Black People : WHITE PRIVILEGE SHAPES THE U.S.

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Metaverse, Feb 6, 2007.

  1. Metaverse

    Metaverse Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    (Peace Destee Fam! I'm sure most of us will find this essay interesting...since it is coming from a White Male- I'm curious as to why its becoming popular for Whites to "expose" themselves...any thoughts?)


    Robert Jensen
    School of Journalism
    University of Texas
    Austin, TX 78712
    work: (512) 471-1990
    [email protected]

    copyright Robert Jensen 1998
    first appeared in the Baltimore Sun, July 19, 1998

    [This essay builds on the discussion of white privilege from Peggy McIntosh's essay "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies."]

    by Robert Jensen

    Here's what white privilege sounds like:

    I am sitting in my University of Texas office, talking to a very bright and very conservative white student about affirmative action in college admissions, which he opposes and I support.

    The student says he wants a level playing field with no unearned advantages for anyone. I ask him whether he thinks that in the United States being white has advantages. Have either of us, I ask, ever benefited from being white in a world run mostly by white people? Yes, he concedes, there is something real and tangible we could call white privilege.

    So, if we live in a world of white privilege--unearned white privilege--how does that affect your notion of a level playing field? I ask.

    He paused for a moment and said, "That really doesn't matter."

    That statement, I suggested to him, reveals the ultimate white privilege: the privilege to acknowledge you have unearned privilege but ignore what it means.

    That exchange led me to rethink the way I talk about race and racism with students. It drove home to me the importance of confronting the dirty secret that we white people carry around with us everyday: In a world of white privilege, some of what we have is unearned. I think much of both the fear and anger that comes up around discussions of affirmative action has its roots in that secret. So these days, my goal is to talk openly and honestly about white supremacy and white privilege.

    White privilege, like any social phenomenon, is complex. In a white supremacist culture, all white people have privilege, whether or not they are overtly racist themselves. There are general patterns, but such privilege plays out differently depending on context and other aspects of one's identity (in my case, being male gives me other kinds of privilege). Rather than try to tell others how white privilege has played out in their lives, I talk about how it has affected me.

    I am as white as white gets in this country. I am of northern European heritage and I was raised in North Dakota, one of the whitest states in the country. I grew up in a virtually all-white world surrounded by racism, both personal and institutional. Because I didn't live near a reservation, I didn't even have exposure to the state's only numerically significant non-white population, American Indians.

    I have struggled to resist that racist training and the ongoing racism of my culture. I like to think I have changed, even though I routinely trip over the lingering effects of that internalized racism and the institutional racism around me. But no matter how much I "fix" myself, one thing never changes--I walk through the world with white privilege.

    What does that mean? Perhaps most importantly, when I seek admission to a university, apply for a job, or hunt for an apartment, I don't look threatening. Almost all of the people evaluating me for those things look like me--they are white. They see in me a reflection of themselves, and in a racist world that is an advantage. I smile. I am white. I am one of them. I am not dangerous. Even when I voice critical opinions, I am cut some slack. After all, I'm white.

    My flaws also are more easily forgiven because I am white. Some complain that affirmative action has meant the university is saddled with mediocre minority professors. I have no doubt there are minority faculty who are mediocre, though I don't know very many. As Henry Louis Gates Jr. once pointed out, if affirmative action policies were in place for the next hundred years, it's possible that at the end of that time the university could have as many mediocre minority professors as it has mediocre white professors. That isn't meant as an insult to anyone, but is a simple observation that white privilege has meant that scores of second-rate white professors have slid through the system because their flaws were overlooked out of solidarity based on race, as well as on gender, class and ideology.

    Some people resist the assertions that the United States is still a bitterly racist society and that the racism has real effects on real people. But white folks have long cut other white folks a break. I know, because I am one of them.

    I am not a genius--as I like to say, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have been teaching full-time for six years, and I've published a reasonable amount of scholarship. Some of it is the unexceptional stuff one churns out to get tenure, and some of it, I would argue, actually is worth reading. I work hard, and I like to think that I'm a fairly decent teacher. Every once in awhile, I leave my office at the end of the day feeling like I really accomplished something. When I cash my paycheck, I don't feel guilty.

    But, all that said, I know I did not get where I am by merit alone. I benefited from, among other things, white privilege. That doesn't mean that I don't deserve my job, or that if I weren't white I would never have gotten the job. It means simply that all through my life, I have soaked up benefits for being white. I grew up in fertile farm country taken by force from non-white indigenous people. I was educated in a well-funded, virtually all-white public school system in which I learned that white people like me made this country great. There I also was taught a variety of skills, including how to take standardized tests written by and for white people.

    All my life I have been hired for jobs by white people. I was accepted for graduate school by white people. And I was hired for a teaching position at the predominantly white University of Texas, which had a white president, in a college headed by a white dean and in a department with a white chairman that at the time had one non-white tenured professor.

