• Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I am white and therefore privileged. Guilty as charged. And I'm not going to ask for your pardon or forgiveness, my fellow oppressed friends.

    1. I have not, and am not, oppressing you. Just because we are not in the same boat doesn't mean I deprived you of anything.

    2. Just about everyone, pretty much, has been and is being oppressed by some other group of people at one time or another.

    3. People oppress and exploit others because there are tangible reward for doing so. The Romans possessed a regular diverse, multicultural rainbow of slaves. Were they racists? No really -- just all purpose imperialists who needed a lot of slave power. A blond German and a black Nubian were equally fair game.

    4. The whole feudal system from the collapse of Rome forward was a system of exploitation, dispossession, and oppression. So was the large land area ruled by the Moslems.

    5. In the post-feudal world slavery became quite prominent again. African tribes were willing to provide cargo for slave dealers, and money was made all round -- except for the slaves, of course. They came out on the very short end of the stick. But that's part of the deal. Slaves finish last.

    6. Slavery began in North America under the auspices of English colonials; the trade in slaves was English, and the big plantations in the Caribbean were English. Were the English just wicked racists drunk on white privilege for enslaving Africans? Or were the English and slave-selling Africans just doing what made economic sense at the time with the means at hand?

    7. The details of "original accumulation" are generally pretty ghastly, whether it involves slavery or exploitation of abject people of any race.

    8. After Independence, slavery became an American problem. We kept it until 1865, and a lot of white men died to stop it.

    9. The freed slave suffered from 3 problems:
      a. The freedom of the slave represented an enormous financial loss to the intensely resentful former owner.
      b. The former slave was not really free.
      c. The former slaves and their descendants led lives of repeated calamity.

    10. It was never in the interests of Capital (broadly defined) to have a fully integrated work force at full employment. It has always been advantageous for Capital (and it still is) to have numerous unemployed workers who don't get along among themselves (lest they better organize themselves). The more surplus labor there is, the easier it is to threaten the security of workers and keep them in line (that includes white workers).

    11. In contemporary periods of prosperity, the workers have competed to rise; rise at work through unionization, rise in status through home ownership, gain cultural merits through education (of themselves and/or their children).

    12. The descendant of the former slave, the illegal migrant from Mexico or El Salvador, the low paid Chinese and Indonesian, the white scab -- all sorts of people -- have threatened the never overly secure working class. As the economy has changed in the last 40 years, even formerly multi-generationally secure middle class workers have seen their prosperity and security fall apart.

    13. Inter-class Resentment is only superficially racial in nature, its substantively economic. The solution isn't racial, it's economic.

    14. We can debate prejudice, language, names on buildings, various privileges, police wrong-doing, and a host of other 'symbolic issues' till hell freezes over, without accomplishing anything. Workers can not solve the problem of economic inequity among themselves without freeing up Capital for redistribution. Freeing up capital is not about race, it's about breaking up a whole class of people (the notorious 1%) who hold the accumulated benefits of population-wide exploitation.

    What prevents the poor black, the poor white, the poor African, Asian, and South American immigrant, the poor illegal alien, the poor Aboriginal American, from becoming a "success in his own eyes and the eyes of his fellows", is access to wealth, real opportunity, real avenues to pursue advancement.

    Poverty keeps the oppressed oppressed -- not racism.
  • unenlightened
    3.9k
    What's wrong with rich privilege?
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    What prevents the poor black, the poor white, the poor African, Asian, and South American immigrant, the poor illegal alien, the poor Aboriginal American, from becoming a "success in his own eyes and the eyes of his fellows", is access to wealth, real opportunity, real avenues to pursue advancement.

    Poverty keeps the oppressed oppressed -- not racism.
    Bitter Crank
    I am in large agreement with your whole post.
  • Michael
    8k
    Poverty keeps the oppressed oppressed -- not racism.Bitter Crank

    Isn't racial discrimination a reason for some being stuck in poverty?
  • swstephe
    109
    White privilege is bad because it harms all of everyone.

    Also, it isn't just "white privilege", but "white, male, married, protestant, upper-middle class, straight, moderate conservative privilege". It isn't just who oppresses whom, it is about the dominant social and cultural "narrative". We seem to be hard-wired into the process of "othering". The dominant group is the default group, generally trustworthy, rational and moral. Everyone else is difficult to trust, (they might become mindless violent savages trying to steal or destroy privilege), irrational, (they think differently, otherwise they would choose to be as similar as possible to privilege), and immoral, (their view of right and wrong is different than what is trustworthy and rational). I think you said it yourself in an old thought-provoking post, when you are treated as someone with low morals, you tend to not care too much about being moral. I've found that, in general, those pushed out to the fringes of society are often as moral, if not more, or have greater integrity -- maybe because they don't get the trust-illusion to hide behind. In general, people expect them to explain themselves, or submissively accept their discounted character.

    I like to submit myself to my own personal experiences, because I don't trust society and I want to see reality for myself. I think it is so pervasive, we can't really see outside our experience. It takes years of deliberate manipulation. At one point, I was living as a minority in a foreign country. During Christmas time, most people would leave and I was the only white face around. I once woke up in the morning, looked in the mirror, and probably for the first time in my life saw my face the way the it really was. The bony facial structure, pale skin, wispy hair. I had already gotten used to local faces so I didn't see them as "different" anymore. I thought maybe it was a weird hallucination, but last week I read about an fMRI study which confirmed that our brains automatically warp faces to fit stereotypes. Other studies show that we tend to bias our interpretation of facial expressions positively for whites and negatively for non-whites. I used to go into bidding conferences for government contracts in that country. I noticed a distinctive bias against locals and favoritism toward my company, once they saw my face. They automatically assumed I was more honest and skilled than locals before they knew anything about me.

    I have two daughters with a Chinese woman, so they are considered "mixed race". My youngest, however, can easily pass for white. They once asked me what race they were. Their friends would go into shock when they saw their mother, and then they would find themselves pushed out to the "Asian table" at their school cafeteria, (and they were treated as "practically white" by them). I see them struggling to define who they are in a black-and-white society. My youngest went to Beijing to work for a few years, then came back and is going to school in North Dakota. My eldest relates to both privileged groups and minorities volunteer aid groups.

    Even if we don't deliberately oppress them, it harms those who have been "othered". Society doesn't trust them and sometimes comes up with long, complicated, ways of keeping them out of privileged groups subconsciously. If you raise a kid, always telling him he is stupid, then he will act that way, not bother to get an education and bypass opportunities. I was reading a commentary on a study on the gender wage gap. "If it were true that women are willing to work for less, then a company could make a lot of money by only hiring women", went the argument. The study said that women were less likely to ask for a raise, or try to negotiate for a higher salary. Companies usually have a pay grade/salary scale that isn't related to gender and most try to close the gap as much as possible. Even if you get into problems like gangs and crime in the inner cities, you find out the problem isn't as bad as it is portrayed, it is more of a confirmation bias. We ignore violent organized activities in privileged groups, emphasize the same behavior in "other" groups, and that makes us associate crime and violence with those areas, if we didn't already grow up there. But I think that starts a vicious circle and it is that perception that perpetuates the evidence. Remember when Katrina hit New Orleans, when CNN saw black people carrying things, they were "looters". When white people carried things, they were "salvaging". Even more recently, (in post-racist America), I watched the protests in Furgeson and heard CNN reporters, (even non-whites), saying that the protesters should essentially be more submissive to authority so they would be taking seriously.

