Instead of facing implicit bias or stereotype threat, I had the privilege of implicit endorsement. For instance, whenever I attended technical meetings, people would assume that I knew what I was doing (regardless of whether I did or not) and treat me accordingly. If I stared at someone in silence and nodded as they were talking, they would usually assume that I understood, not that I was clueless. Nobody ever talked down to me, and I always got the benefit of the doubt in technical settings.
As a result, I was able to fake it till I made it, often landing jobs whose postings required skills I hadn’t yet learned but knew that I could pick up on the spot. Most of my interviews for research assistantships and summer internships were quite casual – I looked and sounded like I knew what I was doing, so people just gave me the chance to try. And after enough rounds of practice, I actually did start knowing what I was doing. As I gained experience, I was able to land more meaningful programming jobs, which led to a virtuous cycle of further improvement.
This kind of privilege that I – and other people who looked like me – possessed was silent, manifested not in what people said, but rather in what they didn’t say. We had the privilege to spend enormous amounts of time developing technical expertise without anyone’s interference or implicit discouragement. Sure, we worked really hard, but our efforts directly translated into skill improvements without much loss due to interpersonal friction. Because we looked the part.
Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.
(source: it was tweeted by @femfreq)
Someone wanted this rebloggable and I didn’t see til just now. Sorry bout that, love.
Thank you so much for this. This post actually changed my view. Thank you!
I think this explains it in a way that might help a lot of people understand
OMG THIS NEEDS TO BE REQUIRED READING FOR ALL WHITE PEOPLE
like there is no simpler, more concise, yet entirely inclusive way to explain this shit. Like i couldnt say it any better myself. somebody needs to publish this as an article or something (for those dumbfuckers who think tumblr isnt a legitimate place to express ideas and take in new information)
that time i had to explain societal benefits of being male to a bunch of dudes who wanted a cookie because they’ve never raped anyone
it started out with this article:
my friend’s husband posted this article on facebook, asking if people agreed with the man who wrote the article. is it fair that a gym would offer women-only hours where men had no access? and furthermore, was it fair that men and women then paid the same amount for their gym membership even though it meant that for 442 hours per year, the men weren’t allowed to use the gym?
[the rest under a cut- image heavy]
Goodbye pumpkin spice latte. Forever.
Last year during this exact week, I wrote a blog titled, ‘Starbucks Disrespects Values Voters,’ calling out Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, for supporting a liberal political agenda that totally disregards the traditional values of many customers and staff members.
Another year gone by and Schultz has become even more extreme and intolerant. At Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting, Schultz sent a clear message that he does not want the business of anyone who believes that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman, pointedly telling one such shareholder, ‘You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company.’ This outburst reportedly came right after Schultz stated he wanted to ‘embrace diversity of all kinds.’
He doesn’t want our business. Schultz statement isn’t tolerant. It is prejudicial and bigoted. So where are the newspaper headlines reading, ‘Starbucks CEO Refuses Pro-Marriage Supporters Service,’ which is exactly the message his statement conveys?
What’s next, Starbucks? Two separate drinking fountains for liberals and conservatives or ‘now hiring’ signs reading, ‘Heterosexuals Need Not Apply’?
Considering that there are twice as many conservatives as there are liberals, Schultz should have heeded my warning a year ago. In fact, during this year’s meeting, conservative shareholder Tom Strobhar admitted that after the company voiced its support for same-sex “marriage” in Washington state, the company saw a drop in profits.
So in the end, Schultz is only tolerant of approximately 2 percent of America’s 300 million citizens who live homosexual lifestyles. I do not hold an MBA, but I do remember that 4th grade arithmetic teaches us that the profits made from 2 percent are less than the profits from 98 percent.
I’ve already dumped Starbucks. I prefer Dunkin’ Donuts, anyway.
Concerned Women for America media strategist Chelsen Vicari (via afterelton)
LOL - they really think this stuff is true, don’t they?
This person is their MEDIA STRATEGIST.
OMG CAN WE PLEASE PUT SIGNS OUT SAYING HETEROSEXUALS NEED NOT APPLY IN STATES WHERE SEXUAL ORIENTATION ISN’T A PROTECTED CLASS?!?!
One… oh lord… and two, penciling some Starbucks in during my errands tomorrow. I will have the biggest drink they have in honor of queer folks everywhere. (It’ll be an iced chai, if anyone’s wondering.)
Twice as many conservatives as liberals? Did they decide math was a left wing conspiracy, too?
There is a fucking starbucks on every corner here. I can easily support this. Spoiler: I already was a SB fan, no shock there.
I’m not a Starbucks fan (their stuff is too sweet for me), but I fully support this. OH THE POOR OPPRESSED STRAIGHT CONSERVATIVES! NOTHING EVER GOES THEIR WAY!
