Privilege Is Driving a Smooth Road And Not Even Knowing It

[Since this is (the morning after) "Blog Against Racism Day," I thought I'd repost one of my better posts about sex, race and privilege. This post was first posted in November 2002, and has been somewhat modified.]

The more privileged you are, the easier it is to envision human beings as pure individuals, unconnected to other individuals in any way that matters.

It sometimes puzzles conservatives that progressives are so concerned with what people think. What is racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, after all, other than a way some people think about some other people? And as long as I’m free to pursue my own self-interest, what does it matter what others think of me?

For someone with a lot of privilege, the rational answer is, “it doesn’t matter at all.” The more privileged you are, the less other people’s thoughts count. You go into a store, and you buy what you want, or you don’t buy. You don’t have to worry about what the store clerks think of you – what could matter less?

It matters if you’re a black woman like Debbie Allen, the very successful producer and choreographer. When she walks into a store, it matters what the clerks think of her – because those clerks might decide to refuse to sell her anything (she obviously can’t afford it). This isn’t a hypothetical situation – it really happened. Just as it really happened to Patricia Williams (a very successful lawyer who is a black woman), who once visited a high-end retail store – and the clerk refused to even buzz her in.

Those are small examples, but they illustrate what I mean. To someone with a lot of privilege, what strangers think is irrelevant. To someone in a less privileged position, what strangers think of you determines what kind of access you get to the complex network of relationships that make up our society and our economy. When strangers often think less of you because of your sex or race, you have less access to the material benefits of our society and economy.

People with more privilege, in contrast, can easily imagine that they are independent. A big mark of privilege is that social and economic networks tend to facilitate goals, rather than block them. This makes it easier to ignore the social and economic networks around us; and it makes it easier for the privileged to imagine their accomplishments are the result of their own pure merit. Imagine two roads: one smooth, well-paved, well-maintained, the other lumpy and full of cracks and pits. Most people will drive over the smooth road without even noticing it – but that doesn’t mean that the smooth road hasn’t facilitated their driving. Nor does it mean that the person driving on the smooth road has more merit, as a driver, than someone stuck on pothole avenue.

The feminist and anti-racist view of the world – in which people are not independent but interlinked, and therefore what others think matters in very real and concrete ways – is much more realistic. No one is independent; we all rely on a network of social and economic ties to tens of thousands of strangers, just to get through a single day. (Who grew the food you eat? Who paved the road you take to work? Who decided to offer you your job? Who decided to offer – or not offer – you a residence where you now live? You didn’t do all these things yourself.)

Of course, everyone – regardless of race and sex – will hit occasional bumps on the road. And everyone, white men included, has put out some sort of effort to get where they got. But when the folks on the smoother road go faster and further, let’s not pretend it’s because they’re better drivers.

This entry posted in Feminism, sexism, etc, Race, racism and related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

89 Responses to Privilege Is Driving a Smooth Road And Not Even Knowing It

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  8. 8
    Kyra says:

    Well said, Amp.

  9. 9
    Shell says:

    This is perfect. I have uses for this. Posting at work, emailing to pals, etc…May I?

  10. 10
    ScottM says:

    Thanks for bringing it back up; I liked it the first time and am glad to have heard it again.

  11. 11
    Barbara says:

    I sometimes try the following analogy to make this point: why does it always seem like you are in the slow lane when driving? Because when you are in the fast lane you don’t notice the how fast the traffic in the other lines around you is going. You probably assume it is going at the same speed. Only when you are in the slow lane do you appreciate the difference. Which is to say, those in the fast lane have to make a special effort to understand the differences between them and those who are not in the fast lane.

  12. 12
    Radfem says:

    Good food for thought, Amp.

    I’ve got a bunch of White cops whining about being victims of racism on my blog right now. I’m trying to um, put together some type of diversity curriculum to make up for their employer’s failure to provide such training.

  13. 13
    Richard Bennett says:

    What is racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, after all, other than a way some people think about some other people?

    Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that. Most people, men and women, admire women and think highly of them, but so what? In the pre-suffrage days it was widely believed that women shouldn’t involve themselves in politics because they were high-minded, sensitive creatures who would be offended by the rough-and-tumble of public life.

    In today’s America, twice as many black girls as black boys go to college. This is clear evidence of racism and sexism, but nobody wants to talk about it except a few courageous men’s rights activists. Until we can have a nationwide dialog on that problem, we won’t have come very far in the battle against racism.

    You could re-draw that cartoon with a black girl in place of the white boy and have something more accurate.

  14. 14
    Jesurgislac says:

    Richard Bennett: You could re-draw that cartoon with a black girl in place of the white boy and have something more accurate.

    Yes, because the primary instigators of racist oppression of black men in the US have historically been black girls, who have also always been those who primarily benefited by the racist oppression of black men. *rolls eyes* Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Why didn’t Amp think of that? That would make his cartoon so much more effective!

    Guh.

  15. 15
    Richard Bennett says:

    Saying “because” and “rolling eyes” and other snark is simply a way of avoiding the issue, Jesurgislac. Can you find any two groups in Amerca separated by only only characteristic that are so unequal?

    That’s the challenge, and I’m sure you’re up to it.

  16. 16
    Richard Bennett says:

    Correction: “only one” that is.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Saying “because” and “rolling eyes” and other snark is simply a way of avoiding the issue, Jesurgislac.

    Did you notice the entire sentence, addressing the issue, before the rolling eyes? “Yes, because the primary instigators of racist oppression of black men in the US have historically been black girls, who have also always been those who primarily benefited by the racist oppression of black men.” It seems to me that Jesu addressed the issue, and you ignored it.

    That said, Jesu, I’d prefer to keep things respectful here – which means, please try not to use rolling eyes and the like. :-)

    Regarding your proposed cartoon, saying black women are the historic cause for the condition of black men doesn’t seem supportable to me.

    Can you find any two groups in Amerca separated by only only characteristic that are so unequal?

    Heh. I read “only only” as “only one” the first time; after you made your correction I had to go back and reread it to be able to see the error.

    Anyhow: Black families vs. white families, as measured by wealth, are more much more unequal than “double.” White families in the US have a median wealth net worth that’s about 8 times that of black families; and an average net worth that’s about 6 times that of black families. (There are weird blank areas in the post, scroll down to see the data table).

    Also, in infant mortality rates, the black rate is more than double the white rate in the USA. And black women have a maternal mortality rate that’s about four times that of white women.

