid and not listen and escape the dislike I may engender in other people through this essay, or interrupt, answer, interpret, preach, correct, criticize, and control to some extent what goes on in reaction to it. Being white, I am given considerable power to escape many kinds of danger or penalty as well as to choose which risks I want to take.

Through Women's Studies work I have met very few men who are truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them, or whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance and if so, what we will do to lessen them.

In my class and place, I did not see myself as racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring racial dominance on my group from birth.

To redesign social systems, we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these taboo subjects. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

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Re: Casual racism and white privilege

Post #4

Post by Mithrae »

otseng wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:54 pm
Copied from a Facebook post:
. . . .
1. “It’s awful but...” - No. No buts. In the English language, the word “But” is often used to deflect or to justify behaviour. Police murdering black people in the street is awful. Period. End of discussion.

2. “I support the movement but not these disruptive protests...” - No, you don’t. Right now, the movement is taking the form of disruptive protests. They’re the same thing. You either want police to stop murdering black people in the street, or you don’t. If you do, then support the protests — even if you find them disruptive and frustrating — because that’s black people fighting for their lives.

3. “All lives/White lives matter too..” - no one said they didn’t. The conversation is specifically about black lives right now because police are murdering them in the street. Until police stop doing that, and White people stop dismissing it, it’s not “All lives matter,” it’s “MOST lives matter.” It’s not “ALL Lives” until Black Lives Matter too. Stay focussed.

4. “There are good cops...” - No one said there weren’t. There are three categories of cops; Good cops, bad cops and complacent cops. Good cops are marching with the protesters. They’re sharing the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. They’re trying to change the system from within the system. There are many levels of Bad cops. The most obvious one is those officers that are murdering black people in the street. Bad cops are also sharing the hashtags “blue lives matter.” Bad cops are trying to shift the focus. Bad cops don’t stop their colleagues when they murder black people in the streets. Complacent cops just show up, follow orders and try not to take sides. Complacent cops are bad cops.
These comments appear to be promoting a deliberately polarizing, 'with us or against us' / 'us versus them' way of looking at things, explicitly ruling out consideration of nuance or differences in perspective. Very few things in life are black and white (least of all black and white skin colours or 'races') and I'm generally mistrustful of attempts to limit or frame communication by insisting that they are.
otseng wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:54 pm
8. “I don’t see colour...” — Congratulations, you’re lying to yourself. Of course, you see colour. And that’s good! Black people want you to see their colour. Their colours are beautiful and the very foundation of who they are. If you don’t see their colour, then you also don’t see their culture. If you don’t see colour, then you erase their very identity. If you don’t see their colour, then you also can’t see the pattern of violence they’re confronted with every day. If you don’t see colour, then you’re blind to more than just racial injustice. You’re blind to the world.
These seem to be borderline racist comments; making sweeping generalizations about what "black people want" and insisting that their skin tone is what constitutes "their very identity"! In a 2005 interview with 60 Minutes, Morgan Freeman famously opined that the idea of black history month is "ridiculous":
  • WALLACE: Black History Month, you find …
    FREEMAN: Ridiculous.
    WALLACE: Why?
    FREEMAN: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
    WALLACE: Come on.
    FREEMAN: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on, tell me.
    WALLACE: I’m Jewish.
    FREEMAN: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?
    WALLACE: There isn’t one.
    FREEMAN: Why not? Do you want one?
    WALLACE: No, no.
    FREEMAN: I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
    WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until …?
    FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with Freeman's comments (and any further views he may have held or developed since), this Facebook person claiming that a person's skin colour is "the very foundation of who they are" really seems quite ridiculous to me: That may well be how ethnic supremicists view themselves, but I would assume that for most white people and most black people and most people of any other skin tone, it's simply not true.
otseng wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:54 pm
9. “They shouldn’t have committed a crime...” - This one is a big one for me. Consider me triggered. A boy who steals a can of pop from a 711 does not deserve to be shot in the back three times. A man illegally selling CD’s on a street corner doesn’t deserve to be shot to death in front of a record store. A man who runs a red light does not deserve to be shot while reaching for his registration. This isn’t about their crimes; this is about bad policing. Stay on topic.
It's a shame that such a worthwhile point comes so far down the list and after many folk who might otherwise have been receptive would have already tuned out.
otseng wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:54 pm
10. “Black people kill white people too...” yes, murderers exist in every race and walk of life. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking police brutality, and the reality is, black officers are not murdering unarmed white men in the street. That seems to be almost exclusively white officer behaviour. Stop gaslighting.

