A Fun Privilege Brouhaha

Perhaps you have already had the good/bad fortune to come upon an article at Forbes.com called If I Were a Poor Black Kid. This article is written by a “middle class” white accountant, consulting firm owner, business technology columnist, and former senior manager at KPMG named Gene Marks. Sounds totally “middle class”. Probably an income of $60k a year, you think?

You can see where this is going. My personal additional annoyance beyond the many more obvious ones is: does he really expect to be reaching poor black kids by publishing a blog post on Forbes.com? Obviously not. He never intended for this “advice” to reach a real world poor black kid. He is writing for wealthy white people, at the expense of poor black kids, in an attempt to unearth a dead horse and beat it some more: i.e. the myth that blacks wouldn’t be so poor if they just worked harder. Note of hilarity: This column was originally titled “If I Was a Poor Black Kid”, but so many people were amused by his poor grammar that someone corrected it.

So read it for yourself if you enjoy bathing in a rich froth of righteous privilege and oblivion as to how the real world works.

OR, read one of these amazing and insightful rebuttals, which attempt to relieve Mr. Marks of his embarrassing ignorance.

If I Were a Rich White Dude by Jeff Yang

Trolling The Internet With ‘If I Were A Poor Black Kid’ by Kashmir Hill

A Muscular Empathy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

If I Were the Middle Class White Guy Gene Marks by Kelly Virella

An Ode to a ‘Poor Black Kid’ I Never Knew: How Forbes Gets Poverty Wrong by Cord Jefferson

If I Were Gene Marks by Carolyn Edgar

If I were a wealthy white suburbanite by DN Lee

If Gene Marks Were a Poor Black Kid Who Went to Ballou In 2003 by Shani Hilton

If I Was A Poor Black Kid, I’d Key Gene Marks’s Car by Peter Vidani

H/t ES

Whites Are Tots Oppressed, Not Privileged

Compare what you see in this video (stupid WordPress won’t let me embed), to this CNN article, which fawns all over unapologetic white nationalists:

James Edwards, host of the “Political Cesspool” radio show, …says white Americans have become the “dispossessed majority” and that coming demographic changes may turn the United States into a “Third-World flop-house.”

…”Whatever mistakes might have been made in our pasts, they have not only been corrected, but they’ve been overcompensated for,” he says.

Now whites are victims of pervasive racism, Edwards says.

“They’re the victims of it every day. Anything a white conservative does that a liberal doesn’t like is called racism.”

POSTRACIAL!!!

Tim Wise: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege

You preach it, Tim! Look what I found on rad blog Siditty: Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege

A quote:

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters–the black protesters–spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government. Would these protesters–these black protesters with guns–be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Frat Prez Gets No Time for Cocaine Ring

What, NO TIME!? Yes, it is true. It all went down at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

From the NYT:

Prosecutors said [Christopher] Duncan, head of the Lambda Iota fraternity during the 2006-2007 school year, allowed drugs, drug paraphernalia and money to be stored in a safe in his fraternity house bedroom, helped broker drug deals and drove to Connecticut to buy cocaine later sold by Duncan and co-defendant Bent Cardan.

…U.S. District Judge William Sessions III said a prison term wasn’t appropriate…

The judge called him “stupid”, “naive and a bit player”.

WHAT!?

From the University of Vermont student newspaper

Duncan told police that he “estimated the total he sold for Cardan between February and April 2007 was 8 to 10 ounces,” according to the affidavit. That is equal to approximately $16,000.00 at the price he was selling at.

Bit player indeed. How much time do you think he would do if he were poor and black or Latino?

The blog World Class Stupid frames it nicely:

One day our court system will realize that rich white college students are just as smart as poor black high-school dropouts.

Do you think Duncan’s status as a fraternity president, as the son of an attorney, as a suburban white kid, had any effect on the incredible leniency shown to him after months of using his frat house as the center of a coke ring?

There are no pics of Duncan online, but here is a photo of Lambda Iota.
Lambda Iota

Vegetarian Don’ts

This post was inspired by an article at Alternet titled Eating Meat Is Not Natural. I wrote a long-ass comment, but now that I am blogging again, I will turn it into a post, goddamn it! It got a good response over there, but I think my ideas were inspired by a post at Feministe, so I can’t take all the cred.

I am an omnivore. AND I completely respect and support the choices of those friends who are vegan and vegetarian, and I expect the same respect for my choices. We are all thinking adults and have come to our conclusions after careful deliberation.

I do have criticism for *some* vegans/vegetarians for the way they interact with omnivores.

1. Using gory images to try and shock omnivores into not eating meat, much the same way anti-abortion activists use shocking pictures of dismembered fetuses to make a point. It is disrespectful and in poor form for the anti-abortion activists, just as for the anti-meat activists. As a woman, I am turned off by this kind of rhetoric because of its close connection to a movement wanting to take my rights away.

2. Using the tactics of creationists to cherry-pick science and create specious pseudo-scientific arguments. We are talking about a moral choice, and it is clear that there are convincing scientific arguments for and against eating meat, as well as how long human have historically been eating it. When I see a side of an argument refuse to accept evidence simply because it contradicts a preferred world-view, I am reminded of creationists. Anyway, we all know that science can’t prove morality.