  18. 18
    Charles says:

    And, comparing apples to apples:

    According to this chart, white male partipation exceeds black female partipation, so male difference by race exceeds black difference by sex. So for black men, race matters more than sex in terms of college participation, a direct refutation of your claim.

    Also, from that same chart, I don’t think 42% is double 32%. Care to cite a source for your claim Richard?

  19. 19
    Charles says:

    Oh, and from the same source, if you’d like two groups that differ on one variable and actual do differ by a factor of (more than) two in college participation:

    White men and Hispanic men: 48% to 22%.

  20. 20
    Richard Bennett says:

    Charles, the data in your chart is from 1975-1991, and things have changed since then.

    Amp, your table comparing net worth by family doesn’t separate two-parent families from single parent families, and there are way more single parent black families than white ones; hence not a single-characteristic phenomenon.

    Regarding infant and maternal mortality you have a point, but these are fractions of a single digit phenomena in any case.

    As to the historic causes of racism, that’s a fairly obvious point but perhaps less relevant today as slavery is no longer legal (outside of Africa and Asia) and Jim Crow is history. Race isn’t much of an issue in Portland because it’s among the most lily-white towns in America.

    Who is oppressing the black male youth of today? Well, it’s not the dead slaveholders from 1865, and it’s not whites as a group, so who does that leave? My speculation is that the welfare policy that lead to the breakup of black families in the 60s and 70s is largely the issue, as it created a matriarchy in the inner city that’s not serving the needs of the male children very well. The prison numbers fit a similar pattern, of course. Boys need fathers to teach them self-control, male pride, and ambition, moms just don’t do it.

    And on your larger point, the idea that whites rose to wealth and privilege on the backs of blacks is a hard case to make as well. The former slave states are not the high-income paradises of today, they’re actually at the bottom. So the tragedy of racism is that it oppressed both blacks and whites, as that sort of thing usually does. That’s why I find the emphasis on “privilege” misleading and the cartoon insulting to whites and damaging to blacks. It benefits no one to go around feeling like a victim all the time, and being told you’re a victim by someone who doesn’t consider himself a victim is quite problematic.

  21. 21
    Jesurgislac says:

    Amp: That said, Jesu, I’d prefer to keep things respectful here – which means, please try not to use rolling eyes and the like. :-)

    Apologies, to you and to Richard, for the rolling eyes. That was inappropriate. (Had Richard said that to my face, I doubt if I could have prevented a similiar disrespectful expression from crossing it, but I should have thought twice before posting it.)

    Richard: And on your larger point, the idea that whites rose to wealth and privilege on the backs of blacks is a hard case to make as well.

    Ampersand just quoted the figures to you: while there are rich black people and poor white people in the US, unquestionably, considered by race, the income differential is so considerable that it’s fair to say, as a group, that white people are wealthy/privileged and black people are not. Given the long history in the US of white people treating black people as chattels, or, where not literally property, as biological as well as social inferiors, Amp’s cartoon sums up the situation pretty well.

    It benefits no one to go around feeling like a victim all the time, and being told you’re a victim by someone who doesn’t consider himself a victim is quite problematic.

    I didn’t see anything in Amp’s cartoon telling black people in the US that they are “victims”: rather, I saw a humorous illustration of racial politics in the US.

  22. 22
    Andrew Reeves says:

    I’m going to jump out of the road analogy for a second to mention that one can recognize the problem but think that the solutions in place are stop-gaps.

    I am thinking right now of education. It has long been noted that there is a disparity by race in SAT scores. The reasons are fairly obvious–after all if you’re a poor black (and to a lesser extent Mexican) American, you very often don’t really have a stake in the system. If you are not plugged in to the whole text-based outlook of the bureacratized world of the turn of the twenty-first century, then you won’t really encourage your children to read, take an interest in their schooling, etc. Likewise, it’s rather hard to give your child an interest in reading if you’re working three jobs to pay the rent.

    This condition is a very real problem. It needs a solution that involves getting black and Mexican Americans invested in the system, a solution that takes into account that a great many black and Mexican Americans were essentially born with two strikes against them.

    The solution we get, though, is that the SAT has been made easier several times. (I have noticed this because I took the SAT in 1993, and wound up needing to check my scores again in 1999 and 2003. In the ten years since I took the SAT, I found that my score has retroactively gone up by close to a hundred and fifty points.)

    To return to the analogy, the road needs to be fixed rather than simply making cosmetic adjustments. Because I don’t really specialize in public policy, I really don’t know how you make up for a group that made up a servant class for the first three hundred and fifty of the four hundred years that it was present in America. But a lot of what is currently in place is a stop-gap–better than nothing, but inadequate to address the full depth of the problem. Of course, I don’t even really know if the road *can* be fixed by state actors.

  23. 23
    roberta robinson says:

    one thing that bugs me to death, is the notion that poor people can become rich people if they apply themselves (so say the rich on tv and in newspapers) and if your poor it is your fault. the rich basically give themselves to much credit for their wealth.

    but in order to make money you have to have money (excess money to invest). you have to have the connections too help make good choices in investment. you basically have to have a networking system to help you. and if others dislike you because your fat, dwarfed, black, hispanic or whatever that will influence how much wealth you will be able to achieve. many times that works against you.

    ever see the movie the associate with whoopi goldberg? or the show remington steel? in both instances they had to have a white male to take the lead to get the sales, to get their work recognized.

    this is just two examples of movies and shows I have seen that really put others who don’t fit the stereo type in subjection positons regardless of talent, smarts etc.

    of course there are parts of the economy that a minority or woman can make lots of money, if they have the connections, is acting and other areas of entertainment (I am guessing these are areas where the typical white male rich guy feels no sense of threat to their supremacy).

    RR

  24. 24
    Richard Bennett says:

    Roberta, I have one word for you: Oprah.

  25. 25
    roberta robinson says:

    she is sickingly wealthy, I can’t believe how much she makes, people in this country are barly making it or starving and they can afford to pay one person enough money to feed house and give all the things they need (as opposed to wants) of these people.

    she could never spend all that money. not in 100 lifetimes.

    what they pay basketball and football players is wicked. and to sponser shoes or other things they pay them millions when they don’t even pay their workers enough to live on.

    I mean pay your employers 10 cents an hour and lebron james 90 million to sponser shoes. sounds backwards to me.

    RR

  26. 26
    Mendy says:

    Roberta,

    It is backwards, but that’s what happens if a free market society. Lebron James sells shoes and they will pay him whatever it takes to get his name on those sneakers. But, they in turn have children working in ungodly conditions making those sneakers.