11. “Black people kill other black people...” - Yes, they do, just like white people kill other white people and Latinos kill other latinos etc. Crime related violence does not adhere to any imaginary racial boundaries or allegiances. But, we’re not talking about criminal violence right now. We’re not discussing drug violence or gang violence or sexual violence or domestic violence or bar brawls or whatever random type of violence you’d like to bring up. The conversation is specifically about POLICE BRUTALITY. Say it with me. Police. Brutality. Any other form of violence you bring up is entirely irrelevant. Please stay on topic.
The issue is (or should be) police brutality, or policing procedures and legislation more broadly... and yet the hashtag is exclusively a racial one, one which explicitly invites the question of what value is placed on black lives in other contexts. In point 8 above the author essentially demands that we look at black culture, one of the most recognizable examples of which is 'gangsta rap' often glorifying violence and/or demonizing police. Black Americans are killed by other black Americans at a much higher rate than white Americans are killed by other white Americans - and far, far higher rate than black Americans are killed by police of any colour - a fact which the 'Black Lives Matter' slogan almost seems to draw attention to at the expense of policing procedures; since black lives do indeed matter, surely it's important to consider the biggest threats to black lives first and foremost? On the other hand, I suppose a case could be made that a less racially-charged slogan would have drawn less attention overall, even if it were more focused; but either way, criticizing and accusing people of 'gaslighting' for considering the issues which the slogan explicitly invites them to seems to be yet another polarizing, discussion-limiting tactic.
otseng wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:54 pm
15. “More white people are killed by cops than black people. Here are the statistics...” - I love when people do research! Thank you for that! But those stats that you’re proudly flashing around aren’t an accurate reflection of the issue. According to data, there are approx. 234,370,202 white people In the United States. Comparatively, that same data states that there are 40,610,815 “Black” Americans. So, when your stats show 1,398 white people have been killed by officers since 2017 and only 543 Black people, what those statistics really show is .0005% of white people were killed by police in those 3.5 years, while .0011% of black people were killed by police. That means black people were killed at a higher rate. 220% higher, to be exact. Math has no racial bias. Those aren’t great stats. Stop using them to defend your position.

16. “Black people commit more crime...” - Do they really, though? According to data released in 2017, there were 475,900 black prisoners in state and federal prisons and 436,500 white prisoners. That’s a difference of about 9%. So for argument's sake, let’s say those numbers are an accurate reflection of the amount of crime committed. If people of colour commit only 9% more crime, why are they killed by police at a rate of 220% higher?
This seems to be borderline dishonest on the author's part. Using those prison numbers as a (flawed) proxy for crime rates we would conclude that black people commit a little more crime in absolute terms than white people yet are killed far less in absolute terms. By comparing absolute imprisonment numbers against relative/per capita rates of police killings, the author obscures the apparent fact that white people are killed at far higher rates than black people relative to their respective incarceration/crime rates. It's also worth nothing that black cops are just as likely as white cops to kill black suspects: But rather than taking that as a possible indicator that maybe there is no pervasive scourge of institutionalized racism in America's police forces, some folk (those who hear that information at all, of course, I don't think I've ever seen it shared by a BLM supporter) instead automatically assume it must indicate such a deep form of racial bias that even black cops are racist against black people! :shock:
otseng wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:54 pm
17. “Well, the same stats you mentioned shows that even though they’re only 12% of the population, they commit 54% of the crime.” - Good Catch! You’re right. But those numbers don’t actually reflect the amount of crime committed. That’s why I said to assume they’re correct. Those numbers only reveal how many people are incarcerated. The reality is, while those numbers are all we have to go on, they don’t tell the complete story either. In the United States specifically, socioeconomic racism, which was designed to keep POC in poverty through district red-lining, lower quality of education and other systemic obstacles, is a huge component. Thanks to redlining (look it up) and other zoning and banking practices, the quality of education in “black” neighbourhoods are significantly lower, which means the average income for POC in those neighbours is lower and the unemployment much higher. Also, thanks to redlining, the unemployment rate, and lower-income rates, crime in those neighbourhoods tends to be higher. That means those neighbourhoods are patrolled by police more often. Thanks to racial bias, POC are followed, stopped, harassed and arrested more frequently than the white people who live in those same neighbourhoods. What all of this means is that, when POC are arrested more frequently, they often can’t afford fancy lawyers to help them. They usually end up with Public Defenders, who are often overworked, and they often encourage POC to plead guilty in exchange for less time. Then there’s the fact that, because white people make up 73% of the population, they also tend to make up a bigger percentage of Jurors. There’s lots of factors to consider. So don’t assume that just because they make up 54% of the people in jail, that they make up 54% of the crime. The entire system is broken. That’s part of the problem.
And there it is at last: The second-last point in a long, explicitly polarizing, borderline dishonest and even racist tirade, some points of actual substance :applaud: I suppose the trouble is that historic injustices, income inequality, neighbourhood infrastructure, higher crime rates and the statistics of policing procedures just don't grab attention in the same way as "police murdering black people in the street." For folk who want to make the headlines, spark some protests or lure in the voters under the pretence that it's all going to be fixed this time around, the polarization and accusations of racism are obviously the best way to go. But in terms of actually making things better, I'm not so sure; as with the BLM slogan itself it could be argued that a lot of attention is being drawn, so that even if it's largely misplaced and relatively little manages to find some real underlying racial disparities, maybe those real issues are at least getting more attention than they otherwise would?

And maybe that bit of extra attention means that all the misdirected anger, divisiveness and actual physical destruction will be worth it in the end?

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