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  1. #221
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    As a white male who grew up poor and has had to fight tooth-and-nail for every little thing I've been able to get in my life, it's really frustrating to hear terms like white and male privilege thrown around. I don't doubt that some people experience them (guys like Mitt Romney), but I haven't. It's very presumptuous and offensive when someone assumes that you must have experienced privilege and you "just don't see it" when that person has absolutely no idea what type of life you have lived. I know that many other white males feel this way as well because there are a lot of us who really haven't experienced this privilege that is so often thrown in our collective faces.
    I hear what you're saying, I think: when you've had to work so hard for what you have, the concept of privilege seems pretty remote. I have felt this way about white privilege because I grew up poor too, and I have worked very hard and continue to work hard for what I have. A concept that I didn't really have to work with until later was the concept of intersectionality. This is a bit of a digression from feminism/gender, but I know that the way of the mods here (as I was once one!) is to split off topics, so I'll tell this story anyway.

    I grew up very poor. There was sometimes not enough to eat. I lived in an environment that put me at risk for poor outcomes in a lot of ways, but I'm a pretty resilient person and had the advantage (which I would say was natured and nurtured) of being bright and curious. My father got a college degree when I was in middle school. My mom got an associate's earlier than that, though she was often unwell and couldn't do much with it. When I heard about scholarships that would get me through college if I taught when I got out, I jumped on that. Though we were poor, I did mostly okay in school (some bumps in the road, especially when my mom was sick) and my teachers assumed and talked to me about their assumptions that I would go to college. My parents took it for granted that I would go to college, although they never saved and wouldn't have money to pay for it. But I'd seen my parents do it, I'd seen other people who look like me do it, and we've made great progress on the feminism front so that girls like me who graduated high school in the year 2000 didn't have to be exceptions to the rule to apply and gain admittance to a university. Much of my adult life has been focused on moving from poverty to the middle class, and education has been my primary leg up.

    When I started teaching (which, oh my god, was eight years ago, which is when I started posting on INTPC), I was working in southeastern NC with mostly poor Black kids. I grew up as poor as many of my students, so I felt like I could relate to them and be an example of a poor person who made it out of poverty.

    I had really good intentions, and I wasn't wrong that education could provide them a way out--and there are opportunities that specifically target kids of color to aid class mobility. It was really, really frustrating to be at the front of a room full of bright but poor kids of color, many (most!) of whom did not take to my pleading with them to change their lives with college. I didn't get it. *I* was poor. *I* worked hard, and *I* changed my life.

    This is where it's easy for me to fall to the "bootstraps" fallacy. What I didn't see at the time was the intersections of identity. Yes. I grew up poor, and I changed my life. I did work hard, and I think I deserve some kudos for having the initiative to do that. But there IS a difference between being poor but having examples in my life of other people in my community and personal life who took this route and had success with it (which had to do with my whiteness) and being poor and having NO examples that looked like me to aspire to. I had the advantage, the privilege, of the assumption that class mobility through education was accessible to me. Many of my Black students did not have this advantage, and I didn't serve them as well as I wish I had because I couldn't see the difference between me and them, which was that I had reason to believe I could do it and they (quite frankly) did not. Poverty and race was an intersection point for them that compounded the difficulty of attaining class mobility.

    This does not let anyone off the hook, but I don't think we can understate how important something like community and family role models are, and what a privilege they can be. Privilege usually works way under the surface like this. And it DOES NOT MEAN that you or I don't deserve what we have--we've worked for it. And it DOES NOT MEAN that things were easy for us--they weren't for me, and it sounds like they weren't for you. But there may have been ways, because of certain aspects of our identity, that we had a slight (or great) edge.

    This also doesn't let those Black kids off the hook--I *did* try to direct them to a better life, and a lot of them, especially the boys (maybe we're coming around to gender again), opted for crime and danger instead because that was the example of success that they had more immediate access to, maybe. And they are accountable for those decisions... but when we see such a widespread problem (like young black men in prison) I think we do have to ask questions about what systemic elements are (or were ever) in place that lead to the likelihood of those decisions. Things change, but just because things are better doesn't mean that certain earlier policies (like redlining of neighborhoods, like the fucked up stuff that went on with the GI Bill in the 40s and 50s) don't have repercussions waaaaayyyyy into the present.

    Hmm. This turned into a ramble, and not necessarily a supercoherent one. Meh.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. #222
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circle View Post
    White privilege or male privilege is possibly difficult for you to see due to your perspective as a white male. The following definition may be helpful.

    "White privilege may be defined as the "unearned advantages of being White in a racially stratified society".

    We do know that racism is a problem in American society and societies throughout the world. If one is honest, one has to admit there are certain advantages to being white and male.
    My lower-class white male viewpoint indicates that privilege around here is not extended on the basis of race, but simply on how hard you work and how good you are at kissing the white-male-privileged boss's ass.

    Privilege doesn't mean sipping tea with your pinky out, not to me. It means that you are granted special social status. Whereas rights are supposed to be granted equally. Of course when you own your own business amounting to a personal fiefdom, you can grant yourself privileges. And as I've seen, to an extent, special treatment by local law enforcement who also happen to be 100% white males. I'm not in favor of this kind of big boys club, and I'm not part of it, but maybe that's why I'm against it. All I'm saying is that "white male privilege" IS A STEREOTYPE about white males.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  3. #223
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circle View Post
    Generally, we discuss the cultural context we exist in, in our case, American culture. Somalis are likely to have their own questions of race that have little to do with American slavery, the Civil Rights movement, Jim Crow, the wars with Mexico, et cetera.
    That's way too broad. There's a huge difference between the experiences of people in New York City and upstate New York, much less people in DC compared to Montana or Alaska. Can you, with a straight face, tell me that someone in who grows up in Fox River, Alaska experiences white privilege? You've got to come up with a better definition than that because that one sucks. I know my Alaska example is a little extreme, but it was to illustrate a point. You've got compare the experiences of people to people they might interact with. Using a broad concept like "American culture"...it just makes no sense to me, unless your goal is to spout meaningless rhetoric.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  4. #224
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    Oh give it a rest already. If I said "banana" you'd say "homosexuals blah blah blah".