    I feel the way to remedy this is to use market pressure by organizing and not buying from the companies whose labor practices violate human rights standards. That’s just my two cents and why I don’t own a single pair of Nikes.

  27. 27
    Ampersand says:

    Richard wrote:

    Charles, the data in your chart is from 1975-1991, and things have changed since then.

    Richard, here’s what Charles’ link said, in large blue letters at the top of the first page (emphasis mine):

    Postsecondary Participation Rates by Sex and Race/Ethnicity: 1974″“2003

    Here’s what it said in the very first paragraph:

    To address this debate, this Issue Brief uses nearly 30 years of data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) School Enrollment Supplement (October 1974 to October 2003) to examine participation in postsecondary education among women and men and among different racial/ethnic groups.1

    Here’s what the title of the first of the two charts in Charles’ link said:

    Figure 1. Postsecondary participation rates for adults ages 18″“24, by sex and race/ethnicity: 1974″“2003

    Here’s what the title of the second one says:

    Figure 2. Postsecondary participation rates for adults ages 18″“24, by combinations of sex and race/ethnicity: 1974″“2003

    Now, I’ve met you. I know perfectly well you’re not an idiot. You are capable of reading the numerals “2003″ and understanding what they indicate.

    Obviously, Charles was right and you were wrong. There isn’t even a shadow of a defense for your claims.

    What I’m wondering is, how on earth could you make such a mistake? Did you not bother to spend more than a second reading Charles’ link before rebutting it? It’s impossible to believe that you thought you could get away with such an obvious and easily refuted lie; but it’s also not credible that you could have followed Charles’ link and looked at it for more than a second without noticing that it says 2003 in the title, in the opening paragraph, in the opening paragraph of the section about results, and in both of the two charts.

    I guess you could be making some bizarre rationalization based on the change in how the Census started measuring data in 1991. But if that’s what you meant in good faith, then you must also have known that to make sense such a claim requires saying more than “the data in your chart is from 1975-1991,” since the data in the chart clearly goes to 2003.

    Why are you wasting everyone’s time with such ridiculously, obviously false claims?

  28. Liked the cartoon.
    People interact in both formal and informal networks.
    Part of privilege is the quality and quantity of your networks, and your status within the networks. The formal economy is dollar-denominated, and somewhat easy to measure.
    The informal economy is far less so. In our culture, white guys invest a lot of their effort in the formal economy, and engage in transactions involving dollars. Not that networking isn’t important for white guys too – country clubs, skull and bones, etc. But I would say one thing women and blacks in my country have in common is that they both tend to invest more effort in the informal economy and less in the formal economy.
    In somalia when two people meet the first thing they do is figure out how they are related to each other. So the whole country is an emeshed set of kinship networks. Somalia doesn’t have a central government. Many of the things we think only governments can do
    are handled under a set of rules that structure the kinship networks.
    A few years ago I was supporting myself in part by selling my own plasma.
    It was a chance to spend a lot if time sitting in the waiting room, listening to the black clients catch up on their personal networks. The white clients were more likely to bring a book, or kill time quietly.
    I’m not claiming that blacks or women are wealthier and more privileged than white guys.
    I am saying sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
    After Gandhi retired as a lawyer, but before he was prime minister, he spent some time walking around India owning only a few things, a robe, a pair of glasses, a few other things. But, being the Mahatma, he had a wide social network, and lots of friends, rich and poor. He was privileged. He had wuffie, reputation capital.
    While most of us aren’t Gandhi, we all have some degree of wuffie, even if we don’t have federal reserve notes handy. So the actual degree of social inequality and privilege is not fully captured by estimates of wealth based on money in the bank.

  29. 29
    Robert says:

    Thoughtful comment, AA.

    Along parallel lines, a large part of what makes someone wealthy is the human capital they can access – not only their own knowledge and skills, but the knowledge and skills available to them through peers at little or no economic cost. As an example, my father was in real estate for many years. If I need to buy a house, I can draw on a seasoned agent’s knowledge of the market and of the processes, and it won’t cost me anything.

    If an individual is raised in an environment where the social capital available in their network is limited, or oriented towards values not compatible with material success, then that person’s ability to achieve material success (even if it is highly desired) may be compromised.

    This can put members of disadvantaged communities in a quandary. Do you remain loyal to friends and family of your youth – even when those people are (with no malice, of course) limiting your ability to succeed in life? Or do you seek out new networks and new social environments, both for your own benefit and to increase opportunities for your children? It’s difficult; heartbreaking, even.

  30. 30
    batgirl says:

    So the tragedy of racism is that it oppressed both blacks and whites, as that sort of thing usually does.

    !!!! That’s the tragedy of racism?

    Also, Oprah is a tired example. Not every black woman can be Oprah; there’s a ridiculous amount of chance & luck involved in becoming that rich and famous. Perhaps Oprah really is awesome enough to deserve her fame, but I’m not judging that. I am only saying that one rich Oprah does not equal proof of anything.

    We can’t all invent a new form of steel to revolutionize the rail industry, Mr. Ayn Rand.

  31. 31
    Richard Bennett says:

    Here’s the fine print under the chart, Amp:

    NOTE: Participation includes those enrolled in postsecondary education and those who have completed (1) at least 2 years of postsecondary education
    (1974″“1991 data), or 2) an associate’s or higher degree (1992″“2003 data). White and Black groups exclude those of Hispanic origin.

    I’ve seen current data on black boyss rates of college attendance from reliable sources that confirm the 2:1 ratio.

  32. 32
    Richard Bennett says:

    AA, Mahatma Gandhi was never the prime minister, but Indira Gandhi, the daugher of Prime Minister Nehru was. She was born to it.

    batgirl, why exactly is Oprah a “tired example?” She’s a black woman from the most humble background and utterly lacking in talent, yet she’s fabulously wealthy. I think her example does prove that anybody can get rich in America if they work at it hard enough. Of course, most of us can’t be bothered with hard work because we’re too busy blaming others for our stations in life, so there it is.

  33. 33
    Richard Bennett says:

    Here’s another reference on the black gender gap: “¢College enrollment. From 2000 to 2001, the number of black men in higher education rose by 30,000. That’s good news, but during the same period the number of black women in college rose by 73,000. Twice as many black women as black men now attend college.

    Google “twice as many black girls attend college as black boys” and you’ll find a raft of hits, no cherry-picking required.

