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Fundamental Concerns Regarding Race and The Race for President In America

September 17th, 2008 | by Windspike |

This is very interesting - a post stolen from BuzzFlash:

by Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.


Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me (Soft Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of Speaking Treason Fluently, publishing this month, also by Soft Skull.

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  1. 7 Responses to “Fundamental Concerns Regarding Race and The Race for President In America”

  2. By Lisa on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    I’m white and I didn’t get any privialges being white. My parent’s couldn’t affford to send me to college. If I got fired from a job it was because of poor performance,I couldn’t use race as an issue.
    If you were so pro-black you would support Condoleeza Rice,Colin Powell,Michael Steele and Clarence Thomas.
    No but only if they arw America Haters like this under privaleged African-American:

  3. By Dusty on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    Lisa, when will it become an issue of their merit and not their color with you?

    And your America haters line is out of bounds…very Sandyesque. That video has NOTHING to do with the topic of this post…as per your usual offtopic bullshit.

  4. By steve on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    White privilege is being able to get internet access, a computer and start a blog and tell everyone that disagrees with you is wrong, a racist and fundamentalist whack job.

  5. By Lisa on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    Off topic. Same ol same ol
    If you think I am going to agree with the above interpretation of “white privilege” forget it.
    It’s just another reason to incite racism. We are trying to get beyond it but you just won’t let it be will you?

  6. By Lisa on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    Why can’t we all just get along and worry about what’s really important?

  7. By Windspike on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply


    We can’t all get along because the GOP has been divisive about their practices, intentionally bluffing us about sexism and expecting us to swallow whole cloth that they are uniters not dividers when they are exactly vice versa on that point.

    How much closer has George Bush brought America to the rest of the world?

    Care to make any relevant comments that actually challenge any of the points raised in the article or are you simply wallowing in your own internalized racism?

  8. By Lisa on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    WS how much closer were we to the rest of the world before 9/11?
    “simply wallowing in your own internalized racism?”
    Thanks again for another assumption.
    You know what I am racist against? People that use it to justify a variety of issues.
    There is a certain class of people that are racist but for the most part in cirlces that I have been around people are respectful of others. I went to a school with a mix of black and white and the black kids basically ruled the school and that wasn’t that recent.
    See the more you use it the more of a crutch it becomes.
    It’s almost like you are saying you are not educated because you are black or you commit crimes because you are black. or people can that because they are white. I don’t know what country you live in but people can’t say alot of things because they are white.
    People like you are the ones that are saying black people are not equal. You’re like an enabler injecting it into every issue. Obama could have come just as far as he did without anyone mentioning his race.
    So are you saying Obama is privileged or he did he become the nominee on his own merit?
    How do you get white privilage out making fun of a community orgainizer? Again instead making the issue republican vs democrat you turn it into white against black again inciting racism.
    Why does Onbama need people to defend his being black when you and him were the only ones focusing on it?

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