    The psychology of "othering" and privilege is harming society and the economy. Would you rather live in a Brazilian slum or Beverley Hills? As a business owner, investor or worker, you rely on a strong economy, so you rely on wealthy consumers. It is to your advantage for people around you being as well off as possible, so why would you want them to be poor and powerless? That's why I am fond of the philosophy of "Ubuntu", or "win-win", if you want the western equivalent. Yesterday, I was watching some videos about morality in animals and was surprised about one study in which a chimpanzee seemed to understand this principle. The test was to give two monkeys or apes a task. In this case, they had to pick up a rock and drop it through a hole. One was awarded with cucumber, the other with a grape, (and monkeys really like grapes a lot more), withing clear view of each other. Eventually the monkey getting the cucumbers started throwing them at the researcher instead of eating them, (the narrator of the video said "there you have Occupy Wall Street"). When chimpanzees were given this test, the one receiving the grapes refused to take any more grapes until the other one got grapes too! Apparently it appeals to their instinctive attitude toward the social benefits of fairness. I can really identify more with that chimpanzee. I was beaten quite a lot in school, which can be emotionally traumatizing, but I moved beyond that by realizing that those who beat me lost more than I ever did. I was the smartest kid in my school and could have helped them get good grades, a good job and everything else they valued. I also realized that the way they treated me wasn't for a reason they could express, but the collaboration of a lot of social and psychological reasons. They came from violent and oppressive backgrounds and was transferring those feelings onto me, in an attempt put me in my "proper" place.

    The issue of slavery is difficult to approach. Most of us can probably dismiss guilt in the situation. But the economic advantage is interesting. If we benefited from forcing people to work for no money, then wouldn't we also benefit from people volunteering to work for just a little money, if they are given an opportunity to eventually prosper? I'm surprised when Libertarians are opposed to illegal immigrants. There was a recent example where Alabama created very strict rules on immigration and drove illegal immigrants away. The crops ended up rotting in the field because no Americans would work for such low wages and farm owners couldn't afford minimum wage -- so they ended up forcing prisoners to work the fields to save the crops. It would seem to me that completely open borders with liberal employment would be the best economic option. I would think the ones currently doing the hard jobs could graduate up to managing those workers. From a Libertarian perspective, wouldn't the government forcing employers to only employ citizens qualify as state-sponsored coercion? We seem to be protecting "citizen privilege", and often applying "othering" to a population mostly to justify that privilege. (In a way, I suppose you could say that privilege needs non-privileged minorities to exist).

    I'm pretty out on the left, so I think all those attributes we use to divide privileged and non-privileged are socially derived. I don't believe in "race". Sometimes it sounds like people talk as if white people sprang fully formed from a hole in the ice in Scandanavia like a skinny dipping Polar Bear Club member into the world. I'm pretty sure our distant ancestors migrated their from a small group in Africa, so I find the phrase "African American" strange. All Americans ae ultimately from Africa. Again, the default is "white", and anyone else needs an adjective to indicate how they are not the default. I've never been called "European American" in my life, yet we are more deserving of an adjective to describe which area our ancestors originated then most others. Asian American is horribly vague, as it could apply to anyone who can trace their ancestry to anywhere from Turkey and Russia to China and Japan.

    But maybe I'm a bit confused about it being all about power. Power comes from privilege. As a society, we ultimately gave our trust and accept the authority of the default group. Americans tend to assume they are "temporarily inconvenienced millionaires", so those who are poor seem to be simply waiting for the right opportunity or have resigned themselves to be victims of some other injustice. Maybe it is the implicit logic that happen to be circular. We expect those who are privileged to succeed and the rest to not even try, so we fall in line with those expectations. Sometimes we expect the privileged to lend a helping hand to the others, but not to equal or succeed themselves. It is easy to exploit privilege. If you only pretend to be wealthy and in power, people give you things. If you are not privileged, then you have to be overtly polite and submissive to get anything. I knew a British "Lord" in Indonesia. He got invited to dinners with the World Bank and ran a society of telecom engineers -- despite being broke most of the time. I guess I see power and wealth as a tool that society has voluntarily handed to the group they think they ought to trust. I've toyed with the idea of a world without any monetary system at all, (money demands implicit inequality and unfairness -- like cucumbers and grapes), or one where the power system is recognized to have been in in the hands of the majority of society and nature all along. I would meditate while gardening on the implicit economic system, free water and sun from the sky, that I neither owned nor paid for, some soil and seed that was basically thrown away, gives me a reciprocal exchange of food for labor and keeping the system going. I feel a bit strange being in such a dirty and subversive socialist system and how it could have been applied to all of humanity.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Very thoughtful post.

    it isn't just "white privilege", but "white, male, married, protestant, upper-middle class, straight, moderate conservative privilege".swstephe

    So, I'm free of white stigma on 5 of 7 counts, being a white male but single, atheist, working class, gay, and a leftist. I guess I couldn't properly oppress anyone if I tried.

    We seem to be hard-wired into the process of "othering".swstephe

    Maybe we humans are hard wired to prefer people like ourselves, and if that is so, then there isn't very much we can do about privilege, racial preferences, and all that, beyond being more conscious of how we operate. We have a host of behaviors that are hard wired, as well as behaviors that are the product of cultural software -- not that cultural software's influences are feeble. I don't know how much is hard wire and how much is cultural software.

    True, we do "other" some people, and some people other themselves, too. (Othering one's self isn't 'self oppression' -- it's cultural definition.) For instance, gay men used to be viewed very much as other, back say... before gay liberation, 1970. Before and after Gay liberation some gay men adopted styles and manners that made sure they were perceived as other. I can't speak for straight blacks, of course, but it would appear that straight blacks have also adopted styles and manners that make them othered.

    None of this is to say that racial discrimination, or brutal policing, for example, are just cultural epiphenomena that nobody needs to worry about.

    Power comes from privilegeswstephe

    Not quite. Privilege comes from power, but what does power come from? Power generally comes from control of the means of existence--in other words, control of production and distribution of goods--all of it, more or less. Those who control the process of wealth creation (they own land, factories, etc.) can afford to project their power in the form of financial rules, lending practices, rental management, guards, police, and so forth. This framework wasn't built just yesterday, of course. It has been installed, remodeled, and reinstalled many times. For us, it was installed during our colonial period--under the control of England. We kept it.

    Mao said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. As a last resort, maybe. But if you have enough wealth, you can employ hired guns who will generally shoot sparingly. The threat of power coming out of the gun barrel (especially when the gun is pointed at one's esteemed self) is enough to keep people in line.

    White people climbing out of an ice hole in Norway? I love it. Sure, whites, asians, and aboriginals all came from Africa -- but you have to admit, not recently. We all look different now because of thousands of years of hard-won survival in varied and difficult circumstances. I think there are "races" (four of them) and there are discreet ethnic groups too. Asians, whites, blacks, and aboriginals can be acknowledged to be "racially different" without going any further than that, like to decide which one is superior. None of us are "superior". Japanese, Indians, and Turks are all Asian, all different, and none superior.

    There are various ways to get to "BoMFoG' -- Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, a feature of the "social gospel" that was popular back until the 1950s, more or less. For you, it's that we all came out of Africa. For me, it's pretty much that we are all in the same (probably sinking) boat, more or less.

    BTW, re: the chimpanzee experiments... Dogs have been found to have a similar response. If one dog notices that he is not getting rewarded, and the other dog is (dogs aren't fussy about the reward itself) the unrewarded dog will stop cooperating. And the rewarded dog doesn't worry about the unrewarded dog -- so dogs are a more realistic representation of our esteemed species.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Also, it isn't just "white privilege", but "white, male, married, protestant, upper-middle class, straight, moderate conservative privilege". It isn't just who oppresses whom, it is about the dominant social and cultural "narrative". We seem to be hard-wired into the process of "othering".swstephe

    What a social Darwinian crock.

    Everyone else is difficult to trust, (they might become mindless violent savages trying to steal or destroy privilege), irrational, (they think differently, otherwise they would choose to be as similar as possible to privilege), and immoral, (their view of right and wrong is different than what is trustworthy and rational).swstephe

    And sometimes, the "other" is exactly all three of these things.

    They once asked me what race they were.swstephe

    Race doesn't exist as a biological concept, so they were of the human race and no other. Race as a social construct needs to die and stop being perpetuated as if it matters.

    Even if we don't deliberately oppress them, it harms those who have been "othered".swstephe

    What does? Being white?!

    If you raise a kid, always telling him he is stupid, then he will act that way, not bother to get an education and bypass opportunities.swstephe

    Yes, and many, many white parents effectively tell their children just this. You seem to have a bone to pick with a certain small social class (the rich), whose skin pigmentation happens to be white, not with the latter in and of itself. Or at least I hope so.

