City of Edmonton pulls “white privilege” message from its anti-racism website

The controversial Edmonton anti-racism campaign that called on whites to “acknowledge your white privilege” has now removed the prominent references to “white privilege”. Paula Simons reports:

Lewis Cardinal is a member of the Racism-Free Edmonton board, and a member of the board of Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights and Justice. He says he can’t understand how the “white privilege” message ended up as the main point of the website. He’d been told McIntosh’s essay would be one of a number of pieces of background material on the site, not its key message.

“I think that it was a huge mistake,” says Cardinal. “I have no idea why they launched it with that sitting on the front page. Obviously, I didn’t approve that. I don’t know how it slipped by, but it definitely didn’t get us off on the right foot.”

“The website,” he says “is going to be changed, right away, absolutely.”

Cardinal says it’s vital to address the discrimination in our community.

“But we can’t just say, ‘Racism — it’s a white people thing.’ We all have a role to play here. If we’re going to build a multicultural, pluralistic society, we have to figure out how we’re going to get along and we have to start now.”

Coun. Amarjeet Sohi also served on the Racism-Free Edmonton board. He too was taken aback by the website, which he didn’t see in advance.

“The way it reads, it mainly speaks to white people, not to the entire community of Edmonton. It shouldn’t have been written that way. It should have been more inclusive.”

Nonetheless, he insists, the “white privilege” discussion is an important one to have. As Edmonton’s first In-do-Canadian city councillor, Sohi says he knows first-hand what it is to encounter racism — on both a personal and institutional level.

“Walk into any boardroom, and you don’t see a reflection of your community,” he says. “Acknowledging ‘white privilege’ doesn’t mean every white person is racist. It means that people need to recognize that they have certain privileged status in our society because of who they are.”

Paula Simons’ article is actually titled, Anti-racism website bizarre, offensive to ‘real’ Edmontonians. Although the “‘real’ Edmontonians” in the title invokes the idea that “real Edmontonians are white Edmontonians” and the title reads like, “Anti-racism website bizarre, offensive to ‘real’, white Edmontonians”, she actually means that real Edmontonians are not all white. Simons also writes:

The site parrots an 1989 essay by a prominent white American Women’s Studies professor, Peggy McIntosh, who caused a flurry of controversy more than 20 years ago with her theories around white and male privilege.

But do we really need to import the dated diction of America’s 1980s culture wars to understand our uniquely Canadian, uniquely Edmontonian form of multiculturalism? Transposing America’s black/white race rhetoric to a 21st century western Canadian context ignores our very different social history.

[…]

Sohi makes a valid point. But it’s one we need to hear in the voice of real Edmontonians. Why should we let a white American academic, one of the most “privileged” people on Earth, be the one to lecture us on the reality of racism in our city?

It is true that McIntosh’s essay, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is U.S.-centric and suggests that only “African Americans” lack white privilege, which translates very poorly in a Canadian context. However, the general idea of white privilege is very much relevant in contemporary Canadian society. For example, White Canadians have the privileges of “I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my colo[u]r”, “I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group”, and “I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider”, which I do not have as a Chinese Canadian.

Simons does not “get” white privilege, but at least her article was informative and she tried to engage with the issues, even if in a way stereotypical of people who first encounter the notion of white privilege.


ETA: Paula Simons has read this post. She wanted to make clear that she first encountered the white privilege “argument” in the 1980s, but she thinks that it is “imported dated neo-Marxist bafflegab”. Her comment can be read here.

33 Responses to “City of Edmonton pulls “white privilege” message from its anti-racism website”

  1. fred Says:

    http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/ezra_levant/2010/11/08/16037056.html

  2. AfroCan Says:

    fred Says:
    November 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/ezra_levant/2010/11/08/16037056.html

    …….

    Thanks Troll for the Toronto Sun link.

    It doesn’t surprise me someone like you would hone in on this article, “More frights from the human rights people”
    By EZRA LEVANT, QMI Agency…

    At least I now know from what “official media sources” you get your ideology.

    What a travesty! The article certainly contains all the rhetorical messages you hold so dearly to your heart!

    Can I offer you another king-size cup of the poison you have been drinking…? Suck it up!

    ……………

    The Alberta Human Rights Commission is a specialist at the Orwellian perversion of language. Their counterfeit “right not to be offended” has meant the infringement of real rights, like freedom of speech.
    ……
    They say white Canadians “have likely harmed non-white people with our own whiteness.” Sorry, the only people I know who talk that way are race-obsessed bigots.
    ……..
    And in case you aren’t willing to be called a racist just because you’re born white, Racism Free Edmonton has another insult for you: You’re just a racist in denial of your racism. And denying your racism “perpetuates racism.”
    …….

    So let’s be a little more accurate. Racism Free Edmonton should be called Racism Edmonton. They have violated our rights as individuals to be judged on our own merits, by our own words and deeds. They have stereotyped us, saying everyone who is white is guilty. The corollary is obvious: Anyone who isn’t white is a victim. That’s a form of bigotry, too.

  3. Sam Says:

    AfroCan, had a hard time deciding whether to thumb you up or down. On the one hand, you gave everybody a nice review of the Toronto Sun’s very accurate interpretation of the sinister absurdity that is “whiteness theory”. On the other hand, you also clearly demonstrated that your ideology makes you impervious to truth.
    I decided on thumbs down.

    Way to go, fred.

  4. JP Says:

    Sam, had a hard time deciding whether to thumb you up or down. On the one hand, you gave everybody a nice satirical, comedic interpretation of someone who visits an anti-race blog yet remains willfully ignorant of white privilege. On the other hand, I realised you were being serious.
    I decided on thumbs down.

    Way to go, AfroCan.

  5. David Schmidt Says:

    WOW and to think that I was concidering moving my family to Edmonton .thanks to Adler nation I think I will keep My poor white racist behind in Ontario. Sincerely a poor white boy who has always paid his taxes and continues to pay so that others less fortunate than me can have refugee status here and get all the benefits that even I with my white privilege cannot afford ……OH by the way have you ever thought that by publishing such a foul manifesto that you have not only made the problem worse but you may very well have forced those on the fence off the fence . BRAVO…

  6. Sam Says:

    “someone who visits an anti-race blog yet remains willfully ignorant of white privilege.”

    On the contrary, JP, I’m learning everything I can about it in the limited time I have available.

    I can’t help it if the concept is 100% pure pigpoop.

  7. Paula Simons Says:

    Thanks for including my column in your thoughtful post. I should make one thing very clear, though. I’ve 46, old enough so that I did my graduate work in California in the 1980s, when the whole “white privilege” argument was at the height of campus fashion. This certainly isn’t my first time encountering this kind of racialized discourse — I lived it the first time round, in the 1980s, when Jesse Jackson was running for president and touring my campus.
    Racism is very real – in this country and this city. But what is the best strategy for combatting it? Not this kind of imported dated neo-Marxist bafflegab, which only puts people on the defensive.
    Edmonton is a remarkably diverse city, and we have all kinds of community leaders here who can make this argument from the heart. It’s a weirdly neo-colonial oddity for us to “privilege” Peggy McIntosh, circa 1989, as the ONLY voice allowed to speak to this issue. Why were there no aboriginal voices included in the website, when Edmonton has the largest urban aboriginal population in the country? Why were they no Asian-Canadian voices, no Indo-Canadian voices, no Afro-Canadian voices? Why weren’t any non-whites allowed to speak? Why weren’t any non-whites in Edmonton even acknowledged? Why were only “whites” even identified as citizens?
    Baffling. Utterly baffling. And anyone who wants to paint me as a racist for asking these questions? It’s daft. I’ve spent my career using my “privileged” position as a columnist to advocate for social justice in my community. I’m going to keep doing that, with all the passion at my command.