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    Here’s the fine print under the chart, Amp:

    NOTE: Participation includes those enrolled in postsecondary education and those who have completed (1) at least 2 years of postsecondary education
    (1974″“1991 data), or 2) an associate’s or higher degree (1992″“2003 data). White and Black groups exclude those of Hispanic origin.

    But, mysteriously, you can’t link to the current data that you’ve seen. Am I supposed to just take your word for it?

    As I wrote in the post you’re resopnding to, Richard:

    I guess you could be making some bizarre rationalization based on the change in how the Census started measuring data in 1991. But if that’s what you meant in good faith, then you must also have known that to make sense such a claim requires saying more than “the data in your chart is from 1975-1991,” since the data in the chart clearly goes to 2003.

    As what you just quoted makes clear, Richard, the data in the chart goes beyond 1991, contrary to your earlier claim that it stops at 1991. You have given absolutely no reason to believe that the post-1991 data is less reliable or relevant than the pe-1992 data.

    I’ve seen current data on black boyss rates of college attendance from reliable sources that confirm the 2:1 ratio.

    It appears to me that the author of the article you linked mistook the increase in enrollment in recent years for total enrollment. The source the article writer used, ACE, is a compilation of education data collected by the federal government.

    So what does the primary source – the federal government data – say? Here is the most recent, authoritative data available on total enrollment in college. In 2002, there were 708.6 thousand black men enrolled in degree-granting institutions, versus 1,270.2 thousand black women. That’s a lot more black women than black men, but it’s not twice as many.

  35. 35
    Ampersand says:

    Amp, your table comparing net worth by family doesn’t separate two-parent families from single parent families, and there are way more single parent black families than white ones; hence not a single-characteristic phenomenon.

    Richard, if that’s how you’re looking at data, the comparison you’re making isn’t a single-characteristic phenomenon either, because it doesn’t separate high-school completers from non-high-school completers. (If we look , the college participation disparity between black women and black men is much smaller).

  36. 36
    roberta robinson says:

    I agree if everyone refused to pay 150 dollars for nike shoes or anything else for that matter that exploits the desperation of others then the free market just may work, trouble is you can’t get people to do that, there are too many people involved and let’s face it most people just don’t care, people who do care enough are in the minority.

    Like I have said to others over the years unless all work for the common good instead of each looking out for themselves life would be better overall, I am counting people in all countries not just this one, but how can you expect the poorest of the poor to even consider such a concept when the richer nations don’t set the proper example, and being so desperate they can’t afford to think of others first, they are just too hungry for that.

    anyway it really is sad.

    RR

  37. 37
    batgirl says:

    In reference to Oprah:

    I think her example does prove that anybody can get rich in America if they work at it hard enough.

    Statistically, this cannot be true. It is possible that there are hundreds of black women who are very similar to Oprah in background, upbringing, appearance, work ethic, etc., but they cannot all become as rich and famous as Oprah. Oprah, in spite of her talent, succeeded, in part, because of luck and being in the right place at the right time. Not every black woman will be lucky enough to have that random chance to get famous and wealthy; a capitalist system cannot let every single person be rich. There must be a wealth discretion because there just isn’t enough money for everyone to make five million dollars a week.

    Bill Gates can also be used as an example. He just happened to be the lucky person who had the skill and luck to come up with Windows. There are many other CS people, some much smarter and hard working than him, but chance dictates that only one person can *invent* Windows.

  38. 38
    Robert says:

    a capitalist system cannot let every single person be rich. There must be a wealth discretion because there just isn’t enough money for everyone to make five million dollars a week.

    No. Capitalism isn’t a zero-sum game. There is no conceptual bar to everyone become rich (in absolute terms). Money, by the way, is not wealth; money is a method for denominating wealth. Saying that there isn’t enough money for everyone to make a particular sum is equivalent to saying that there aren’t enough points for every team in the NBA to score 100 in a game; money measures the wealth that’s being created by capitalist endeavours, it isn’t the wealth itself.

    Theoretically, there may be material constraints on the total wealth in the system. If so, those constraints are so far ahead on the wealth curve that we’re not close to seeing them. There are certainly environmental constraints on how much of some types of economic activity can take place within our ecosphere without cooking the planet or giving us nuclear-powered tentacles or making us like the music of Bjork; most of those can be sidestepped. In material terms, there’s pretty much no practical bar to any level of wealth you’d care to name.

    Despite that, of course, not everyone will be rich, even in a best-case scenario. For one thing, a lot of people don’t want to be rich, for philosophical or lifestyle reasons. A second group of people simply do not have the skills necessary to manage wealth of any substantial size, and would quickly lose any money they did accumulate. A third group might do fine with money but lacks the skills or drives necessary to build wealth. Politics play a role, of course; some people live in systems that will not permit them to become wealthy, and some people live in systems that are intrinsically hostile to the creation of wealth – NOBODY can get rich.

    Capitalism does require inequalities. Inequalities provide the motivations for voluntary transactions, and voluntary transactions are how wealth is created. However, there is no reason that those inequalities have to be between rich and poor, in absolute terms. A system where an upper class of Bill Gates cruelly oppresses an underclass of $150K/year doctors is eminently practical, if somewhat unlikely to develop.

  39. 39
    Richard Bennett says:

    Amp said: It appears to me that the author of the article you linked mistook the increase in enrollment in recent years for total enrollment. The source the article writer used, ACE, is a compilation of education data collected by the federal government

    No, I don’t think so. He was talking about graduation rates, not the enrollment figures you cited or the “two years of attendance” data offered by Charles. Black people in general have very low graduation rates, and many dropouts are brought about my child support requirements, so it’s quite likely that the degree ratio is closer to 2:1 than to 1.8:1.

    Consider what happens when a girl gets pregnant after two years of college: she applies for welfare and finishes her degree. The father then has to drop out of school to pay child support to the welfare agency. I see that all the time.

  40. 40
    Jesurgislac says:

    Consider what happens when a girl gets pregnant after two years of college: she applies for welfare and finishes her degree. The father then has to drop out of school to pay child support to the welfare agency. I see that all the time.

    What’s your solution to that? Do you think that full-time students should be exempt from child support payments?

  41. 41
    Ampersand says:

    Richard: No, I don’t think so. He was talking about graduation rates, not the enrollment figures you cited or the “two years of attendance” data offered by Charles.

    Richard, the passage you quoted didn’t say a word about graduation rates. It did, however, refer explicitly to college enrollment, and to rates of increase of college enrollment.