    I watched the protests in Furgeson and heard CNN reporters, (even non-whites), saying that the protesters should essentially be more submissive to authority so they would be taking seriously.swstephe

    Some of these faux protesters were simply looters and thugs, burning, quite ironically, many black owned businesses, among other things. To the extent CNN reported this, they were being accurate. And they should have been more peaceful and submissive. Freedom of assembly does not entail theft and arson.

    The psychology of "othering" and privilege is harming society and the economy.swstephe

    And it's never going to stop. But if you want to fight it, you don't blame a person's skin color.

    Would you rather live in a Brazilian slum or Beverley Hills?swstephe

    Neither.

    I'm surprised when Libertarians are opposed to illegal immigrants.swstephe

    You're surprised people are against illegality?

    It would seem to me that completely open borders with liberal employment would be the best economic option.swstephe

    Maybe, but then the laws would have to be changed first.

    I don't believe in "race".swstephe

    Yes you do. Remember the people you don't like? The people who are "white, male, married, protestant," etc? You're also a sexist apparently, since you don't like the fact that they're male. Like you, I'm not a fan of Protestantism or conservatism broadly speaking, but I don't care one iota what skin pigmentation or gender a person happens to be.

    Power comes from privilege.swstephe

    A tautology.
  • swstephe
    109


    So, I'm free of white stigma on 5 of 7 counts, being a white male but single, atheist, working class, gay, and a leftist. I guess I couldn't properly oppress anyone if I tried. — Bitter Crank

    Being privileged doesn't mean you can't oppress, anyone can oppress anyone else, even within their own in-groups. Just last weekend, I read an article by a black lesbian advising other black women not to let their hair grow "naturally", because it could cost them promotions or business partnerships. Ever see two teenage girls brutally manipulate each other?

    Maybe we humans are hard wired to prefer people like ourselves, and if that is so, then there isn't very much we can do about privilege, racial preferences, and all that, beyond being more conscious of how we operate. We have a host of behaviors that are hard wired, as well as behaviors that are the product of cultural software -- not that cultural software's influences are feeble. I don't know how much is hard wire and how much is cultural software. — Bitter Crank

    I'm thinking more of a system that seems to standardize on group of features, independent of the audience. Look at the impossible standard for fashion models. I've seen pretty much the same models in every mall around the world, even when they don't really resemble the local population.

    True, we do "other" some people, and some people other themselves, too. (Othering one's self isn't 'self oppression' -- it's cultural definition.) For instance, gay men used to be viewed very much as other, back say... before gay liberation, 1970. Before and after Gay liberation some gay men adopted styles and manners that made sure they were perceived as other. I can't speak for straight blacks, of course, but it would appear that straight blacks have also adopted styles and manners that make them othered. — Bitter Crank

    Othering is pervasive. It can be subtle, or not so subtle -- like when some people are scared of transgendered people using the "wrong" bathroom on one side, or people who heap faux sympathy and charity on people just because they are different. I don't think we can avoid it or even understand our relationship to it. Whenever you define someone by how they are different, (like the need for adjectives).

    Not quite. Privilege comes from power, but what does power come from? Power generally comes from control of the means of existence--in other words, control of production and distribution of goods--all of it, more or less. Those who control the process of wealth creation (they own land, factories, etc.) can afford to project their power in the form of financial rules, lending practices, rental management, guards, police, and so forth. This framework wasn't built just yesterday, of course. It has been installed, remodeled, and reinstalled many times. For us, it was installed during our colonial period--under the control of England. We kept it. — Bitter Crank

    I work in a bank and attended all the banker classes and I've worked for HR departments and interviewed people. I've never seen a single written rule that says that we should prefer whites or men or people who own shoe factories over someone who works there. I think we all have to stop and consider whether we are being fair, or just falling into the old psychological traps. It might be what people think when they meet someone at a bar, but that is outside my experience.

    Mao said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. As a last resort, maybe. But if you have enough wealth, you can employ hired guns who will generally shoot sparingly. The threat of power coming out of the gun barrel (especially when the gun is pointed at one's esteemed self) is enough to keep people in line. — Bitter Crank

    When I lived in a monarchy/sultanate/dictatorship, I noticed how eagerly people rushed to join in the privilege/others dichotomy. Imagine the way US media goes crazy over British Royalty, then raise it to "Lord of the Flies" level. They are actually all quite well educated and sane, and regularly criticized the royalty, but there is just some kind of bias that turns some group into the privileged group, then they become the standard which everyone follows.

    We all look different now because of thousands of years of hard-won survival in varied and difficult circumstances. I think there are "races" (four of them) and there are discreet ethnic groups too. — Bitter Crank

    I was just taking a short online course in cognitive biases and Cross-race effect came up which seems apropos.

    BTW, re: the chimpanzee experiments... Dogs have been found to have a similar response. If one dog notices that he is not getting rewarded, and the other dog is (dogs aren't fussy about the reward itself) the unrewarded dog will stop cooperating. And the rewarded dog doesn't worry about the unrewarded dog -- so dogs are a more realistic representation of our esteemed species. — Bitter Crank

    You mean like this?
    1353522872_dog_wearing_cone_of_shame_eats_with_other_dogs.gif

    I suppose it depends on the situation. I've seen plenty of dogs share things. Apparently that old study about pack mentality and the "alpha male" was a really flawed study. They only studied wolves in captivity. When you force them all into one place and they have no control over food supply, (means of production?), they form a hierarchy and use aggression and violence to keep their position. But in the wild, they pretty much free to hang out in their families until they form their own. There are some interesting analogies to draw from that.
  • swstephe
    109

    And sometimes, the "other" is exactly all three of these things. — Thorongil

    But I'm talking about assuming that everyone in those groups has those attributes, which justifies mistreating and excluding those groups as a whole.

    Race doesn't exist as a biological concept, so they were of the human race and no other. Race as a social construct needs to die and stop being perpetuated as if it matters. — Thorongil

    I agree. My daughters were asking me because I had never brought it up before. When confronted with this treatment, I explained it as a social construct because we need to understand where it comes from to defeat it.

    What does? Being white?! — Thorongil

    Being othered.

    Yes, and many, many white parents effectively tell their children just this. You seem to have a bone to pick with a certain small social class (the rich), whose skin pigmentation happens to be white, not with the latter in and of itself. Or at least I hope so. — Thorongil

    As a computer programmer, I deal in math and logic. My enemy is human biases and assumptions, so I guess my bone is with the way society magnifies and perpetuates those biases instead of overcoming it. I understand that everyone is just as subject to those biases as anyone.

    Some of these faux protesters were simply looters and thugs, burning, quite ironically, many black owned businesses, among other things. To the extent CNN reported this, they were being accurate. And they should have been more peaceful and submissive. Freedom of assembly does not entail theft and arson. — Thorongil

    Yes, and some white Southerners are members of the KKK, but that doesn't mean all or even most are members or agree with their ideology -- so it would be unfair for an international news agency to realize someone is a white Southerner and immediately call them a member of the KKK and suggest that they are too racist to be listened to. Another big example, for me, is when Hillary Clinton, during one of the primaries, mentions Flint, Michigan. While trying to be helpful, or just gather voting support, she said something along the lines of "if the people were white, this problem would have been solved by now". I was a bit shocked, since the only famous person I know from Flint is Michael Moore, who is considered "white". A quick fact check said that 1/3 of Flint is white, so I wondered why she dismissed it as a problem of racism, rather than a problem of dismissing an entire group of people based on a generalization.

    And it's never going to stop. But if you want to fight it, you don't blame a person's skin color. — Thorongil

    I think everyone, regardless of skin color, is subject to this bias.

    You're surprised people are against illegality? — Thorongil

    I thought Libertarians rejected the authority of the state to pass laws which restrict the free market. Therefore they aren't really "illegal". Someone trying to compete against other companies is being forced to select more expensive workers from a smaller selection. If people really prefer to buy things made by citizens, they can reject it by refusing to pay for the product. Or you could even quote Adam Smith whose phrase "invisible hand of the market", (misunderstood by a lot of people), referred specifically to businesses only hiring locals out of a sense of moral responsibility.

