The only reason white people think being called a “white person” is racist, or harmful or wrong is because they are used to the privilege of just being seen as a “person” with out their race or color being an issue for them. You see, when you call them “white” suddenly they are not just a person, but now they have a color. Suddenly the are no better than a PoC. And that scares the shit out of them.
****I’ve has the (mis)fortune of being a (former) friend of one of the products of the upper middle class’ education system. He was one of the new wave of heteronormals that have infected the gay community. And he was nothing if not a collection of bad racist and homophobic jokes (Asians, Indians, Indiginous, people living with HIV/AIDS, women, you name it he constantly made jokes about them). He had an astounding lack of insight into human behaviour, and was one of the most un-empathetic human beings I’ve ever met. Add to this he was definitely one of our economic “elite” – born for success. Despite thinking of himself as a fantastic example of human-beingness, he was, in many ways, just a parasite (I know that sounds harsh but it’s true). So reading this article in today’s paper was interesting, and I’m glad it was written. White privilege: Alive and well.****
My wife and I recently attended an open morning at a private school. Some friends were horrified by the news. Their reactions had nothing to do with the fact that private schools reproduce inequalities, that their fees are ridiculous and they are recipients of obscene amounts of middle class welfare.
Instead, they were horrified we had left it so late. Apparently the best strategy is to go straight from the first ultrasound and then on to the open morning. Aged just 18 months, it seemed that our daughter had left her run at private school a little late.
When we arrived, we were met at the gate by two disturbingly articulate and well-mannered grade nine students. ‘Are you here for the opening morning?’ one asked. ‘Yes’ my wife and I muttered, fearing that our lower-middle class heritage might be sniffed out by the school’s hounds which would then be set upon us.
Given the students’ confidence, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that the girl had spent most of her holidays volunteering at the United Nations’s headquarters in New York and that the boy had just published his third literary novel to wide acclaim.
After being deposited to the information room and taking our seats, the principal, an animated man with short cropped hair who wouldn’t have been out of place in a Lexus showroom, introduced himself and told us about the journey we were all embarking on together.
A presentation of images from the school’s activities played on a loop behind him as he spoke. Most seemed to feature high quality photos of students doing culturally sensitive things in exotic locations or pointing at expensive electrical equipment that would be the envy of any major hospital.
One image featured a senior student standing on the precipice of a cliff, peering sagely over a vast plain of trees giving the impression that the school had just acquired one of the lesser-used State National Parks to be used exclusively in the outdoor studies program.
The principal told us all about the school’s ‘position statement’ which had lots of phrases like ‘respect for cultures’, ‘celebrating diversity’, ‘community engagement’, ‘reaching every child’s potential’, ‘self reflection’, and ‘encouraging awareness’. In other words, it was catnip to lower middle class people like who us who’d reached the upper middle classes.
If nothing else, the words and images made us feel a whole lot better about handing over $20,000 a year for education.
I came away from the presentation safe in the knowledge that the school had an outstanding heritage, combining equal measures of the best traditions of High Anglicanism and the recommendations of McKinsey and Co.
Then it was on to a tour of the school by our student guides. The principal farewelled us with the promise that they hadn’t been drilled to deliver a particular line and that we would get a ‘warts and all’ view of the school.
Our young hosts didn’t have much bad to say. Instead, their comments were littered with the articulate grade nine equivalent of ‘respect for cultures’, ‘celebrating diversity’, ‘community engagement’, ‘reaching every child’s potential’, ‘self reflection’ and ‘encouraging awareness’.
We were shown to something called the ‘Food Tech’ room. This is what used to be called ‘Home Economics’ or, more quaintly, ‘cooking’. Now, apparently, students create dishes by breaking down food into its constituent elements and re-building it in a new, improved, form.
After a half hour or so of being shown performance spaces, gyms, pools, more performance spaces, chapels, aerobic rooms, labs, studios, dark rooms and still more performance spaces we were taken back for a cup of tea and cake where we could ask more questions of the principal and his team.
Putting the vaunted values to the test, I asked one teacher about the school’s position with regard to sexual orientation. She stumbled a little at first, and then said some things about ‘respect for cultures’, ‘celebrating diversity’, ‘community engagement’, ‘reaching every child’s potential’, ‘self reflection’ and ‘encouraging awareness’.