Meanwhile, there’s the social justice aspect. People have dismissed male rape, racial murders and even genocides under power + privilege at one point or another. Unfortunately, “racism” is discrimination based on race. How could it be anything else? Power and privilege are held by the majority and have nothing to do with individual actions: racism is an individual action. Holding a burning hatred in your heart for everyone of East Timorean ancestry is racism, even if it’s just you. And, since all races are equal (If you disagree with this, you may be a terrible person! Ask your doctor.), so is hating anyone of any race for their race alone. Lots of people with racist beliefs working together are still racist. If you really do mean to talk about an entire system biased against race, you can say something like “institutional racism”, but institutional racism is a subset of racism and all discrimination based on race is racism, no matter what the scale.
this is such a fundamental misapprehension of the subject i don’t even know where to start, but how about, there is a difference between ‘no race is //better// than any other’ and ‘no race has //more institutional power// than any other’. primarily, the latter is completely untrue and has been for centuries thanks to white european colonialism.
the illusion that all ‘race based prejudice’ is equivalent is based on an explicit denial of the intersection of power with prejudice. pulling out your dictionary definition doesn’t mean you have an absolute rule about what is and isn’t racism that you get to trumpet over the heads of those whose //systemic// oppression you choose not to acknowledge.
besides, dictionary definitions only cover theory. the power+privilege def is based on //actual practice//. when you say ‘there is no difference between the discrimination experienced by white people versus poc’ you are lying.
reblogged for commentary.
this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve come across in a long time.
I understand the daily hardships that so many people have in a world ruled by white males.
I understand that sometimes this can make it feel as if all white males are the enemy (especially for those who fight for equality).
but posts like this need to stop.
you are not advancing anybodies rights.
you are not promoting anybodies equality.
this is not activism.
this is hate-mongering.
Thanks for the contribution :)
congratulations, sexism is now over. You have beaten the evil whites. You win!
Fuck. These. People.
I’ve lost track, am I even allowed an opinion these days? Whatever. How about this radical idea: Let’s treat each other equally, and then we’ll all be equal? All this mindless mud-slinging achieves nothing and only serves to demonstrate how true objectives of those involved (notably NOT equality).
You guys are good at this! :)
this isnt okay and you need to fuckin stop.
it got better
It just keeps getting better. More, more!
I just want to sit back and watch these roll in.
Colonialism began with conquest and is today maintained by a settler administration created out of the doctrine of cultural hierarchy, a hierarchy in which European Americans and whiteness dominate non-European Americans and darkness. As a result, we live in a country where race prejudice, in the words of Fanon, obeys a flawless logic. For, after all, if inferior peoples must be exterminated, their cultures and habits of life, their languages and customs, their economies, indeed, every difference about them must be assaulted, confined, and obliterated. There must be a dominant culture and therefore a dominant people, a dominant religion, a dominant language, a dominant legal system, a dominant educational system, and so on, and so on. In other words, there must be dominance and subordination.
In a colonialist country such as the United States, white hegemony delineates this hierarchy. Thus, white people are the dominant group. Christianity is the dominant religion, capitalism is the dominant economy, militarism is the dominant form of diplomacy and the force underlying international relations. Violence is thus normal, and race prejudice, like race violence, is as American as apple pie.
No Doubt’s “Looking Hot” video and cultural appropriation
Two days ago, No Doubt pulled their offensive “Looking Hot” video and issued a apology, which has been posted possibly everywhere on the internet, but which I want to quote here as well so that I can outline everything about it that I found lacking:
As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures. Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American people, their culture or their history. Although we consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California, we realize now that we have offended people. This is of great concern to us and we are removing the video immediately… We sincerely apologize to the Native American community and anyone else offended by this video. Being hurtful to anyone is simply not who we are.
First and foremost, when has No Doubt ever showed sensitivity to other cultures? Gwen Stefani has indulged in demeaning cultural appropriation throughout her entire career, from her insensitive and inappropriate decision to wear a bindi as a fashion accessory, to her fetishized crew of Japanese backup dancers “The Harajuku Girls,” about whom she sang in “Rich Girl,” “I’d dress them wicked/I’d give them names,” thus denying four Japanese women both agency and humanity with one inane lyric. Apparently the best way to showcase your admiration for a different culture’s fashion trends is to reinforce harmful stereotypes about the passivity of its women. I mean, every time I want to show my appreciation of another culture, what I like to do is select people who can claim that heritage and have them follow me around silently, garbed in my own bizarre and misinformed conception of what their culture means! I also like to give them new, infantilized American names that are difficult to pronounce in their native language, because nothing says “I appreciate you” like commoditizing a human and naming them after your own clothing line!