    Maybe, but then the laws would have to be changed first. — Thorongil

    That was the suggestion. It seems the laws are being changed every year, and usually to support one lobby or another.

    Yes you do. Remember the people you don't like? The people who are "white, male, married, protestant," etc? You're also a sexist apparently, since you don't like the fact that they're male. Like you, I'm not a fan of Protestantism or conservatism broadly speaking, but I don't care one iota what skin pigmentation or gender a person happens to be. — Thorongil

    I didn't say I don't like privileged people. How could I? I fit 86% of that description myself, as does most of my family. I'm not particularly against protestants or conservatives, or anyone else. When I see bad code, I want to debug it and wish I could just rewrite it, (even though I know I shouldn't).
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    When I see bad code, I want to debug itswstephe

    You want to fix people. Fortunately we aren't code. A lot of the whining, bitching, carping, complaining, and so forth about race, gender, ethnicity, etc. boils down to a wish that everybody else would just get debugged. We especially want the people who are assholes to get debugged. Why can't assholes see themselves as the obvious assholes they are? Why don't they reform? Why don't they just get their asshole code fixed?

    Othering is pervasive.swstephe

    If cognitive bias is everywhere, if othering is pervasive, if personal preferences are ubiquitous, maybe that is the way we are, rather than a deviation. Perhaps? I'm not looking for an excuse for people to hate and hurt each other. People can live, have lived, and do live peaceably with people who are quite unlike them. Sort of the way street dogs behave. Put us into pressured situations where we are forced to compete for artificially (or truly) limited goods, and we start behaving badly amoungst ourselves.

    I'm a leftist too, and I've been reading leftist, liberationist stuff since the early 1970s. Some of it is really quite good, liberatory, and helpful. A lot of it is clearly based more on leftist dogma than any leftist's actual experience. (I'm not arguing for the social darwinist alternative, of course.) Leftist dogma is often disconnected from the real world. Leftists are, of course, idealists in many ways, and idealists tend to take extreme uncompromising stances. I've been there (dogmatic extreme idealism) several times.

    Take, for instance, unlimited immigration with open borders. Nice ideal -- freedom of movement, freedom of labor, freedom of capital, no borders, etc. Who wins, who loses? It is not and can not be, a nice rosy win-win situation. Both the donor and recipient countries sharing unlimited immigration can experience a lose/lose situation. The donor country loses the bulk of its talent and young people, and the receiver country gains more workers than it has resources to employ and support.

    Angela Merkel is ready to admit a million or two, or three refugees/asylum seekers/immigrants from the middle east. She wants the rest of Europe to get with the program.

    I readily grant that the situation of Syrians and various others is wretched. They need a place to stay, at least for a time. But if they stay, Europe will need much more robust growth than it has now to absorb them as workers. Europe has absorbed some, but by no means all, of previous waves of immigration/refugee/asylum seeking people. It is not producing enough jobs to keep it's German, Spanish, Polish, etc. youth properly employed. Who has first claim on the jobs? The natives or the latest arrivals?

    I've known a number of transsexuals, a few quite well, and most of my friends have been deviants of various kinds, over the years. Clearly, transgendered persons do not pose any threat in a public wash room, any more than any random person might. But sexual individualization can be outlandish even to the sexual minority life-style sophisticated, much less to the previously uninitiated person.

    Sexual (and other) minorities often tend to deliberately get their uniqueness in everybody's face and then expect everybody to be very sensitive about it. They might be well advised that sensitivity is a two way street. (I was young and brash once upon a time, and pretty much insisted that everybody lavishly respect my personal gay choices.) Why someone should think that even if they are not able to pass as their chosen gender, they should be applauded for using whichever public toilet they feel like is beyond me. If they can't pass, then it isn't time for them to demand people recognize their new identity. (It can take a while for a person to figure out how to actually look like, behave like, walk like, move like, dress like, talk like, etc. the gender they think they belong to.)

    Should your average woman, for instance, be expected to not bat an eye when she finds somebody who is obviously male but dressed as a female in the women's toilet? Should she be expected to celebrate their gender diversity, and figuratively pat the man? woman? boy? girl? or whatever on the back? (No Touching!) I don't think so.

    Some people can make the transition quickly, some can't. Tough. They'll just have to figure out how to get good at being their preferred gender before they expect people to not notice them as oddballs.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    Should your average woman, for instance, be expected to not bat an eye when she finds somebody who is obviously male but dressed as a female in the women's toilet? Should she be expected to celebrate their gender diversity, and figuratively pat the man? woman? boy? girl? or whatever on the back? (No Touching!) I don't think so. — Bitter Crank

    Yes. Here the point is being made against this form of gender (and sex category) discourse. The point is to remove the automatic assumption and prescription if gender (and sex category) discourse, so that people won't automatically assume the "non-passing" individuals are the gender (and sex category) normatively assigned to the appearance of their body. Why should someone be respect for their gender even when they don't "pass?" Becasue identity is not a question of appearance and expectation others have predicted to you regardless of who you are. No-one ought to assuming that someone's body or identity "must be" because of their appearance.

    There is no question of "getting good" at gender because whether someone legitimately belongs to a gender (or identity) is not defined by their appearance or mannerisms. There are no "oddballs." The devaluation of people on the fact they appear "odd" is the prejudice being targeted here. It's a resetting of our values and expectations in the order of assuming someone is a "savage" because of their appearance.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    What prevents the poor black, the poor white, the poor African, Asian, and South American immigrant, the poor illegal alien, the poor Aboriginal American, from becoming a "success in his own eyes and the eyes of his fellows", is access to wealth, real opportunity, real avenues to pursue advancement.

    Poverty keeps the oppressed oppressed -- not racism.
    — Bitter Crank

    Racism is an expression of an economic system which leaves particular racial or ethnic groups economically disposed. It is not cause of oppression, but it has plenty to do with it. Within any economic system, there is still the question of who is getting the slices of the pie, even in more equal distributions. Just because, for example, we concentrate on giving a workers better pay and conditions , it doesn't mean everyone gets to see that benefit. If an ethnic groups is, for example, segregated out of gainful employment, it won't matter how many rights and benefits are given to the workers.

    Identity is still has critical relevance in the context of economics dominate role in oppression. We can't just say: "Well, make man economically equal" because it doesn't take into account who society considers a man at the time. Universal values are not found in the absence of identity, in "equality" sans race, sex, gender, age, body, etc.,etc, but rather in the presence of identity, in the understanding that people of identities, be the black, muslim, white, gay, non-passing, etc., etc. are deserving of the same respect and value.

    Your charge against the ineffectiveness of modern day activist is sprinting the wrong direction. The privilege arguments aren't mistaken or ignorant of history (just because other people and culture exploit doesn't change what we are doing now), but merely crippled in making difference to oppression on the ground. They only talk about how oppression is present, limiting their effectiveness to a small category of discursive prejudice. The problem is the failure to act on policy to make a large scale difference.

    A challenge to this failure, a demand to work against the privilege we are so good at talking about, is required. We need to stand up and say that all this talking isn't doing much about racial privilege, that there are whole host of economic and social policies (that don't race) which are important to the oppression of the people in question, not turn on each other with injured white pride and dismissal of who is oppressed.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    But I'm talking about assuming that everyone in those groups has those attributes, which justifies mistreating and excluding those groups as a whole.swstephe

    Who does this? If there are such people making such absurd sweeping generalizations, then they are ignored and small in number, as one ought to expect and as they ought to be.