    There certainly is individual variation in experience. Some white people have had it easier than me, probably because they came from wealthy families that gave them even more privilege. Some white people have had it tougher than me because they came from poorer families. White women face discrimination I will never know. But, in the end, white people all have drawn on white privilege somewhere in their lives.

    Like anyone, I have overcome certain hardships in my life. I have worked hard to get where I am, and I work hard to stay there. But to feel good about myself and my work, I do not have to believe that "merit," as defined by white people in a white country, alone got me here. I can acknowledge that in addition to all that hard work, I got a significant boost from white privilege, which continues to protect me every day of my life from certain hardships.

    At one time in my life, I would not have been able to say that, because I needed to believe that my success in life was due solely to my individual talent and effort. I saw myself as the heroic American, the rugged individualist. I was so deeply seduced by the culture's mythology that I couldn't see the fear that was binding me to those myths. Like all white Americans, I was living with the fear that maybe I didn't really deserve my success, that maybe luck and privilege had more to do with it than brains and hard work. I was afraid I wasn't heroic or rugged, that I wasn't special.

    I let go of some of that fear when I realized that, indeed, I wasn't special, but that I was still me. What I do well, I still can take pride in, even when I know that the rules under which I work in are stacked in my benefit. I believe that until we let go of the fiction that people have complete control over their fate--that we can will ourselves to be anything we choose--then we will live with that fear. Yes, we should all dream big and pursue our dreams and not let anyone or anything stop us. But we all are the product both of what we will ourselves to be and what the society in which we live lets us be.

    White privilege is not something I get to decide whether or not I want to keep. Every time I walk into a store at the same time as a black man and the security guard follows him and leaves me alone to shop, I am benefiting from white privilege. There is not space here to list all the ways in which white privilege plays out in our daily lives, but it is clear that I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased from this society.

    Frankly, I don't think I will live to see that day; I am realistic about the scope of the task. However, I continue to have hope, to believe in the creative power of human beings to engage the world honestly and act morally. A first step for white people, I think, is to not be afraid to admit that we have benefited from white privilege. It doesn't mean we are frauds who have no claim to our success. It means we face a choice about what we do with our success.

    Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism in the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at [email protected].

    http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/whiteprivilege.htm
    [​IMG]
     
  2. oldiesman

    oldiesman Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    white privilege...

    sounds to me like the dude is being honest about a thing that we all know to be true in this country,i got no problem with honesty.
     
  3. Love_Unknown

    Love_Unknown Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hello Metasaience,

    I was just talking about this with Kemetkind, Amnat77, Grandhustle and a few others in chat a few days ago. I was explaining to them that white people (the policy makers especially) know who we are. They know who we are much better than we do, and that’s why they have become so skilled in hiding this knowledge from us. They know exactly what to hide and exactly how to hide it. And they are now beginning to understand the "true price" of their white supremist delusion.

    Missionaries to Africa had to first understand African religion (to whatever degree their primitive mind states could comprehend) before they could begin to try to demonize and dismantle it/them, and the same is true for any aspect of African civilization. They know that we are the true rulers of this planet. They know very well that we established the rules that kept humanity civilized and in harmony with his/her natural surroundings for many thousands of years. Of course they know this. They have never stopped knowing this, and this is the exact reason why they fear us so much, and try so hard to keep us off of the world’s stage.

    Understand that virtually all of these books written Black scholars today are actually based on research done by white people: Ernest Wallis Budge, Louis Leakey, Gerald Massey, Kersey Graves, C.F. Volney, Champollion the Younger, Leo Frobenius, and many, many more. Most white “scholars” were nothing but arms of the government providing a political service for their countries, but many scholars did slip through the cracks and wrote books that grade schools, high schools, and universities “failed” to add to their curriculum. We are now the biggest market for these books.

    How many Black men/women who lived a hundred years ago had university grants and funding to go dig up tombs in Egypt? We still don’t have grants and funding to finance archeological expeditions and that’s why much of Sub-Saharan Africa is still such a mystery, because white people with the money to finance expeditions (and the political clout to publicize their findings) have no interest in going there to look for anything. Such findings would not suit their political agendas, nor win them much public support.

    Early on, in white people’s mad rush to take over the world (inspired by a perpetual previous existence of rank poverty, ignorance, and isolation all over Europe,) the white masses went along with whatever level of barbarity, destruction, and absolutely savagery that the white ruling elite deemed as “necessary” to wrestle power from the hands of others, and maintain it. Anything is better than the dark, savage, famine prone, disease ridden state of ignorance that existed in Europe up until a little over 100 years ago.

    (With the exception of Greeks and Romans who learned from North Africa and the African Middle East, Europeans didn’t start bathing up until a little over 100 years ago- I could elaborate on their putrid state of existence but try to imagine societies full of people who simple did not bathe, sometimes not once in their whole life!)