  8. AfroCan Says:

    Paula Simons Says:
    November 12, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Utterly baffling. And anyone who wants to paint me as a racist for asking these questions? It’s daft. I’ve spent my career using my “privileged” position as a columnist to advocate for social justice in my community.

    ————–

    Read your original articles and your recent post. But as a person who has used her “privileged position” to advocate for social justice”, there appears to be an ambivalent strain in your discourse as well as a number of the comments of this blog.

    QUESTION: How do you see adopting the strategy of NOT interrogating the existence of White privilege or the myriad historical and social meanings of White identity, leaving them unexamined and “invisible” in the background would be the best approach? How would this strategy of NOT calling attention to them be productive in combating institutional and systemic racism / dismantling social inequality?

    Also, throughout all the articles, there appears to be a resistance / rejection of Peggy McIntosh’s theories, even as we acknowledge that they were groundbreaking in that they were among the first that the White community acknowledged.

    Granted, McIntosh’s work is incomplete. Nevertheless, we must also understand that McIntosh’s work was only a small essay… It is not the definitive work and does not represent her whole oeuvre. McIntosh has indeed followed-up her old work:

    PRIVILEGE AND PREJUDICE: Twenty Years with the Invisible Knapsack (2009)

    That stated, if Calgary-based community leaders don’t want a U.S-centric authority on the subject, as they find McIntosh’s work “dated” and lacking in “Canadian” historical and social context, then perhaps McIntosh’s work needs to be ADAPTED/TAILORED rather than merely TRANSPOSED to a Canadian context.

    Better yet, don’t you think a strategy of recruiting some Canadian academics/activists, who have written extensively about Race and White privilege would intervene on the resistance? There are many Canadian POC scholars out there—South Asian Canadian Sharene Raszac, Afro-Canadian George S. Dei, or Jewish Canadian Frances Henry. Wouldn’t that be productive! Yet, nobody has mentioned that possibility. I’m sure these well-known authorities would be most happy to come in and restructure / kick start the Calgary movement…!

    But do you think ignoring / remaining silent about privilege’s “now you see it, now you don’t” existence or what it MEANS to be racially – socially White in this country is going to help move away from the disavowal and denial?

    And you are correct, interrogating White privilege has a curious way of re-constituting or perpetuating itself, even as critically unconscious Whites and POCs work to dismantle it and issues of institutional racism…

    Is it an issue of the language used to re-inscribe social dominance and primacy?

    For instance, if one is serious and committed, is it productive to deploy expressions like “kind of imported dated neo-Marxist bafflegab”? Don’t you feel that such language perhaps works to ridicule and undermine the Anti-racist principles and debate? Anti-feminists could make the same argument to dismiss / de-legitimate the principles central to that movement’s core, don’t you think?

    Be aware, that the Trolls on this blog love appropriating this kind of “pinko Commie” rhetoric in launching their rebuttals. They consume half their time using this mock rhetoric in trying to refute and de-legitimate the efforts of Anti-racists.

  9. Restructure! Says:

    Paula Simons, you wrote:

    But the more bizarre and offensive part of this campaign isn’t its assumption that all “whites” — and only whites — are inherently racist.

    which is bizarre if you were already introduced to white privilege in the 1980s, since the point of McIntosh’s essay is to show that white privilege is something that society grants all white people, regardless of whether or not a particular white person is racist.

  10. Paula Simons Says:

    Dear AfroCan

    Actually, we’re Edmonton. Not Calgary. An entirely different city of almost 1 million people. Not that we’re complaining. But Calgary does tend to be the city people think of first when they think of Alberta. Sigh.

    Let me return to my most important point. The City of Edmonton paid to create a website about racism. The site was constructed as if only white people lived in our city. The one voice on the site was that of a white American academic. I thought that was offensive — not to white people, but to everyone else. This is a very culturally diverse urban centre. MY column “gave voice” to a local aboriginal leader and a South Asian city councillor who both expressed their concern over the fact that the website they’d worked to launch ignored the reality of Edmonton’s cultural diversity.
    Are white people privileged in our culture? Of course. But why perpetuate that privilege on a website that’s supposed to fight racism? Why weren’t non-whites allowed to be part of the website and part of the conversation? Why was this a white-on-white dialogue?

    I recognize the irony of me, a white Jewish feminist liberal being the person to make these points. If it helps to explain the context here, I also made sure that the paper commissioned Mari Sasano, one of our freelance feature columnists, an Edmonton writer of Japanese-Canadian origin, to write her own column on the subject, which ran on our op-ed page.

    Now, there is a bigger problem here, no doubt. There are currently no non-white editorial/opinion columnists at the Edmonton Journal. Our editorial cartoonist, Malcolm Mayes, is Afro-Canadian. But we currently have no non-white columnists — and haven’t, since the departure of our former editorial writer/foreign affairs columnist, Satya Das. (We do have non-white reporters and editors, to be clear, but not a columnist.)

    That’s a weakness of our paper, frankly. And in the current climate, when we’re laying people off, not making new hires, it’s not likely to be corrected any time soon.

  11. AfroCan Says:

    Paula Simons Says:
    November 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Let me return to my most important point. The City of Edmonton paid to create a website about racism. The site was constructed as if only white people lived in our city. The one voice on the site was that of a white American academic.

    ……..

    Thanks for responding to me and for clearing up my little confusion about Calgary – Edmonton. I actually meant to write the province Alberta.

    But I am uncertain that my questions about White privilege and the ways in which “privilege” is often embedded in language itself, were answered. Often this is how perspective and power perpetuates itself at the dominant centre. When you describe the problems that transpired with the Anti-racist website’s development, it became evident that even with the best of intentions, Whiteness sort of “took over” the website space.

    In addition, I felt that some of your own language—the hyperbole I mentioned in the FIRST post, could unintentionally discredit Anti-Racist Thought by mocking its principles / values with “sardonic” language.

    I am not a linguist, but I strongly feel “racism” and “dominance” are often linguistic and rhetorical positions that adapt in our mobilization of language.

    In your original article, you appeared to be almost “distancing” yourself from the very ideas you claimed you embraced. Intentionally or subconsciously, honestly, your piece read that way. And both Restructure and I picked up on that rather odd ambivalence running through your work…Is she or isn’t she, where does this woman stand on the issue…?

    I still feel there are ways to conduct the Anti-racist work through monitoring language/position and perspective, and without re-inscribing White privilege. White people always like to position themselves as not only as “ideal” but also as “normal” and “universal” in perspective.