    Furthermore, the claim you’re defending is “twice as many black girls as black boys go to college.” In post #24, you repeated the claim – “I’ve seen current data on black boys rates of college attendance from reliable sources that confirm the 2:1 ratio” – again indicating that what you were talking about was attendence, not graduation.

    I’d also like you to explain exactly what you find objectionable about the data Charles linked to. You clearly don’t think the post-1992 data it provides is legitimate, yet you refuse to provide any reasoning explaining why it’s illegitimate.

    Richard, I need you to

    (1) explain with logic why the post-1992 data contained in this link is inadmissable, or to

    AND

    (2) provide a link to hard data supporting your claim that black women attend college twice as often as black men, or to

    OR

    (3) admit that, regardless of if your claim is true, you can’t provide legitimate data proving it is true, nor can you provide a legitimate reason to ignore the federal government data Charles linked to.

    If you can’t do any of these three things, then you may consider yourself banned from posting on “Alas.” Enough is enough.

  42. 42
    Richard Bennett says:

    The solutions are fairly obvious, and yours is one of them.

    What’s interesting is that we’re even in this situation, and how the war on boys ends up hurting girls as well.

    It’s also interesting that so many commenters here are literally foaming at the mouth trying to “prove” the black gender gap in higher ed is ONLY 1.8:1 as if that’s something to feel good about.

    Perspective, people, is a wonderful thing. When the gender gap in higher ed favored boys and stood at 1.5:1, feminists and leftists generally were all upset about it and proposed affirmative action. It turned out that AA helped minority girls but not boys.

    The current situation is perfectly fine, however.

  43. 43
    Richard Bennett says:

    [Edited for personal attacks, and banned. --Amp]

  44. 44
    Ampersand says:

    It’s also interesting that so many commenters here are literally foaming at the mouth trying to “prove” the black gender gap in higher ed is ONLY 1.8:1 as if that’s something to feel good about.

    Sigh… you were the one, Richard, who made “double” the magic number. You were the one who challenged others to be able to find other discrepancies which met your “double” standard. Now that you’re completely unable to back up your claims with facts, however, you’re lying and pretending that someone other than you suggested 2:1.

    I agree that 1.8:1 – or even the 42% to 32% Charles’ data showed – is a legitimate reason for real concern. No one here has said otherwise. For you to imply that anyone has said otherwise is both dishonest and a personal attack.

    By the way, one of my pet peeves is people who don’t know what the word “literally” means.

  45. 45
    Lorenzo says:

    Capitalism does require inequalities. Inequalities provide the motivations for voluntary transactions, and voluntary transactions are how wealth is created.

    ROFL. Best piece of unintentional honesty I’ve seen in a while.

  46. 46
    RonF says:

    A couple I know once walked into a Cadillac dealership, only to be completely ignored by the sales staff, even though they waited around. They were dressed casually. If you’ve ever walked into a car dealership, you know just how amazing that is; usually it takes about 152 nanoseconds from the time you walk in until the time that a salesman approaches you. After a few minutes, they left.

    Two interesting things; 1) they were Italian, not black, and 2) they weren’t there to buy a car, they were there to buy two. Which they did later on that night, at another dealership, with cash.

    Would you say that the sales staff was racist? If the sales staff said to themselves (as they apparently did), “They don’t have enough money to afford a Cadillac, they’re Italian working-class”, is the primary reason they were not approached racism or economic classism?

  47. 47
    RonF says:

    Lorenzo noted that Robert wrote:

    Capitalism does require inequalities. Inequalities provide the motivations for voluntary transactions, and voluntary transactions are how wealth is created.

    To which he responded, “ROFL. Best piece of unintentional honesty I’ve seen in a while.”

    Lorenzo, would you answer a trio of questions for me?

    1) What’s so funny?
    2) Why would you think Robert’s honesty is unintentional?
    3) Do you think that there’s something wrong with inequalities?

  48. 48
    Jesurgislac says:

    RonF: If you’ve ever walked into a car dealership, you know just how amazing that is; usually it takes about 152 nanoseconds from the time you walk in until the time that a salesman approaches you

    Really? I’ve talked to any number of people who say their experience is mostly that they walk in, and from then on the salesmen completely ignore them.

    Of course, they were all women who were walking into car dealerships acc0mpanied by men.

  49. 49
    Jenny K says:

    “Really? I’ve talked to any number of people who say their experience is mostly that they walk in, and from then on the salesmen completely ignore them.

    Of course, they were all women who were walking into car dealerships acc0mpanied by men.”

    Oh god yes. My dad (and at times my sister and mom) came with me when I went to buy my first car and they all pretty much just talked to my dad the whole time. I will give them that it was “agism” as much as sexism (I look a lot younger than I am and well, I obviously brought him along for a reason), but damn, it was annoying. Especially the ones that would pretty much just talk to my dad. There were a few that would address both of us once it was quickly established that the car was for me and that I would be making the payments but there were plenty that couldn’t even manage that.

    And of course I just love going into electronics stores. And all the customers at my job that try to correct me/don’t believe me when they are asking for technical/science books. And going to the doctors and having them refuse to explain things or give me obviously half-assed answers. (I actually got into an argument once with the allergist who was testing me by having me hold sealed bottles of stuff. He kept insisting it was technical and I was a little slow to catch onto the fact that it was psychological – and that he was denying it because my knowing that would mess up the test. I wanted to shake him and say “but my being all pissed at you won’t mess up the results?”)

  50. 50
    RonF says:

    Really? I’ve talked to any number of people who say their experience is mostly that they walk in, and from then on the salesmen completely ignore them. Of course, they were all women who were walking into car dealerships acc0mpanied by men.

    Hah! Fair enough. But in this particular case it WAS a couple.

    And going to the doctors and having them refuse to explain things or give me obviously half-assed answers.

    I worked directly with the female member of this couple. One day she came to me quite distraught. Seems she went to the doctor for back pains and was told that she had a “tipped uterus” and that it had to come out. Understand that this woman was in her early 30s and it was not beyond question that she might have more kids. And she was in excellent physical shape. Damn good shape, in fact.

    She came to me because she knew that I was studying for my MS in Biochemistry at a medical school (I spent downtime at work studying physiology, etc.). I told her that “tipped uterus” was a bogus and non-medical term, and that she should get another opinion. She did so, and came back with another story about a doctor telling her she had “female troubles” and that she needed a hysterectomy. She was very upset, as you could imagine.