    Early in their mad rush to reverse world reality (Europe on top and Africa on bottom, when it had always been the reverse) the world was a bread basket of plenty (thanks to the scientifically rooted, nature revering culture/spirituality that Africans spread all over the earth,) and white people thought that they could consume and destroy as much and whatever they wanted because mother earth’s resources seemed inexhaustible.

    But after generations of unquenchable greed and rape of every human family and natural resource in the world, it is now becoming alarmingly obvious that white people’s “way of life” is actually a “way of death.” The air we breath, the water we drink, the land we stand on is becoming poisoned. Human beings by the millions, animals, and plants are dying, and disappearing from the earth. Crime is rampant, people aren’t safe in their homes, immorality is the order of the day, disease is everywhere, children are killing people, and psychotics roam the streets. It sounds like an apocalyptic prophesy “BECAUSE IT IS!”

    The “powers that be” cannot hide the results of their savagery and stupidity anymore. The world, white people included, are in the early stages of wanting something else, another way. New direction, and eventually new leadership that will “actually” change things, a promise that every white politician makes when he takes office and never keeps. White people are beginning to learn that their white supremist delusion is not worth the cost (world destruction, eventually including their own destruction.)

    When we “re-learn” who we are, when we clean out the sub-conscious garbage that our minds have been fed by the white oppressive machine, when we step back onto the world stage and present ourselves as strong, confident, civilized world leaders, the world will comply. For the last 50,000 years the entire world has copied everything that the African has done. They still copy everything we do because 50,000 year old habits die hard. Up until very recent times, we have led this world, and when we get ourselves together and step on stage to lead again, the world will follow, again. I promise you.

    Love Unknown
     
  4. Metaverse

    Metaverse Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Peace Love_Unknown...

    thank you for being generous with your knowledge and assessment. You have inspired me, and I’m sure anyone who reads this will feel the same.

    Ase Loved one..
     
  5. KWABENA

    KWABENA STAFF STAFF

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    ...As I have said in x amount of my posts/threads, Love_Unknown's previous post indicates one major command - BLACK PEOPLE, WAKE UP!

    KD
     
  6. torch

    torch Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The white beast has a point...but the truth is he is priviledged because of his murderous thief ancestors
     
  7. torch

    torch Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    100% truth my brother...the white people were living in caves in europe while kemet, nubia, and sumeria was thriving in great civilizations...its kinda sad how the white people shun the very people who created the civilizations that brought them out of there savagery
     
  8. enquiring_mind

    enquiring_mind Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Bump...since it's from the horse's mouth :)
     
  9. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    EM,

    this professor is attempting to frame white supremacy as merely a system of
    privilege and favoritism.. as opposed to a system of murder and tyranny.
    his very very minor and elitist rejection of white privilege is not
    what it appears to be.. This is about him and his relationship to his own
    people. It's white folk talking to white folk through black folks.. As in
    the civil war, we are once again, the pawn.. the object fought over but not
    really wanted by either side.. This professor is attempting to define himself..
    and we are merely the colored back drop that makes his whiteness shine
    brighter than it otherwise would. What, after all, is white in a sea of
    whiteness? Nothing. Without us, how would he define his socio-political
    leanings? How would he frame his views? I've seen this a million times..
    the fact that he thinks this is some kind of revelation proves the level
    of his delusion.. We have to understand that white folks are really deluded..
    they really believe they are innocent.. divine.. that they got what they have
    through hard work and determination.. and not genocide and slavery..
    I'm sure that after they pillaged and burned civilizations, stole their knowledge
    turned their people into slaves and used those slaves to build their nation and
    also to serve their every perverted whim.. I'm sure that somewhere during
    all of that, there were some white people that worked very hard.. and that
    were very determined.. but to what end? I'm sure their were men that prided
    themselves on being able to break an African down to a Nigg** in a short
    period of time.. I'm sure their were round table discussions where such men
    exchanged ideas about the most effective ways to do just that.. I'm sure
    that their were men that worked long and hard catching Africans and operating
    and maintaining those slave ships.. I'm sure that walking through all of that
    filth to down in the cramped lower levels of that slave ship to unlatch that
    screaming African woman that had gone crazy from a year in the dungeon of
    a castle and from being shackled to her dead sister for the last 10 days.. I'm
    sure that those men who, upon orders from the captain, were ordered to
    find that dead African body and throw it overboard were hard workers..
    I'm sure they were determined.. but to what end? And is that something
    to be proud of?.. to be admired for?

    And if we were to pull this same concept through all of American history to
    this present day, it would illuminate just how decadent and evil and tyrannical
    and murderous and sinister and ruthless the system of white supremacy has
    been and is.. and he doesn't want to talk about that.. I guarantee you.

    this is a white man masturbating to the reflection of his own relative status
    over black folks.. nothing more.
     
  10. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    but after all that Black Nationalism is not the answer?
     
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