Sunday, May 23, 2010

commit crimes with relative ease



From PostSecret. (What do you suppose the drain represents? The name of the image file is "vortex.jpg.")

99 comments:

  1. A disappearance into the realm of anonymity after developing a habit that happens to be illegal. A white woman is hardly ever the suspect. Unless you do a Winona Ryder. Even with that she was gently guided back into the store as if what she had done was hardly all that wrong. I wonder how they would have reacted if it were a regular woman of colour? Far more differently I presune. Clear-cut double standards in judgement.

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  2. Might represent the "Memory Hole" where unfortunate facts (or lies) are discarded never to be spoken of again.

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  3. I always find it amazing how white adults and children can go into a store and have snacks without paying first, open up things before even going to the register, return clothing and food without receipts without receiving suspicious stares, accusations, and or being followed and watched from a far the entire time all the way to the register & exit(escorted out)
    they can do all of these things in confidence because no one suspects them of anything in the first place, their to busy watching people who aren't doing anything, but "look" suspicious.

    I think the image represents how invisibility and white privilege can result in lost lives, lost opportunities, failure ect.

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  4. I am so happy you posted this! I just saw it on Sunday Secrets. I think the vortex represents all suspicion of white women being lost when suspicion of people of color continues. I have seen so many white people "breaking the rules" and I report them. Especially on my campus. I snap photos with my cell phone and I have the police on speed dial. I ask the police to link my name to each report because I don't condone white privileged behavior and I make sure people understand that.

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  5. She seems incredibly self-involved. I bet the vortex represents her own life, gliding placidly down the drain as she slides into a life of crime. She probably spends less time contemplating racism than fantasizing about her secret having its own Sofia Coppola soundtrack.

    Anyways, I'm also a WW and shoplift routinely, usually when the alternative involves waiting in a long line. I don't try to secret (hah) the items in my purse or anything; my strategy is just to walk out absent-mindedly holding them while talking on a cell phone or fiddling with a PDA. My plan has been to plead flakiness if ever caught...but no one has ever stopped me.

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  6. @Chance

    Seriously. The eating things before they are even paid for thing always irks me so much.

    @cat

    Stop shoplifting. The way you say is so casually and jokingly is really fucked up. And also loaded with white privilege.

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  7. cat:

    The fact that you can write that first paragraph and then go right into what you say in the second one, shows a staggering lack of self-awareness.

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  8. @cat - WTFFFF???? Why do you even bother reading this blog? It's obviously not making any difference whatsoever to you.

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  9. @cat

    No, but like I'm really angry. What exactly were you getting at or hoping to achieve by writing that comment? What was the point of gloating about getting away with it?

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  10. This just reminded me of an incident. I was with a white female friend of mine at a gym trying to pay for our use of the facilities for the past hour. The guy at the cash register was fumbling through all sorts of stuff, very inefficient, and taking a long time. There was a cue. My friend said, c'mon, let's go. I said, "But, but, we can't just leave and not pay." She said, "Well, it's his fault for being stupid." Me: "But...but..." as I followed her out the door.

    My first thought, 'The only reason she can get away with that without it hurting her conscience is because she's white. If I ever did that, it would contribute to making life more difficult for all the other Asians living here.' I was in disbelief for awhile as I didn't know people do such things so casually.

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  11. I have to say, I was completely shocked to find out how casual some white people are retail situations. I'm half black, and currently reside in Chicago, so I'm cautious to say the least.

    However, when I visited my native Pacific Northwest, I went to a store with a childhood friend. He's the acoustic guitar playing, peace corps Christian type, but a very nice person. We went into a grocery store in Seattle... and he proceeded to eat a banana from the produce department as we were shopping. I was uncomfortable to the point of sort of walking separately from him as we continued to gather items. Turns out that when we got to checkout and weren't able to properly pay for the banana that he ate because it was priced at weight.... the cashier just let him go. It was mind-boggling.

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  12. I was going to agree with cat's first point, because that was exactly how I read the image. But wow, cat, you're really vile. You're directly bragging about your white privilege, and you're costing average consumers extra money to cover stupid crap you can probably afford. You suck.

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  13. "Cautious"

    Tell me about it! I see (white) parents quiet down their kids with a little something from the store shelf all the time. Presumably, they pay when they go thru checkout, but still, I kind of boggle. I guess I never got that memo (but those kids sure will). A single test grape is about all I'll risk, and I won't even do that if people are around!

    As for the vortex, I immediately thought it must represent the Secretwriter's effect on stores. From a retail point of view, she's a black hole that product just disappears into.

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  14. I used to hold a weekly knitting circle at my mom's house with all my friends. The last time, a white woman that I went to high school with cheerfully talked about how she shoplifts all the time and cheats on tests and papers at every chance she gets. She felt that if she was able to get away with something, then she had EARNED it. The sense of entitlement was infuriating and I was pretty much flabbergasted that she would brag about being a thief after I invited her INTO MY MOTHER'S HOUSE.

    @Cat: The reason you're able to blithely get away with shoplifting is because security is wasting their time watching ME. I don't understand what value you thought you were adding to the discussion by mentioning that.

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  15. Last week I needed two matching frames for one I already had, so, without thinking, I took the one I had to Michael's with me. I compared it to the ones on the shelves and found two that matched exactly. Then I realized that I was holding three identical frames when I only needed to actually pay for two of them. (And the two new ones only had small paper tags that would have been easy to tear off.) I thought about putting the one I already owned in my purse, but that seemed like it would REALLY look like shoplifting, so I decided to just go up to the cashier and explain that I already had the first one, and hope that she would only charge me for two.
    And then, as I was walking up to the cash register, I had a major "WHOA, white privilege" moment.

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  16. as a non-guilt-ridden WM, i don't agree w/most of the sentiments expressed on this blog most of the time.

    but i suuuure can get behind this post.

    people like cat disgust me. yech...

    and yes, i'm a former occasional shoplifter/opportunistic thief myself; so its mixed w/remorse, too. i'd never steal now, but i used to. i didnt really realize the trouble it caused others.

    i think sometimes the media promotes larceny as 'liberating' for uptight middle-class WP; like theyre freeing themselves from a constricting bourgeouis morality...instead of being selfish shitheads. i remember an episode of '6ft under' which pretty much celebrated shoplifting as a fine recreation for stilted 60 y/o women.

