• Teller
    12
    Just read about actress Rosanna Arquette stating that she was "sorry and ashamed of being white and privileged"
    So, would she have preferred to have been born non white and underprivileged? If she grew up healthy would she be ashamed that she was not a sick child?
    For myself, I am proud that I had loving parents, grandparents and grew up in a stable home with both a mom and dad present. My parents paid for a good education for my brother and me. Is this shameful? Should I have left school carrying a huge debt from student loans?
    So now in 2019 I'm supposed to be ashamed and disgusted of my upbringing and education?
    I think not!
  • SophistiCat
    840
    For myself, I am proud that I had loving parents, grandparents and grew up in a stable home with both a mom and dad present.Teller

    What exactly are you proud of? Choosing your parents wisely?
  • unenlightened
    4k
    So, would she have preferred to have been born non white and underprivileged?Teller

    I imagine she would prefer that there was not an over-privileged and an underprivileged group, but that all were born equal in privilege and benefit.

    One of the saddest things about privilege is that the privileged usually come to believe they deserve it, and so take pride in their privilege, instead of acknowledging it as a debt they owe to the underprivileged.
  • Judaka
    422

    True, it's a shame that inherent advantages exist, it wouldn't be that way in an ideal world. We don't live in that world, obviously. The concept of privilege, we've seen it create feelings of guilt, shame, resentment and anger. Privilege is separated across racial lines, thus dividing people across racial lines and increasing tribalistic sentiments. We could focus on being charitable, trying to reduce poverty for all, improving education and basic things like that but some people choose to instead focus on race instead.

    You want people to see their race as a debt and as an entitlement? That kind of attitude only creates new problems - as if there aren't enough already.

    This Rosanna Arquette has the worst approach possible and OP has it half right. We shouldn't feel pride but gratitude for our own blessings - whether meagre or better than average. We should feel disappointed that other people (not other races) are struggling and act on their behalf where possible and without going overboard. If we analyse the pros and cons of our actions, there is no justification for discussing privilege in racial terms.
  • Echarmion
    880


    I agree with your sentiments mostly, but there is one caveat: It is important to realize the specific experience of minorities or the ongoing effects of past injustice.

    If we only go by improving general conditions, we'd never build things like ramps for wheelchairs. It takes focus on a specific minorities to deal with these kinds of problems.

    Likewise, if you only focus on the current political situation of black people in the US, you miss the long term economic consequences of being first enslaved and then marginalized, like having had way less opportunities to amass wealth.
  • Judaka
    422

    Not really, it's only important if you focus on racial differences. If a person is just a person and not a white person or a black person then you can only address the problems of people. If a person experiences poverty, the why is only significant if it's a problem to be fixed. Past injustices cannot be fixed and it's not pragmatic to focus on them.

    You can list all the problems you think black people are disproportionately affected by but in some sense, all that means is that fixing those problems will disproportionately advantage black people. It exacerbates racial tensions but helps no greater number of people. There are idealistic advantages to your way of thinking, satisfying some moral imperative that some people, maybe including yourself, believe exist.

    I am a practical person, I can only see that your approach is less practical than mine and I'm swayed by little else. You seem to think I'm wrong by giving the example with the wheelchairs. Truthfully though, racism and tribalism still exist, with no thanks to attitudes like that of "white privilege" and not only would it de-escalate racial tensions to re-prioritise to fixing problems rather than counteracting past injustices but you'd have a better chance at convincing those who are unhappy with helping minorities for whatever reason. If you would simply rebrand the help you're trying to give to something everyone could get behind.
  • unenlightened
    4k
    it's only important if you focus on racial differences.Judaka

    This is not true. It's pretty unimportant if I focus on racial differences or if I don't, because I'm white; it becomes important if racial differences have a cultural significance for people whether they are focussing or not. That is to say, if your skin is black and you don't know that that fact is significant in affecting how readily a cop will shoot you, you are in mortal danger. Not focussing on racial differences is a privilege of whiteness.
  • Hanover
    5k
    I imagine she would prefer that there was not an over-privileged and an underprivileged group, but that all were born equal in privilege and benefit.unenlightened

