I think it's always worth noting when someone in the corporate media points out the following:
The raced and gendered identities of white men tend to go unnoticed in our white-framed society, allowing white men to pass under the banners of such adjectives as "objective," "neutral," "unbiased," and so on. Who they are supposedly has little or nothing to do with how they think.
You need to read today's Washington Post column (excerpted below) by Eugene Robinson.
It's been my understanding for awhile now that this white-male identity charade is much more visible as the farce that it is to people who are not white and male. It's no surprise to me, then, that Eugene Robinson is black.
Non-white people have a lot to teach white people, not necessarily about non-white people, but about ourselves. As Richard Wright said decades ago, "White Man, Listen!" Maybe Sonia Sotomayor's hearings will in part serve that purpose, forcing white men to listen to someone who understands that everyone's social positionings affect how they view and "judge" the world.
White men often simply don't see how they're fooling themselves this way. In many cases, and probably most, it's not that white men are pretending to be more objective and neutral and so on than say, a black civil rights leader, or a Latina Supreme Court nominee. They just assume that they are, without even consciously thinking they are. And yet, to assume that women and people of color are subjective, biased, and so on is, nevertheless, to assume and imply the opposite about oneself.
As a white man who's still trying to keep this common white tendency up in the more conscious realms of my own psyche, I'm grateful to Eugene Robinson for calling out so clearly its most recent public display. Maybe some of those important white men will read his column and really listen, especially to such bits as these (and again, I strongly recommend the whole thing):
Whose Identity Politics?
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The only real suspense in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is whether the Republican Party will persist in tying its fortunes to an anachronistic claim of white male exceptionalism and privilege.
Republicans' outrage, both real and feigned, at Sotomayor's musings about how her identity as a "wise Latina" might affect her judicial decisions is based on a flawed assumption: that whiteness and maleness are not themselves facets of a distinct identity. Being white and male is seen instead as a neutral condition, the natural order of things. Any "identity" -- black, brown, female, gay, whatever -- has to be judged against this supposedly "objective" standard.
Thus it is irrelevant if Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. talks about the impact of his background as the son of Italian immigrants on his rulings -- as he did at his confirmation hearings -- but unforgivable for Sotomayor to mention that her Puerto Rican family history might be relevant to her work. Thus it is possible for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to say with a straight face that heritage and experience can have no bearing on a judge's work, as he posited in his opening remarks yesterday, apparently believing that the white male justices he has voted to confirm were somehow devoid of heritage and bereft of experience.
The whole point of Sotomayor's much-maligned "wise Latina" speech was that everyone has a unique personal history -- and that this history has to be acknowledged before it can be overcome. Denying the fact of identity makes us vulnerable to its most pernicious effects. This seems self-evident. I don't see how a political party that refuses to accept this basic principle of diversity can hope to prosper, given that soon there will be no racial or ethnic majority in this country.
Yet the Republican Party line assumes a white male neutrality against which Sotomayor's "difference" will be judged. . . .
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) was more temperate in his remarks than most of his colleagues, noting that Obama's election victory ought to have consequences and hinting that he might vote to confirm Sotomayor. But when he brought up the "wise Latina" remark, as the GOP playbook apparently required, Graham said that "if I had said anything remotely like that, my career would have been over."
That's true. But if Latinas had run the world for the last millennium, Sotomayor's career would be over, too. Pretending that the historical context doesn't exist -- pretending that white men haven't enjoyed a privileged position in this society -- doesn't make that context go away. . . .
(read the rest)
h/t: resistance at Resist Racism