    My enemy is human biases and assumptionsswstephe

    Not all biases are bad. Being biased towards the good, the true, and the beautiful is surely no vice. The problem you have is with biases towards the bad; when people prefer the bad and make assumptions based on this preference. This is unfortunate indeed, but ineradicable. Nor does it have anything to do with being white skinned. It's a fault in human behavior that we also witness in our ape relatives, the chimpanzees. Or take the rare white-furred cubs sometimes born to black bear mothers, known as spirit bears by Native Americans. As they grow older, these bears are sometimes ostracized, or you might say, "othered," by their black-furred counterparts. All of this is to say once again that you are opposed to that which is an innate tendency in various sentient species, not every example of which is necessary bad, though most of time it is.

    so it would be unfair for an international news agency to realize someone is a white Southerner and immediately call them a member of the KKK and suggest that they are too racist to be listened to.swstephe

    Which is why, to my knowledge, they don't and haven't done this. The destruction and torching of buildings and cars in Ferguson, however, was not as isolated or on the fringe as you seem to think. The reason it was reported was because it was significant.

    While trying to be helpful, or just gather voting support, she said something along the lines of "if the people were white, this problem would have been solved by now". I was a bit shocked, since the only famous person I know from Flint is Michael Moore, who is considered "white". A quick fact check said that 1/3 of Flint is white, so I wondered why she dismissed it as a problem of racism, rather than a problem of dismissing an entire group of people based on a generalization.swstephe

    On this, you and I are in agreement. Clinton's statement was utterly contemptible.

    I thought Libertarians rejected the authority of the state to pass laws which restrict the free market.swstephe

    It depends on which libertarians you're talking about. Many who apply this label to themselves are likely very confused. My retort was about people in general being against unlawful behavior. I see nothing wrong with that, especially if the law in question is not self-evidently unjust.

    I didn't say I don't like privileged people.swstephe

    So what are you saying? That you don't like people with biases? Why bring up skin pigmentation if that's not your target?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I didn't say I don't like privileged people.swstephe

    I would hope not -- since your definition of "privilege"...

    ...isn't just "white privilege", but "white, male, married, protestant, upper-middle class, straight, moderate conservative privilegeswstephe

    You're not just painting with a broad brush, you're using a yard wide paint roller here, picking out features (male, married, Protestant, straight, moderately conservative) which apply to blacks, asians, whites, native americans, pacific Islanders, Inuits, etc. You tell me how being a poor, male, married, straight, and foot-washing Baptist, for instance, ends up making one "privileged". Your definition is incoherent. The one thing that does stick (and again, it sticks across race) is "upper middle class" which I will take to mean "households earning $250,000 or more annually and living in communities with no more than up-market costs.

    But even here, we need to exercise some caution. Two near-retirement Lutheran pastors serving reasonably prosperous congregations in the Twin Cities can make that much. "Upper Middle Class" people are nowhere close to being the economic heavy hitters that make major economic decisions. (U.M.C. people are mostly hard working, intelligent opportunists. Thieves, perhaps; but trivial pikers in comparison to the Buffets, Jobs, Walls, and Gates of the world.

    if the people were white, this problem would have been solved by nowswstephe

    Hillary is a pain in the ass -- better than Trump, I suppose, but still...

    Flint wasn't and isn't about race. Flint is about managers who were tasked with cutting costs... cutting costs. The city was broke, is broke, and will probably stay broke for some time. Switching from Detroit municipal water to Flint municipal water wasn't a racially biased decision. It was a bottom line decision. Cut costs. Where that decision went haywire was when the appointed manager either didn't "hear" the advice of Flint water technicians or decided what they had to say wasn't sufficiently significant to merit attention.

    There are various sources of lead in water systems: pipes, seals, alloys, etc. -- all the way from the river to the faucet. The problem is not at all limited to one or two predominantly black or Michigan cities. Older water systems used lead pipes (especially between mains and houses). The need to get the PH of the water closer to a neutral level to prevent metallic leeching is the sort of esoteric information one wouldn't expect a cost cutter (the appointed city manager) to know or care about. The fittings in your own kitchen and bath could emit some small level of lead, especially after the water has sat in the pipe for a few hours.

    Mistakes were made, there were flaws in the (human and tubular) system, there wasn't much money to work with, and there you have it.

    Now, the fact that the water coming out of the taps was visibly contaminated (by something other than lead) is more "the public be damned" than racist -- after all, 1/3 of the population is white. If they were really racist, they would have worried about poisoning that white third of the population.
  • swstephe
    109


    You want to fix people. Fortunately we aren't code. A lot of the whining, bitching, carping, complaining, and so forth about race, gender, ethnicity, etc. boils down to a wish that everybody else would just get debugged. We especially want the people who are assholes to get debugged. Why can't assholes see themselves as the obvious assholes they are? Why don't they reform? Why don't they just get their asshole code fixed? — Bitter Crank

    To press the bad analogy even further, people are hardware, society is the code. And society is pretty much a game with rules that is regularly tweaked to get "better" results. Back in college, I was really into Nash's "game theory", and its implications.

    If cognitive bias is everywhere, if othering is pervasive, if personal preferences are ubiquitous, maybe that is the way we are, rather than a deviation. Perhaps? I'm not looking for an excuse for people to hate and hurt each other. People can live, have lived, and do live peaceably with people who are quite unlike them. Sort of the way street dogs behave. Put us into pressured situations where we are forced to compete for artificially (or truly) limited goods, and we start behaving badly amoungst ourselves. — Bitter Crank

    Yes, I think it is the norm, but that doesn't mean we can't at least be aware of where this pressure and constraint on our behavior comes from.

    I'm a leftist too, and I've been reading leftist, liberationist stuff since the early 1970s. Some of it is really quite good, liberatory, and helpful. A lot of it is clearly based more on leftist dogma than any leftist's actual experience. (I'm not arguing for the social darwinist alternative, of course.) Leftist dogma is often disconnected from the real world. Leftists are, of course, idealists in many ways, and idealists tend to take extreme uncompromising stances. I've been there (dogmatic extreme idealism) several times.

    Take, for instance, unlimited immigration with open borders. Nice ideal -- freedom of movement, freedom of labor, freedom of capital, no borders, etc. Who wins, who loses? It is not and can not be, a nice rosy win-win situation. Both the donor and recipient countries sharing unlimited immigration can experience a lose/lose situation. The donor country loses the bulk of its talent and young people, and the receiver country gains more workers than it has resources to employ and support.
    — Bitter Crank

    I'm not throwing it out as my personal ideal, but something confrontational to break out those who are stuck in their current mode of thinking. I'm not sure what people fear would really come about. All the discussion seems centered on one particular problem. What happens to all the American companies outsourcing manufacturing to maquiladoras, (avoiding US taxes and laws)? If you make illegal immigrants legal, they can demand more and raise the standard of living for everyone.

    Angela Merkel is ready to admit a million or two, or three refugees/asylum seekers/immigrants from the middle east. She wants the rest of Europe to get with the program.

    I readily grant that the situation of Syrians and various others is wretched. They need a place to stay, at least for a time. But if they stay, Europe will need much more robust growth than it has now to absorb them as workers. Europe has absorbed some, but by no means all, of previous waves of immigration/refugee/asylum seeking people. It is not producing enough jobs to keep it's German, Spanish, Polish, etc. youth properly employed. Who has first claim on the jobs? The natives or the latest arrivals?
    — Bitter Crank

    I keep wondering when the discussion will get around to mention why there are refugees. Get around to the part about drone strikes, proxy war, funding rebels and fighting a proxy war and collapsing the world economy. I wonder when they will get around to mentioning famous Syrian refugees, like Steve Jobs, who is partly responsible for a huge part of the US GDP and tech industry. Maybe people who like to say "make America great again", (who I guess never think about what they mean), should recall all those scientists that escaped to the US and gave us a boost in technology, or all the others ... we were all immigrants once, and just needed a chance.

    Oh yeah, and I've known a few Syrians, (one taught me some Arabic and I helped him learn English). Most of them would rather stay home, and just want things to settle down, no matter who is in charge. I imagine they are hoping they don't end up in the US with all our problems.

    I've known a number of transsexuals, a few quite well, and most of my friends have been deviants of various kinds, over the years. Clearly, transgendered persons do not pose any threat in a public wash room, any more than any random person might. But sexual individualization can be outlandish even to the sexual minority life-style sophisticated, much less to the previously uninitiated person.