    Pet causes are fine and all, but not when you keep dragging them over and over again into completely unrelated threads.
    Its not a pet cause, I do think those things are related too. I was writing about right wing evangelicals there.

  5. #225
    unscannable Tigerlily's Avatar
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    @Eileen, very inspiring and insightful post. A lot of people don't have it easy and so many people I'm around in my daily life take so much for granted, including myself.

  6. #226
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circle View Post
    White privilege or male privilege is possibly difficult for you to see due to your perspective as a white male.
    This is an unhelpful argument. It's essentially an ad hominem argument that dismisses the other person's perspective.

    "White privilege may be defined as the "unearned advantages of being White in a racially stratified society".

    We do know that racism is a problem in American society and societies throughout the world. If one is honest, one has to admit there are certain advantages to being white and male.
    Saying "we do know that racism is a problem" assumes that an evaluative statement ("racism is a problem") is factual, rather than an opinion, commonly held though it may be. Furthermore, "If one is honest..." is begging the question - the discussion is on whether being white and male confers certain advantages, so it is problematic to say that any honest person would agree with you. Essentially, you're saying that being white and male has certain advantages, because it is true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    The difference would have been negligible. I grew up in the exurbs in the Midwest in an area that wasn't really racist. There weren't many black kids at my school(s), but there were a couple I socialized with throughout my childhood and they seemed to do just as well as the white kids (they weren't dropping out, on drugs, or anything like that). They undoubtedly had more money than my family growing up. The area I lived in was populated by a large number of middle-class evangelical Christians.

    Am I privileged for having been fortunate enough to grow up in a low-crime, middle-class area where race really wasn't much of an issue? What kind of privilege would that be? Region privilege? Geographical privilege?
    Class privilege, in my opinion. The people who raised you, along with those who raised the black kids, were of a social stratum and particular acculturation whereby they could live in such an area, conduct themselves in a manner that would assure continued acceptance in that area, and socialize their children in a corresponding fashion.

  7. #227
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    Hmm. This turned into a ramble, and not necessarily a supercoherent one. Meh.
    Thanks for sharing. One big difference between you and me:
    -My mother has no formal education past high school. My parents are divorced now (divorced long after I moved out of the house) and my mom is simply incapable of moving forward (getting an education/job training) on her own. She works hard, but she's going to be dependent on her (8) children when she retires.
    -My father is a borderline sociopath. He's never had a career. He's had lots of jobs though, none for very long. He says he got a college degree in education back in the 70s, but I don't believe him since pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie or at best a half-truth. Since the divorce, he has been ostracized from the family. I haven't spoken to him for at least 4 years, maybe longer. I've lost track.
    -So yeah, my parents weren't role models. All of my brothers and I have been "late bloomers". We have all gone through what I guess you could call extended childhoods where we figured out what we wanted to do. I'm finishing up graduate degree in electrical engineering now.

    Interestingly, my half-Haitian, half-Jew wife grew up in a family where both of her parents are doctors and she's lead what even she admits has been a pretty charmed life. Things just seem to go her way. She just finished her third year of medical school.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  8. #228
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    Class privilege, in my opinion. The people who raised you, along with those who raised the black kids, were of a social stratum and particular acculturation whereby they could live in such an area, conduct themselves in a manner that would assure continued acceptance in that area, and socialize their children in a corresponding fashion.
    Maybe class privilege would be a better description? I don't know. We were always the poorest family I knew, and my dad went to huge lengths to conceal that fact.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  9. #229
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Thanks for sharing. One big difference between you and me:
    -My mother has no formal education past high school. My parents are divorced now (divorced long after I moved out of the house) and my mom is simply incapable of moving forward (getting an education/job training) on her own. She works hard, but she's going to be dependent on her (8) children when she retires.
    -My father is a borderline sociopath. He's never had a career. He's had lots of jobs though, none for very long. He says he got a college degree in education back in the 70s, but I don't believe him since pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie or at best a half-truth. Since the divorce, he has been ostracized from the family. I haven't spoken to him for at least 4 years, maybe longer. I've lost track.
    -So yeah, my parents weren't role models. All of my brothers and I have been "late bloomers". We have all gone through what I guess you could call extended childhoods where we figured out what we wanted to do. I'm finishing up graduate degree in electrical engineering now.

    Interestingly, my half-Haitian, half-Jew wife grew up in a family where both of her parents are doctors and she's lead what even she admits has been a pretty charmed life. Things just seem to go her way. She just finished her third year of medical school.
    Our parents aren't really that different, to be honest.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  10. #230
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Maybe class privilege would be a better description? I don't know. We were always the poorest family I knew, and my dad went to huge lengths to conceal that fact.
    Maybe not. At the same time, I understand class to more involve expectations, cultural practices and mores, and behavioral patterns such as speech register, and concurrent expectations in life based on these, than simply income. A doctor who makes $90,000/yr is in a different class than a mechanic who owns a shop and makes $150,000/yr. Their children may be in the same class, however.

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