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Politics: Race...


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That was a pretty interesting paper thank you for linking it. One problem i see is that the paper is almost 20 years old, so the distortion the media plays on assumed and taken liberties of race are not addressed. Racism as a means to subvert is still prevalent unconsciously in America but the paper does not address the idea of white shame and the shared lexicon of ambivalence in America at this current time. It also ignores the neo cultural stereotypes that fashion and music have sought to replace the outmoded views of culture race and status. I would love to read something of hers about this topic in modern times. I think also taking the paper at face value i cannot emotively understand some of the things represented in the paper as more than an ideological thought form because I am not white and there for not 'privileged' in the same way. Viewing it through the male paradigm of power however does give me insight into what is indeed permissible or subversively in place as a mean to subvert others powers for my own in a passive manner.

 

Tim Rice's stuff is more recent (last few years). As someone who is white and now male-privileged, I'm starting to see some differences (very evident when I travel -- which is a lot). You may experience this privilege and not recognize it. I've found that it's not always obvious but that benefits are earned just because a person appears to be white or is white. While the intention of that person isn't to take privilege, it is bestowed upon them (e.g., how often are you stopped by the police? a black FTM friend of mine noticed that when he finally transitioned he was stopped almost double than when he was female-bodied).

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In the event that someone gives me a privilege that they are not extending to someone else, I'd question why it was happening, and if I wasn't satisfied by the answer, I may very well refuse the privilege, or more likely, insist that everyone is given the same treatment.

 

However, in many situations in everyday life, you are treated a certain way on your own, on a person-to-person basis. You can't know for sure how that person may treat someone else of another sexuality / ethnicity / gender. For instance, if I hold a door open for a woman, I don't expect her to call me sexist - I hold doors open for anybody when it is appropriate. I am not offering a privilege to certain people and discriminating against others. You cannot necessarily tell from a single action whether or not a person is discriminating, you'd have to see how that person handled the same scenario with another person. Therefore, without this kind of knowledge, I don't know what action can be taken, and I don't feel I am to blame for things I am not aware of - and don't know a way to become aware of, short of telepathy.

 

If someone treats me a certain way, then I see them treat someone else differently, I can then ask them about it and try to get them to change their ways of course, which does happen from time to time.

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The point i think of the discussion is not to point blame but rather to aknowledge the fundamental issues involving classification and status. You hit the nail on the head with the sentence:

 

"Therefore, without this kind of knowledge, I don't know what action can be taken, and I don't feel I am to blame for things I am not aware of - and don't know a way to become aware of, short of telepathy."

 

It is one thing to speak or converse about an issue but it is quite a different thing to turn in ward in order to look outward. The article i felt was more advocating for the constant evolution of a thought process that would identify privileged which is a subversive form of racism in certain instances. It is our basic emotional self's that react with an 'I am doing all I can with what i know' ego response. It is a mental tactic in which to avoid unpleasant emotional states of being overwhelmed by lack of foundational knowledge. We should instead of defending our actions seek to reverse the trend of being unknowledgable about the issue by spending the energy we would have wasted on defense for the purpose of identification.

 

I have little doubt that you are not racist but it is not for you to convince me or them but rather change the question in the first place to how am I treated in society so that a paradigm shift can happen in yourself and spread outwards. I think that when we can objectively look at self and place in society it nullifies the OPs question of what can I do to help a movement, because we have liberated ourselves from the rigid system of oppression and racism and class based unconscious elitism. When we are aware of how things work and how perception feeds into class objectification we can than find true means in which to subvert the beast.

 

after all as Buddha said "we are what we defend against. "

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That is why privilege is so subversive. I can tell you what to look for but it would not mean anything unless you confronted the notion of what privilege means to you. I also chalk it up to different personality types. Some people examine to understand and some people do or request direction to do. All roads lead to the same place just at different times.

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I have little doubt that you are not racist but it is not for you to convince me or them but rather change the question in the first place to how am I treated in society so that a paradigm shift can happen in yourself and spread outwards. I think that when we can objectively look at self and place in society it nullifies the OPs question of what can I do to help a movement, because we have liberated ourselves from the rigid system of oppression and racism and class based unconscious elitism. When we are aware of how things work and how perception feeds into class objectification we can than find true means in which to subvert the beast.

