Saturday, September 20, 2008

white weekend links

  • "Explaining White Privilege to the Deniers and the Haters" (Tim Wise @ Red Room)

    I guess I should have expected it, seeing as how it's nothing new. I write a piece on racism and white privilege (namely, the recently viral This is Your Nation on White Privilege), lots of folks read it, many of them like it, and others e-mail me in fits of apoplexy, or post scathing critiques on message boards in which they invite me to die, to perform various sexual acts upon myself that I feel confident are impossible, or, best of all, to "go live in the ghetto," whereupon I will come to "truly appreciate the animals" for whom I have so much affection (the phrase they use for me and that affection, of course, sounds a bit different, and I'll leave it to your imagination to conjure the quip yourself).

    Though I have no desire to debate the points made in the original piece, I would like to address some of the more glaring, and yet reasonable, misunderstandings that many seem to have about the subject of white privilege.

  • "What's the Rush?" (Bob Herbert @ The New York Times; log-in required)

    Troy Davis, who was convicted of shooting a police officer to death in the parking lot of a Burger King in Savannah, Ga., is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday. There is some question as to his guilt (even the pope has weighed in on this case), but the odds of Mr. Davis escaping the death penalty are very slim. Putting someone to death whose guilt is uncertain is always perverted, but there’s an extra dose of perversion in this case.

    The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to make a decision on whether to hear a last-ditch appeal by Mr. Davis on Sept. 29. That’s six days after the state of Georgia plans to kill him.

  • "Race for Survival" (Review of the Lakeview Terrace by Katherine Monk @ The Vancouver Sun; see also Thea Lim's thoughts @ Racialicious)

    [As this movie] lays flopping on the deck of urgent times for the better part of two hours, this odd and altogether unsettling film is hard to turn away from because, for all its contrived conflict, LaBute exposes more than just racial prejudice.

    He lays bare the well-intended political correctness of an entitled white world desperate to prove enlightenment in attempt to regain the moral high ground. White people, at least in LaBute's reckoning, have a deep desire to play hero to the world. It's how white people define themselves in the world at large, so if they can't ride in with a white horse and a shining sword, they feel emasculated.

Lakeview Terrace Trailer

  • "The New Rhetoric of Racism: Why Won't Obama Call It Out?" (Keeanga-Yamatta Taylor @ Counterpunch)

    Obama's tepid response to campaign racism, combined with his generally nebulous political message, which has moved to the right since he locked up the nomination, is blunting the momentum that carried him through the early primary season last winter.

    If Obama were to devote even a small amount of time and energy to challenging racism--rather than Sarah Palin's governing experience or whether McCain knows how to send an e-mail--he would stand a better chance of sending the Republicans back under the rocks they skulked out from. As it is, his failure to make a stand leaves opportunities for the Republicans to exploit--and shows that his promise to bring change is about rhetoric, not reality.

  • "Whites Playing the Racist Card" (Joe Feagin @ Racism Review)

    I suspect that much of this white support is there because these whites, implicitly or explicitly, view Senator Obama as “an exception to his race,” at least to some degree. That is the old racist notion that certain African Americans are acceptable to whites if they do not press against the racist system openly and fit in well with certain white expectations and assumptions.

    These Republican ads seem to be designed, and aggressively so, to link Senator Obama ever more clearly to what that white racial frame considers the “dangerous black man.” We see that expressly in Bill Hobbs comment, which mentions Dr. Wright and even two “corrupt” and “dangerous” white men.

Another racist anti-Obama ad

  • "Stereotyping the Working Class" (Sherry Linkon @ Working-Class Perspectives)

    I have two problems with the way some are equating “working class” and “racist.” The first is that, like any stereotype, it implies that a quality that fits some working-class people applies to all working-class people. Perhaps some white working-class voters will not vote for Obama because he’s black, but others will support him because of his plans for creating new jobs and because he has experience helping working-class communities respond to economic struggles.