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  17. randy,

    are you really "behind this post"? that is, are you against shoplifting, or are you against what the post is really about, the racist disparity in the different amounts of attention paid to white versus non-white shoppers?

    as for me, i notice another disparity of this sort in the shopping arena -- the different ways white cashiers often treat white versus non-white customers. i call them out on it too -- "why did you treat that woman different from me? why did you ask to see her drivers license when she used her credit card, but not mine?" etc.

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  18. I have been shocked at parties (as I am again reading some of the comments here) to hear white people tell "funny" stories about their shoplifting experiences when they were teens. Ugh ugh ugh. I do think that knowing you can get away with crime is breeding a sense of impunity in a lot of white people.

    One black student who attended high school in a white suburb said he was part of a shoplifting ring with his white friends. He'd wander around the store being followed by the sales staff while his white friends would steal.

    On the differential treatment of customers in stores point AE made, some people I know where talking about this just the other night and I know it happens a lot. I don't see it much because I don't shop much, but I'm going to take AE's point to heart and watch for it and make a point of calling it out when I do see it.

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  19. This post reminds me a lot of this post. The "white = innocuous" mindset is scary, especially when you think about the crimes that are even bigger than shoplifting which whites also commit with ease.

    Cat and others - you're not getting away with it because you're slick and skilled. You're getting away with it because yes, of course, no one expects little ol' you to be committing a crime, but also because white people are so busy watching POC shop that you could probably get away with child abuse and murder while you're at it.

    These are just a few examples of how what you're doing, simply in using your white privilege to commit crimes, affects POC:

    - Shopping While Black
    - phantom POC criminals
    - Racial Profiling

    Your contribution is in committing the crimes that POC are getting blamed for. Which, in turn, increases the staying power of stereotypes that POC are prone to criminal behavior.

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  20. wow, ok, i certainly didn't mean to gloat. i mean, i AGREE that absent white privilege i wouldn't be able to behave this way. i was offering evidence in support of macon's observed SWPD. i would think that my flagrant disregard for the law would be more of a consolation than an outrage, since the more i risk getting caught, the likelier it becomes that some security guard's stereotyped perceptions are finally challenged.

    @ meg
    can you elaborate on that?

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  21. wow, ok, i certainly didn't mean to gloat. i mean, i AGREE that absent white privilege i wouldn't be able to behave this way. i was offering evidence in support of macon's observed SWPD. i would think that my flagrant disregard for the law would be more of a consolation than an outrage, since the more i risk getting caught, the likelier it becomes that some security guard's stereotyped perceptions are finally challenged.

    in junior high, one of my best POC friends used to accompany me on my shoplifting sprees. she found it vindicating to see the store owners getting fleeced BECAUSE of their racism -- those idiots would be watching her instead of watching me. i'm not trying to cast myself as some sort of anti-racist avenging superhero, i know i've done this mostly for stupid thrills or convenience. and, i know not all POC feel the same way about everything. but my intent (for what that's worth, which i assume is nothing) was not to offend or trigger anyone. sorry.

    @ meg
    ...lack of self-awareness
    can you elaborate on that?

    [macon, i may have hit submit twice -- once before adding the final paragraph -- if that's the case, just publish the second version...thx!]

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  22. randy,
    if you think all the WP who come to this blog do so because we're guilt-ridden, you're an idiot, and missing the point.

    all,
    thanks for the memo on opening/eating food in the grocery store. i have done this with my son, but I will stop, now fully appreciating how obnoxious it is.

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  23. @cat, did you ever bother to think that by shoplifting you're part of the cause of the racist over-surveillance of PoC shoppers? Whenever something disappears, the racist management assumes PoC stole it and increases their misguided efforts to catch someone. This isn't necessarily the way it always happens, but would you argue that it's never the result?

    Besides, flaunting your white privilege is just disgusting in itself. If you want to 'screw the man', why not instead do like other commenters have suggested and call out the cashiers/security whenever you see them mistreating someone because of their race? Do it in a way that embarrasses them in front of white customers. Use your privilege for something good rather than getting free shit for yourself.

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  24. @AE: Yeah, randy's "as a non-guilt-ridden WM" statement shows me he doesn't understand the point of the post.

    @cat:
    You said in your 2nd paragraph that you're not an "anti-racist avenging superhero" (boy, ain't that the truth) but then you said:

    "i would think that my flagrant disregard for the law would be more of a consolation than an outrage, since the more i risk getting caught, the likelier it becomes that some security guard's stereotyped perceptions are finally challenged."

    Wow. Their perceptions aren't going to be challenged. They'll think you're an aberrancy and let you go because white people just DON'T STEAL, while merrily keeping a sharp lookout for POCs who "must" be taking the stuff that YOU steal.

    But hey, you're right, it's a GIGANTIC consolation to POCs that you, a white person, get to benefit from privilege AGAIN and we get watched like something one drags in on the bottom of one's shoe. Seriously, thanks so much. Thank you. Please tell me MORE about what else I need to be grateful to you white people for.

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  25. Um...I gotta ask...does reading this thread give anyone else the sensation that they somehow grew up on another planet?

    @ Julia,

    Just FYI, grocery stores and most large stores that sell food products near the checkout (Best Buy, Target) typically have some sort of giant neon "PAID" sticker that they can give you to put on merchandise you've already bought, so if you buy a box of animal crackers or whatever at the beginning of your shopping trip you could still feed those to your son (and you). And you would be sending him the message that consuming things for which one hasn't paid is wrong. ^_^

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  26. @Julia: "Um...I gotta ask...does reading this thread give anyone else the sensation that they somehow grew up on another planet?"

    I get that feeling. Why the hell would someone brag about being a petty thief? Why would someone be a petty thief in the first place? It boggles the mind.

    @Cat: let me channel my mom here for a second and say, "You should be ashamed of yourself." ...and if you're just a troll, well played. Also stfu & gtfo.