    Perhaps, but that's not what she said. She said she was ashamed to have been born white and privileged. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Creating or perpetuating discrimination is a shameful act, but I can't offer any blame to the young white child being born today to wealthy parents. If all she meant to say is the innocuous comment you've presented, she might have chosen a better way to say it because an alternate and more more literal reading is that being white is something to be ashamed of.
  • unenlightened
    4k
    she might have chosen a better way to say it because an alternate and more more literal reading is that being white is something to be ashamed of.Hanover

    Well I have heard folks say they are proud to be American, or Irish or whatever, and perhaps they might have chosen a better way to say it, or perhaps that is the way identification works, that one can be proud to support the Aussies at cricket, and likewise ashamed when they are caught cheating. It seems to me that folks can feel proud or ashamed of their ancestry as a matter of fact, whether you think it justified or not. One is not praiseworthy or blameworthy in such matters, according to some (our) moralities, but one feels as one feels. Let's not shame her for her shame.
  • NOS4A2
    1.2k
    White privilege is the continuation of white supremacy but in a milder form. Those who state it believe the white race is better off because of their skin color.
  • Russell
    5
    do pardon my ignorance or lack of knowledge on white privilege, but do please help educate me on what white privilege is and how are they privileged
  • NOS4A2
    1.2k


    The penultimate work on “white privilege” is Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    So now in 2019 I'm supposed to be ashamed and disgusted of my upbringing and education? I think not!Teller

    As @Judaka said, I don't feel ashamed of my advantages, I feel grateful. That doesn't mean I think I somehow deserve what I've been given more than others or that I don't recognize that how I have been treated is fair to a lot of other people. I am middle class. It was expected I would go to college. Same is true of my children. There is an automatic path, I think of it as a rail, that takes us in the direction we are expected to go - to education, affluence, and security. It takes effort to get off that rail. For many people, it's the other way around, it takes heavy effort to get on the rail. Sure people do it, but that doesn't mean our system is fair.

    We have a responsibility to do what we can to make our society fairer. It would be more becoming for you to recognize that instead of complaining about the mean people who criticize people like me and you.
  • Maw
    1.6k
    I wouldn't pay much attention to her comment. It's not a serious response to the very real phenomenon of white privilege
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Privilege is separated across racial lines, thus dividing people across racial lines and increasing tribalistic sentiments. We could focus on being charitable, trying to reduce poverty for all, improving education and basic things like that but some people choose to instead focus on race instead.Judaka

    I've started to think that the focus you suggest on advantage and disadvantage, class I guess, rather than race is the right one, although it still makes me ...uncomfortable. I've said this before - white people in general don't like black people in general. I have middle class, professional black friends who are routinely treated with suspicion and mistrust by white people everywhere they go. It is my understanding that's a common experience. I think that puts an extra burden on black people as opposed to even working class white people.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    The penultimate work on “white privilege” is Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible KnapsackNOS4A2

    Downloaded it. I'll take a look. Thanks.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    One of the saddest things about privilege is that the privileged usually come to believe they deserve it,unenlightened

    Yes, rich people think they deserve everything they have and everything they can get.
  • Judaka
    422

    Quite an absurd response, black people need to be aware that cops will be more likely to shoot them and if they're not aware they are in mortal danger? I do hope you're not serious.

    Whether you focus on racial differences - as you clearly do - or don't is a choice for anyone regardless of their skin colour. It is not possible to be ignorant of racial differences, our society makes sure of that but it is possible to choose not to focus on them. That you are white doesn't lessen the importance of how you focus on racial differences. It is the same.


    I despise racism, I seek to reduce it.

    Concepts like white privilege may seem correct in how they vindicate the oppressed and condemn the oppressors, it feels justified and right to put a spotlight on it. Unfairness is unavoidable but a focus on the unfairness leads to bitterness and resentment.