    I told her that hysterectomies were a big money maker for surgeons who specialized in them, and that something other than medical concerns for her health might be driving both doctors. I then went to school, told my story to the Dean of Medicine, and asked him for a referral to someone dependable. He gave me a name, I gave it to her, and she went to see this doctor.

    The end point of the story was this woman, with a perfectly functioning reproductive system, showing me a jar containing gallstones. So I can quite sympathize with your story.

  51. 51
    wordballoon says:

    ouch a tripped uteris,god I don’t want to know what that felt like…

  52. 52
    Mendy says:

    I make such a fuss in the car dealership that they don’t have any other way out other than to deal with me. I just walk in and explain that I will be buying a car today and either they can make that money or I can take it somewhere else.

    Usually, that straightens them out. If that doesn’t work, then my looking under the hood and chasis normally does. I had one dealer lift the hood and exclaim, “My isn’t that an impressive engine.” To which I answered, “Nah, but it is one impressive looking engine cover. I can see three of the six coil packs, but that’s it. Now you wanna get me a ratched and socket set and I’ll show you the engine?” He stopped the whole sexist “little lady” attitude after that.

    I battle sexism in the market place with my pocket book and information. Well, that and my rather blunt personality. Hey, it works for me.

  53. 53
    Jake Squid says:

    Yeah, well… car dealerships are a notorious bastion of profiling. It’s fun being a short, young looking man with long hair & a leather biker jacket, too. At one place, the salesman doubled the price to get rid of me. I bought the car down the road an hour later & called dealership #1, gave him the name of the salesman who brushed me off, gave him my name and what I looked like, the name of the dealership where I bought the car & how much I spent. I wish that somebody learned something there, but I don’t hold out much hope.

    There’s a reason that car salesfolks, as a class, are roundly despised. It has to do with the athmosphere of the places & the way they make people feel (like they’re fucking with you just to fuck with you). When somebody finds a dealer that doesn’t make them feel like shit, ever notice how much they praise said dealer? Because, in the American experience, a good dealership seems to be awfully uncommon.

  54. 54
    RonF says:

    The thing about a car dealership is that it is the one consumer establishment in America where you are both allowed and expected to bargain over the price of what you’re buying. Unlike in many other countries, very few American consumers have any practice in that. So what you have is people who are completely naive in bargaining pitted against people who do it for a living. The former are neither likely to enjoy the experience nor get a good deal.

  55. 55
    Jenny K says:

    ” So what you have is people who are completely naive in bargaining pitted against people who do it for a living. The former are neither likely to enjoy the experience nor get a good deal. ”

    Yeah, which is the main reason I brought my dad along. I suck at it. If it had been like buying any other expensive piece of machinery, I would have simply done my research, gotten a few opinions from people I trusted, and bought the damn thing by myself.

    But that’s also why I think so many women feel at a disadvantage when buying cars. Unless you have the expertise that Mendy has (rather than just the capability of knowing how it all works) the car dealers are more likely to assume you are at at even greater disadvantage than normal and go in for the kill.

    It also make sense that they would be less likely to do this to men. Falsely assuming that the person who is buying from you knows less than you, and letting them know it, puts the you – the seller – at a disadvantage when bargaining. So if, on average, men know more about cars than women do (and I think everyone can agree they do – or at least that most people have that perception) then it’s more of a risk to pull something like what the salesman did to Mendy on a man. Thus, even men who don’t know much about cars benefit from gender stereotypes, while women like Mendy derive only a marginal benefit from not fitting the stereotype.

    Same goes for any kind of technical repairs – whether it’s cars, plumbing, electrical, or anything else. One doesn’t exactly bargain for repairs, but it’s harder to get a list of set prices and it’s much easier for the repairperson to lie.

  56. 56
    RonF says:

    My wife absolutely refuses to deal with mechanics when it comes to getting the car fixed, due to a number of experiences where she believed that she was being patronized. She figures, and I suspect correctly, that mechanics are just much less likely to try to deceive men and pad their repair bills.

  57. 57
    April says:

    That’s it, too many good entries… I’m subscribing.

  58. 58
    Broce says:

    >> I answered, “Nah, but it is one impressive looking engine cover. I can >>see three of the six coil packs, but that’s it. Now you wanna get me a >>ratched and socket set and I’ll show you the engine?” He stopped the >>whole sexist “little lady” attitude after that.

    I have this experience in computer stores. I’m a systems engineer, and I look like a perfectly normal middle aged woman. Recently I replaced my lap top. The poor sales boy (who couldnt have been much more than 21) started out telling me I got two sales guys for the price of one, since he was training someone and they were both named Josh. To which I replied “So is my exhusband.” The conversation went downhill from there. He tried desperately to sell me things I didnt want, and refused to understand that I might have a clue as to what I was talking about and that I knew what I wanted. I finally had to do what you did, pull out the technojargon. Took about 30 seconds of watching him grow increasingly pale before I got the giggles. Once he realized I was way, way beyond his technical knowledge, he calmed down, gave me the laptop I wanted at a much better than advertised price, and gave me a rebate I didn’t really qualify for. I think all that was by way of an apology for his erroneous assumptions based on age and gender.

  59. 59
    littlem says:

    All right, Richard. I thought someone said that you had been banned, but since I see you continually vociferating, my temper snapped and I scrolled down to respond to your whining.

    As a black woman who willingly sacrificed her social life as a girl to earn full academic scholarships through college and graduate school so that she would never HAVE to depend on black male support in her alleged community, as she looked around and saw that the black men around her and the black men she met as she attended school out of state and the black men she read about in national publications were too busy continually whining about what they didn’t have to be concerned about mutual community support, I feel that I have earned the right to say to you:

    if you PERSONALLY are not dedicating, at minimum, 5 hours of your time per week and 5% of your annual gross income to the education of African-American boys in your personal community (however you define it, around the block or around the world),
    SIT DOWN and SHUT UP.

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  61. 60
    Rafael XXX says:

    I agree that 1.8:1 – or even the 42% to 32% Charles’ data showed – is a legitimate reason for real concern. No one here has said otherwise.

    So, why don’t you write about it?

    Sigh… you were the one, Richard, who made “double” the magic number.

    Yeah, because a 2:1 ratio is so different from an 1.8:1 one.

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  63. 61
    sylphhead says:

    “In today’s America, twice as many black girls as black boys go to college. This is clear evidence of racism and sexism, but nobody wants to talk about it except a few courageous men’s rights activists. Until we can have a nationwide dialog on that problem, we won’t have come very far in the battle against racism.”