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  27. Excuse me, did I say @Julia at the start of my last post? I meant to say @Willow, sorry about that n_n'

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  28. There's a fair body of evidence that shoplifting is connected to depression and is compulsive, rather than being a sign of a character defect:

    http://www.shopliftingprevention.org/whatnaspoffers/nrc/psychologicalstudies.htm

    This doesn't mean that we can or should give it a pass, but one way to reframe this discussion in light of that evidence would be to point out that, as with drug addiction, POC are regularly treated as criminals while white people are given the benefit of the doubt and often offered mental health treatment opportunities when they are caught.

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  29. When I was a kid, I was in a grocery store with a group of friends from my church; we were all black and brown kids. We were standing around waiting for someone's mom, and someone pointed at or lightly touched a barrel of loose peanuts for sale. This white woman (a customer) angrily barked at us, "you have to pay for those!" That's my earliest memory of learning the lesson that simply being a POC in a store earns suspicion.

    @Melissa, your example about the frames is a good one. I would never take an item I already owned into a store without stopping to make a note of it at the register. If I have a shirt to exchange, I go to the register (receipt in hand) and ask the cashier whether I need to leave it with them while I shop. It's a paranoia I learned early, and cannot shake.

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  30. I know this is a bit off topic, so my apologies, but...

    Randy, this is not about making you feel guilty for being white. Guilt is bloody useless: it makes people defensive instead of engaged, and it refocuses the attention back on white people's feelings. It's also passive: if you sit around all day feeling guilty, you are still part of the problem.

    I don't care whether or not racism is your fault; either way, you have a responsibility as a human being to do something about it. A good first step in which is facing up to reality: you, as a white man, benefit from racism, and act in racist/priveliged ways. I'm not asking you to feel guilty about that. Instead my expectation is that, as a decent human being, you will get up and *do* something about it, preferably shut up and listen with an open mind. Sitting around feeling guilty (and then sorry for yourself because those mean POC made you feel guilty) does not get anyone anywhere.

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  31. I know this to be very true. I am a black Hispanic male and in college I had a good friend who was white. We used to work as a team to shoplift beer. I would go in first as a decoy because I would get extra scrutiny. Then my friend would go in and rob them blind. We would meet up afterwards and share the beer. We both figured if they were going to be racist, mind as well use it against them. :-)

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  32. @cat can you elaborate on that

    I feel that my sentiments were pretty well reiterated by many of the other posters here, but sure.

    In the first paragraph you disparage the postcard maker for being "self involved" and "not contemplating racism".

    In the second paragraph you let us know that you too are a WW who shoplifts. With this revelation, now that first paragraph is somewhat imbued with an underlying insinuation that you feel like you're not "one of those" white people. You probably see yourself as a "good" white person. But your actions speak louder than your good intentions. You understand that there are racial implications in being able to shoplift, and in fact disparage another WW who shoplifts, yet you still shoplift yourself...And why?...because you don't want to wait in a long line.

    And if that isn't "self involved" and lacking in critical racial analysis (complaints that you lobbed at the secret maker) then really, I don't know what is.

    ------

    Back to the main discussion though, this reminded me of one of those What Would You Do segments on ABC they did a couple weeks ago. I know they're not perfect or scientific or anything but I find them interesting all the same. They had one titled Would You Stop a Bike Thief. They had a white teenager trying various methods of cutting the chain off a bike in a park, he used everything from bolt cutters, to a saw, to POWER TOOLS. If anyone came up to ask him if it was his bike he would actually admit he was stealing it. And only ONE person tried to stop him. They replace the white teenager with a black teenager and right away there's a group of concerned citizens and someones calling the cops. I can't link directly too it for some reason but you can find it here under the May 7th videos:

    http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/

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  33. The other day I went into a store and bought a dress. As soon as I walk out the metal detectors start beeping. Everybody starts accuseing me of stealing even when they see that I had a receit.Then it turns out the lady at the cashregister for got to take the plastic thingy off.

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  34. First off, cat, what the hell???

    Second, what are you smoking?

    Third, a white woman as one of the last choices of being suspected of shoplifting shows white female privilege. For hundreds of years, white women were and still are held in such high regard not just for beauty, but for the notion that they're supposed to be "pure". No matter how many "Girls Gone Wild" or any other video series that portrays young white girls as horny, breast flashing, sluts, white females overall are held in high regard. However, as long as they can get any with anything they will eventually fall into an abyss for which they may never escape.

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  35. @Willow:
    Um...I gotta ask...does reading this thread give anyone else the sensation that they somehow grew up on another planet?

    Yeah, I definitely heard the Twilight Zone theme in my head reading some of these confessions of shoplifting.

    @AE:

    i call them out on it too -- "why did you treat that woman different from me? why did you ask to see her drivers license when she used her credit card, but not mine?"

    It might be worth pointing out to the store that not only are these examples of racial profiling, but they can also get their ability to accept credit cards revoked. MC and Visa both prohibit stores from requiring photo ID to use credit cards. (They can ask for the driver's license, but can't refuse to let you pay by credit card if you don't show it). MC has a form to report it online, but Visa requires you to follow up with whoever issued your Visa card (and they almost certainly won't care)

    But back on topic, this post reminded me of a scene in Better Luck Tomorrow, where three of the main characters engage in a shoplifting scam where they return unpurchased laptops and cellphones for refunds at a large electronics store, and largely get away with it. I know it's just a movie, but it got me thinking of whether that's a similar example of a larger trend: racism conferring invisibility on certain groups. Since "all Asians are good with computers" (sarcasm), they don't stand out in an electronics stores. Store employees wouldn't follow them around, and wouldn't think twice about a group of them making large purchases and/or returning things. I suspect a group of Black teenagers wouldn't have been able to get away with it.

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  36. Does anyone remember the Aerosmith video from the 90's starring Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone. In it they gleefully showed these two attractive young white women shoplifting away with the doofy teenage cashier letting them and then "rewarding" him with half-naked pics of themselves! Showing stuff like that will of course make shoplifting out to be "cool" and "daring" to young white people. There was another music video (I think it was by Smashing Pumpkins) where they showed a couple of young white hooligans vandalizing a 7/11 type store. Again no consequences followed their despicable actions. The media does a bang up job showing white people committing crimes (and doing drugs) in a "cool" fashion and POC's doing it as low life criminals.