    Here lies the linguistic power to dominant——by seeming “normal” and “ordinary”. However, some interrogation of White identity/examination of privilege must occur, to DISRUPT/challenge that normalcy; otherwise, we can do Anti-racist struggle a big disservice.

    So we as acknowledge RACISM’s existence, never bothering to interrogate WHO/WHAT RACIAL GROUP IS PERPETUATING THE RACISM, for what reasons/within what institutions and systems; and HOW those who are perpetuating said racism/inequality often remain UNACCOUNTABLE for their actions / social harm to the POC. That’s what gives privilege it’s power—it remains unexamined, that “elephant in the room” nobody wants to talk about.

    I believe many Whites are indeed AWARE / of their privilege—but CHOOSE to remain willfully IGNORANT and discount what privilege means. At the risk of sounding very cynical, why would Whites want to dismantle/give up something that benefits them as an individual and a group?

    In making a Feminist studies analogy, certainly this is why patriarchal males resisted in lessening their privilege for so long in admitting women within certain profession spaces—law, medicine, JOURNALISM etc, refusing to admit /recognize women as moral and intellectual equals. Also, such change/opening up of institutional space would force men to compete more, admitting that the “other gender” might be challenge their perspectives and methods with alternative (or even better) ways of doing things…

    To reiterate I honestly don’t think effective Anti-racism work can occur without calling attention to White identity, and the historical legacy and myriad ways White privilege has STRUCTURED Canada as a nation.

    For the record, have you done your immigration history here, how did Jewish people become “White” over the last century, knowing that Jews were not always considered White in North America vis-à-vis WASPs…? Is Anti- Semitism /the oppression of Jews based uniquely on “race”? How did Jews assimilate into the White mainstream…Something to think about and share in future discussions of privilege…?

    That attention to Whiteness/racial identity/Anglo or European culture must be in the form of de-construction / critique, not a bolstering or “praising” of its “we-did-all” accomplishments of “civilizing” others and Empire building, etc.

    Otherwise, we are being dishonest in displacing tenets of “multiculturalism” unto Anti-racism. As discussed elsewhere, the two movements may intersect/dovetail each other but are NOT the same.

    Multicultural is about the “celebration” and consumption of cultural difference…Anti-racism examines the power relationships between racialized groups—including White European people who somehow resist being pinned down for examination because they have “no colour”, they elude being “raced”.

  12. Paula Simons Says:

    Dear Afrocan,

    How did Jews become “white”? That’s an interesting question, because to many people, we still aren’t. But that’s just why I hate the reductive race diction of the American culture wars. What is “white”? In Alberta 100 years ago, Ukrainians weren’t considered white. (And yes, anti-Ukrainian prejudice is still very real here – especially along a north/south axis.) Nor were the Lebanese fur traders who worked the northern fur trade. (Hah! Did you know we had Lebanese and Syrian fur traders and merchants who made major settlements in places like Ft. McMurray and Lac La Biche?) There’s no such race or cultural identity as “white” — does someone from Sweden have much in common culturally with someone from Turkey? Or does someone from Ireland much in common with someone from Latvia or Oman or Iran? Dear God, you can’t reduce cultural identity to pigment. The very nomenclature of race has a Third Reich whiff about it that I find offensive. There is one human “race”, isn’t there?
    But you’re right — my tacit equation of multiculturalism with anti-racism is also naive. Discrimination and prejudice are still rife in Alberta, and aboriginal Albertans bear the brunt of it. I’d rather make the debate about fighting injustice and building inclusive, fair, communities than about skin tone, though. That way, we can make sure the conversation includes Muslims and Jews, gays and lesbians and the rest of the queer community, and anyone else who is marginalized or disempowered by the power structure of the moment.

  13. fred Says:

    Jews are disempowered by the Canadian “power structure”??? LOL!

  14. AfroCan Says:

    How did Jews become “white”? That’s an interesting question, because to many people, we still aren’t. But that’s just why I hate the reductive race diction of the American culture wars. What is “white”? In Alberta 100 years ago, Ukrainians weren’t considered white.

    ………….

    I am aware of some of this history mentioned above.

    What is “White”? I raised the question not to put you on the offensive…but to challenge you and other bloggers to critically reflect on the meaning(s) of White identity.

    Certainly, the Euro-Canadians in Alberta and on this blog nonetheless claimed White identity on one hand, but curiously felt “attacked” and became offended when named as being White—-like they got “outed” or something…how else can we identity people of European descent…?

    At the same time, until you mentioned you were Jewish, you “disappeared” / assimilated into White identity…and then I had to remind you about the awful social construction/legacy of that identity, that your religious – ethnic group was once considered “non-White” in parts of Europe or “off-White” at certain historical periods in North American vis-à-vis Anglo-Saxons and Nordics.

    However, ethic Europeans (Jews, Greeks, Italians, Poles) were still considered White vis-à-vis Blacks and Asians in North America—all immigration and citizenship issues that White ethnics have overcome.

    Because of the changing nature of White identity, Jews and some other ethic Europeans (like Ukrainians) were able to assimilate into the dominate group. In the 21st century Blacks, East and South Asians still cannot assimilate based on our pigmentation and non-Caucasoid features.

    Blacks and other People of Colour did not create RACIAL ideology. We’re just trying to making sense of its paradoxes and contradictions in living our lives. But to declare race/skin tone doesn’t exist and that POCs are “obsessed” and making too much of it is to live in delusion…There is no denying race has hierarchal meaning and has structured the world for the last 600 years.

    …………………

    Your wrote:
    “I’d rather make the debate about fighting injustice and building inclusive, fair, communities than about skin tone, though. That way, we can make sure the conversation includes Muslims and Jews, gays and lesbians and the rest of the queer community, and anyone else who is marginalized or disempowered by the power”
    ……………………

    That’s great that you rather fight injustice and be inclusive of the other oppressed groups you mentioned…But don’t forget the “race” of the Lesbians and Gays for whom you are advocating—they also have privilege or sometimes double or triple oppressions.

    Really, all I’m saying is to be conscious that this struggle cannot be fought/overcome without critical examination of Whiteness as an identity that was in flux for many years, as a dominant culture, and a socially privileged construct.

    Without this critical awareness of the meaning of your White identity and its underlying powers to determine and control perspective/language, your efforts in fighting injustice will become frustrated or much worse, People of colour will see the “naiveté and CALL YOU OUT that you haven’t unpacked your privilege in leading way or speaking for them.

    They might accuse you of Paternalism and “bad faith”.

    If you get an opportunity, seek out some of Tim Wise’s books on Race and Privilege or

    Taking Responsibility, Taking Direction: White Anti-Racism in Canada [Paperback]
    Sheila Wilmot (2005)

    Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race Matthew Frye Jacobson

    Playing the Race Card: Exposing White Power and Privilege [Paperback]
    George Sefa Dei (Canadian context)

    How Jews Became White Folks: And What That Says about Race in America by Karen Brodkin (2002)

  15. mixed race Says:

    AfroCan wrote:

    “Blacks and other People of Colour did not create RACIAL ideology. We’re just trying to making sense of its paradoxes and contradictions in living our lives. But to declare race/skin tone doesn’t exist and that POCs are “obsessed” and making too much of it is to live in delusion…There is no denying race has hierarchal meaning and has structured the world for the last 600 years.”