    We already have that dialogue. When we talk of the black crime rate, and all the chicken-and-egg scenarios and self-reinforcing stereotypes that that entails, we are talking of black males – perhaps immortalized in the unfortunately true line from American History X, ‘one-third of all black males under 30 are in some stage of the penal system’. Racism is not a monolithic entity, and there are aspects of it that adversely affect black men especially. College admin officers, who you are clearly implicating most directly in this statement, would have an extra prejudice against black males that has no counterpart for black females. The mistake, I think, is in assuming that prejudices against a group must necessarily affect all members of that group equally.

    The dialogue you’re looking for, on the other hand – the one that says that Political Correctness has created a liberal culture that oppresses men while privileging women, and the blacker the better – can probably be found at a local Republican voters’ mass meeting. Perhaps you’re just not looking hard enough. Maybe you could argue that partisan-conservative outer ring suburbanites don’t a ‘nation wide’ make, but it’s certainly looked like that in many ways for about 25 years. Take what you can get, man.

    “Who is oppressing the black male youth of today? Well, it’s not the dead slaveholders from 1865, and it’s not whites as a group, so who does that leave? My speculation is that the welfare policy that lead to the breakup of black families in the 60s and 70s is largely the issue, as it created a matriarchy in the inner city that’s not serving the needs of the male children very well. The prison numbers fit a similar pattern, of course. Boys need fathers to teach them self-control, male pride, and ambition, moms just don’t do it.”

    You sure about that “whites as a group” part? Because in between self-sacrificing in the name of political correctness and absurdly tilting the college admissions game in favour of black girls, whites as a group can occasionally display these characteristics. (It’s a personal page, I know, but I had it forwarded it to me recently and it’s certainly relevant here.)

    I actually agree that boys need fathers to teach them those things – particularly male pride, because it is a particularly emasculated and insecure man who ends up being the molesters, woman-beaters, and rapists of today, though there are always just plain crazies – but how do we address without burdening, explicitly or implicitly, only one-half of the population? That’s the real issue.

    “So the tragedy of racism is that it oppressed both blacks and whites, as that sort of thing usually does.”

    This isn’t a tragedy of racism, this is a tragedy of slavery. An aristocratic economy based on cheap, menial labour will usually do that for you, and would do so no matter what criteria – and there always is one – a society uses to designate the immutably-genetically inferior underclass that is to do all the said labour.

    “To return to the analogy, the road needs to be fixed rather than simply making cosmetic adjustments. Because I don’t really specialize in public policy, I really don’t know how you make up for a group that made up a servant class for the first three hundred and fifty of the four hundred years that it was present in America. But a lot of what is currently in place is a stop-gap–better than nothing, but inadequate to address the full depth of the problem. Of course, I don’t even really know if the road *can* be fixed by state actors.”

    Perhaps the most intelligent statement made here apart from those of Amp himself. An emphasis on that last part: the state is by nature a ham-handed, slumbering institution, and as such is best equipped to hammer ham-handed, institutional nails. Curb carbon emissions, and tackle corporate malfeasance. But reknitting the very threads of a culture with a history of forced servitude (including economically, in the case of Mexicans) that has left them antagonistic toward a bureaucracy-based white paper economy? The state would be hopelessly inept and hogtied.

    “I think her example does prove that anybody can get rich in America if they work at it hard enough.”

    Perhaps. But they’ll have to prevail against the countervailing weight of anachronistic laissez-faire ideology that is turning America, relative to Europe and Canada, a class-based society. Think how much more successful a woman of Oprah’s ability and drive could have been in, say, Sweden, where people are sensible enough to realize that helping the impoverished is, well, helping the impoverished, rather than a violating of Natural Right.

    “The solution we get, though, is that the SAT has been made easier several times.”

    True and untrue. Making such a value-to-value comparison ignores the fact that one of the subject tests, the Writing, has been added as part of the overall Reasoning test, lenghtening the test by 70 min and adding a devious little essay section that, while not being overly difficult, tends to be the most unpredictable in terms of marking.

    “Richard, if that’s how you’re looking at data, the comparison you’re making isn’t a single-characteristic phenomenon either, because it doesn’t separate high-school completers from non-high-school completers. (If we look , the college participation disparity between black women and black men is much smaller).”

    Slam dunk, Amp. Richard is trying to imply an active bias in favour of black women over black men from the point of view of college admin – which no doubt through sundry contortions would have ended up a pity party that exalts the martyrdom of the middle class white man – but college admin can’t get their reverse discriminatory freak on if black men are more likely to be INELIGIBLE for consideration in the first place.

    I applaud you for your kiddie glove handling of the 1974-1991-2003 dating dispute. I’m sure that you know as well as I do that Richard picked up a number that was at least plausibly defendable if the feces squished into the fan, which he was betting was not going to happen by assuming that the casual reader would not follow the link. (It happens all the time. In fact, I even didn’t follow the link myself, and would not have known that Charles’ point was in fact valid, nor would have receded the point for Robert in my mental scorekeeping, had you not brought attention to it. His quibbling over a two-year education versus an associate’s degree (remembering that an associate’s degree requires, you guessed it: two years) doesn’t seem like a believable reason behind his creative omission. We all know what’s going on here.

    I haven’t talked politics in a while and have a lot of pent up blogginess to exude, but I fear losing all I wrote so I’ll splice it here.

  64. 62
    joe says:

    This is based on a comment by susan in another thread. Sory for the length.

    I had the opportunity to sit in on some interviews for a new hire to the group I was working in. It was a desirable job, and we had a lot of applicants. My manager had sifted through all of the resumes to come to the most qualified candidates on paper. There were 5 of them. They were all white guys. I don’t think that was intentional on his part. I know that the HR policy is that the manager had to explain to HR why they choose not to interview any minority candidates that apply. (They also have to show that they’re not being arbitrary. If the job requires a MS why didn’t the description say so? If you’re just giving preference to people with an master’s degree because it’s better are you letting any non-minorities through without one? Did your last hire have a masters? Is it really necessary? HR does not want us to discriminate.)

    There was some brief instruction from my boss not to ask personal questions but no official training for me.

