People of colour and “computer expert” friends are not your personal assistants.

Both people of colour and “computer expert” (a term that less computer-literate individuals use to refer to computer-literate individuals) friends and relatives are perceived as public resources whose raison d’être is to educate white people about race or provide personal technical support, respectively. While the two groups are not mutually exclusive, both people of colour and “computer experts” are perceived to have no lives or other interests, and are treated as if educating white people or providing technical support is “their job”.

This is why white people and less computer-literate people often complain loudly and indignantly during certain interactions, as if people of colour and “computer experts” are providing poor “customer service”. White people often complain that if people of colour do not present racial issues in a way that is appealing to whites, then white people will not want to learn about racism. (For some reason, they believe that promoting social awareness about a particular issue should be similar in process to a company promoting a product.) Less computer-literate individuals even speak condescendingly to or yell at “computer experts” with a similar sense of entitlement, as if their computer-literate relative/friend/acquaintance has the same social obligation to them as the paid technical support staff of, say, Dell.

Read the rest of this entry »


White people assume that non-Western cultures are less civilized.

White people were aware of non-white societies for centuries, and needed to a way to organize this knowledge in relation to themselves. One way white people have historically organized this knowledge was to assume that non-Western societies were inferior and Western societies were superior, and that non-white people were “savages” and white people were “civilized”. White people assumed that societies “progressed” from “savage” to “civilized”, from heathen to Christian, from non-Western to Western. White people believed that African cultures and Native American cultures were “primitive” and that given enough time, these cultures would “advance” to look very much like white, Western societies.

Most white people today still hold the same views implicitly, in that even most white liberals consider non-Western cultures “ancient” and “traditional”. The assumption behind this way of thinking is that non-Western cultures are stuck in the past, and that Western societies live in the present. When white people organize Western and non-Western cultures on a timeline by placing non-Western cultures in the past and Western society in the present, they are assuming that societies “progress” unilinearly from non-Western to Western. That is, to view non-Western cultures as “ancient” and “traditional” is to view Western society as the most culturally advanced and the most evolved. Most white people think that to “Westernize” is same as to “modernize” and improve.

Read the rest of this entry »