    It (race) has undeniably structured the world and continues to matter to this day. But we should also be clear that “Whites” as a whole did not invent racial ideology either (in the modern sense). It was the British power elite who created the first system of racial hierarchy – this was to justify the land and resources grab in Ireland. The system was then imported to Africa and the Americas by the other European powers (the French, The Dutch, the Spanish, the Portugese, the Belgiums). With the exception of Turkey under the Ottomans, the rest of Europe – Eastern Europe in particular – were generally excluded from the ‘project’ of colonization, and in fact, were often on the receiving end of such policies.

    The second part is to understand that skin colour, while important, even today isn’t the be all end all in understanding racial privilege.

    To give some current illustrations:

    1) In Israel and the Palestinian territories, Palestinians – who look identical or lighter skinned than many Israelis – are often discriminated against on the basis of ‘race’.

    2) In Brazil there are tons of shades of racial classifications http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_in_Brazil; often times, one’s race is tied to one’s social economic status, as opposed to simply skin tone or features; this is certainly true of Mexico and other South American countries in terms of the discrimination meted against the Aboriginal population in particular.

    3) People can be “White” or “honourary White” or “Coloured” in one context, yet classified or treated as non-White, “Coloured”, “Brown”, or “Black” in others (despite their social-economic privileges, Askenazi Jews in Europe and the rest of the world to this day, and many Sephardic or Misrahi Jews in Israel; Brown skinned Jamaicans in Jamaica vs. America, Canada, or Europe; “Coloured” people in Haiti and South Africa vs. the rest of the world; depending on the context, Afghans and Southern and Asian Russians, Turks, Iranians, Arabs, and many South Americans; South Asians in South Asia vs. parts of Africa; Chinese people in China vs. parts of Indo-China; Koreans and Chinese in their native land vs. Japan, etc).

    4) People can be part of a racialized group yet pass as White, however continue to experience the disadvantages of their social location; this is true of many “mixed race” Aboriginal people in Canada and the United States and Roma people (“Gypsies”) in Europe, as well as mixed race people generally in North America and Europe.

    **

    Skin colour is obviously an important determinant of privilege in the world and therefore in understanding the hierarchies that exist not only in places like Edmonton, but around the globe; I find that lost in comments such as the following:

    “But don’t forget the “race” of the Lesbians and Gays for whom you are advocating—they also have privilege or sometimes double or triple oppressions. ”

    While it’s true that Queer people “of Colour” (I always find that term “People of Colour” interesting considering the pejorative use of the term, “coloured people” in America) may face “multiple forms” of discrimination, what do terms like “People of Colour” or “double or triple oppressions” really say about the situation in question? For example, does a South Asian person in Canada face the same discrimination as a Black or Aboriginal person? Do Chinese people face similar barriers to Tamil people or Somalians? Does a Tamil person face the same barriers as a Singalese person? Do Blacks from West Africa face the same barriers as Blacks from the Carribean? Do Black women face the same barriers as Black men (and in all situations)? Do Muslim women face the same barriers as Muslim men (and in all situations)? Do Pakistiani Muslim people face the same barriers as Arab Muslim people (and in all situations)? Do Queer Aboriginal people face the same barriers as Queer Black people?

    Do all “People of Colour” face greater barriers than all “White” people in situations of employment and education? Do WASPS face the same barriers as Italians and Jews and other people who appear visibly South or East European, and therefore who often stand out in a crowd of Anglo-saxon White people?

    I can of think examples where the whole “ingredient” model would seem rather ludicrous (for instance, a university educated Queer “women of colour” employed in a professional setting vs. a chronically unemployed, “White”, Anglo-saxon male with a history of schizophrenia).

    This is again not to dismiss the importance of skin colour in understanding barriers in society: skin colour does matter, though often not in the simplied way that “anti racism” models present it.

    I will end by saying, in reference to your statement that “Blacks and other People of Colour did not create RACIAL ideology.We’re just trying to mak[e] sense of its paradoxes and contradictions in living our lives”, that Black people and other “People of Colour” don’t all think alike. I’m aware of the idea of “strategic” essentialism, but the fact is also that people of varying walks of life (racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, sexual) have different experiences, often times transcending their “social location”, and therefore let’s accept that not everyone – including myself – will think the same way as a university educated Black person with a “critical” race analysis.

    Moreover, I’m also saying “to be conscious that this struggle” against racial discrimination “cannot be fought/overcome without [a] critical examination of” your own privilege, such as the *privilege to be able to debate racial hierarchies on the internet*; and I’m pointing out the way “identity” to this day is “in flux…as a dominant culture, and a social […] construct. “

  16. mixed race Says:

    Edits.

    The following statements should read:

    “It was the British power elite who created the first system of racial hierarchy – this was to justify the land and resources grab in Ireland. The system was then imported to Africa and the Americas by the British and other European powers (the French, The Dutch, the Spanish, the Portugese, the Belgiums).”

    “Race and skin colour are obviously important determinants of privilege in the world and therefore in understanding the hierarchies that exist not only in places like Edmonton, but around the globe; that said, what do terms like “People of Colour” and “double or triple oppressions” really say about the situation in question?

  17. AfroCan Says:

    mixed race Says:
    November 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    ….With the exception of Turkey under the Ottomans, the rest of Europe – Eastern Europe in particular – were generally excluded from the ‘project’ of colonization, and in fact, were often on the receiving end of such policies…..

    …………..

    Exactly…one of the many ways in which privilege is conferred on some White ethnic groups even if they didn’t participate in colonization.

    Thanks for filling in some of the gaps for me. I am of the many issues of intersectionality and racial hybridity that you mention and that race is always in flux and acquires different meanings in different historical and territorial contexts.

    I hope you are not suggesting that I am trying to “over-simplify” the struggles of Anti-racism. One can only write so much on an internet post. My rebuttals are to the White identified bloggers/trolls who are asking questions or are critically unaware of the historical and power dynamics of White identity / hegemony.

    As for the term POC, I am not always comfortable using it myself… I agree, POC has unfortunately become an expedient term in identifying specifically non-White peoples. I am aware of the “essentializing” powers of the term.

    As for my “privilege” in being able to debate anti-racism on the internet…please be assured I am aware of the relative privilege of my education…but as Black middle-aged male of working class background my social privileges have been greatly diminished.

    For many years, I often subscribed to “colourblind” and model minority” ideology as a survival / assimilationist strategy. After many negative experiences with institutional racism and White privilege, I realized I had to educate myself in articulating those experiences; To understand what was happening to me and why I was feeling so alienated from White Euro-Canadian people.

    Please read my Sept. 16 guest post – The Hidden Job Market: Whiteness has its Privileges…under Employment / Browse ideas.

  18. mixed race Says:

    Thanks for your comments. I will make it a point to read your article within the week.