    We have spoken about this in the past but I do not really see the way that people emphasise racial inequality as being productive, I think it exacerbates the problem and creates new problems. The actress mentioned in OP has offered nothing of value to anyone. White people become angry, coloured people become angry and we're encouraged to continue saying white people this and black people that. How does this help your black friends who want to be seen for who they are and not for their skin colour?

    People can pity themselves and decry their race, pity others and decry past and current injustices. It doesn't help anyone. Anyway, glad to hear that you're open to change.
  • Hanover
    5k
    Well I have heard folks say they are proud to be American, or Irish or whatever, and perhaps they might have chosen a better way to say it, or perhaps that is the way identification works, that one can be proud to support the Aussies at cricket, and likewise ashamed when they are caught cheating. It seems to me that folks can feel proud or ashamed of their ancestry as a matter of fact, whether you think it justified or not. One is not praiseworthy or blameworthy in such matters, according to some (our) moralities, but one feels as one feels. Let's not shame her for her shame.unenlightened

    To say that one is proud to be Irish compliments the Irish. To say one is ashamed to be Irish insults them. It therefore makes sense to be insulted by the latter and not the former if one were Irish. I understand they are logically similar statements in that both relate to how one feels about being a part of a group, but if one doesn't wish to insult people for matters entirely out their control, they should probably not stereotype them and condemn them. You don't get a pass to offer an insult just because the insult applies to your group as well. I don't get to recite all the failings of southern, straight, Jewish, white, middle class, males just because I am one any more than my polar opposite (whatever that might look like) could.
  • Teller
    12
    Perhaps I should have used the word "grateful" instead of "proud". For not one minute have I regarded myself of having deserved any advantages I may have had.

    Of course I feel badly about others that may not have had the opportunities that I was given. Certainly I would prefer that all people had equal opportunities in life, but the reality is that in our world real equality does not exist, yet.

    Yes, I feel fortunate to have had the support given to me, but having guilt and shame about it, never.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    We have spoken about this in the past but I do not really see the way that people emphasise racial inequality as being productive, I think it exacerbates the problem and creates new problems.Judaka

    As I said in my post, I'm starting to come around to that way of seeing things, but it makes me uncomfortable for the reasons I gave.
  • unenlightened
    4k
    Quite an absurd response, black people need to be aware that cops will be more likely to shoot them and if they're not aware they are in mortal danger? I do hope you're not serious.Judaka

    Yeah, I wish I wasn't too. But hey, life's to short to argue with wilful ignorance. I'll leave you guys to your moral high ground.
  • Coben
    971
    One of the saddest things about privilege is that the privileged usually come to believe they deserve it,unenlightened
    This is the problem. The solution is not to shame everyone into thinking that, say, not having a parent who beats you makes you less moral, good, entitled, then someone whose parents did this - or suffering any other kind of individual or category oppression - but
    rather to undercut that sense of deserving. That people understand that they were in a different situation and this afffected their success and when they compare themselves with others and judge others that this is a large factor.
  • ssu
    1.6k
    One of the saddest things about privilege is that the privileged usually come to believe they deserve it, and so take pride in their privilege, instead of acknowledging it as a debt they owe to the underprivileged.unenlightened
    Yeah, I'm just waiting when smart and intelligent people will start acknowledging their debt to the stupid and apologize. I mean, without stupid people around they wouldn't be so smart and so privileged, right?
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Yeah, I'm just waiting when smart and intelligent people will start acknowledging their debt to the stupid and apologize. I mean, without stupid people around they wouldn't be so smart and so privileged, right?ssu

    It's not clear to me. Are you saying black people are stupid or working class people are stupid?
  • ssu
    1.6k
    It's not clear to me. Are you saying black people are stupid or working class people are stupid?T Clark
    Oh God. :roll:

    Now where did you get the thought that I was referring to 'black' or 'working' people here?

    (Oh right, the TITLE!!!!)
    Yes, I'm bit sleepy. It's late here.
  • fdrake
    2.7k
    White privilege isn't a call for shame. It's not there to make people ashamed of being white. The idea is pretty banal and has sociological and epistemological variants, though they should not be emphasised independently.