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  37. @Med re: the ABC segment

    I wonder if that demonstrates not only that black people are more likely to be perceived as criminals, but also that bystanders are more likely to get involved in/report a crime committed by a black person, who they perceive as a threat to their community than a white person, who they perceive as an individual delinquent.

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  38. Randy's comment about white bourgeoisie "liberating" themselves via crime made me think of Abby Hoffman's Steal This Book and how full of crap the hippies were.

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  39. Worse than the WM/BM bike thief incident was the white girl bike incident where many White men actually offered to help the white girl steal the bike, even after she said she was stealing it. Only one person (a white woman) called the police.

    @cat
    I would think that my flagrant disregard for the law would be more of a consolation than an outrage, since the more i risk getting caught, the likelier it becomes that some security guard's stereotyped perceptions are finally challenged.

    Ok, stop posting. Like seriously. You're stinking up the whole thread with your white privilege. That's not how stereotypes are challenged. Instead of stealing shit and giggling about it, why don't you call out the security guards who follow POC around stores? You know, do something useful and not self-serving.

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  40. Thank you, Rochelle!

    Damn, can you all NOT recognize someone shitting in their hand and smearing it in your faces? Here's cat smearing her White woman privilege all in our faces. "I don't get caught cuz I'm a cute lil, White gal! Ain't it a shame you're NOT!"

    BITCH, PLEASE!*






    *and I DARE anyone to say SHIT about that phrasing!

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  41. I've worked in grocery stores and seen people (white, admittedly) open packages in front of store managers in red vests without incident. It is legal to consume items in the store, as long as you pay for them when you check out.
    Is it bad to do because it makes things worse for POC?

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  42. I will never forget this incident. I was 5 years old in the grocery store with my mom. We were shopping and in the cosmetics section. I saw an open lipstick package. My mom told me don't touch it. She proceeded to say how disgusting it was for a lipstick package to be opened and no one has removed it. Of course, I didn't listened to my mom because I am naturally curious person by nature. And I had a hard head at the time. :) I picked up the open lipstick package and looked at it closer out of curiousity. My mom was moving into the next section for bathroom supplies and I was still intrigue at looking at this red lipstick. Out of nowhere, this white man grabs my shoulder, turned me around and held out a police badge. My mom came back for me and told him to get his hands off her daughter. He then proceeded to say that I opened the liptstick package and was going to steal. I told my mom it was not true and thank GOD she arrived on time. I was scared shitless of this bastard's heavy hand on my shoulder. This asshole proceeded to say I was lying and my mom let his ass have it!! She knew the child she was raising and stated he was a piece of shit for making assumptions about a black child. I loved my mom for that. But I will NEVER forget that incident for as long as I live. It is why I look at police officers, particulary white ones, with MASSIVE DISTRUST. I don't trust them at all. I had too many degrading and dehumanizing moments with white cops and security guards inside of department stores.

    @ Cat
    Guess you wouldn't know what that feels like huh? Lucky yoooou and your WW privilege! (Sarcasm)

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  43. For hundreds of years, white women were and still are held in such high regard not just for beauty, but for the notion that they're supposed to be "pure". No matter how many "Girls Gone Wild" or any other video series that portrays young white girls as horny, breast flashing, sluts, white females overall are held in high regard.

    Interesting. So are they held in high regard or are they portrayed as "sluts?" Seems like quite the sharp contradiction, no? If we're held in such high esteem for hundreds of years, how'd we only manage to get the vote 90 years ago? How is it 1 in 4 of us is raped at some point in our lives? Why do those GGW videos exist in the first place?

    Slut-shaming white women for the same internalized misogyny that black women demonstrate in Nelly videos isn't going to help a damn thing.

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  44. @R.A.

    I tend to think so. If a crime is being committed, that crime some how becomes worse, it becomes MORE of a crime, if the person committing it is a person of color. No matter what it is it suddenly becomes a more serious offense. That common white tendency to give nuance to the actions of white people, while seeing POC in only the flattest most monolithic and stereotypical ways possible. This reserving of harsher judgment for POC even branches out into more legal activities. The difference in how The Black Panther Party was seen, in comparison to how Tea Partiers are viewed now. Anger, militarism, fighting for what you believe in are all seen as understandable and even patriotic if it's white people, but when the races are flipped, the discourse changes radically.

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  45. @Witchsistah

    Since you dared, I'll say shit about it. No woman should use that term towards another. We all get enough of that from men already.

    That said,

    @Cat

    I really hope you think good long and fucking hard about what everyone in this thread is telling you. You are not a merry Robin Hood stealing from the rich and making it better for the rest of us (non-whites), you are a white woman exploiting the system that degrades the lives of people of color everywhere.

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  46. Is it bad to do because it makes things worse for POC?

    Yes. Next.

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  47. I need to say I'm with Witchsistah & Rochelle (and others) in calling out cat. White people admitting they've gotten away with theft due to White privilege adds facts to the discussion for any readers who doubt the truth of what's going on, even as I am sure it adds to the feelings of pain and injustice among POC and the people who care about POC. But bragging about being a thief and somehow saying that it's a challenge to racism is total self-serving BS. Among other things, all that theft contributes to higher prices for non-thieves, including POC.

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  48. Interesting. So are they held in high regard or are they portrayed as "sluts?" Seems like quite the sharp contradiction, no? If we're held in such high esteem for hundreds of years, how'd we only manage to get the vote 90 years ago? How is it 1 in 4 of us is raped at some point in our lives? Why do those GGW videos exist in the first place?

    Slut-shaming white women for the same internalized misogyny that black women demonstrate in Nelly videos isn't going to help a damn thing.


    SWPD: fail to read between the lines (or just plain read)

    SWPD: forget that Black women are women too

    SWPD: chastise Black men for sexism against White women on an anti-racist blog while ignoring the combined sexism and racism WOC face on that same anti-racist blog

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  49. @Tagg:

    Who died and made you slave mistress?