    Although I agree in principle about the denial of White privilege and the role of race in understanding social hierarchies around the world, you wouldn’t find myself speaking of “anti racism” and “intersectionality” and “racial hybridity” – for the reasons already mentioned.

    I don’t view race/racial discrimination/oppression in terms of an “integredient/hierarchy” model, in that the more or less ingredients you have, the more disadvantaged/powerful you become.

    This is exactly what I was arguing against: that this isn’t a very useful paradigm for understanding racial oppression, despite giving an outline of how certain ingredients (gender, skin colour, sexuality, class) can disadvantage someone. For example, I don’t believe for a second that Black women *necessarily* have it worse than Black men; certainly not in terms of the threat people perceive of Black males in public. However, there’s perhaps situations where being a Black and male would bring advantages over being a Black and female. The same applies to other comparisons, which I tried to highlight with my previous examples.

    As far as earlier colonization patterns:

    ” Exactly…one of the many ways in which privilege is conferred on some White ethnic groups even if they didn’t participate in colonization.”

    When these policies occurred (i.e. the height of colonialism), it isn’t clear that the disadvantaged White groups were even regarded as White. Certainly leading up and during the Second World War, it wasn’t the case that Slavs and particularly Jews were considered part of the “White” race. Slavic Christians, from my brief studies of Balkan history, were treated as sub-human by the Muslim Turkish colonizers. Again, can the predominant racial classification system with the emphasis on skin colour be applied here? What about the earlier treatment of the Chinese (and other Asian groups) by the Japanese (which preceded the genocide of the Jews and Slavs in Europe)? For me, the danger with “skin colour explains racial privilege” explanations is that they lose sight of constantly shifting or context specific ways in which racial privileges play out.

    The more practical issue is whether the model of pushing for people to “acknowledge” their racial privilege, or other people’s oppression, has the “desired” effect; that is, does it change people’s thinking/attitudes or does it simply reinforce/increase the feelings of differences between groups (the us vs. them mentality)? For example, in school I can recall examples of “militant” “students of Colour” and “White liberals” “calling out” their White’s peers for their privilege; the White students either went on the defensive or joined the chorus. Often the White liberal students were members of some type minority/”disadvantaged” social location (Queer, female) and therefore felt they could denounce the privileges of the other White students since they were somehow lower on the social totem poll of privilege.

    At this point in Western academic or activist milieus, it’s become fashionable for people to regard themselves as “less privileged” as it’s somehow a badge of honour to be “oppressed” these days. The irony in this is the way people theorizing around privileges – “Coloured” and “White” – often lose sight of their very real class advantages (such as, as the privilege of formulating abstract thoughts and critical comments about race, let alone the privilege of speaking about these issues in the first places).

    Does the fact that Black people face disadvantages mean that every Black person (whatever their social location and whether or not they grew up impoverished or working class) can somehow relate to other Black people’s circumstances? Can Obama, for example, understand the experiences of urban Black American males or Black Haitians or Blacks from Santa Domingo or Blacks in many parts of Africa; is there necessarily a shared identity/connection (besides race)? My father (Black) grew up in a Caribbean slum. As a middle class Black man today, does he share an identity with other Blacks from his place of origin and Blacks around the world in poverty?

    Moreover, what about the other racial groupings I mentioned before?

    Racial privilege/racism doesn’t operate in one direction; it works horizontally, vertically, in circles, and various angles and directions in between. It’s constantly shifting and context dependent. A group of Black youth in North America may discriminate against a White youth just as White youths may discriminate against a Black youth. The difference, of course, is between the social location of the two in society: the privilege White or lighter skin conveys to an individual. However, what does a blue collar White male care about the social location of a Black person? He’s more worried about supporting him or his family, just like any working class “Persons of Colour” is in a similar boat.

    The “racial ingredient” model is based on very westernized version of reality, a reality that increasingly ignores the role of class and geographical location in understanding social hierarchies around the world.

  19. Jayn Says:

    “Often the White liberal students were members of some type minority/”disadvantaged” social location (Queer, female) and therefore felt they could denounce the privileges of the other White students since they were somehow lower on the social totem poll of privilege.”

    I’m sure you’re aware, but it is easier to see the privilege of those above you than it is to recognise your own. Personally, this is part of why social justice is important to me–growing up I was lower on the ‘totem pole’ than my white peers (ethnic minority + lower income family), and I hated it. Ironically, had I been less open and honest I might have been better off, but dammit I’m proud of my ethnic heritage! Ahem, anyways, just as I hated the lack of relative privilege I had, I hate the idea of others being in the same or worse situations. “Do unto others…” I’d feel like a hypocrite otherwise. I didn’t have the language to articulate it well back then, but I understood the inherent unfairness of things.

  20. AfroCan Says:

    @ mixed race:

    You have made many interesting arguments, many of which I agree, some with which I am not sure….

    One of the discourses I find happening on this blog, along with the denial / disavowal of White privilege, is a tendency among the different racial groups in competing for “most oppressed crown”. I am not vying for that crown, but I do recognize as a Black man in Canada, our racial group remains at the pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole—dare I say “social hierarchy” in North America.

    Also, I am not a scholar on race/Whiteness studies, I wish I had that privilege in pursuing it as part of my continuing education. I find it all fascinating. But until I have developed / published my own theories, I have to make use of the Anti-racist language available, adapting and carefully applying it where I can. I agree, some of it is useful, some of it not.

    In other blog discussions, I have already commented about issues of White ethnicity and how some European groups (Jews, Slavs, Mediterraneans) were once not considered “White” vis-à-vis Anglo Saxon British Isle Peoples…that they immigrated to North America, assimilated and transcended their former status. Again, some White bloggers seem unaware of this history yet mobilize it in disavowing their White racial identity and/or conflating discussions into ethnicity alone.

    You wrote: The “racial ingredient” model is based on very westernized version of reality, a reality that increasingly ignores the role of class and geographical location in understanding social hierarchies around the world.

    I agree completely with this statement. Many of my comments were rebuttals to bloggers seeking to conflate race issues completely into ethnicity or class. That is problematic. I felt they were mobilizing this common strategy in disavowing what White identity means and how it was formed over the centuries and in different geographical territories.

    White people don’t like to be interrogated about their racial social group. They often take offense at being called White and prefer to remain “raceless” and “neutral” in these discussions. In their imagination, we are the one who are “obsessed” and “preoccupied” with the subject…such a position lets them off the “hook of accountability” for particular historical legacies and social inequality in the continuum.

    Also for the purposes of blog discussion, one sometimes limits oneself to the Western / North – American context. I can’t speak too much for what’s going on in Brazil or Caribbean nations. But I am aware of them.

    You wrote: For me, the danger with “skin colour explains racial privilege” explanations is that they lose sight of constantly shifting or context specific ways in which racial privileges play out.

    There is also an interesting post on “Shadeism” about mixed / bi-racial individuals and their particular struggles and interrogations of beauty standards.

    Certainly, some of these issues have impacted on my lived experienced as a darker skinned Black male (flat nose, big lips and all) and I’m sure Obama has benefited greatly from his own light- skin privilege that I think he forgets about. Would the political doors have opened to him, if he were darker and considered less “beautiful” by Whites?