    So I sat through 5 separate conversations, asked questions about work history, projects, and how they’d handle things I’d had a hard time with in the last year. By the third candidate I had my questions down pat. At the end of it my boss and i discussed what we thought. There were 2 candidates that were clearly worse. Between the remaining three it was a coin toss. They seemed equally qualified. So we talked about what we thought of their personalities and communication skills. One guy was cut because he seemed to have a hard time explaining things and we made the final decision based on personality. The person we picked seemed nice and like someone we’d enjoy working with. The person we didn’t pick had seemed cold and unfriendly. My boss thought about it some more and than made his choice for the ‘nice’ guy. (turned out i did enjoy working with him)

    I’m know that everything was handled fairly. But once education, work experience, professional accreditation were all normalized there was more than one ‘best fit’. And what we thought of them made the difference.

    Maybe you can ignore what others think of you if you have a 4.0 from MIT, a PhD, and a string of success that no one else can match. But for the other 99.999999% of the population that’s not the case. What other’s think of you will be important at some point. I’ll also say that after the interview I did two things. First I started trying to be nicer to everyone I worked with. Second I started thinking about how much more difficult it would be to seem like I’m ‘nice’ and would ‘fit in’ if I were a black lesbian from a low income neighborhood (just to illustrate).

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  67. 63
    brian says:

    every person of every race faces adversity in life. just because black people have it hard , doesnt mean that white people dont. this silver spoon everyone envies is fictional , unless the white people you are describing are wealthy. all other white people have to work hard , and try to overcome the discrimination faced by nobody but white men, affirmination action , which makes the race of a job applicant more of a deciding factor than qualifications or work history .

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  70. 64
    Matt says:

    “Theoretically, there may be material constraints on the total wealth in the system. If so, those constraints are so far ahead on the wealth curve that we’re not close to seeing them.”

    “Capitalism does require inequalities. Inequalities provide the motivations for voluntary transactions, and voluntary transactions are how wealth is created.”

    If everyone stops producing and people continue to trade what they have, who is stopping society from starving to death whilst everyone else is busy creating wealth?

    “However, there is no reason that those inequalities have to be between rich and poor, in absolute terms. A system where an upper class of Bill Gates cruelly oppresses an underclass of $150K/year doctors is eminently practical, if somewhat unlikely to develop.”

    So who do the doctors treat? Are the doctors cleaning the toilets, serving the food, collecting the garbage, and getting 150k to do it? Why don’t the doctors quit their waiter jobs and just stick to high paid work?

    First privilege sometimes means thinking that everyone could do the good jobs and the mucky jobs will somehow get done by magic.

  71. 65
    robert berger says:

    The unfortunate and deplorable fact that African- Americans are
    sometimes treated badly in stores, discriminated against, and
    harassed by police does not mean that whites have any kind of
    “privelege”. That is the wrong way to describe this situation.
    Let’s face it, being white in America is no guarantee whatsoever
    of getting any advantage in life. Nobody has this. It doesn’t mean
    that you will automatically get into a college or a university, or
    graduate, medical or law school, or that you automatically get a
    great job. Every one has to compete for these things.
    Even if affirmative action were abolished, whites would still face
    stiff competition for jobs and education.
    Whites had more privelege in the past, particualrly in the south,
    but things are very different today in America.
    In no way are these statements an endorsement of descrimination
    against blacks.

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  75. 66
    Gatz Rexdale says:

    Robert the problem with your analogy is that you fail to realize your privelege as well as having a blacc point of view and one big reason that sistas get in more then brothas even if you were to control for grads vs non-grads all that just application vs appectance I think would be this.

    This system is a patriarchy ruled in general by straight white males. In this a women is seen as less of a threat and also as a sexual object and allowed to pass through while another male esp with the more masculine image brothas carry is seen as more of a threat and therefore to be kept away. Itz been like that for many things and a lot of stuff can be linked to it because remember.

    Racism, Classim, Sexism and many other types of discrimination dont work in a void seperate from each other u can have ups and downs that all affect what happens. One type can overrule others like a sellout ass carlton or the corna brotha are always gonne be seen as a blacc male 1st by white society and the sellout is going to be seen as a joke many times.

    And my analogy for the system is that it like the elites in a house and every1 else on the sidewalk. There many lines u can say for different groups and different privelges and disadvantages systematically put ur group in different places along the line but race, sex, and class are the 3 big dividing lines U could say in that order too because a blacc women is blacc 1st and ppl take into account other stuff after the stereotypes etc are not the same for all women are not the same.

    Continuing though, there 1 door and the ppl in charge control who gets in and they’ll put in a token person from each group (esp in our case) and then parade them around like SEE U can do it too when the reality is that capitalism doesnt allow for it (fucc capitalism btw) and many ppl believe it like the case with richard and oprah.

  76. 67
    Steve says:

    The luxury of being fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of denial is and of itself a manifestation of privilege. Denial is the default response of privilege, and for the most part, it is borne from a state of blissful ignorance. And I say for the most part, because part of the reason for denial, whether it comes from the sub-conscience or not, is due to fear. Fear of truly existing on a level playing field in all of life’s endeavours. The competition for survival is difficult enough as it is.

  77. 68
    sylphhead says:

    Holy shit. You know how they say artists always look upon their past creations with disgust? Well, if posting comments on a blog is an art form, I really can’t stomach what I wrote on this thread two years ago. I just find it completely unintelligible.

    Steve, I do think there’s an element of fear behind denying that there’s any sort of systemic privileges in this world – often, those braying the most about free competition are those who are actually the most afraid of it.

    But I do find something tacky about the self-referential, tautological “the biggest privilege of all is denying you have privilege!”

  78. 69
    Ampersand says:

    Are you saying you now disagree with the ideas you wrote back then, or are you saying that you can’t stand your prose from back then? Just curious.

    (Speaking of regrets, I can’t believe I modded Jesu for rolling her eyes at Richard. That was sucky and wrong of me.)

  79. 70
    Steve says:

    Sylphhead:

    Well, that’s an interesting take, tackiness. I’d be interested if you could expand a little on your description.

    I would have thought of it as discomfort, for a white person to undertake any sort of anti-oppression analysis. I think it can only be detrimental to the unlearning process if self absorption about our own discomfort takes the place of genuine awareness and a desire to change our behaviours. As for denial, it acts as a self defence mechanism, and is just one of many possible outcomes as opposed to being the main one.

    Whatever it is described as, tackiness, discomfort etc, it’s probably better to just work towards getting over it, and hopefully ourselves and our own feelings in the process.

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  85. 71
    nobody.really says:

    I never learned how Pingbacks work, but I was pleased to be able to relay a lesson that I learned here.

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