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  50. @Meg:

    That common white tendency to give nuance to the actions of white people, while seeing POC in only the flattest most monolithic and stereotypical ways possible.

    Damn, that sounds familiar!

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  51. @snobographer

    Well, technically we ARE seen as either being "pure" or as "sluts", it's called the virgin/whore dichotomy.

    And the poster you quoted has a point in that there is a long history of WOC being presumed to be sexually available for anyone at any time. And yes, this also happens to white women, but when it happens to WOC it's not simply because of misogyny (though that is definitely there) it is also tied into race and the ways in which their race is stereotyped and/or fetishized by the perpetrator.

    But just because WW are on the pedestal doesn't mean it's a good thing. It IS a position of power in relation to WOC(and a form of white privilege that should be acknowledged), but it is a limited position that comes with a whole list of caveats, and that still exists within a patriarchal system that hurts pretty much everyone.

    Now that we've gotten Intersectionality 101 out of the way how about we get back to the topic at hand?

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  52. It is not misogynist to point out that white privilege operates differently for men and women! It is, on the other hand, misogynist to fail to confront snd fight societal structures that oppress WOC. You know, women of color. For frak's sake.

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  53. Also ditto what RVCBard had to say in regard to those comments which I didn't see until after I posted.

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  54. @snobographer

    Interesting. So are they held in high regard or are they portrayed as "sluts?" Seems like quite the sharp contradiction, no? If we're held in such high esteem for hundreds of years, how'd we only manage to get the vote 90 years ago? How is it 1 in 4 of us is raped at some point in our lives? Why do those GGW videos exist in the first place?

    Slut-shaming white women for the same internalized misogyny that black women demonstrate in Nelly videos isn't going to help a damn thing.


    All the white privilege in this thread is choking me now. Get this: You are held in high esteem as the ideal woman, there's no fucking about it. Not to mention WOC experience sexual assault at high rates than White women. And you got the fucking vote before any WOC. The Girls Gone Wild example just shows that White women can strip and gyrate and whatnot and STILL be seen as innocent, pure, virginal on a whole. WOC don't have that privilege. Get the fuck over yourself.

    @Tagg
    A woman calling another woman a bitch is not the same as a man calling a woman a bitch. And a Black woman calling a white woman a bitch certainly isn't the same either.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I recently purchased 10 items at a large department store after trying them all on. I don't think I lost the receipt, but didn't hold tight to it because I knew I wasn't going to return the items. I didn't bother looking for it before going back into the store to have them removed two ink tags they left on. I figured since i bought the stuff with the store card, they could look up the items. Here's the twist, one of the items didn't come up. Most likely the cashier was negligent in both removing ink tags and scanning, but she had put the little return stickers on all my items. Luckily she was a manager and remembered selling to me a couple days earlier. But she had to be called over when I came back in to return the items.

    The whole return transaction took about ten minutes and I ran the gamut of feelings of guilt. I am half black and was raised knowing if I shoplifted I would get caught and my white friends could shoplift with impunity. Barely into it, I did get caught at age 13, and the shame still burns 20 years later. But as an adult my guilty conscience and paranoid persona has faded away and I figure if I were ever falsely accused of anything because of my race I'd be able to calmly talk my way out of it. I think many older women of color could also shoplift more effectively than white teenagers and some of this may be ageism at play, too.

    When I was at the store to get my ink tags off, the original cashier was not white. I don't know what she was, but she looked polynesian. I could tell she was really uncomfortable and that made me feel like I did something wrong, which she may have perceived. It seemed as though when she was talking to the manager on the phone there was some kind of code going on, then the manager (who had sold me the stuff originally) came over. I started to feel guilty as though I HAD done something wrong and I am sure they fed off my guilt, but the manager had a very high degree of professionalism and treated me quite well. She was apologetic and said she didn't want me to have to pay for her mistake.

    I really don't feel like any direct racism was going on. Most of my discomfort came from my own life experiences. Perhaps I have inherited some of that white priv by living in a really white place for so long. But what ended up happening was I got a free $70 skirt and 20 percent off the item I had already paid for. Is this what happens when retail managers read this blog?

    ReplyDelete
  56. @Tagg,

    Then how's about this?

    "Go fuck yourself."

    Explicitly gender neutral and YOU can do it too!

    ReplyDelete
  57. @ Meg

    Ah, but I'm not disparaging her for shoplifting. I'm mocking her for taking her shit so seriously. I'm not her and I don't know her, but I'd guess the difference between us (besides the fact that I'm not a "pro" shoplifter) isn't that I am a "better" kind of white person. The difference is that she's sending melodramatic postcards to postsecret and I'm not. IMO blithe is > emo and navel-gazey, but perhaps that is where some commenters and I diverge.

    Anyways, @everyone else, I have already apologized so by popular demand I will gtfo. Bye

    ReplyDelete
  58. @snobographer

    Interesting. So are they held in high regard or are they portrayed as "sluts?" Seems like quite the sharp contradiction, no? If we're held in such high esteem for hundreds of years, how'd we only manage to get the vote 90 years ago? How is it 1 in 4 of us is raped at some point in our lives? Why do those GGW videos exist in the first place?

    Slut-shaming white women for the same internalized misogyny that black women demonstrate in Nelly videos isn't going to help a damn thing.


    If I understand correctly, Mr. Capers was pointing out that no matter how bad large groups of White women act it is never portrayed as a condemnation on White women as a whole; White women are still held up as the standard for pure. However, when both women and men of Color do something perceived as 'bad' by society then the majority of society automatically assumes that to be true for all/majority of women and men of Color.

    I believe some women of Color earlier in the thread mentioned that if they were to shoplift and be caught it would hurt all women/men of Color because of how a racist and White dominated society works. However if I, as a White woman, were to be caught it would be a small paragraph in the local newspaper and other White women/men would suffer no consequences.

    If I understood Mr. Capers correctly, and I apologize if I did not, then I would most definitely have to agree with him.