    While I don’t like to consider myself “ghetto” or “underclass”, I haven’t forgotten my very humble class roots growing up in Scarborough Ontario Housing in the 1970s. I tried to “work hard” in transcending them but didn’t quite make it.

    Anyway, some questions for you…You mention your father is from the Caribbean, where exactly? Were you born in Canada, or did you immigrate as an adult? Also, are you a scholar / educator of critical race studies?

    Discussion has been most intriguing…I wish we could one day break the boundaries of the internet space and have all serious bloggers meet face to face.

    Please read Hidden Job Market when you have an opportunity. It caused a bit of controversy and hostile resentment from a few White bloggers.

  21. Restructure! Says:

    I am not vying for that crown, but I do recognize as a Black man in Canada, our racial group remains at the pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole—dare I say “social hierarchy” in North America.

    No, indigenous people of this land are the most screwed. It’s interesting that you even used a “totem pole” analogy.

  22. AfroCan Says:

    Restructure,

    Excuse me! Thanks for correcting me….something I wasn’t conscious of in invoking the “totem pole’ analogy—so the best to use the word is “hierarchy”. The dangers of the language we mobilize in expressing ourselves!

    And yes, you are right…it is the Native Canadians who are the most screwed. Blinded by “privilege” maybe…?

    Their apartheid situation as the most marginalized group in Canada has always unnerved and perplexed me…

  23. AfroCan Says:

    Edit:
    so the best to use the word is “hierarchy”.
    …………..

    so the best word to use is “hierarchy”. Although blogger mixed race claims to dislike this word.

    Was in a hurry…

  24. mixed race Says:

    AfroCan wrote:

    “One of the discourses I find happening on this blog, along with the denial / disavowal of White privilege, is a tendency among the different racial groups in competing for “most oppressed crown”. I am not vying for that crown, but I do recognize as a Black man in Canada, our racial group remains at the pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole—dare I say “social hierarchy” in North America”

    Blacks in Toronto and Montreal – and particularly Blacks of Caribbean descent and, in Nova Scotia, many generation Black Canadians – are on the receiving end of the bulk of gun crimes and gun-related deaths. Aboriginal people across the country live in environments approaching Third World conditions (that might be a slight exaggeration, but from what I’ve seen of reserves in my travels through Alberta and B.C., they make a lot of public housing complexes in major cities look like gated communities). Apparently the conditions for Aboriginals are worse in the Prairies, and areas in the North of the country. In the cities, Aboriginals, percentage wise, are disproportionably represented amongst the homeless population.

    We are kidding ourselves if we say that non-Black people (and even, non-Black Caribbeans in places like Toronto and Montreal) and non-Aboriginals face the same barriers as the Aboriginal and the Black populations in Canada. Of course, Asians and other Non-Whites do experience barriers; but there’s also a difference with being called a Chink and Paki and facing some barriers in areas of employment and housing vs. being systematically discriminated against on the basis of identity in the manner that Blacks and particularly the Aboriginal communities in Canada have experienced historically and continue to experience to this day.

    It’s become fashionable to judge oneself as “disadvantaged” or “oppressed”; even academics (Black, Coloured and White female alike) can argue this about their lives with a completely straight face. I’ve experienced this rather pathetic exercise many times.
    And while there is reluctance by White people to acknowledge the existence of White racism and White privilege, there’s a similar reluctance amongst privileged visible minorities to acknowledge their class or group privileges, including the privileges they receive over others.

    The responsibility around acknowledging privilege extends to acknowledging the role those in the west presently play in perpetuating inequality/injustice around world; for while we might view the two situations as distinct, in reality a lot of what drives immigration to North America and Europe (and the brain drain from these countries) are the policies implemented by the governments we elected (through free trade and the support of various oppressive regimes abroad, for example).

    When we vote in governments that do little to address the issue of Aboriginal poverty, then we ourselves are complicit in the perpetuation of the “silent genocide” in this land. When we sit by idly while Black youth get murdered in urban centres in central and eastern Canada, or, in the case of Toronto, when we elect a right-wing mayor who intends to end “the gravy train” of “entitlement” and “big spending” “in city hall”, by, among other things, overhauling the previous mayor’s targeted spending around problem communities (communities with higher percentages of Black people), then we (all people who elected this individual) bare responsibility for the consequences.

    The interesting part of the recent Toronto mayor election is that the bulk of the poor or working class ridings voted for the right-wing candidates (mayor-elect Ford) – this includes areas that are predominately visible minority; whereas the bulk of votes for the centre to centre-left candidates (Smitherman and Pantalone) came from middle class and affluent areas of the city, areas with a larger percentage of White people. The irony of this pattern as far as the need for “White people to acknowledge their privilege” or “the pitfalls of White privilege for racialized groups” is that more racialised people in the Toronto election voted for a candidate (Ford) whose ideological vision favours making life easier for the rich (the bulk of who, in the city of Toronto, are White people), whereas the majority of the White population supported candidates whose ideological vision favours making things better for the disadvantaged (in the form of more public spending and a higher distribution of tax revenue), policies that should favor Toronto’s racialized communities.

    Rather than worrying whether White people “acknowledge their White privilege”, we should be worrying about the unequal representation of groups in all positions of society, and certainly positions of power. Rectifying this problem, to me, comes about at the political level – through laws and policies that are geared towards ensuring that all Canadians have equal opportunity to achieve a decent standard of living (via access to education or job training, and income supports) and that there are significant supports in place for those who fall through the cracks; and that policies are better enforced to ensure that employers can not discriminate against people on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion/culture, gender, sexuality, disability, or class.

    Again, I don’t believe barriers play out evenly; certainly there is the more “established” racialized communities – Blacks and Aboriginals in particular – facing significant barriers in all areas of society. I disagree that most Asian communities experience significant barriers (or at least, barriers anywhere to the degree that other racialized groups experience); I base this on my experiences with school and employment (including from observing the business areas of the city I live), though I am happy to be corrected on this. I’m also guessing that many of the barriers Asian communities experience are more a product of being less established communities in Canada (similar to what a lot of poor and “ethnic” Whites experience(d) upon immigrating to this country), though again, on this point, I’m happy to reevaluate my position.

    In sum, although consciousness raising around racism is important, I think that solutions around racial inequality start at the level of policy, and should be grounded in the practical, every day realities.

  25. Restructure! Says:

    mixed race – Here is an interesting article about demographics and Rob Ford’s election.

    As an Asian woman, I get stereotyped as smart because I’m Asian, but I also get stereotyped as stupid because I’m female. Having people assume that I am stupid, incapable, and incapable of learning (so it’s a waste of time for people to teach or explain things I need to know in order to grow) has been much more oppressive, so I agree that positive stereotypes are better than negative stereotypes, even though positive stereotypes are worse than being thought of as the default/neutral/an individual. I agree that being stereotyped as stupid because of your group membership is much worse than being stereotyped as smart, and when it comes to race, the negative stereotypes that black people have to face are more damaging than the stereotypes that Asians have to face (re: “intelligence”).