Also, the whole refrain of “we’re multi-racial” and “we asked our Native American friends if it was ok” is a classic example of tokenism and white privilege. To think that you have the right to (mis)represent all Indigenous people based on your limited interactions with members of that group is deeply flawed – especially because the representation is not of any individual, but rather of a generalized stereotype that has existed since before our country’s inception. The repeated use of the world “hurtful” only serves to augment this false sense of individual psychological damage, implying that the harm done was on an individual, emotional level instead of a systemic, cultural one. It is not offensive to see a Native American woman bound in a sexualized manner because it might hurt some poor Indigenous woman’s feelings. It’s offensive because it’s a continuation of an incredibly negative, widespread ideology that was used to justify the dispossession of the Native people’s land and the cultural dominance of colonial settlers. It trivializes the dire conditions of Native American women, who are twice as likely to be raped as non-Native women and far less likely to receive help and who are targeted for violent and sexual crimes because of their ethnicity. In the words of aboriginal scholar Emma Laroque:
the portrayal of the squaw is one of the most degraded, most despised and most dehumanized anywhere in the world. The ‘squaw’ is the female counterpart to the Indian male ‘savage’ and as such she has no human face; she is lustful, immoral, unfeeling, and dirty. Such grotesque dehumanization has rendered all Native women and girls vulnerable to gross physical, psychological, and sexual violence… I believe that there is a direct relationship between these horrible racist/sexist stereotypes and violence against Native women and girls.
(For more on this, I suggest reading this excellent post on spunkmate). Furthermore, to compare the struggles of other people of color to Native Americans is to take a totalizing, uninformed, and clearly unengaged view of how oppression operates in America, especially since the issues faced by Indigenous people are often minimized or sanitized.
All this is fairly obvious, I feel, but what angered me the most was reading responses to the apology. Several news sources put scare quotes around ‘hurtful’ or highlighted that the offense was merely a “claim,” refusing to even agree with the band in their deficient categorization of the offense inherent in their video. I understand the concept of being unbiased, but it is precisely through maintaining that critical responses to white privilege are “hypersensitive” that we conceal the way in which it operates and create a situation in which the marginalization of other cultures is perceived as common sense. Below is a comment on news article that I think best exemplifies all that’s wrong with this frame of reference:
No artist should apologize for their work. If a small group of people… get offended that’s their problem… This is a fashion, sexualized version of cowboys & indians and shouldn’t be taken very seriously to begin with. I am pretty aware that Native-Americans these days don’t dress like that and if you do then you are a moron. It’s rock and roll fantasy and nothing else.
To act as though we live in a post-racial, postmodern society in which “art” is exempt from the structures of racial and gendered dominance through which everyone apprehends reality is beyond naïve. There is a reason that “cowboys and sexy Indians” is a cultural trope: because white Americans have invented and revisited it constantly as a means of justifying and reinforcing the destruction of Native American lives and culture. Especially since there are few – if any – accurate and positive portrayals of Indigenous people in pop culture, to say that we all know better and that the image of a sexualized, bound Native American woman is a harmless fantasy fails to take into the account the way in which media like the “Looking Hot” video structure two separate fantasies: that of the pervasive, still present fantasy of the sexualized squaw (statistics show that 70% of the sexual violence committed against Native women is committed by non-Natives) as well as that of the world in which cultural appropriation is harmless and all in good fun. Cultural appropriation is not, and never will be, fun, nor will it ever be harmless. It is a means through which those in power trivialize and exert dominance over other cultures, disregarding the trappings that are too foreign, bizarre, and contemptible to them, failing to understand or even care about their significance and historical context, and demonstrating that they have the right to claim whatever they desire as their own, all in the name of “fashion” or “playfulness.”
I just want to highlight this bit:
It is not offensive to see a Native American woman bound in a sexualized manner because it might hurt some poor Indigenous woman’s feelings. It’s offensive because it’s a continuation of an incredibly negative, widespread ideology that was used to justify the dispossession of the Native people’s land and the cultural dominance of colonial settlers.
The Mitt Romney secret video scandal has really caught fire, as it should, because it paints a less rehearsed portrait of a man who has been often charged with saying anything to get elected and gives us a glimpse at what he’d say if being elected didn’t matter. But while I understand the focus and concern on Romney’s contempt for the alleged 47 percent of Americans who “pay no income tax” — a distortion that has been debunked several times now — I am concerned about the second-tier relegation of Romney’s deluded insinuation that had his father “been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” Because this is something worth talking about too.