    As for your comment of "if we were held in such esteem why did we only get to vote 90 years ago, etc" that really doesn't correlate. One does not have to be held equal to White men to be considered by White men as above men and women of Color.

    White women were considered innocent, naive, and as mentioned by various posters here "pure". It wasn't really considered that White women could do anything dastardly or criminal. So while not equal to White men, they were certainly held in higher esteem than women and men of Color were - and still are today.

    As is supported by many things, including the very idea of this post.

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  59. Well, as for the postcard being self-absorbed: it is a Web site based on people writing down their personal secrets and mailing them in. If that's not the right venue for navel-gazing, I don't know what is.

    Oh, and it's never appropriate to eat produce in the grocery store. How is that not blindingly obvious?

    @Cat: let me just reiterate what everyone is saying, but monosyllabically: you fail at life.

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  60. @ RCVBard

    Either you didn't read my post well enough to figure out that I am also a WoC, or you just made an insult in horrifically bad taste. Just wow.

    @ Rochelle and Witchsistah

    Disagree. I believe that using language formulated by the oppressing party with the intent of putting the oppressed in their place is harmful. And I will tell people as much when I see it, even if I know they won't stop. And can I add how much it depresses me to see the same over-hostile attitude in this situation that I get when I point out any of the shit on this site to whites? Damn.

    But whatever, guess ya'll can just go ahead and call me an UPPITY black bitch while you're at it.

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  61. @cat
    "I have already apologized"

    have you?

    you said "sorry" and you offered some apologetics, but since you never actually owned up to what was so troubling about both of your posts, that doesn't count.

    you did NOT apologize in any way that matters.

    @snobographer
    "Is it bad to do because it makes things worse for POC?"

    What I gather from this thread is that opening stuff before paying for it is like carrying around a big sign that says "Look at me! I have white privilege! Aren't you jealous? Look at what I can do that you can't do! ha ha ha!"

    ReplyDelete
  62. @Rochelle - By the way, completely off-topic but I think I remember you mentioning you're Jamaican. Hope you're safe if you're there.

    ReplyDelete
  63. @Tagg:

    You're right. I'm wrong. How's that?

    ReplyDelete
  64. @tagg
    "Disagree. I believe that using language formulated by the oppressing party with the intent of putting the oppressed in their place is harmful. And I will tell people as much when I see it, even if I know they won't stop."

    I hear you, but it seems tricky when there is a history of oppression that involves controlling what the oppressed can say and how they can say it.

    There have been disagreements among WOC about this very word on this blog in the past and it always ends up in this between-rock-and-a-hard-place argument:
    some say b* is a word used to put women and WOC in their place; others say restricting speech is a means to put WOC in their place.

    I can see both sides. And maybe it is just a difference of opinion. But the divide-us-against-ourselves subtext of the argument makes me suspicious. The dividing-against-selves thing seems like something whiteness is awfully good at doing, and I'm wondering if there's something deeper at work here. What role is whiteness playing in creating this seemingly impassable impasse? [this is really a question for everyone, not just tabb]

    ReplyDelete
  65. @cat

    SWPD: think that taking things "too seriously" is the greatest vice of all. I mostly see this attitude among preppy entitled schoolboys (and sometimes their fathers) but why be confined by retrograde gender stereotypes? You're guilty on this charge too. Some issues are FUCKING SERIOUS. Why should blithe be ">" (I'm assuming you mean "greater than"...cute...) emotional and introspective when it comes to topics like STEALING and RACISM? Your appallingly blithe attitude certainly did not do you any favors here. This resistance to taking anything seriously is an attitude that can really only come from a disgusting amount of privilege. For the rest of us who would have been arrested for "flagrantly" shoplifting, shit would have gotten serious long ago.

    Ironically, I agreed with what you said about the postcard. I've known girls like that though (all white BTW) and guess what: they are a million times more worthwhile than you. They may write bad poetry about their eating disorders and their parents not understanding them but at least they are not sociopaths. HTH.

    ReplyDelete
  66. @ Randy.
    funny, I feel no guilt whatsoever. Yet somehow I manage to see truth in most of the views expressed here. Well that's not quite true. I feel a bit guilty for not recognizing my privilege and the pervasive racism that exists in this country, in me, and in most other WP sooner.

    ReplyDelete
  67. This is why stuff like Aiyana Jones happens. Her innocence was never granted because she was black and poor.

    I never feel at ease in stores, going in with something I am returning, walking in with a beverage even if they do not sell beverages, opening up food without paying for it, trying on clothes outside of the changing rooms, touching food items that have already been opened with a drink/snack taken out. And it does shock me that people feel comfortable with it.

    @cat--by acting like a fool you are not challenging the stereotype that PoC steal and are dangerous. You think the white men that rape black women challenge the stereotype that black men are rapists? Hell no.

    ReplyDelete
  68. @Tagg,

    Fine, you're an uppity, BLACK bitch.

    Happy now?

    Miss Anne doesn't need you defending her honor. She's got the whole Western world to do that for her.

    When the "wprldwide sisterhood" is more symmetrical and reciprocal, then I'll give a shit about it.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Someone suggested that shoplifting has been found to be a mental health problem usually.

    I don't know about that. In fact given racist bias in psychiatry, I wonder if the real reason it's being framed that way is in itself racist.

    As in, POC shoplifting is just vile and criminal as far as they're concerned. And when they think of shoplifting they think of POC. But then there's these white people who shoplift. Hmm, better come up with a reason because white people aren't vile dirty criminals. Oh here's an idea, why don't we call it a medical problem instead of a moral problem?

    Disgusting either way.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I see Cat's kind all the time, we know who the criminals really are. I never hesitate to shop them to security. Middle class white women are the worst, no one ever expects them to shoplift yet they are the most overlooked.
    I see people like her all the time in my local Marks and Spencers helping thmeselves to say..an open bag of grapes, and they have the nerve to give me a 'What? its only a few grapes'' look! Either that or they act like it's the most natural thing to do! It's not a bloody farmer's market, PURCHASE items before you eat them. Gosh these folks wind me up!!