 

after all as Buddha said "we are what we defend against. "

 

Interesting, I was also thinking about this in terms of the Buddhist idea of “wrong perception”, and that most human conflict leads from incorrect perception. Personally, I realize that I probably have lots of prejudiced and sexist views, (just to name a few!) and it’s always interesting to become aware of them.

 

Anyway, going back to the original question, when I read Malcolm X’s biography and other books by African-American writers many years ago, as a privileged upper-middle class white American, I really was sad to see, essentially, how the systems of white culture had put blacks at such a disadvantage. I also wondered whether it was any of my business, frankly, to do anything to “help” people of color. I think it’s easy to mock rich, white, do-gooder types, for their yuppiness, their desire to speak for the “voiceless” (even when the so-called "voiceless" can speak for themselves), the self-gratifying desire to impose solutions on groups that do more harm than good, irrespective of their good intentions. But to those who are given much, great things are expected. And, I’ve often seen a similar type of psychological dilemma, to a lesser extent, in some of my affluent black friends.

 

A lot of the progress that has been made in the United States has been made through multi-ethnic coalitions of people who have never been recorded in history books. Obviously, too, black people have contributed positively to many institutions and communities and to the positive moves forward in American history, on many fronts.

 

So, do some black activists want help from whites to achieve “revolution”? Doubtful. But revolution is almost always predicated on violence. (But to be fair, there are probably some communities in which white people’s help probably is extremely limited in its usefulness). I think most people who take a more realistic and practical view of things, in which social change is based on smarter policies, mutual understanding, and dialogue, would probably advocate that we’re all in the same boat together, and that we should all work together on an equal basis, while recognizing that that may be very hard to do. Also, even Malcolm X, famously, near the end of his life, was deeply influenced by the universal nature of Islam, and by extension, saw that working with other outside his own group wasn’t impossible. Interestingly, even at his most radical points, he still did college tours of predominately white campuses trying to persuade them, which suggests to me that he wasn’t even entirely convinced himself of the demonization and complete un-usefulness of the white race.

 

Also, on a slightly unrelated point, although race is an extremely powerful force in American life due to history and self-chosen identity and identity forced on individuals through no fault of their own (ie. people are seen as "black" because that is the way people in society see them, whether they choose that lable or not), nonetheless, “race” is still a fairly arbitrary social construction, and demographically it is going to get less potent over time, most likely. By 2050 or so, white people will be in the minority, and a generation or two after that, everybody may be some conglomerate of former “races”.

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Bill I find your last post interesting & insightful.

 

Especially the last part about conglomeration of races.It is indeed true that eventually we will all mix.

 

There will probably always be groups who totally only breed with other like races, but these groups will be seen as semi-extreme minorities, while the majority will be what I call "brown" (ie not black or white)

 

It is useful to realise that a person should & can never be truly judged by their skin colour.What kind of person we are depends on our personality not the pigment of our skin.I know many nice whites, blacks & asians.I also know arseholes in all 3 aswell.

 

It is also useful to realise that we are accountable for what our white ancestors did to the blacks (as an example) and to be mindful of this.People might not like being responsible for something they didnt do personally, but rather what their ancestors did, but we are all happy to inherit the good things from our white forefathers, like our wealth & privelege, so we should accept inheriting the bad also.

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You could also consider the ideas brought forward by the Rasta philosophy in that we are all brothers and sister and descendants of a one original race. So in this way we do this to ourselves and that is the true crime. I agree with phillipeb that this is an identification issue more than the explosion of personal feelings and conditioned thinking. If religion is failing to bring a sense of resurrection of an identity (IMO what the resurrection of jesus was) than any moral objectivity on a personal bases is equally flawed. So in this way it is always strange to me when I am told I will never know how it feels yet I feel it off the person saying that because they are what they eat. As in Hinduism it is the idea that we are struggling and suffer in life and that unites us in all endeavours. As long as you fight internally you suffer. As a racial identification with meaning it would seem that in the present day the white lineage(descendants of European past and culture) has shot itself in the foot, knee, head within the world identification they built for themselves and violently force fed the rest of the world. This I would hope brings a better understanding of what must be done and not what should be felt.

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