    The epistemological one:

    (1) How people form perspectives is sensitive to under what conditions they grow up.
    (2) Regularities in those conditions often lead to regularities in perspectives.

    For the same structural reason that a homeless person rarely has to worry about their holiday expenditures, a white person rarely has to worry about the presence of police. At that point, you might say that whiteness-blackness, gender etc... are more superficial influences on perspective than something like homelessness. But that objection already accepts the framing device which is doing all the work; that social conditions can strongly influence perspective formation - perspectives are socially fungible. What matters now is how to answer the question of in what ways and if race alters perspective formation.

    You can see that in attitudes towards police, differences in religious practice, attitudes towards education and communication styles. But all these differences in perspective; of how people form opinions and what opinions they form; make more sense upon the background of social context.

    The sociological one:

    (1) Members of social identity groups in the aggregate face different social pressures, economic conditions and are afforded opportunities differentially based on that identity group membership.
    (2) Social identity is not something arbitrary, it comes from an interaction of statistical tendencies of individuals within identity groups.

    Let's go to (2) first, someone is not gay just because they choose to identify as such, they are gay based off their sexual preferences. They might be treated as gay if they signal in a way correlated with the social expectations of the identity group, or if they really are gay and it's found out. Or schoolyard conspiracies, whatever.

    In a similar way, someone is not 'black' just because of the colour of their skin, having black skin is a signifier highly correlated with social roles and expectations of being black. Black identity is a branding that comes with the skin; social expectations and expected norms of conduct and personality traits. Social processes read off a skin colour as if that procedure had any legitimacy, but it still happens. It's precisely that dynamic that makes it not arbitrary; the branding as a social process. Like the value 'branded' on currency ultimately through common use thereof.

    And (1) is just a simple empirical question, though actually answering it requires looking at the data. The short answer is; yes it does happen, a lot, and in every way you'd expect and some you wouldn't. The long answer is: racial identity, even though it's a social construct, is so highly correlated with other performance effecting metrics like education level and home and environment that it's difficult to establish any direct causal link between racial identity and performance. But the strength of the correlation between racial identity and these performance metrics is still reason enough to believe that there is differential treatment.
  • Hanover
    5k
    I'll leave you guys to your moral high ground.unenlightened

    Isn't this just a declaration of moral high ground itself?
  • Waya
    1k
    Throwing around "privileged", "underprivileged", and "shame" seems absurd and insulting.

    If someone is ashamed of being so-called privileged, then he or she is a selfish bigot that refuses to use his or her wealth or status to improve situations for oppressed people. They rightly should feel ashamed, but not of being privileged; instead, they should feel ashamed of their self-centered character and refusal to act. Moaning and groaning about it seems more like a passive-aggressive insult to those in a different class, almost like bragging about how much better off the one whining about it is than those who don't have wealth or status.

    Being "ashamed" of one's race is just another form of racism and should be condemned as much as any other form. In a society that proclaims itself to promote tolerance and equality, then why are we insulting "whiteness"? Shouldn't we tolerate white people as much as any other race? People struggle no matter what genetics inside them, no race is better off than any other.
  • Judaka
    422

    I don't think white privilege is a term used to describe the differences in perspective or character between whites and coloured people. The term even has "privilege" in it and while what you have said, for the most part, is more or less true, I don't know how you figure that white privilege is a term that describes any of the things you've mentioned.

    Only "sociological variant (1)" is on track, when we're talking about white privilege, we're talking about how white people are disproportionately enjoying a variety of social and economic benefits compared to other races in majority-white countries.

    I think some people try to use the term as a statement of fact while others feel the term describes and represents a sick injustice.


    Willful ignorance? Moral high ground? After saying what you said? You sure are bratty.
  • fdrake
    2.7k
    I don't think white privilege is a term used to describe the differences in perspective or character between whites and coloured people. The term even has "privilege" in it and while what you have said, for the most part, is more or less true, I don't know how you figure that white privilege is a term that describes any of the things you've mentioned.Judaka

    Read about standpoint theory for the epistemological dimension.
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