    However, as I am originally from a middle class background, I cannot talk about Asians as a whole not having it so bad, since I didn’t grow up in poverty like other Asians I know.

  26. Restructure! Says:

    I’m also guessing that many of the barriers Asian communities experience are more a product of being less established communities in Canada (similar to what a lot of poor and “ethnic” Whites experience(d) upon immigrating to this country), though again, on this point, I’m happy to reevaluate my position.

    No, I disagree with this. Asians have been here for a long time. If the Canadian-born and Canadian-raised child of ethnic white immigrants changes her name to Anglo and purposely tries to pass as a WASP to elevate herself socially, she can. As a Canadian-born and Canadian-raised child of Asian parents, I cannot pass as white no matter what.

  27. mixed race Says:

    Restructure! wrote: “As an Asian woman, I get stereotyped as smart because I’m Asian, but I also get stereotyped as stupid because I’m female. Having people assume that I am stupid, incapable, and incapable of learning (so it’s a waste of time for people to teach or explain things I need to know in order to grow) has been much more oppressive, so I agree that positive stereotypes are better than negative stereotypes, even though positive stereotypes are worse than being thought of as the default/neutral/an individual. I agree that being stereotyped as stupid because of your group membership is much worse than being stereotyped as smart, and when it comes to race, the negative stereotypes that black people have to face are more damaging than the stereotypes that Asians have to face (re: “intelligence”).

    However, as I am originally from a middle class background, I cannot talk about Asians as a whole not having it so bad, since I didn’t grow up in poverty like other Asians I know.”

    Most groups are stereotyped; in fact, there’s probably not a group on earth that isn’t, with some stereotypes arguably worse than others.

    For example, the stereotype of South Asians is that they smell (from their food) and are stubborn;

    The stereotype of Aboriginals is that they are all drunks and social degenerates;

    The stereotype of Roma (Gypsies) is that they are all beg, work as psychics, and live off the system;

    The stereotype of the Chinese is that they’re super smart, conniving, and part of the mafia;

    The stereotype of Koreans is that they work in convenience stores.

    Jews get stereotyped of being rich, smart, obnoxious conniving, money hungry, cheap, immoral, as all Zionists, and as controlling governments and finance;

    Italians are stereotyped as being “greaseballs” and as part of the mafia.

    The Irish get stereotyped as being drunks and disorderly;

    The English get stereotyped as having horrible teeth and pasty skin;

    White women get stereotyped of having flat asses and as being easy; White men (and women to some extent) get stereotyped as not being able to dance and as speaking funny.

    Black women get stereotyped as having big, round asses and as being feisty;

    We all know what the stereotypes are of Black men, so not need to repeat them.

    You’re not unique in being stereotyped as East Asian (?), nor does your stereotype appear to be the worst of the lot.

    The women one is interesting considering that women currently (I believe this started in the 1970s) dominate post secondary enrollment, and are even the majority of students in traditionally male dominated departments (like law and medicine).

    I wrote: I’m also guessing that many of the barriers Asian communities experience are more a product of being less established communities in Canada (similar to what a lot of poor and “ethnic” Whites experience(d) upon immigrating to this country), though again, on this point, I’m happy to reevaluate my position.

    Restructure! wrote: No, I disagree with this. Asians have been here for a long time. If the Canadian-born and Canadian-raised child of ethnic white immigrants changes her name to Anglo and purposely tries to pass as a WASP to elevate herself socially, she can. As a Canadian-born and Canadian-raised child of Asian parents, I cannot pass as white no matter what.”

    There’s been different waves of Asian immigration. Also, Asians, as you well know, consist of a variety of groups.

    I have to disagree about ethnic Whites (which is usually code for people from South or South East Europe) being able to pass as WASP. It depends on the appearance of the person. Most South and South-East Europeans would struggle to pass as WASP. It would probably involve bleaching their skin, colouring their hair, and avoiding the sun altogether.

    I imagine your status wouldn’t be fundamentally different if you could pass as White. You would also lose some of the perks of being East Asian, such as being viewed as “intelligent” and “hard working”, and also the part that absolves you as a “person of colour” from acknowledging your group (East Asian) privileges over others.

  28. Restructure! Says:

    White men are the least stereotyped, though. When people think of a stereotypical “doctor”, it is a white man. When people think of a stereotypical “police officer”, it is a white man. When people think of a stereotypical “lawyer”, it is a white man.

    “Nurse” and “teacher” are associated with white women.

    However, I’m not really interested in having these kinds of boring arguments about how people of colour suffer from racial stereotypes more than white people. Go read about white privilege.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    White privilege is a myth promoted by people of color seeking to perpetuate a victim status that they find valuable as leverage to blackmail white people into continuing to give them benefits and preferencial treatment. If unable to maintain their victim status people of color will lose the opportunity to sue for reparations and will be forced to succeed or fail on their own efforts and abilities.
    Needless to say, people of color are desperate to maintain their status as victims and to characterize white people as evil oppressors.

  30. mixed race Says:

    Restructure! Says:
    November 27, 2010 at 9:35 am

    White men are the least stereotyped, though. When people think of a stereotypical “doctor”, it is a white man. When people think of a stereotypical “police officer”, it is a white man. When people think of a stereotypical “lawyer”, it is a white man.

    “Nurse” and “teacher” are associated with white women.

    However, I’m not really interested in having these kinds of boring arguments about how people of colour suffer from racial stereotypes more than white people. Go read about white privilege.

    *****************************************

    I think you mean, White men experience more positive stereotypes.

    The most common stereotype about the legal and medical professions are that they’re dominated by Jews; the most common stereotype around the police force is that it’s dominated by WASP and Irish men (this is especially true of the role of Chief of Police). Arguing that these are all White groups would ignore how Jews have never been allotted full White member status, and continue to be seen as different (whether as super smart and successful, or as conniving/ immoral/intent on world domination. Sound familiar?)

    I’m sure part of the reason behind stereotypes around work is that men have for long been socialized into the bread winner role. When coupled with the position of White males – and especially WASP men – in North America society, it shouldn’t come as a shock that these stereotypes of work roles exist. Of course, with women now the majority in medicine and law school enrollment, stereotypes of these fields are likely to change.

    The nursing profession (at least out East) is also associated with Pilipino women.

    I find the police example rather peculiar considering that police work isn’t the most appealing work status wise. Also because of the obvious dangers of the role (and generally poor compensation), it’s not a profession a lot people — especially women — are very keen on.

    I would agree that the discussion about stereotypes is “boring”, but I should point out that this boring discussion was initiated by you; this was to illustrate the “disadvantages” Asian people and women experience in Canada.

    I am familiar with Peggy MCintosh (another in a long list of White female academics lecturing about “privilege”) and I had also read the article about “Two Torontos” (which IMO further supports what I was saying about White liberals generally being more open minded). I’ve also read Tim Wise (all White people ironically), and I’m sure most of everything you’ve read on the topic of race (ad nauseam).

