Tammerie, who is pursuing a dissertation on anti-racism and Christian theology, blogs:
By the numbers, white people still hold a preponderance of the positions that count, out of proportion to our presence in the population, from which I would argue we are able to maintain white-privileging control over the systems and institutions that shape our society, including business, legislative and judicial systems, property sales and management, education and health care. (Note that the percentages of non-white, non-male legislators was considered too small to be tabulated.)
Of course, not all white people are employed in positions that afford economic power and privilege. Whites represented 44 percent of the 37 million U.S. citizens living below the poverty line in 2006. The (historically constructed) sad thing about that is that most of the white people living in poverty think they have more in common with wealthy white people than they do people of color also dealing with poverty. And that keeps folks from banding together and working together to insist on change in an unjust reality.
Funnily enough, feminist and antiracists keep telling us the same thing, you know, that we’re privileged, just like the rich white men.
Well, you are. And you are not privileged. I am a white woman. I benefit from white privilege. I do not benefit from male privilege. This means that, when you consider race alone, I am the same as a white man– we both benefit from racism– while if you consider sex alone, I am the same as a black woman.
It’s a question of which kinship to use. Poor white people still benefit from white privilege when compared to poor black people, but when considered in the context of society as a whole, the two groups might be more similar than different (I’m assuming that they are, but I don’t study this at all).
Great comment Diatryma! Constructive and concise.
The problem is that feminists and anti-race activists choose the kinship. Overwhelmingly they lump poor whites with rich whites, rather than with poor black people. That’s what the “privilege” discourse does. These activists are part of the problem that Wise is diagnosing here.
Maybe the middle class professional women who dominate feminism ought to check their privilege.
Not really. She introduced the false and totally-irrelevent-anyway idea that gender privilege works in the same unidirectional way that race privilege does. I’d dispute that, but then I’d get the blame for the derailment. Thus are feminist protected from criticism in feminist spaces, even where dissenters are allowed to comment.
Daran, I’ve responded to you on the open thread.
Great comment, Diatryma!
Me in #4
Tammarie, not Wise. For some reason I got it into my head that this was by Tim Wise, who makes a similar argument here.
The most recent crosspost by Jack provides an illustration of my point in #1. Asabagna quotes thefreeslave:
which treats rich and poor white people as a homogeneous bloc. But there is a huge downside for poor white people to a system which keep them and poor black people at each other’s throats.