    ...
    — Bitter Crank

    I think it won't be long before they regret this weird law. Who joins the police force just to enforce gender-bathroom regulation? What about all the exceptions? A parent taking their kid to the bathroom? Women trying to skip the long lines at the women's restroom? Maybe some comedy-news show will corner one of those politicians in the men's room with the help of a group of "drag queens". When I lived in that Muslim dictatorship, they had a few rules against men and women mixing at a party. One group was making a TV series, (drama about an anti-corruption squad), and they wanted to show such a party but the police wouldn't allow it -- so we rounded up some local transvestites, (who were actually quite convincing), to play the "women". So we were technically following the law, but in a way that would probably upset them if they figured it out.
  • swstephe
    109
    Who does this? If there are such people making such absurd sweeping generalizations, then they are ignored and small in number, as one ought to expect and as they ought to be.Thorongil

    I hear a lot of obvious examples. That "Mexicans are rapists", that "Muslims are terrorists", that "blacks are gang members, or looters". As many people are outraged by such statements, there are quite a few who defend those statements. If you go inside those groups, you often hear them say that those statements are only true for a small minority who are denounced or ignored by the rest. So while it is true that the number is small, it does make an impact. There are theories that Prohibition was essentially a reaction to the false belief that Italian and Irish immigrants were wild and violent drunks. Maybe a lot of these generalizations are really subtle and even subconscious.

    Not all biases are bad. Being biased towards the good, the true, and the beautiful is surely no vice. The problem you have is with biases towards the bad; when people prefer the bad and make assumptions based on this preference. This is unfortunate indeed, but ineradicable. Nor does it have anything to do with being white skinned. It's a fault in human behavior that we also witness in our ape relatives, the chimpanzees. Or take the rare white-furred cubs sometimes born to black bear mothers, known as spirit bears by Native Americans. As they grow older, these bears are sometimes ostracized, or you might say, "othered," by their black-furred counterparts. All of this is to say once again that you are opposed to that which is an innate tendency in various sentient species, not every example of which is necessary bad, though most of time it is. — Thorongil

    I think we value reason highly because it allows us to understand and choose our biases. We can choose a good bias, like caring for family and neighbors, over bad ones, like rejecting those who could be a valuable asset one day. If your car tends to drift off to one side, you probably want to get it fixed.

    Which is why, to my knowledge, they don't and haven't done this. The destruction and torching of buildings and cars in Ferguson, however, was not as isolated or on the fringe as you seem to think. The reason it was reported was because it was significant. — Thorongil

    During this election season, I've seen it quite common. Everytime there is another primary, they start guessing which way the state will vote, usually based on some sweeping generalizations, often ignoring the diversity or complexity of the situation -- despite CNN being based in Atlanta, Georgia. My complaint about CNN during Ferguson isn't about what either side was doing, but even before anything had happened yet, they were already condemning the protesters, assuming that all the protesters were black, and didn't seem bothered by the police showing up in so much military-grade hardware. Unfortunately, CNN has lately been far more interested in long-winded speculation about issues than just reporting facts.

    It depends on which libertarians you're talking about. Many who apply this label to themselves are likely very confused. My retort was about people in general being against unlawful behavior. I see nothing wrong with that, especially if the law in question is not self-evidently unjust. — Thorongil

    So my point is that those Libertarians which are confused are falling into the social privilege bias. If they thought things out rationally, they might figure out what logically follows. I'm not a good libertarian, or anarchists, so I'm not sure what the answer is.

    So what are you saying? That you don't like people with biases? Why bring up skin pigmentation if that's not your target? — Thorongil

    Skin pigmentation? I read about some court cases about a century ago, when only whites had the right to vote. Well, someone with very fair skin went to court to sue for the right to vote. The courts threw out the case, saying something like "when we said 'white', we meant Caucasian". So not long after that case was public, someone from India, (considered part of the Causcasian group), sued for the right to vote, but that case was also thrown out with the statement, "when we said 'Caucasian', we meant white".

    So I'm going to make the same irrational statement that when I saw "white", I mean whatever society appears to mean by the statement. I'm not sure how it correlates to skin pigmentation. I've seen some pretty fair-skinned people who were not considered "white". I saw a study were a significant percentage of Americans believed in the "one-drop rule", from a long time ago. Sometimes it is applied to behavior, personality, the way someone speaks or interests. Those all seem to grow from a complex mess of stereotype and assumptions. I'm against that way of categorizing people, because it divides, drives conflict and distribution of privilege or trust. And again, I think it is a problem common to everyone, as a psychological bias. It isn't a conspiracy or system of oppression. Just bugs in the software to work out.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I am reading Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle. t's about Dr. Ossian Sweet, a descendent slaves who grew up in the deep south under the worst of jim crow terror. His parents sent to the African Methodist Episcopal Wilberforce University in Ohio when he was 13. He spent 4 years in the preparatory academy, 4 years in the college (science major), then more years becoming a doctor. After many years of study, he eventually ended up in Detroit, around 1925.

    I haven't gotten halfway through the book yet, but already it's worth recommending.

    The book examines the history of race relations in the south during Reconstruction, then during the much longer period of time after that effort was abandoned. Later he looks at the same topic in the north where, up until the 1890s, at least, relationships between blacks and whites were reasonably peaceful and amicable. All that changed, as we know.

    To a large extent, race hatred was "socially engineered"--south and north, using similar but different techniques. There was no initial plan in all of this, of course. The white bourgeoisie in the south had lost most, if not all, of their wealth by the end of the war. Poor southern whites found no advantages after the war, either. The south's social system was thoroughly wrecked. Just about everyone in the south had become unhinged from their former reliable posts. Violent reaction ensued.

    The north pursued a different path toward race hatred. For a long time many whites had contributed to what would become the Historic Black Colleges. In time, though, the flow of funds was reduced because many of the northern middle class religious whites found themselves ill-treated by recessions, depressions, a tsunami of immigration, waves of radical changes in the culture, and so forth. Like people do, northern whites began to circle their wagons, and sought to protect their core community and values, which blacks, like eastern Jews, Italians, Greeks, Japanese, etc. just didn't fit into.

    Detroit in 1925 was a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Not beautiful, but prosperous. There were about 30,000 men registered as members of the Ku Klux Klan in Detroit. People knew their place: The various ethnicities--Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Mexicans, Italians, etc. (and blacks) all had communities where they were the dominant group, Moving out into another ethnicities area could be a bold move -- especially blacks into white areas.

    Ossian Sweet set up a medical practice in Black Bottom (the black neighborhood) and it flourished. He started moving up in medical circles. He decided to buy a house in a better, white, part of town, as most professional blacks did. He knew from Jim Crow experience, though, that this was going to be a risky move. He expected trouble, and prepared. Two nights after he and his wife moved in (the baby was with relatives for safe-keeping) a mob surrounded the house, and began throwing rocks through the nice leaded windows.

    Dr. Sweet was forewarned, and was also fore-armed. He gathered a group of friends to stay with him and his wife for protection. Sweet provided guns and ammo. One of them opened fire on the mob and 1 member of the crowd was killed, 1 injured. The police promptly arrested the 8 or 9 black people in the house and took them to the station.

    That's as far as I've gotten.

    There Goes My Everything is about the white experience in the south after the Brown Vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. While the book discusses some of the experience of the very brave black children who walked into a number of school houses (canaries in the mine) much of the book is about what white people thought and felt during this time.

    I think one of the lessons is that upheaval (such as the Civil War and Emancipation or an industrial revolution) does not necessarily lead to greater human understanding, amity, and social cohesion. Quite often upheaval shatters trust, cooperativeness, friendship, and so on. It isn't that one group blame the other for the radical change, but rather, everyone moves to cut their losses, draw the wagons into the excluding circle (for protection and comfort), and project outward their anger, fear, anxiety, shattered hopes, and confidence in the future.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.3k
    To put an anthropological spin on this.. all this talk of "white privilege" "power", "class", "law", "economics this and that", is all a very European-centric way of looking at it. I don't blame you for arguing in these terms- you cannot step out of the milieu that history has shaped. These are all terms that derived from Enlightenment/Industrial 17th-19th century thinking, which in turn derive from various Medieval/Renaissance thinking which in turn derived from Greco-Roman thinking, etc. What would we be arguing if certain sub-Saharan African tribal societies somehow dominated the historical narrative from, I don't know, 400 BCE. By this I mean, our dialectic and way of constructing the world was in Wolof terms, or Igbo terms, etc.? Or we can use any tribal group (aboriginal, Native American, etc.)? Would this really be the way things are structured. Did Greco-Roman/European/Enlightenment influenced thinking just make a reality to construct human relations, or is it somehow "privileged", or is it simply the only thing we can go by since that is the dominant form of thought and we can have no alternative since, once taken root, it structures our very way of looking at the world.