3. Using the language of the anti-gay movement. For me, as a queer person, a huge red flag goes up when I see an argument for what’s “natural” or not. Natural is a subjective and loaded term, and is often used by bigots against marginalized groups in society. Why would anti-meat activists choose such a term? Humans are also animals. We are part of nature, not separate from it. Humans and our behavior is just as natural as any other animal and their behavior.

4. Comparing meat-eaters to slave-owners, and animals to black people. As an anti-racist, it raises red flags when I hear the anti-meat argument put this way. It makes vegetarians seem as though they must all be white and privileged to be unaware of how insulting this rhetoric is to blacks. It makes me wonder why a movement would be willing to sacrifice dignity for blacks, to further marginalize an already marginalized group, in order to promote their cause.

Again, I am only speaking to those vegetarians and vegans who use this sort of disrespectful language. I have nothing but respect for those of you who respect me in return!

Please add your vegetarian/vegan dos and don’ts in the comments.

Why My Name Is The Czech

…And I’m back!

After some months away, I have decided to fire up the ol’ blog again and see how it goes. If safety becomes an issue, I will just stop again.

So I thought a good way to start this new chapter would be an explanation of my name. I chose it for a hodge podge of reasons. I identify strongly with my immigrant roots. My family has been bumping around the United States for a couple generations now, but we have retained a connection with our country of origin and I have retained a sense of my history in this country as a descendant of immigrants. I don’t want to forget that there were peoples here before the white man, people who are still here. It is partially out of deference to them that I identify as Czech-American.

My name also has to do with my white privilege. My Czech descendants were light-skinned, and so am I. (Not all Czechs appear “white”.) Czechs have not always been considered white. A certain German dictator had a special name for us: Minderwertige Rasse (“less-worthy race”), insinuating that we were not the white race, we were something else, something less-than.

That is mostly behind Czechs now. In America, we get white-skin privilege, regardless of that history. And I want to own the fact that I receive that privilege, however unwillingly, and the responsibility that bestows upon me. So I make my identity very clear through my screen name. There will be no mistake when I am in anyone’s space- I cannot ignore my white privilege and try to fly under the radar in spaces created by people of color. I will have to confront it all the time, and check myself with each comment.

Greeting Cards Insult My Intelligence

Baby DaughterBleh. I went to a greeting card store today to buy a “Congratulations on Your New Baby!” card. I knew I would get worked up, and I did.

The baby in question is an interracial girl born to a progressive couple.

I’m sure you can guess the troubles I had at the store.

First, as one would expect, all the cards are separated by gender. Predictably, the girl cards were all bright pink, many with sparkles and flowers, and making references to princesses, cuteness, and prettiness.

The boy cards were all blue and decorated with animals or trucks or sports.

So what if I didn’t want to start this baby off with an arbitrarily over-gendered card? No options except for general blank cards.

However, blank cards that depicted images of children depicted only white babies. Again, I didn’t feel that was quite appropriate for a baby that will probably be read as a POC later in life.

I was stymied. Greeting cards make life dumber.

Considering Thanksgiving

Just for a moment, let’s think of America’s indigenous peoples as fully equal human beings.

If you ask the Wampanoag people, they will tell you that the “First Thanksgiving” actually involved not “finding corn” but in stealing it and looting childrens’ graves.

Ok, so I have lots of feelings about Thanksgiving, but honestly, Nezua at the Unapologetic Mexican does the job for me. He explains the mythology behind this holiday, the bullshit that was taught to all of us as children and still is taught to children to this day, though we know it is false. I really want to examine this. I really want other people to join me in critically examining this holiday.

But using Thanksgiving as a time to teach children about both the myth and the damage done behind the Myth is crucial. And I capitalize “myth” that second time because this is not about being contrary or “radical” or anything. Thanksgiving is probably the most popular and earliest-given justification for invasion, murder, imperialism, occupation, and “othering” that we know of in this country.

You tell ’em, Nezua.

Here’s another resource to get some facts on this holiday’s suppressed meaning, such as:

Fact: For many Indian people, “Thanksgiving” is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, “Thanksgiving” is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.

That reminds me of when Seattle Public Schools started, and then closed four years later, an Office of Equity, Race and Learning Support. Among the several reasons that the office was closed this year was when [director Caprice] “Hollins was roundly criticized after she sent out a memo to teachers that listed “myths about the First Thanksgiving” and noted that “for many Indian people, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a time of mourning … As currently celebrated in this country, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.” ” From the Seattle P-I.

Not only did she get fired for telling the whole story behind this holiday, the whole Office of Equity was summarily closed. Wow. Did she falsify her facts? No. All she did was respect indigenous children as fully equal to other children, and tell some tough truth about a beloved American tradition. This is a good example of people, in this case Seattle Public Schools, sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming “La La La La La!” Amongst her other misdeeds is that she sent some students and teachers to a white privilege conference. THE HORROR!

So celebrate your family, friends, and good eatin’ today, but keep in mind the real lessons this holiday has to teach about imperialism.

UPDATE 11/28/08- Check out this rad post on stuff white people do.