    ReplyDelete
  71. @Tagg

    And can I add how much it depresses me to see the same over-hostile attitude in this situation that I get when I point out any of the shit on this site to whites? Damn.

    But whatever, guess ya'll can just go ahead and call me an UPPITY black bitch while you're at it.


    Yeah, me not stopping the using the word 'bitch' is exactly like white people refusing to own up their privilege! Seriously? And 'hostility'? Are you okay with 'condescending assbasket' instead?

    @dersk
    Yes, and I am safe, though some of my friends aren't :\

    ReplyDelete
  72. @Meg

    That's true. Overall, white women are seen as individuals. So, one or a thousand who goes astray is not a reflection of that race in a white privileged society. However, just one WOC, a black woman for example, is enough to condemn the whole race because it's the mindset of a lot of people.

    @Carrie

    Thanks for elaborating on what I was saying.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Hi everyone,

    I wrote a short article recently on examiner.com about why eating stuff before purchasing it is bad: http://bit.ly/bJ938i
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  74. @Rochelle

    Yeah, being called a damn SLAVE MISTRESS for coming in and saying "you shouldn't (notice, shouldn't not CAN'T) call other women patriarchal insults, and here's why" isn't hostile (or insensitive to the actual history of slavery) at all.

    This Uppity Slave Mistress Auntie Tom Condescending Assbasket Auntie Tom is peacing out now. Have fun being hypocrites.

    ReplyDelete
  75. OT, though for this thread not saying much, but:

    And how many women of color have to be murdered before the government spends $500 million to protect them? How many men, how many children?

    (nb: Yes, the rancher was white, or at least he looks it)

    In a vague attempt at on topicness, I offer "swpd: fight phantom POC crime and phantom POC criminals to make WP feel 'safer,' while ignoring the real threat (WP)"

    ReplyDelete
  76. @Tagg

    I'm not so stupid that I don't know the patriarchal roots of the word 'bitch', just so you know. Stop talking down to me like you're the only one who knows anything.

    ReplyDelete
  77. @cat
    I'm really sorry that most of the people on this thread haven't understood where you are coming from or you. I think I do.

    You are a thief
    You take things that don't belong to you and that you haven't paid for.
    I bet you steal from work - 'they don't need it'
    from your friends - 'she wouldn't mind'
    from your family - 'I need it'.

    You are a thief. a crook. a criminal.
    You steal because you recognised that as a white woman, you can.

    That same privilege which justifies your stealing (oh you just can't stand long queues) is the same one which wonders why we don't applaud you for stealing. You common thief

    You belong in Jail, where confinement and a loss of your free will, might help to teach you things like...
    'in the presence of a long queue for an item you want,your options are:
    leave the store, come back later or go without
    You lowlife thieving bitch (thanks Rochelle, I think the term is appropriate)

    ReplyDelete
  78. can't name the many times I have been followed around in shops, if I was to shoplift it would make things harder for other black people entering the same shop.

    Recently My two little brothers (11 &12) were in a supermarket getting a few snacks and I was waiting for them outside with my dog as they were leveing with a whole bunch of people the alarm went off and the secruity guard grabbed my 12 yeard old brother like he is a grown man (both my brother I quite tall and look like teenagers)I come to their defense saying why did they grab them and not the woman who left the same time as them.

    ABC has another What would you shopping while black with black teens and only POC stepped in to help the teen girls

    http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/

    ReplyDelete
  79. [Witchsistah, I'm not going to publish that comment -- this is swpd, not sbpd. ~macon]

    ReplyDelete
  80. How much y'all wanna bet cat has pout-stomped into the sunset vowing never to steal again for us ungrateful darkies but will now only rip folks off for herself? Any takers?

    [Dat dar betta, Massa Macon?]

    ReplyDelete
  81. @ Witchsistah:

    I stopped posting because several posters requested it. I'm happy to resume my participation in this thread, though, if preferred. Let me know!

    ReplyDelete
  82. @ muha

    If your amateur diagnosis of mental illness (sociopathy) is correct, does that make me a person with disabilities?

    @ soul:

    I appreciate your understanding. You do encapsulate me more accurately than most of the other contributors here. A whopping 50 percent (approx) of your post is right on target.

    "You are a thief" Yes. "a crook." Redundant, but yes. "a criminal." Theft is a crime, so, yes.

    I would totally steal from work if it were worth the risk, but it isn't. Pity, because I could net a Madoff-sized fortune. Family and friends aren't as attractive as targets, so I don't really steal from them.

    I don't think I belong in jail, though. Even if I were caught shoplifting my conduct would not send me there. Is that just because I'm white? As far as I know, first-time shoplifters generally are not incarcerated regardless of race. (If I were caught once, I would probably stop). This is especially true because the items I steal aren't very expensive. Anyways, in my opinion jail is not the best place to put me.

    "your options are: leave the store, come back later or go without." Well, those are my legal and conventional options. But we all have additional options. A person could let out a curdling shriek and rush to the front of the line, distract everyone by blowing up a car like at that pharmacy in No Country For Old Men, could beg and plead to be allowed to go ahead (most people would say yes), whatever. Race and similar variables help determine your specific set of options, but they are not the only constraints. Social norms, private morality, and variables like that matter too.

    In my limited subjective experience I have less in common with the secret-poster and with most white women (two separate groups) than I do with another group, white men. Not all or even most white men. But, the only people I have met in real life who would agree with the contents of this post have been white men, for what that is worth.

    ReplyDelete
  83. @witchsistah...

    A thief is a thief is a thief.
    She'll find any justification for stealing.

    I think she'll do it in the name of feminism next.
    Or maybe in the name of those 'poor sweatshop workers'..
    anything to justify her crimes.

    See if she were a black woman or man, she would have been serving a multiple term bid already.
    But ms thang gets to skate along living off her crimes because she can't be bothered to join a queue then expects us to applaud her.

    this idiot doesn't realise that there is a black girl facing a long jail sentence for defending her right to queue.
    See that.... that's how you know that the world is fucked up!

    That's why I'm calling it like it is. She is a thief. a crook, a fraud, a chancer, a rogue, an habitual criminal.

    might as well call a spade a spade.