‘So if my daughter comes out in year eight and wants to take a girlfriend to the school formal, the school wouldn’t have a problem with that?’ I asked.
Squirming, she said something reassuring about celebrating diversity and respecting all faiths. I didn’t know what this had to do with sexual orientation, unless it was an oblique reference to George Michael’s 1987 solo album.
Eventually she confirmed that the school would be fine with this. To reassure us, she told a story about a student who had transferred to the school because it had a very good performing arts program. ‘Performing arts’ is, I surmised, code for homosexual.
Apparently, paying $20,000 a year for an enlightened education doesn’t extend to actually using the word ‘gay’.
Christopher Scanlon teaches journalism at La Trobe University.
It’s just a sexual preference. I’m not attracted to Asians.” The issue isn’t about whether you’re attracted to one race or another. The issue is whether, as a person of white privilege, you can step into the shoes of an Asian, and understand what it’s like to see profile after profile proclaiming publicly: NO ASIANS. I challenge you to do this, even just for a millisecond. If you refuse to see this as racism, at the very least try to acknowledge it as cruel, insensitive, and unnecessary.
I think I need to step away from tumblr for a few years.
I’ll come back when it’s gone the way of myspace and it’s actually safe to say “Hi” to someone without being considered a racist.
Here’s another white whine tantrum from one my blog’s haters. I love it when other white people use this sort of anti-logic after they’ve been called out for whatever their shitty behaviour was – be it racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, whatever.
They always bring up statements like the one above. As if ANYONE EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD would call someone racist for saying “Hi”. (TO qualify this, if anyone DID call you a racist for saying “Hi” then that person is a dickhead, and an embarrassment to themselves). But they make these sorts of ludicrous statements in an effort to derail and trivialise issues like homophobia, and to garner support from other white racists and homophobes because they feel threatened and in a weak position.
It’s a close relative to the “It’s political correctness gone MAD!” argument that they use when someone challenges them for using offensive language.
So how about we stay on topic instead? Oh no, that won’t do, because child of white privilege isn’t winning the argument. So let’s side-step the whole issue, try to make everyone against the bigotry look petty, and find some other bigots to give me hugs and say “It’s ok, you’re such a nice guy, don’t listen to those awful people, you’re not racist, you’re lovely …” Yeah, real lovely towards other bigots!
No, saying “Hi” to someone will never get you called a racist. On the other hand, saying “Hi, I’m not into Asians” on your public profile on Grindr will.
Here’s a perfect example of white privilege:
It’s not your right to preferences that’s in question, it’s your prejudices that are the issue here.
3.1 Data You Provide to Us.(a) Profile. We may collect Personal Data from you, such as your photo, display name, status, relationship, looking for, ethnicity, age, height, weight, social network link, and any other information you voluntarily add to your profile on the Grindr App (“Profile Information”).
5.1 IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT PROFILE INFORMATION. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU USE THE GRINDR APP, AS A DEFAULT, YOUR PROFILE INFORMATION (DEFINED ABOVE) IS PUBLIC AND OTHER USERS OF THE GRINDR APP CAN SEE YOUR PROFILE INFORMATION. DO NOT INCLUDE INFORMATION IN YOUR PROFILE THAT YOU WANT TO KEEP PRIVATE. Grindr App users can use the search feature in the Grindr App to search for other users by different profile criteria, like age. Your Profile Information will be used for these searches. The Grindr App user interface may include a feature to make certain items of Profile Information non-public, in which case we will respect your selection. However, even if you choose to make non-public certain items of your Profile Information if and as permitted by the user interface, sophisticated users who use the Grindr App in an unauthorized manner may nevertheless be able to obtain this information. The Grindr App may include a feature that allows you to designate certain users as “Favorites” or “Blocked”. Generally, this designation is only viewable by you; however, sophisticated users who use the Grindr App in an unauthorized manner may be able to determine which users you have designated as Favorites or Blocked. YOU HEREBY CONSENT TO THE DISCLOSURE OF YOUR PROFILE INFORMATION AS DESCRIBED ABOVE.