First things first: The cynicism embedded in this remark is insanely racist. Let’s not be polite about it. A subnarrative concerning Romney’s beliefs about race in America can be drawn out from this statement alone, and it’s important that these points be raised and explored for what they’re worth. That so many of the news establishments reporting this story have treated this as a somewhat throwaway remark belittles the relation between race and the American political process and hints at the media’s own subtle racism. So even if this post exists solely for the sake of saying it out loud, the discursive implications of such a statement need exposition. Full disclosure: I am an Hispanic American and my shots at winning the presidency are not as good as Mitt thinks.
Inference #1: Mexicans and other Hispanic Americans are becoming a majority class and white people will suffer under this population shift.
In the 2010 U.S. Census Report, Hispanics in America topped 50 million and accounted for one out of every six Americans. It is predicted that by 2050, Hispanics will make up as much as one-third of the American population. This is only a cause for alarm if you conflate America and so-called “American values” with whiteness and so-called “cultural superiority.” We already know that Romney believes that cultural superiority translates into economic prosperity; he literally said that in a slight to the Palestinians on his botched foreign relations tour. It is not a stretch, therefore, to assume that this version of ethnic anxiety extends to his own white-washed perception of America, and this is perhaps what compels Romney’s surrogates to fearlessly call press conferences and say things like “I wish this president would learn how to be an American” in reference to our first African American president. It’s the reason Romney himself is able to make “jokes” about how no one has ever asked to see his birth certificate. “I’m white,” he is saying, “so of course I’m American!”
In a great moment of candor, Rush Limbaugh perfectly expressed the kind of fear these implications are meant to generate: Obama hates white people, Limbaugh says, and he’s going to send us (ostensibly white) Republicans “to the back of the bus.” In other words, if we don’t “take our country back,” we are going to live under the thumb of the new majority — and if they treat us the way we treated them, we’re fucked.
Inference #2: Hispanic Americans are the recipients of handouts by birthright.
If we were to assign the “47 percent” that Romney has segregated into a categorical position, the implication is that there are two types of Americans in Romney’s mind: those that depend on government assistance and lack a sense of “personal responsibility,” and those who work hard and are “vilified” for their success. The hard-working success stories are Republican voters — natch! — while the 47 percent of Americans on the government teat, he clearly assumes, vote Democrat. Now, combine those numbers with the figures that represent Republican voters, and an even more interesting picture emerges. Indeed, almost 90 percent of all Republican voters in presidential elections are white. Which is to say that, in Romney-math, only 10 percent of all hard-working Americans are not white.
The sense that “they” are taking our jobs and that “they” are living off government programs is statistically untrue, but popular nonetheless, and in this case, Romney seems to be feeding into this white racist fiction while also alluding to the notion that Obama did not earn the presidency, but had it handed to him by virtue of his race alone. It has nothing to do with the fact that Obama is the only candidate in this race who does not treat people of color like unwanted statistical abstractions, Romney believes, but because “they” have it easier than we do. Obviously.
Inference #3: As a white man in America, Mitt Romney wasn’t privileged enough.
When you’re in a room surrounded by wealthy white men like yourself, it is important to assert your power not only with a copy of your bank balance, but with a Homeric-like myth that asserts your own storied ascent to the aristocracy. Nobody wants to hear about how easy you had it; they want to trade war stories and buy $150 shirts with WE BUILT THIS! slogans on them. So by mourning the purity of his Anglo-Saxon heritage, Romney is simply adding another layer to the epic. Elsewhere in the video, he explains:
I have inherited nothing. There is a perception, “Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth.” Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America.
Which is, like, yes Mitt. Totally. Being born in America is the only reason you are successful. You never had a leg up. You were never the recipient of a handout. Your birthright only guaranteed your chiseled facial features. You’re a self-made man and this is your Odyssey. Except that it’s not and you weren’t. The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson sums it up quite nicely:
Romney was the son of a governor and an auto executive who gave him a wealth of connections, a private education, college tuition, a stock portfolio that he lived on while in graduate school, help buying a first house. That he recognizes the value of none of these things is both dismaying and discouraging for anyone who thinks that he will be able to do much to actually encourage opportunity in America. He is clear enough about one difference money can make in life, when he tells those present, “Frankly, what I need you to do is to raise millions of dollars.”
In other words, if only Mitt Romney were Mexican, only then would he have everything. For now, he’ll just have to settle for the privileges and entitlements awarded for being white, wealthy, and male. If only he were Mexican, he might finally become president too. What else could explain it? He’s worked harder for this than for anything else he’s ever done, so if Mitt Romney loses this election, it’s going to have to be somebody else’s fault. If only he could find someone to blame.
I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.Some troubling shit always occurs.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
This for every time someone criticizes how characters of color and female characters of color especially are treated in text and by subsequent fandoms. It’s never “just a television/movie/book”. It’s never been ”just”.