Saturday, November 30, 2013

White Privilege

"Now, I'm not saying that white people are better, but being white is clearly better, who could even argue?"

This quote is taken from a comedian, Louis C.K., in his stand up comedy routine. He discusses white privilege from a humorous stand point and makes many good arguments as he goes.

White privilege is something that few people want to talk about. Louis C.K. makes this point as well but uses different language: "If you're white and you don't admit that it's great, you're an asshole."

Whiteness is something that few people want to talk about due to the dark past shadowing over white history, and the pain that many ethnicities have felt. In modern society, we try to sweet white privilege under the rug. An activity in class brought this to the surface.
After doing a quiz and answering questions privately about race and discrimination in our personal lives, the professor asked all students to come to the front. Re-asking the questions we had already answered on our own, we were asked to move to certain places in the room depending on our answer. The fact of white privilege was shown clearly as the white students remained stationary for the most part during questions of "how often do you feel discriminated against?" "Are you often the minority in a public setting?". This exercise really demonstrated what most people are unwilling to face: that being white has a certain privilege.

This topic is taken up from an academic perspective in Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack". This article describes how whites are still privileged in today's society:
"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance in my group."
This article also provides a list of statements that apply strictly to white privilege. It's an interesting activity to do. To check it out click the link above.

Another article about white privilege hit the news recently (March 2013). This article by Robert Huber, "Being White in Philly", focuses on "White, Race, Class, and the things that never get said". This article created an outrage in America as the article made many racist comments about the community of Philadelphia.

Huber's article hit the newspapers and broadcasters as the heated debate between freedom of speech and race raged on. Here's a link to a New York Times article responding to Huber's "Being White in Philly": "A Magazine Article on Race Sets Off an Outcry".

Should race be something that can be publicly spoken about it? Where is the line between freedom of speech and racism?


  1. I LOVE all the images you have in this post! They all display racism and white privilege in different ways. I think it is interesting to note how the messages can often be put across in a comedic manner and this somehow dismisses the real issue. In one of my posts I commented on and linked to the video we watched in class about the halloween costumes where the girl who made the video is really sarcastic and funny as well. The "someecards" have all been used to make jokes about one thing or another and were made for a variety of topics, whoever made the one you posted clearly had a "I'm right and you're wrong" look on things. As far as the comedians quotation about BEING white is better, I think that is a terrible thing to say. Even if some things may seem like the case sometimes, it is sad that it has to be used to make money. This leads back to the idea of Omi and Winant's idea that racial formation has roots in economic, political, and social hierarchy and those at the top are the ones who have much of the control. In a comment I made on another blog, , I mentioned how there is a parody to the music video Royals by Lorde which uses white women as the ultimate yet condescending way to those who identify as non-white.

  2. You chose a lot of great, strong images to really represent the power of whiteness! I especially like the Crayola "flesh" crayons, that was something that always bugged me that the flesh colour was a light colour clearly aimed for people, especially children with white skin. It is scary to think that ideas of white supremacy are embedded in children's minds at such a young age. While doing some research for this assignment I came across this video : along with many others just like it where the children are asked which is the "nice doll" and which is the "bad" doll out of a white and black doll. It brought tears to my eyes when the children, including the black children identified the black doll as the "bad" doll. These children are growing up being taught that not being white is a negative thing. Therefore, these ideas will carry on throughout life into adulthood.