    For my part, I’m will recommend, “The Invention of the White Race”. It might open your mind a bit, as the author provides a different take on race/racism. The standard argument is that racism emerges out of “the lack of acceptance”, particularly from White people, “of different appearances” or “skin colours”; the author in contrast traces the emergence of racism to economic systems of organization starting with the British colonization of Ireland, and ending with a discussion of America and slavery and the dispossession of Aboriginal lands. The book does well to place context behind racism/racial classifications/Whiteness as well as showing the ever shifting nature/impact of these constructs.

  31. mixed race Says:

    White privilege is a myth promoted by people of color seeking to perpetuate a victim status that they find valuable as leverage to blackmail white people into continuing to give them benefits and preferencial treatment. If unable to maintain their victim status people of color will lose the opportunity to sue for reparations and will be forced to succeed or fail on their own efforts and abilities.
    Needless to say, people of color are desperate to maintain their status as victims and to characterize white people as evil oppressors.

    ***************************************

    I don’t think it’s a myth (though I agree about the trend of seeing one’s social group as victimized and the leverage this can provide). What’s a myth is that White privilege impacts people the same; that it’s a similar experience for “Asian people” in North America and Black or Aboriginal people. The myth extends to policy: affirmative action measures should apply to all “People of Colour”, as opposed to disadvantaged populations (e.g,. Aboriginals, Carribean Blacks, Tamils, etc). By clumping “People of Colour” together, it prevents groups most in need from benefiting from affirmative action. It also obscures the ever changing vertical mosaic in society.

  32. Restructure! Says:

    mixed race,

    I don’t know why you think that I believe racism impacts all people of colour the same.

  33. MissMe Says:

    White privilege is real. Everybody in the world has the same potential to be prejudiced. Pointing out white privilege, people, is not the same as saying that white people are inherently racist, or even more racist than anyone else. White privilege, however, allows the phenomenon of racism among white people towards non-white people to perpetuate European descendant’s prejudices and racism more strongly.
    Look. If there are five white people to every one Asian, and the white people self identify, be it consciously or unconsciously, as white and there is a job available for which each person is qualified, AND, three out of the five white people have a prejudice towards someone who is Asian- how much chance does the Asian person have a getting a job? That is the privilege inherent in being white in this country. I cannot say whether every white person is prejudiced, but if they are, the power that is held by the majority of people who self identify as white compared to those who don’t is enormous.
    Some may call this “majority rules” but how do you know if you are not more inwardly like the Asian than you are like the guy who is white like you and grew up in your neighborhood? In actuality, you don’t. And you’ll never find out. Because, if you use a euphemistic phrase for racism and say something like “I feel more comfortable with people like me” then before you put yourself to the rigorous challenge of penetrating superficial differences to find out what a person is already like, you have decided that your “group” is comprised people who LOOK like and SOUND like you. But those similarities are superficial. Aren’t we taught, in our egalitarian culture, that the real sum of the man is his actions and his words, his thoughts and his deeds? And isn’t our “group” the human race?
    However, because our present day, global society was founded under the auspices of colonialism, white privilege is a real phenomenon. The ignorance in conflating “prejudice” with “white privilege”, without understanding either one galls me. While there is a history of battle and domination and defeat in all nations, our present day society was founded on the enforced practice of the idea that the common enemy/slave/subordinates were people of color, whether you count the enslavement of Africans (which yes, Canada did engage in) or the systematic genocide of the Indigenous people. White people from disparate groups in Europe were able to unite in the face of the common enemy-or common obstacle to land, resources etc. – the Native American-especially in Canada.
    The myth that perpetuates racism and white privilege is that the status afforded to people based on the color of their skin will allow them to be free of life’s rigors. That’s why people have historically been so gung ho about racism! It’s a safety valve in the face of life’s rigors. A person living dirt poor in Kentucky may be bilked out of his job by some disgusting corporate entity, or some throwback to a feudal lord- but the way the fat cats have of subduing that dirt poor person’s outrage is to remind them that hey “at least they aren’t black (or Native or Asian or some other undesirable.)” The success of racism in maintaining class status quo is quite fascinating. This “race-baiting” is done by the real economic elites who say that things like healthcare, government funding to the poor, unions, and job creation will somehow empower “the other” , the enemy. And then the “enemy” will take over the limited resources (so limited by the power elite) and there will be nothing left for the dirt poor person.
    So there are a lot of disenfranchised white people, baited into a distrust, suspicion or dismissal of the other, and in the process find themselves working eighteen hour days, in polluted environments and mired in all kinds of injustice.
    However, in order to keep the underlings down, the corporate elite will afford some kind of status to those who are white as opposed to those who are non-white. Divide and Conquer. It’s called a compensation. Being convinced that the dark/different one is their common enemy, the subtle or overt threat to their livelihoods the factory foreman may, consciously or not, overlook the qualifications of the man from Kenya and hire the guy who looks like, talks like, seems like the foreman himself.
    This, in a nutshell, is white privilege.
    As for people of color trying to be victims, another, galling and self serving load of crap. Do you think people of color have a gene for victimization? Like, does being victimized taste like watermelon or spring rolls to us? Do we crave it? Please ask yourself why anyone would want to be a victim? No darlings, sometimes people get victimized. And they feel powerless and angry and confused. They want to go back to feeling good and normal and okay, again, the same as you would if you met up with some stuff that felt, as racism has to me, completely out of your control and irrational.
    People of color, immigrants, natives, all want the same thing that everyone else wants- to be respected for who we are internally and externally. Nobody, and I mean, nobody has time on this planet to crave victim status. Who needs it. People want jobs and homes and healthcare and security just like you. They want mental health (and if they’re Native, they might want to forget about an alcoholic parent who wanted to forget, via alcohol, being raped by a “teacher” or a “priest” in a government school, the last one of which was closed in the 90’s.)
    And I am sure you have seen immigrants and people of color work like hell to achieve all those things. Most people of color, especially in Canada seem to feel FEAR in the face of white privilege and white power. They are often too afraid to challenge racism when it’s right in front of them, and they hope that sticking to their groups will keep them out of the sightline of those people who- armed with majority status might target them. So saying that it’s all a ploy to make you feel bad and make us victims is erroneous at best.
    I can understand feeling accused when you are told, as a white person, that you have white privilege. But I know that as a person with a college degree, I enjoy a certain amount of privilege over my brothers and sisters without a college degree. I know that as a Westerner, I enjoy a certain amount of status than someone from India. Or Africa. And I also know that a lot of the accumulated wealth of the West comes from these poor countries (oil, slave labor, etc.) While slavery might not exist in North America anymore, the wealth accumulated from it does. That wealth fed industries that fed national growth, that fed more capital and more factories and so on.
    Do I just go around like an arrogant jerk and act like “Well, hey, who cares?” I know as a Westerner, that I can afford a shirt for twenty dollars because it was made by an Indian girl getting paid three cents an hour. I am not supposed to care about that? Or do I make a choice to educate myself about the ways and means of my Western privilege and help make sure that the world becomes more fair.
    While I don’t have white privilege, I have Western privilege, I have educational privilege. What is my responsibility to both myself and those who don’t have that privilege?
    http://www.whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=7059


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