    Even weirder a question, what if these tribal societies, if they dominated, left no room to even give lenience to "privilege", "class", etc..? In other words, the oppressive culture (European/Western dominated) has left room to criticize itself. Would this be the case for an alternative history if another culture's worldview dominated the way we see and construct the world? How ironic if the very culture of oppression (European/Western) was to be the most lenient at the end of the day. Of course, no one can ever answer this as we have no alternative history to compare it to.

    Even weirder than this, if a non-Western (not even classical civilization-type..i.e. Chinese, European/Aztec) culture dominated, would there even be these categories to debate? Ironically, we are all (no matter what race/culture/region) are dominated by the construct of Enlightenment/Westernized thought.

    And even weirder than this, perhaps the "white" privilege that you talk about is not WITHIN the cultural narrative of "privilege" "class", etc.. but rather the privilege is from the fact that the European dominated way of looking at the world is now the only way we can really construct the world. There is no Igbo/Wolof/x tribal way of looking at the world. Even talking about being "oppressed" in the way that you do is simply appropriating the dominant culture's way of constructing the world to talk about one's lost heritage. I guess, even the idea of "lost heritage" is still from this privileged way of viewing the world.

    @Bitter Crank @swstephe @Thorongil
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    To put an anthropological spin on this.. all this talk of "white privilege" "power", "class", "law", "economics this and that", is all a very European-centric way of looking at it.schopenhauer1

    Well... hmmm, drums fingers on table... Ok: right. We are trapped in our world-view, western-method-of-looking-at-the-world, and all that. We have some options, but unless we really were raised up in some other quite different culture, we're going to rise above our western view of things in a western way of rising above it all. And we'll criticize our efforts in western cultural terms.

    Still...

    White privilege isn't my thing. I find it an annoying term and an annoying concept. Some people are privileged for sure, but the bluest eyed, blondest, perfectly tanned, muscular, unblemished nordic stud who hasn't got a dime to his name, no prospects of laying his hands on so much as a dime, without any skills, no wealthy or famous relatives, and a couple of felony convictions is as screwed as someone who is 180 degrees the opposite in pigment. Well, maybe not quite as screwed, but how screwed depends on where you are.

    Anyway, I'm not discontented with western culture. I like a lot of it. Most of it, actually.
  • swstephe
    109
    Wondering if you "suffer" from "white privilege"? Know the signs! (Just a random, not well thought out list):

    • Police don't bother you or even look at you suspiciously. You can trust them to protect you.
    • Security doesn't follow you around in stores.
    • Teachers and other authorities at school usually assumed you had a bright future ahead of you.
    • People in your neighborhood implicitly trust you at first sight.
    • All you remember about history at school was told primarily from the perspective of your ancestors.
    • Most children's books and ads show people that look and sound like you.
    • When the news shows a pictures of criminals, people that look like you are shown smiling and well dressed: (see below)
    • You do a Google image search on positive terms like "beauty", "wealth" or "handsome" and see mostly people who look like you.
    • No matter how many people who look like you do bad things, it isn't a problem with your people.
    • You can't recall being treated badly by strangers because of how you look.
    • Nobody is surprised if you are intelligent, articulate or have a good job.
    • You are never called on as a representative of your people to comment on an issue.
    • You don't notice any such thing as "white privilege" and society doesn't have such a bias.
    • You have never felt pressure to hide or alter any physical attributes to fit in.
    • You don't feel you need to change the way you speak to fit in.
    • You can raise your voice in mixed company and expect to be listened to.
    • You have never talked to kids about race.
    • If you get arrested, you can be pretty certain of a fair trial.
    • If a complete stranger is rude or hostile to you, you wonder what you did.
    • If someone tells you that "white privilege" is a real problem, you think they are being racist toward whites.

    Untitled1.png

    I don't think it is just a western thing, I've seen a lot of the same behavior all over the world.
    Also, I realize it isn't a problem that is easy to fix. But I think it is important to at least acknowledge it and attempt to work on it, rather than just dismiss it.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Wondering if you "suffer" from "white privilege"? Know the signs! (Just a random, not well thought out list):swstephe

    I'm not suffering from white privilege.

    The trouble with “white privilege” is the same as “blackness” — it is a condition which one can do nothing to obtain, and can do nothing to get rid of. I can not confer privilege on a black man, nor can he confer upon me the benefits of his heritage.

    I grew up in a rural, agricultural county that had approximately zero racial diversity. Everyone (with a few outliers) was northwestern European, with a few Slovaks, Irish, French, and the like for variety. German, Scandinavian, and Anglo-Saxon was the rule. The county was about as egalitarian as most places are — meaning there was an inchoate class structure, top to bottom, all white.

    The first black person I knew was a foreign exchange student from Uganda, a classmate in my junior year of high school. There weren’t many blacks in the small state college I attended, either, nor any other race, for that matter. My exposure to black urban culture was by immersion when I joined VISTA and was ‘trained’ in Roxbury, the black section of Boston. I was in desperate need of the training, not just because I would be working with blacks, but because I was moving from deeply rural Minnesota to deeply urban New England.

    If coming from white farm country is “white privilege” I have it for sure, but being a country hick in Boston wasn’t/isn’t/never will be an advantage.

    Another problem of white privilege is that one’s race is one feature among many that make up who a person perceives himself (herself) to be. These various features include

    family history
    social milieu
    ethnicity
    intelligence
    personality
    religious activity (or lack thereof)
    physical condition
    gender
    sexual orientation (and for most people, being heterosexual isn't distinctive)
    race
    and other features

    I do not count race as anything like the most important feature (but I understand why some people do). Unless one grew up in a milieu where races are in regular interface and conflict, it isn’t likely to be that important. Where I grew up, race could not be important for purposes of comparison. Family history, social milieu, psychological factors, and aspects of one’s physical condition were more important.

    Racism won’t go away if we all just stop thinking about it, obviously, and it isn’t going to go away as a result of endless harping on it, either. What will help is more voluntary, friendly and casual interaction among whites and blacks, coupled with openness to mutual acceptance. I don’t know how to engineer that happy process. We’ve tried lots of different schemes and some work some of the time with some of the people. Some have backfired.

    CK: By the way, your average white person could experience all sorts of hell by dialing up, say, life in Rome in the first century either side of zero. Lots of white people were slaves in the Roman Empire, and elsewhere. 1/3 of the population was slave. I agree that the "N Word" smuggles niggers into the minds of the hearer and makes them retrieve the word. Niggers aren't African Americans, blacks, colored people, or Negroes. I'm not sure precisely what is referenced by nigger, but whatever it is, it isn't the same as African American. Polish and pollock, greaser and Italian, chink and Chinese, spic and Puerto Rican, honkies and whites, or fag and gay, for that matter -- none of these pairings are overly precise.
  • swstephe
    109
    Well, I picked Louis C.K. because of the general point he was making, not technical accuracy. My first guess is that if Louis C.K. showed up in 2nd century Rome, he would be assumed to be a rogue barbarian, due to the red hair, fair skin and Germanic accent. They might have been confused by the short hair, (a sign of Roman wealth to be able to hire barbers). If you really want to be technical, just how far back in American history could a Mexican-Hungarian-Irish-Jew go without any discrimination? But maybe it illustrates a common bias of privileged classes to assume things have always been that way.

