Time to talk a little about White Privilege. I am not on here to debate whether or not WP exists. It does. Period, full stop, end of sentence.
If you cannot see that WP is real, then there is very little I can do to help you make your mental illness better. Maybe seek therapy.
For the past little while, I have been watching and reading more on social media, instead of immediately jumping and offering my two cents. I still do, it is just not that much.
Instead, I have been thinking about how WP actually influences my points of view and my reactions.
This all started when Bill Maher dropped his N-bomb, but was shocked that PoC found it offensive. Cause he considers himself to be such a good ally that he gets a by for reusing a word that is steeped in violence, hatred, and the oppression of PoC by white people.
Then I saw an article about Trey Stone and Matt Parker, and how they were not going to go after Trump in the current season. They have really good reasons. It is too easy, because the Trump admin is satirical in its own right, and because they do not want to give Trump anymore press.
I really, really want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I really do, but…
…many PoC do not give the benefit of the doubt, and say that this is just another example of WP.
Here is where many of my thoughts have been dwelling. Many white people, especially allies, do give them the benefit of the doubt, and think that PoC are just nitpicking.
That is the problem.
I talked about this article with my wife. She unhesitatingly said it was in fact an example of WP.
Matt Parker and Trey Stone have decided to sit this one out, and not stir the pot. That is WP at its height.
Here is why, and here is where we, as white people who want to be allies, need to shut up and listen.
They can sit this fight out, because it does not negatively impact them. They are rich, cis-gendered, straight, able-bodied, male, and white. This gives them the option of not fighting.
Nobody else has that option. Everyone else in our country is under attack. So, yes it is an example of WP.
This is what led to this post. How much of my reactions, and world view, are a direct result of WP and the conditioning I have received since the cradle on my place within America?
It is turning out, that just about all of my default reactions are a result of WP. The above story is a perfect example. My default is to believe them, the justifications are solid. Yet, in instances like this I cannot rely on my default settings. I have to listen to women and PoC.
That is something that I have been seeing is very hard for white guys to do. We have a hard time actively listening to women and PoC. Why?
- Because we, as white men, are taught that our opinions and thoughts carry more weight than they actually do.
- Our sense of superiority, makes it difficult for us to admit that the efforts we put forth rarely do any good or go far enough.
- We believe that our “open mindedness” grants us leeway.
- We hate to admit when we are wrong.
- We are still angry, cause WE want to lead the resistance.
There are probably scores more reasons, but these are what I have right now.
This is an important problem. It is huge. If you are white, and PoC are telling you what you are saying, or doing, is racist and harmful, STOP.
DO NOT TRY AND JUSTIFY YOURSELF! JUST STOP!
Just stop, look at what you said or did. Try and empathize with others.
This is probably the trickiest thing.
How do I, and middle class, mostly able-bodied, straight, cis-gendered, white male develop empathy for PoC and women?
I am already a very empathetic person, it is a very useful skill in my previous profession as a Human Intelligence Collector. To use my own definition of empathy, it is finding the core motivations of person. To do that, you have to put yourself in their shoes as much as you possibly can.
It isn’t easy. Being 100% empathetic to another person is almost an impossibility. Though, the closer your own experiences mirror the other person’s experiences the closer you can get.
It does not matter what part of the world someone is from, what color their skin is, or what gender they are. We all have experiences that are similar enough that an empathetic bond can be formed. If I can bond with a 18 year old, uneducated, date farmer from rural Iraq, then you can bond with the PoC that lives two doors down.
Just not 100%.
Now, let look back at the South Park guys. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Many PoC do not. Why?
It is because of our experiences.
I have no idea how experiencing racism on a daily bases effects the way a person looks at the world or how they view another actions.
I have no frame of reference. It is too much of a mental and emotional leap for me, and most others, to make.
For those PoC that are reading, please try this for me, imagine that you live in a multi-cultural world, where you are at the top of the pyramid. A world, where you are not the victim of institutional racism, in fact, you are the beneficiary of such a system.
Now, white people. Imagine that you are not at the top of this pyramid. I try, but cannot grasp what it must be like living in a world where the very institutions of the state are set up to work against me.
I know there are going to be white people that grew up on the lower end of the economic spectrum that are going to say that they did not have great lives.
True. I am not talking about each individual experience. I am talking about the collective experience.
In the collective experience, there is still a huge, huge gap between the lowest white person, and the highest PoC.
It is unfortunate, but it is TRUE.
Well, I do have a solution.
White people, shut up. Listen. Stop trying to lead this movement.
If you want to be an ally, stop talking, listen. If you mess up, admit that you messed up and work to making yourself better.
Take advice from those that suffer under our system and let them lead the way forward. Be an ally, by being supportive of PoC.