    ReplyDelete
  84. @macon:

    OK, we get it. Cat's comments perfectly illustrate the post. Can we move on to something else?

    ReplyDelete
  85. RVCBard,

    Don't you like some whitesplaining with your morning coffee? There's enough left over for your cereal too!

    ReplyDelete
  86. I don't drink coffee, and I'm lactose intolerant.

    >:P

    ReplyDelete
  87. and I'm lactose intolerant.

    So I've gathered!

    (I wonder how much straining this metaphor can stand before it breaks.)

    ReplyDelete
  88. On my last nerveMay 27, 2010 at 6:40 AM

    Cat smells like an annoying troll to me, or a sociopath. Why don't you saunter back to your virtual litter box, mmm..kay? I wish I could pity you, but I don't. I've had enough of unrepentant, arrogant attention-seekers like you. If you are for reals, I hope someone with more patience than I gets you some help, or keeps you away from other people's property behind bars. On the other hand, if you're just playing around SWPD for kicks, you better pray that an unfortunate loss of privilege doesn't come your way, sister. That could be anything, you know --finanicial, disability, anything. For you see, someday you may need someone to stand up for your sorry ass, and maybe, just maybe, somebody on a web site like this will say the right words or fight the good fight on their own time to make that happen, even though you wouldn't deserve it. Then again, that's the beauty of other people's generosity. Get some help before somebody drops dime on you. It will happen.

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  89. dear cat..

    You mistake my post as one needing approval from you.

    Let me be quite clear, providence will catch up with you.
    You are a thief and you deserve the full reproach of the law and of providence.

    But since you seek attention I will let you know this,
    I do not care what becomes of you for you are a vagrant and as i have said a thief.

    You deserve no more attention and henceforth, I withdraw my benevolence and give you none.

    Feel free to rejoin the human wretches of whom you freely associate and in whose company you delight. Save your deference and justification of your criminality to one who truly cares.

    Be gone with you! cretin

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  90. Wow. This is very interesting because I took her posting in a completely different way. I understood it as middle-aged women becoming invisible because they were "past the prime," past the beauty expiration date. What is it these days? 25? 26? (sarcasm) My take is that she was lamenting becoming "invisible," but hey, screw you, as long as you're not aknowledging me, I'll take some stuff. I understood the water going down the drain as her "beauty" or her perceived social "value." Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  91. Jeskar,

    Sure, I have a thought -- you're wrong.

    The card says nothing about age, but it does use the word "white."

    Why are you overlooking that word, and adding something about age that's not there?

    ReplyDelete
  92. Jeskar,

    In response, yes age was an assumption. But, I still think that as she had a "realization," it was over a certain amount of time. The word "unassuming" means "plain,"
    "modest" or "lacking in any form of pretension" by definition. This means to me that something changed and it caused her to realize that she was invisible, hence she became a good thief. Of course, not excusing the behavior, but just reading differently into some possibilities of the posting.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Of course, not excusing the behavior, but just reading differently into some possibilities of the posting.

    *Marks the
    Everything But Racism spot on the Bingo card.*

    ReplyDelete
  94. Arghhhh! I never thought I would end up as "Bingo card fodder." I wrote my post in order to dialogue and examine the sociological implications and perceptions of different groups.

    I think it was interesting that no one focused on her feelings of "invisibility." That is truly sad and implies a lot. I don't think it says---"Woot! I'm white, I can get away with anything!" I think it says, "I am unseen. I am plain. No one even notices me when I break the law."

    At any rate:
    Is she a criminal? Yes.
    Do black people get unfairly profiled in stores? Yes.
    Do white people less so? Yes.
    Is this woman a racist? I don't really know...and neither do you.

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  95. Is this woman a racist? I don't really know...and neither do you.

    Depends on one's definition of "a racist." I would say that since she is white, she inevitably feels, thinks, and does things that are racist. As a white person, she's been trained to do so.

    I think it was interesting that no one focused on her feelings of "invisibility." That is truly sad and implies a lot. I don't think it says---"Woot! I'm white, I can get away with anything!" I think it says, "I am unseen. I am plain. No one even notices me when I break the law."

    Oh boo hoo hoo.

    If you think it's sad that she feels invisible for reasons other than that she's white, then you're overlooking the significance of the fact that she did use the word "white." And if you're instead sympathizing with her feelings of being invisible and overlooked because she's white, then you're indulging in a kind of white victimization that's offensive, ridiculous, and not coincidentally, racist.

    ReplyDelete
  96. A really thought-provoking discussion. While reading, I was thinking about some of the privilege I get to exercise when shopping. For instance, I occasionally run into a package that has been broken/tampered with, and turn it in to one of the sales associates, and I've been able to do this without anyone assuming that I am the one responsible for the damage.

    It's hard to know how to address the issue, aside from being more self-aware myself. I work part-time in retail and I sometimes worry if my asking POC if they need help, ends up seeming like I have an entirely different motive. I'm not sure how to mitigate this other than wandering off and not asking further if they've told me that they're just browsing.

    ReplyDelete
  97. I work part-time in retail and I sometimes worry if my asking POC if they need help, ends up seeming like I have an entirely different motive.

    IMO, as long as it doesn't look like you're singling a POC customer out, you're probably fine. And it depends upon your approach too. It's really subtle, I'll admit, but if you pass by a POC and just ask, "How can I help you today?" that seems a lot . . . friendlier than asking, "Are you looking for something?"

    Hard to explain the difference right now, but there it is.

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  98. Hey RVCBard,

    Thanks :) It is something that I worry about, but it seems much worse not to ask at all. Since I work in a small store, I usually make the rounds and ask everyone (in order of who I encounter first) if they would like any help. I don't think that it comes off in a negative way, but I also don't have those triggers myself and might not recognize it in the same way.

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  99. I can't help it, I have to commend my favorite local grocery store for having policies posted by the front door, one of which reads something like: Hungry? Go ahead! Pay on your way out.

    I'm not suggesting that people will never get sideways glances when eating in the store, but at least it's institutionally UN-sanctioned.

    ReplyDelete

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