    The trouble with “white privilege” is the same as “blackness” — it is a condition which one can do nothing to obtain, and can do nothing to get rid of. I can not confer privilege on a black man, nor can he confer upon me the benefits of his heritage. — Bitter Crank

    How much has changed since we were kids? I remember my family going on a trip in West Germany, passing a sign showing the road to Berlin, and thinking that was a place I could never go. When I lived in the American Southwest, I saw the border with Mexico -- it looked like just a fence in the vast desert. But looking at the history, culture and place names, it was clear that where I was sitting was once on the other side of that fence. But as an American, I grew up feeling like borders and nations were static, (just like that privileged class). But if you think about it, a lot of social issues have changed, some gradually, some pretty quickly. The Berlin wall fell, then all those Soviet satellites declared independence, "black" president, Arab spring and gay marriage. A lot of changes can happen with the stroke of a few pens. Back in the days of the American "Founding Fathers", German's weren't "white". Around a century ago, Italians and Irish weren't privileged. To me, it looks like the border is always moving and we just need to work on pushing it in the right direction.

    A quote I heard today: "It always seems impossible until it's done." -- Nelson Mandela

    Racism won’t go away if we all just stop thinking about it, obviously, and it isn’t going to go away as a result of endless harping on it, either. What will help is more voluntary, friendly and casual interaction among whites and blacks, coupled with openness to mutual acceptance. I don’t know how to engineer that happy process. We’ve tried lots of different schemes and some work some of the time with some of the people. Some have backfired. — Bitter Crank

    I was watching this video yesterday. Apparently access to social media by social scientists are starting to reveal how large group dynamics work, (and it turned out it wasn't the same as the way individuals interact extended to the group). Imagine if Marx or Adam Smith had access to that data.

    I think it isn't as important to find a perfect solution, (that's the "nirvana fallacy"), but probably more like an addiction, (or maybe just a bad habit), first admit that there is a problem, and we are all part of it, then keep looking for ways to change it. If the problem is simply one of borders, we don't need to remove the borders, but minimize the assumption that they are profound and permanent.
  • YIOSTHEOY
    76


    I am not sure why some people (like yourself) put loaded questions into their titles ?!

    I would have thought a more balanced title such as "what are the pro's and con's of ..." would be more appropriate.

    Loading a question is a common fallacy however.

    Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I put "loaded questions" into their titles for two reasons:

    1. To attract interesting responses where more prosaic titles might not
    2. Because lots of questions are, in fact, "loaded".
  • YIOSTHEOY
    76


    Fallacies are shameful.

    BTW you never answered whether you have stopped beating your wife? Yes or no?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    I'm gay and I never had a wife to start with, so I didn't have the opportunity to begin beating her. Beating wives and kicking dogs are unwholesome practices.

    Fallacies are not a good thing, I agree, but calling "loaded questions" fallacies is a categorical error. Loading questions is a rhetorical device intended to provoke, stimulate, amuse, and the like--as it did in your case.

    I would have thought a more balanced title such as "what are the pro's and con's of ..." would be more appropriate.YIOSTHEOY

    Could be, and might have been more effective as well.

    What do you think the pros and cons of white privilege are?
  • YIOSTHEOY
    76

    Well even someone who has never touched a woman cannot get out of the conundrum of a loaded question like "did you stop beating your wife yet?" Loaded titles are just as bad.

    To the question of the pro's and con's of white privilege, the answer to this question lies in the origin of this state of affairs somewhere in Medieval history when Europe began to dominate world history starting with the Crusades. This was the turning point where the Arab Conquest was begun to be turned back very slowly at first, until finally Spain and the Eastern European Balkans were eventually taken back. The various north-south rivers of Europe had the most to do with the success of the English, French, Dutch, and Germans spreading forth from northern Europe and expanding into North America, India, and East Asia. This infrastructure of European strength and wealth then permeated the entire Northern hemisphere. The Southern hemisphere lagged way behind, That's what happened and also why.

    The pro's are simply the continuation of this dynamism.

    The con's are the exclusion that results regarding the Southern hemisphere races of peoples -- the Latin Americans and the Africans and Arabs.

    Competing against it (white privilege) are increasingly the dynamism of the Japanese and Chinese in their respective countries in East Asia. This dynamism results from the rising demand and prosperity of these peoples from international trade fostered by cheap labor at home.

    White privilege will probably burn out someday and the American surpluses from WW2 burn out as well. So it is doomed.

    Then Asian privilege will replace white privilege in most places around the world. You are already beginning to see this happening both in Asia and in America already.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    You've read GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL by Jared Diamond, no doubt. He lays a good foundation for the success of Europe, white people. It begins in the Middle East (and China). The Middle East and China both began agriculture, and had a large East / West axis along which to expand. Crops that grew in one area would grow in whatever area they moved -- East, or West. Africa and North America didn't have that advantage. A crop which worked well in northern South America or Central Africa wouldn't do well in southern South America or Northern Africa. So, movement of advantageous technologies (like domesticated grain) was limited to people who could move east and west -- Europeans and the Chinese.

    Along with the East / West axis came a more or less temperate climate which was pretty much the same along the axis. Western Hemisphere aboriginals settled successively incompatible climate zones from Alaska to Patagonia.

    Maize was grown throughout the Western Hemisphere (domesticated in Southern Mexico) but it too a long time to adapt it to the northern plains of North America. And, as every corn farmer in the northern plains knows, the weather can still change a good crop into no crop overnight. Grain that grew in the fertile crescent grew in Greece, Italy, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, France, England (long before those places had those names).

    When Europe domesticated cattle, particularly, they probably were exposed to cow-borne diseases and became somewhat resistant -- like pox diseases and perhaps measles. It isn't that they were immune, but they were resistant. The Western Hemisphere populations were sitting ducks for smallpox -- they had not encountered the disease before. Disease may have wiped out half or more of the North/South American aboriginal population.

    The third factor (for both China and Europe) is that workable metals and domesticatable traction animals (horses, camels, some bovine animals like water buffalo) were available. Africa, the Western Hemisphere, Australia, and SE Asia did not have any traction animals available. Without a traction animal, (a horse) wheels don't seem to occur.

    The Americas had llamas and buffalo. Llamas aren't built for pulling, and buffalo are adamantly opposed to that kind of cooperation.

    Geography, horses, wheels, germs, grain, etc. gave China and Europe advantages. Of course, China and Europe were a long ways apart, so they didn't clash a lot until later on.

    Europe ascended because it happened to havre developmental advantages. Africa, North and South America, Australia, SE Asia didn't. That isn't to say, of course, that the people living in those undeveloped places were so much as a hair inferior. They were/are/will be equal to everyone else. they just didn't get the same cards dealt to them.

    Europe also developed more technological edges--the "Guns," part of the title. The Chinese could have developed guns (they invented "gun" powder) but they didn't. Europeans noticed that if you put the gunpowder in a tight space it made a bigger bang. If you put it in the end of a pipe, and put a little lead ball in the pipe, the little lead ball would go right through somebody standing in the way when you lit the powder. Very interesting...

    Arabs, Semites, are Caucasian. But in the dry-lands they settled on (more dry than wet, anyway) their location was generally not an agricultural or industrial advantage. This isn't to overlook Nineva, Ur, Persia, Egypt, Babylon, Anatolia, Tyre and Sidon, etc. "Civilization" started among Middle Eastern peoples -- but not in the Arabian Peninsula or the Egyptian desert--it was just too dry too much of the time.
  • Artemis
    1.2k
    Well even someone who has never touched a woman cannot get out of the conundrum of a loaded question like "did you stop beating your wife yet?" Loaded titles are just as badYIOSTHEOY

    The fallacy is technically a complex question.

    But anywho, it's not necessarily committing this fallacy just because it assumes something to be true. All questions assume certain things to be true. Even asking the pro's and con's of white privilege assumes that a) there are pro's and con's, b) someone can figure out what they are, c) that white privilege is a concept that exists at least in theory.

    The beating your wife question is a fallacy because you are intentionally, and maliciously trying to trap the questioned person into admitting something he may or may not have done.

    Bitter Crank, as far as I can tell, wants to be provocative, but not maliciously so, and is not trying to trap anyone.
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