    The second problem is that the stereotype suggests that only working-class people are racist. But racism doesn’t recognize class borders. Some middle-class and elite people won’t vote for Obama because of his race, but nearly all of the commentary focuses on working-class racism. It may be that working-class people, who value directness, are more willing to admit that race matters, while people with college degrees have been trained to hide their racism. But racism doesn’t automatically disappear with education, income, and social status.

  • "John McCain Is White; Talk About THAT, Rep. Westmoreland" (Renee Martin @ GlobalComment)

    McCain's whiteness is normalized and invisible because white hegemony thrives on invisibility. The fact that his body is just as problematic as Obama’s black body will not be acknowledged, because to do so would force a conversation about the ways in which white power is maintained.

    Discursively there is the proposition that we live in a post racial world but this is an impossibility because we continue to fail to discuss whiteness. We react to statements like, “Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity.” which has been attributed to Rep. Westmoreland by The Hill as racist against blacks. But what does it say about whiteness?

  • "DuBois: What I Learned" (Meredith Aska McBride @ The Daily Pennsylvanian)

    Like most people, I don't think I'm a racist. And until recently, I believed that the racism our country struggles with came from somewhere else - where, I didn't know, but certainly not from my own actions.

    I was wrong.

    Just under a year ago, I wrote a column about DuBois College House and what I then termed its false diversity: a column that was written essentially from the perspective of the dumb white Penn student, a perspective that too many of us white kids share. I've learned a lot since that column went to print last October.

    First, I've learned that having a sanctuary is not necessarily segregation.

  • Also, a recommended news site: Stop Dog Whistle Racism

    Dog-Whistle Racism is political campaigning or policy-making that uses coded words and themes to appeal to conscious or subconscious racist concepts and frames. For example, the concepts ‘welfare queen,’ ’states’ rights,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘uppity,’ 'thug,' 'tough on crime,' and ‘illegal alien’ all activate racist concepts that that have already been planted in the public consciousness and now are being activated by purposeful or accidental campaign activities, media coverage, public policy and cultural traditions. So, what’s dog whistle racism? It’s pure political theater to push buttons to win elections and policies. We’re here to identify, expose and respond to it. Join us.

And finally, a video on whiteness, posted at YouTube with the title, "How White People See Rap Battles"


  1. Macon, thank you for sharing links to many interesting articles! Keeanga-Yamatta Taylor's article was my favorite!

  2. I just read that piece about the DuBois house at Penn. After reading those reader comments following that article, I just can't understand how White ppl still can't "get it."

    Does it have to be about them all the time? What exactly is wrong with creating a safe space for "outsiders?" I would never set foot into a yeshiva and expect things to be made conducive to me. I live 10 mins from NYC's Chinatown and I'm not threatened by the safe space that was created there.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the links, ortho!

    anonymiss, I tried to write an answer to your question awhile back, in a post where I ended up asking other questions instead of answering that one. There's a long comments thread there where you might find some convincing explanations for why many white folks have a problem with being excluded from non-white gatherings.

    I've seen white consternation of that sort many times, and it still sort of mystifies me (since I've never been bothered by non-white gatherings). I think it has to do with, for one thing, a sense many whites have that they're free to enter any gathering they like, unless there's some sort of official reason that bars them (such a closed corporate boardroom meeting). Also, those who want to enter non-white gatherings usually think of themselves as good people, so they just can't imagine why non-white people would want to exclude goodhearted, embracing, accepting, curious, etc. people like themselves--"why do you want to exclude ME? There's nothing wrong with me, I'm a GOOD white person. Am I not proving that by WANTING to join you? And here YOU are, wanting to keep me out? WHY?" Finally, few whites also understand that (from what I've gathered) it can be a strain for many non-whites to be surrounded by white folks for so much of the time; not having any around for awhile can be a good break.

    Those are the reasons I've come up with so far. I imagine others exist.


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